T Nation

First Meet. 235 Pounds. Which Class to Enter?


Hey T Nation,

At the ripe old age of 36 I have decided to enter my first power lifting competition in February with USPA in Columbia, SC. I will be entering the Open Raw and my question is about weight category. I have seen different articles on whether or not to cut weight for these meets and the advice seems varied. I am currently 5’11" and weight 235lbs. I am fairly muscular but am considering dropping to the 220lbs class to be more competitive. I am experienced with cutting weight as I use to box regularly and would always cut weight with 6-8 weeks till a fight. Weigh in is the day before in the morning so I have plenty of time to re hydrate and eat again!

I am thinking of dropping to the 220 class instead of competing at the 242lb class due to a friend entering with me that I would have to compete head to head against, also I don’t believe my lifts would be as competitive. I am currently at a 550sq/515dl/375bp and will improve some by competition time.

Any advice on which weight class to enter? Should I keep my size and increase my mass to meet the 242lbs class or cut to hit the 220lb class?



Competitive meaning what to you?

Are you someone who wants/needs to win in competition? If so, maybe cut weight. Your numbers might be enough to win a local meet. Or to beat your friend.

But big picture wise, your numbers are not worldly, nationally, or state-ly competitve.

To share some of my own experience, I tried to cut weight for my first meet. I ended up setting a few state and national records in a small, extremely specific federation (high school 1 raw with wraps drug tested in the UPA, lol) but I was very unsatisfied with my performance. All three lifts went poorly, and I hit far under my gym PR’s. I only set the records because hardly anyone competed in that specific class.

I’d recommend coming in full, rested, and ready to give 100% and set some PR’s. Don’t worry about your body weight.


Thanks for the reply

I am someone that is highly competitive and want’s to win, coming in second is not satisfying enough.
If I win the first meet I enter or not is fine, I have the mindset of this being more for practice right now…get an idea of the format, time lengths between lifts, performing in front of people, etc…

I am doing this to see what numbers I can hit in a competitive atmosphere and I feel that with some experience I can more then challenge for some of the state records. Currently state Squat record is held at 595lbs for my class and I feel that I can challenge for that number in another year or so. Kinda curious just to see how much lifting at an event will drain off my gym numbers.

As far as my numbers not being worldly or nationally good enough, I would agree all day with you there…I see lifters online that are my weight class and killing the squat and dead lift with bigger numbers…but they all started out somewhere…everyone goes the same route…135, 225,315, 405, 495, etc…I can only get stronger. = )


Don’t cut. Lift hard, do your best. Chances are the large majority of your meets if you do more you will walk away with a trophy. Especially if you do small meets likely to be the only person in your class most of the time. I have compete over 10+ times and I don’t even usually take a trophy home because they are often the equivalent of a participation award. Beat your PRs and it is a successful meet.

Besides in my opinion doesn’t matter what you come in at a local meet. Until your name is followed by the words “New All Time World Record” you are in second place at absolute best.


If you’re not going to set a record or win/place well in a high level meet then there is no point in cutting weight. The exceptions would be if you are trying to qualify for another meet and can only do so in a lower weight class or if there is a cash prize that you have a chance of winning. Otherwise just go for PRs on the platform, if you can’t beat you gym PRs and don’t accomplish anything else then you will probably be disappointed.


The goal of your first meet is simply to not bomb out. Use it as a learning experience. There is absolutely no need to worry about your bodyweight. Just be sure that it doesn’t wildly fluctuate. Keep it steady and have fun.

If you progress to the point where you are placing in the top three at a particular meet then you might want to consider going up or down depending on your bodyfat level. If you need to lose more than 15 lbs IMO, then its time to move up. If you carry a lot of fat, then you may want to drop a class.


I hope nothing I said came across as mocking or judgmental. Im not a national level competitor either. I have just noticed that I’m my experience, my own satisfaction with personal performance means more than any trophy or award that I’ve received.


Your first contest worry about numbers on board not having to cut.


I/ve always heard to compete at the class closest to your normal weight (for your first meet)…I was in the the same situation last December…I was 235…I decided to cut to 220 because im so used to cutting for bodybuilding shows…it was really easy for me to cut the weight during the 10 week prep. I cut to 223ish and then just limited water right before the meet…made weight and felt great…i actually got stronger during prep while cutting the weight. So honestly, I couldn’t argue against doing the cut even though most seem to think you shouldn’t


I mostly agree with Reed. Lift hard. Don’t cut. Set some PR’s. It’s always you against yourself. The rest of the competition doesn’t matter. YOU have to get better every meet.

If you want an Open World Record, it’s all dependent on the price you want to pay. There is ALWAYS a price.

One other little tid bit, make sure your openers are light enough to smoke them. Nothing worse than bombing out.


“Cut” is a pretty serious word around here. Like bodybuilders getting down to 6% body fat .

What kind of shape are you in now? How is your diet? If you’ve been slacking a little, getting 250 grams of protein and all your veggies daily may be enough to improve your body composition and “adjust” your body weight.

If you are used to the “Fight Camp” atmosphere before competition, you’ll probably lose a little weight as you get into the rigorous, strict, regimented lifestyle.


Thanks for all the great replies guys. I am coming off of my “bulking” season so my weight is already dropping a bit…down to 232 yesterday. I will usually balance out around 230 to 228 as that seems to be where my body is happiest. I really don’t think dropping the weight will harm me much, I am just gonna watch my food intake and if my body is closer to 225 by the beginning of February then I will just cut the last few pounds. If I am higher and steady at 230 then I will just lift in the under 242 category. I will let my body dictate my class for now until I do gain some experience and decided that this is what I want to pursue fully.

Really do appreciate all the feedback from you guys. Thanks!