Powerlifting: Winning Gold, Breaking Records


Richmond Sia, not only bagged gold, he also broke the national record for bench press and deadlift in the recent 2018 Age Group Raw Powerlifting Championships.

Introduced to powerlifting in 1992, Richmond describes himself then as a typical overweight kid, just trying to lose weight. Though the idea of guys wearing string singlets, heavy weights, and grunting as they lift scared him, he eventually gave powerlifting a try. “The more I trained, the stronger I got. Soon, I became one of those guys wearing string singlets and grunting out every rep”, he tells Heron. Ever since he grew in strength and fell in love with the sound of multiple 20kg plates clanking as he moves the bar, he became hooked to the sport.

Powerlifting, with strength as the principal ingredient of athletic performance, has roots and traditions stretching back to the Greek and Roman times. It is a sport wherein an athlete does three lifts at maximal weight: squat, bench press, and deadlift. During competition, the lifts could be completed equipped or unequipped, which is more known as raw or classic lifting. In equipped (or raw) competition, single-ply polyester shirts and suits with wrist and knee wraps are allowed. During un-equipped (or classic), soft suits and neoprene knee sleeves are permissible.

In the Philippines, recognized by our Sports Commission and also a member of the International Powerlifting Federation, we have Powerlifting Association of the Philippines (PAP), founded in 1982, responsible for powerlifting events that happen annually.

In April of 2018, PAP organized the Philippine National Open & Age Group Raw Powerlifting Championships, which comprised of 200 athletes from all over the country. Richmond joined the two-day event that was not only a showcase of strength, but also camaraderie

Although he mainly blames luck for catching gold in his recent meet by PAP, which came with a two-decade interval, he also believes that his time spent in knowing the practice of Powerlifting helped his training methodology mature, that also brought him home a record breaking lift.

Since his first competition in 1993, Richmond has put work to improve his lifts, not only limited to bars. He intensified with higher reps than a traditional powerlifter would train with and found that the explosiveness he needed for powerlifting may also be acquired through kettle bells. The reality of training came along with some injuries and niggling joints.

As you work your power up to produce your maximum weight per lift, common body strains may be expected.  To avoid this, Richmond insists, “Invest more on recovery. Do not underestimate the power of sleep and days off.” “You may also go for deep tissue sport massages, active stretching, and cross-training in another sport.” He also adds, “do more frequent de-loads and even time off lifting.”

If you are looking to spend years in Powerlifting and possibly a record like Richmond’s, here are some of his tips for starters:

  1.     Learn how to squat, bench press, and deadlift correctly.
  2.     Stay patient and get strong. Do not neglect smaller muscle groups and assistance exercises. Build full body strength and the big three lifts will follow.
  3.     Understand the rationale behind each program you see. Do not blindly follow programs, just because a superstar lifter did it. Programing is highly individualized and tailored to each person. Look for a knowledgeable coach who understands your strengths, weaknesses and even your biomechanics.
  4.     On that note, hire a coach who knows what he/she is doing. If you can’t get a coach, join a powerlifting gym with people who compete in powerlifting. These people will guide you through.
  5.     Enjoy what you do and never because you would like to show off and you will get to perform powerlifting, decade after decade.

And for an uninterrupted training, gear up with Heron Athletics. #TrainFearless