Training to become a Powerlifter

Here is an introduction into my training log. I will share my training experience with you, and I will do my best to be completely transparent with everything that I do.

Since I have been specializing in bench press my whole “Powerlifting Career” I have a lot of muscle imbalances. So please do not laugh too hard when you see the numbers I am working within squat and deadlift.

As you can see my bench press is among the Elite even though it is a tad short of the world record, but it is still there.

As of 2018, I am ranked as #31 in 93 kg weight class as a RAW Bench Presser in the IPF. I might add that this is the Open age category, and this is my first year in this age group.

ipf ranking

But my deadlift and squat numbers are nothing short of pathetic. Honestly, I am embarrassed to put the numbers up. However, my shame will be your luck, if you are starting out in powerlifting, we can share a journey into building up some numbers we can all be proud of.

Over the coming weeks, I will show you how you can get stronger, perform exercises with a correct form and get SWOLE!

swole is the goal
there is no hiding from form police

I will be videotaping my lifts and my form so you could see how it changes over the program. It can be analysed for mistakes. No doubt the Internet Form Police will be patrolling, handing out a swift and decisive judgment of any errors that I make.

My goal is simple. I want to show you how simple it is to build strength and muscle mass with a basic strength program. Where it gets complicated is consistency and sticking to a plan.

Once you see how I progress over the next few months, you can see that getting strong and muscular injury-free is attainable if you follow the right advice.

While I am at it, I will train on several different pieces of gym equipment. Even though I might be doing the same exercise, say barbell bench press, I will vary it by using different equipment. This will make it more interesting for you to follow the series, but I will also give a short commentary on the pros and cons of the different equipment I use in a particular workout.

If there is a piece of equipment that you would like me to use, just give me a holler!

Chest Day Week 1 Day One

Why not start your week with something positive like a Chest Day?

Asia Pacific Bench Press Championships

Even though I train specifically for bench press, my numbers on this list have been stalling. When this happens, you need to bite the bullet and make changes.

My last THREE training cycles consisted of benching 3 days a week and working my back and shoulder for 2 days a week. That is 5 days of pressing exercises!

This worked great for the World Bench Championships but has failed to deliver results since. Having such a specialised program has created muscle imbalances, and completely neglected other parts of my body – my legs!

For this program, I will be training just one day of the chest and giving my pushing muscles a well-deserved break.

Here is my training program for Monday 09/04/2019.

Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press

Sets – 5

Reps – 5

Weight Used – 140 kgs

Equipment UsedATX Golden Bar, ATX Flat Utility Bench, ATX Smith Cable Rack, POWER MAXX Premium Bumpers.

Light and easy training. I rested for up to 2 minutes in between sets (Normally I rest up to 6 min. during my heavy workouts).

Since I am focused on building muscle mass, I stopped doing paused lifts.

Here is an excerpt from benching.

Incline Barbell Bench Press on IRONMASTER Super Bench with no Seat

Sets – 4

Reps – 8

Weight – 100 kgs

Equipment UsedATX Golden Bar, ATX Smith Cable Rack, IRONMASTER Super Bench, POWER MAXX Premium Bumpers.

You’ve read that right. I ditched the seat from the Ironmaster Super Bench, because people were saying that it was impossible to do incline bench press without an angled seat.

Who am I not to listen to their opinion?

To be completely honest with you, the exercise felt completely different to a normal or “seated” incline bench press.

The bracing position has changed, it was a tad harder to tension my abs for maximum stability.

The other thing which I’ve noticed straightway was that my shoulders were sitting outside of the bench. I’ve used the competition style bench press for last year or so and forgot the feeling of the narrower bench pad.

I tried to film the moment when my shoulders wrapped around the bench.

I never found arching on an incline bench comfortable, I think it puts too much pressure on your lumbar spine (lower back). This made the exercise uncomfortable, so I incline barbell bench press from my previous training regimes or found a more comfortable alternative.

Sometimes the exercises that don’t feel comfortable are the ones that you need to do. In my case, my incline barbell bench press was way behind my lift in the flat position. It is safe to assume my upper chest is lagging and by bringing this up my bench press will also benefit as these muscles play a role in the flat bench press.

By not using the seat on the Ironmaster Super Bench my feet worked as my support rather than a stabilizer in this exercise. This flattened my back and reduced the pressure I used to feel in the lower back when performing this exercise using a traditional bench.

Another benefit of using the Ironmaster Super Bench for this exercise is that it has a thicker and narrower pad compared to the benches used in bench press specific training. These are typically wider and harder to give the largest and most stable platform from which you can lift the biggest numbers.

On the Super Bench, my shoulders were sitting outside of the bench allowing me to go through the whole range of motion without pinching my shoulders. The softer pad also gave me increased range too.

This increased range of motion allows me to recruit and breakdown more muscle fibres, leading to bigger, stronger muscles.

Smith Machine Triceps Palm Press

Sets – 4

Reps – 8

Weight – 40 kgs

Equipment usedATX Smith Cable Rack, IRONMASTER Super Bench, POWER MAXX Premium Bumpers.

This exercise used to be one of my favourite triceps exercises. It targets the triceps lateral head.

The grip is similar to what is used when doing “diamond push-ups”. The advantage of doing this exercise on a smith machine is that you have more stability and isolation. Which results in a greater pump.

I try to place the bar in the middle of my palm, but due to poor wrist mobility and the fact that I haven’t done this exercise in years, I was struggling, especially in the first couple of sets.

Ideally, your elbow is going to be parallel to the bar, this way you will transfer all the force upwards rather than pushing the bar up the smith machine guide rails. Pushing the bar against the guide rails will allow you to lift more weight and activate more muscles, but you will be recruiting the wrong muscles.

Go easy on the weight and focus on form. Push out and squeeze your triceps at the top to get that peak triceps contraction.

If you are training in your home gym and don’t have access to a smith machine don’t despair. Do the diamond push-ups, but if you struggle with your body weight, then do them from your knees.

Vertical Knee Raise

Sets – 4

Reps – 12

Equipment UsedMEGATEC Vertical Knee Raise MT-VKR

Even though summer is over, and abs won’t be seen for months (or years), performing core exercises is extremely beneficial.

Some say that your lower back and abs get enough stress from squats, bench press and deadlift. But I look at it as calves, something that needs additional training to stay on top of the game.

My way of performing this exercise is:

  1. Set up comfortably on the Vertical Knee Raise Station.
  2. Raise your legs and BREATH OUT from your diaphragm
  3. Ideally, you will finish breathing out just before your legs hit your top position.
  4. Breathe in when you are bringing your legs down.
  5. Don’t lower your legs all the way down, this way you will keep tension on your abs at all times.
  6. Try to avoid throwing your legs up in an explosive fashion.
vertical knee raise


Sets– 4

Reps – 10

Equipment UsedATX Hyperextension ATX-HPX-650

We train abs to look good, but why do we need to train our posterior chain muscles?

Well, your core (abdominal area) and posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings) bind together the upper and lower body during all athletic movements. Being strong in both areas will help you in all your lifts and everyday activities.

Your posterior chain muscles act as stabilizers in many weight lifting movements, making you less prone to injury.

Lower the pad to your hip level. If you happen to be a man, use a split pad hyperextensions, so nothing would get squeezed. Unless you enjoy that feeling, either way, it’s up to you.

There are two ways of doing this exercise, if you go down to around mid-way, you will target your lower back.

If you go down all the way, you will put more stress on your hamstrings.

In any case, try squeezing your glutes as hard as you can when you have to come up.

Just like any other exercise, take your time doing it. Stop for a second at the top of the movement. Once it gets too easy, try holding a weight plate or use resistance bands.

barbarian hyperextension

Post work out notes:

I haven’t done some of these exercises for quite some time, and I felt the blood filling up my muscles.

I am pretty sure that I have put a bit too much pressure on my triceps as it started cramping up when I got home.

Looking forward to building from here. If you have any questions or comments, shoot me a message and I will gladly answer them or take your advice.

The workout started: 17:10

Workout finished: 18:33

Total Time spent in the gym – 83 minutes.