Testing Openers Week Before a Meet?

I have a meet coming up next weekend and I just recently completed the heaviest set of squats for the routine (Using Candito’s 6 week program). However I was very conservative with the input maxes for squat (details below) . As a result the squats were really smooth. Depth is fine as well ( Had checks). For example I did the first few weeks beltless and I did week 4 with a fever, zero appetite and had no mood to lift. Week 5 (This week) stated that I should do 1-4 reps and I stopped at 4. It felt like RPE 8-9 to be honest.
My reason for being conservative was because I never tested any maxes for my low bar and I only trained with 5x5 high bar and front squats. My best RM was over a year ago and it was before I had a glute injury so I didn’t feel like it was relevant.

My question is if it’s okay to test my opener ( Not max) in this week? If numbers help, the heaviest set that I did was 170KG, the opener I would like to test is 182.5 , with a goal of 200 for the meet in mind (200 was my all time best) . My bench and deadlift went well so I have the openers planned for them.

Edit: Its my 2nd meet so I know some but very little about attempt selection.

I personally say no.


How should choose my openers knowing all these info? I wouldn’t want open too heavy but I would want to give it my all for the meet.

You cant win a competition with an opener but you can sure as fuck blow your entire meet. The top guys who have dozens of comps under their belt and know how they respond to a peak can choose a weight they haven’t lifted in their training. You’re not there yet.

Go with the heaviest weight you are 250% sure of lifting. If it flies up you can go for a heavier second lift. Set yourself up for success.


Yes that’s true but through some math would 180 be decent even if I don’t test it? Assuming I still see how my warm up goes on comp day

A lot of people say to open with your 3rm, that works for most people. If you don’t have a 3rm then there is something wrong with your peaking cycle.

I work up to squat and bench openers the Monday before the meet and deadlift the week before, but there is no “testing” going on, I know it’s going to be fast and easy. Some people don’t like that approach and prefer to take the whole week off, but this works for me. I got it from Mike Tuchscherer, who would actually have you work up to all three openers on Monday. In your case, it sounds like a bad idea because you would be lifting a weight you haven’t lifted yet, or at least in this training cycle. If anything, add a couple pounds to your 4 rep PR and go up from there based on feel.

What do you mean there’s something wrong? Is it the program? Cause I mentioned my input maxes were lower it probably might have affected results.

Assuming I’m confident I can hit 180 would it be ok to work up to it? Knowing that if its 3RM I will have to gauge myself the RPE of it. And yea I never touched any heavier than the last sets but it really felt too smooth to be set as an opener.

Is your meet this coming weekend or the next one?

You need to have some way of gauging progress and estimating your max. For example, a rep max calculation (which appears to be accurate for YOU) can be used to determine a goal weight for your 3rd attempt and 88-92% would be your opener. Ben Pollack said somewhere that he needs to lift 95% in training of whatever he plans for his third attempt at the meet. There are different ways of going about this, and eventually you would want to find what works for you.

In your case, you haven’t squatted anything heavier than 4 reps @8-9 rpe so it doesn’t really sound like much of a peaking cycle. Unless you do lots of heavy singles (like Ben Pollack) or strictly submaximal training (like Sheiko and other Russians), heavy triples should probably be a staple of your peaking cycle and if you haven’t done an actual 3rm then you should know what you can get for 3 reps.

Openers should be smooth. They should be effortless almost. I treat mine as a last warm up. It doesn’t matter where you start it matter where you end. Picking a weight you have never done is a great way to bomb. Hitting a big PR this close a meet is a great way to blow it on the platform where it actually matters. Do a weight you KNOW for a fact you can do because you have done it. Then make a realistic but big jump on seconds based on how you feel. Then go for broke on your last. You can’t get much stronger in a week but you sure as hell can get weaker.


Exactly how I look at them. The last thing you need is to worry about hitting your opener.


Excellent advice right here

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Alright thank you for all the advice. I have decided to do just 175, something I’m definite I can hit based on my training.

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Excellent Recommendation

From Reed and Marko, “You’re first attempt is your last warm up” is what I use. .

I got that advice from Chip McCain; a World Record Deadlifter and one of the top lifter back in the 1980’s.

Opening Attempt

The objective of you opening attempt is to ensure you are in the meet. Making your opener also take the pressure off you.

Many lifter’s open too high. In doing so, they often miss their first and then have to repeat it for their second, sometimes third attempt.

Starting off with an easy first attempt saves energy and take the pressure off you.

Each failed attempt takes something out of you physically and mentally place more pressure on you.

What’s more important is where you finish, not where you start.

Kenny Croxdale

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After many years of experience and many meets where i didn’t get what I wanted I now advocate the following. Your heaviest squat should be 21 days out, say 95% for some doubles or triples. The following week accumulate some volume say 5 doubles or triples at around 90%. The Monday before the meet stay at around 75% for some triples. The Wednesday before the meet do some singles with 135.

Now regarding your openers, I like a light opener. Light meaning one which I know I can make no matter what, say about in between my heaviest 5 and heaviest 3 for that cycle. Notice I didn’t say RM becasue only the current cycle is relevant. Make sure the opener is a weight you can SINK and get three whites with. This will et the tone for the squats. I found through all the years competing that the highest total usually went to the lifter who:

a. Had the highest squat
b. Made all three squats.

The reason you don’t actually lift your opener in the gym (go lighter or heavier) is so a gym failure can be rationalized. If you plan on an opener of 400 you would take 395 or 405 as a gym lift. If you make 395 easily, you know you can do more. If you grind and fail with 405 you can convince yourself that you can make 400. If you fail with 395 you say you had a shitty day. The bottom line is you did not fail with 400.

As for the second attempt, I would plan on it being 5-10 lbs below your anticipated third. This leaves you some cushion and allows for fucked up meet conditions. If you fail on a technicality you can repeat with confidence. If you make it you can always go up.

In 17 years of competition I never failed a squat for any reason but a heavy third and only bombed once due to flu induce weight loss one week out.

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I’m also a big fan of your opener being an “easy” but stress free lift. Ideally something you’ve already hit (or hit heavier) in training. Second is what you think you can max after feeling your opener. Third go for broke (but be realistic).

I personally hit my bench opener Monday before the meet and squat and dead Tuesday. They’re definitely sub max so I don’t find them draining, mostly I enjoy the warmup.

I’m also not afraid of big jumps if they feel right. Or small ones if they do, I’m all about feeling it out as you go.

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