Anyone that has ever done a powerlifting meet before can most likely agree with me that it is a lot of fun! Depending on what kind you do it can be competitive but full of excitement. On the other hand if it is your first meet then it will probably be full of learning what to, and what not to do. I competed in my first powerlifting meet in December at the Old School Gym in Ohio. It was such an amazing environment full of great people. I remember watching so many videos and reading so many articles on what to do. That is why I wanted to make an article to HELP YOU if you have thought about doing a meet or are getting ready to. Here is my top 5 lessons learned from my very first powerlifting meet.
LESSON #1- Don’t cut weight
One of the biggest things I’ve heard from almost everyone that has ever competed was that you shouldn’t worry about cutting weight for the meet, especially if it is your first one. It’s not that I did not want to follow this piece of advice but I was only 4 pounds away from the 148 class so I went for the cut..
The big thing with this is that I have never had to worry about cutting weight but I took some advice from Cory Gregory and some other powerlifters I had talked to. I went in that week starting at about 153lb. The weigh ins were Friday morning for me so I was nervous that I would come up a pound shy and miss the weigh in. Wednesday and most of Thursday, I cut my water intake down just slightly lower than normal. I didn’t do anything too crazy because I told myself this is for fun and I WILL NOT put myself in danger of dehydration just for this.
I went in Friday early morning to get my weigh-in done. I came in at 147.5 so I had made my weigh in! Now at the time I was happy because I knew I would have a better chance of placing higher in a 148 class but I had immediately regretted my decision during the meet.
So my 1st big piece of advice especially if this is your 1st meet is to NOT WORRY ABOUT CUTTING WEIGHT. IT CAN DECREASE YOUR PERFORMANCE IF YOU DON’T DO IT CORRECTLY. I did it more for documentation as well so I could show others what I was doing to get ready for the meet.
LESSON #2- Don’t make too big of jumps
I learned this lesson very early into this meet. My second attempt of the squat was 275, I made my last attempt which would come up after that 345. That is a 70lb jump! It was also a PR attempt. I got under the bar and my body just was not having it. I had never even felt that weight out in training yet. I had overloaded my nervous system in a way that I could not get used to. I went to take the weight and failed my last attempt.
In a powerlifting meet, you get 3 attempts on each of the main lifts that are in the meet. The highest attempt you got from each lift will be added up and used to select a winner. When picking your next weight, you have to think about it before you just say or write down the numbers. Most places will let you change it if need be so ask if you think you need a more reasonable jump.
LESSON #3- Use the warm up stations on the side to stay ready
This is something I wish I would have known about before my first meet. There are usually extra squat racks, benches and spots to deadlift on the side of the gym or place that is holding your competition. These are spot that you, the competitor can use to warm up if you are in a later flight or take a weight to stay warm while you are waiting for your turn. I used these to warm up initially but when I went and made my 70lb jump on my last squat attempt I did not know that I could go and use them between the main attempts.
If I would have known I could keep going to take a few reps to stay ready, I believe I could have reached the PR on my squat and totaled higher.
LESSON #4- HYDRATE & EAT
Eating sounds simple enough right?? Until the nerves hit you. The night before the meet was the day I was bloating up. I bloated up probably 5-7 pounds all together. Here’s where I ran into my big problem..
I woke up the next morning and I was so excited and nervous that I barley ate my breakfast. We had an ice storm and the streets looked like an ice skating rink. The meet was postponed an hour due to the weather so that was another hour of not eating. I felt okay, I was chugging water because I knew I wasn’t going to eat a whole lot. I believe I was suffering a little anxiety due to the weather and it being my first power meet so I honestly didn’t know what to except when getting there. I think that my next meet will run a lot smoother because I now have that first meet under my belt.
Hydration is KEY too. If you are not hydrated then your performance could suffer tremendously. When you are getting fluids into your body after weigh-ins, it a good idea to grab some gatorade or powerade. This will help replenish electrolytes that may have been lost in the cutting stage. These can generate more energy and help transport nutrients throughout the body which can be a good thing when you are going to bloat up. This can be especially good if you are getting the right foods through the day of the bloat.
With that being said, pack extra water and gatorade with you for the meet!! The last thing you ant to do is run out of fluids during a long power meet.
LESSON #5- Don’t be nervous, just lift
As I mentioned in the lesson above, the nerves hit me the day of the meet. I always heard people saying that if this is your first meet then you will probably get a little nervous. I did not think anything of this, I thought there was no way that it could bother me. Well.. I was kinda wrong. I woke up a nervous wreck which transferred over into the meet. It wasn’t a lack of confidence or anything but it did not help that I was far from being the strongest one there. I did not mind however, I wanted the experience and to have fun.
Immediately after each mistake I would make, I would come up with an answer to fix it for next time. I came home from the meet and wrote a page of what I messed up on and how I could fit it. The biggest thing about me being nervous during this was that it was my first meet, I should have expected it. I really feel like I will be more comfortable when I compete in my next meet. My biggest piece of advice is just to pretend its another day of what you do in your own gym.
In conclusion, I believe that signing up for that first powerlifting competition was a great experience and I can’t wait to do another now! I strongly recommend trying out the power meets that the Old School Gym in Pataskala, Ohio host. The atmosphere is crazy and the people are awesome!
I hope this article was able to help those out there looking to compete in a powerlifting competition especially for the first time. I strongly recommend trying it! Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I put a lot of time and effort into this one so please share this article with friends and family so they can get a look at this and the rest of the website!
Photo source: water , mono lift , Old School Gym