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Powerlifting is a sport in which competitors are tested on their strength in three lifts: the squat, deadlift and bench press. Preparing to compete in powerlifting can be very stressful on the body, as training routines are intense and take a toll on the muscles, joints, bones and nervous system, meaning that as you get older, you will find it even harder work. However, it's still possible to follow a powerlifting workout as an old guy by making a few small tweaks to your training and lifestyle.
The older you get, the more important rest becomes. According to strength coach Mick Madden, of MuscleAndBrawn.com, you'll find that you can no longer train six or seven times per week without feeling too fatigued -- or getting injured. Train three days per week, with one day dedicated to each of the three main competition lifts. On days in between, rest completely, or perform some very low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or swimming.
Start with back squats for five sets of five reps after two to three light warmup sets. These five sets of five should be very tough, but you should be able to complete all the reps with good form. Aim to add 5 lbs to the bar every week. After squats, do some light split squats for three sets of 10. These increase mobility and relieve stiffness around your knees. Finish your session with two sets of 15 glute ham raises and band leg curls. These hit the hamstrings and prevent lower body injuries.
Full-range bench presses can be very stressful on the shoulder and elbow joints, so only do these once every three weeks. In the other two weeks, do either board presses or dumbbell bench presses. Work up to a heavy set of five to eight reps on the given exercise each week. After pressing, you need lots of pulling exercises to keep your shoulders healthy. Do four sets of 10 to 12 reps on any of face pulls, dumbbell rows, lat pulldowns, chinups, inverted rows or cable rows.
Like bench presses, full-range deadlifts can be risky for your lower back if performed too often, so a three-exercise cycle is the best approach. In week one, work up to one heavy set of five reps on regular deadlifts. Do the same in week two, but on trap bar deadlifts, and use block pulls as your main exercise in week three. In week four, repeat the cycle, aiming to add 5 lbs. For your assistance work in these sessions, do a 15-minute circuit of lunges, cable crunches, side bends and back extensions, using light weights for 15 to 20 reps per exercise.
According to Lou Schuler, author of "The New Rules of Lifting," you shouldn't try to train like a kid. You're older now, and you need to take that into consideration. This means training hard, but not beating yourself up every session. Listen to your body and take a day's rest if you need it. Keep on top of your recovery, and stretch and foam roll every day. Get a sports massage once per week, and have regular health checkups with your doctor. Old guys can certainly get stronger and compete in powerlifting, but you have to be smart about it.