11 Things I Wish I Knew My First Powerlifting Meet (Author Christy Senay)
This Blog was written by Christy Senay and reposted with her permission (IG: Krispy_Kremez). Christy is a personal trainer and powerlifter out of Rockwell Barbell in Chicago, IL. She has other blog posts available on her website at unchainedstrength.com. Follow her on IG as she prepares for her next competition in June at the Chicago Fit Expo.
I have competed in almost too many meets in my short powerlifting career. Most of the meets I competed in were within the first 2 years of powerlifting, before I had any sort of coaching. Navigating the powerlifting world on my own meant that I have made almost every mistake in the book. You will make mistakes when you first start competing. Luckily for my clients, I won’t let them make the really stupid ones. Here are some things that I wish I knew when I first started competing.
1. For the love of God DO NOT cut weight your first meet
“But I want to cut weight be more “competitive”.” If this is your first meet you are most likely not on the competitive level yet. Even if you are strong as hell, you have never lifted under meet circumstances. If you have been powerlifting for a very short time, the only person you should be competing against is yourself. You want to make your commands, go 9/9, and have fun. If you weight cut improperly, you may lose strength, change your leverages, or deplete your energy. Wouldn't you rather show up and be the strongest you? Get over that number on the scale for now. Most likely you will still do this and learn your lesson on your own And yes, I totally cut weight my first meet for absolutely no reason.
2. Have a meet plan
You should have a meet plan written out with your opener and aggressive/conservative 2nd and 3rd attempts. You will only have a short amount of time to tell the judges your next attempt after your previous lift. And what the hell is a Kilogram?! Yeah, get familiar with those!
3. Don’t hit 99% of your opener in the warm up room
Your meet plan should Include your warm ups. While training for your meet, and hitting your opener, you should follow the same warm up scheme. For most people,I don’t recommend your last warmup being anything over 90% of your opener. I may know someone who hit her opener in the warm up room before getting on the platform.
4. Don’t expect a miracle
Maybe you have a 500lb deadlift in mind for the meet. Your second attempt of 450lbs went up slow as hell. Do not jump up to 500 for your next attempt just because you are stuck on that number. Wouldn’t you rather hit 475 than missing 500 and leaving with 25lbs less on your total?
5. Eat to Perform
Stick to what you know works for you. If you normally eat chicken and rice everyday, don’t load up on donuts and candy meet day. Meal preparation is key! Caffeine, pre workouts, and energy drinks are helpful on meet day, but only if you know that works for you. Same goes for ammonia. If it’s hard for you to eat when you are anxious like me, rely on bland simple carby foods and proteins. Pedialyte and gatorade are always something to have on hand. I definetly did not eat enough my first meet! Now I love meet day because I get to eat all the bagels my heart desires without the guilt.
6. Read the Rulebook
In any sort of competition there are rules. Some of the rules you might not have ever thought realized existed! For example, are you wearing an unapproved type of underwear? Besides the type of dress and equipment approved in the federation there are other rules such as the time limit to make it to the platform and time after the lift and giving the judges your next attempt.
7. Practice commands and use proper equipment
Federation rules differ. Read the rule book to know the exact commands. No matter what there WILL be a pause for bench. Make sure you practice LEGIT pauses in training. Staying tight at the bottom of a bench press is a skill. Which means you have to do it A LOT in training. Monolifts, squat bars, deadlift bars, and competition benches may be used in your federation. The first time I had ever used a monolift was meet day and I was not prepared. If you lift at a gym without certain equipment go find on and get a day pass to practice. And then join that gym duh.
8. Have someone there to “handle” you
As someone who didn’t have a coach and lifted mostly solo my first meets, I know what it is like to get frazzled about the logistics of the meet instead of focusing on my lifts. Have a buddy who isn’t also competition help keep you on time with your warm ups, lift you off, and be there to feed you pixie sticks.
9. Go watch a meet before your big day
Pay attention to the meet flow and how the flights run. Notice mistakes lifters make on technicalities and on calling attempts. Realize the crowd wants the lifters to succeed! Yes, you are lifting in front of an audience, but this is no dance recital. The atmosphere of most meets is loud, fun, and supportive. If available, go to a beginner powerlifter seminar. Before my frist meet I went to a seminar/mock meet that ran through the rules and gave me practice with the commands by the actual meet judges.
10. “But I am not strong enough yet to compete…”
Are you ever really strong enough? Personally, I am glad I started competing early on. I have made all of the big mistakes. Think of each meet is practice for your next time on the platform.
11. Meet is over. Time to sign up for the next meet?!
Give yourself time to gain more muscle mass and get stronger! Many first year powerlifters are so excited to jump into meet after meet because that’s what they perceive powerlifting to be.