WSBB Blog: Cardio for the Powerlifter

WSBB Education
Sun Mar 07, 2021

Tags: GPP Training, Conjugate Method, Dynamic Effort Method

Time to Read: 2min

Powerlifting is a sport that celebrates being as big and strong as humanly possible. When you walk into a powerlifting meet, you will see multiple human beings weighing well over 300lbs, barely able to breathe between warm ups. If you want to have longevity in this sport, as well as longevity in the game of life, you must take your cardiovascular health seriously.

In this sport, there are many jokes made about the unhealthy lifestyle, getting huge at all costs no matter the amount of food and drugs it takes. Meanwhile your joints suffer, your organs suffer, your life quality suffers, and your ability to reach your maximum athletic ability is limited. To become the best lifter you can become you must leave no stone unturned, and cardiovascular health is a stone you cannot afford to leave unturned.

Below, we will cover a few strategies and ways we include cardiovascular training into our powerlifting training at Westside Barbell.

book of methods

One of the first things you will realize when training at Westside Barbell is that the training groups generally move fast through the main exercises. Whether it is dynamic effort or maximum effort, we generally take short breaks between sets. This is especially true on dynamic effort lower, when it can feel like you just got done running a marathon once the workout is over.

This strategy can be employed during any portion of your training, whether main exercise or accessory exercise, by simply reducing rest periods you can keep your heart rate elevated and add in some solid cardiovascular work to your training day. We also do a lot of GPP work to increase our working capacity and decrease recovery times, however this training also has obvious cardiovascular training value as well. Wheelbarrow walks, sled drags, yoke walks, farmers walks, all of these exercises are great ways to improve your cardiovascular health while simultaneously improving your powerlifting capabilities.

When it comes to cardiovascular training outside of the gym, one of the best things a powerlifter can do is take a fifteen to twenty minute walk a few times per week. This extra bit of low impact exercise can have a positive impact on joint and spine health, as well as assist in the recovery process. Additionally, a powerlifter must focus on eating the diet of an athlete keeping cardiovascular health in mind. As powerlifters, we are already asking our bodies to perform at an extreme level, it does a powerlifter no good to place increased demand on their bodies by flooding their system with junk food.

The days of being a fat, out of shape powerlifter and being competitive are slowly coming to an end. With the increased popularity of the sport, you are seeing more and more lifters focus on dieting like a professional athlete. If you want your engine to run correctly, and for a long time, you need to be providing it the fuel necessary to do what you’re asking it to do.

In closing, if you want to lift at a world class level you must do what other world class athletes do. In the past, the image of the fat out of shape powerlifter waddling to the platform was what most people thought of when they thought of the sport. However, today lifters are taking their cardiovascular training and nutrition to the next level, if you want to be competitive on the world stage it is necessary to treat yourself like an athlete.

Make the changes necessary to improve cardiovascular health and training capacity, and you will see your sport performance improve along with it.