By Shey Li Liew
Despite the use of heavy loads in training and competition, studies have found powerlifting is safer than common team sports.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that gives competitors three attempts at maximum weights on three lifts – squat, bench press and deadlift.
According to research by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, powerlifting produces just two to four injuries for every 1,000 hours of training.
Sports like football, rugby and ice hockey have injury rates ranging from six to 260 for the same period.
Leonardo Sucitra is a professional powerlifter who won first place in the 2018 Australian Powerlifting Union (APU). He trained for almost five years and the only injuries he suffered were minor strains.
“There was nothing serious that put me out for a long period of time,” says Sucitra.
“I emphasise on techniques and proper programming to minimise the chances of injuring myself because healthy and longevity is the name of the game.”
Dr Kristina Kendall is an exercise scientist who focuses on strength and conditioning at Edith Cowan University.
“Powerlifting is a resistance training and it is one of the safest sports,” says Dr Kendall.
“I’ve seen 80-year-olds lift and be quite successful, whereas in running, most people hit their peak in their 30’s because of possible joint injuries,” she says.
Although studies have proven that powerlifting brings minimal risks to people, there is an unhealthy aspect to the lifter’s diet known as water loading.
Water loading is a process of dehydration that removes excessive water and substances from the body.
It requires a powerlifting competitor to have a water and sodium intake as high as 10 litres a day for five days before competition.
Dr Kendall says the purpose of water loading is to help lifters cut weight, to make a specific class.
“Water loading may bring effects as mild as dizziness, and as severe as death,” she says.
She says water loading for powerlifting can be dangerous as there have been cases in the U.S. of American powerlifters dying due to severe dehydration.