T Nation

First Meet - Choosing Attempt Weights


Hey guys. I'm planning on doing my first meet in february. Just wondering how i go about choosing the weights for my attempts. Do i choose them when i get there? Am i 'locked in' once i choose? sorry I'm a total noob to competition so these could be very painful questions (facepalms?)

Also any advice as to what percentages to choose would be appreciated. for example, i have heard that people generally choose a fairly light opener, then their second attempt is their gym max, and their third attempt may be a PR.

Thanks in advance guys.


Here is a good article by Wendler on openers for a first meet:



thank you


No problem. One thing I would emphasize from the article that is so true is that there is a lot of shit going on at the meet that is new and that may affect your lifting, and you should plan on weird things happening. You want to get a total, more than anything, and if you bomb on squat or bench the meet is over. Err on the side of a light weight to start. Something you can hit an easy triple for in your sleep. Also, missed lifts really take their toll, so if you get too aggressive on your squat attempts, it really takes it out of you for bench and deads.


i'll take that into account for sure. I'm still a little confused though as to when i choose the weights and am 'locked in' to attempt those weights. Is it all done at the start of the meet or do you let the person running the meet know as you move along in your attempts? I'm doing a British Columbia powerlifting open meet btw if that helps at all.

Also, what is warm up generally like? do you warm up at the start for all of your lifts or do you warm up for each individual lift (eg. squat warm up - squat 3 attempts, then bench warm up - bench 3 attempts, etc.)

sorry for all the questions, i really have no guidance to PL other than the internet because i live in such a small town.


Every meet is a little different. Call you local meet director, tell him its your first meet, and ask if he had time to answer a few questions, and have a few written down. At the meet, don't be shy, and introduce yourself to some of the officials and ask if there is someone in your class that they know of who would be willing to show you the ropes. There probably will be. At my first meet, one of the other lifters basically held my hand the whole time and acted like my handler, and it was invaluable. I did not know anybody at the start and did not have a handler, at the end I had a lot of new friends. Again, don't be shy, and don't be afraid to tell people that its your first meet.


You only choose your openers in each lift to start. After your first attempt you will turn in a second attempt to the score table and then turn in a third attempt after your second.

The order of lifts will be SQ, BP, then DL to finish. You will warm up for the SQ and then take your three squats, then warm up for the BP and take your three attempts, and finally warm up for the DL and take your attempts. Your attempts will be in flights so their will generally be 10-20 people in a flight and everyone will take their first attempts in order from lightest to heaviest then start over for everyone's second attempts and finally everyone's third attempts. You could wait 15 to 30+ minutes between attempts.

You will generally warm up while the flight ahead of you is taking their attempts. If you are in the first flight then you might be warming up on the BP while the last flight is squatting. Just pay attention to see who else is in your flight and warm up when they do. Like everyone else has said, just ask questions if you need to. People are always willing to help fellow lifters.


What I did: Opener was my 3 rep max, second was 5 lbs over my training max, and 3rd was go for broke. Sorry if the article said that, didn't read it - just responding. Good luck in your first meet! Kick some ass and have a great time.


At my first meet , i chose weights that were extremely light and still got red lighted the first two attempts for my squat and bench. MAKE SURE that someone who's done a meet in your organization looks at your squat depth in your warm ups. I went in thinking I was squatting deep and but really was not.


I typically choose openers that are 75 pounds lighter than my goal for squats and bench. I then make a 50 pound jump for my second and then a 25 pound jump for my third. It's worth noting that I train for specific numbers and base all training weights around hitting my goal, so my attempts are pretty set at the beginning of a training cycle. I never go for numbers haphazardly. In the deadlift, I open with a weight 50 pounds lighter than my goal and then go right to it on my second attempt. I usually pass on a third but will take one depending on how I feel. I've only had enough steam to get a good third pull a few times in all the meets I've done.


Thanks for all the info guys! while were at it can i get some input on what training looks like getting close to the meet? How far away from the meet is your final max effort day? Would you recommend i set this day up like a meet instead of doing 3 seperate ME's. for example, maybe 1.5 weeks out from the meet do my projected 3 attempts for squat, bench, dead all in one day?


Don't do all your projected attempts a week and a half before a meet. If you want to work up to your openers (which should be relatively easy) you can do it a couple weeks out. There's no need to do second and third attempts in the gym that close to the meet. Save it for the platform. The week of the meet simply deload and rest. You can do some mobility work just to stay a little active, but do very little or no lifting the week of the meet.