T Nation

Advice-Newbie Powerlifter

I’m 20 and have been seriously training for roughly a year. During that time my interests have always heavily been in powerlifting. At a bodyweight of 220ish and a body fat of maybe 15-20%, I’ve gotten my deadlift up to 405, squat at 355 (don’t know if that one was competition legal) and just tonight got my laughable bench up to 245. Overall that would put my total at 1005, a goal I’ve had for some time. In maybe a year or two, some reasonable amount of time, I’d like to start competing. All my lifts are natural and completely raw, the only equipment I wear is gloves. I would like to find a federation that tests for drugs and allows only a minimum of equipment. Could anyone direct me to somewhere I could find out more about the various federations, and maybe some more information about how to actually prepare for a meet? T-Nation has been an absolutely invaluable resource, but I also need something geared more towards powerlifting. Thanks a lot for the help.

As far as feds are concerned, and going by the criteria that you’ve described, USAPL should suit you fine. They have a drug testing policy that includes no-competition testing (they can request a sample at anytime) and only allow single ply gear. They are also one of the larger feds around. IPA, WPO, APF, etc. all tend to attract the more “chemically adjusted” lifter and allow unlimited gear.

As for training advice, just search this site for anything by Dave Tate. You could also check out Elitefts for more training articles. It centers around the Westside method.

The most important thing is to just compete and have fun. Being to caught up in trying to be the best will only hinder progress right now.


Congrats on your progress thus far! I would say don’t wait for a year or two to compete. Compete ASAP and learn. I have only been training PL for about 11 months now, and am doing my first meet in about a week and a half. My lifts aren’t all that great, 420 squat, 295 bench, and a 395 deadlift, but I just want to do it to have fun and test myself. I am just looking at it as a big workout to try to get some PR’s. Should be fun… As far as you wanting to lift RAW, look at the AAU, they have a fairly large RAW division. There is also an org. out there dedicated to 100% RAW lifting. They don’t even give the option of using suits and shirts. Belt only I think. THe name of the org escapes me right now, but search around a little, you will find it. Good luck!


You can lift raw and compete drug free in any federation. It just depends on what your goal is. if you are competing to get the shiny plastic trophy then go with a fed that caters to raw and drug free lifters. However, if you are just trying to hit your own personal goals and aren’t concerned with placing then any fed will work.

BTW…lose the gloves! They are not allowed in any fed that I know of, and you are going to find a bit of a difference in your DL without them.

Thanks a lot for the help. I was checking out the USAPL site and found a competition two months from now. I’m afraid that might be too soon, but I think I should be able to do it. Any advice on how to get ready for a competition?

Go check out www.elitefts.com. Start searching the Q&A and the articles index. That will give you a great heads up. And squat DEEP!

Good Luck!

Something that really helps me in getting ready for a comp is to plan out my training cycles leading up to the meet. I write every bit of it out and make sure that the last week of training is a pretty light week and the week before the meet is an off week.

As far as it being too soon, it all just depends on you, your form, how well you lift in your gear…etc. I did my first meet less than 2 months after I started. It was a great experience and I was able to learn a lot from it. It truly is that way for me at each meet, I am able to learn a little more about competing and the sport in general. Plus the comraderie at meets is awesome! Nearly everyone is extremely helpful especially for the newer lifters. It really isn’t all about who is in first place and who put up the biggest numbers. Everyone wants to see each other hit their lifts successfully.

It will be a great experience for you! Best of luck with it.


The AAU has a raw division.
One thing you migh try first is either a single lift meet or a push/pull (bench/dead) meet. It’s much easier to peak for one or two lifts rather than three and it’s not such a long day. Look for a small, local meet. You should come in contact with a lot of people who can point you in the right direction as far as training for and then doing your first 3 lift meet.