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"Powerlifting" Movements?
Douglas Berninger, CSCS,*D, RSCC 9/10/2012 1:36:15
Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 3:07 PM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14

What is everyone's thought on using the bench, squat, and deadlift for training athletes to success in their respective sports? Do you use them with specific powerlifting methods (i.e., Westside, Sheiko)? Do you use them under modern methods or your own? Do you cut them out completely (no benching, etc.)?


These questions were sparked by a great discussion I just listened to on Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting for athletic development. You should all check out this new podcast called The Strength of Evidence. It's a very strong, evidence-based podcast run by Jonathon Fass and Bret Contreras.

Mr Josh Hernandez 6/3/2012 5:30:26 PM
Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012 1:03 PM
Joined: 6/3/2012
Posts: 4


Very interesting podcasts! I had a chance to listen to 3 of them the other night while driving. I thought they did a great job exploring the topics openly even after listing their own bias beforehand. 


As to your question, I think powerlifting is necessary for training athletes and, in my case, Soldiers. Let me qualify that statement with this: I'm still very new to coaching and this is a very sophomoric opinion.  The only athlete I really train is my son, a swimmer and lacrosse player.  

I don't prescribe bench pressing for my guys or my son and there are a few different reasons. First, most of the guys I serve with can bench and normally bench a lot but fail miserably when it comes to squatting, dead lifting, and pressing (even though a lot of folks refer to it as the "military" press).  For example, it is not uncommon to see a guy walk in the gym on base and bench press 275 for sets of 3 but fail to go to depth while squatting 135.  This is no exaggeration and not an isolated incident. 
Second, I definitely see a lack of mobility with the chronic bench press crew.  I don't think it's the worst exercise in the world but I think a proper warm up and stretch afterwards is important to keep from having the all too common pronated shoulder issue. I like the press or push presses in lieu of bench pressing. 
For my guys, I like the Starting Strength method because for the most part, they're all new to strength training and I think it's an excellent program to start with and it works in its simplicity.  
I'm very interested in some other coaches thoughts on this. My exposure to training people has been very limited. Most of the guys I get to work with are all in fairly decent shape, ex-HS athletes, and work out 5-6 times a week. 

Douglas Berninger, CSCSD 9/10/2012 1:36:15 PM
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 1:28 PM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14



Those are good points. Believe me, it's normal in ANY setting to see most of the guys around being able to bench more than they squat. Not the best situation to be in. For the population you work with, it is especially important that they be able to reach certain positions for survival. I can definitely say that you are doing good work in trying to prevent mobility issues in your soldiers. 

John Stack, CSCS 6/3/2012 6:20:57 PM
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:52 AM
Joined: 6/3/2012
Posts: 2

First of all, I've only just discovered these podcasts so I can't comment on what is said in them, but here's my two cents on the topic anyway.
Surely, it's more about 'how' the exercises are performed rather than the choices of exercises.  I think that there is a place for all of the big exercises in a good, well-rounded training programme. 
Since most sports require high levels of speed, power and velocity, surely a large part of training should involve developing these attributes - and all of the big exercises can be performed to achieve this.  So, in my mind, performing the snatch would develop these attributes more than performing near 1RM deadlifts.  Of course, performing a deadlift using an RM that allows velocity to be optimised would also be acceptable - i.e. performing these exercises at that point on the force-velocity curve that optimises performance, which effectively involves finding a balance between the amount of weight lifted and the rate at which the trainee can move it.  
I'm always going to say that the deep squat is superior to a partial ROM squat of course.  As for the bench press, I'd tend to use incline more for athletes, or incline with dumbbells and the arms/hands turned to 45 degrees.  For me, the bottom line is to look at an individual and determine what exercises he/she needs to improve performance or correct imbalances.  If the trainee presents with the hunched-over shoulder posture of somebody who benches more than anything else, then he won't be benching much until these imbalances are resolved.
Finally, I've always loved Dr. Fred Hatfield's statement - do as much work standing on your two feet as possible.
I just read a paper today which discusses this very topic (Weightlifting v Powerlifting) in the context of volleyball.  It's called 'Weightlifting to Improve Volleyball Performance' by Patrick Holmberg.
Now, I'm going to listen to all of those podcasts which I'd not heard of until I saw this thread.  I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

Sandra M. Tabor, CSCS 7/12/2012 11:39:17 AM
Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 5:02 PM
Joined: 7/12/2012
Posts: 1

In his book Fit, Lon Kilgore argues that increasing absolute strength is the best way to improve power, speed, and endurance.  Rippetoe posits pretty much the same in Practical Programming.  Since the absolute best way to build strength is to lift heavy, it makes sense that doing the big lifts (esp. squats and deadlifts) is a good idea.