How to prepare for your first power-lifting meet


As I have a lot of friends competing in their first power lifting meet on November 7th, I felt this article would be appropriate.  Here are a few tips and ways to help you feel ready come competition day along with a checklist I use to pack my things the night before.

How to prepare for your first power lifting meet:

  1. Do not cut weight.  It is not important to make a certain weight class for your first meet.  Go in and compete at whatever weight you typically sit at.
  2. Bring a knowledgeable friend to be your handler.  If possible, pick someone who has already done a meet.  This person will help you warm up, put in your attempts after each lift, and just be there to support you.
  3. Make friends! One of the best way to meet more lifters is at competitions.  I have NEVER met someone at a meet who wasn’t friendly, willing to give advice, and cheering you on for your lifts.  Everyone is there for the same reason.  Because they love the sport and part of the sport is sharing knowledge, advice, and providing a community of support.
  4. Set the weights for all of your attempts prior to the meet.  Have a general idea of the weights you want to hit.  Try to be conservative and make it your goal to get all 9 of your lifts.  Set an opener you know you can hit any day you walk in to the gym… even if you had the flu.  The second attempt should be close to your 1RM.  The third attempt depending on how you feel can be right or just above your gym PR.  Go in to the meet have a set plan for all of your attempts and know their kilo conversions (you will put all of your attempts in kilos at the meet!) and adjust your plan as necessary.  It is best to leave your first meet with confidence ready to kill at your next one!  Try not to bomb any lifts or get red lighted.
  5. Practice the commands regularly the month before the meet.  One of the biggest reasons I see new lifters get red lighted is because they didn’t wait for the lifting commands, especially on bench where you have three commands.
  6. Read the handbook!  Be familiar with your federations rules and regulations.  Make sure your gear meets the guidelines.  You know the commands and what constitutes a green vs red light. Etc.
  7. Wear ALL of the gear you plan to compete in the week prior to the competition.  I recommend to train in your singlet the week prior using everything you will at the meet so you are comfortable and confident.
  8. Bring plenty of food and electrolyte drinks.  This will be a long day!  I recommend bring pedialyte, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, trail mix, and anything else that will be easy for you to digest.  This is not the time to try some new food or fun performance bar.  Eat what you normally eat.
  9. HAVE FUN!  The reason you are competing in a power lifting meet is because you love it!  And you have an entire to do what you love with people who love it too!!! How often does that happen?!??!? Enjoy every second of it :)

Things you might now know:

  1. There will be a squat bar and a deadlifting bar.  Both have more intense knurling than probably any bar you have handled.  The squat bar is thicker than a normal bar and weighs more than.  The deadlifting bar has more knurling  and will have more whip so you can take the slack out before you pull the weight.
  2. Your weights will look weird… do not concern yourself with what the bar looks like.  There is a slim chance it was misloaded, but generally speaking your loaders got it right and it is your weight  Since the competition bars are different weights and they use kilo plates your weight might not look like what you are used to seeing in the gym.  That is ok!
  3. Most of the people working the meet are volunteers.  They are lugging your weights around, changing rack settings, and spotting people ALL day.  I always make it a point to thank everyone after each one of my lifts and be as nice to them as possible.   Because if they aren’t there then there is no meet.
  4. Pay attention to when warm-ups for you flight are starting.  Jump in where you can, but go in knowing you might not be able to warm-up the exact same as when you are in the gym.  Use your mobility tools and do a dynamic warm-up prior to the weight warm.
  5. You have a minute from when you are called to lift to when you must start the lift.  That means if you are wearing any special gear have it on just as you are being called so you can take your time getting set.  Start getting ready when you are two people out.

Here is my meet prepartion check list.  I use this the night before to get everything ready.  Then I get a good nights sleep knowing I am ready to wake up and have fun!

  • Singlet
  • T-Shirt
  • Shoes
  • Knee Wraps/Sleeves
  • Wrist Wraps
  • Belt
  • Hair tie (for women)
  • Dead lifting Socks
  • Underwear (that meets the federations rules i.e. no boxers!)
  • Chalk
  • Towel
  • Change of Clothes
  • Snacks (sandwiches, trail mix, gel packs/gummies, bananas, protein)
  • Electrolyte drink
  • Cash
  • Headphones
  • Advil
  • Mobility tools for warm up
  • Paper with all of my attempts and their kilo conversions