How I Lost My Physique While Focusing Only On Powerlifiting

At the end of 2014 I had to think really hard about my journey. I had to look in the mirror for long periods of time to truly figure out what it was I was trying to accomplish with my body. With the years of eating restrictively and going to gym, my body did not represent all that self-discipline.

RUNNING NOWHERE

It was as if I been in training to run the Boston Marathon. For six months straight I had been preparing for that one goal. Once the Boston Marathon day came, all that prep allowed me to get out front quickly at the start of that race. As the race turned into an hour, my pace kept me among the top ten contestants.

 

Boston marathon with people running in the street

Some time goes by and we have less than two miles to go. As soon as that last mile marker popped up, I decided to stop and take a unexpected nap. After my nap I wake up to realize that I still have a mile to go if I want to reach that finish line. That’s how I felt at the end of 2014.

CROSSROADS

I can’t say it was only at the end of 2014 that I felt that way. That’s how I felt ever since 2010. That was the year I came close to looking like what I envisioned in my dreams. I always felt like I could do just a little bit more. The sad truth is that EVERYBODY feels that way.

Even the most elite bodybuilder feels that their body is not good enough for them. As humans, we let our minds tell us just how unworthy we truly are. We are so blinded by the self-abuse, we don’t truly see the progress we’ve made.

When I look at the old photos of me in 2010, I’m amazed at just how a dramatic transformation I put myself through. Granted my mind is still telling me that all I needed was a solid 5-10 more pounds of muscle. Still, that was a major accomplishment!

In my quest to get stronger, I slowly lost the tightness of that 2010 body. How could I possibly do that?

WHAT IS POWERLIFTING

So after all that weight loss, I started following more of a Powerlifting routine. Powerlifting is all about lifting weights for strength. To the outside observer lifting weights is lifting weights. In actuality not all “lifting weights” is the same.

Powerlifting routines are designed for you to work near the maximal amount of weights you can do. When lifting this heavy weight, you need more rest between sets so you can properly recovery for your next set. The amount of reps you do per set will be in the low numbers due to the heavy weights. The weights you would be using is close to the amount you can do for one repetition aka 1 rep max aka 1RM.

POWERLIFTING BODY

If you are lifting heavy weights, you will be getting stronger. When getting stronger you need to make sure that your calories are enough to help out with the potential mass gain. In a perfect world, all this food and lifting would equate to your body gaining muscle. But in the real world, when you eat a surplus of calories, you will gain fat along with muscle. The key is to get your calories right AND do enough conditioning/cardio to keep the fat gain at a minimum.

Guess what this guy was doing through my strength gaining years? No conditioning! No calorie control!

What did that mean….I started to get thicker in the waist. That waist gain was definitely not from muscle but from fat. I never got obese again, but I was always slighter above my intended appropriate waist size goal for most of those years. Once I stayed in that slightly above zone, my body got use to it and it became a norm. Once your body gets accustomed to something, you got to do something drastic to shake it out of its rut.

So I was getting stronger but slowly not getting the dream body I envisioned. A smart man knows that when on a mass gain cycle you will have to cut down. The problem for me became that I had been in this exercise game for so long, what normally works for most no longer worked for me! I was naive and still believed I didn’t need to make too many changes in my exercise plan.

Here’s what a powerlifter typical looks like:
IPF World Champion Dean Bowring perfomring a deadlift

Now if I followed a diet and training plan to look like the above….what should I had expected to look like? Granted, there are some powerlifters that resemble bodybuilders.  But when the thought of a powerlifter comes into the mind, the above image is the typical standard body type. A body designed to be strong and not necessarily to be seen and worshipped on stage.

BIG AND POWERFUL

Powerlifters are not about the most beautiful bodies. Nope.  The body is secondary to their real objective which is to get as strong as possible.  While pursuing my goal of getting stronger, I had that same mindset.  I didn’t care what my body resembled as long as I could keep getting that weight up!

You see powerlifting is all about moving that weight! Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead Press and Bench Presses, and Cleans make up the majority of their big lifts. So those were the lifts I was focusing on. Not a lot of assistance exercises, just the Big Lifts.

No matter what your goal is, those are the lifts you should be mastering. All those lifts handle the majority of the movements you need to get stronger in. To get the body you want with those moments just require the right amount of training and discipline.


 

So I knew the movements I wanted to incorporate in my master plan. It was just a matter of adding some more and taking certain elements out of my routine. There had to be a way to combine all my knowledge without developing a powerlifter’s round body. That’s what I discovered towards the beginning of 2015. I’ll address that next time!