T Nation

What We Have Learned

I think that as we train and progress in the sport of powerlifting, we progress and learn what not to do in preparation for a meet, and things we should have done better before a meet. I created this thread so all of the people that have done/ are preparing for a few meets. I think this thread would be of good use to reflect on past training for meets, and things we should have done better

In my first meet, I realized about 3 weeks before the meet that I was maxing out on the same lifts every time, and that it played a big factor on my total. My second and third meet that is coming up, Ive realized that my training isnt spot on, and I have changed too many times to different things, which is going to affect my next total. Next time I compete, I will be doing less changing, and really focusing on one template/ME cycle.

Lets share knowledge and reflect.

ME work can be built up in waves, and it’s a lot easier to think backwards than forwards. One exercise can build upon another over the week, like Matt Wenning’s bench training. Bottom end week 1, mid range 2, top end 3, and repeat. Don’t pick ME work blindly.

Another thing I’ve learned, cutting weight is the easy part, at least for me, re-hydrating and feeling good enough to lift really well, not so easy. I never cut more than 10lbs because of this…

Small steps add up over the long-run.

I didn’t start lifting to be small, weak, or injured.

I found less weight on my DE work made me faster. I was also stronger on ME days.

[quote]scubasteve2105 wrote:
Don’t pick ME work blindly.

Ive finally realized this… especially for bench

Ive learned that i cant just go to the gym and train mindlessly for weeks and months. Having a cycle planned out has helped a ton. Having a meet and having to plan for that made me realize this and has catapulted my training. Will not make that mistake again.

I learned that you should know the details of where you will be sleeping the night before if you are traveling, so you don’t end up getting to bed at 2am the night before.

Also, don’t rely on being able to find good food on the road. Pack a cooler of food and bring fluids.

Oh, and learn how to stay warm/loose between attempts. Most of the time I don’t rest 10-15 minutes between lifts in the gym.

I’m a PL newb but here’s what I’ve learned: make sure you’re bathroom scale is calibrated. I cut about 17lbs for nothing because the scale was off by 1.5lbs, LOL.

not directly meet related , but anyways…

I learned that it’s not the program that matters…it’s the BELIEF in the program that matters most .

and when it comes to cycle planning , it’s not the end of the world if the cycle doesnt go down exactly as planned .

The hardest thing for me to learn was to not train for a pump and keep a log.
After you train for a couple years you believe that you know all you need to. But keeping track of my numbers not just from a training cycle or two but all of them to see what worked and what didn’t.

It took something like 5/3/1 to put me back on track. Now write out what your going to do before you hit the gym. Not just the main lifts. But have a plan.

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
Small steps add up over the long-run.

I didn’t start lifting to be small, weak, or injured.[/quote]


I’ll also add that staying injury-free is real “secret” to making consistent gains in strength.

Training smarter leads to training harder.

I agree with the “do not cut more than ten pounds for a meet”, out of experience. Cutting 15+ killed my deadlift attempts.

Raw lifters need to include the competition lifts more often into their program. The first time i followed westside, i followed the “use any exercise but your actual competition lifts” like Louie recommends, but my bench didnt move at all the whole cycle, and my squat probably didnt either. It worked out for my deadlift though (25lbs pr)

I used to cut weight just to be “more competitive”. Then I figured out a few things. Unless you’re chasing a record (and I don’t count juniors, teens over 16, submasters, any masters under 60, or police and fire as anything other than men’s open) then no one cares. Besides for every weight class above 198 or 220, the same general patterns of strength emerge. Doesn’t matter if you’re 240 or 320, the number are mostly the same. A 275/308 is a tall 242 and a SHW is a fat 308/275. I haevn’t cut weight in 3 years. It rocks.

Warm up now and get the folks in your rack to hurry the fuck up. Look, if warmed up going 145, 255, 395, 545, 685, 725 and there’s 30 minutes between 725 and your 804 opener, you won’t get “cold”. But if you had to go 145, 255, 545, 725 and there’s 10 minutes between 725 and your opener, that sucks. Peopel are bad about this shit at meets and sometimes you have to be a dick about it and just skip folks and get your weight in. I don’t mind waiting for a dude to get his knees wrapped but folks will fuck around forever in the warm up room soemtimes and that can fuck you up if you let it.

Spot the other guys on your rack/bench in the warm up room and demand they spot you back. You’ve come to far to get hurt on a warm up weight.

Deadlift warm-ups are overrated (at full meets). If you squatted and benched already, you’re pretty “warm”. If I open at 700ish, my warm ups are 135 x2, 315 x2, (straps up) 495 x1, 605 x1. Four sets and honestly, I could skip 135 just as easily.

Get a good handoff. If you’re shirted, try and find three guys that know how to hand off a big bench. This can be a make or break.

As my arms and lats have grown, I find that talc on my lats and arm pits helps a bit on deads.

Between lifts don’t think about the lift. Check out the wives and GFs in the audience. A lot of lifters have fine chicks that they drag along to these things. A few minutes before you go up to the platform, tune everything out and get with the mission.

Compliment everyone on their hard lifts- even the weaker guys. This sport has been so kind and supportive to me. I’d never like to be anything but kind and supportive back.

Thank your spotters when they catch your weight. They just saved your ass and you don’t even know them.

Thank the folks at the table when they write down your next attempt. Chances are that this is someone’s wife or sister or something that don’t even lift but she was willing to come out and help all day for no pay.

Don’t mess with your gear in the middle of a training cycle unless absolutely necessary. Decide what gear you’re going to use before the cycle and stick with it.

Open LIGHT. Especially on bench and deadlift. Squats are more predictable, but bench and deadlift can be all over the place. Bombing out SUCKS, so don’t let it happen to you.

Pick 2-3 main movements for each lift and stick with them for the training cycle. Don’t mind fuck yourself during the cycle by switching everything around if you have one off day. This requires confidence.

Help everyone else in the gym that’s prepping for a meet and they will help you.

During the meet, show support for the other lifters. This will help you relax and enjoy yourself between attempts without burning you out from stress. Make friends. Don’t be a fucking dick.

Enjoy the process.

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
Small steps add up over the long-run.

I didn’t start lifting to be small, weak, or injured.[/quote]
It took me a long time to figure this one out.

[quote]four60 wrote:
The hardest thing for me to learn was to not train for a pump and keep a log.
After you train for a couple years you believe that you know all you need to.

Now write out what your going to do before you hit the gym. Not just the main lifts. But have a plan.[/quote]
This and NATOR’s “training smarter leads to training harder” maybe two of the best pieces of advice that 90% of lifters fail to learn. I so wish I had opened my mind and took this advice when I was younger.

I learned something new today.

The smallest changes to how you get your bench shirt on makes a HUGE diffrence. Usually I will have the gym owner do it, since he uses closed back shirts, which I have. Well today I had my buddy thats more familiar with open back shirts put it on. Instead of pushing the sleeves on like the one guy does it, my buddy pulled in on and over me and got the shoulders seated.

I hit a big PR off 2 boards (335+4 sets of chains) and The shirt marked me up in all the right places, and It was so much more comfortable.

a small touch makes a BIG diffrence.