Hiring a powerlifting coach can benefit both beginner and experienced athletes. Many considerations must be made when searching for the right coach.
Beginner powerlifters should find a coach willing to conduct in-person training to help master the technique and form of each lift. Since the big three (squat, bench press, and deadlift) are technical lifts, in-person feedback can reduce the risk of injury and developing poor movement patterns.
Experienced lifters can train with an online coach, where they send videos for form/technique analysis and virtual feedback. Social media and other online platforms make it possible for athletes to access a larger pool of coaches.
In either case, it’s important to note that an accomplished lifter doesn’t always equate to a skilled coach. As such, consider interviewing candidates to learn more about their coaching style and experience.
Use the following list of questions to help discover the right powerlifting coach before investing in a program.
Table of Contents
- 1 Questions to Ask a Powerlifting Coach
- 2 How to Find a Powerlifting Coach
- 3 FAQs
Questions to Ask a Powerlifting Coach
- What is your personal level of experience?
- What are the results of your athletes?
- What is your training process like?
- What is your communication style?
- How do you make particular programming decisions?
- Do you get along with athletes on a personal level?
What is your personal level of experience?
Although formal education is not necessary to become a powerlifting coach, it’s normally a good thing to look for, especially if they have specific certifications and credentials related to the sport.
Some certifications/credentials to look for include:
- CSCS (certified strength and conditioning coach)
- CPT (certified personal trainer)
- Bachelor’s in Exercise Science
- Masters’s in Exercise Science
- AT (Athletic Trainer)
- PT (Physical Therapist)
- USAPL Coaching Certification
- Club Coach
- Senior National Coach
- Senior International Coach
- ISSA – Certified Powerlifting Instructor
Beyond certifications and credentials, the coach should have some level of powerlifting competition experience. They don’t have to be an active competitor, but they should have achieved some level of success in the sport.
Consider also asking how many years of experience they have with either competing and/or lifting in general, in addition to coaching. Typically, the more experience a coach has, the better. They could have all of the credentials and certifications in the world, but lack of experience might be a red flag.
After determining their experience level, the next thing you should ask is the results of their athletes.
What are the results of your athletes?
A powerlifting coach’s reputation can be determined by assessing their athletes’ results. If their athletes are consistently making progress over a period of time, whether improvements in technique, weight increases and/or winning competitions, that’s a strong sign that the coach knows what they are doing.
As long as the athletes follow the coaches’ program, they directly reflect how good the coach is. Reach out to other athletes to gain more insight into how the coach operates.
Consider if the coach has worked with athletes with similar circumstances or skill level. For example, if lifting natural, find a coach that only works with drug-free athletes. Length of time athletes stay with the coach can also help inform what kind of experience to expect.
What is your training process like?
Every coach will have a slightly different training process. Most coaches will start with a questionnaire and/or a phone cal. From there, they should have a good grasp on goals, experience level, schedule, etc. This allows them to create a customized program for their athletes. From there, ask how often they plan on sending a new training program (weekly or monthly).
How does the coach track progress and plan on adjusting the program? What does the coach use to prescribe intensity (precentage based or RPE/RIR)? What format will they send the program? What does a check-in consist of and how often are they?
Knowing the coach’s training process will help you determine whether the coach will be a good fit for you. Individualized programming is key for making the most amount of progress, so stay aware of generic training plans.
What is your communication style?
Good communication is key to having a successful athlete-coach relationship. Poor communication can quickly lead to a bad experience for the athlete, including a lack of progress and/or injury.
Before hiring a coach, here are some things to ask them about their communication style:
- When is it acceptable to contact them?
- How often can you contact them?
- How long does it normally take for them to respond?
- What form of communication is best for them as well as you?
- Are they open to doing weekly or bi-weekly calls?
- Do they communicate clearly?
Some coaches allow you to contact them anytime throughout the day and/or week. In contrast, other coaches may set boundaries regarding when they are available to speak. In terms of frequency of communication, that usually applies to check-ins. Some coaches prefer to have their athletes check in every week or two weeks, whereas they may want you to check in more frequently leading up to a competition.
The coach should give you a rough estimate of how long it will take them to respond. Most will respond within 24 hours unless they communicate ahead of time that it may take longer because they are on vacation or unavailable for any reason.
Regarding what form of communication they prefer, text, email, or messaging apps (What’s App) are the most common. If you prefer to speak with them on the phone or do video calls, then make sure you ask if they are open to doing that.
Last, consider whether their communication is clear and concise, especially when it comes to answering questions or giving feedback. You should have a complete understanding of their instructions.
How do you make particular programming decisions?
Some coaches, especially online coaches, are known for sending their athletes one-size-fits-all programs, so there’s little to no individualization.
You should feel comfortable asking your coach questions about any aspect of their training program. You should consider asking your coach about exercise selection, exercise order, percentages, RPE, progression models, training frequency, and exercise substitutions.
They should be able to explain every aspect of the workout program; if they can’t, it may not be something they actually created. One of the best things about powerlifting is that it’s a very objective sport. You are either getting stronger over time or not; there’s no in-between. The rate at which you progress will vary. So the coach should adjust the program accordingly to facilitate maximum progress.
Do you get along with athletes on a personal level?
Communication and trust are essential to a good coaching relationship. If it’s not a good match, then both will be lacking.
Seek someone that’s honest, trustworthy, organized, knowledgable, and intentional. One way you can see if your coach with be a good fit is by checking out their social meda platforms and speaking with some of their athletes. If they share the same interests and values as you do, then you’re a lot more likely to trust them and value their opinion.
Finding a coach that shares similar values as you do is incredibly important for building a strong relationship with them. Occasionally, you might feel resistance to what your coach is telling you to do, which is why trust will be so important.
How to Find a Powerlifting Coach
- If you have powerlifting friends, ask them for a referral
- See if there are local powerlifting gyms near you to connect with people that compete
- Look for an online coach
If you don’t know how to find a powerlifting coach, here are three ways to consider trying:
If you have friends that compete in powerlifting, ask them for a referral
Asking friends who already compete in powerlifting for a referral will help you know what to expect. Ask friends about rates and coaching options. A highly respectable coach might charge higher fees because they work with more advanced athletes. Beginners may just need some guidance on compeition prep and might seek out lower rates.
See if there are local powerlifting gyms near you to connect with people that compete
If you don’t know anyone that competes, attend a local powerlifting gym. One of the most admirable things about powerlifting is how close-knit its community is. Even as a beginner, most powerlifting gyms will be eager to help you, which could make finding a coach easier.
Don’t be afraid to ask around to see if there’s anyone at the gym that would be willing to coach you. A local powerlifting meet is another great way to connect with a potential coach.
Look for an online coach
Online coaching has exploded over the past few years because the barrier to entry is very low, it doesn’t have a lot of upfront cost, and no certifications are required. As long as the coach is a great communicator, there are a lot of benefits to working with an online coach, with the main one being cost. Most of the time, it’s much more affordable to hire an online coach compared to an in-person coach.
An online coach is best suited for individuals that already have a few years of lifting under their belt. By sending videos, the coach will still be able to provide feedback on your form/technique for the big three.
If you decide to pursue an online coach, make sure you pick someone that has a lot of testimonials, ask them a lot of questions upfront, and even speak to some of their current or previous clients.
Every powerlifting coach charges different rates. An in-person coach typically costs more than an online coach.
Furthermore, some coaches offer training and nutrition coaching, whereas others just do training. That will also factor into the total cost for the coach. Make sure you know exactly how much they charge for what services and time frames (4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, etc.) before hiring them.
A powerlifting coach is not necessary to compete. With that said, they can be very beneficial for lifts of all experience levels. If you’re a complete beginner, hiring a coach helps you learn the proper form and technique for the squat, bench press, deadlift, and accessory movements. On the other hand, if you’re an intermediate-advanced lifter, then hiring a coach could help take your training to the next level. A good coach will always be beneficial regardless of your goals or experience level.
Most people hire a powerlifting coach when they plan on competing. The coach needs to learn your body, so make sure you have enough time before the meet to allow them to do that so you are set up for success going into it.
Hiring a coach a few weeks before a meet is not enough time for them to prepare you for the competition. Peaking in powerlifting is crucial for optimal performance on meet day.
The longer you’re with a coach the better. If you have the budget to hire a coach in the off-season, that can give you a major advantage going into a competition prep because they already know your body.