This is a guest post from reader Juri.
He recently participated in his first powerlifting meet and got a 510kg total at 91kg bodyweight.
Since there are always people who are about do take part in their first meet I asked Juri to share his experiences here on ATG.
Share your experiences/ tips in the comments.
I had my first powerlifting competition recently and since it was such an interesting experience I decided I’d share some of the thoughts which may be useful to some.
I think that it’s not really necessary to have a complicated training program leading up to the meet the first time. Leave that for later, when you have more experience.
Just take it easy the last 1-2 weeks before the event and make sure that you are well rested and not sore anywhere.
I reduced my training volume gradually and in the final week I only worked up to my (very low) openers on Monday and did some really light (ca. 30% * 5 reps * 4 sets in each lift) form work on Thursday to be sure my form will be as good as possible on Saturday, the day of the competition.
I also stopped doing any other sport activity during the last week and reserved more time for sleep.
Generally speaking you shouldn’t worry about weight and just compete at whatever weight you are comfortable, but I’m stubborn and was only 1 kg off my weight class (93kg) one week before.
I ended up dropping 3kg water weight by drinking tons of water (>5l) every day of the week before except the day before the meet. That day I stopped drinking altogether except very few small sips of water now and then (ca. 200ml in total).
choose really, really easy openers
This is being said everywhere, but it can’t be said often enough – choose really, really easy openers. You’ll still have 2 more attempts after that and it will be a much better feeling getting all lifts and knowing you could have done more that bombing.
I opened with weights that I could do at least 5 reps with on an average day.
The result were 3 easy first lifts with good form and enough mental capacity left to listen for the commands.
Also, lifting in front of a crowd is something completely different than lifting alone/at the gym, which may have an impact on your performance as well.
Therefore ridiculously light openers are the best decision I have made that day.
The second attempt is not that straightforward. Since I was doing 5/3/1 before and my projected max was much higher than my tested max on every lift I knew that I had some PRs in me.
That is why I decided to match my PRs in the squat and the bench on the second attempts. The third attempt was simply based on how the second attempt felt.
The deadlift was a different matter.
Since I was going for a 500kg total and I needed a 2.5kg PR in the deadlift for that I decided to go for it on the second attempt, which felt really good.
Left with no particular goal for the third attempt on the deadlift I decided to go crazy and put on another 10kg and use the adrenaline to hit a massive PR.
In retrospect this was a good idea, because after reaching my initial goals I wouldn’t have been excited enough to do another small PR.
ask experienced lifters for help
I had the great advantage of going to the meet with around 20 people from my club.
Not all of them lifted in that meet, but most of them had much more experience than I did and helped me a lot with everything, starting with telling me what queue to stand in for the weigh in 😉
None of us had a personal handler, but one of the most experienced lifters from our club who didn’t lift that day basically handled everyone of us and gave last minute advice and encouragement, gave your next attempts to the judges and everything.
All of this was extremely helpful and took off a lot of the stress.
If you are alone, it will be much harder and I highly advise to ask someone who looks more experienced for help.
Most of the lifters will be really friendly and unless you disturb them in a bad moment (for example right before their attempts 😉 ) they will be willing to help.
Things to bring
bring food you know you can digest quickly and without problems
Food. Lots of it. Also, drinks.
It will be a long day (I left home at 07:45 and was back home at 18:45…), but you won’t have time for a proper meal so take stuff you know you can digest quickly and without problems.
For me it was bananas, apples and chocolate. I also brought yogurt, but it didn’t go down well. In total I drank 5 liters of fluids during the meet (and had to go to the bathroom a countless number of times 😉 )
Apparel. All the stuff you need for the competition, obviously.
Since I never competed before and trained in clothes that are not permitted at the competition (t-shirt, jogging pants, barefoot) I had to borrow a singlet and shoes from the club and buy some high socks for deadlifts.
Get all this stuff at least one week before the competition so you don’t need to worry about it on the last day.
Equipment. Things you usually use during warm ups and cool downs like bands, foam rollers and so on.
a piece of paper with your planned attempts and maybe warm ups written down so you don’t need to think about it too much.
The first meet is all about the experience you have. You won’t be breaking any records so don’t get too greedy with your attempts.
If you bomb on your first competition this might turn into a major motivational problem in the future.
Have some realistic goal that is not too far off your training records.
It’s better to exceed your (lower) goal and to know that you maybe could have gone even higher than to come short and be miserable. There is always the next time when you can add another few kilos on the bar if you feel like you didn’t push your limits.
A few helpful links: