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Revolutionizing sports sciences

Many may have seen the yellow flyers around the Aerobic Center, decorated with bold letters and flaming weights. The question is: what does it say? The flyers announce the need for volunteers in a new powerlifting study created by pre-physical therapy major Jacob Lyons. Lyons is doing a unique study for his class Exercise Physiology. The study is about how different styles of warming up affect powerlifting and athletic performance. 

“A lot of the research in the sports sciences and physical therapy fields are a lot more aerobically based, so I thought it’d be interesting to see more of a powerlifter focus in this study,” says Lyons.

The first three weeks of Lyon’s treatment was spent recruiting people for his study. He ended up with eight subjects, seven males and one female participant. The specific powerlifting methods being used in this study are squats, bench press, and deadlift. Each with their own proper way of execution. 

Squats: Lift the bar parallel to the base of your hip bone and below your knees. Pause at the bottom of the squat before rising back up. You are not allowed to bounce or stumble out of the squat. Rerack it in one continuous motion. A lot of people sumo squat which could be considered “cheating” but it’s just using the mechanical advantage to squat more weight. 

Bench press: Lift the bar off the rack. Spotters can help put it in position and depending on the athlete, the spotter will also que the athlete. Without the spotter’s help, the athlete will decline the bar so it’s touching their chest. They will then push the bar back up by tightening their glutes and driving their legs into the ground. 

Deadlift: There are two types of deadlifts. The conventional deadlift is when your arms are outside your legs. Sumo is when your arms are between your legs, making them have a wider stance. Having to lift the weight off the floor, it’s common for people to hitch their bodies. 

Before the participants are allowed to do any powerlifting methods, they are required to do a warm-up. 

“The two types of warm-ups we’re looking at is bodyweight movements like push-ups, squats, etc,” says Lyons. “The second three weeks we’ll be looking at dynamic stretches which are more like warming up for a run. Like a lot of moving, quick repetition, no resistance stretches.” 

Once they’ve completed their warm-ups, the participants are given three attempts to establish a weight. 

“If they miss it again, then I’ll tell them to lower the weight a few pounds just for safety, so they don’t actually hurt themselves,” says Lyons. “On the third attempt if they still don’t lift that one I’ll just go with whatever they lifted previously.” 

Most participants choose to do raw powerlifting since they are not familiar with the belts or straps used for equipped powerlifting. Raw powerlifting is a type of competitive weightlifting that involves lifting a large amount of weight without any assistance from straps or belts. If any of the participants do choose to use equipped lifting, Lyons is willing to provide the equipment to them. 

“There is one treatment group and one control group for this three week period, then the next three week period the groups will switch roles,” says Lyons. “Control group 1 will become treatment group two.”

The second treatment group for the first three weeks will look at how bodyweight exercises as warm-up effect powerlifting and whether it is detrimental to it or helpful.

“Because we are measuring the velocity of the lifts, any pause during a rep would be significant in calculating the velocity,” says Lyons. “I ask the athletes to either attempt the rep at the same weight again or lower the weight to eliminate the pause.”

Lyons is very passionate about his study. When he begins to reveal his in-depth knowledge; not only of his study but also powerlifting as a sport, he uses his hands to demonstrate the actions a participant would do. He can go on long tangents talking about the small details such as the velocity of the bar being picked up. It proves his credibility and preparedness only a founder of a study would achieve. 

“I am excited to be the founder of this study,” says Lyons. “I think it will help my understanding of powerlifting, even more, give me practical experience with conducting a study, and look ambitious on an application to graduate school.” 

Lyons then explained how he hopes to expand the study. Since Lyons is a junior, he plans on using the information in his senior paper next year.

It seems Lyons has it all planned out. He knows how to take the measurements and the calculations to see the effect of different warm ups in powerlifting. It will all be averaged out in the end, including the average weight,  and average velocity. 

Sadly, the statistics of it all will have to be done with the removal of the woman’s measurements since women only make up 13 percent of participants. 

Those statistics can be changed. Interested in participating in the study? Well, it’s not too late. You can participate in the second three week period. No matter what gender, Lyons welcomes everyone as long as they have prior experience in lifting, to create consistency in the study. Contact Lyons through email: