T Nation

Meet Attempt Selection


I've competed for a little over ten years and I've always subscribed to the philosophy that your opening attempt should set you up for your second (i.e. not too big of a jump), which should be a small pr and that you should go for broke on your third attempt. I think I got this approach from reading Dave Tate's writings. This generally worked well when I was newer to the game, but has worked less well in recent years.

So, on to my question. For experienced lifters with more than 5 meets under your belt, how do you go about picking your attempts? Is your second lift a pr attempt or something close to your best that sets you up for a pr attempt on your third?

The article that prompted my post is at http://www.marylandpowerlifting.com/page.asp?contentID=135


That was a really good article.


Yeah, I thought so too. Well written and well reasoned.


i take an easy opener, then somthing i know i can make/near max, and try for a PR on third. except on deads, where second and third are determined by what i need to win/total/ect.


Just did a bench meet on Sat. opened with something I knew I could get (330) without making too big a jump for my 2nd which was a small raw meet PR (360) and then let a buddy talk me into 5lbs too much on my third (missed 375...370 would have went).

I like my opener to be easy, 2nd to be strong and give me a good idea of what to take for my 3rd. If you have been training regularly, you should have a pretty good idea what you want to hit and go from there. If you feel off be conservative. If everything feels great, go a little bigger...if you are between numbers, round down unless something big is on the line (the win, best lifter, a record, etc) then go for it.


Thanks for the feedback. I've gotten the sense from talking with a couple of other lifters in person that I may be in the minority of lifters who in the past have gone for PRs on second attempts routinely. It's funny how I've thought constantly about training strategies over the course of my powerlifting career but have never thought critically about attempt selection strategy with any frequency.


I think that as you get stronger it's tougher to get PR's so you can go from attempting PR's on your second attempt early in your career to going for them on your third attempts later on. I generally try for small PR's on my second attempts in the SQ and BP, but usually saved the PR attempts for my third DL. I think it depends on your last meet or PR attempt went as well.

If your last PR attempt was smoked, you may go for a PR on your second. If you last PR was a total grinder then you may have to save a new PR attempt for your third attempt next time. Some of this still depends on how your training was leading up to the meet and how the opener felt.


I agree that if you are newer to the game and don't know how to psyche yourself up the atmosphere of the meet will work for you and you can do a small PR on the 2nd attempt and then go for it on the third. But relatively quickly this leads to a lot of 2 for 3 and sometimes 1 for 3 comps which I find unacceptable. Once you are more experienced I go pretty easy on the first attempt (85-90% of my third), a nice lift on the second (90-95%) that will keep my total up there, and then shot for the PR on the third (100%). Also once you have a system that worked (say you went for 3 for 3 on your last meet and that was 6 months ago), add 5-15 lbs to each attempt and just repeat it. So for bench if you did 300, 330 and 350 and got all your lifts, and 6 months has gone by and the training was good, go for 310, 340, and 360 at this meet. A 10 lb PR on a single lift, compounded with hopefully PR's on the other 2 lifts, and then that continued for a couple of years is what really makes the total go up significantly. Good luck with it.


My approach is slightly different. Squat and Bench PR's I target on the 3rd attempt. However, deadlift I go for it on the 2nd attempt. There is just an urgency of 'hey, I better do this while there's something left in the tank'. Not surprisingly, I routinely go 8/9.


1st attempt = something you can smoke, no matter what
2nd attempt = roughly my PR
3rd attempt = new PR, or whatever you need it to be.


For me, I get a lift in, then go big or go home...

Opener-Something I can hit a triple with on a good day..means I will hit it no matter what
2nd- New PR or rougly 110% of my opener
3rd- Re break my new PR.

I never worry about winning. For 2 reasons...
1) If you consistently only worry about improving and beating yourself, you will eventually beat your competition regardless.
2) There are so many divisions, first place now is generally a joke unless it is at a big meet.

The only time I try and beat people is if a friend is there, and we are close on a lift or the total.


I didnt read any of the responses, so Im sorry if this has been said already.

Opener-Something you can do on your worst day in the gym. If youre unsure, pick something you can triple.

2nd attempt 5lb PR

3rd attempt something retarded.

Hopefully I learn to follow my own advice about this, as I usually skip the second step and go straight to the third. Thats why my gym lifts are better than my meet lifts, usually in the range of 100 pounds or so greater. Maybe in March, but I doubt it.



x2... 9 for 9 means you arent trying hard enough. I've never not left a meet not completely pissed off at myself for something.


What you outlined is exactly what I've been doing since I started powerlifting ten years ago. It worked quite well initially, but recently has led to a lot of 6/9 days. I'm not sure it is the smartest way to maximize my total each meet given the slowing gains I've experienced over the last 3-4 years.