How to Choose a Powerlifting Gym or Club

This is a guestpost from Dave Yarnell

Dave is a record holding powerlifter in the WNPF, has 30 years plus training experience, is a certified personal trainer, a published outdoor writer and a drug free strength training advocate

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cassidyHow does an aspiring powerlifter choose where to train? 

There a several factors involved, including location, finances, goals and one’s philosophy. 

Depending on where you live, you may not have access to a well equipped private club or even a commercial place with all the right stuff.  Most decent commercial gyms have enough to do the basics, at least, and this could end up being what you are stuck with, unless you choose to outfit a home gym with everything you need. 


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Training at home has pros and cons.

It takes a fair outlay of cash to setup a nice powerlifting style home gym, with a bare minimum of a power rack, bench, lots of plates and a platform or some heavy rubber mats you can drop weight on without a disaster ensuing.  It’s nice to have a home gym where you can train any time you like, play any music you prefer while training (or none if you prefer that), and not have to travel to a gym in bad weather, etc. 

On the downside, it is easier to get distracted and harder for many to get/stay motivated without the gym atmosphere.  Getting some good training partners to train with you at your home gym solves some problems, like helping the atmosphere & motivation, but puts you back into a scheduling situation, finding times that work best for all. Training heavy alone is possible with a power rack & safety pins, but it is always better to have someone else around to spot, even with a cage. 

Many private clubs started out with a couple of like-minded individuals getting together in someone’s garage or basement home gym and gradually adding friends & equipment until  usually a larger facility becomes a must at some point. It is very likely my own club Twin City Barbell began that way back in the 1930s.

If you are not looking to re-invent the wheel and are just seeking an existing club you can fit into, you should seek out local clubs that share your philosophy when it comes to drug use and training styles. If you are drug free and try to train with a bunch that uses, it is not likely to work well. If you plan to use supportive gear like wraps, bench shirts & squat suits, it is best to train with a crew that does the same.

So how do you find a private club in your area? 

Small clubs such as the one I belong to do not have an advertising/marketing budget to speak of, but they try to get the word out using social media, flyers & word of mouth. Powerlifting focused forums, websites, Facebook pages and the like often have links to local clubs that are seeking members.

If you compete in local meets, ask people where they train. Go online and put your town & powerlifting in the search window of your browser and see what comes up. Here are a couple of places to look:

My club;

If you are on Facebook, a lifting forum, etc; take note of who is posting and where they are from. This will give you some good leads to clubs sometimes.  If you can’t find a private club and a commercial gym is your only option, try to choose the best one that will meet your needs as a powerlifter.  Some of these places actually welcome & accommodate the hard-core lifters, but that is often not the case.


In fact, some franchise type gyms frown on it, as they don’t like chalk, screaming, clanging plates, baby powder, bloody shins and all the other things we powerlifters thrive on. They feel the average member might be intimidated. 

While there are jerks in every bunch, you will find most powerlifters to be good natured folks, willing to give advice and help rookie lifters any way they can. Just don’t ask a question when a guy is walking out a heavy squat from the rack, or otherwise obviously engaged in the heat of battle.  Try to catch up during a down time. 

Also, the average commercial place has limited numbers of power cages, platforms, etc.  So please don’t use these areas for more trivial pursuits. Curling in the squat rack is a perfect example, and not the best way to befriend the powerlifting crowd. 

One upside of commercial gyms is many have nice amenities like pools, saunas & hot-tubs, which can be nice recovery tools if you have that access. 

Some of the smaller private clubs pride themselves in their lack of such things, and in these smaller venues, AC & heat may even be considered as amenities.  You can train hard & make good gains under very Spartan conditions if you really want & need to. Good luck in your pursuit of power!


For a look at Dave’s  Old School based books, full of actual lifting programs, pictures and stories from the golden era, go here, please:

To check out Twin City Barbell club, check out their Facebook page:

Also check out Dave’s Old-School based  Facebook page, Forgotten Strength Secrets:

Forgotten Strength Secrets

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