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    Your first meet.

    This subject comes up often enough that we should simply accumulate a list of everything that should be done, and how everything should be handled, for the novice competitor. Please add things that I have forgotten, and when everyone is done, I will compile it into a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide if others are willing.

    The first thing you should have is a coach, and if you have a decent one, you need to be paying attention to them, not faceless strangers on the net. Finding a coach can be both easier and trickier than it sounds. Many superior athletes turn out to be lousy coaches, so what to truly look for in a coach is how many successful athletes they have produced. PL coaches are few and far between, and where to find them can be difficult. If you have a meet in mind, call the meet director, and they will be able to provide you with names of many of the local regulars, who might either be willing to help you personally, or put you in touch with someone who will. The remainder of this is for the athlete who does not have a coach. Go and watch a meet if you have the chance. Most occur on weekends, and it is worth the Saturday drive to see what one is like.

    The next thing you need to know are the rules, which means you need to know the federation you will be competing in. A listing and summary of many federations with links to many homepages can be found here: Most federation websites have the rule book on line, and it is fairly standardized. Weight class are the same, etc. Major differences include, but are not limited to things like the press vs. the start command (IPF and affiliates use start, many old-school still use the press command), flight order (traditional flight vs. modified progressive, etc.), equipment allowed, and weigh-in times (which may also vary if you are trying to set a record - so pay close attention here). If you do not know the rules before hand, how can you expect to succeed? And go to the meeting before the competition, as the meet director may have one or two idiosyncracies particular to the meets they put on, which are normally minor, but can be enough to seriously irritate the meet director. If you think that this is in any way unfair, most meet directors are usually former competitors who no longer have the fire to compete, but are giving back to the sport in a way that is both financially and emotionally draining, as well as time consuming. In its own way, putting on a meet is more effort than competing, so if you have any complaints about a meet director not wanting people to (for example) get chalk everywhere like they are the powerlifting version of Peter North, either suck it up or go put on your own meet.

    Make sure you know, and follow, the commands

    The next thing you need to know is how to find the place. You might be surprised, as some meets can be held in fairly obscure locations (based on what the meet director can beg, borrow, or steal in the way of space). Some are nice, some are crowded and cramped, and some are unusual yet enjoyable (I once helped run a deadlift meet outside in front a local Irish pub, once upon a lovely summer afternoon, and the bar itself did quite well). If you are going to weigh in advance, you might be required to do this at the gym that is hosting the meet (often difficult to have calibrated scales at more than one location) so you need to know this as well. Information should be on the application (a number to call, and I have yet to meet a director who does not return calls before the meet). Get there early, and get to weigh in early. Pay early, many meets have either a cut-off point or a fee for late entries (trophies cost money, you know). In short, everything you can do in advance, do it. This way the day of the meet all you need to do is get your attempts in and lift.

    Making weight. If this is your first meet, just lift, do not worry about weight, you have enough other worries. Do not kill yourself (or at least trash your strength levels) to make a lighter weight class to break a record. If you have visions of your name on the cover of magazines, your face on the front of cereal boxes, and hordes of nubile young women chanting your name as they peel of their clothes, you can get over that right now. Your first meet is the greatest learning experience of your PL career, so focus on what you can do, not what you might be able to do.

    What to wear: Most meets require a singlet and t-shirt (although the t-shirt is often not required for the deadlift), and some organizations require that the t-shirt not have a pocket. Few meets will allow you to lift in shorts (makes it harder to judge depth when squatting, as well as the fact that baggy shorts can make it difficult to tell if your bench featured a butt raise, etc.). Learn what is required in advance. Many places on line sell singlets cheaply. Get one well in advance to make sure it fits.

    Powerlifting gear: Squat suits, knee wraps, bench shirts, etc. are a subject all on their own, and far beyond the scope of what I have the energy to write about at this time. If you plan on using some or all of this sort of thing, you need to ensure that it conforms to the rules (pre-meet inspection as well) as well as have someone there to help you with it. While often strangers will be willing to give you a hand, asking someone you just met to help you get into a squat suit is pushing the limits of hospitality.

    Get your attempts in on time. Usually, you must give your openers at weigh in, and have one minute after your attempt on the platform to get your next attempt in. Do not automatically assume that if you miss a lift it will automatically be re-entered as your next attempt, as you have the option of increasing the lift. Generally, once you enter an attempt, you cannot change it (I write in pen for that very reason), with the exception of the final deadlift attempt, which can usually be changed twice. Also remember (I have seen people unaware of this) that if you bomb in a lift, you are out of the competition.

    What to lift. Your openers should, especially at your first meet, essentially be your final warm-ups, because the number one rule is to get on the board. Allow me to make that more obvious: your opening attempts should get you on the board, so you should be able to make them with ease. You have two more chances to increase the weight, so do not waste your first one. Lift with your head, not your ego. If you miss an attempt, find out why - ask the judges. Then repeat the same weight. While you have the option of increasing even though you missed, why play with fire? You are probably going to be even more nervous after a missed attempt, so keep it as simple as possible. And, on a personal note, if you miss an attempt, handle it like an adult. Do not yell, scream, and swear about the unfairness of life and how you are a poster child for the abused and misunderstood. I have no trouble throwing someone out of a meet for acting like this, and neither do many other judges.

    Fourth attempts: As a general rule, many organizations allow a fourth attempt to set an American or World record. This usually requires a successful attempt within 20lbs. of the previous record. If you achieved this on your second, but got buried on your third, be kind to the spotters and loaders, and do not waste everyone’s time and effort with a repeat attempt that will bury you again. The spotters are the last people you should be irritating, if you really think about it.

    Order of lifting: On single day meets, there is no need to worry about what day you are lifting. On two or more day meets, you need to know what day you are lifting (which will affect weigh-in, by the way, as well as what platform you will be lifting on for multiple platform meets). As far as lifting order, I am only going to discuss flight order here, as it is the most common. The squat comes first, with everyone getting their opening attempts, followed by second and third attempts. Should anyone go for a fourth attempt, this may be mixed in with the third, or follow the third at the directors/judges discretion. There may be multiple flights, so all lifters for the day will complete all squat attempts before the benching begins. The same holds true for bench attempts, followed by deadlifts. There will often be a break in between lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) but not always, so pay attention.

    What to eat: Many meets will have something, but it may not be something that agrees with you. Plan accordingly. Do not make any strange dietary changes for your first meet. If you read in some magazine that a combination of braised panda groin and candied yak rectum would provide you with an unbeatable strength combination on meet day, do not tell me about it. What you eat should provide you with energy while not filling you up excessively or bloating you. A combination of simple and complex carbs are best, without too much fat (delays gastric emptying), or be too hard to digest. Fruit is a very common source, with bananas being very popular. If you have food that you like, bring it in a cooler, along with plenty of water or simple things to drink. Avoid sugary sodas, as the last thing you need is an insulin crash before your final deadlift. And do not do anything stupid for dinner the night before, either.
    Last edited by Arlecchino; 11-04-2007 at 08:29 AM.
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  2. #2
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    How you do in a meet will be based on a ton of factors beyond your control. Nothing like training very hard for a small local meet and having a world champion show up to test his progress in your weight class. Do not take it badly in this case, because if you are a world champion, you are probably not wasting time reading this. If you become one someday, by the way, remember me in your will. Whatever place you get, it is better than you would have done if you did not compete at all. As Musashi once said “Today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over lesser men.” Accept your place with courtesy and grace, this is the true mark of a champion.

    Why compete? This is the most common question we get, or at least ‘Are my numbers good enough to compete?’
    - Yes they are.
    By simply stepping up on the platform you are doing something that more than 99% of the population ever will, what does that tell you? Remember earlier about the first meet being your greatest learning experience? If you do not try, you will never learn, why cheat yourself of this experience? You will not only learn what it is like to go to a meet, and here you will learn things you never will in the gym. You will also meet some of the few people who share a common interest with you, and if you are looking for advice here, odds are you do not know too many of them in the real world. This is a great way to change this. And if you wind up competing in the same area for years on end, local meets often wind up being something like family reunions, but everyone actually has a common interest. From your bothers and sisters in iron, you will be able to learn from them (both from their successes as well as their failures) including numerous little ‘tricks of the trade’ that are easy to overlook.

    The heart of powerlifting is the platform, and the only way to truly know what it is like is to step up onto it. You have little to lose, and very much to gain.
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  3. #3
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    A meet checklist can be found here.

    Edited to add:

    Something else I forgot: Most meets will require you to join the federation. There is usually a nominal fee for the year. Find this out in advance. A non-sanctioned meet rarely presents the opportunity for setting anything other than personal records, and will not allow you to qualify for a larger meet (regional, national, or world, etc.). However, they can still be excellent learning experiences. The one problem with non-sanctioned meets is that certain standards can be, well, lax. I have seen this happen in the past.

    Edited to add:

    Comprehensive listing of federations:

    http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/pow...ng-federations
    Last edited by Arlecchino; 11-03-2007 at 07:40 PM.
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    this thread needs to be stickied, thanks Arlecchino
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    Originally Posted by mochi View Post
    this thread needs to be stickied, thanks Arlecchino
    Well, thanks, but I am certain I forgot a whole bunch of crap, so more feedback would be good. I can only edit the first part until the window closes (I actually have no idea how much time can elapse before I can no longer edit) so the quicker people point out the thinks I overlooked or have other sorts of constructive input the better. I will, of course, credit sources.
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    I am bumping this for more input.
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    only thing I'd add is good rule of thumb seems to be that 1st attempt should be something you can easily triple.

    i also agree w not cutting weight for your first meet. i just did my first meet a few months ago and was glad i decided not to cut. mt BW was in the 180's (missed 181 weight class), but ended up setting a novice record for 198's in the squat. i'm cutting for my next one next month
    Last edited by andhen2003; 11-05-2007 at 11:53 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Arlecchino View Post
    If you have visions of your name on the cover of magazines, your face on the front of cereal boxes, and hordes of nubile young women chanting your name as they peel of their clothes, you can get over that right now.
    I think we are focusing on the wrong ways to attract people to the sport. We don't need pro, we don't need the Olympics, but good groupies would be a 1000% improvement.

    I would add a couple of things to your list.

    #1 Don't get into too technical (or tight) gear for your first meet. Time for that, should you choose to lift geared, when you are stronger and more experienced.

    #2 If the fed allows, ask the judges what you were red lighted for, the judges will usually be helpful.

    #3 Be respectful and polite to the judges, spotters and meet help. Whether you agree with the judges calls or not. If you must throw a tantrum, do not do it on the platform.

    #4 Be there on time, but don't be surprized if the meet starts late and runs long.

    #5 If at all possible, stay for all of the awards. Leaving immediately after you get your trophy is rude.

    #6 Weigh the plates you use at your gym. It is not uncommon for 45's to be 3-5 pounds off (or more). If your gym plates are all -5, what you think is 405 is really 365. Makes for a really hard opener.
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    Keep an eye on how the flights are running during the meet to ensure that you aren't warmed up too soon or rushing your warm-ups because your flight is starting.

    Originally Posted by lifterg View Post
    I think we are focusing on the wrong ways to attract people to the sport. We don't need pro, we don't need the Olympics, but good groupies would be a 1000% improvement.

    I would add a couple of things to your list.

    #1 Don't get into too technical (or tight) gear for your first meet. Time for that, should you choose to lift geared, when you are stronger and more experienced.

    #2 If the fed allows, ask the judges what you were red lighted for, the judges will usually be helpful.

    #3 Be respectful and polite to the judges, spotters and meet help. Whether you agree with the judges calls or not. If you must throw a tantrum, do not do it on the platform.

    #4 Be there on time, but don't be surprized if the meet starts late and runs long.

    #5 If at all possible, stay for all of the awards. Leaving immediately after you get your trophy is rude.

    #6 Weigh the plates you use at your gym. It is not uncommon for 45's to be 3-5 pounds off (or more). If your gym plates are all -5, what you think is 405 is really 365. Makes for a really hard opener.
    I definitely agree with #3. Being part of the meet staff can be a thankless job. Being cordial and civil to not only the spotters, but to the judges as well can go a long way.

    Happy Judges = White Lights
    Last edited by UHCougar05; 11-05-2007 at 12:27 PM.
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    bump this.. there's a good article called "meet mistakes" in plusa by doug daniels.. i'll try to put up some of the main points later, although most have been covered here
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    I just did my first meet so I'll toss in a few things that I don't think were above:

    1. Have somebody go with you even if they know nothing about powerlifting. Your mind will be going a million miles a minute and you need somebody to keep you organized. I gave my wife a checklist of all my attempts etc. This really helped.

    2. Wait for the judges and don't get in a hurry. I missed a PR on squat b/c I didn't wait for the squat command.

    3. Bring food. I brought peanut butter sandwiches and a lot of water. Also consider bringing some caffeine. I brought cold coffee in a thermos to have before deadlifts. A meet will last all day and the adrenaline will eventually wear off.

    4. Talk to everyone, don't be a dick. You are a newbie. Try to learn as much as you can. You might find a good group of people to train with that you never new existed.
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    Yay glad i looked in this thread, i have my first meet 2 weeks tomorrow, its the
    BRITISH BENCHPRESS AND DEADLIFT RECORD BREAKERS CHAMPIONSHIPS
    but as its my first, i dont think ill be going for any records. I was originally suppost to be in the 75kg class but i will probibly be in the 82.5kg unless i can just squeeze into the 75kg.

    Just a quick question as i didnt find it in the posts above;

    When doing attempts what should you go for? is it a triple for first attempt, ur current record for ur 2nd attempts, and the next a pb depending on what you feel you can lift?
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    Originally Posted by lifterg View Post
    I think we are focusing on the wrong ways to attract people to the sport. We don't need pro, we don't need the Olympics, but good groupies would be a 1000% improvement.
    I try to always bring groupies when I compete.
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post



    I definitely agree with #3. Being part of the meet staff can be a thankless job. Being cordial and civil to not only the spotters, but to the judges as well can go a long way.

    Happy Judges = White Lights
    I can't see a reason to throw a tantrum, ever. On or off the platform. Suck it up and prepare for your next lift. If it it was judges call that pissed you off, ask what happened. You probably broke a rule or didn't complete the lift properly. If you screwed yourself up, then learn from it. There is no need to yell and scream or knock stuff around.

    Being cordial to those around you is simply being a good human being. I try to be nice to every single person at a meet no matter who they are or what they lift. Some guys you give more space to, because you don't want to break their concentration or focus, but there is always time to tell someone they did a great job or to offer a tip to a newer lifter if you wait for the right opportunity.

    As a judge, I'm not giving white or red lights based on how I feel. If someone is a dick, a hot babe, or my best friend, it doesn't matter. I judge the lift, not the person.
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    Originally Posted by TeddyTank View Post
    Yay glad i looked in this thread, i have my first meet 2 weeks tomorrow, its the

    but as its my first, i dont think ill be going for any records. I was originally suppost to be in the 75kg class but i will probibly be in the 82.5kg unless i can just squeeze into the 75kg.

    Just a quick question as i didnt find it in the posts above;

    When doing attempts what should you go for? is it a triple for first attempt, ur current record for ur 2nd attempts, and the next a pb depending on what you feel you can lift?
    Your opener is something you can make half asleep, after an entire bottle of Nyquil, while bloating, itching, and cramping (even if you are a man). It should be that easy. Advice I give novice lifters is to treat your opening attempt like your last warm-up.

    Hard to say after that. I know by feel what sort of day I am going to have. If the first attempt feels heavy or light, I base my second attempt accordingly.

    Your third attempt should always be a PR attempt. That is why you are there, yes?

    However, assuming you are competing against someone (and this is not something you worry about in your first meet) this changes, of course, as sometimes the need to be more conservative can change the attempts you make.
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    This is the general rule that I use when I'm choosing attempts:

    1st attempt: Generally something that I can triple easily (~85-90% of 1RM)
    2nd attempt: 5lb PR
    3rd attempt: Go for Broke
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    This is the general rule that I use when I'm choosing attempts:

    1st attempt: Generally something that I can triple easily (~85-90% of 1RM)
    2nd attempt: 5lb PR
    3rd attempt: Go for Broke
    This is what I did at my first meet and was fine. In fact I may have gone even lighter on the first attempts for Squat/bench b/c I wanted to be sure to not bomb out of the meet.
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    Originally Posted by DallasLynx View Post
    This is what I did at my first meet and was fine. In fact I may have gone even lighter on the first attempts for Squat/bench b/c I wanted to be sure to not bomb out of the meet.
    I hear ya, that's why I normally open with weights that I've hit many times in the gym during my training cycle.
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    I hear ya, that's why I normally open with weights that I've hit many times in the gym during my training cycle.
    I think I opened with weights I could hit for 4-5. The amount of adrenaline at your first meet is insane and I didn't want to worry too much about the weight.
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    I hear ya, that's why I normally open with weights that I've hit many times in the gym during my training cycle.
    if you bomb, do you still get to finish the meet or are you done? i've haven't competed yet, but plan on it soon. there's a meet in detroit in december i should do.

    edit: btw- great thread!
    Last edited by animalfan; 11-17-2007 at 01:02 AM.
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    Originally Posted by animalfan View Post
    if you bomb, do you still get to finish the meet or are you done? i've haven't competed yet, but plan on it soon. there's a meet in detroit in december i should do.

    edit: btw- great thread!
    You are done.

    Sometimes you are allowed to finish, but this is against the rules. I have only seen it happen once or twice.

    And for the record, I dislike it.
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    Originally Posted by Arlecchino View Post
    You are done.

    Sometimes you are allowed to finish, but this is against the rules. I have only seen it happen once or twice.

    And for the record, I dislike it.
    thanks.
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    Good read, would rep you again Arlecchino if I could. One question:

    When do you get the opportunity to ask the judges why they red-lighted you?

    My first meet is in less than a month away!
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    Ask the judges as soon as you finish the lift. If you wait til later, they are probably not going to remember. There is time between lifters when the weights are being changed, etc, to take a few seconds and ask. Often, I will tell a lifter or their handler why I red lighted them as they leave the platform.

    "watch your butt coming off the bench" "your feet were moving all over the place" "uneven extension on the lockout" "you missed the rack command" etc etc. I'm there to help a lifter as much as I am to judge them, so if I can give you a reason on why you missed a lift and it helps you get your next one, I'll do it.

    Also- on the bombing question. If it's a local meet, they will usually let you keep competing, but you can't set any records or qualify for awards. If it's my meet, I know you trained hard and I'll let you continue. You can still set personal records for yourself and gain experience for next time.
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    Not all feds allow you to approach the judges. Make sure you know the policy of the fed you are lifting in before you do.
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    What fed doesn't allow you to ask the judges a question after a lift?
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    Originally Posted by Danimal View Post
    What fed doesn't allow you to ask the judges a question after a lift?
    My only guess could be USAPL, but that's just a guess since I've never done a USAPL meet. I know that in both the USPF and APF, they allow either you or your handler to ask the judge about the lift.
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    My only guess could be USAPL, but that's just a guess since I've never done a USAPL meet. I know that in both the USPF and APF, they allow either you or your handler to ask the judge about the lift.
    If it is a USAPL regulation, I have never heard of it. And yes, I am a USAPL ref.

    If it was a regulation, I would probably ignore it, to be honest. Enough people were willing to help me when I was coming up regardless of the circumstances, and I try to pass this courtesy on.
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    Originally Posted by Arlecchino View Post
    If it is a USAPL regulation, I have never heard of it. And yes, I am a USAPL ref.

    If it was a regulation, I would probably ignore it, to be honest. Enough people were willing to help me when I was coming up regardless of the circumstances, and I try to pass this courtesy on.
    I know they don't allow to ask during IPF meets, it may just be an international thing.
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    I know they don't allow to ask during IPF meets, it may just be an international thing.
    Well, it is a rule that is not heavily observed, from the few IPF qualifiers that I have been to over the years.

    And it is easily a total horse**** rule.
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