T Nation

Choosing Opener and Progressions


I am going to attempt 450 on the DL and Squat in upcoming competitions. My personals bests are 430 Squat and 440 DL.

I am agonizing over my openers and progression strategy.

I would like to open both at 405. I would then like to hit a 435 Squat and a 445 DL after that for 2nds. These wouuld both be personal bests. Then try a 450 on both for the 3rd attempts which would hit my goals.

Or should I start off lighter, gain confidence and make larger jumps. For instance 385, 420,450?

Any strategy tips from you folks that have been there a while.


everyone has different opinions here, but most will recommend that your opener should be something you can triple...or something in the 85-90% range. you don't want to much trouble with your opener, as you will waste to much energy and ruin your confidence.

i would recommend starting off lighter... like you suggest at the end of your post and go from there.


for squat- the weights always seem heavier in comp
for deadlift- the weights always seem lighter

If I were you, I would go with two openers that I knew I could breeze through. Remember, if you know you can do it without a doubt, then you will 1.) impress the judges 2.) clear your own mind with worries of bombing

Get your first lift smoked and then get on to the second one when the real weight goes on.


Thanks guys. Should I go for PR the 2nd rep or stick to the progression, which means I might not meet goals vs. PR's.


I say go for a PR on your second. Nothing crazy- pick something that you have a 50/50 chance of getting as long as it is a PR. My logic on it is this- every lift in a meet that doesn't either- keep you in the meet (i.e. a sucessful opener) or push the envelope further is a waste.

Plus, if you make that, you have a chance to apply your newfound meet-day confidence to another PR attempt. Multiple PRs in one lift are like tapping two asses in one day.


I think the squat opener should be something you can sit on the floor with. Generally judges wont pay as much attention to depth after htat because they usually remember deep squatters and give them the benefit of the doubt in later lifts.

I'm shooting for a 450 squat too in 3 weeks and here's what my plan is attenpts wise 385/420/450

If you're doing a full meet you will be tired by the time the 3rd pull comes around so it pays to have energy in hte bank.

Id probably use similar attempts for the DL's too.


I normally do. Alot of lifters I know don't. I figure I go to the meet to set PR's. If I miss it I have another chance, if I get it great. Other lifters want 9 out of 9, but I don't care about that. You need to figure that out for yourself.


I like to open with something I can double or triple. This gets me in the meet and I think it's good for my head.

For my second attempt, I like to shoot for something just above my one rep max; a personal best. If I miss it, I've got another shot. If I miss it badly, I can always back off a little. If I make it, I'll gauge my third attempt on how well the second went.

That's the strategy I use, but it's certainly not original. I'm sure someone passed this to me.



All good stuff guys. Thanks alot.


For me, on every opener I pick something I know I can smoke, even on a bad day.

For everything else, it depends on how that opener feels. I just get a general idea, say within 50lbs or so. If the opener feels light as hell, I'll go to the upper level of that 50 lbs, if it feels heavy I will be more conservative.

Don't worry too much, go lift and have fun. The rest will fall into place.


What fed do you lift in that lets you lower attempts? I have never heard of this. You can always go up, but never down.


AAU. But, now that you mention it, I never have tried to lower an attempt.



Took the words right out of my mouth. Good on you for pointing this out.


Hmm. that's interesting.

We directed a meet recently and a woman lifted who had placed top 3 at AAU Nationals years ago. She came out for her first squat attempt, missed the commands and got the lift turned down. I walked up to her to offer advice/help. She went up 5 kilos on her second, missed it badly and then asked me to take it down 20 kilos. I told her she couldn't do this and she had a puzzled look on her face.

Sorry for the ramble but when I read your post I wondered if you were going to say AAU.

Guess I will take a trip over to their website and see if their rulebook is on line.


I recently joined the 100% Raw fed too. I have yet to do one of their meets, though. I hope I don't commit some faux paux when the time comes.



You want to hit a total and complete the competition, so always go for something safe for openers (as said before something that can be tripled).

After your openers, go nuts if you want.


I was USAPL, but now going AAU. More meets in my area. Like another poster, I don't think I'll ever lower an attempt. Nor do I think I would miss an opener. I could do 385 or 405, but I would smoke the 385 where I could see "missing" the 405 on depth or some technicality. The advice has been very helful. I know what I want to do now and my mind is at peace with it. I'm gonna smoke the opener, go for PR on the 2nd and overall goal on the 3rd. (Actually the 2nd and 3rd may change depending on the day. I'm gonna play those by "ear".) The only person I'm trying to beat is me, so as a priority I wanna get the PR's first. Once that's done we go for goals. For instance I've done 440 on DL in Training. I would be happy just to beat that, considering I've dropped about 15 lbs bodyweight I think that would be a huge accomplishment for me anyway. Thanks again everyone!


All good stuff. You'll meet some great people there. Above all else, enjoy yourself.



As far as the deadlift goes. I have found I only have enough energy for about 2 attempts and then I'm pretty washed up. For that reason I do an opener that's just treated as a last warmup. I have deadlifted 567 in a meet and I opened with only 470 believe it or not. It's worked well for me.


Another thing. for 2nd and 3rd attempts. My 2nd attempt will usually be 5lbs. above my best lift, then if you made it you always go home with at least 1 pr and it's not so much of a gamble. Then for 3rd attempt do whatever you want.