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Meet Day Essentials for Powerlifting or Weightlifting
I have coached massive teams at four major competitions in the last five months including the American Open, Junior Nationals, the Arnold Classic, and Junior Pan Ams. I have had the pleasure to learn from a number of amazing coaches, and I have also had the opportunity to observe some not so good things. All of this has inspired me to write an article regarding meet day.
A block of training can be made or broken based on one’s actions during competition day. A lot of what I have to tell you is the same for weightlifting and powerlifting. There are also a lot of differences, so I am going to try and break them both down for you, so that all of you coaches can have a good idea going into a meet.
1. Meet Day Demeanor- this is probably the most important piece of all. This is also the piece that messes up the most people. The most common mistake made is being amped up to much and too soon. I don’t care what your normal personality is. I can tell you this one important bit of truth though. If you are jumping and pacing around at the beginning of a meet, you won’t be doing that at the end.
The key is to relax and have fun. How do you do that? Well that’s a great question. The answer might be different for everyone, but I will tell you what I did. I started picturing the warm up room as a big gym full of people that enjoy the very thing I enjoy, lifting heavy weights. Once I took on that outlook, I was able to just enjoy the moment.
I totally erased from my brain that it was a world championships. I just focused on the fact that I was doing what I love with people that loved it too. I was able to joke around and laugh. Guess what happens then? Cortisol levels decrease, and energy levels stay at a constant high. I would only turn on the focus and excitement part of the brain during my competition attempts.
I was actually able to control the amount of energy exerted per competition attempt as well. In powerlifting, I would actually smile during my opening squat just to stay relaxed. If you are opening with a proper amount, the only thing needed is focus. You shouldn’t have to get amped up. I noticed the same approach by Maddy Myers at Junior Pan Ams last week. She would smile during her openers, and it really seemed to pay off with massive PRs in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk not to mention the Gold Medal.
Being able to turn energy levels up and down is an art. It’s an art that separates most winners and losers. If the above technique doesn’t work for you, then I recommend finding one that does. A sport psychologist is a great idea for anyone. I believe that more and more people will utilize the services of a good sport psychologist over the next decade. It’s another little mundane thing to master that could really pay off big.
2. Meet day nutrition- I am not a nutritionist, but I can give you some insight into what worked for me. I will say that I employed the services of a nutritionist to help, so you might want to look into that. Most powerlifters and weightlifters mess this up big time, so it’s another mundane piece that can separate you from the pack.
I think that my meet day preparation was a big divider. Most people got too amped too soon, and they were not prepared nutritionally. That mean they would always tank their energy system way too soon, which opened the door for me to kill them. There are a couple of things to consider on meet day.
First, if you’ve cut weight, then you need to prepare for rehydration. The obvious choice here is pedialyte and some sodium rich foods to help the body absorb the liquids. I would keep things pretty simple at first like meal replacement bars and pedialyte only because the stomach is going to be somewhat twisted.
Once you get to feeling back to normal, it’s time to get some food back in you. My stomach was always a little sensitive on meet day, so I stuck with meal replacements, bars, and fruit. This kept my energy levels constant throughout the day, and it was easy to get and keep these items down. The foods that work for you might take a little trial and error, but it’s a little research that pays off big.
All that I can say is don’t be the guy or girl going to the snack bar after weigh-ins. That always showed me the rookies, and I knew right away not to take them seriously. Be prepared! Remember, there are a lot of mundane things that can separate you from the competition. The more of these mundane things that you take advantage of will equal more and more success for you. Become the master of the mundane!
3. Have a Meet Day Plan- I recommend coming to the meet with a plan. Here are some of the things that you need to think about prior to entering the warm up room:
• Warm up attempts and timing
• Attempts on the platform
• What totals will qualify you for bigger events.
• If you’re an elite weightlifter, what totals will get you the biggest stipend from USAW.
These answers of warm up attempts and timing will definitely be different for powerlifting and weightlifting, so let’s go through them one at a time.
Warm up attempts for weightlifting- In weightlifting the bar starts at the lowest entered attempt and continues to rise until the heaviest attempt is taken. At that point every attempt will have been taken in that event. Normally there isn’t a ton of time between lifts and sometimes the lifter has to follow themselves. The key is to take your last warm up about 3-4 attempts out.
Your first warm up should begin about 21-27 attempts out from when you will be on stage, and then you will take the next warm up every 2-4 attempts that are taken on the competition platform.
Here is a similar article that I wrote detailing a plan:
Warm Ups for Powerlifting- powerlifting is much easier because attempts are performed on a round robin system. That means that all first attempts are taken from highest to lowest, and then it start back over with second attempts starting from lowest and again working to highest. The key is to have your warm ups planned.
If I were opening with 900lb, my warm ups might look like this:
• Bar Only to loosen up
• 135lb for 2×5
• 225 for 5
• 315 for 3
• 405 for 2-3
• 495 for 1
• 585 for 1
• 675 for 1
• 765 for 1
• 815 for 1
• 865 for 1
Open at 900
The key is to finish warming up about 5 attempts out giving you about five minutes to recover. Powerlifting is much easier to time, so the only key is to be prepared. You don’t want to have to think on meet day. You just want to compete.
Attempts on the platform- this is similar in both sports, but it is the one that messes up so many people. Here’s the way that everyone should open:
Attempt 1- this should be your minimum. That means, this is a number that you never miss is training. Be honest with yourself on this one, and I also recommend taking into consideration any weight that you might have cut. If you lost a considerable amount of weight, then I recommend taking this number down 2-5 kilos.
Attempt 2- should break your last meet PR
Attempt 3- All-time PRs should fall and/or any records.
Of course all of this can change depending on the competition. If you are in a tight battle, then beating your competition becomes the number one priority over PRs.
4. Have a pit crew- If you are on Team Mash Elite, then you already have this for National Events. You will have me and our other coaches in your corner changing weights, counting attempts, and paying attention to your competition. The key is for the lifter to think about nothing but competing.
I also took my Chiropractor to my major competitions. I was an elite athlete, so I wasn’t going to trust my body to some random Doc at a meet. What did they know about my body. Dr. Gray was my doc for just about everything, and he’s the one that kept my body firing. Once again, this is another little mundane thing that helped separate me.
Meet Day is the day that athletes train for. It’s the day to test out the progress of a training cycle. I hate watching athletes mess up mentally on competition day. I hope that this helps to prepare you all for your next meet. God knows I want all of my readers to kill it, so read this and be prepared at your next meet.
Team Mash Elite Weightlifting takes the National Stage this weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have prepared, and now it is time to go to work. Keep an eye out for us and say a little prayer.