There’s the guys who just bench and do curls all the time, walking around in their vest tops and tracksuit bottoms and never seem to do leg day; there’s the ones who are just taking selfies in the mirror and pulling up their t-shirts; there’s some people doing some balancing on a medicine ball while doing overhead press, wearing a crossfit t-shirt and lastly there’s that guy in a lycra baby-grow and a leather belt, just doing endless squats, bench and deadlift...
What you have spotted there, good reader, is what could be termed as a powerlifter, in their natural environment, they might be timid and difficult to approach but fear not, they are generally a very friendly type. If you approach them with Haribo and a Monster, they could be tempted into easy conversation…
Ok, this isn’t real… but if you want to get started in powerlifting, you could definitely do worse that approaching someone at the gym and asking about it, I promise we are generally pretty friendly. Just don’t do it as they’re mid squat set!!
From a practical standpoint, to compete in powerlifting, you will need a few things. First off, you will need to know what division in Britain you are in. If you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, this is easy as there is only one division for each, but for England there is more to look at.
You can go along to https://www.englishpowerlifting.co.uk/english-divisions and there is a map where you can locate which division you would be a part of, along with handy contact details for each of the divisions, as well as links to their respective websites.
The divisions also have their own Facebook pages, and you might want to ask in one of them about good gyms to train in your region, you can also join the British Powerlifting Facebook group to get tips. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to that particular gym, you can train anywhere and still be a powerlifter!
All of the divisions will hold their own divisional competitions throughout the year, and you will need to take part in one of them, in order to qualify for any national events if that’s your aim!
You don’t need to be a member of British Powerlifting in order to attend regional events, or train with people in the division, but you will need to do so in order to actually lift in an event. Everywhere except Scotland, you can apply for your membership at https://www.britishpowerlifting.org/buy-membership - or there is an option to download a paper form if you prefer. In Scotland, apply at https://www.scottishpowerlifting.com/apply-online/ Once you’ve got your membership, that’s it, you’re able to enter local competitions, and others outside of your region as a guest, if you wish.
So, what equipment are you going to need, to lift in a powerlifting event? The mandated bare minimum, to participate, is a singlet (that’s the adult baby-grow as I mentioned before…)
There’s a number of brands you can wear, common ones including SBD, Strength Shop, Eleiko, A7 and more. You can find a full list of approved singlets here - https://www.powerlifting.sport/fileadmin/ipf/data/federation/Approved__List_2019-2022_Final.pdf.
So you’ve got a singlet, what else do you need?
A lot of lifters in British Powerlifting will wear knee sleeves for squats, a belt to wear usually for squats and deadlifts (and sometimes bench), and often wrist wraps, for squats and benching, and a lot will wear lifting shoes, for squats and benching. But these are all personal taste; you don’t have to wear any of them, if you don’t want; only the singlet is required! If you get to train with other powerlifters, they may well be willing to let you borrow kit to try it out, as sometimes it can be pretty expensive to buy if you’re not sure to to get. The list above will tell you if the kit you’ve seen online will be suitable for competitive powerlifting.
From there on out, it’s about hard work, getting stronger and getting involved! You can get into this sport and it could be the best thing you ever did! Set yourself small, achievable goals, and move forward with your new love. Of course, this is just classic, wait til you hear about equipped..!