Missing an attempt is a pretty horrible feeling, especially if you’re gunning for a big total to finish the day.
What’s the best protocol to follow when you miss, though?
After lifting and coaching at DOZENS of powerlifting meets, I can say this with certainty: there are very few scenarios where you should increase the weight of your next attempt if you miss on the previous one.
The overwhelming majority of powerlifters who miss and then go up will miss again. a few years ago I believe Mike Tuscherer did an analysis on lifters who did just this at Nationals and it was comical how many lifters missed – which in turn prevented them from building a solid total.
So when should you actually increase in weight after you’ve missed an attempt? Here’s my take:
Assuming you’ve secured a successful opener and missed your second, increasing your next attempt in spite of a failed attempt could be considered a viable option IF:
- You missed on a small, easily fixable technicality (skipped a rack command, misgrooved your rep, etc)
- You are in contention for a podium position, based on your current [sub-]total
- It’s not your first competition
- A state/national/world record is within reach for a planned 3rd attempt
Most scenarios outside of the above 4 I presented above would have me recommending repeating your second attempt at the powerlifting meet and “building your total”.
With newbie powerlifters lifting at their first meet, it can be tempting to increase their attempt after missing on a technicality or command. I am WHOLLY opposed to do this for a couple of reasons:
- At a first meet, the goal should (in 99% of cases) be to get experience with competition and maximize the number of successful attempts
- Newbie lifters don’t possess the consistency (due to lack of experience) needed to justify increasing weight in the face of technical inconsistency
MOST IMPORTANT: the shitty feeling that eats at your soul knowing that you could have done more weight but missed on an avoidable mistake will be a feeling you never forget. The likelihood of you repeating the mistake in future meets is likely lower if the negative consequence of repeating an attempt (and knowing you could do more) is present in your mind.
Your first meet should be “one of many”.
How do you handle missed attempts at meets or during max testing?