YOUR Beginner Powerlifting Guide

YOUR Beginner Powerlifting Guide

By Max Hall

Here are some fun facts:

  • My first meet I almost bombed out.
  • The first athlete I coached DID bomb out.

Since then my athletes and I have gone on to have success in the sport including that first athlete that bombed out of her first meet. Over the past 5 years I have competed at two different federation’s World Championships (getting 4th place in my weight class) and coached over thirty athletes successfully through their own meets.

There are THOUSANDS of powerlifting workouts on the internet, however, there are few free options for beginners or people expressing interest in the sport. This creates a higher barrier for entry into powerlifting and turns off new lifters by producing negative experiences in their first meet.

To counteract this barrier for entry and introduce YOU to powerlifting beginner programs, we gathered information from my time as a coach and competitor. We created THIS free beginner powerlifting program and e-book, that when paired with this article will set you on the path to greatness in powerlifting.

This is the beautiful part of powerlifting after all. I have had athletes from 9 years old all the way to 60 years old compete. I have seen an 89 year old man compete. Powerlifting is truly the sport for anyone.

YOUR Powerlifting Beginner Program

The proper program should be one that allows you to practice training to competition standards easily. A big mistake I see with a LOT training programs is they push beginners way too hard way too fast. As a result the standard of lifting gets worse as the weights get heavier rather than maintaining consistency each and every single week. If you keep your technique to a standard as a beginner I promise you will get stronger and stay healthier.

If you’re not sure that you have found the best fit for you, check out our free e-book and spreadsheet. (Heck you might even build that crazy powerlifter body doing it and look like Russel Orhi One day)

Training to a Standard

The powerlifting GOAT Ed Coan once said, “Every rep from your first warmup to your max should look exactly the same” Its no coincidence that you see this being a common trend among top lifters in training. Many new lifters struggle with this. As the weight increases their form changes. A lot of this has to do with trying to rush the process. If you can maintain the best form possible through your training and keep all of your reps consistent you will not only get way stronger, but you will miss less lifts come competition.

Train every rep as if you are doing in competition; this means knowing the rules and standards.

Meet Rules and Standards

In competition each lift is held to a certain standard and you, as the athlete, will have to follow these rules. This is something I did not know at my first powerlifting meet as I learned the rules during the morning meeting AS I WAS GETTING READY TO COMPETE.

How well did you think I absorbed the rules while nerves and adrenaline were flowing? Not well.(Hence almost bombing out)

For the best day possible, learn the rules now and practice them in training so you can be successful in your first meet. One of the BIGGEST differences between training in the gym and competing on the platform are the competition commands. These are basic rules of powerlifting that dictate if a lift counts. The amount of new lifters who miss lifts on commands during their first meet is really high.

Here are some basic platform rules that apply to all lifts:

  • One minute timer to start lift
    • The head judge will announce when the platform is ready and the timer starts
  • No adjusting wraps on the platform
  • Ammonia must be sniffed off the platform
  • If you are going for a State, National or World record, it must be declared before the attempt
  • This is done so judges can check your equipment before starting
  • There should be no downward motion on any lift

You Don’t Know Squat

This is the start of the meet, when pre-competition adrenaline is flowing. Take a breath, relax, get in the zone. Set your squat standards high so you can fly through the rest of your day.

Basic Squat Competition Standards:

  • Squatting to depth
  • Most feds will have this as your hip crease below the top of your knees
  • Not Having soft Knees
  • This means knees not being completely locked out
  • Do NOT step forward until the “RACK” command is given

After walking back, the weight when the judge sees that your knees are locked out and you are motionless they will give you a “SQUAT” command indicating you may start the lift. After squatting and returning to the fully upright knees locked out position you will receive a “RACK” command indicating you can walk the bar back into the rack. If either of these commands are missed the lift will not count.

In powerlifting when you squat your hip crease must be below your knees. If your squat is higher than this it will not count in competition. To start and end the squat your knees must be locked out. You must follow the commands above.

In training you will want to make sure that you are training to the movement standards minus the commands. You don’t need to train with commands all the time though it would be useful to have a training partner give commands once or twice before your meet so they feel less foreign come competition.

Press Beyond Compare

This is commonly the BIGGEST lift people miss commands on, as it usually relies solely on your hearing. If you are to far in the zone, the start, press or rack may just… miss you.

Basic Bench Competition Standards:

  • Butt on bench after the “START” command is given
  • Head on Bench
  • This is Federation Dependant
  • Heels on Ground
  • This is Federation Dependant
  • Feet Must NOT Move from their spot

For bench you will un-rack the bar then depending on the federation you are competing in there may or may not be a “START” command. After the bar is motionless on your chest you will get a “PRESS” command. Once the bar is pressed and your elbows are locked out you will then receive a “RACK” Command.
In powerlifting your butt must stay on the bench or the lift will not count. If you can not bench without your butt coming off the bench you will want to adjust your technique so you can bench in a way that it does.

Some federations require you to keep your head on the bench and to keep your heels on the ground. Know the rules of where you are competing. If your federation has exemptions for either of these things go ahead and do them. If you are unsure, practice keeping your head on the bench and heels on the ground and you can adjust your technique down the road if you find one of these things helps you and your federation allows it.

To get used to the bench commands practice your bench as if you are always lifting with commands even if you are not. Bench is the lift I see the most attempts lost on missed commands. Practice pulling the bar out and holding it over your chest for a second before starting as if there was a start command. Bring the bar down and pause it until the bar was motionless like there was a press command. At completion hold it over your chest for a second as if there was a rack command.

Be prepared for your bench to take a hit if you have never paused on your chest before. Often weight that you can hammer out for 2-3 reps becomes INFINITELY more difficult once a pause is applied.

Deadlift to Finish It

Deadlift is the FINAL lift of your day, but it’s the attempt that makes sure YOU’RE in the meet. Here are the most BASIC rules to keep yourself swimming.

Basic Deadlift Competition Standards:

  • No Hitching / Ramping
  • No Soft Knees
  • No Dropping the Bar before it hits the ground

When it comes to commands, deadlift is the simplest lift. When the head judge says platform ready, you are able to approach the bar and start your attempt. Their hand will be raised in the air waiting for you to initiate the pull. Once your hips and knees are locked out you will get a “DOWN” command and the head judge will bring their hand down quickly.

Deadlift is the simplest of the three. The first thing is no hitching is allowed. This simply means the bar cannot go up then down then up again. At the top of the deadlift your knees must be locked out solidly and completely straight. Your knees are NOT allowed to lock, unlock and relock again, this would be a red light. Finally, you must follow the commands above.

Again, deadlift is INCREDIBLY simple to do, but one of the most fun lifts of the day.

Complete YOUR Meet

Now you are armed with the knowledge to start powerlifting and get ready for your first meet. For more tips to be ready check out my article 5 Tips For Your First Meet article. Start lifting and get on that platform young Heroes. I believe in you.


My Name is Max Hall, I love My Hero Academia and Deadlifts. I work with powerlifters and getting them as strong as possible.

For Coaching Email me at or check out my free e-book. If you want to get to know the Anime Lifting community a BIT more check out the Plus Ultra Fitness Podcast.

1 comment

  • Adam Pratt

    Love this max

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