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First Powerlifting Meet Advice



I am looking to compete in my first powerlifting meet in November. I was thinking of holding off due to along layoff from injury, but have recovered and having been training strong for 3 months now. The injury was a pec/labrum tear caused by improper warmup and preparation to heavy benching, reattached July 27 last year,and subsequently rehabbed.

The injury is now recovered, and strength is quickly being restored through training. Be it my first meet, I was wondering if you can give me any advice from your experience or pointers on prepping? Thank you


This is from Jim Wendler’s own site by the man himself:



Your First Powerlifting Meet

Posted in: Articles, Blog, Q&A, Training

Your First Powerlifting Meet

First, congratulations on thinking of entering a meet ? you?ll love it. It takes a lot of guts to get out on a platform and be judged by your peers and I admire anyone who does it.

Second, just do it! You don?t have to be an all-star the first time you go to a meet. The important thing is to get in one and see if you like it. No one?s going to judge you as a person on how much weight you lift; and if they do, their opinions aren?t worth a watery shit.

Since you are new to this, let me offer a few points.

? Open light in the squat. No need to add fuel to the nervousness by attempting a weight you think you MIGHT get. The opening squat sets the whole tone of the meet for you: If you destroy it, your confidence is up, the butterflies will be gone, and you?ll be awesome. You?ll go back to your seat with a huge smile on your face. Of course, if you over-extend yourself too early and shit the bed, the opposite is true. In that case, prepare to have a long, miserable day.

? Bring someone you trust. This doesn?t have to be anyone experienced in meets but someone that will help you navigate the meet and help you through the day. It DOES help if this person has meet experience, but as long as you have someone that can handle you (wrap knees, get you water, check on flights, etc.), it takes a whole lot off your plate. You can just concentrate on lifting weight.

? Don?t cut weight ? just weigh what you weigh. Worry about your training for the meet; no need to add cutting weight to your list of worries.

? Know the rules ? every federation (about 458 in the United States) has different rules. Know the judging rules. Know the equipment rules. Don?t be caught off guard.

? Ask other lifters and handlers at the meet for advice. 99% of the time people are going to be more than helpful. Just don?t do it right before someone lifts.

So getting back to your original question, there?s never a perfect time for entering your first powerlifting meet. You?re never going to be strong enough; in this sport, the quest for a total shows that you can never be strong enough. Just go out there and do your best, and you?ll have the respect of everyone in that room, no matter how strong you are.


Have fun. It’s your first. Lift and learn.


Great article Mark!

I knew I’d see you again around here! And thanks for the encouragement JFG. I was about to give up on the post. I have always found Jim’s insights inspiring and humor inducing so it’s nice to read it straight from the man.

My gym owner is holding a meet in November and told me I should compete but I’m cautious as I’m still rebuilding all my strength back after a major injury (pec, labrum tear) last year in June, so yeah…being weaker then you once were and entering one is lame, but the injury is actually what inspired me to enter powerlifting. Go figure. On an off topic,I just ordered Jim’s original 5/3/1 book. Have you ever tried it out? I’m pretty stoked to start it after the meet.


Three things I would recommend:

  1. Open light
  2. Train to demolish your well thought out openers.
  3. Don’t “peak” for your meet - people fuck this up all the time. To the point where they completely over train and do some stupid stuff like walking out 1000 pounds when they squat 300, trying to back load volume in hope of getting stronger, doing a million singles prior to the meet, doing the meet a week before the meet. At some point, you are going to have to learn to trust your training, step up in competition and be honest with where their strength is,not where they want it to be.

Training for a meet is not what you do the last 2 weeks before the meet, rather the months and years prior.


Thank you coach

I can’t wait to get your book in the mail!


I am far from an expert here (currently getting ready for my second meet), but I have found that the TM is actually a pretty good guide* for where my opener will/should be (a weight I can usually do around 4 reps with).

I am following the general plan from the 531 for Powerlifting book, and I found that doing the 85%, 92.5% and 95% singles (of the meet goal) in the pre-meet phase also provides great feedback of where your attempts should be.

Anyhow, good luck, and enjoy it!

*) Unless of course, it is obviously too high and you should really be resetting.


Thanks Severin

Congrats on deciding to compete! Any experience is experience and my first one is approaching quickly (Nov). I need to remember JW’s advice on not being self-conscious of my lift weights, as I will be competing with many strong lifters, but I want to push myself. I’m not sure what I will (regular gym clothes…?) as I will compete raw.


I compete under IPF rules, so it’s relatively strict what one can wear. But best thing you can do is try to get in touch with either the meet organizer or some more experienced lifter (preferably also competing in the meet). Again, my sample size here is one, but everyone was very helpful and friendly towards me, just as everyone says is the case at and around meets.

And just focus on what you want to lift and achieve and try the best YOU can do! I am currently the worst bencher in the Norwegian PL ranking in my weight and age class, and amongst the worst in the squat too (due to injury/predisposition). But I doubt anyone would give me shit for it, and if they do they’re jackasses anyway!

This is also especially important to remember when it comes to picking a light enough opener that is right for YOU (I opened with 225lbs in the squat at 205lbs body weight…), no point letting your ego get the best of you :wink:


Right on Severin. At least you’re competing and lifting, which means you’re still stronger then most of the general population. =)