How Heavy Should Your First Attempt Be At a Powerlifting Meet?

The best way to set yourself up for success at your first powerlifting meet.

The most common problem I see in a powerlifting meet is a missed first attempt.

So many lifters open too heavy and either:

  •  end up too heavy too soon where they end up needing to take their attempts too close together which fatigues them too much for a quality third; or
  • Miss their opener and spend the rest of their attempts doing damage control in an attempt not to bomb out of the competition

As one of my early powerlifting mentors once told me:

“Your opener should be a weight you can hit for an easy triple on a bad day… with a cold”

At the end of the day, nobody remembers your opener unless you miss it.

A good rule of thumb is to open with ~88-91% of your 1RM to set yourself up for an optimal 3rd attempt.

Assuming your opener goes well, you should go up to 94-97% for a second and then 98-102% for a third attempt.

In most circumstances that an attempt is missed, you should repeat the attempt instead of going up in weight. This will allow you to continue to build your total instead of risking another miss at an increase.

Even if you think you have the strength to lift the weight, misgrooves in technique, inconsistent judging and “off” days can all muddy the waters here.

Have you ever missed a first attempt at a meet? Let me know in the comments below.

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