by Peter Lucey uploaded 26th March 2013
So you’ve decided to do your first powerlifting meet, good job it can be a daunting thought but one thing you’ll realise very quickly is that there is a great respect among lifters for anyone who has the balls to go up there on the platform and bust their ass. Your numbers might not be anything spectacular right now but the experience will stand to you and getting in there and competing will drive you forward.
When you zero in on a meet there are a few things you need to get done beforehand that will make the whole process easier for yourself and the meet organisers. Make sure you get your membership forms and entry forms in nice and early, trust me on the morning of a weigh in when pressure is on you don’t want to be fluttering around with entry fees, memberships etc. Also in the case that you’re at a pretty high level starting and you have a shot at a record in the IDFPA you’ll need to be a member for three months for the record to be official, it’s a shame to not get a record because you didn’t send a form in time.
When it comes to your training on the run in, everyone is a wee bit different but personally I recommend making sure you’re well rested during the week leading to the comp. Most competitions will be on a Saturday so I go to my openers on the previous Monday and that’s the last of my training until the big day aside from some light stretching and foam rolling etc. (maybe some cardio if I’m on the hefty side).
If the meet is more than an hour’s drive then it could be a good idea coming up the day before, weigh ins are early and you can do without being stiff, hungry and dehydrated after a long drive and stupidly early start. Find somewhere close to the venue where you can get a good night’s sleep.
Check your equipment before you leave home and make sure you have all that you need, if it’s your first comp you can wear shorts and a t-shirt, that’s grand but you’ll need a singlet from then on. Don’t forget knee length socks for the deadlift lots of people do and it’s mandatory! Briefs, belts, chalk, talk, foam roller, shoes (flat as possible for the deadlift) don’t forget anything, make a list and make sure you have all that you will need. Another handy tool is a resistance band there great for warming up the shoulder and glutes among other things so if you can lay your hands on one do.
Food is important too, they often will have food stalls at a comp but don’t bank on these, you don’t want to be eating too much food your body is not used to on competition day, it could make you bloated and feeling sluggish by the time deadlifts roll around (not a pleasant experience), pack a food bag with good food your body is used to, fluids, fruit etc.
It’s your first comp your just starting out, so really don’t sweat the weigh in too much, train and eat hard and put yourself in the position to hit the best numbers that you can, just weigh in at whatever category you fall into, you have plenty of time to worry about making weight down the road.
You should have a clear idea of your opening lifts at this stage you’ll be asked to give them at the weigh in along with your rack height if you’ll be squatting (check this on the racks when you go in). For god’s sake go in nice and light for your openers there is nothing worse that failing an opener especially if you’re a rookie. You should blow away your opening lift that will take most of the butterflies away and you’ll feel like a warrior for your next lift. Remember you can’t lower the weight between attempts so if you do go in too heavy you could bomb and come out with a big fat zero.
It’s always better to warm up early than too late, so if in doubt get in there early, keep an eye on the other lifters in your class and see when they go to warm up. It’s much better to have to slow down your warm up than speed through it!
Another cardinal sin is to forget the commands for the lifts, these should be drilled deep into your psyche, go over them just before you lift and it might be no harm to ask another lifter to simulate them for you during your warm up sets. It’s a real shame to work your ass off for a lift only to jump a command and fail. Now if this does happen you and it has happened us all at some stage don’t get flustered, take a breath and just make sure you don’t repeat the mistake!
By all means once your openers are in the bank go for it, the adrenaline will be pumping and you should set your sights on a PB on the third lift, often weights that are tough in the gym will feel much easier in the comp, that’s a good thing so thing so make the most of it!
While you’re at the comp you’ll be surrounded by plenty of experienced lifters of all shapes and sizes, don’t be shy the vast majority are extremely helpful and quite happy to offer pearls of wisdom to younger lifters, just don’t go asking a guy about rack pull to help the lockout ten seconds before he has to lift! There is typically quite a bit of waiting around during a comp so get to know the other lifters and make the most of the day.
If your still with me than you must be quite interested in starting powerlifting, the IDFPA is a very welcoming federation and always glad to have new members, if you have any questions that have not been answered here already just drop a message on the comments or on the contact us page of the site. Have fun it’s a great experience at a comp and you’ll do fine.
Peter is the head coach and founding member of the CIT Powerlifting Club and current IDFPA PRO
Getting Ready for Your First Powerlifting Competition