KEY POINTS OF THE ARTICLE:
- Powerlifting champions who were gold medalists made more attempts than non-medalists.
- The odds of winning a competition increased 5.9 times for men and 1.5 times for women when successfully completing 8 or 9 of 9 lift attempts.
Winning a championship or a gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes. However, success in competitive sports is not just about talent and physical ability. It also involves effective training programs, mental preparation, motivation, and support systems. Hatzigeorgiadis et al. (2014) found that self-talk, visualization, and goal setting were effective mental preparation strategies for athletes.(Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2014)
The Three Main Lifts
Powerlifting is a sport that requires a combination of strength, technique, and mental toughness. If you want to build strength and improve your powerlifting game, you must focus on the essential moves that are key to success. Powerlifting competitions are divided into weight classes and age groups where the lifter can compete worldwide in any country with a powerlifting federation, such as IPF or USPA.
Bodyweight and Age Categories in Powerlifting
Fair competition is essential in powerlifting, which is why bodyweight and age categories play an important role. To ensure fairness, competitions are divided into separate federations, each with their own rules on weight classes. Choosing the right federation and category can help you set attainable goals and succeed in powerlifting.
While strength is a crucial factor in powerlifting success, recent research suggests that the number of attempts made during powerlifting competitions also significantly determines the likelihood of winning medals. This article explores the relationship between attempts made and success in powerlifting, drawing upon various research studies conducted in the field.
In this month’s MASS, Dr. Eric Helms wrote a compelling article about a recent study. This study examined the number of attempts and load selection in relation to the maximum weight that medalists and non-medalists lifted at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Classic Championships from 2013 to 2019. The study focused on male and female powerlifters and examined the correlation between attempts made and the likelihood of winning a medal.
Key Factors in Successful Powerlifting Competitions
The research study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research was titled “Analysis of Competition Performance Leading to Success at the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships Between 2013 and 2019.” This study aimed to determine competition strategies that separate gold medalists’ (GMs) and silver or bronze medalists’ performances.
The study examined powerlifters who participated in at least one IPF Classic World Championship between 2013 and 2019. The powerlifters also needed to have recorded a total by not being disqualified due to missing all three attempts. This study analyzed over 1,312 powerlifting individual totals, including 734 male and 578 female powerlifters.
We categorized the attempt weight and success for the squat, bench press, and deadlift, the ‘total’ competition scores, and the category (age, weight class, and sex) into three groups: Gold medals, Silver and Bronze medals, and non-winners (fourth place or lower). In a powerlifting competition, participants receive three attempts for each lift, which means they can attempt a total of nine lifts in a meet (squat, deadlift, and bench press).
Number of Attempts in Powerlifting Competitions
The study found that male medalists, especially gold medalists, made more attempts than non-medalists. When eight or nine attempts were completed successfully, the odds of winning increased by 5.9- and 1.5-fold for male and female powerlifters. Similarly, the odds of winning any medal increased by 3.8- and 1.7-fold for male and female powerlifters under the same conditions.
The study emphasized that, just like baseball sluggers Reggie Jackson and Sammy Sosa, they struck out a lot, but they were also legendary home run hitters. Beyond talent, physical ability, and technical training, factors such as mental preparation, motivation, and support systems have impacted success in winning gold medals. (Shadle, 2013)
Powerlifters who had more attempts at winning won more gold medals. Among male gold medalists, the range of successful attempts spanned from five to nine, showing that no gold medalists made only three or four attempts. The range for silver or bronze medalists was from four to nine attempts, while for non-winners, it spanned from three to nine.
Regarding female powerlifters, 90% of gold, silver, or bronze medalists completed at least six attempts. There was no significant difference in the number of successful attempts between female gold medalists and silver or bronze medalists, nor between gold medalists and non-winners.
Overall, the study highlighted that the performance of powerlifters at the IPF World Classic Championships showed the importance of making attempts. Even among lifters at the world level, the majority aimed to complete seven out of nine attempts. The odds of winning gold increased by 5.9-fold when male powerlifters made eight or nine attempts (van den Hoek et al., 2023)
In conclusion, the study suggests that successful powerlifters make a significant number of attempts compared to those who don’t win. Simply being stronger than the competition is not sufficient when most of the competitors at the elite level are so closely matched. To build the highest total for the three lifts and become world champions, lifters must focus on making a substantial number of successful attempts. The study emphasizes the importance of intelligent attempt selection, as it plays a crucial role in powerlifting success.
Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Galanis, E., Nikos, C. F. Z., & Theodorakis, Y. (2014). A self-talk intervention for competitive sport performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26, 82-95.
Shadle, A. H. (2013). Exploring the lived experience of Olympic gold medal champions. University of Missouri-Columbia. Graduate School. Theses and Dissertations. Dissertations. 2013 Dissertations. https://doi.org/https://hdl.handle.net/10355/46118
van den Hoek, D., Garrett, J., Travis, S. K., Oxnard, K., Howells, R., Owen, P., & Latella, C. (2023). Analysis of Competition Performance Leading to Success at the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships Between 2013 and 2019. J Strength Cond Res. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000004488