Preparing for your first powerlifting meet can be a pretty nerve-racking experience. I’ve talked about how poorly my first competition went in previous posts (I’ll save you some time… It was horrible).
With that said, I first started competing in 2012 and while my competitive career certainly started out pretty horribly, after ~11 years of competition experience and 9 years of full-time powerlifting coaching experience I’d say that a lot of the mistakes I made at that first meet were VERY preventable.
So, in this post, I’d like to share with you a few avoidable mistakes (that I’ve personally made) and save you some frustration (or even injuries).
- Submitting attempts in lbs instead of kg
This sort of rolls into a bigger idea that many lifters miss leading into their first meet. You should read the rule book for the federation that you’re competing in.
I did not.
When I submitted my openers after weighing in, I gave all of my attempts in pounds. I weighed about 150 lbs and my first opener was submitted as 235… kilos. You should have seen my face when they loaded up over 500 lbs and called my name. After realising that I was a dumb teenager that didn’t read the rules, they were gracious enough to let me change my opener to 105kg (231 lbs) and move forward with the day.
So, whether it be using the wrong units, lacking understanding about the process of the meet day, or showing up with non-approved equipment… all of this can be avoided if you read the rulebook beforehand! It’s generally pretty dry reading but it’s a whole lot better than not being able to compete🙂
- Rushing your warmups on meet day
At your first competition, being nervous is pretty common. In fact, if you aren’t nervous, I’d ask if you even cared about the competition! There’s a LOT going on and often that nervous energy can go unchecked.
With the goal of a proper warmup at your PL competition being to prime you for your best 3 lifts on the platform, avoiding accumulating fatigue and having enough (but not too much) rest time between your last warmup and first attempt should be of paramount importance.
I’ve heard that they were starting lifting in X minutes at meets before and then immediately bombed through my warmups only to find out that there was a delay in the previous flight and now I have to stand around for 20 minutes waiting for the flight to start. In that time, I would end up cold and then the first attempt could run the risk of feeling really heavy or even being missed because I was no longer warmed up.
If you’re one of the first 3 lifters in a flight, a good rule of thumb when working out when your last warmup should be performed as they previous flight is starting their 3rd attempts (or 8-10 minutes before your first attempt).
- Trying new Things on Meet Day
This one is hands down THE MOST common mistake I see from powerlifting competition newbies. The goal of your competition prep should be to find what techniques, warmups, equipment, rituals, etc work well for you when lifting heavy.
At my second competition, there was some random coach (who I guess was trying to impress me with some technique tips) who suggested some changes I make to my deadlift to improve my lockout. Not knowing much better, not having a coach/handler at the meet with me and not having the experience to know that meet day was the worst time to try something new, I gave it a shot.
I missed my 3rd attempt deadlift and did not PR my deadlift at that competition.
Whether it be trying out smelling salts, a new technique cue, a new knee sleeve, etc., if you haven’t done it at least once in the gym or at a previous meet, you should not be adding new things to your list of variables for the day. Stick with what you know… it’s what got you good enough at lifting to get to your first meet after all.
PS – Here’s 3 ways I can help you PR your lifts:
1. Join the Powerlifting Unlimited Community for a free copy of my Powerlifting Competition Tool.
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