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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Five Great Things About the 5th Annual NIFS Powerlifting Competition

IMG_0151Almost five years ago, the team and I hosted the first ever powerlifting event here at NIFS. Also known as the Iron Triathlon (shirt slogan spoiler alert), the first year was a modest one with 25 athletes competing. This year, the competition registration sold out in just under three days! From our humble beginnings to this year’s event, it’s been a ride. There has been so much hard work, resulting in so many smiles and victories for both the athletes and the crew. We have learned a lot from year one to now, and we have developed from our challenges and gotten better each year.

As we near this year’s NIFS Powerlifting Competition coming up on November 10, I found myself wondering what were some of the best things that have happened in the five years of this event. Here are the five best results to come from the past five years.

Growth

As mentioned before, our first event consisted of 25 athletes who put on a great show and set the tone for years to come. The next year we doubled our registration. Obviously the word got out that the athletes, event staff, and environment were second to none. We increased again the third year and sold out the 4th and 5th annual competitions. The team and I couldn’t be prouder to provide such a great event that athletes and spectators are flocking to Indianapolis to compete in and witness.

“The competition was amazing and it was extremely smooth from setup to setup. I will definitely recommend NIFS to anyone, and the crew you had there was stellar. I’ve volunteered for a few powerlifting meets myself and I understand how exhausting just setting everything up can be. The atmosphere was great.”
—Damon Bryant

Competition

As the number of registrations rose, so did the level of competition. Athletes were coming from other states to compete, and they all brought their talents to Indy to win. We have seen Squats and Deadlifts over 700 pounds and Bench numbers surpassing the 300 and even 400-pound mark. Our first event had five female athletes competing; this year there are 22! It’s awesome to see so many strong women competing.

"I would say that this is a great first meet for any beginner powerlifter or anyone interested in pushing their body to their weightlifting limits. It gives you the chance to compete against people around your body type and ultimately see what you're made of."   
—Tyler Mullen

Comradery

IMG_0363One thing we hear a lot is how inclusive and supportive the environment is on event day. Even though athletes arrive to be victorious over one another, they all support and cheer on each other to do their best. I think the sport of powerlifting is just this way, but I also think the NIFS event intensifies the comradery among these athletes. It sounds corny, but there is something in the air that day, something that reinforces that it’s “WE” and not just “I.”

"I loved how encouraging everyone was. Even though it was a competition, people were constantly saying ‘you can do it’ or ‘great job’. High-fives were everywhere and it was awesome. PLUS all the free goodies—what college kid doesn’t love free stuff?"  
Madison Stewart

Victories

One of the coolest aspects of our event is that, for many, it’s their first competition. As a non-sanctioned meet, it’s a great first step to see whether the sport of powerlifting is for you. So many first-time lifters, those who maybe once thought they couldn’t succeed in this kind of competition, have not only competed, but have taken home some hardware. There’s nothing like witnessing someone take on their fears and conquer them; it is so powerful!

"This was my first powerlifting meet, and I was a little nervous coming in not really knowing what to expect. However, EVERYONE was very nice, including the staff running the event and the competitors that were competing. After doing several powerlifting meets after this one, this one ran the smoothest and fastest by far. It was an amazing atmosphere with lots of spectators and everyone cheering you on every single lift.”
—Bailey Schober

Athletes

The amazing staff and crew are responsible for providing an energetic and smooth event, and so many thanks go out to each team over the past four years. But it’s the athletes who put on the show. I have had the great pleasure to meet and work with some pretty outstanding individuals during the past four years of this competition. These athletes work so hard for so long to put it all on the line that day, and they do such a phenomenal job. Of all the enjoyable aspects of this event, being around all these amazing athletes is by far my favorite. Having the opportunity to learn about them, maybe meet their families that day, and be able to give them that last word of encouragement before their last attempt at a PR—it lights me up! I know I speak for the entire crew that we cannot wait to get underway on November 10!

“NIFS is one of my favorite competitions each year because of the great people that make it all possible. Thank you for hosting such a great event that I look forward to returning to each year!”
—Ben Poore

So if you are interested in seeing why this event is so awesome, put it on your calendar for November 10, and witness the spectacle and a bunch of bars bending. Lifting begins at 9am, and it’s a measly $5 per person. Kids 12 and under get in free. We hope to see you all there!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nifs staff NIFS programs weightlifting Indianapolis competition NIFS Powerlifting Competition

What’s In Your Gym Bag? Weight-Lifting Belts

IMG_7197Weight-lifting belts have become a staple in many gym settings for powerlifting, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, and strongman, and for anyone who wants to lift heavy loads. Whether you use them for training or on the competition platform, you need to know the ins and outs of weight belts so that you can make a smart decision.

How to Use a Belt the Right Way

Using a weightlifting belt is situational. It depends on several different factors, including the experience of the lifter, how heavy the load is in relation to 1RM (One Rep Maximum), as well as the number of repetitions in each set. Put on the belt as tight as possible with no room to slide your hand in, but enough room to allow a big breath and abdominal muscles to brace against it. It should be so tight that it’s uncomfortable if worn for several minutes. Placement of the belt is often by preference, but generally an inch or two above the pelvis.

According to studies from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a weight belt is used to help generate intra-abdominal pressure. This means tightening your natural stabilizers, such as abdominal muscles and erector spinae muscles in your back in order to brace the spine and stay safe. A belt can also be used as a proprioceptive tool to teach you how to breathe and brace because it allows proper response to occur and gives you something to brace against. This creates a constant feedback loop because now you can actually feel your muscles bracing and pushing up against the tight belt. In turn, this increases stability for the spine and core and adds support. For the record, a weight belt won’t protect against injuries caused by improper bracing and poor lifting technique. Not only is bracing an important skill to learn when lifting heavy loads at the gym; it can also keep you safe from back injuries even when you are just going through your daily life lifting objects here and there (ACSM).

Avoiding Over-reliance

Conversely, over-reliance on belts has been on the rise. It can lead to a weakened core and invoke ridicule if used when not necessary. Further research has shown that weight belts are known to spike blood pressure because of holding your breath, and have been linked to minor injuries such as hernias. Remember, the belt is needed only during the lift and only for exercises that mostly stress the lower back. It is not something to wear around the gym. A general rule of thumb from Barbend is to use the belt only for the lifts that are 85% or more of your 1RM. Lastly, investing in your own core strength by trusting yourself for lighter sets and saving the belt for heavy sets is a good way to improve core strength.

Types of Belts

There are several different types of weightlifting belts out there. Some use a single prong, a double prong, Velcro, or a lever to lock the belt tight throughout the lift. Organizations such as USA Weightlifting (USA-W) and USA Powerlifting (USAPL) have different specifications as to how wide and how thick the weight belt may be on the competition platform, thus creating a level playing field for all athletes.

NIFS provides a few options for weight belts, but don’t be shy about bringing your own if you have one! Before I go, I would like to personally invite you to participate in our Fifth Annual NIFS Powerlifting Competition on November 10. Here you will see nearly every lifter using some type of weight belt, especially during the heaviest lifts. Early Bird Registration opens 9/24!

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This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: equipment injury prevention weight lifting powerlifting NIFS Powerlifting Competition

Powerbuilding: The Middle Ground Between Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Davin_lift1Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed an increasing trend in bodybuilders and physique athletes migrating toward the sport of powerlifting. I’m no exception. I spent the first eight or so years of my lifting career focused almost exclusively on bodybuilding. Eventually, however, I got tired of the culture, the subjective judging criteria, and the politics involved in the sport. I decided that I’d rather be strong and functional rather than just big and muscular. Over the next couple of years, I began focusing more and more on strength-specific training. Eventually, this led me to my first NIFS Powerlifting Competition back in 2016.

How Are Bodybuilding and Powerlifting Different?

In case you’re wondering how the two sports differ, I’ll go ahead and give a brief overview of each of them. Bodybuilding is a sport that emphasizes muscle size, shape, symmetry, and definition. Competitors train specifically with the goal of inducing hypertrophy in their muscles. Much like a sculptor, they sculpt their own bodies with these specific goals in mind. On the competitive side of things, there’s absolutely zero emphasis on physical performance. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can lift, but rather, it matters how much weight you look like you can lift. The judges make their decisions based on the aforementioned criteria, of course, coupled with their own subjective bias.

Powerlifting, on the other hand, is sport in which athletes are ranked according to their combined strength on three specific barbell movements. They compete in a max squat, bench press, and deadlift. The total amount of weight lifted is added up and then usually a strength-to-weight ratio is calculated using what is called, the Wilks Coefficient.

The Rise of Powerbuilding

Powerbuilding has emerged as a sort of hybridization of the two sports. Bodybuilding and powerlifting each have their own respective training styles and dietary practices that ultimately lend themselves to the specific outcomes of maximizing strength or maximizing hypertrophy. Thus, powerbuilders are essentially bodybuilders who have decided that they want to be as strong as possible, or they are powerlifters who have decided to prioritize aesthetics as well as strength.

To the layperson, it would seem like these two goals should go hand in hand. I mean, it makes sense that a strong person would have big muscles, and a person with big muscles would be strong. Technically, this is true to some degree. Early on, hypertrophy will be the most predominant adaptation seen in response to any resistance training program. In accordance with the principle of “general adaptation syndrome,” as the muscle becomes more adapted to the presented stimulus, it will require greater intensities and more specific overloads to elicit a response. This is where the principle of specificity comes in to play.

Strength Training vs. Hypertrophy Training

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), to most efficiently train for strength, a person should perform 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions using a load that is 60–70% of their one-rep maximum (1RM) for novice to intermediate lifters; and 2–6 sets of 1–8 repetitions at 80–100% of their 1RM for advanced lifters.

Inversely, to maximize hypertrophy, the ACSM recommends that a person perform 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions at 70–85% of their 1RM for novice to intermediate lifters; or 3–6 sets of 1–12 repetitions at 70–100% of their 1RM for advanced lifters.

The recommended rest periods range from 2–3 minutes when working at higher intensities to 1–2 minutes when using lighter loads. In some training programs you might even see rest periods of 3–5 minutes between sets to allow for optimal recovery and performance on each set.

For more information on resistance training guidelines, see https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf.

As you can see from the above guidelines, the type of training required to maximize muscle size is different than the type of training to maximize muscle strength. According to a meta-analysis performed by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld in 2016, most of the research has demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between hypertrophy and volume (total sets and reps performed). Since strength-specific training usually consists of training with lower volume at higher intensities, it stands to reason that it is less hypertrophic overall. Even though there is a fair amount of overlap between the two training styles, optimizing muscle size ultimately means sacrificing some muscle strength. The same could be said about strength training. In order to train at higher intensities, the volume must be reduced to avoid injury and overuse.

Make Your Choice

So what does this all mean? Powerbuilding is a tradeoff of sorts. This is especially true when reaching beyond the levels of basic strength and fitness. Initially, the body will react to any sort of resistance training by developing larger and stronger muscles. When that adaptation stops, it starts to become a matter of prioritization. One must choose where they’d rather go. The same could be said about distance running and bodybuilding, or perhaps rock climbing and powerlifting. You can be moderately proficient at both endeavors, but in order to really excel at either, you’ll have to sacrifice the other.

Bend_the_Bar_logo

Don't miss out on training for NIFS 2018 Powerlifting Competition! Our Bend the Bar training program starts in just a few weeks so get signed up now! September 11—November 1, Tuesdays & Thursdays 5p-6p at NIFS.

 

This blog was written by Davin Greenwell, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: muscles powerlifting strength training hypertrophy NIFS Powerlifting Competition bodybuilding powerbuilding