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I have been weight-training for almost 2 years now. I do it because I love it. That was the only reason I had been training, but I have a new goal now: to win in a local powerlifting competition. I don't have a trainer or a coach. How do I train to increase my strength? I am 63kg female. My 1RM in deadlift is 94kgs (last week). Tips to increase strength from experienced people is highly appreciated.

  • Your 1RM "in what exercise" is 94kgs....? – Chuck Feb 28 '18 at 8:23
  • 1RM in deadlift – bbb Feb 28 '18 at 9:43
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Learn the rules

It may be surprising, but there is no universally set rules for powerlifting competitions. A powerlifting competition sponsored by a federation must follow the federation's rules, but each federation may have different set of rules. A powerlifting competition that's hosted by a gym and not sponsored can have their own sets of rules. Most will be about the same, but it's best not to make assumptions.

  • Is it actually a powerlifting competition? This one may seem odd, but I bring this up because a local gym hosted a "powerlifting meet" which was basically a "How many reps can you lift at 325" competition. It was not received well.
  • What are the clothing requirements? Are you required to wear a singlet? If so, what kind of singlet?
  • What equipment are you allowed to use? Does "raw" mean no equipment at all? Are you allowed to use a belt? Knee sleeves? Wrist wraps? etc.
  • What shoes are you allowed to wear?
  • Squat:
    • Do you walk the weight out or is it a monolift rack?
    • Are you allowed to chalk your back?
    • Are you required to pause?
  • Bench:
    • Where are your feet allowed? Are they required to be flat on the ground, or can you press on the balls of your feet?
    • Are you required to pause?
    • Are you required to wrap your thumbs around the bar?
    • How wide are your arms allowed to be?
    • Are you required to follow commands? If so, what are the commands?
  • Deadlift
    • Do you have to wait for a command to disengage the lockout?
    • Are you allowed to drop the weight, or are you required to lower it in a controlled fashion?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Just things to think about.

After that, all your training should focus on lifting as you would on competition day.

If you're required to wear a singlet, it's best to wear it a couple times before competition so you get a feel for it.

If you're required to follow bench press commands, try to find someone who knows what they're doing to give those commands so you can practice.

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You said you don't have a trainer/coach, but my advice is to seek one out, preferably one who competes as well. I say this straight up because you also said you want to win a local powerlifting competition.

I also have 7 weeks to my next powerlifting competition, but I'm a month into my training run, and my coach has written me a brutal program with a good mix of heavy and volume.

A coach will assess your technique, your abilities, and movement patterns, so they can tailor a training program specifically for you.

As an example from my experience - the very first session I had with my coach, my deadlift went from 160kg to 180kg, just from tweaking my technique. That said to me that I had strength, but my form needed improvement.

That being said, if you can't access a coach, there are plenty of existing programs that have good results, like Stronglifts/Starting strength at the beginner level, and mad cow or Wendler 5/3/1 for intermediates. Whatever you choose to follow, make sure you are consistent, and that you add weight to the bar each week - start light, otherwise you'll plateau quickly.

Work on improving your form - film yourself so you can critique your lifts. Conditioning is also important, make sure you get some in. I like to use high-rep training for this.

Leading into the comp, work up to heavy singles in your last week beforehand, with a little bit of back-off work, and leave 2-3 days to recover before the big day.

But probably more important than the time spent in the gym is your time spent out of it - nutrition and recovery is where you will get your gains. Eat big and focus on recovery.

Good luck.

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