A Ronin was a samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period (1185–1868) of Japan. You can also check out this absolute classic film featuring DeNiro and Sean Bean:
So what is a powerlifting Ronin? In my eyes this is someone who may have essentially trains alone. They may have people who will give them a spot, they may have a bodybuilder who occasionally works in but they do not train with other powerlifters.
Now that might not sound too bad but hear me out. Eric Maroscher wrote a great article on not being the strongest guy in the gym (link at bottom) and chances are if you’re a powerlifter training solo, you will be close to the strongest guy there. You are now the limiting factor in your training. Your perceptions about what is heavy and what is possible has become your reality and no one is there to disprove you. In a similar way you are also a law unto yourself. You lift with the form that works which might not be optimal. You lift the routine that you choose and you do the exercises that you choose. You are the only person to push you out of your comfort zone and I would question if it’s really out of it if you can do it under your own steam. To spin this to a more positive slant; finding a crew who are stronger than you will give you:
New definitions of what is strong. 400kgs becomes the new 300kgs and you have just gone from strong(ish) to pretty damned weak. Work harder.
Instant feedback on how you lift. Even if you video your lifts, what you see is limited by your knowledge wen experience. Your technique will improve.
Different ways of doing things. You will probably change routine to match the crew which may well take you out of your comfort zone.
They will coach and encourage you which means you WILL lift more. You get stronger.
So a crew to train with is great but how do you find one? Well you could build your own but then you’ll probably be the strongest guy. You need to reach out. Social media is probably your best bet. Powerlifters are very approachable and almost all guys that I have reached out to online have responded with quick and detailed advice. Search for local meets and find out who runs them. Then either lift or just turn up and introduce yourself. Powerlifters are rare and most people are looking more more dedicated training partners. Lastly be gracious to those who help you and pass the knowledge on. As Dave Tate says:
Live, Learn and Pass It On
Lastly I’ll put in a small disclaimer. As always there are freaks who pass under the radar and then turn up and smash huge numbers. Mike Tuscherer and, more recently, Burley Hawke spring to mind. Don’t get me wrong it can be done training alone. It’s just WAY harder. Lifting big is hard enough already, do yourself a favour and make this part a little easier.