Avoid This Amateur Powerlifting Competition Mistake and PR Your Total

Have you made this mistake in competition? It could cost you pounds on your total.

The choice of weight to lift in each attempt is a critical factor that can determine the success of a powerlifting competition.

This week, I’m coaching at CPU Nationals in Vancouver, BC and I’d like to share some thoughts of mine about attempt selection. Scroll down to the bottom of this page if you want my free ATTEMPT SELECTION CALCULATOR TOOL.

The first step in selecting a weight for a powerlifting attempt is to determine the lifter’s one-rep max (1RM) in each exercise. This is the maximum weight the lifter can lift for one repetition in each exercise. The 1RM is used as a reference point to select weights for subsequent attempts in a competition. The goal of the first attempt is to establish a base, so the lifter should select a weight that they can lift comfortably but with some effort. This will also set the tone for the competition and provide the lifter with a foundation for the rest of the competition.

The second attempt is usually about 5 to 10 pounds heavier than the first attempt, and the goal is to successfully lift this weight. This attempt is crucial, as it helps the lifter to build momentum and confidence, which will be needed in the following attempts. Lifting a weight that is too heavy in the second attempt can lead to a failed lift, which will negatively impact the lifter’s performance for the rest of the competition.

The third attempt is where the lifter can aim to lift their 1RM or just below it. This is the heaviest weight the lifter will attempt in the competition, and the goal is to lift it successfully to demonstrate their maximum strength. The weight selected for the third attempt should be based on the lifter’s experience, training, and how they performed in the first two attempts. If the lifter feels confident, they can attempt their 1RM, but if they are feeling tired or not performing well, they should select a weight that they feel confident they can lift successfully.

In conclusion, the selection of weights for powerlifting attempts is a critical factor in determining the success of a powerlifting competition. The lifter’s 1RM is used as a reference point to select weights for each attempt, and the lifter should aim to lift a weight that they can comfortably but with some effort in the first attempt, a weight that is 5 to 10 pounds heavier in the second attempt, and their 1RM or just below it in the third attempt. The key is to find the right balance between challenging yourself and maintaining control, and to always prioritize safety over weight lifted.

If you want to see all of this in action, you should check out my Attempt Selection Tool by commenting PR TOTAL below and I’ll send you a copy. The tool calculates conservative up to aggressive attempts for an entire 3-lift day in addition to warmup timing and tracking vital lifter information.

PS – Here’s 3 ways I can help you:

1. Join the Powerlifting Unlimited Community for a free copy of my Powerlifting Competition Tool. 


2. Follow me on Instagram (@strongeryoupt) for free lifting advice, programs and more powerlifting content.


3. Apply to join my “Momentum Program” and become a case study. We’ll work with you 1-on-1 (in-person or online, depending on location) to consistently increase your PRs.

It takes less than 60 seconds to apply HERE in order to find out more information and see if you’d be a good fit.