Planning Your First Powerlifting Meet to Perfection

WRITTEN BY Andrew Richardson

You’ve trained day in and day out for the big meet, but did you miss something in preparation for that day?

It’s not just about increasing your strength before the big meet. There are many of factors that go in to having a successful comp day.

Read this blog post with advice for your first powerlifting meet.

Preparing for a Powerlifting Meet

Have A Plan

No plan means you’re planning to fail. Go into every training cycle with realistic goals based on your own ability. Do the basics well.

There is no point struggling with the advanced exercises; the simple stuff works just as well, if not better, in most cases.

When I say “basics,” I mean practice the sport and do the skill work (squat, bench, and deadlift). There is no need to have every band, chain, and block on one movement.

Taper Your Training

Peak your training for your first powerlifting meet, but build your strength in training. Test it at the meet.

I can’t stand people who max out every training session a week before comp. There is no logical sense to it.

Take a week off before your powerlifting meet to allow for full recovery and restoration from the entire training program. This allows any final adaptions and to allow the CNS to super-compensate for the comp.

I make all my athletes do this, as recovery comes first in my books.

Always train the skill of your sport, practice the comp standard squat, bench press, and deadlift.

The farther you are away from your powerlifting meet: do plenty of variations of these movements to make them harder. Then when it comes closer to comp (eight weeks or sooner) increase the skill work and drop the variations.

Your first powerlifting meet training should be simple and obvious, but far too many people miss this idea.

Find A Crew 

Train with a group of lifters if possible. This will make it easier, as they will keep you accountable for your effort/training. This is best point on the list.

You will have so much fun training with a group of people who are like you, plus you will get PRs far quicker than being on your own.

Powerlifting Meet Tips - Powerlifting Blog

Start Tracking

When you are training for a powerlifting meet, you should from the start track what you eat, sleep, body weight and energy levels. Use a log book or a diary for this.

The reason for this is so you can see what days you sleep well and train well.

What foods help with your training (give you the most energy). When you are tracking your weight this will not only make you stay focused on staying in your weight class but you will know how much you can eat without it affecting your performance.

What I mean this if you lose too much weight you will feel weak, if you gain too much you will feel bloated and heavy. It’s about finding the right balance for you.

If it is your first powerlifting meet: never cut weight as it is pointless you will hate it. Leave the weight cutting to the professionals going for All Time World Records.

On the day of the powerlifting meet eat lots of carbs after weigh in these should be pasta and rice for the slow releasing energy over the day.

For quick energy: sugary drinks and sweets for the glucose. Make sure you eat foods you like, never force feed food you hate.

Get Yourself Checked Out

For your own health and well being if you have any niggles or tight spots see a physio and or a sports therapist.

This way they may prescribe some treatment or relive you of any pain or doubts you might have. If in doubt get someone to look at it.

This will not only put your mind at ease but help the recovery/adaptation process.

Advice For Frst Powerlifting Meet - Powerlifting Blog

Have A Clear Goal In Mind

When going to a powerlifting meet you need to have a clear goal in mind. Don’t just turn up and lift, set yourself some goals and they have to be realistic based on how well you have trained and what level you are at in this sport.

Don’t get hung up on what other lifters are selecting for their attempts focus on you.

Your goal is to go 9/9 and get 3 PR’s on the Squat, Bench Press and the Deadlift.

Make sure you are aware of your own federations rules such and if RAW means no knee wraps or means literally RAW nothing on your knees and just a belt.

Train to the competition rules, squat below parallel, bench with a pause and lockout your deadlifts (no hitching).

Train as you compete, compete as you train.

Make your training harder than the powerlifting meet so when you are going to your first powerlifting meet you find it easy. That way you will always set new PR’s.

When training please replicate this on meet day. Walk on the platform as if it is your own gym do your own routine when warming up.

This is what you have been doing day in day out. Why change it on the day that matters the most?

Do what you know what works and what makes you feel confident lifting that barbell on your first powerlifting meet.

Do This Way Before The Meet

Make sure you send out your Membership Form to your Division and it is paid.

The same applies for the National Membership.

Also make sure the entry form for the comp is sent in, usually four weeks before the powerlifting meet starts at the very latest.

Once sent in, give it a week then contact the competition organizer or your divisional secretary to confirm your entry form has been received.

Depending on you far you need to travel, you might want to have a hotel booked for the weekend of the powerlifting meet, or if you are struggling, ask on social media if anyone can put you up. Offer to pay for gas/dinner as a thank-you.

Usually, everyone is really welcoming and won’t see a lifter get stuck.

Powerlifting Meet Girl - Powerlifting Blog

Alsomake sure you tell your boss you are away well in advance. I’ve seen numerous lifters having to pull out from a powerlifting meet because they forgot to get the time off work.

Scope out the area of the powerlifting meet and see what there is to do before and after the powerlifting meet —something you and your friends, partner, or family can do.

This makes the weekend better for everyone, as not everyone wants to be in the same room from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at night.

If it’s your first powerlifting meet this might be a nice tip: Watch videos of lifters to see how the seasoned veterans lift.

Again, similar to the above point, this is so you can learn specific technical/mental cues to help improve your platform and perform at your best.

Get the required equipment for the meet (belts, straps, knee-length socks, etc.). All must wear knee-length socks for the deadlifts; this is to stop your shins from cutting.

Each meet will provide its own chalk, so there is no need to bring your own unless you’d like to.

However, bring your own belt and lifting wrist wraps (if you use them).

Week Before The Meet

You are getting close! Ninety-nine percent of the work is done. Here is what you need to do next to have a successful first powerlifting meet.

Don’t do a last-minute water cut. Be the strongest version of yourself, have fun, and enjoy the day.

Why waste all the hard work being at a consistent weight to just lose it all? Madness.

Make sure you pack everything two days before going because it saves the stress of worrying last minute in case you forget something.

See if others are staying at same hotel as you, and perhaps you can help a fellow lifter out by carpooling.

Keep checking on social media in case there are last-minute changes to the timetable or schedule.

The lifting schedule should be up the week of the powerlifting meet, ideally exactly a week before (this gives everyone an idea on how the day will run).

Important: Sleep more! Try to get to bed earlier the week before.

Trust me. You will need the extra hour’s sleep; you won’t sleep much the night before your first powerlifting meet.

Day Before The Meet

Nothing fancy or new. Just follow these points:

  • Get an early night.
  • Don’t stay up late drinking or doing something silly. You are here to compete, not take part.
  • Make sure you know where the venue is in relation to your hotel and that your bags are packed and ready to go for the powerlifting meet from your hotel.
  • Have your food ready for the day.
  • Get your music and motivation ready for your first powerlifting meet.

Finally, all you have to do is relax and enjoy the day ahead.

Sumo Deadlift - Powerlifting Blog

On Meet Day

You have made it! Today is the day where all you have worked for is put on the line.

Now here are a few points that will stop any mishaps from happening during your first powerlifting meet.

Get there early so you can be one of the first to check in and weigh in. Once your kit is checked and you are weighed in, have your openers taken then go eat and drink.

Keep drinking water all day and eating all day. Since you are maxing out nine times, you need to keep your body fueled for the whole day.

I usually have milkshakes, energy bars, pasta, water, sugary drinks, and sweets ready for me all day.

How To Pick Your Attempts For Your First Powerlifting Meet

A simple rule for your selection attempts: Open light and finish heavy.

It doesn’t matter what you open with. Finish with a new PR.

Make good jumps between attempts. Go for the 5-pound PR instead of the 50-pound one, as you more than likely to get hurt.

We are in this sport for the long run. We all do this sport to be better at every powerlifting meet, but don’t forget to have fun during your first powerlifting meet. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Listen for the MC for when you need to warm up for your attempts. Respect the ref’s and the MC’s decisions at all times. If you get red lighted, ask why and then you can see what you did wrong. It’s always good to get feedback.

When you are lifting on the platform, ask for spotters if you want a specific hand out on the bench press.

Make sure you warm up in advance of your scheduled flight to lift. I’d rather have to slow down my warm-up than to speed up my warm-up. Help others warm up—not just yourself.

Heavy Squat - Powerlifting Blog

Do your own warm-up, but respect others if they are the flight before you. Let them take priority on warming up.

Everyone is really friendly, and if you just ask for a weight on the bar they will happily oblige.

Get a nice spot close to the platforms, warm-up area, and bathrooms/changing rooms for ease of access and an area for you and your club to set their fort up.

Set up your cameras (if people are recording). Some clubs bring down cameras on tripods to record the meet or their own lifters.

Get down early to set them up, and speak with the organizer on where they want them to be set up.

All of the above will make your day move a lot smoother.

After Your First Powerlifting Meet

This is just a quick list of things all lifters should be doing.

Thank the referees, spotters, loaders, meet organizers, and your competitors.

You should always arrange post-comp drinks/meals with your friends/competitors. This allows for you to learn from each other, review the day, see what can be better, and even get to train with your friends across the area.

It’s always good to learn from others.

You also might want to take a week off after your powerlifting meet to allow for full recovery and restoration from competing. Again, it’s a rule I have all my athletes do.

They have just competed, so they need a long recovery period. I make them de-load every fourth week by dropping intensity to 50 percent on all exercises and halving all sets and reps.

This allows for full restoration and recovery from building each week.

I know I covered a lot of information here, and I didn’t go into too much detail on each point, as I would saturate your brain.

I like to keep it simple for those competing and those new to the sport.

I hope at least one of the tips for first powerlifting meet is helpful to each individual and that they can take and apply it to their next powerlifting meet.

If not, then Bret Contreras has 20 more tips for your first powerlifting meet!

Tips On How to Conquer, Dominate and Crush Your 1st Powerlifting Meet

Powerlifting Playbook

At my 1st powerlifting meet I was nervous as hell. Doubt filled my mind… “Am I ready to compete?”, “Am I strong enough?” and “Are my numbers any good?”

You might have the same doubts… That is EXACTLY where the Powerlifting Playbook can help you

Click Here For More Information


Author: Andrew Richardson
My name is Andrew Richardson, I am 21 years old studying Applied Sport Science at Teesside University. I am the Head Coach of Teesside Barbarians Powerlifting Club, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach to Coleraine Grammar Rowing and Rugby teams. I have competed for Ireland in Powerlifting, Ulster Rugby Squad and Northern Ireland in Athletics. My coaching expertise covers rehab/prehab, injury prevention, strength & conditioning, speed, power, fat loss and hypertrophy.

Get your hands on my cheat sheet for setting up training programs that took a 132lbs. skinny weakling from not being able to bench the bar to deadlifting 3x his own body weight and winning silver at the nationals.



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