Zach Even-Esh

Top 3 Lessons Learned From Powerlifters

When I began training athletes, specifically wrestlers, I was lucky enough to learn about many of my training methods from Louie Simmons and Pavel.

I would speak with Louie on a weekly basis, calling him during my lunch when I was a teacher and we would chat about training wrestlers, MMA fighters and overall building athletes into Bad Mother F**ers.

My first set of Kettlebells was a pair of 53s and a pair of 70s. I read all of Pavel’s books and training courses and began blending his strength approach with Louie’s approach towards work capacity and special strengths.

While the “functional trainers” were training on one foot and using wobble boards, saying that Powerlifters are fat and out of shape, I was highly influenced by powerlifters.

Sure, there were fat and out of shape powerlifters, but there were also skinny and weak functional trainers.

The majority of powerlifters I saw looked like they were built like brick shit houses. Not only were they built rock solid, they were also extremely explosive AND mentally tough. They had a confidence that I didn’t notice in the athletes who were training on wobble boards and stability balls.

The more I delved into the world of how powerlifters train, the more I realized I had to borrow from them as much as possible to make myself better and most of all, make my athletes more dominant.

Here are 3 Critical Tips Learned From Powerlifters:

1) Train Optimally – NOT all powerlifters kill themselves with 1 rep maxes ever week. Many of them train optimally, using weights in the 70-85% range so they don’t get burnt out, injured, etc.

2) Apply MAX Force / Speed Training – Powerlifters are NOT just strong. They are explosive. They become explosive by using speed during heavy lifts AND with days solely dedicated to the development of speed / explosive power. The faster you are the more likely you are to complete a given task. I’ve always said, big & useless is a waste.

Strong, Slow & Useless occurs when you ONLY lift heavy and never incorporate speed / power movements in your workouts.

We utilize many jumping methods, sprints, lighter drills at aggressive speeds and more to develop explosive power. Strength without speed / explosive power is NOT athletic.

3) Shock Training – Powerlifters are always finding ways to make an exercise harder or more challenging. A body that adapts to a training program has no reason to develop greater strength, speed, more muscle, etc.

We experiment and apply many variations to each exercise as well as the workouts to push the athletes to greater levels both physically and mentally. I’ve been doing much of the same during my own workouts to improve all facets:

– Strength

– Speed

– Building Muscle

– Developing Greater Work Capacity & Conditioning

Whenever I meet a Coach / Athlete / Lifter who has different experiences than I do, has greater strength I do, etc. – I go out of my way to learn form that person.

When you stop learning you are no longer living.

Live The Code


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7 Responses to Top 3 Lessons Learned From Powerlifters

  1. Ryan says:

    This blog post was great, thanks for all of your great work. I have a question revolving inseason training, specifically for hockey. My team has practice every weekday except monday with games on the weekends. I am currently doing Defranco’s WS4SB in season program but am only doing one workout a week. My question for you is: how should I train my lower body without overuse?

  2. Dustin M. says:


    Without a doubt, dude. Personally, I cannot believe the bad-rap that powerlifters get now-a-days. Sure, most of them are getting fat and slow. How the HELL did that happen!? Who the hell said you had to be fat to be strong?

    Think back to the ELITE powerlifters: Doug Young, Ted Arcidi, Ed Coan, Captain Kirk, Louie,—They were BUILT like tanks, man! They were thicker than hell and pretty lean, they had physiques that imposed “powerrrrr”. What the hell happened to the powerlifters now-a-days? Powerlifters do have a world of knowledge, after all—they are usually the strongest on the block.

    Nice Post Z.

    • admin says:

      Dustin, true, the powerlifters of the past were not as heavy as many are today, still, today, many are true BEASTS

      I remember being backstage at the WPO and every powerlifter was lean, many shredded, they all looked like bodybuilders, actually, better!

      I believe that was the last year the WPO was held at The Arnold, maybe 6 years ago!

  3. adam says:

    To be sure powerlifters are awesome no question. Now if I only had some at the gym I go to.

  4. Nate Aye says:

    Nice article Z,

    I dig your approach, and that’s awesome that you got to pick the brain of Louie Simmons. Every piece of his I have read or video interview he’s done, the amount of knowledge he spews is unbelievable.

    I definitely follow the same philosophy of learning from the best and applying the methods they espouse.

    I think it’s a lifelong process of gleening a little tip here, a little chunk of information there, and over time taking that and meshing it with your own style that sets the legit coaches apart from the wannabes. And never stop learning.

    I use similar methods with my wrestlers I train. Powerlifting and strongman, some gymnastics, and explosive sprint/conditioning work.

    You’re the man, keep it up!


  5. Annie Miller says:

    These tips are really great. I agree that the key to being a power lifter is by training optimally and effectively. It’s good to be knowledgeable on how to properly train.

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Zach Even-Esh is an Author, Founder of The Underground Strength Gym & Creator of The Underground Strength Coach Certification.

Zach's inspiration in training comes from the Golden Era of Bodybuilding & Days of Old School Strength. His mission is to help You kick ass & take names in Life AND Lifting without the hype, fancy fads or gimmicks. Zach's Commitment To Your Success Is Unmatched. He Knows What It's Like To Go From A Weakling To An Unstoppable BEAST In Charge Of His Life, Business & Destiny. Zach Made It Happen Through The Iron and Now it's Your Turn!

Zach Even-Esh