Is it a good idea to get into powerlifting in your 30’s?
Whether you’ve been in the gym since your 20’s or realizing that taking care of yourself is important for longevity, you can benefit from some sort of structured strength training.
After your 20’s your body is fully developed and has been for over a decade now. This is when all those bad habits start catching up to you, the drinking, partying or simply lack of physical activity. Your knees ache and you hold your back when sneezing in fear of throwing it out.
But what if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way?
What if I told you that you can build muscle, feel better and get stronger while eating just as much or more than you currently do? This seems like a scam right? Especially in your 30’s. But it’s true! Powerlifting (and strength training in general) can help increase muscle mass, help those achy joints and increase your metabolism.
The upsides of Powerlifting
Now if you are in your 30’s and interested in powerlifting, it’s more than likely you’ve seen it on social media or maybe one of your friends is into it. With the ever-growing popularity of the sport, you start to wonder just how feasible it is to do. You’ve probably seen elite lifters squatting hundreds of pounds or even seen the superheavyweights squats well over a thousand pounds. This seems overwhelming and intimidating to get into especially if you don’t understand how the body works and adapts.
Some of you former athletes have an idea of progressive overload, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll give a brief overview for you to understand how you can get strong safely.
Progressive overload refers to the concept of slowly and systematically giving the body more stimulus (in the form of more weight in the case of powerlifting) to force it into adapting. These adaptations are increased muscle mass and strength.
In other words, just because you are not very strong right now doesn’t mean you can’t get stronger.
There is no barrier to entry when it comes to powerlifting training or competing. You can walk into a powerlifting gym and have never touched a weight in your life or been bodybuilding for the last 10 years. It does not matter, you can powerlift.
Interestingly enough, strength seems to peak well into the late 30s and early 40s as opposed to other physical demands, as the body continues to create those adaptations for a very long time. It’s safe to say, then, it’s never too late to reap the benefits of strength training.
Caveats of powerlifting
It’s a long-term game
There is a catch when it comes to starting powerlifting: it’s a slow, methodical process.
It is not flashy, nor is it linear in progress from session to session or even week to week. At the same time, though, it’s the only sport where if you simply stay consistent, you will eventually get better at it. Literally all you have to do is show up.
This is especially good news for those of you who spent your 20’s wrecking your body every chance you could (no judgment here but you know who you are). You’ll always find noticeable progression in strength as your body scrambles to make all the new adaptations.
You’ll have to leave your ego at the door
Now for those of you who are coming into the gym with a good amount of muscle mass or even gym experience here’s my piece of advice… leave your ego at the door and be willing to adapt and learn.
If this is you, please read carefully: Just because you got some muscle on you or been hitting the gym for a while now does not mean you know the first thing about powerlifting training or technique.
Now this might sound harsh, but it’s for your own good to start this journey into squatting, benching and deadlifting as much weight as possible with a humble attitude whether you have gym experience or not. The thing is that for those of you who do have some time in the gym and some muscle mass, it’s even more important to have great technique and follow a proper program as, more than likely, you are strong enough to muscle up more weight than the inexperienced group.
This ability to simply move more weight means that there is higher risk of injury involved. Think about it, if someone benches 100lbs with terrible form they may not get injured. But if someone benches 300lbs with terrible form, eventually they will.
Just because you can muscle up a decent amount of weight without knowing proper technique doesn’t mean you should. Powerlifting is a skill that should be treated as such.
Also, aging sucks. So you’ll have to train accordingly
Now with being in your 30s comes a glimpse of the harsh reality that aging sucks. This means that you need to have a higher emphasis on injury prevention through proper technique (as mentioned above), recovery, warm ups and prehab work.
Good technique will vary depending on your individual anatomical structure and mobility but getting a good coach who understands this will set you up for success in this new endeavor. Recovering well will allow you to maximize your workouts and see results as fast as possible.
Good recovery consists of 90% good nutrition and proper sleep. No supplements or magic pills will replace these two no matter what anyone wants you to believe. Eat well and get your 8 hours or sleep every night and you’ll be amazed at the difference in your training.
Proper warm ups/prehab work are another great part of the puzzle in keeping your body moving well while you aim to get stronger. For those of you who sit at a desk for a living you simply can’t just get under a bar and squat a lot of weight as soon as you get to the gym. You need to prime your body to move since you were sedentary for so long.
Ultimately, it’s never too late
It is never too late to get strong. Whether it's in your 30’s ,40’s, 50’s, or even older, strength training in the form of powerlifting can help keep your body from becoming weak and frail to maximize your quality of life. Although a bit more tedious to do once you are no longer young and invincible (as every young person thinks they are) it is very much possible to enter this powerlifting journey and become the best version of yourself.