T Nation

Nearly 40 and Eying First Meet

New to the forum and have only lurked until now. For some background, I’ve been in and out of the gym for the last decade doing everything from crossfit, powerlifting, strongman and bro-globo gym type training, but I set a goal recently of wanting to train strictly powerlifting for the next couple years. I’ll be 38 later this month and I want to see what I could total with two solid years of lifting before I turn 40. For the last several months I’ve been running mostly 5-3-1 as I’ve done this in the past and it’s a program I both enjoy and get good results from.

My current 1RM’s are something like:
Squat: 440
Bench: 350
Deadlift: 460

My main questions revolve around how to find/pick/prepare for a meet since I’ve never done that. I assume I should do a meet sometime in the next several months to see exactly where I’m currently at and try and set some kind of realistic goal. My original goal was a 1,400 total but my lifts have gone up so much since then that I’m thinking 1,500 is fairly realistic. I also don’t know if/when I should get a coach to help me prepare and peak for a meet, plus what to expect the day of. Thoughts?

There are quite a few different federations. Depends largely on where you live but in the US there are loads.

Just go up on their websites and looks for anything close to you.

If you have been training using 5-3-1 and are making steady gains still, there is no reason to switch that up but as you get closer to the meet you do want to have some programming associated with peaking your lifts. I personally like to do that over 2 months or so, but everyone is different. Im almost positive someone has given some advice on peaking with 5/3/1 on this forum so a search may be in order.

As far as how powerlifting meets are run and what to expect at your first meet, Calgary Barbell has a Youtube series explaining pretty much anything you may come across.

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5/3/1 has a section on meets.

As stated above find a federation that has meets near you. Get familiar with the rules and sign up for a meet. Just pick one that’s 12-16 weeks out and give yourself time to train.

You can hire a coach once you’ve done this for a few years.

Your goal for the first meet should be to get 1 squat, 1 bench and 1 deadlift in. After that the goal should be to increase your meet total each time.


Thanks, I’ll check out that series and it looks like there are quite a few meets around me in Texas to choose from.

in the US, there’s lots of USPA and USAPL, but there are def other feds out there too.

Just keep timing in mind. Lots of these events have day before weigh-ins, so would just tack on travel/lodging expenses. USAPL does day of, which is super nice.

What part of Texas?

DFW, so pretty centrally located

I’m in Central Texas, but @flipcollar is up in that area. He does strongman now but might be able to point you in the right direction.

Central Texas as in Waco? I was surprised how many meets they have compared to the metroplex

I’m closer to Austin. RPS usually has meets about every three months though I haven’t seen any posted for next year yet. There is one Dec 14

There are quite a few meets a year between Austin, Waco, San Antonio.

May give Sulfur Springs a look. They hold some national meets.

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NASA has one in March 2020 in Waco, that’s about the right time frame. I’ll just have to see if that meet accepts first timers.

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Good luck!
That’s the good thing about RPS anybody can play.

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Thanks, I’ll keep an eye on RPS’s calendar as well.

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Take a look at the rulebook of whatever fed you choose and make sure your equipment is approved


There’s one at BattleAxe Barbell in Garland, on February 26. Drug tested meet. Dunno if that’s close to you. I live in Dallas, and train at 2 hardcore gyms in the area, I can find you a meet that suits what you’re looking for in terms of date, area, drug tested or not, etc.

That’s not too far, I’m in Fort Worth so that would be pretty convenient and drug tested isn’t an issue. I’ll check it out, thanks!


No problem.

You ever been to Metroflex Castle in Ft Worth? A lot of powerlifters over there. If you’re looking for local meets, you could drop in sometime and ask around about upcoming meets. I know they put on their own meets.

I’ve also competed in ft worth, at the Ronnie Coleman Classic. It’s usually in April, there’s always at least 1 PL meet at that, plus strongman, crossfit, etc.


Would also be a good idea to get some practice, even by a drop-in, on a combo rack. It’ll make rack heights easier at the meet, especially if it’s at the venue hosting the event. Not the end of the world if you can’t, but it helps

My gym allows athletes to drop in if they’re registered for our meets to use the comp equipment. It’s great. And a lot of the local meets in my area use our bars and combo racks. It’s nice going into a meet knowing that I’m warming up and competing on the same stuff that I trained with.

Disregard this if you’re doing a monolift meet :lol: Also to add: If you’re doing a monolift meet and don’t train on a monolift, just tell the spotters/loaders that you’re gonna walk it out. I’ve never tried using the monolift personally but I’ve heard it’s weird if you’re not used to it.

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This YouTube channel is very good! It should have more viewers.

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RPS is really cool because their meets don’t require membership iirc.