Author: Shane Martin

When you first get into equipped powerlifting it can be daunting and confusing. There are limited resources and lots of misconceptions. Here I want to share 5 mistakes and how to avoid them:

  1. STARTING IN TIGHT GEAR

Don’t. Please. It will save you hours of frustration. How your gear fits plays a huge role in your enjoyment and success in equipped. You can’t learn something you can’t manipulate. And if you have gear too tight, you are making the learning process cumbersome.

Avoid this by following the sizing charts available. Titan will likely be the equipment you use and their chart is simple. My recommendation is to choose “MEET FIT” for all your gear based on body weight. This fit allows you to get the right resistance but not so much where it comprises your ability to set up, improve technique, and increase the weight on the bar. MEET FIT is your first step to single-ply success! 

  1. BUYING A SUPER KATANA LOW CUT COLLAR FIRST

This is a very common occurrence. You want to buy the best bench shirt and bench 600lbs today. Sorry. The bench shirt is a conundrum that takes lots of quality reps to master. The best way to begin mastering the shirt is getting a shirt that allows a much larger margin of error in how you touch. The thicker your collar or the tighter your shirt is, you have to be more precise and thus more difficult to replicate as a beginner. 

Avoid this by using the Titan F6 bench shirt. The F6 has a thinner collar, but still performs similar to the Super Katanas. Thus, the F6 allows plenty of output but with the ability to touch inconsistently as you learn. With a thinner collar, you will be able to control the barbell more consistently than with a thicker collar. The thicker the collar, the harder it is to touch and control. When you are starting out, you want to create as many clean, touched reps as possible and limit obstacles. It is worth noting that there have been 400kg benches in the Titan F6 shirts, so don’t fall into the trap that you can’t bench big in these shirts. You can!

  1. NEGLECTING YOUR UPPER BACK

This one is simple. Your upper back is extremely important in equipped powerlifting. A strong upper back will make any squat, bench, or deadlift equipped easier to tolerate, control, execute, and generate power from. The stability and tension you create can increase your ability to produce maximal force. There are lots of kilos left on the platform because of neglecting the upper back. Treat the upper back like you would training your quads or triceps; as a primary.

Aim for 10-15 sets of upper back work a week. Try to use movements that don’t load your lower back directly. These can include seal rows, chest supported rows, seated rows, DB rows, pulldowns, pull-ups, etc. You always have time for upper back work!

  1. HIT DEPTH – PAUSE YOUR BENCHES

This is a little more nuanced but still rings true. The goal in training should be to execute competition standard lifts as often as the program allows. The more competition standard reps you have under your belt, the more confident you will be at a competition and the more accurate training data will become. If you are not able to hit depth or pause your benches, then we need to correct this. 

  • If you can’t hit depth, you can pull your leg cuffs higher up your quad. The higher your leg cuff is, the easier it will be to hit depth.
  • If you are having a hard time touching and holding a pause, you can pull the sleeves higher up your arms, or you can pull the collar upwards, or adjust the load on the bar. 
  1. CUTTING WEIGHT YOUR FIRST MEET

Don’t. Cutting weight as an equipped lifter has extra implications on game day because your ability to lift the weight you want directly correlates to how the equipment fits. Something so small as 1kg bodyweight loss can mean the sleeves on the bench shirt or your hips in the squat suit are loose. These slight changes can make huge differences in what you are capable of lifting because tightness is the largest factor in equipped output. So, when you cut weight, you create a new variable on game day. The best way to do this is don’t cut weight. At the first meet you should walk on as close to your training weight as possible so the equipment fits as close to training as possible making your competition as predictable as possible to allow for the most success. Then, when you have that first meet under your belt, you and your coach can decide the next move!

Avoiding these mistakes will set you up for early success in equipment and fast-track your PRs. To maximize your understanding of equipped powerlifting, you can also take the RTS course Thriving in Single Ply. Thriving in Single-Ply will provide you with all the tools to learn, improve, and prepare you for equipped powerlifting. Whether you are a coach or athlete, new or experienced, Thriving in Single-Ply will prepare you for all the challenges equipped powerlifting has!