Powerlifting for Beginners: A Guide for Women

Powerlifting for Beginners: A Guide for Women

Powerlifting is a sport that has gained significant popularity among women in recent years, thanks to its empowering nature and the impressive strength gains it offers. However, starting out in powerlifting can be intimidating, especially with the heavy weights and technical lifts involved. This guide aims to demystify powerlifting for beginners, offering tips and insights to help women get started on their strength training journey.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three main lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The goal is to lift as much weight as possible in each lift, with three attempts allowed per lift during competitions. Powerlifting focuses on maximal strength, making it different from other forms of weight training that might prioritise muscle size or endurance.

Benefits of Powerlifting for Women

  1. Increased Strength: Powerlifting is one of the most effective ways to build overall body strength. The compound movements involved work multiple muscle groups, leading to significant strength gains.
  2. Improved Confidence: Lifting heavy weights can be incredibly empowering. Many women find that powerlifting boosts their confidence both in and out of the gym.
  3. Enhanced Body Composition: While powerlifting primarily focuses on strength, it also helps improve body composition by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat.
  4. Bone Health: Lifting heavy weights strengthens bones and can help prevent osteoporosis, which is particularly important for women as they age.
  5. Mental Toughness: Powerlifting requires discipline, perseverance, and mental toughness, qualities that are beneficial in all areas of life.

Getting Started: The Basics

  1. Learn the Lifts

    • Squat: The squat involves lowering your body by bending your knees and hips, then standing back up. It primarily targets the legs and glutes but also engages the core and back.
    • Bench Press: The bench press involves lying on a bench and pressing a barbell from your chest to full arm extension. It targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
    • Deadlift: The deadlift involves lifting a barbell from the ground to a standing position. It primarily targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, but it also engages the core and upper back.
  2. Focus on Technique

    • Proper technique is crucial in powerlifting to prevent injuries and maximise strength gains. Consider working with a coach or experienced lifter to learn the correct form for each lift.
    • Start with lighter weights to practice your technique before gradually increasing the load.
  3. Build a Training Plan

    • A well-structured training plan is essential for progress. Most powerlifting programs include a mix of heavy lifting, lighter accessory work, and rest days.
    • Beginners often start with a three-day per week program, focusing on one main lift per day along with complementary exercises.
  4. Prioritise Recovery

    • Recovery is a key component of any strength training program. Ensure you get adequate rest, stay hydrated, and follow a balanced diet to support your training.
    • Incorporate mobility work and stretching to maintain flexibility and prevent injuries.

Tips for Women Starting Powerlifting

  1. Set Realistic Goals

    • Set achievable, short-term goals to stay motivated. Whether it’s increasing your squat by 5 kg or perfecting your deadlift form, having specific goals can help track your progress.
  2. Track Your Progress

    • Keep a training journal to log your workouts, weights lifted, and how you feel during each session. This helps you see your progress over time and adjust your training plan as needed.
  3. Join a Community

    • Powerlifting communities can provide support, motivation, and valuable advice. Consider joining a local powerlifting club or an online group to connect with like-minded individuals.
  4. Focus on Nutrition

    • A balanced diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates is essential for strength training. Ensure you’re fueling your body properly to support muscle growth and recovery.
  5. Don’t Be Intimidated

    • It’s natural to feel intimidated when starting a new sport, especially one that involves heavy lifting. Remember that everyone starts somewhere, and the powerlifting community is generally supportive and encouraging.

Common Myths About Women and Powerlifting

  1. Myth: Powerlifting Makes Women Bulky

    • Fact: Powerlifting increases muscle mass, but it’s unlikely to make women overly bulky. Most women do not have the hormonal profile to gain large amounts of muscle mass quickly.
  2. Myth: Powerlifting is Dangerous

    • Fact: When done with proper technique and under appropriate guidance, powerlifting is no more dangerous than any other sport. The risk of injury can be minimized with correct form and sensible progression.
  3. Myth: Powerlifting is Only for the Young

    • Fact: Women of all ages can benefit from powerlifting. Strength training is particularly beneficial for older women to maintain muscle mass and bone density.


Powerlifting is a fantastic way for women to build strength, improve confidence, and enhance overall fitness. By focusing on proper technique, setting realistic goals, and maintaining a balanced approach to training and recovery, beginners can make significant progress in this rewarding sport. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy and challenge yourself – powerlifting is an empowering journey that can transform your body and mind.

Recommended Powerlifting Accessories

Enhancing your powerlifting experience and performance can often come down to the right accessories. Here are some essential items that can help you lift safer and stronger: 

Recommended lifting belt

SBD's 13mm lever belt stands out for its quality construction and innovative design. Featuring a patented gliding lever, this belt offers the adjustability of a prong belt combined with the ease and tightness of a lever belt. The sturdy 13mm thickness provides unparalleled support for your lower back during heavy lifts, ensuring optimal stability and reducing the risk of injury.

Recommended Knee Sleeves

Made from high-grade 7mm neoprene, SBD Knee Sleeves are engineered to minimize the risk of knee injuries while maximizing performance. Trusted by strength athletes around the globe, these knee sleeves offer superior support and compression, making them ideal for heavy training sessions. Whether you're squatting, lunging, or performing any other leg exercise, SBD Knee Sleeves provide the stability and warmth your knees need to perform at their best.


Recommended Lifting Straps

SBD Figure 8 Lifting Straps are a game-changer for lifters looking to push their limits without worrying about grip strength. Featuring a patent-pending design with strong aramid fibre, these lifting straps reduce strain on the biceps and forearms while providing a secure grip on the barbell.

Recommended Elbow Sleeves

For optimal elbow support and compression without sacrificing range of motion, look no further than SBD Elbow Sleeves. This design ensures maximal support for the elbow joint while allowing for natural movement during pressing exercises. Made with premium materials, these elbow sleeves provide the protection and comfort you need to train with confidence and intensity.


FAQs About Powerlifting for Women

1. Do I need special equipment to start powerlifting?

  • Basic equipment includes a barbell, weight plates, a bench, and a squat rack. As you progress, you might invest in lifting shoes, a weightlifting belt, and wrist wraps for added support.

2. How long does it take to see progress in powerlifting?

  • Beginners often see significant strength gains within the first few months of consistent training. Progress will vary depending on individual factors such as training frequency, nutrition, and recovery.

3. Can I combine powerlifting with other forms of exercise?

  • Yes, powerlifting can be combined with other forms of exercise such as cardio, yoga, or recreational sports. Just be mindful of recovery and avoid overtraining.

4. How important is diet in powerlifting?

  • Diet is crucial in powerlifting for fueling workouts, supporting muscle growth, and aiding recovery. Focus on a balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

5. Is powerlifting suitable for weight loss?

  • While powerlifting is primarily focused on building strength, it can contribute to weight loss by increasing muscle mass and boosting metabolism. Pairing powerlifting with a healthy diet can aid in weight management.

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