T Nation

First Competition Ever

 I am 16 years old at 185 lbs. about to compete in my first powerlifting competition in August 2nd in San Diego, California. Being my first competition, I have a lot of questions. First of all, I want to compete in the 198 lb. class, and as stated above, I weigh 185. Is it necessary for me to gain 14 lbs. in order to be able to complete in that class or can I just ask to be placed there?

Also, the rules allow for single-ply equipment... Is that any different to a regular singlet? Or does it add more support to the lifts? Finally, how do I prepare? I have been doing 5x5 for the past couple of months and I was wondering if I should start heading up to triples, doubles, or even singles every week? A week before the lift, do I take a whole week off?

 Since this is my first competition, my focus is not on winning, but to learn as much as I can and be ready to do another competition at 17 years of age in order to beat the records. My lifts are 405x5 on Squat, 405x3 on Deadlift, and 300 lbs. con Bench Press.


The weight class is the heaviest weight that you can be to compete in that class. So if you're under 198 but above 181, you'll be with the 198s.

Single-ply gear is more than a singlet. I don't lift with gear, so other people here will have more intelligent things to say about it than I will. If you lift without gear, though, you should try to compete with other raw lifters. You won't know how to use it to its full potential if you haven't practiced with it, so other lifters will get a huge advantage. Technique is very different when you have the gear, so you can't just lift like you normally would and expect to reap huge benefits.

As far as peaking for the competition, I think that's a good idea. You can probably find a few threads/articles here on T-Nation that address that directly.

Also, you have some pretty damn good lifts, especially for a sixteen-year-old. Good luck at the meet.


 Thank you for your response. I believe that in this competition going raw means that only a belt, knee wraps, and wrist wraps, which is perfect because that is all I train with. However, I just got my knee wraps and quickly realized that it doesn't feel the same using knee wraps than without. Are there any tips/videos that you could pass on to me to learn how to squat with wraps?


I actually don't use a belt or wraps at all. I don't think that you'll be required to wear any of those things, though, so just lift without them if you feel more comfortable. Otherwise, I think that Ed Coan has a squatting video in which he talks about how he wears his knee wraps, and that motherfucker knows squatting.

Also worth mentioning is that you might want to cut down to be in the 181 lb class to be more competitive. If you just care about posting a high total, you'll obviously be better off not dropping weight, but if you think you have a shot at winning at 181, I'd say to go for it.


 Funny thing is, the 198 lb. records on Squat, Deadlift, Bench, and Total are a lot lower than that of the 181 class. Having a 300 lb. bench now means that I already got the CA Bench Record, and though I haven't tried a 500 lb. Squat, I'm pretty sure it is manageable (another record). About the belt, I need to use it. I can't lift for shit on my squat without my belt.


Well, if you want to use the belt, of course you should use it! Just don't use the wraps if they don't work for you now.

As far as the records, that happens sometimes. I'm actually in the exact same situation, as my current weight class has lighter records than the one below it. In that case, try to lift at whatever weight you think will be most conducive to heavy-ass lifting.


 Again, thanks for your response. They have been very helpful. Now it is only matter of eating, resting, lifting heavy to the day the competition comes. Very excited for that day.


Congrats on entering your first meet. It should be an exciting day. The meet will be long so bring something to eat and a lot to drink. Since you are pretty close the competition I would suggest you just lift raw even if gear is allowed as you won't have time to buy it, practice with it, and use it correctly. For you I would have you work up to your openers on Monday and Tuesday (squats and maybe deads on one day, bench on the other) following by very light assistance stuff the week of the meet, rest fully on Thursday and Friday and I am assuming the comp is on Saturday.

I thing I want to strongly caution you on is to open light, particularly with the squat. I would say this to all new lifters and also from two things you have said I am extra worried about it. At your weight and age it is exceedingly rare that your squat is better than your deadlift, and if you are thinking 405x5 gives you a good shot at 500 then you are probably not estimating your maxes well. Depending on the federation you choose to lift in, the squat must be parallel or often below parallel for it to count. If you want to post a video or see a video I would be happy to watch your squat or point you in the right direction. Based on the numbers you posted, I would suggest you go with the following lifts

Squat open with 365, if it goes well go to 395, if that goes well then 415-425 or so (the more I think about it, your squat is really good for your age which is awesome but also worries me that your depth is not correct, which can make a huge difference. I squatted 405 at 19 yrs at 198 in my first meet and that was pretty good for a teen, not saying you can't do better than me, I just don't want you to do a 3/4 squat and bomb out of your first meet)

Bench (I am assuming you know it is paused with a press command) open with 265, then go 285, then go 305
If you didn't know it was paused take 20 lbs off all attempts, but must stay down and feet must stay flat

Deadlift open with 365, then go 405, then go 425-435

Good luck with it, it is an awesome sport once you get into it, hopefully your first experience is a good one. If you have other questions let me know


You've already been given some great advice. You also seem to have a great outlook going in. Use it as a chance to learn. You will meet some great people. You will be so jacked, you will probably set some personal records.


This happens to someone at just about every meet I've judged. It's their first meet, they're all amped up, open their squat WAY to high and don't even come close to depth on all three attempts. There are tons of seasoned lifters here that will be happy to critique you squat for depth based on the fed you will be competing in. I have to resoundingly second Tim's excellent advice. Open with a VERY easy squat and be absolutely certain before the event that you can hit the required depth for your fed.

You would also be wise to follow his second piece of advice about knowing and practicing the commands for each of the three lifts. If you have somebody that trains with you have them give you the commands during training during every set until they are second nature. If you train alone, say them to yourself.


 Thank you for your tips (and forgive me for my lack of response- I did not see this). I have been reading the fed. manual carefully and making sure my lifts are well done.However, I will film myself squatting to see if it is good enough (and hopefully you can give me feedback on it).
 I was thinking about resting the whole week before the meet and just do light assistance work to harvest my energies/temptations for the meet.

  Oh, and change of plans... I have decided to cut down and go on the 181 RAW class.


You are doing a USAPL meet, so your squats are going to need to be deep. Open light and make sure you bury it.


How did the competition go?