Preparing for your First Powerlifting Competition

Hey Everyone!

So I’m two weeks out from my next powerlifting competition and my nerves are nowhere near what they were like this close to my first competition in July. Along with worrying about making my lifts I was also worrying about the competition in general. My coach filled me in on pretty much everything but I also spent some time scouring the internets looking for any tips or advice.

Typically the day went really well with me placing 4th in my weight class with a 117.5KG Deadlift but today I’m going to run through everything from the build up to the day, the competition itself and what happens after you do your lift.

1-3 Months Out

Deciding to Compete

Depending on whether the competition is National, European, Worlds etc. you’ll have to decide if you’re going to compete or not. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to compete you’ll need to register for the competition. You’ll also need to make sure that your membership is up to date for the competition that you’ve signed up for and if it’s a European or World competition you will have had to have met the qualifying numbers and probably received an invitation to compete.

Pick your Weight Class

If you’re planning to cut weight for a competition the earlier you decide this the safer and easier it will be. Dropping weight may have an effect on your strength so that is also something to take into consideration. The longer that you can do a cut for the less stressful and better for your body it will be. Don’t do like me and decide 4 weeks out that you want to loose 4KG! FYI – I didn’t loose the 4KG haha. For this comp I’m going to be competing in the same weight class as last time so no need to cut any weight.

Book a Hotel

If you know that you will be travelling to a different part of the the country it’s probably best to stay over the night before so that you’re body is under as little stress as possible the day of. This is especially important for anyone that might be on the line of their weight class. You want to minimise weight fluctuations as little as possible until after your weigh in. Typically weigh ins are between 7am – 9am the morning of the competition, but some now do a morning and afternoon weigh in depending on when your flight will be lifting. Even so, who doesn’t love a few extra hours in bed as opposed to getting up at all hours to travel to the competition.

1-2 Weeks Out

Check your Flight Time

Usually about a week to two weeks out they will release the flight times for the competition. If they are going to be doing two weigh ins this will be when you find out which one you will be doing. If will also give you an idea of the number of people in your weight class. Although not all lifters in the same class may lift in the same flight – depending on numbers. Knowing your approx flight times will definitely set your mind at rest ahead of competition day.

Check your gear

This is a major, major part of any competition. Depending on what lift or lifts you are doing you will need different gear. Also depending on the competition you may be able to get away with shorts and a t-shirt instead of a singlet, especially if it’s your first competition. But pay attention to the registration as this will be highlighted when you sign up.


  • Lifting shoes – usually converse but I wear the Nike Metcon 2’s
  • Lifting Socks – as long as they cover your shins and don’t go above your knees you’re good! I wear football socks
  • Singlet – must be approved for your federation. I’m in the process of getting one of these and I’ll probably go with an adidas one. If you are allowed wear short make sure that they are not compression shorts, I’ve seen some girls have hassle for this.
  • T-shirt – Not necessary for deadlift but can be worn under a singlet – I would wear one as the singlets can be pretty awful looking and ill fitting
  • Belt – no necessary but if you are wearing one make sure it’s approved by your fed. I don’t wear a belt yet as I haven’t gotten to the point where I need one.


  • Lifting Shoes
  • Singlet
  • T-shirt – has to be worn under singlet for squat
  • Belt


  • Lifting Shoes
  • Singlet
  • T-shirt – has to be worn under singlet for squat
  • Belt

Obviously check your own fed’s rulebook for variations and additions to gear! This is just what my current federation allows.

Decrease your trainingfirst-comp-pic-1

This will fully come down to what your coach recommends but in the 10 leading up to my competition I completely stop all of my heavy lifts and concentrate on just light accessory work to keep the blood flowing. Foam rolling also becomes a major part of the last 10 days. I do a bit normally but in the lead up to competition foam rolling is huge for me. I also bring mine to the competition and do a good 30 minutes to an hour of foam rolling the night before the comp. It’s also good to have your foam roller with you on the day for any tightness that you might be feeling.

1 Day Out

Decide your opening lifts

Between yourself and your coach know in your head what your opener is and also what your warm up will be. Having this in your head going in is such a good way to stay calm.

Relax, Relax, Relax

You’ve done all that you can! There’s no point getting worked up at this point, there’s not much you can do. Do some foam rolling, take a bath to relax the muscles, or hit up a sauna or jacuzzi if your hotel has one, and get an early night!

Competition Day

Weigh In’s

Be at the venue with enough time that you’re not rushing. You will have to do a gear check and then your weigh in (if it’s in the morning, I haven’t had the joy of an afternoon weigh in yet.) You’ll also tell them your opener at this time. After weigh in you’re free to go until the competition starts. Depending on your flight you want to be back with enough time to warm up. This is the perfect time to go away and get a good breakfast, something with carbs and protein to fuel your lifts.

2016-07-23-08_fotorWarm Up

This was the bit that I was most worried about. But surprisingly I didn’t have an issue with warming up. Everyone was super nice and lets you jump in while they’re taking their rest. The coaches that are there were also helping me to rack up the weight that I needed as well. I ended up warming up to my opener to set my mind at rest but that’s something you should agree with your coach ahead of the competition.

Begin your warmup when the flight ahead of you starts lifting. That will give you plenty of time to warm up properly, taking proper breaks and ensuring your form is good.

The Lifts

Once your flight is called you’ll all line up. When they call your name you go up and do your lift. Keep an eye on the judges for hand signals and instructions. After your 1st lift, and if you don’t fail it, go up to the table and tell them what you want your next lift to be. If you fail your lift you will repeat if for your 2nd lift.2016-07-23-10_fotor


Once you’ve done your lifts then you’re all done and dusted. You can wait around for the prizes to see where you placed if you want. It can be a bit of a long day if you’ve lifted early on in the day so you can always go away and come back for the prizes. Just make sure you let someone know that you’re leaving. It’s also important to refuel after your lifts so make sure you get some form of food into you.

Days following competition

Take it handy

Your body has just been through an ordeal, particularly if you’ve done more than one lift in a day so you should take it easy for the days following the competition. I know I didn’t go back to training for about a week afterwards and I was well and truly exhausted. Don’t try to go back too early, you might end up doing more harm than good. Your immune system will be pretty weak at this point, potentially leaving you open to catch something a lot easier.

If any of you are reading this and are in the lead up to a powerlifting competition, the best of luck! You will most definitley smash it! Just keep your head and don’t leave anything on the platform!

Keep Lifting,
Sophie x


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