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Common Powerlifting Meet Mistakes Made By Inexperienced Competitors


Common Powerlifting Meet Mistakes Made By Inexperienced Competitors
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If you are new to powerlifting and are worried that you might make a mistake or two at your first meet, you're not alone.

Everyone feels a little confused and slightly scared of the first experience at those intimidating meets.

Just because someone is bigger or stronger than you, doesn't mean that they know more than you. So there is no need to feel intimidated. Because if not every one, many are in the same boat.

Therefore we have listed some important points to keep in mind when going to your first meet in the article below; read them, learn them and get them out of the way on your first ever powerlifting meet.

Know Your Commands

If you want to do well at powerlifting competitions, you need to be aware of the rules. Lifting in a powerlifting meet is different from lifting weights at the gym - the referees will give you commands during your lifts, and if you don't follow them, your lift will be counted as a failed attempt.

There are two commands for squats: start and rack. You unrack the bar, walk out, wait for the start command, squat to parallel, then rack the bar when you receive the rack command.

Bench press has three commands – start, press, and rack. You unrack the bar with spotter help if needed then wait for the start command.

Lowering next to your chest until you touch it lightly, pause, waiting on pressing order know the "press" cue before finally locking your elbows at full extension - this is known as a military lock-out.

There is just one command for deadlifts: lowering the barbell back to the ground. You set up, lift the weight until your legs are straight, then lower it down when you hear the signal.

Pause With Bench Press

You may be rocking the bench press but not pausing enough. During powerlifting training, your trainer may not pay much attention to pauses. But during your first powerlifting meet, this will be a problem because you will have to pause and significantly reduce weights on the bar.

So, train with pauses. Your bench press power is not about racing through it; pause at the chest, even during training. So, you don't have any surprises during the meet.

Train With Squat Depth

Squatting 300 lbs and even more and feeling accomplished in the training session? Good for you, but be very vigilant about proper depth on your squat. Many lifters fail on squat attempts in the competition because of their below-standard depth instead of less weight on the bar.

Powerlifting federation rules are pretty strict about the proper depth and many new athletes are given a red-light when they just half squat during the competition. The best strategy to avoid this situation and the embarrassment that comes with it is to train proper squat depth, so you don't lose it on the meet day.

Know the Federation Rules

The first and foremost thing that you'll have to do for your first powerlifting competition is to get registered for it.

Quite obvious! But many newcomers may not know what goes into the whole registration process, so here we go;

There are hundreds of powerlifting federations in the US, and they hold competitions regularly. When you decide to participate in a competition, you'll register yourself with one of them.

These powerlifting federations have their own specific rules regarding the competitions, so you need to know the rules of the one you are signing up for.

Read their rules on their website; usually, they have everything explained there. If something isn't making sense, you can always call up the federation and clarify things. But do it before entering the competition.

Sure, no one wants to ruin their hard work just because they were ignorant of the rules of the federation.

Register Properly

While registration is no rocket science, a few terms may be new to first-timers.

You should know that you'll have to specify the following:

Weight Class

There is always a specific category of weight known as weight class in which you would compete, and you specify it during the registration process.

Age Class

You'll be asked to find a suitable age category as well.


You can compete raw or equipped, and both fall into different categories. You will have to specify in the registration form how you’d like to compete.

All these categories are sorted while you fill out the form for your powerlifting meet. Many newcomers are unaware or unsure about their weight and age classes and are confused when they are sitting in front of their computers, filling out the forms.

So, before you start the process, sort your categories, so you are sure what you are signing up for.

Warm Up

You'd think you know you have to warm up, but did you know the timing can be crucial? In fact, your performance actually starts in the warm up room. Everybody knows they have to do a few reps before hitting the "opener," but when do you start warming up is where it gets tricky!

According to experienced competitors who have been doing it for a long time, the best time to warm up is after the "weigh in" and before the 3 minutes change deadline. The change deadline allows you to change your opener if you weren't satisfied with the first attempt during your weigh in.

Warm up between the initial weighing in and the change attempt to let your body feel the real strength and hone in all the energy you have gathered over active practicing.

A lot of powerlifters are unable to perform at their best because their warm up was timed poorly. So, remember, after weighing in and before "changing attempts" check to see where the warm up room is, in case it's far from the training room, time your warm ups and weigh in accordingly.

Adapt According to the Competition

Years down the lane, you'll be a seasoned powerlifter with many competitions to boast of, and you'll probably have the meets at your fingertips, but you should accept that your first powerlifting competition will be a learning experience.

The first time around, you are prone to make quite a few mistakes, even serious ones, that, if avoided, would have given you a wonderful start. One common mistake that inexperienced athletes make is to get stuck in the training phase.

They refuse to accept that they are out in the real world where competition is taking place among different adversaries, and stick to what they learned during training. This can be catastrophic for your powerlifting career..

If you want to succeed, enter the competition with an open mind and adaptive brain. Live in the moment, absorb and observe what's going around and act in a way that best tackles the "present" challenges.

Leave the training gym when you leave for your first competition.

You may ask why?

You should adapt according to your present because there are many reasons why your meet day will differ from any training day.

  • You could be nervous and when you are nervous weights may feel quite different.
  • You may be exhausted
  • You may not warm up at the right time
  • Some lifters even travel to different time zones; hence, lethargic
  • You may be lifting at a very different time than your usual training time
  • You'll be surrounded by different people and won't have the same comfort level
  • The competition environment may be a bit too much for some
  • You may have trained hard for the competition and probably didn't recover well enough

These and many other unexpected changes can make you go off track! For these reasons, you should always put the bar's present movement ahead of its previous movement in training. Take the competition warm-up-by-warm-up, attempt-by-attempt, and assess your performance at the moment.

Choose Your Opener Wisely

You get three attempts for each lift (deadlift, squat, and bench press), with the opening attempt known as your "opener." It never ceases to amaze me when lifters fail to hit their opening attempts.

The opener is meant to be simple. This is especially true for first-time competitors.

When picking an opening attempt load for a newbie, you want something that will ease their mind and let them focus on the task at hand. They are already confused because of a foreign environment, and giving an inappropriate opener further aggravates the situation.

No Experiment With Your Powerlifting Equipment

One mistake that many lifters make is neglecting equipment until their first competition. Your first meeting is not the time you want to experiment with new gear. While you are training, figure out what works best for you.

When in the arena, you want complete comfort and, ideally, nothing new, so you can focus all of your energy on lifting!

Figure out your best shoes for bench pressing and knee wraps, how you'll want your deadlifts and what kind of belts make you comfortable. The competition area is not for surprises.

Find durable, lasting but breathable and comfortable accessories that do not rob you of your comfort. You can try DMoose knee wraps and powerlifting belts if you are looking for superb quality at competitive prices. You definitely don't want to be bugged by your lifting gear on the big day.

Playing Around With Body Weight

When it comes to training, many male powerlifters like to do all their exercises 20 pounds heavier than they weigh in. They'll put on 220 pounds throughout prep and then drastically reduce body weight starting a few days before the competition to ensure that weigh-ins go smoothly.

They do a water and salt restrictive diet for 24 hours, and engage in sauna/jacuzzi alternations the day before the meet to reach a weight of 198. The following day, when they compete at 220, they're back up to 220. This method works very well for many lifters and gives them a significant edge on the platform.

But don't do it on your first powerlifting meet unless you want to throw your powerlifting career out the window.

These techniques can eventually exhaust you and leave you with little energy for the meet day. You'll be able to pull it off perfectly when you are experienced in how meets work, but not on your first ever!

Stay normal; don't try dramatic techniques!

Stick to Your Routine Diet

One grievous mistake many novice lifters make is going out of the way just before their first powerlifting competition.

You do not have to do anything special before your first meeting. Just stick to the diet you have been taking over time and try to stop lifting a few days before the competition.

If you experiment with drastic strategies here and there, they can backfire pretty badly during the competition, and then there will be no time to even fix them. So the time to experiment is during training, not the week leading up to the competition.

Don't Dwell on Failed Attempts

As a newbie, you may feel a bit too much about failed attempts because you trained so hard and expected awesome results, but things went down the wrong way! It's disturbing, for sure but not worth dwelling on.

Failed attempts make experienced lifters! Always keep this in mind and let go of those failed tries. Focus on the next attempt, and don't miss the missed lifts.

It's important because your anxiety baggage from the previous attempt can even ruin your next attempt too. Failures are part of the game, not THE GAME.

Set Realistic Goals

If you're new to powerlifting, your first meet can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are a lot of different events and it's easy to get caught up in the competition. However, it's important to set realistic goals for yourself so that you can stay focused and have fun.

For example, if you're just starting out, your goal might be to complete all three lifts without getting disqualified. Or, if you've been lifting for a while, your goal might be to increase your personal best by 5%.

Whatever your goals are, make sure to write them down and share them with your coach or training partner. This will help you stay accountable and on track. Most importantly, don't forget to enjoy the experience.

Not Attending a Mock Meet

This is, without a doubt, the most crucial bit of advice. Many people have misconceptions about powerlifting competitions. They believe it's populated by enormous behemoths who make fun of anyone who isn't as strong or skilled as they are. Although this is true on the internet, it's far from the case in reality.

You don't have to be the biggest or strongest person at the meet to compete; the larger lifters are often some of the most helpful. There will also be plenty of other competitors who aren't as experienced as you, which can help ease any nerves.

People usually won't be focused on watching your every move because they'll be busy with their own lifts; typically, multiple platforms are set up and used at once.

If you're worried about competing, attending a local weightlifting meet can give you the confidence boost you need to sign up for an event.

Know Your Kilo Conversions

After each lift, you must rush to the announcer's table to inform them of your next attempt's load. However, the loads aren't measured in pounds but in kilograms. You may be taken by a surprise because at gyms, most conversions are done in lbs.

It isn't rocket science, but it is crucial to understand this custom. Make sure you can quickly figure out what weights you want to use based on this table.

Not Having an Honest Training Partner/Coach

A good coach or training partner is honest and upfront with you, not someone who sugarcoats their words to spare your feelings. If your form sucks, they should tell you.

The same goes for if you're not hitting squat depth, pausing long enough during bench presses, or locking out your deadlifts. Your spotter should also be eager to help - giving guidance when needed but never hindering your progress by saying, "all you, bro!"

On the flip side of this coin, being told what areas need improvement can be difficult to hear, but we must accept this feedback graciously and say thank you.

Not Creating a Proper Strategy

Prior to the competition, you should know the exact weights you plan on using for all nine lifts. You should also specify which warm up weights you'll hit before your routine.

If things don't go as planned during the event, a mental load adjustment strategy is also important. Depending on how you feel, loads could be increased or decreased.


1.What should you not do before a powerlifting meet?

Powerlifting meets are not the time to experiment with food, supplements, supportive equipment, training intensity, or even your warm ups. The best strategy is to stick to your usual routine and ensure you are comfortable on the final day.

Your powerlifting career depends on powerlifting meets, but you must know your life doesn't depend on it; it's just one thing in life, not your entire existence. So, take it easy, breathe deep and have fun.

  • Take your usual supplements
  • Do not binge on caffeine
  • Do not starve or load on carbs before the meet
  • Do not take extra protein for extra muscle power
  • Your warm ups should be done like a professional
  • Don't experiment with new supportive equipment either; stick to the usual

2. How strong should I be before my first powerlifting competition?

At your first event, you must be able to execute the competitive movements technically. Max strength isn't as crucial as learning the rules, controlling your emotions, and comprehending competing mechanics. Having 2 to 3 months of training expertise is preferable but not necessary.

3. How long does it take to recover from a powerlifting meet?

From our observations, we have seen that 5 days seems to be the optimal amount of rest for RAW lifters. Meanwhile, our multi-ply lifters take more time off than raw lifters, usually a full week and, if necessary, even longer.

4. What are the most common powerlifting injuries?

Powerlifting is a strenuous sport that puts a lot of strain on the body. As a result, injuries are common among powerlifters.

The most common type of injury is a muscle strain, which occurs when the muscles are overloaded and tear. This can be caused by lifting too much weight, using improper form, or not warming up properly.

Another common type of injury is tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons. This can be caused by repetitive motions, such as those often used in powerlifting. Other common injuries include joint pain, fractures, and dislocations.

While these injuries can be painful and debilitating, they can usually be treated with rest, ice, and physical therapy. However, serious injuries may require surgery. Powerlifters should take care to warm up properly and use proper form to avoid injuries.

Final Thoughts

First powerlifting meet will always be a tough nut to crack because you’ll experience something that you have never done before. Most individuals want to give their best and that’s how it ought to be but bear in mind mistakes happen when you are doing something for the first time ever.

In the article above, we have all the common mistakes that lifters can come across during their first competition. Go through them, keep them in mind and save yourself the hassle.

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