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Powerlifting is an Old Man’s Sport

By: Coach Wyatt

I genuinely believe this.

This sport is meant for everyone, but it’s not a young person’s sport, or at least it shouldn’t be. How many lifters have you seen who put up insane numbers for a few years, and then just disappeared from the sport?

How many of them were under 30? Under 25?

Most of them.

Being on the younger side, I see it firsthand in many of the people I’ve trained with over the years.

All too often we focus on the short term. We think about the next PR.We set goal weights every new year. We sign up for a competition every 3 months. But hardly anyone puts a thought towards sustainability or where they want to be 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.

Another coach I’ve learned from over the years recently said, “We often overestimate how strong we can get in a year…” I find this very true.

Those newbie gains wear off.

For most, they’re going to last probably 1-3 years. So when lifters hit those intermediate years and see progress slow, it gets frustrating. Quite often, it results in burnout, a lost love of the sport and training, or in pushing and forcing numbers only to miss or get hurt.

At some point, you have to realize that you are going to train 150-250 times in a year, only to add maybe 2.5 or 5 kg to a lift. I remember my first 16 week prep for my first meet. I was adding 5 lbs every week to my 1@8 and truly had linear progression and PRed each lift week after week.

That doesn’t happen anymore. It’s harder to add weight to the bar, and it can be frustrating not to do so when the goal of the sport is to lift more weight.

Now, I know that might sound depressing and make you wonder why you’re even doing this sport (and your why is a very important aspect of doing this long term, but that’s to be discussed another time.) There is a second part to that quote, “We often overestimate how strong we can get in a year, but underestimate how strong we can get in 10.”

Come next month I will have been barbell training for 10 years. I remember the first day putting an empty bar on my back and squatting down. There wasn’t a thought towards squatting 300+, let alone knocking on the door of 500, but here I am. In my first powerlifting meet I pulled 424. Again there wasn’t a thought towards 500 or now 600+ multiple times in competition.

Now being out of the juniors and in the open, the records are bigger, and I see why so many junior lifters are intimidated. They compare themselves to others, and it takes away from appreciating those small PRs and wins along the way. As I said, this is an old man’s game.

If you are chasing records, they don’t have to be right now. I look at the careers of lifters like David Ricks, Louie Simmons, Jen Thompson, and Mark Felix and feel nothing but admiration for the decades of work they have put into strength sports. Hell, Louie set all-time records after the age of 50! Of course, this was as equipped lifting was getting better, but after all of Louie’s injuries, to come back at 50+ and put more weight on his back and in his hands than ever before is fucking incredible.

It is hard to think long-term, especially when so many of us are less than 5 years into strength sports.

If you take care of yourself, that means training smart, eating well, managing stress, and getting sleep, you can do this sport for years to come.

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