10 Things Women Need To Know When Competing In Your First Power Lifting Competition
Most women avoid competing in PowerLifting meets because of fear.
Fear of not being strong enough.
Fear of not knowing what to do.
Fear of not being competitive at their first meet.
Most women sadly have already given up before they even give it a try.
Not from lack of strength, not from lack of desire, but from fear of knowing the unknown and taking the steps to compete for the first time.
Over my years of coaching I have coached thousands of women with strength and lifting weights and hundreds that have competed in Power Lifting.”
From brand new novice lifters all the way up to national champions, national record holders, Worlds Medalists and more. All ages ranging from 17 up to 70 I have coached.
I can tell you this, once you get on the platform it is one of the most amazing things you could ever do for so many reasons.
It doesn’t matter what your level is, we all start somewhere.
I did my first competition WAY back in 1999. That’s a long time ago.
To be honest I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just a guy who liked lifting heavy weights who was more into Body Building than anything else. I just loved lifting so me and a few friends decided to compete.
I had a great learning experience, but without a coach or knowing what I was doing I ended up DQ’ing (aka “Bombing” out) because I didn’t know the rules and my lifts were too heavy. I was a gym lifter and I didn’t know the difference between a “Gym Lift” compared to a “Competition Lift”.
Sadly not long after this competition I couldn’t not compete because of a bad back injury that set me back for over 10 years.
After being away from lifting heavy weights and competing for so many years when I recovered and got the chance to get back on the platform I pushed my fears aside and in 2013 me and my first HW Team stepped back on the platform.
Fast forward many years later and I had to overcome a lot to compete and get back on the platform.
Since then I have had the opportunity to compete as part of Team Canada 4 times, set a National Record (squats), set a Common Wealth Deadlift Record, took home 1st Overall at Common Wealth Championships and also took home 2 Medals from Worlds (Finland and Texas).
You never know what you are capable of doing or where competing may take you.
But you will never know what could happen unless you get comfortable being uncomfortable and step on the platform for the first time.
Here are some lessons learned for me over competing a few times, and I will have more things that I will learn again after this weekend.
I am always a student and always learning and trying to improve both as a coach and an athlete.
1. Have Fun
Bottom line is this HAVE DAMN FUN.
Don’t stress out if your lifts aren’t heavy enough.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Don’t worry that your not getting in the top 3 of your class or breaking a record (yet), HAVE FUN.
2. Learn, Learn, Learn
The day of the power lifting meet is a strange day. There is LOTS to learn.
The flow of the meet.
The warm ups for your lifts.
The weigh ins, the rack heights, the safety heights, the flights of the lifting order, the rules, there is SO much to learn so be sure to be a sponge and take it all in.
3. Plan For A Long Day
The day of the power lifting meet is a LONG ASS DAY. For us weigh ins start at 7am and then the meet starts at 9. We will be there until at least 5pm.
LONG DAY, but an amazing day none the less.
Be prepared for a long day so bring food, bands, lots of good food, music, foam rollers, coffee and more.
Don’t expect perfect warm ups for your lifts, don’t expect your day to flow like clockwork. It’s a crazy long day but enjoy it and have fun.
4. Don’t Expect PR’s
It’s ok to want to get PB’s or PR’s or whatever you call getting a best lift, but don’t expect it.
If you are having a great day, you feel great, the crowd got you pumped, then yes you might get a few PB’s, then go for it, but don’t expect it.
If you are planning to get PB’s in your first meet you are in for a wake up call.
You have to deal with improper warm ups, different bars, getting on the platform, the crowd in front of you, the chaos of the warm up room, a long day, stress, fatigue, nerves and more.
If you get a PB that is awesome, but don’t expect to pull your 3 PB’s at your first meet. Be happy to make most of your lifts on your first meet.
5. Wait For Judges Commands & KNOW The Rules
This was a big one when I put our first team in the last competition. There was so much to learn with rules, commands, judging and more. However the best way to learn is to get in the middle and figure it out. By competing and coaching at the last meet I learned so much, and this time I will learn even more.
Be sure to pay attention to the judges commands. Nothing hurts more than getting a nice lift and failing it because you didn’t wait for the rack command.
A great example is look at this video of me failing my 3rd squat attempt. Notice my foot at the end of the lift, I got the lift but failed on a technicality.
6. Get Your Opening Lifts
This is very very important and I am seeing a lot of our lifters at Heavyweights Training Center doing this and I am trying to not let it happen.
Don’t get greedy and don’t miss your opening lifts.
Your openers keep you in the game, they set you up for your next two attempts. There is NO need to open with anything crazy.
I learned this lesson back in 1999 when my goal was to bench 400 lbs at the meet. My bench back then was STRONG and I wanted to prove how strong I was.
I had hit a gym bench of 405 for 4 so my goal was 400 for 1 at the meet.
I opened with 372 lbs. Way too much.
1st attempt I failed because I was on my toes.
2nd attempt I failed because of my butt moving.
3rd attempt I was gassed and missed it.
I missed my big bench because I was greedy at my opener.
Don’t miss lifts and DO NOT miss your opener.
7. Equipment Check
I am competing in “Classic” division so our only equipment is a singlet, belt, wrist wraps, chalk and lifting shoes. I have limited knowledge when it comes to squat suites and power lifting equipped gear.
However even for a raw/classic lifter you need to know your equipment.
This time I am wearing squat shoes which I have never worn before and I also have been using a belt a lot more with my heavy lifts. This has made a huge difference in my training.
Be sure to know your equipment and practice with it.
Word to the wise DO NOT CHANGE anything the day of the meet. Use what you train with and don’t change unless you have to.
For the best in Power Lifting equipment check out Rogue Fitness.
8. Get Videos
When I first competed back in 1999 videos were not happening, heck we were luck to have color pictures :). However with smart phones, ipads, cameras etc videos are an amazing training and teaching tool. It’s also cool to watch your best lifts on video.
Be sure to get videos of your lifts, if possible from all angles. From a coaching POV 45% angle gives me the best learning option, but I try to get as many videos as possible to watch and learn from.
Get videos of the lifts you make and also the lifts you miss. ALL videos are a learning tool to get better and teach you more. A trained eye can see a lot, but a video you can watch many times.
9. A Gym Lift Is NOT Competition Lift
This is a very humbling experience and a big reason a lot of “gym” lifters never step on the platform.
What you do in your own gym, with no videos, no one watching depth, no one calling rules and you getting a PB will NOT count on the platform.
I have seen many people with amazing gym lifts get their numbers deflated when it comes to stepping on the platform.
Big factors to consider, squat depth, pausing on the bench press, judges commands, perfect form, pressure, and many other things contribute to you not getting gym lifts on the platform.
Put your ego aside and realize the difference between a gym lift and a competition lift. If you have a gym lift of 315 lbs. NEVER compare it to a competition lift of 315 lbs.
10. Get used to KG not LBS.
This is a hard one for me and I am doing my best to learn it, I am even going to order Kilo plates for HWTC to train on to improve it.
Getting used to kilos and not pounds is a big learning curve for me. I realized this at the last meet. Everything at my gym and most gyms is lbs. Yet power lifting and weightlifting all use kgs, This is not an easy transition.
So do your homework and know your lifts in kgs not just lbs.
11. BONUS TIP = Compete For You
I had to throw this in thee because everyone compares themselves to everyone else, this is fine, it’s part of life, it’s good to be competitive, I am one of the most competitive people you will ever meet.
But..and this is a BIG BUTT you need to compete for YOU.
I have seen so many people not train because they know someone’s lifts, or because they are afraid their lifts aren’t good enough.
Competing at a power lifting meet is an amazing experience and I think everyone should try it. It may not be for you, but you may LOVE IT and the only way to know is to try it and get on the platform and lift HeavyWeights.
Compete to better yourself, compete to be stronger, compete to have fun, heck compete to win if that fuels you, but always remember to compete for YOU and the amazing experience you will have and the people you meet.
Life is all about the people you know and the experiences you have and doing your first power lifting show is an amazing experience.
If you are interested in competing in PowerLifting and standing on a platform I would love to help you make this happen.
You can contact me HERE.
As well if you are looking for some good reading on Power Lifting check out some books HERE.
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Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.