What Makes a Good Powerlifting Coach?

What Makes a Good Powerlifting Coach?

By: Payton Cowan

Powerlifting is a constantly growing sport and, recently that growth has been more exponential. With this high growth rate of growth rate, many powerlifting  are looking for a coach that can help facilitate their progress in the best way possible.

In my last article we talked about what it takes to make you a good, coachable atlete. This week we are going to dive into what it takes to be a great coach.

The coaching market for powerlifters is currently heavily oversaturated with people who competed once and believe they can coach, people who read Starting Strength once, and others who may not be qualified to coach.

Here are three criteria that are incredibly important for a coach to meet in order to provide a quality service: the ability to communicate, compromise, and the desire to learn.

Communication is KEY

The ability to communicate is the most basic requirement for an online coach to meet in order to provide any form of service.

Too often people sign up for a "coach" only to get a program once a month with little to NO communication between the coach and the client.

A quality coach should have a set amount of communication with their athlete that works best for both parties. This communication could be weekly, daily, or even monthly. Sometimes during a program or even a training day there is a quick fix you will need, whether that is form or a programming change due to life circumstances. Without communication between the coach and client, the athlete is left to decide how to run their program… which eliminates the need for a coach in the first place!

That isn't to say that 24/7 communication is the universal answer, which is an important factor to note as well. The amount of communication that makes a quality coach is what works best for the athlete.

In the end it is up to the coach to provide the options for those communication types and actually follow through with them once they have secured their athlete. 

Crucial Compromises

The ability to compromise is crucial for a coach in order to provide a quality service.

Now the word “compromise” shouldn't be mistaken with “bargaining” - more so that the coach should be willing to change their program if the athlete has a conflicting issue.

There are a lot of coaches who provide their athlete with a program, and if anything comes up in what will be a long-lasting change their coach will not make the adjustments that are needed - and leaves that up to the athlete to change themselves.

Again this defeats the purpose of paying for a coach. If the lot decisions about adjusting the program are made by the athlete, then the coach may not be doing their job to the agreed upon level. 

It is important to note that sometimes a coach will not change their program because the athlete is not taking it seriously or putting in the effort, that does not indicate a bad coach… but may indicate an athlete wasting BOTH of their time.

Learn, Learn, LEARN

Every coach needs to have the desire to learn.

This is a non-negotiable in regards to lifting. If you pay someone to manage your programming then they must try to expand their knowledge in order to provide the most up to date service.

People often compete once and immediately begin their coaching business but are using secondhand programs or just throwing movements and volumes on a spreadsheet without thought but expecting a paycheck for it.

Lifters who are coached by someone like this usually hit a stalling point, and because their coach does not have the knowledge to make individualized adjustments to the program that will lead to the success of the athlete, they never escape the plateau. 

This does not mean that a coach has to read research level papers every day in order to provide a good service, but it does mean that they need to provide THEIR OWN thoughts and programs to athletes that are individual.

Regurgitating what other coaches say or barely modifying online popular templates works for a while, that is until people realize their program looks exactly like someone else’s program that you coach. As a matter of fact, the desire to learn is the key to creating individualization among your athletes that you program for. 

The Great Coach Coral

There are always gray areas that one post cannot cover, and there are situations for which we cannot account. This post is a loose guide because similar to quality coaching, everything is individualized to what works best for you!

There are so many different coaches out in the fitness industry - and it will continue to grow at rapid rates. With newcomers just entering the sport it is important to have as much information out there on how to find quality services in terms of coaching, so that more people are inclined to stay in the sport and become the best version of themselves.

There will always be coaches that refuse to make any progress in order to provide a better service, because they see coaching as easy money. Using this criteria as your loose guide you should be able to find a quality coach that will work with YOU to create the best possible program to match your goals.


Hi! I’m Payton Cowan, I have been a part time powerlifting coach for 2 years now and I’ve been powerlifting for more than 4 years! I am a full time college student and a huge anime fan! My favorite anime of all time is either Violet Evergarden or Naruto.

 For coaching requests, shoot an email to prometheuspowerlifting@gmail.com, or shoot me DM on Instagram @thejackedmclovin!

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