While there’s nothing wrong with doing powerlifting style lifting with no intention of ever competing, for some people, competing in a meet can be motivating, fun, and empowering. A lot of newer lifters wonder whether they’re ready for competition, and worry that their numbers aren’t good enough to compete.
I didn’t start lifting until I was in my thirties, and I was really worried before my first meet that my numbers weren’t good enough, and that I’d get laughed at. At my first meet, I met a bunch of really awesome and supportive people, messed up a bunch of things because I didn’t have a coach, learned from it, and had a great time. Good news for you: a coach from Power Plant Gym can help you avoid some of the rookie mistakes I made! Team PPG just sent three women to Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate’s Raw Dawg meet. And just so you know you are neither too young, nor too old to compete, this team was comprised of a 13-year-old and two 58-year-olds.
Setting the Right Expectations:
Before diving into specifics, it’s important that you establish realistic expectations for your first powerlifting meet. Honestly, for a first meet, a great goal is to learn some new things, and have a good time. I would often make a point of trying to talk to some folks I didn’t know between lifts. It’s also great to watch folks who are in a similar weight class to yourself and putting up big numbers to see their technique.
Many new lifters fear that their numbers may not be competitive enough or that they’ll be laughed off the platform. I’ve always found meet day competitors to be really welcoming to new lifters, and eager to hype each other up. It’s rare to encounter mockery at a meet, even if your numbers are relatively low. Remember, everyone starts somewhere, and competing is a significant milestone in your powerlifting journey.
Meeting the Technical Requirements:
The most important aspect of being platform-ready is ensuring that you can complete your lifts while adhering to the rules of your chosen federation. Having a ton of weight on the bar doesn’t matter if you fail lifts for not adhering to the rules. Different powerlifting federations have slightly varying rules, but some general guidelines apply to all of them:
- Squat: You must squat to the required depth, which typically means breaking parallel. This means that your hip crease should go below the top of your knee at the bottom of the squat.
- Bench Press: Your butt must remain in contact with the bench throughout the lift. Your feet should also be on the floor. Be attentive to the rules of your federation regarding how much of your foot has to be on the floor, and what are permissible ways to set up your bench.
- Deadlift: A successful deadlift involves lifting the bar with a full lockout at the top. Avoid any hitching or excessive downward movement of the bar during the lift. That will result in the dreaded red light on your lift.
Make sure that you are consistently performing these lifts in accordance with the rules before considering competition. In a meet, there are also specific commands that you need to follow. These vary somewhat across federations, but it’s important to get some practice at lifting while getting commands. I’ve seen lifters miss a great lift because they missed a command and it’s heartbreaking! Getting feedback from coaches can be immensely helpful in refining your technique, and making sure that you’re platform ready! At PPG, we offer skill sessions where you can practice your lifts with a coach to work on following commands, or refine the technical elements of your lift.
Understanding Federation Rules:
Each powerlifting federation has its own set of rules and regulations that govern competitions. Make sure you know the specific rules of the federation you plan to compete in. Some federations have stricter guidelines than others, and you don’t want to be caught off guard on meet day. There are rules regarding what gear is allowed, sometimes down to the brand, so be sure you know what will be permitted.
You can typically find the rulebook for your chosen federation on their website or by contacting the federation directly. Take the time to read and comprehend these rules thoroughly. Pay close attention to equipment requirements, drug-testing policies, and any specific lifting standards.
Choosing Your Lifts:
If you’re hyped to compete but have certain lifts that you’re still working on, you have the option to choose certain lifts. Instead of participating in the “full power” category, which includes all three lifts (squat, bench press, and deadlift), you can opt for a “single lift” or “push-pull” category.
- Single Lift: As the name would suggest, in this category, you’ll pick just one lift, such as the bench press or deadlift. It’s an excellent choice if you feel more confident in a specific lift and want to compete in a less overwhelming environment.
- Push-Pull: In this category, you compete in the bench press and deadlift, and skip the squat. This might be a good option if squatting causes knee pain, or you’re struggling to hit depth.
In the world of powerlifting, the decision to compete is a personal one, driven by your goals, dedication, and enthusiasm for the sport. Remember that there’s no strict threshold for being “platform-ready.” As long as you’ve mastered the technical aspects of your lifts, understand the rules of your chosen federation, and are committed to the journey, you’re well-prepared for your first powerlifting meet. Embrace the supportive community, soak in the experience, and revel in the satisfaction of stepping onto the competition platform, regardless of your numbers. Your journey in powerlifting has officially begun!