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Aches and Pains Training for First Meet. Am I Overtraining?

Little background. I’m 47 year old male. Every new year I present myself with a physical goal. This year I decided to enter a powerlifting meet with goal of 1200 pound total. I entered a meet taking place in April in the classic raw 90 kg division.(currently 95kg so I know I shouldn’t try and cut weight, so may end up in 100).

I have worked out/lifted since I was 16 mostly bodybuilding type workouts. Past few years have seen nagging injuries from shoulder, knee,back, and currently bicep tendinitis so trying to work around for form and mobility on the 3 lifts.

Powerlifting is new to me. I am trying to absorb as much info as possible but the clock is ticking.
I decided to use Wendlers 5/3/1 as training. Not sure if I am training correctly though especially since I ain’t 20 anymore. Doing the 4 day split of Bench,Squat,OHP, then DL day 4 with assistance work. My mobility is horrible so trying to get comfortable with my Squat and Bench form. I am also doing cardio and some accessory muscle work for glutes, abs, core, stretching on my 3 “off” days. I’m finding myself tight and sore and having to work through aches and pains.

All that to ask this: Am I possibly overtraining? I really would like to compete in April but feel overwhelmed and don’t want to further injure myself in the process. I am close to the goal of 1200 now. 10 pounds away from Bench, 10 on Squat, and prob 20 on DL. With my meathead mentality and 10 weeks til the meet I want to keep pushing through. Hard as it may be, if the wisdom of the experienced PL on here think I should back off some aspect of my routine, or worse, drop out of the meet then I will heed their advice or at least take it into account.

Have you attended a PL meet before? I think its important to know the process. Are you training raw or plan on using a squat suit and bench shirt? If so, do you have these items and have you practiced with them? Are you being coached on form and techniques? PL isn’t just a bench press, squat, and dead, there are 3 judges looking at you and you need at least 2 of them to say you did a good lift.

Not telling you to quit, just be aware that at your age and time under the bar, some of those lifts can injure you.

Thanks for the reply. I read the USPA rulebook. I have the equipment needed. Singlet, DL socks, shoes, legal belt, wrist, and knee wraps for classic raw division. I think I am pretty clear on rules. I haven’t practiced on commands yet but plan to as meet nears. I have been using the equipment during my training. I don’t have a coach. Just using videos (Ed Coan, Alan Thrall, Mark Bell, etc). I currently train at a recreation center but plan on switching to a powerlifting gym near me in March.

That’s great. Based on your comment on mobility, I’d say your squat depth is critical. Better learn to live at the bottom of the squat and be comfortable driving up. A lot of guys get burned on that squat form.

Good luck brother!

No. You’re just under recovering. 5/3/1 as written handles your training so you can’t over train unless you’re doing a ton of extra stuff.

You’re just old and beat up. Eat enough food, sleep enough, get a massage or see a Chiro.

Keep going. Drop the stuff that’s not written into 5/3/1. Profit.


Yeah. I am trying to get comfortable with the heavy weight across my back. I have always high bar squatted but seems like low bar is way to go for PL. My shoulders aren’t cooperating though. I am short (5’7") and compact. I have been trying to judge my depth. A few spotters I asked said it looks deep but the again 90% of dudes don’t perform parallel depth let alone hip below knee. On other hand, I don’t want to go ass to grass as overextending my knee is a concern. That is whole reason I went classic raw instead of raw, so I could use wraps.
Maybe I can upload some videos to see what some veterans think on my form.

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Videos always help

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True. Probably overthinking and trying to over do it being that it is my first meet, my time window is short til meet, new to PL training, and fact that in my mind that I can still handle the weight I used to throw around in my 20’s with no warm up or stretching (youth is wasted on the young).
I probably am over doing the cardio hoping to drop the 5 kilos too.
Diet has been good. Eating clean and upped my protein.
Started creatine. Consider myself natural but I am on HRT using testosterone cream.
I work swing shifts so sleep gets jacked up.
Went to chiro last week for adjustment.
Plan on using hot tub and weekly massage if I can fit it into schedule.

Will try and set up some during training this next week or two and upload. Thanks. Much appreciated.

Something Rich Peters with NASA is he would watch the bottom of the weight belt at the hip to see if the lifter broke parallel. You have 3 attempts for each lift it you get red lighted on all of your squats then your done so make your first squat one you can make. I’ve seen lifters try to much and not make it. I use to use the first 2 to set me up for the last one and that was my PR

Yeah I am still working on figuring my openers. Maybe 80-85% of max?
Also trying to figure out warm ups at my first meet. I plan on addressing both those as meet nears. Maybe a week or 2 out. Figure my last week I will train with 50% on Monday and Tues then rest/stretch til meet on Saturday.
Also plan on doing a mock meet with commands around 2 weeks out.
Sound about right?

Don’t underestimate the power of competition and adrenaline. I’m sure you will be strong enough. Hopefully you will have your family there.

Yeah SH, that is my hope. I am pretty competitive. The whole reason I chose powerlifting was because workouts have become stagnant. Realistically, strength is the last thing to go as we age especially if training is consistent. Figured the pressure of competition would keep me motivated, plus I haven’t pushed my strength limits in years. The goal of 1200 total seemed respectable and doable to me for where I am at and my age and size. Just have to go into the meet not comparing myself against anyone else. I am sure there will be chicks probably lifting 1200 totals!!

Openers you can figure out based on mock meet. They’ll be around 90 per cent of your third in the mock.

Do the mock meet four weeks out instead. Then three weeks out do 2x1x90 per cent, two weeks out 3x1x80 per cent, one week out as you planned on Monday. Don’t really do any accessory or assistance during this time.

Attempts go based on mock meet thirds: 1st is 90 per cent, second 100 to 102 per cent, third is 103 to 105 per cent.

Warm up as you normally would.

Well, I’m about to be 54 and am recovering from my third RC repair surgery. I’ve changed my philosophy and no longer lift heavy and now focus on form and quality volume. Good luck. Keep us posted on your meet and post pics if you can.

Getting old ain’t for wimps that is for sure!!! Heavy lifting does take its toll especially if done without proper form. Back in the day guys at the gym were all about behind the neck presses/pulldowns but science shows our shoulders aren’t meant to work like that. Throw in flat back wide grip bench over the years and recipe for shoulder disaster as you age. That is part of the philosophy for my PL meet this year. Let me try it while I can still function/compete at a respectable level. Something to tell the grandkids. Ha ha.

MarkKo thanks for the pointers. Let me make sure I understand correctly. 3 weeks out I should work up to 2 sets of singles at 90% my 1RM? 4 weeks out 3 workings sets of singles at 80%?
Should I eliminate my 4th day of workout of the OHP at some point?
Also, what are thoughts on deload during training?
I am currently in week 3 of 5/3/1 which is my 5/3/1 rep week. Week 4 should be a deload before starting over, but I was just going to do another 2 rounds and then do a deload about 5 weeks out. Or would you recommend deloading every 4th week as perscribed in 5/3/1. If so, being 10 weeks out from the meet would mean I deload 2 weeks out of the 10 not including the week prior to the meet. Is that too much deloading (3 out of 10 weeks) or will the Power lifting tear down my body that much that I need those weeks for recovery?

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What does a week of your training actually look like? There are all kinds of different way to run 5/31. Unless you are just doing too much in each session you might be better off extending your training week to 9-10 days.

Make sure you are not in the drug tested division, in USPA you will get banned and have to pay a fine if you want to compete in the untested division later. Nobody cares what you do, just go in the right division.

Normally more like 87-90% of planned 3rd attempt, and I mean a realistic 3rd attempt. 85% wouldn’t hurt but opening too light means you will have to take some real big jumps on the next two.

Not a good idea, especially since you already seem to have recovery issues. You could go close to a max, but not 100%, and not all 3 lifts in one day if you aren’t used to training like that. You would probably just burn yourself out, you want to be peaked for the meet and not for a random day in the gym. 1 month or more from the meet would be a better time, as Markko said.

If I was you I wouldn’t make OHP a main lift in training since it’s not a competition lift in PL. Either just bench twice a week or do close grip the 2nd day, use OHP as an assistance lift.

Yes, using your mock meet numbers from four weeks out.

Yes, six weeks out. I’m also with @chris_ottawa in saying you’d be better served doing close grip instead.

Deload every fourth week without fail except during peak.

Deloading is how we manage our fatigue. The further into your accumulation phase you go (which is your normal training) the more fatigue you will carry and the worse you will feel. You go into peak very fatigued and then recover for meet day.

Early in the accumulation phase you’ll feel fine and be tempted to skip deloads. If you do, you just accelerate your rate of fatigue accumulation and it outpaces your recovery ability.

Deloads erase just enough fatigue to make room to accumulate some more so you are able to gradually increase your capacity.

How often you need to deload will vary from person to person, but seeing as you are old and have a bunch of aches and pains it wouldn’t be unreasonable to deload every 4th week. Personally, I can’t train hard for more than about 4 weeks without performance dropping so every 5th week is a deload for me. Performance should be the main indicator of when you need to deload, but aches and pains are definitely something to take into account.