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Question: “What are the benefits of incorporating powerlifting into training for someone that is training for physique?”
There are many benefits of incorporating powerlifting into training for someone that is training for physique, including the following:
· Growth of the biggest muscle fibers: powerlifters traditionally use much lower rep schemes than bodybuilders or physique competitors. Lower reps per set allows for a much larger load (intensity of 80% 1-RM or greater) to be used. This load is necessary to recruit the fast twitch (i.e. type IIA and IIB) muscle fibers, and these fibers have the greatest potential for growth. Growth means size and size means bigger muscles!
· Lean body mass gain: powerlifters often use movements that involve a lot more muscle mass, while bodybuilders and physique athletes often use more isolation movements that do not require as much muscle mass to do the work. The three core movements of powerlifting – the back squat, bench press, and deadlift – use an awful lot of muscle mass compared to say leg extensions, cable crossovers, and leg curls. Utilizing more muscle in a given movement means more lean body mass gain from that movement.
Now, this lean body mass gain can come in many forms. I will highlight two:
o Triceps size: if you look at a seasoned powerlifter you will most often see very big triceps on him or her, yet they rarely do isolation triceps movements such as a cable triceps pushdown. Rather, powerlifters gain great size on their triceps from close grip bench presses, board presses, floor pressed, heavy DB press variations and any of the above with chains or bands added.
o Backside size: not only do powerlifters generally have big triceps on the back of their bodies. They also have thick traps, lats, glutes, and hamstrings. This again comes form big compound movements such as deadlifts, RDL’s, and barbell rows rather than isolation movements for these muscle groups.
· Strong, functional core: because they use ground-based, compound movements and axially load their spine on many movements, powerlifters have very strong and functional cores. This is important for the bodybuilder because the stronger and more functional their core is, the healthier they will be. A healthy and functional body means consistent training and no time off from the gym because of injuries.
· Change: often times our training is only as good as our motivation is. Doing the same movements and the same set and rep schemes over and over again in the gym can sap us of our motivation to train. Changing things up by incorporating powerlifting training into your routine can inject new enthusiasm into your training that may be much needed!
-Bryan Dermody, strength athlete/powerlifter