10 Tips For Competing In Your First PowerLifting Competition

10 Tips For Competing In Your First PowerLifting Competition

10 Tips For Competing In Your First PowerLifting Competition


Most people avoid competing in power lifting meets because their numbers are either not good enough to compete and win or because they don’t think their numbers are good enough for themselves for some reason.

For example I heard 5 times this week alone at HWTC something like “I will compete but my <insert lift here> isn’t good enough”.  Isn’t good enough for what?  Your ego?  Your own goals?  Who cares!

If you are EVER happy with your lifts then you must think differently than me because no matter what I lift I am NEVER happy, but there is a big difference in competing and doing YOUR BEST.

I couldn’t be any happier to have almost 20 people competing this Saturday.

In doing so I wanted to share 10 tips for my team mates, and more for anyone who is competing in their first meet.

I did my first competition WAY back in 1999.  That’s 14 years ago.  I couldn’t not compete because of a bad back injury for almost 13 years.  Now that I am able to train and I can compete I can’t wait.  First or last doesn’t matter to me.  I am happy to be able to lift again, enjoy the experience and do MY best and coach my team to THEIR BEST.


My First Meet Back In 1999


My First Meet Back In 1999 – I DQ’d My First Meet



252.5 KG Deadlift For A Bronze Medal


15 Years Later I Placed 3rd at Worlds In Deadlifts


Here are some lessons learned for me over competing a few times, and I will have more things that I will learn again after this weekend.

I am always a student and always learning and trying to improve both as a coach and an athlete.


1. Have Fun

Bottom line is this HAVE DAMN FUN.

Don’t stress out if your lifts aren’t heavy enough.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Don’t worry that your not getting in the top 3 of your class or breaking a record (yet), HAVE FUN.


Team Heavyweights (missing is Ali Martin)


2. Learn, Learn, Learn

The day of the powerlifting meet is a strange day.  There is LOTS to learn.

The flow of the meet.

The warm ups for your lifts.

The weigh ins, the rack heights, the safety heights, the flights of the lifting order, the rules, there is SO much to learn so be sure to be a sponge and take it all in.


3. Plan For A Long Day

The day of the powerlifting meet is a LONG ASS DAY.  For us weigh ins start at 7am and then the meet starts at 9.  We will be there until at least 5pm.

LONG DAY, but an amazing day none the less.

Be prepared for a long day so bring food, bands, lots of good food,  music, foam rollers, coffee and more.

Don’t expect perfect warm ups for your lifts, don’t expect your day to flow like clockwork.  It’s a crazy long day but enjoy it and have fun.


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4. Don’t Expect PR’s

It’s ok to want to get PB’s or PR’s or whatever you call getting a best lift, but don’t expect it.

If you are having a great day, you feel great, the crowd got you pumped, then yes you might get a few PB’s, then go for it, but don’t expect it.

If you are planning to get PB’s in your first meet you are in for a wake up call.

You have to deal with improper warm ups, different bars, getting on the platform, the crowd in front of you, the chaos of the warm up room, a long day, stress, fatigue,  nerves and more.

If you get a PB that is awesome, but don’t expect to pull your 3 PB’s at your first meet.  Be happy to make most of your lifts on your first meet.


5. Wait For Judges Commands & KNOW The Rules

This was a big one when I put our first team in the last competition.  There was so much to learn with rules, commands, judging and more.  However the best way to learn is to get in the middle and figure it out.  By competing and coaching at the last meet I learned so much, and this time I will learn even more.

Be sure to pay attention to the judges commands.  Nothing hurts more than getting a nice lift and failing it because you didn’t wait for the rack command.

A great example is look at this video of me failing my 3rd squat attempt.  Notice my foot at the end of the lift, I got the lift but failed on a technicality.


6. Get Your Opening Lifts

This is very very important and I am seeing a lot of our lifters at Heavyweights Training Center doing this and I am trying to not let it happen.

Don’t get greedy and don’t miss your opening lifts.

Your openers keep you in the game, they set you up for your next two attempts.  There is NO need to open with anything crazy.

I learned this lesson back in 1999 when my goal was to bench 400 lbs at the meet.  My bench back then was STRONG and I wanted to prove how strong I was.

I had hit a gym bench of 405 for 4 so my goal was 400 for 1 at the meet.

I opened with 372 lbs.  Way too much.

1st attempt I failed because I was on my toes.

2nd attempt I failed because of my butt moving.

3rd attempt I was gassed and missed it.

I missed my big bench because I was greedy at my opener.

Don’t miss lifts and DO NOT miss your opener.


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7. Equipment Check

I am competing in “Classic” division so our only equipment is a singlet, belt, wrist wraps, chalk and lifting shoes.  I have limited knowledge when it comes to squat suites and powerlifting equipped gear.

However even for a raw/classic lifter you need to know your equipment.

This time I am wearing squat shoes which I have never worn before and I also have been using a belt a lot more with my heavy lifts.  This has made a hige difference in my training.

Be sure to know your equipment and practice with it.

Word to the wise DO NOT CHANGE anything the day of the meet.  Use what you train with and don’t change unless you have to.


8. Get Videos

When I first competed back in 1999 videos were not happening, heck we were luck to have color pictures :).  However with smart phones, ipads, cameras etc videos are an amazing training and teaching tool.  It’s also cool to watch your best lifts on video.

Be sure to get videos of your lifts, if possible from all angles.  From a coaching POV 45% angle gives me the best learning option, but I try to get as many videos as possible to watch and learn from.

Get videos of the lifts you make and also the lifts you miss.  ALL videos are a learning tool to get better and teach you more.  A trained eye can see a lot, but a video you can watch many times.


9. A Gym Lift Is NOT Competition Lift

This is a very humbling experience and a big reason a lot of “gym” lifters never step on the platform.

What you do in your own gym, with no videos, no one watching depth, no one calling rules and you getting a PB will NOT count on the platform.

I have seen many people with amazing gym lifts get their numbers deflated when it comes to stepping on the platform.

Big factors to consider, squat depth, pausing on the bench press, judges commands, perfect form, pressure, and many other things contribute to you not getting gym lifts on the platform.

Put your ego aside and realize the difference between a gym lift and a competition lift.  If you have a gym lift of 315 lbs. NEVER compare it to a competition lift of 315 lbs.


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10. Get used to KG not LBS.

This is a hard one for me and I am doing my best to learn it, I am even going to order Kilo plates for HWTC to train on to improve it.

Getting used to kilos and not pounds is a big learning curve for me.  I realized this at the last meet.  Everything at my gym and most gyms is lbs.  Yet powerlifting and weightlifting all use kgs,  This is not an easy transition.

So do your homework and know your lifts in kgs not just lbs.


11. BONUS TIP = Compete For You

I had to throw this in thee because everyone compares themselves to everyone else, this is fine, it’s part of life, it’s good to be competitive, I am one of the most competitive people you will ever meet.

But..and this is a BIG BUTT you need to compete for YOU.

I have seen so many people not train because they know someone’s  lifts, or because they are afraid their lifts aren’t good enough.

Competing at a powerlifting meet is an amazing experience and I think everyone should try it. It may not be for you, but you may LOVE IT and the only way to know is to try it and get on the platform and lift HeavyWeights.

Compete to better yourself, compete to be stronger, compete to have fun, heck compete to win if that fuels you, but always remember to compete for YOU and the amazing experience you will have and the people you meet.

Life is all about the people you know and the experiences you have and doing your first powerlifting show is an amazing experience.


If you are interested in competing in PowerLifting and standing on a platform let Team Heavyweights help you and make it happen. 

Our goal is to make competing FUN and to Bring Out Your Best.

Click here for more info => http://heavyweightstrainingcenter.com/powerlifting_interest/

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