CHAPTER 2: COMPETITION, RULES & EQUIPMENT
The equipment needed in powerlifting is essential. I'll explain each one in detail from head to toe. First, the bench shirt. The bench shirt is an invention that was made to protect the shoulders. The bench shirt also helps get lifters out of the bottom-position on the bench where most lifters have trouble at. It's very tight around the arms and chest simply because when you get it, it's custom-made for you! Before you get a shirt, you have to give your arm and chest measurements so the tightness of the shirt can be determined. This shirt is hard to put on and take off, which is why before your attempts you should wear it once. If the shirt is loose, you might as well go without it. Also, don't let anyone else wear the shirt, simply because it was made for you.
Next is the wrist straps. The wrist straps helps to protect the wrists from excessive strain by the weight. These can help a whole lot on the bench and squat, since the wrist are vulnerable through those exercises. The suits (squat or deadlift) and singlets (wrestling or power) are made for tightness and help with form. The suits helps to prevent injury in the hip area and help to even increase tightness on the bench.
The belt is another piece of equipment that most lifters should already have. This protects the lower back from strain and pull. You can use it on the deadlift and squat. It might help on the bench, but for some lifters it might not make a difference.
Finally, the knee wraps. The knee wraps protects knees during the squat and deadlift. They work the same way as the wrist wraps. Chalk is also used as an equipment but it is supplied in competition.
In competition, they have several rules that are followed. In competition, you're expected to go at or below parallel on the squat. Bodybuilders do "high" squats while powerlifters have to go deeper to hit parallel. You're also expected to do a "rest-pause" on the bench. This where most lifters fall short of. I'll explain the signals later. There are hardly no stipulations on the deadlift, its simple. There are signals that you must also follow in order for your to get a "good" lift. On the squat, you have a "squat" signal which is where you do your actual squat, then you have a "rack" signal where you rack the weight. On the bench, you bring the bar down to your chest then you wait for the "press" signal (which shouldn't be no more than 2-3 seconds with the right weight), then you wait for a "rack" signal to rack the weight. On the deadlift, all you have is a "down" signal, you can pull at your own speed. If you rush through the lift or "miss" the signals, you will miss the lift, regardless if you got the attempt or not. That's how judges are able to judge fair lifts by the signals. If you don't pause on the bench, it will be a missed lift. As long as you can get used to the signals, you can have a "good" lift. All it takes is practice in the gym.
As far as the rules are concerned, they are simple. For one, most powerlifting meets ban the "false-grip" (where the thumbs are on the same side as the fingers.) bench because the risk of the bar moving off the hands during the lift. Also, one of your fingers must cover the space on the bar. If not, they won't permit the lift. On the squat, they won't let you touch the plates. Some meets go the same way as gym rules go (i.e., no cussing). Also, no velcro belts are allowed in competition simply because they are unsafe. They might be tight, but since they are velcro, they tend to loosen up under pressure, especially on the squat. Buckle belts eliminates that from the picture and ensures safety. All powerlifting meets have a rules briefing meeting where they discuss all of the rules. Be sure to ask all the questions you can about the equipment (most meets do equipment checks) and rules.
There are ten weight classes. For the men, they are: 114, 132, 148, 165, 181, 198, 220, 242, 275, and SHW (or superheavyweight). For the women, 97, 105, 114, 132, 148, 165, 181, 198, and 198+. According to your weight the day or night before the competition, you will be placed in the nearest class. For example, you have two lifters, one at 191 another at 199. Well, the 191 lifter will be placed in the 198 class while the 199 lifter will be placed in the 220 class. The 199 lifter is over the 198 limit for his class, so he will be placed in the next heaviest class. But there is little things you can do to get weight, like chew gum, use the bathroom, take a shower, even do cardio to drop weight. But its best to think about what class your going in before the meet rather than the day of.
CHAPTER 3: ROUTINES/DIET
The routine, I think can go either way. But most of the time, you'll be doing periodization or cycling as it is commonly called. This works because you work up to doing a new maximum rep (max or 1RM) everytime. I've used periodization a lot and I'm a big believer in it and because of it, I've seen progress. Some people cycle from 6 weeks up to 16 weeks. The only difference is the more weight that will be done at the end. There are phases, hypertrophy, strength, power and peak. The hypertrophy phase helps condition the muscle for more mass while the strength phase helps with strength increase. The power phase brings about power and you peak out in your peak phase, which will end your cycle. Below is a cycle that has all the phases outlined. In order to customize the cycle to your needs, you have to multiply your 1RM by the percentage listed (i.e. 1RM=300; 300*50%).