T Nation

First Meet Approaching, Looking for Any Advice


#1

Hey there brothers, I would like the advice of some meet experienced gentlemen stronger than I to aid me in my first meet prep. This going to be a long post so please bear with me if you are actually interested in helping

Slight back ground: been lifting on and off since age 15 (i am now 24). I was very very serious about the gym and was stronger than I am now back then as i’m sure some people are/were. Not to get deep into it, because i am not a sob story and this is not what this thread is for, but I’ve had my share of issues and demons physically and mentally, and finally have found myself in a good place in the last six months to actually start to build back up a decent physique and decent strength.

I have always followed strength sports, and have done a lot of research on nutrition and strength training for these years, but never actually applied them to myself for various reasons (all of them not good reasons). As i said before i finally have the stability in myself where i felt the urge to dedicate myself to something for the better, so after a few months getting my body back to be able to lift and in a semi decent shape, i picked a local meet and set to work.

I have found through some trail and error that i enjoy and see results on the Conjugate System. (I would say westside but i know some body would come flying in here saying i don’t train westside because i don’t train at westside, which is true, but you get what i am saying i’m sure).

Stats
Squat 315
Deadlift 410
Bench 235

Weight 260, body fat around 20% probably more honestly.

Before anyone says it, yes these numbers are not good in any comparison to someone my size and age. But I am proud of them because of the progress I’ve made, so please don’t point out the obvious to me, i am here to get better. In the past six months I have put close to 40lbs on squat and deadlift, and 25 on my bench. Some of this is probably muscle memory, some of this is hard work. Again I am nothing to write home about, nor am i pretending to be.

I am looking for some help on ideas of peaking and gaining strength up to the meet. I do not want to change systems as this one for the moment is proving great for me.

The meet is May 21st.

Again sorry for this long open book story, but i felt i needed to express my needs and story a little bit for people to understand where i am coming from.

Thank you in advance for all advice.


#2

First off, well done on deciding to do a meet.

Since your system has been working for you, keep doing what you’ve been doing. I have no knowledge of how to set out any kind of conjugate or Westside program so I can’t help you there. However, Dave Tate has some great material about that style of training I think both on here and on his own site for EFS.

What I will say is that a plan for your attempts is a huge help (something I’ve learned through not having one). I like having an A and B option for my second and third attempts. The A option is the goal, with the B option a fallback in case things aren’t feeling great. I usually have 10 to 20 lbs between the options. I have recently started using the system of first attempt around 88% of goal, second attempt around 94% of goal, third attempt goal. I personally find it works better to start low, especially for deadlifts. The actual percentage I use varies, so my first attempt might be 85%, and my second 92% or something, but generally in that range. Those are my A options.

The other thing I find helpful is to be hitting my first and second attempts for doubles or triples around four to six weeks out. That way I know for sure I can hit them easily for a single. It is a big confidence booster. But, that is only going to work if your goal is realistic because otherwise you’ll burn out.

I find it works better to have a goal I’m pretty sure I can hit even eight weeks out, because that means even of meet day goes down the toilet you’re still in with a very good chance of hitting all your attempts. Be prepared to drop your goal too, if by six or so weeks out it is pretty obvious you won’t get it.

I’m not saying to be overly cautious, but just to put your ego to one side. It is much better to come out of a meet with small PRs and nine for nine thinking you could have done a bit more than coming out five for nine having really pushed the boundaries but come close to bombing without much to show for it.

That’s probably about all I can offer really.


#3

I may be able to help a little with another aspect of meet day. The first thing to remember is to conserve your energy. Don’t watch the meet, you’ll get emotionally drained and your adrenaline can get zapped. You want to keep your gas tank as full as you can. It can be a long day.

Get a cooler and take things to eat during the day. Eat things that you’re used to eating. This is not the day to try teriyaki beef sticks if you’ve never had them before.

I generally take 1/2 gal choc milk, loaf bread, jar peanut butter, squeeze jelly, and bananas.
I have BCAAs and protein powder in my gym bag.

Depending on the size of the meet will dictate what happens next. Our meets (UPA in Dubuque, IA) tend to runs @ 6-7 hours with multiple flights of squat, bench with bench only/ironman, and deadlift with deadlift only/ironman.

We usually have @ 1.5-2 hours between squat, bench and dead

After squat, eat for @ 20 minutes and have some choc milk. Put your sweatshirt & sweats on, put your fully charged Ipod or phone on and rest. Don’t sit and watch the meet. Rest. Have some water w/bcaa or water with some protein. Don’t go nuts and get waterlogged.

Your handler (if you have one) will kick you when it’s time to prep for bench. If not find someone to help. I’ve helped total strangers before at a meet.

After bench, eat @ 10 minutes and have some chocolate milk. Ipod and rest. Rest. Do not watch meet. Rest. Have some BCAAs

After DL, eat more, eat what’s left. Who cares. I tend to bring myself a reward (box of ho ho’s) for after the meet. Eat what you want and kill the milk. Have some protein.

We’ve had good success with this approach (as a gym) with the first timers.

Have fun. Take the next day of work off, you’ve earned it.


#4

I think hawk’s advice is generally good, but it’s not the advice I would give YOU.

You’re not going to be in the running to win the meet, so have some fun! I would totally watch the meet, and enjoy the camaraderie. Meets are a cool place to meet people stronger than you, and learn from them. If you sit by yourself with your IPod, I think you’ll really be missing out on a good time. Hell, I don’t even do that. It’s not necessary. I don’t get into the zone until the last couple minutes before each lift.

Be well rested leading up to the meet, and trust the process. I take an entire week off leading up to the meet. Then the day before the meet, I’ll do a few reps of each lift with just the barbell, just to feel the movements one last time. Taking this much time off makes me feel like I’m going to be weak on the platform, but this has never proven to be the case.

Pre-meet, you should have your first attempts set. A good rule of thumb is to pick a weight that you can triple on a good day, and that there is absolutely zero chance you’ll miss. From there, I sort of play it by ear, but my second attempt is usually going to be just under my best gym lift, assuming I’ve hit a 1rm fairly recently. Last attempt is usually a PR. I’m flexible though. If my first attempt is a grinder for some reason, I’ll back off on my 2nd attempt to something a little less than I had planned.

I like to get my calories throughout the day mostly in liquid form, but this is a personal preference. Do whatever works for you.

Don’t overstimulate yourself. Do whatever you do in a hard training session. If you usually use stims, caffeine, etc, use them. If you don’t use them in training, you probably don’t want to use them in the meet. Familiarity is your friend.

One of the biggest mistakes I see among young lifters is that they do a zillion warmup reps. They’re doing sets of 5-10. like they’re trying to get a workout in. Minimize your warm up as much as possible. I’ll use your squat as an example. Let’s say you’re going to open with 285. Take the bar for a ride for 3-5 reps. Do 135 for 3 reps. 185 for a single. 225 for a single. And then 255 for a single. That’s it. Less than 10 total warm up reps.

Anyway, best of luck, I’m sure you’ll have a great time, and hopefully hit some PR’s!!!