T Nation

Starting Powerlifting


Hey all.

I've become really interested in powerlifting as of late, as a way of achieving my fitness goals. Up until this time I've dicked around with a variety of programs, but never really had a goal outside of being "in shape". I realized that the result is that I'm kind of skinny and weak with abs, and that I don't really have a strong focus to my training.

I've been reading a lot of articles and websites about powerlifting before getting started, trying to figure out the best way to train and eat to pursue the goal of getting stronger on the three main lifts. I'm ready to throw out everything I've been doing and get started, but I'm not sure where to begin.

I've read a lot of articles at EliteFTS, things from Cressey and Tate here, and some other sites. So far every article suggests that a beginner "build a strong base" before trying to get too fancy. I'm thinking of following Tate's suggestions in the Eight Keys series, but I'm not sure if the program guidelines are for someone way stronger than me, and if there is something else I should be doing at the outset.

Right now I'm 6'2", 185lbs. My lifts are 275lbs squat, 250lbs bench, and 365lbs deadlift. My short term goal is to get 315, 315, 405, and then increase from there. For the last three months I've been doing CrossFit and have decent GPP, although I'm struggling with some plantar fasciitis now and can't run or jump rope.

Should I be trying Tate's ME, DE day splits, or should I just be doing something more simple to start?

Also, what other kind of work should I be doing. Tate recommends sled dragging for GPP, which sounds fun. I do yoga currently for flexibility and "prehab", but am not sure if it would hinder or help my powerlifting efforts. I know Cressey suggest some sort of regular GPP. I'm tired of trying to ride two horses with the same ass and coming up short. I want a solid program!


A few questions:

  1. Will you be training alone or with a group?
  2. Are you training at a commericial gym, home, or at a private facility?
  3. Where are you currently located?

Powerlifting works better when you train with a hungry group. Also, a coach or mentor is invalueable. So, my main advice at the moment is to try and find a powerlifting gym near you or a group of like minded lifters to help show you the ropes.

There are a few begining article here at T-mag and at elitefts that are more than worth your time. Check out the "education of a powerlifter" here and "my begginings" at elitefts.

Shane, Sean, or Combo


Here are you based industrialplaid?



1) I will be training with a lifting partner much of the time. I also know a couple guys into powerlifting who will be able to help coach me on weekends (I can't workout with them during the week because of my job).

2) I'll be working out at a commercial gym up the street from me. I'm moving on Saturday, so I haven't seen all of the gyms in the area, but I'm planning on checking them out next week.

3) I'll be living in the Lincoln Park area in Chicago. I know there's a good powerlifting scene in the city, and I want to get involved.

I read the "education of a powerlifter" articles, and enjoyed them. I'm wondering whether or not I need to start with general GPP training like the guy in the story, since I've been doing XFit for a while and am in decent shape.

I'll check out "my beginnings" later today. I'm just trying to figure out what kind of workout program is advisable to start with.


I would suggest starting with something like DeFranco's Westside for Skinny Bastards program to bring you into a more powerlifting mindset. Stick with 3-5rm's at first; don't jump into heavy singles too soon.

Also, don't jump into stuff that's too fancy like bands and chains. Stick with straight weight at first and add in the other stuff as you get more experienced. Good luck and stay strong!


I'll second thor on holding off on bands and chains, I bought a whole set of each a little too early and found out the hard way that you need to build up stabilizers first. And it gives you time to get familiar with all the different lifts and the proper form before you throw a wrench like that into the mix.



I agree you dont need the band chains etc and really may never for years there were tons of strong SOB's without them keep it simple and get dog strong nail the basics for a few years then add the tools in as they are needed