Listen up–if you have never been in a powerlifting meet but want to, or if you are about to compete in your first–if you have competed, give this top 10 a quick read and see if passing it along can help someone you know.
I have competed in a lot of meets over the last 8 years, in a lot of different federations- raw, single ply, and mulit ply. From local to national and, world level meets across the country. Over this time, I have helped, handled, and coached some amazing athletes along with many entry level lifters. Beyond all of this I have dedicated hours upon hours spotting, loading, and running the platform.
Why do I bring all this up? I have had the opportunity over the years to gain 3 unique prospectives to provide the advice below. I wish someone would have bestowed some of this info upon me before any of my first meets.
As a coach, athlete and spotter/ loader I have seen a lot of cool things and many things that could of went better for the lifter. Now remember before we proceed to the cool stuff. This is not all you should know before showing up. No, I will not give you all of my secretes you have to pay for that!!! However, I have gained a lot of free knowledge over the years and love to give back, so I hope this helps.
- Please know the rules, lifting commands and if your equipment is approved (shoes-socks, singlet, belt etc.). All powerlifting federations should have this information online or a download available to you.
At a recent world meet I heard a few things like this from experienced lifters that should have been understood long before warmup time… Can I wear knee sleeves? Do they have a start command in bench?
- Open with a first attempt lighter than you think, your first meet will be no fun and a waste of money if you bomb out.
A pro lifter once told me “at the end of the day no one will ever say did you see what so and so opened with in bench? Or did you see so and so opened their squat with only… Get on the books then make an advancement in the standings then go big if need be.
- Know the actual weight of the different competition bars and how to identify them. If in doubt, ask the meet director at weigh in time.
I have seen so many people worry when they have never had a 60-pound squat bar on their back and their warm-ups are making everything feel heavy… Keep an eye out for a new article to drop soon about meet day warm-ups and what you need to know.
- Find your rack heights before everyone else (height of the bench and squat stand).
Two easy options to accomplish this. If the event is at a gym go there some day before the meet and ask for some help to find these numbers on their bench and squat rack, I promise it will be worth your drop-in fee. If at the event is your only option, you may have access the evening before the meet after weigh-ins or first ting in the morning before things start full force. Save time and stress when you should be getting ready and everyone else is in line stressing about warming up. I see it every time. All my athletes on meet day have already accomplished this important task before everyone else and can just focus or their lifting.
- Bring the following on meet day and to weigh-ins and you will never go wrong: A little extra money in cash and your lifter card. Bring extra of the following to the best of your ability: Underwear, singlet, belt, socks, and shoes.
I will not elaborate on why you may want extra underwear… I want you to be excited about your first meet. Just think of this, if you never need any of these extra items your partner or fellow lifter will be very grateful if they do!
- Please understand how to time your attempts. There is nothing worse than feeling rushed to the platform before a big lift.
Quick and simple math that I hope you use your entire lifting career. Let’s say you are in flight A and it consists of 15 people, you are # 5 on that list. If the lifts are averaging 1 minute and 30 seconds, you have 7 & ½ minutes before you are up (5 x 1.5). Don’t grab your phone and update your fb or go to the bathroom you are up in no time!!!
- Know how long it takes you to warm up. This one you need to measure in your final weeks leading up to the meet, in your gym.
If you need help on warm ups read my article The Ultimate Warm-Up Guide 1.0 Pay attention to how long it takes you to get to your working or opener(ish) weight and note it may be different in all 3 lifts. If it takes you 40 min on average from the time you tie your shoes until you start your working sets or opener-ish weight this keep consistent. Lifting normally starts promptly at 9 am on the big day, therefor in this example you should start your warm up at around 8:15 not 7:30 or 8:35. It is better to leave some room and start a little early than it is to be rushed.
- It's ok to ask what went wrong if something did. In the event of receiving one or multiple red lights and getting a no lift, immediately ask the judges what was wrong with your attempt.
You have time between weight changes on the platform right after your attempt and remember it’s ok to ask. Most judges probably don’t want to see you make the same mistake again.
- Get a coach, partner, or friend to help. If you can find someone to help you at your first meet who has personal experience please do so it will be much more fun. Or you can be a knuckle head like me and just show up and see what happens…I should have started with step one of this article!
Again, to reiterate make sure the help you recruit has actually done this a few times or you will both be lost. There are some good coaches out there, if you have already invested money and time take the extra step and set yourself up for success.
- I don’t care if you won or lost your socks and got humbled, go thank all of the judges and shake their hands. Hint if you do this again and you are an asshole, they will remember you.
The same thanks should go to the spotters if they saved your ass, most of them work all day for a free shirt and lunch, maybe a few bucks. Just a thought…
Conclusion; have fun, you’re not a pro lifter yet and you don’t do this full time. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. If you do the above, you are doing your part to help make sure meets are more efficient and you will personally produce better results.