10 Tips For Your First Powerlifting Meet

Hello everyone! With the Rochester Rumble just around the corner and so many lifters competing for the first time, it was high time for some tips on what to do before you compete. Please feel free to watch the video and/or read the transcript below. Enjoy!!

One – Don’t worry about bodyweight.

Your first meet, you should NOT worry about a weight class. Period. No water cuts, no dieting, nothing. Just get up there and lift. ‘Nuff said.

Two– Take food and water.

Take some snacks that you’re used to eating, like crackers, protein bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whatever. If you’re used to eating it around your workout, then it’s fine. This is NOT the time to try some new wondersnack or crazy preworkout that’s supposed to add 10 kilos to your total or make you feel like a superhero. If you must use preworkout or some other stimulant, go easy on it. This is essentially a long workout spread over a few hours. Treat it like that. You’ll need to stay hydrated the whole time or you won’t perform as well. Take a gallon jug AND a Gatorade or something similar. Absolutely do NOT stay thirsty, my friends.

Three – Have your equipment ready early.

Have everything ready the day before. Some feds require specific clothing under your singlet, and you’ll need your belt, shoes, socks, wraps, and anything else all set to go in a bag and ready to head out.

Four – Read the rules beforehand.

(USAPL rules here: https://www.usapowerlifting.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/USAPL-Rulebook-v2019.1.pdf)

The rules briefing should be a reminder, not the first time you’re hearing everything. If you need refreshers on the performance standards for the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift, we’ve covered those in detail in past videos. Check em’ out!

Past videos:


Five – Use familiar warmups.

This is not the time to try out a new fancy warmup routine with lots of unfamiliar stretches or weird weight jumps. You know how you warm up for big lifts, stick with that. If you have a coach, they’ll be prescribing this for you, so talk with them beforehand. Start your warmup for the lift ahead about 15-20 minutes out from lifting, or when the lifters in the flight before you begin their second attempts. Your last warmup rep should be 5-10 minutes before your opener.

Six – Open light.

If you have a coach, like one of the fine folks from East Ave. Barbell, then this isn’t a concern. However, if you’re doing this on your own – open LIGHT. Too light. Your opener, or your first attempt at any given lift, should be something you can do for more than one rep while hung over after only 3 hours of sleep. Your opener is your last warmup, not a chance to set a PR. Get yourself in the meet, and take the pressure off early. Trust me.

Seven – Take your time, and listen for commands.

You’ve got a full 60 seconds to BEGIN your lift once they tell you the bar is loaded. That’s a long time. Don’t rush, set up just like you would in the gym. Once you’re set up, LISTEN for the commands. SQUAT – RACK; START - PRESS – RACK; DOWN

Eight – Go for PRs on your third attempts, not before.

Your goal in your first meet is to finish it, plain and simple. Ideally, you should be aiming for 9/9 lifts, so your second attempt should be the weight of a normal single for you. A small PR is ok, but anything over kilo conversion rounding error is TOO MUCH. The first and second attempts are building your total, the third is for reaching. This stays true even as you continue competing.

Nine – Rest between lifts.

This will most likely be a LONG day, much longer than you’re used to. After your attempts, SIT DOWN. It’s tempting to pace around, watch the meet, go outside and do jumping jacks, etc. but RESIST and REST. You need all your energy and focus to do your best, don’t waste energy on other things. This does NOT mean that you shouldn’t meet and talk with other lifters – you should absolutely do this, but you must keep yourself focused on your lifts and rest in between them.

Ten - Enjoy it!

This is an amazing experience that offers opportunities to meet new friends, learn a new sport, and test your own limits. Don’t let yourself stress about little details; believe it or not that won’t actually make a significant increase in your performance, if anything it will actually hurt you! Powerlifting is an amazing sport full of wonderful, supportive people, and joining this community is one of the most fulfilling things you can do.

Here at East Ave. Barbell, we’re all about community. Our mission is to be a place where athletes like you can grow. As the individual athletes grow, the community as a whole gets better and stronger. It’s our pleasure to welcome you to the powerlifting world, and we hope you’ll come train with us. Come on down, and let’s raise the bar!

John Hughes