T Nation

Competition Attempts - What Strategy?


My first powerlifting comp is in a couple of weeks.

What is your strategy when deciding how much weight to put up for your first and second attempts?

Do you tend to be more conservative with your DL after struggling through 6 max attempts in SQ and BE? Or does adrenaline take over and give you a bump?


I haven't competed yet, but I've heard that you should pick a weight you could do for a good triple as your opener.


The pick a weight you could triple as your opener suggestion seems to be common.

I tend to be conservative on openers, but one thing that you have to keep in mind if you're an equipped lifter (and this may just be a multiply thing) is that if you go too light you may not hit squat depth, or touch on bench.

Its a good idea to open with a weight that you know you can do even at your worst. (Detty, are you reading this?).

Pick your second and third by how your openers go.


Opener: Make it easy in order to put the ref's at ease about your form and ability. If you go too heavy on an opener; the judges will be A LOT more stringent about your next 2.

2nd Lift: This should be your last tested max that you know you can get with a bit of a struggle. This could even be a 5+lb PR

3rd Lift: You have about a minute to figure how the 2nd lift went and what else you want to hit...increase a little or a lot.

As far as decreasing your last lift b/c you've just busted your ass on the others.....I wouldn't worry too much about it. Your doing some light warm ups and 9 reps the whole meet. Stretch, relax, have some food/Surge and maybe some Spike or an ammonia cap and man the fuck up!!!

Good luck dude, kill it! (are you doing the VA nationals too?)


Thanks for all the tips and encouragement.

I'm pretty confident I can hit 10lb under my PR on any given day, but never having competed before and reading some of the tips here I can see the benefit in going a bit lighter for the opener.

I've been looking at some of my competitor's recent meet results, quite a big margin between their openers and PRs. Quite a big margin between their best lifts in meets, too. One guy told me he is getting a knee reco after this meet (and honestly, he will probably beat me anyway).

It is a single-ply meet, IPF. 3 weeks out and I am yet to try on my suit. I'm worried about that fact, but I've lined up some guys to help me get it on for my next two squat days. I suspect we will be closer than we want to be after this experience and will probably have to start going to different gyms.

No nationals anywhere for me just yet, hoping to total a mere 1065 in the 198 class. This is just a small local meet in Australia and I am injured. Awesome that you mistook me for someone who could, though, for a brief moment I felt hell strong!


Good luck with it! i just had my first comp about 3 weeks ago, and i was very conservative with my openers.

One thing i realise now is that i had the potential to hit a big pr in the deadlift but i was too conservative. I think once you get out there with the judges and people in front of you, the adreniline does take over, and you'll kill it. Having said that i'd still start low, i'd say go straight to a pr in the second though.

Learn how your body recovers too. I took a week off before, and in the bench second attempt i tried 125 (i hadn't missed it in the last 4 workouts, and 2 weeks before i'd hit 130 paused) and i just couldn't do it. should have done a light day in between. You'll learn a lot first comp. have fun, and meet some people!


I'm also in oz but just for your interest i went and watched my first ever meet and the winner broke the oz national record (i guess in the heavies cos he was 160+kg). i understand his first ever meet was last year. holy fuck eh (337.5kg, 267.5, forget dl but was over 300!)


Yeah, that'll be me next year :slightly_smiling:

Seriously, top ten in this weight class is viable for next year but we'll see about my weight and shoulder health. I'm going to continue to cut and let my shoulders get better after the comp, then bulk for rugby next year.

The things you do when you hit 30, eh? Those of you under 30 - DO IT NOW or you'll look like you're desperately trying to hold onto your youth when you get your shit together later.


I think I do best when I have a short break, then come back light for a session, then go heavy again. The week after that I kill it - if everything is going well.

It really depends on what my shoulders are doing, they can make or break my BE and DL.

Good luck with your lifting :slightly_smiling:


You're on the right track, but I'd say, put down openers that you know you can stick and you should be fine.

Are you lifting raw or geared?


I just did my first comp in September. My coach picked my attempts for me before we went.

My openers were retarded light and I was kind of insulted until I got there. I was glad he picked light because I really had no idea how I would be mentally in a competition. I was the first lifter of the day in my first meet so it was good to walk out and just do one that was totally easy just to get the first one under my belt.

As it happened, I only made my opener for bench so I was damn glad he made me start light.


I'd be terrified about that. I can barely make depth with my raw squat PR when in my suit, and it is loose enough I can put it on myself. Make sure you video or have people who know what they're doing when you work with the suit.


I'd be worried too.

My raw squat PR +40-50kg is what I need in a tight single ply suit and jacked knee wraps to get down.


If it's your first meet, your opener should be the lightest weight you can hit depth in for the squat and touch with for the bench. The toughest thing to figure is how much stronger you will be at the meet as compared to the gym, especially for a first meet. You want to start with weight that you know will result in 3 whites. Missing your opener can snowball into bombing out really fast.

Don't underestimate how much of a toll 3 heavy squats will take on your bench and dead either.


My calm, blissful ignorance has been shattered!

I'll let you know how I go next Tuesday when I try on the Z-suit for the first time. There is no hope of me being able to get it on myself, it's tight. I can't get it more than a couple of inches past my knees, I'm actually frightened I will have to have it cut off me. I was a few pounds heavier last time I tried though.

I would have thought ~400lb (my current raw lifts) was enough to get a Z-suit to depth? I've seen people squatting 300lb in Z-suits. I hope I didn't figure too wrong.

I'll see how I go on Tuesday before I decide on my Squat opener. Bench and Deadlift will be raw, these should be pretty easy to choose if my shoulders are feeling good (and they should be). I'll just do what I can grind out a triple for, that seems to be the most common advice.


If you're doing this long-term, considering you haven't been practicing with a suit, I would say go RAW this first time, leave the suit for competing after you have been practicing awhile in it.

Make sure you know the commands, and make sure you get your openers. Let me say that again, MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR OPENERS! Dumbest thing you can do is go heavy and bomb out. You have 3 attempts, even if you go conservative on the first you have 2 more attempts. Get in and get some experience.

My general rule of thumb is taking the opener at 90% of training max.

Make sure to deload some the week before the meet, if you make it in the gym, just grease the groove and don't tax your recovery.

Good luck!


Oh man, I am not going to look good in a Unitard...


No one does. That's the fun of PL.


Opener: Something you can triple:

Second: A 2.5kg PR

Third: A bigger PR

This ensures you'll get PB's on most lifts, and a good PB total.


In that case I'm going all the way - Borat-style "Mankini" for me!

I might even grow the mo' for Movember and raise some money for charity. I'll have to wax down a bit to look like Borat, though.