Is powerlifting a sport you’re interested in? Is lifting weights a secret passion of yours? Or perhaps it’s something you’ve secretly wanted to try but it seems too intimidating? The Gryphon chats with Daniel White, president of the new powerlifting society, LiftSoc, to find out more about it.
Why was the society created?
Originally, my friend Oz, from Sri Lanka, would compete in weightlifting competitions in his country. He got the national benchpress record when he was 18. I did wonder why there wasn’t a powerlifting society here, because it is a big sport and a fast-growing one. We tried to form it two years ago, but we didn’t know anyone who could coach us or how to get it started. Sometimes I see girls walk into the weight room and immediately do a U-turn because they look at how everyone is big and lifting big weights, and decide that powerlifting is not for them. So I wanted to create a club that caters to both groups of people: those who regularly lift really heavy weights and those who have never touched a barbell, but want to learn.
When did you get into weightlifting?
I got into weightlifting about two and a half years ago. I was regularly going to the gym, doing bodybuilding, and about 18 months ago, I walked into the gym one day and wanted to see what my dead lift was, the heaviest weight I could lift. From then on, I started going to the gym and competing with myself to try and lift more. With bodybuilding, the end game is how you look; with powerlifting, it’s what weight you lift and you’re not comparing it with other people, unless you’re in a national competition. It’s an individual sport where it’s you against yourself, and I really like that aspect.
What do you do regularly in a session?
We have sessions every Wednesday, and membership is £27, which gets you 32 hours of training in total. Our first 2 sessions have involved people booking a slot, either 12-1 or 1-2, just so we can get into a rhythm of who has got what level of experience. The first 5 minutes would be warming up with squats and lunges. For our first session, we had half the group do squats and the other half do dead lifts, and halfway through, we switched over. During that time, Chris, the coach, would walk around and tweak people’s form, telling them whether or not they should do something different. So that’s what all the people new to the sport would do. We also have a lot of people who don’t have as much need for coaching, because they have been doing it for a couple of years, and they would go off in their own groups and train with each other.
For beginners, what advice would you give them for getting into the sport?
Most importantly, don’t eagle lift. Eagle lifting is where you walk in and see what other people are doing, and decide you want to better them. That’s the wrong way to go about it because you’re not going to get any results. To start properly, try and get yourself in a powerlifting program, where you do certain exercises on certain days, you stick to your numbers and stick to your reps, and you don’t just walk into a gym and lift anything. If you get on a program, you’ll start to see your progress, and because you can see that you are progressing, you would be encouraged by your own ability to carry on. Powerlifting gets a bad name because guys slam the weights, and people must see it as an act of aggression, but we want people to see that it’s for everyone and anyone, and there’s no negative criticism, only constructive criticism. There is no laddish environment.
Do you have any events planned for this semester?
We are planning on hosting a powerlifting competition on the 7th of December, and we also want to host another one in Semester 2. The competition would consist of 2 categories: beginners and more experienced people. If you have never power lifted before, or you want to do it casually, that’s fine, you would not have to wear all the equipment or a singlet. But we’re also going to have a category for people who want to take it more seriously. It might not be a certified competition but we want to get people used to competing. Members of the club would get a discount on the entry fee. We’re not trying to find the strongest people in the gym, but we want people to start seeing powerlifting in a new light.
(Images courtesy of Daniel White)