Your First Powerlifting Meet
So you’ve signed up for your first meet, or it’s been long enough from your last meet that you need some help. In this article we’re going to break things down into two sections; Preparation and Meet Day, and try to cover critical topics in a checklist style format that will apply to the majority of lifters entering their first competition.
Part 1- Preparing for your Meet
Let’s assume that you are about 6 weeks out from your meet, and are spending a bit more time thinking about what actually needs to happen between now and then. I will not get into programming for this guide but it is in your best interest to select a program and stick to it.
Most powerlifting programs are designed around peaking for a meet once or twice a year so you will actually have better results than somebody who only does gym lifts. Let’s get into administrative tasks.
1. Pay for the meet and federation membership, ensuring all of your administrative information is correct and you receive confirmation through email or post.
2. If you are traveling to the meet, arrange for lodging. Sometimes the meet director will have a discount arrangement with the venue.
3. Read the entire rulebook for your federation, and make sure you understand the rules of performance for the lifts.
4. Ensure your equipment is legal. Lifting suit (singlet), belt, wraps, sleeves, socks, shoes, t-shirt, and even undergarments. You should have these items on hand for training, equipment makes a huge difference in your platform performance.
These steps should prevent any major issues when you show up to the meet. Now let’s talk about some other things we can do to maximize our chances of success. I already mentioned having a program, and a program can be provided and optimized by a coach. I advocate in person coaching but with video being so easy these days online coaching can work if you pick a good one. Even if you don’t have a coach, you should have a training partner or friend to help you during the meet by assisting you with gear, handing off your bench, and fetching drinks. Environment and equipment makes a huge difference in powerlifting. Optimally, you should be training around other powerlifters in a facility with same type of equipment you will see at the meet. Competition grade bars, benches, combo racks, monolifts, and kilo plates are things that you may need to experience before meet day. And don’t forget you need a good number for your opening attempts, a solid triple done in the gym usually works well as a starting point!
During this period it is also beneficial to use the meet as motivation to focus on your diet, sleep, rehab and recovery. All of your hard work in the gym means very little if the rest of your routine sucks. As far as weight and body composition I suggest growing into the meet rather than reducing size, as this gives you the best way to set PRs and move as much weight as possible. Training 3-5 lbs over your weight class in the last few weeks can make a huge difference and a 24 hour weigh in is no big deal.
Part 2- Meet Day
The big day is finally here, well it’s actually tomorrow because today we need to weigh in, gear check and set rack heights! At weigh in you will-
Check your personal info, make sure you are entered in the correct age, weight and equipment class.
Be weighed and your class adjusted if you are over your planned weight.
Your lifting equipment will be inspected and any unapproved items will be made known to you.
You will set your squat and bench rack heights using the meet equipment.
You will provide your opening attempts in kilos
This is also a good time to explore the venue, ask any questions, and mingle with other competitors. Now it’s time to eat, eat, and eat! Carbs are the order of the day. Stay away from any exotic, spicy or weird foods, today is not the day to experiment. Pasta is my favorite, with a little red wine because it is difficult to sleep before the meet, you might even need some melatonin or Nyquil. Have snacks and drinks ready for the meet also, it will take all day.
Ok so now it’s really meet day! I recommend attending the rules briefing if they have one and if you are a lightweight, be prepared to warm up before lifting begins. Check the flight roster as soon as it is posted and see when you need to warm up. The lighter you are, the sooner you need to start. Warmups can be tricky depending on the venue size and amount of athletes and spectators. Unfortunately nobody really cares if you get a good warmup except you and your handler/coach so don’t be afraid to ask to work in. Depending on the flight size I recommend taking your last warmup during the previous flight’s third attempt. Watch the judges to see how they are calling the lifts, and be prepared for any surprises. Remember they haven’t seen you before, so make it easy for them to give you white lights.
This has been a very brief intro to the topic of competitive powerlifting and I hope it causes you to ask more questions than I’ve answered here. Hopefully I can expand on some of these topics at a later date, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.