The Top Five Power-Training Mistakes

...and how to correct them.




It’s not enough to merely work the muscles involved in the powerlifts via other exercises. You need to choose the right exercises and progressively boost your strength in these lifts, as well.


  • When possible, choose secondary lifts that are free weight, compound or otherwise let you pack on the most iron, and thus make gradual strength gains. For example, for triceps, upright dips and lying triceps extensions (each for four sets of 6-10 reps) are better choices than rope pushdowns and one-arm dumbbell triceps extensions.
  • To safely go heavy and make progressive gains, pyramid some secondary lifts. Military presses (working the front delts and tri’s, which are key to bench presses), leg presses (working the quads and glutes, crucial to squats) and barbell rows (working the upper-back muscles used in deadlifts) are three prime candidates for 12-10-8-6 pyramids.
  • Don’t neglect your core. Your abs and lower back assist on bench presses and are especially crucial on squats and deadlifts. The cliché about a chain only being as strong as its weakest link is never more true than when powerlifting.



Powerlifts usually fail at specific points. For bench presses, it’s the top half of the press when front delts and triceps take on more of the weight. For squats, it’s getting out of “the hole” (low position). And many deadlifters tire out as the bar rises and can’t lock it out. Additionally, some deads fail because the grip is the weakest link.


  • Correctly used, chains or bands place greater resistance on the top of bench presses. If you don’t have access to these, do bench presses in a power rack with supports set at approximately the halfway point in your range of motion and press the bar off of the supports from a dead stop to full lockout on each rep. Do three sets of 8-10 after your full-range bench presses.
  • One way to target the lowest position of squats is to squat until your butt touches a bench or box (set just below parallel), and then explode up. This will not only condition you to reverse the downward momentum as quickly as possible, but it will also help you learn how low to go. Do three sets of 8-12 after full-range squats.
  • If you’re having trouble locking out deadlifts, set power rack supports at knee level and pull the bar from there. Do three sets of 6-10 after full-range deads.
  • Those training for powerlifting should use an alternating grip for deadlifts (one hand overhand, the other underhand), but bodybuilders can go with straps to secure their grips.


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