I have been asked several questions about powerlifting by people
interested in starting out recently. Although I do not consider myself
an expert, or even good at it, I have been involved with powerlifting
competition since 1978. And I feel competent to give some beginning
First thing I see people wanting to start out do is try to find out
the records. Be they state or be they national don't do this. When you
are looking up the records you are looking for the very best lifts in
the sport. You are not looking for what your actual competition will
probably do. Although there are some out there who will set records in
thier fist competition this is rare. And can be
discouraging. It would be better to get your hands on the results of
competition in the area where you are able to compete. This could be
thru Powerlifting USA or it could be on a website. Deepsquatter
probably knows where you could find such a site if he does not have
this info on his own.
Second comes equipment. A belt, as far as I am concerned, is a must.
And wraps are a good idea, if you don't go RAW. But don't concern
yourself with a shirt or suit for your first competition. It would be
a shame to drop the cash on that stuff and then find out you really
don't like competition. Get your feet wet. If you like competing then
look into purchasing your assistance gear.
Third be ready for anything. Competition is NOT like what you do in
the gym. First comes the crowded warmup room. You will wait in line
between warmups. Using the 10s and 5s during a warmup will slow this
process down even more. Get used to warming up using only 45s and 25s.
After your warmup it may be a half hour before your first lift. You
must be ready for that. Then it may be an hour or more between your
attempts. You simply are NOT lifting under ideal conditions.
Fourth get the rules of lifting. The way you are benching in the gym
is probably not what the judges want. You must pause on your chest in
competition. This will take anywhere from 15 to 25 lbs off of what you
can do. In the squat the tops of your hips must go below the tops of
your knees. I keep hearing guys tell each other "yeah that was
parralel" Parallel is NO GOOD! The deadlift must be done without the
bar riding on your quads or hitching.
Fifth chosing your first attempt. You don't want go as heavy as you
can from the offset. I like to use the best weight I have been able to
do for 3 reps on my first attempt. My second attempt is what I believe
my max to be. My 3rd attempt is a personal record. Here is the reason
why. If you miss an attempt, the weight will not go back down. You
must use the same weight or more on your next attempt. So if you try
to much your first attempt and miss it on your next 2 attempts you are
disqualified from the competition. This is called bombing out.
I figure what ever I can do for 3 reps is probably about 90% of my
best. So if I miss my next 2 attempts my score will not be overly
pathetic. Yet if I can do it 3 reps it is a pretty sure thing I will
get it for one in the competition. Provided I have been doing my lifts
LEGALLY in the gym. That is one of the reasons it is important to
train the way you will compete.
Finally if you have already purchased a suit or shirt, the meet is
NOT the place to try them out. They change your form drastically. You
should be practicing with your equipment at least 3 workouts before
Overall if you are at all interested in competing. COMPETE. Don't
wait until you think you are ready. You must compete to learn what I
have just told you. To learn how to be ready to do your best. I recall
one individual concerned that better lifters would not like beginners
jumping in because meets are overcrowded. I can tell you from
experience that since we have all these new federations now, they
rarely are. Other concerns are that someone will not lift much weight
and make a fool of themselves. I have seen nothing but respect for
other lifters at these meets. Regardless of what they lift. In fact
often the better lifters will aproach the less endowed lifters and
offer training advice. The grass roots lifters are the ones supporting
the sport so the elite lifters can go to the world championships and
make us proud. So become one of them.
I believe this covers all the little pearls I wanted to drop at this
point. Hope it has been some help to somebody. It has been good typing
practice for me.