First Meet Diary
?You cannot become what you need to be by remaining who you are? This is the quote I used in my high school yearbook because I thought it sounded deep, I never really understood what it meant until I started powerlifting. You have to live your life as a lifter in order to reach your goals, and part of living the life of a lifter is to compete in powerlifting meets. This article is intended to show the beginner or someone considering powerlifting what happens at a powerlifting meet from a first timer?s perspective.
The meet I am participating in is the APA White Mountain Classic, October 9th in Keene, NH. I will be competing in the 275 pound weight class in the full power division which is the squat, bench and deadlift events. The first thing I did once I decided to enter this contest was to find the APA on the web and read the organization rulebook to find out what kind of gear is legal. The APA allows up to double ply gear, denim bench shirts, but no canvas squat suits or bench shirts. The rulebook also tells you how the weigh in works, how the flights are set up, any and all the information you need to know. I highly suggest that you read the rulebook of the organization(s) that you plan to compete in so you know what gear you can use and so you have a general understanding of what?s going on at the meet. Next thing is to become a member of the organization and sign up for the meet, the APA?s website allows you to get your membership card and to sign up for their meets online.
Met with the meet director at 9:30 and weighed in at 270. I decided to weigh in the morning of the meet, instead of the night before which is also an option, because I had put on some weight in the last few weeks so I wasn?t sure I would be beneath 275 so I was real careful with what I ate all week and I did the morning weigh in on an empty stomach. After I weighed in I had to give my openers for all 3 lifts. The openers were pick with a 1200 pound total in mind and I chose openers I had doubled in training so I would not bomb out.
The rules meeting was pretty much the meet director reading the rule book word for word, seeing that I had read it a couple of times I decided to get my squat suit on. The only thing I heard that was real important was that the judges would be willing to tell you why they red lighted you and also even more important was to get your next attempt to the head judge with 3 minutes, they were fairly lenient with this rule as long as you didn?t do it after the next lifter had gone.
After the rule meeting they posted the order of the squatters from lightest first attempt to heaviest. I was going 9th so I went over to warmup, it?s important to jump in when you are in the warmup area, everyone was really cool about going in order and adding and taking off weights.
Now the lifting begins, they announce the first lifter, the amount they are attempting, the lifter on deck and the lifter in the hole. One of the judges has a sheet of what weights should be loaded on the bar, 2 45?s and a 5 for example, when the loaders are done a judge announces that the bar is ready or loaded and then you step up to begin your squat. At this meet we used squat stands so you have to walk your squat out to where you can get into your stance. The judge then tells you to squat and then you squat. Once you complete you must wait for the rack command or you?ll get red lighted. My first attempt of I had doubled in training and I smoked it. I then went to 415 and got that real easy to, then after my training partners telling me I was going to do 460 for my third I went and despite never having that on my back before I got it no problem. I think I left at least 40 pounds on the platform in the squat.
After everyone finished squatting they gave us a half hour to warmup for the bench. Once again everyone was really cool in the warmup area. In the bench once the handoff from the spotter is complete you lower the weight down to your chest and when the judge says press you press it up and rack it on the rack command. My first attempt of 285 was really easy so I jumped up to a weight I had trouble with in training 315. I was benching raw and 315 has been my Everest for a few months. Once I took the handoff from my partner I knew I had it and it went up as easy as the 285 did. Again I moved on to a weight I had never had in my hands before 325 and I got it with 2 white lights because I dipped on the right side a little bit but I got the lift.
One of the things that really surprised me was how a room of complete strangers pulled for each other so strongly. It was really awesome to be around these super strong people who knew that it was you against the weights and they all want to see you do well.
After the bench was done I had a banana, I hadn?t eaten in a few hours and I was hungry and I figured a banana would be easy clean up if I puked it up in the deadlift. The deadlift is the simplest lift as far as the commands go. You start when you are ready and the only thing to look for is the lower command from the judge in front of you. Before we started the deadlift I changed my opener to 405 so my 1200-pound total goal could be reached on my 2nd attempt instead of my third. The 405 went up easy and I was 10 pounds from my goal. I decided to go up to 425 because of the ease of my first attempt, my partners wanted me to do 460 but I wanted to get my total first and then go for broke. The 425 was no problem and I had a 1210 total in hand so I decided to go for 460 on my third attempt. On 460 I got the weight up to wear I needed it to be but I got 2 reds because I did not lock out my knees fast enough. It was a bummer but I know I what I need to work on for my deadlift for my next meet.
That was my first meet a 1210 total and I won my weight class cause I was competing against myself. I really enjoyed myself and everyone was really cool. I highly recommend competing if you are thinking about it especially if competition brings out the best in you cause you are overly competitive like I am. I brought 3 gatorades with me and that was more than enough for me and I also had a huge coffee prior to the start, thanks for the tip on that one Mr. Wendler. I am not a big coffee drinker so I was bouncing off the walls all day.
I learned a lot at this meet. I know that I need to train harder. I know I have a lot left in me and now I really want to get my elite total. It?s time to get a bench shirt and start lifting some real weight. The last thing I?d like to add is, my whole life I played team sports, but being under the bar by yourself is a study in what you believe about yourself. So if you want to see what you have inside of yourself Power Lifting is the way to go.
Thanks to Jim Wendler, Matt Bash, Joe Nickele, Ross Bowsher, and my training partners Chris and Mike for all of your help.