How to Pick Attempts for Powerlifting (Free Calculator)

Learn to calculate your powerlifting attempts for competition in less than 5 minutes.

** For the Free Powerlifting Attempt Calculator, scroll down to the PS section of this article**

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

^^ that’s one of the best pieces of competition advice that my early mentors in powerlifting gave me and damn does it ever ring true.

One of THE most common mistakes I see at meets is a missed opener, especially on squats.

An overwhelming number of powerlifters will set their first attempts too heavy in an attempt to:

  • hit some milestone weight; or
  • have a good subtotal; or
  • satisfy an emotional attachment to X weight

In reality, what this often does is create a scenario where:

  • the attempts end up too heavy too soon. The lifter needs to take their 2nd and 3rd attempts too close together which fatigues them too much for a quality third; or
  • the lifter will miss their opener and spend the rest of their attempts doing damage control; or
  • the lifter bombs out

I can tell you this: 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.

If you’re someone (like me) who gets hella nervous before first squats, going even a little lighter than 88% can be a valuable tool then taking a bigger jump into seconds.

Have you ever bombed out of a meet?

PS – Here’s 2 ways I can help you:

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


2. 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.