Powerlifting, Powerlifting Technique

The 5 biggest mistakes Powerlifters make come meet day

I’ve done a lot of competitions in my time but I was out of competitive lifting for a couple of years between 2013-2015 due to a combination of injury and training back up to what I would consider a competitive standard of strength.  I spend 2 days at the 2016 Scottish classic at the weekend and was being reminded a lot of some of the silliest or biggest mistakes that I have made in the past being made again and again by lifters.  Here are 5 of the easiest to avoid mistakes that can ruin your meet.


1 – Not knowing the equipment regulations!

It doesn’t matter what federation your compete with you can easily find the rule.  Each federation has it’s own rules when it comes to the Apparel you can wear or the level or manufacturer of supportive equipment you can use.  There really isn’t any reason why you should fall foul of these rules or regulations other than ignorance or a lack of preparation.  Read and understand your rule book so you are ready for the meet.

The lifter opening up in squat before me at the weekend timed out of his squats because he slipped on his SBD knee sleeves over the top of his socks and wasn’t allowed to take his opener until his sleeves and socks weren’t touching.  That is utterly ridiculous I can hear you saying in your head.  Think as you may rules are rules and if you want to lift in a certain federation you should know and abide by them.  The lifter in question ended up missing out on one of his squat attempts because he couldn’t pull his socks down in a timely manner.

Two lifters also rocked up with Adidas singlets which they weren’t allowed to wear.  They then went around asking if other lifters had spare singlets.  On my check list I always bring a spare set of kit for idiots who can’t read [/sarcasm].


2 – Eating like a Pig because it’s meet day.

Powerlifting is not a high energetics sport, the metabolic demands are very low when it comes to a meet if you don’t believe me take a look at the superheavy weights at the competition you do if powerlifting had a high energy demand then there wouldn’t be so many fatties!

Where a lot of lifters end up thinking they need to bring the contents of with them normally stems from them cutting weight or crashing down to weight over the week leading up to the meet.  Hungry people tend to buy a lot of stupid shit that’s why you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you will buy a lot of stupid shit you don’t need.

You should eat like doing a normal training session doing so will provide you with even energy through the meet (instead of crashing horribly in the bench press warm up), avoid any nasty bloat and stop you making the toilet into a horrible mess.  Instead of brining 3 birthday cakes and a loaf for your meet nutrition think of bringing some caffeine, some sports drinks, some fruit and plenty of water you can eat like a pig after you have finished your meet.


3 – Cutting weight for no particular reason.

As soon as a sport has weight classes it seems developing absurd eating habits and even borderline obsessions and disorders becomes the norm.  The amount of lifters I have seen running around in big bags or suffering horribly at the start of the meet because they have put themselves through some retarded water cutting protocol is crazy.

If you lift in a tested federation you weigh in 2 hours before lifting starts in a best case scenario, if you lift in an untested federation you have 24 hours from where you can replenish your fluids.  That is some difference if you don’t compete in a federation that has a 24 hour weigh in you can forget about cutting that 5 kilos in water weight because it’s gonna make your meet a lot more stressful than it needs to be.


4 – Not bringing a friend to handle the attempts card.

If you don’t have a coach then it can be pretty annoying having to remember to get your pen and attempt card ready for post lift so you can hand it into the table on time.  Luckily this can be easily avoided by bringing a good friend or partner along to your meet and have them worry about writing down your attempts and even taking your videos.

If you haven’t had someone along to help you with this when you finally have a coach or friend taking care of these small details you will be astonished at how much easier the competition is when all you have to worry about is the lifting.


5 – Opening heavy and trying to YOLO their third attempt.

I heard something on social media or at the meet from the weekend the direct quote is “leave nothing on the platform” this to my mind is the worst advice any lifter could follow.  Ideally you should be setting personal bests on the platform and smoking them from attempt 1 through to 3.  It is a delicate balance you need to strike from meet to meet and with your own training but if you can get the balance right the momentum and confidence you can build is by far better than any programme, piece of equipment or supplement you will ever come across for you performance.  Nothing leads to great performance than and unflappable certainty in your own ability.

My advise would be to open with something you can hit for a comfortable 3 rep set.  Take something you could hit for a balls out double on your second attempt and then look to dominate a smooth single on you third attempt.

If I am coaching in a flight of lifters nothing makes my eyes light up more than someone struggling with their second attempt as it makes beating them very easy since they are effectively only taking 6 lifts (or in the case of monumental efforts or great performances 7-8).  If you opponent is making their second attempt look like another warm up then attempt selection become extremely difficult because you have no idea what they are capable of!

Powerlifting is a sport where the person who accumulates the best total in their weight class wins not the person who makes the best YOLO personal best on one of the three disciplines.  Undercook yourself a bit and you will start to see the joys of momentum from meet to meet.


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