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13 Words Every Powerlifter Should Know

 Written by Sarah Strong

“Oh, that’s so conjugate.”

“Don’t skip the deload.”

“That definitely looked like a RPE7.”

Excuse me, are you speaking English?!

If you’re new to powerlifitng, you might be overwhelmed by the influx of odd terms related to this sport. Even as an experienced lifter, new terms still come up and confuse me from time to time. If you’re struggling to comprehend the vocabulary and don’t know who to ask, check this blog as a resource. It’s not an exhaustive list; but, it serves as a basis for getting started in the sport of powerlifting. 

Bomb Out. This is not a fun term to learn, but one that you should be familiar with if you plan on competing. In order to complete a full power meet and get a total, you must have at least one approved attempt for all three lifts. This means if you fail all three squats, for example, that you would technically “bomb out” of the meet and be disqualified from achieving a full power total.

Conjugate. The conjugate method was popularized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. The methods of conjugate have adapted over the years, but involve using max effort days and dynamic effort days. Lifters using conjugate programming are more often seen using variations with specialty bars, bands, and chains that provide accommodating resistance in a lift. However, simply using these accessories does not necessarily designate one as a conjugate lifter. 

Deload. A deload is a period of time, usually a week, in which a lifter executes workouts at a lesser intensity. This is normally achieved through lighter weights and less volume to give the body rest time to recover. More on deloads to come in a future blog.

Flight. At a meet, lifters are organized into flights. These are groups of lifters normally around the same weight class.

Linear progression. A method of training in which strength increases in a linear fashion. This is normally achieved by weekly increasing weight lifted.

Meet. A powerlifting competition.

Openpowerlifitng. The main database of all powerlifting results and records. www.openpowerlifting.org

Peaking. Peaking is the final phase before a meet or any sort of testing of maxes. At this point, programming normal tapers down in volume and increases in weight to peak toward hitting PRs.

PR or PB. Personal record of personal best.

Raw. Designates a class of lifting using minimal or no supportive equipment.

RIR. Reps in reserve. This is similar to RPE but designates that number of reps you think you could complete in addition to those prescribed. For example, if you did deadlifts at 225lb for a set of 5, but felt you could get 2 more reps without a huge struggle, it would be a RIR2.

RPE. Rate of perceived exertion. This term is used to describe how a lift FELT. A scale of 1 to 10 is used to give a numerical value to the exertion used in a given lift. 10 would be maximal effort and 1 would be something super light, think warm-ups. Some coaches and programs prescribe lifts based on RPE instead of giving a definite weight to lift. For example, you might be programmed to squat 3 sets of 3 reps at a RPE 7.

Wilks and DOTS. These are both formulas used to give lifters a score that compares strength pound for pound. Different federations use different formulas.

Anymore terms you’re not sure of? Let us know!

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