Stepping on the platform for the first time can be scary.
The first few competitions you’ll feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest. Don’t worry it won’t actually. Instead of focusing on the lift set-up you’re focused on getting off the platform as fast as you can which usually results in a missed attempt. Relax, take a deep breath and step on the platform with confidence – it’s just as if you’re training in the gym, there’s no need to panic. Here are six reasons you may not be hitting those numbers you were hoping for on the platform:
1. Rushing warm-ups & attempts
The warm-up room can be chaotic. It can be hard to organize all of your warm-ups according to when your first attempt begins. This is usually when warm-ups are rushed and you either finish warming up too soon or you miss a warm-up since your first attempt is too close to take another warm-up.
Communicate with other lifters, have your warm-ups and attempts written down, know where you are on the list of lifters and listen to the announcements to ensure you get a proper warm-up in. Having someone work as your handler is also a great way to make sure your warm-ups are stress-free and properly timed. Let someone else do the worrying for you so you can focus on your lifts.
2. Jumping commands
Newer lifters tend to jump the commands in the competition because of nervousness, anxiety and/or excitement newer which will then lead to a “NO LIFT”. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you remind yourself and/or your handler to drill this in your head during the warm-ups and before you step on the platform. It also helps to continuously remind yourself over and over during your training sessions in the gym and you’ll be less likely to skip the commands in competition.
3. Lack of food and/or liquids
How do you expect your body to perform optimally if you don’t have enough food or liquids in your body?
Food will provide you with the energy and strength you need to perform optimally. Liquids will allow you to stay hydrated and minimize the chance of dehydration and muscle cramping. Even if you’re not hungry or thirsty, be sure to eat and drink lots of liquids even if it’s a small amount, your body will thank you in the long run.
4. Too bloated
The opposite of not having enough food or liquids is also extremely common. If you do not pack food ahead of time, lifters tend to eat anything and everything, usually fast foods like McDonalds or pizza. This food is extremely heavy and could cause you to have extreme bloat and affect your lifting negatively.
Eat foods that will give you energy not bloat and make you tired. Don’t eat anything you wouldn’t normally eat. Competition day is not the time to experiment.
5. Missing technicalities
The most common thing I see among new lifters is missing basic technicalities. The ones I see the most are having the thumb loops of the wrist wraps on and having the socks, knee sleeves (if applicable) and singlet touching.
Make sure the thumb loops of your wrist wraps are tucked in and not touching the bar during the lift. Also, make sure there is space between the socks, knee sleeves and singlet. If or when they tell you upon arriving on the platform it can mess up your mental game and focus when lifting.
Also, hitching a deadlift or any up and down movement of the bar in any lift is very common, ensure you read the rules of the federation you’re competing in to avoid confusion and frustration.
6. Attempt selection
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have your attempts written down beforehand. Personally, I have a plan A and B written down on the day just in case plans do not work accordingly.
When you weigh in they will ask you for your opening attempt, ensure you have it in both kilograms and pounds. Your first attempt should be no higher than 92% if you’re looking on going 3/3 on any given lift, basically anything you can do for a triple should be a safe opener.
After your first attempt is completed you will have about a minute to give your second attempt, this should be close to a max but usually not a personal record (depending on the person), usually no higher than 98%. After your second attempt you will give your third attempt, this is where you go for a PR, anything over 100%.
About the author
Now 23 years old, Alyssa Smith has been powerlifting since the age of 16. She has provincial, national, and unofficial world records. Her best numbers are a 440lbs squat, 225lbs bench and a 507lbs deadlift. She graduated from the Fitness & Health Promotions Program at Algonquin College and now works with like-minded women to build strength and confidence.