“Doesn’t that hurt your knees? But what about when you are older? Oh that’s so bad for your joints!” These are all things I’ve heard my family say/ask while powerlifting as a teen.
While they all come from a loving place of worry, these types of questions made me doubtful of continuing powerlifting due to the fear of what it would do to my body. But how valid are these worries, really?
Powerlifting’s Benefits on the Body
What does powerlifting do to the body? A couple of things do happen after a significant amount of training has occurred.
Stronger Muscles (duh)
First of all, increased skeletal muscle mass. Not only does this mean that you are more jacked (which is fucking awesome in itself), but now your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) has increased due to the muscle mass. This means that you get to eat more while maintaining the same weight, and what’s more, the higher BMR makes fat loss easier too.
Strength training has also been proven to increase bone density in almost any demographic. Of course, most of you reading this are probably not the age where you’re concerned about your bone density. But, your grandma and grandpa definitely care, and one day, you will too.
Literally just lifting weights can help you get denser bones and slow down the loss of density and bone mass as you age. It’s a literal bio hack! I really do believe that strength training can be the key to staying mobile and independent in the long run.
Look at it this way, too: If you are strong enough to squat even 1 plate, you’ll certainly have enough squat strength to lift yourself off the ground or the couch.
Having some form of resistance training in your life will help exponentially as you age. No one wants to be that hunchbacked old person, but if you maintain a strong and mobile back from a lifetime of training, you will not be.
Mental Health Benefits
Now let’s talk about an underrated but far more immediate effect powerlifting can have on the body. That is an improved mood. For a lot of lifters, this is well known... the guy/girl who started working out after a breakup is a typical meme. But it’s no coincidence a lot of them keep doing it long term.
Let’s face it, a lot of us have learned to use the gym as a coping mechanism to help process a lot of difficult emotions. Now, are squat, bench press, and deadlift all you need? Obviously not. Powerlifting is a sport, not a replacement for therapy. That being said, it definitely has a positive effect on mental health. Think of the gym as a supplement for mental health that when incorporated with a healthy lifestyle can work well.
Let’s end this question with a disclaimer: any physical endeavor taken to an extreme can be dangerous. This may mean choking on a hot dog as a professional eater or tearing your ACL playing in the NFL.
So while it has been proven that on average powerlifters suffer far fewer injuries than other sports, the injuries that do happen at the extreme level can be just as bad as any sports. At the same time, these are more often from improper technique or loading. We all know someone who got hurt trying to use far more weight than they could realistically handle.
But at the end of the day, when pushing to lift the most amount of weight humanly possible, there will be a limit for everybody. Oftentimes that just means missing a lift, though, which isn’t all that dangerous provided you have the proper equipment and/or spotters.
Powerlifting’s benefits far outweigh the potential low risk of injury at the competitive end. These benefits can help any and all people by increasing muscle mass and getting thicker bones. Both of these are incredibly beneficial to maintain a high quality of life as you age.
The benefits also extend to the mind, as most lifters experience a boost in mood during and post workout. This can help create positive experiences in your daily life to live a happier and healthier life.
Powerlifting can be a lifelong sport when approached with longevity in mind that can have lifelong benefits. Hopefully this opens your eyes to the idea of powerlifting if you are unsure whether you’d like to or not.