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Powerlifting Is Slowing Me Down

Ok, I’ve been wondering if I’m the only one who experiences this. I’m what you can call a multisportist. I’ve done many different forms of training and sport, including martial arts, surfing, LOTS of kettlebells, pilates (hated it, but a lot of my female clients wanted it so I figured I’d do a course. I still try and get them into the weight room as soon as possible though, so I always give a combination class including kettlebells so that they can actually get some real results) and currently my main focus is powerlifting. I’ve always used powerlifting for strength, but I’ve never devoted pure focus to it till recently.

Ever since I’ve focused on it though I’ve noticed my speed and stamina has went down, in spite of doing speed training at 60% 1rm as part of my training. I understand the loss in stamina due to the fact that you can’t be all things at all times, but I didn’t expect the loss in speed since I put a lot of focus on lifting explosively. How do I fix this? Can I keep getting stronger while maintaining my speed?

You see I’m pretty much 100% sure it will negatively affect my performance in my other sports once I’ve reached the goal I wish to achieve with powerlifting (top 10 in my country, in other words I need to get my total up to at least 1350lb, it’s currently at 1125lb. The South African record is 1775lb, and the person who set this has moved to the masters devision, the current number 1 is at 1550 and number 10 is at 1250 in my weight category) due to the fact that all of them involve agility and speed, not just strength.

The main thing though is that as a trainer it would be highly beneficial for me to get top 10 in at least one of the sports I do. I can’t be a jack of all trades master of none, otherwise I might as well do crossfit. (Heaven forbid.) And quite frankly I LOVE powerlifting. How can I get stronger, relatively quickly (within the next 2 years) without losing my speed. My other sports are taking a back seat for now but eventually I’d like to return to them, without suddenly having turned into ‘that strong slow guy.’

Are you referring to your top running speed?

Set a goal. If it’s powerlifting competition then settle it in your mind now and accept the fact that the other things may suffer. If your speed is suffering its because your strength is suffering and you’re not training for strength. Any time you train for strength, speed should increase even if you are slow. How fast 225lbs moves is largely based on where your max is. Training at 60 doesn’t make you fast. If you have lost stamina then you are not speed training correctly. During speed training, rest periods are very short. If you want to get faster, you need to train heavier singles in the 70-85 range for explosive power. Don’t forget, you need to strain so you’ll want to have a max effort day in the 90-100 range. If you want speed, you train low percentages and shorten the rest periods for stamina. Remember, powerlifting isn’t about speed - its about force. You can’t move a max effort lift quickly but you can attempt it with speed even when the bar moves slow. What you’ll find is the lighter weight will move quicker as your max goes up. Speed imo is always a by-product of getting stronger.

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Your speed loss is probably due to not being able to focus as mush on running,since you train the powerlifts hard.But unless you gain a great amount of weight stronger legs won’t hurt you

As for your powerlifting goal
1.Your total is low
2.Adding 225 lbs in your total in 2 years is not that hard at your level imo
So,all you gotta do is pick a training style(westside,531,dup ect),focus on it and make changes as you see fit while you progress

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531 is a smart choice,cause you have access to the author himself and many people running it and keeping training logs

Conjugate is a great option too as a coach,as it has many application to sport training.So the knowledge you’ll earn after getting stronger with it might help you at your job as well

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Ross Enamait wrote an article about this before, but I couldnt find it. Basically, as we get older and more experienced our desires and goals change. But, he said we shouldn’t abandon our accomplishments. For example, someone who could squat 500 shouldn’t stop doing leg exercises, cause he reach his goal. They should still do a leg excercise while increasing a new exercise.

If your good at a speed event, but want to lift more, just program properly, for example don’t run hill sprints before or after squat day. Also, shorten your non-lifting workouts. For example, make a 30 minute cardio session 15 intense minutes.

Two years from now you’ll be slower, but you still would have retain most of your speed.

I will have to essentially agree with osu above. Being a jack of all trades is nice, but if you are currently focusing on powerlifting then you need to do just that, focus on it. It will not break progress to program things that can help with a bit of speed and endurance, so long as they pertain to powerlifting. Your goal of training for heavy lifting while maintaining your current, pristine levels of speed and such are along the lines of wanting to pack on a lot of muscle while shedding alot of fat. It is doable, but quite difficult unless done pretty much flawlessly, the best course of action is to run general maintanance on the other stuff but focus on powerlifting.

All that said, one thing to maybe incorporate to help with stamina more (at least it works wonders for me) is rather than speed work at an arbitrary % of your max, try some total load lifting for a compound move. I prefer snatches or cleans, given the explosiveness factor. I will select a total poundage, say 10000 lbs and figure a weight for the bar and then get it cleaned or deadlifted or whatever quickly without compromising form (this isn’t crossfit after all). By doing it like this, you can vary between heavier weight for less volume, which should offer decent strength assistance, or lower weight for enough reps to border on it being cardio. Along the same lines of training stamina and endurance, throw in tabata work from time to time. When you know you have a couple days for your legs to freshen back up before you squat again, throw 95-135 on the bar and do a front squat tabata circuit or 2…nothing humbles you quite like gasping for air after 95lbs tabata squats.

Ok I probably should have clarified I wasn’t talking about running speed. I am talking about agility here. Also I’ve only been doing a powerlifting focus for about 7 weeks now, and in the first 6 my muscles basically exploded, but they have now settled. I’m pretty sure it was just the fibers filling up with glycogen. I was 198lb at the start of it and now I’m 220lb, with no change in my skin caliper measurements. (Measuring in at 10% last time I checked, but in the meanwhile I’ve dropped a bit of fat.)

To be honest, my main concern was my sex life. My wife needs me to move my hips at an unnatural speed for a good long while for her to orgasm during intercourse, and doing it manually just is not the same at all.

Oh and this is what my training looks like: (BTW my total is low due to my bench and squat, my deadlift is 230kg, but the squat is 175kg and the bench is 105kg, mainly due to the fact that those movement patterns aren’t as well trained. Between kettlebell swings and sex the deadlift pattern is very well trained in for me, but the low bar squat and bench are things I have to get used to, and they will go up the fastest. When I squat the weight actually feels light I’m just not used to taking it through the full range of motion with good form, so instead of just loading as much as I can on the bar I’m increasing it 5kg every week or two and focusing on getting my form 100%.)

I generally train Monday Wednesday Friday but sometimes life gets in the way, like for instance this Wednesday I have to be in a town over for tax related stuff, so I’m doing Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday instead. Sometimes when I’m overreaching I’d train 5 days in the week but this is rare.

I made a modification on madcow. 5x5 doesn’t work well for me, I always feel I still have left in the tank, even if the weight was too much to do the full 5 in the end, so I take the same exercises and do the following with them:
5reps at 60% 1rm, lifted explosively
4reps at 70% 1rm, lifted explosively
3reps at 80%
2reps at 90%
1rep at 95-100% (Depending on how the 90% lifted. If it felt light I’d do 100% If the 100% lifts quickly and easily I’d try another single at 105% for a PR.)
Then I do 2reps, 3reps, 4reps, and 5reps again, with the same weights. Normally the second half ends up being easier than the first half. In the end I end up with more volume and more intensity than Madcow could offer without ever missing lifts. The first 4 sets wakes up my nervous system for the heavy single, then the last 4 sets serves as drop sets, utilizing my primed nervous system to do a lot more work, upping my tonnage considerably.

Additionally I add some strategic assistance work, mostly 2-3 sets of 5 of lunges, dips, and 1 arm dumbbell rows, picking one of these assistance exercises per day. Also for Deadlift day I only do 54321 on squats, starting at 50%1rm ending at 90%1rm.

In the past, last time I gave powerlifting a focus, I used 5/3/1, and I have also used madcow, but I always stall too quickly with madcow, and 5/3/1 just doesn’t have enough squat and bench frequency for me right now. Once my squat and bench have caught up with my deadlift I’ll probably return to it though. (Probably by January.) I also find 5/3/1 to be an amazing program to follow during the surf season (winter) because it leaves enough in the tank for me to do something else simultaneously. The only bother is that surf season and contest season is the same time. This is a pain since ideally my year will look like this: Spring, summer autumn = strength training, winter = surf season. Taking 3 months off and doing something else is a good thing anyway and pretty much every professional athlete I’ve spoken to does this, but the seasons clash.

How are you measuring your agility, and how do you know it has gotten slower? Do you think maybe this could be related to gaining over 20 lbs in 7 weeks as you said you did? Squatting, benching, and deadlifting for what amounts to two months out of your life is really not likely to produce such an effect on you.

  1. Don’t start butchering a program because you think it’ll work better.
  2. Gaining 20lbs in 6 weeks IS likely going to “slow you down” no matter what program or style of training you’re doing. Especially if your programming now has less agility/movement in it due to focusing on strength.
  3. 5/3/1 has plenty of bench and squat frequency- run boring but big. You can squat and bench twice a week on it.
  4. If training is affecting your sex life and that’s important to you then perhaps you should do something else training wise that doesn’t affect your sex life.
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Ok, gaining 22lbs in two months will absolutely slow you down because more than likely a very small percentage of that is muscle.

All I can say is do what it takes to make mama happy and if that means 198lbs then find a way to get back there and get stronger at that body weight.