Your First Powerlifting Meet: 5 Things You Need To Know

As new as I am to this sport, within my short time powerlifting has grown pretty phenomenally – and is still on the rise. So today I wanted to share with you 5 things I think you need to know before your first meet, and also the 5 things I wish I would’ve known before I did my very first meet back last year.

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1. Don’t change things last minute.

‘Things’ meaning what you eat before training, what size knee sleeves you wear, how much mobility you do, your walk-out, how much time is usually takes you to warm-up and the amount of sets you do, whether you conventional or sumo (kidding #sumoboiz4life) – basically every little variable that has become habit and individualized to YOU and your training.

Leave it.

It’s an overwhelming environment and often under stress, both in meets and life in general, we decide to make some pretty questionable sporadic choices. For example, at my first meet I decided that not only did I randomly do mobility and use a hip circle now because I saw a fellow competitor doing it, but also that I wore XS knee sleeves – despite not fitting anything XS since I was around the age of  7 and a half.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trial and error – its how we learn. BUT, and this is a big ‘but’… do it before your bloody meet day and don’t just do something because you saw or heard about an ‘elite’ level lifter doing it.

Go in and do EXACTLY what you normally do on a heavy day at the gym, and do these things despite external influences. If someone has something to suggest, take what they say on board, but implement it when the day is done and dusted and you don’t have to squat a PB in 5 minutes.

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Learn from my mistakes, friends.

*Only one SBD knee sleeve was harmed in the making of this blog post*

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2. Avoid a water-cut unless you are going to be a top-level competitor or break some records straight up. 

Firstly, if you are actually a strong mo-fo and you’re going for records in your first competition… you are strong, congratulations. Please ignore me for the next three paragraphs.

Secondly, if you aren’t the above… I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH AND PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE ME FOR THE NEXT THREE PARAGRAPHS.

I have heard some bloody horrible stories (mostly females) who decide to do their first meet and ALSO do a water-cut. From what I’ve heard they either:

A: feel like a SOS (Sack Of Shit)

B: perform sub-par of what they’re capable of 

C: start to resent powerlifting because the process is so stressful because of the whole dieting thang, ya know?

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PIZZA AND JOEY Z… YOU NEED BOTH IN YOUR LIFE.

If you aren’t a Kimberly Walford protege, which is a large sum of beginner powerlifters, then just freakin’ cruise in at whatever body weight you’re training at and have a good time and experience. I weighed in well under for my first comp purely because as soon as I tried to diet for the 57kg class, my training started to suffer and the whole process begun to stress me out. Although 3kgs underweight (63 is the next weight class option), I wasn’t dehydrated, didn’t have to manipulate my sodium, didn’t have to worry about my food intake for the week leading up or track it meticulously, and most of all, I had a damn fun time and could just focus on my lifting!

In my opinion, your first meet should be all about going through the in’s and out’s of competition day, being exposed to the environment, and just having a freakin’ ball with your fellow lifters.

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3. Take whats there on the day.

I get it, we all want to PB and throw that ass in a full circle after we go 9 for 9, BUT sometimes (a lot of the time) it won’t really go down like that; which is why I have added this point in with a random picture of my pretty and strong friend’s so you pay extra attention.

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There are so many variables that go into how well your meet does or doesn’t go. Perhaps your sleep is off, food intake wasn’t quite high enough, maybe too high, your arousal levels were unexpectedly low, things going on in your personal life… the list is endless.

Acknowledge what is happening in your warm-ups and first attempts, freakin’ adapt to it, and literally take what you can and what you have that day. Sometimes that’ll be dropping your next attempt by 2.5kgs, and sometimes that may be upping your third deadlift by 10. You never, ever know – regardless of how well you plan.

Recognize. Adapt. And make the absolute best out of the situation.

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4. Assert yourself in the warm-up room or have a coach that will do it for you.

More often than not, especially if meets are a rarity for your city or town, there will be up to 20 or 30 competitors in the warm-up room – PLUS their coaches. This is no time to be timid – sorry to all my super introverted readers. The last thing you want on the day is to not finish your warm-ups or go out for your first attempt feeling uncomfortably rushed because you didn’t want to ‘interrupt’ another lifter.

Be assertive. You have every single right to be there and to use the racks, plates, and bars as much as anyone else in the room – regardless of experience levels. And 9 times out of 10 the person who you may be a little worried to approach to work-in with is actually super friendly – ESPECIALLY if they are a seasoned lifter and know exactly what its like to be considered a beginner.

If by chance you know yourself and that is a littttlllle too stressful… then pretty please find a coach for the day who is willing to be that person for you. You’ve worked hard. It’s important. Keep this in mind and organize a hella extrovert accordingly.

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I’m uber extroverted but had these Italian stallions looking after me for my first comp. 10/10.

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5. Have some damn fun, yo!

IT’S WHY WE’RE HERE. IT’S WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO, YA?! Take lots of photos and videos. Go out and get way too drunk afterwards with all your new PL’ing friends you’d never make at your commercial gym. CHEER FOR OTHERS! Enjoy the non-social-media-I-understand safe zone where you can comfortably talk about your bench arch. Congratulate randoms on their attempts and don’t forget to just give yourself a freakin’ pat on the back for going out and giving it a go.

FOUR FOR YOU GLEN COCO, YOU GO GLEN COCO.

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Had a ball with these babes, and a ball in general at Worlds. So if you made it this 1. thanks for reading and 2. thank you to absolutely everyone who contributed, big or small, to the huge few months leading into Texas. Ya’ll bomb.

LOVE, AS ALWAYS,

Schae Walford…

LOL. Jks. Actual goals.

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2 thoughts on “Your First Powerlifting Meet: 5 Things You Need To Know

  1. Do you have any advice or guidance to give to those of us who have an interest in getting started in powerlifting of making the transition from body building to powerlifting?

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    1. Hey Kelsey 🙂
      If you are making the switch, I would highly recommend getting a coach who actually has a background in powerlifting to put together a program for you. If that option isn’t available, there are plenty of programs online you could tailor to your needs but obviously it’s just not as individualised. But overall, GIVE IT A GOOD GO! And in terms of equipment, I would recommend once you start going heavy just getting a belt 🙂 feel free to flick me a Facebook message if you have any other questions.

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