Getting prepared for a powerlifting meet is not easy.
Even when you have been in a significant number of meets, that feeling still doesn’t go away. You get into a routine: what to do the week before, the night before or the day of the meet. It turns into a sort of a meet ritual.
It’s all you can think about the days leading up to it, and your life begins to revolve around those nine attempts you are going to make on meet day.
To get to this place, you need to be well prepared in terms of programming. Many powerlifters will hire a coach for programming, but what happens if you can’t afford a coach right now? What if you simply don’t want one? How you can you possibly make it on your own?
I choose to do my own programming with my training partner and without the aid of a hired coach. This does not mean I don’t have a ton of help along the way. Here are six things you can do to make you are meet ready if you do not have a hired coach:
Surround yourself with support
The powerlifting community is amazing. Whether you’re at a meet in a new city or a gym in a new province, people are welcoming and inviting. If you are new to the sport, reach out and find a group or partner to train with; there will likely be some powerlifters in your area!
If you can’t find a training partner in your area, try to make a connection with someone at your meet. There are so many likeminded individuals at a powerlifting meet; Stay in contact and create your support system.
I know I couldn’t do it alone.
I am so fortunate to have a partner with me for most of my workouts. My partner is a huge part of my programming: We sit down together and create something that is manageable with my life but also challenging. He is there watching my technique and form and tells me what I need to change.
Having a partner will also keep you honest, even if you think you want to throw on that extra 10 pounds, maybe it’s not the best idea. Having a partner will allow you to have a second opinion, keep you accountable for workouts, and even if you are having an off day they will be there to help pick you back up. Lift with someone who helps lift you up!
On meet day it is especially important to have that support partner around. I can admit I am pretty high maintenance on my meet days, and I could never imagine going in without my partner. Work together to come up with a plan before the meet begins. It makes a huge difference having someone there for even the littlest of things: someone to get you water and food throughout the day and to get you ready for each and every lift. This is your day, find someone you are comfortable with and that you can trust will be looking out for you.
Find the right environment
Do you like to workout without many distractions and prefer a quiet environment? Or do you like a loud gym where you can blast the music and make as much noise as you want?
Everyone is a little bit different.
Find a place where you are comfortable, and that makes you want to go back every single training day. Find a place that will help you reach your goals. Search online for gyms in your area to find something that will suit you and your training needs. Don’t be afraid to go full creep mode and take it to social media: Find other lifters in your local area and see where they’re training! It gives you an added insight into the gym environment before you even walk in the doors for your first test session.
Some days you might feel extremely confident and it is tempting to throw a big number on the bar and smoke it. Some of the best words of advice I’ve gotten from my training partner are to stick to the program, and trust the process.
We’ve all been tempted by the appeal of a fully loaded bar, but this concept is so important to reiterate over and over in your head. Even if you feel like straying from your program today, you are only hurting yourself on meet day.
Heavy singles are a great display of your strength, but the often-dreaded volume work is really what helps to build the strength you need. During training stay honest, focused and smart and you will succeed on the day you have been waiting for.
Another key piece is to avoid getting too fancy.
Powerlifting consists of three lifts: squat, bench and deadlift. Even though you see people on Instagram using bands, deficits, boards, blocks, slingshots, tempo movements and more, those are just accessories to help build their main lifts. Accessories are important to strengthen weaknesses, but remember to stick to the movements and add accessories in to help strengthen those weak points.
For most of those videos you see, that is probably just a small part of their training.
Choose your accessory exercises wisely and not just because they look fun. Make sure you understand how to use the added equipment, so you avoid any risk of injury.
If you are new to powerlifting and don’t have a coach, make sure you do your research.
Research different programming methods to help create your own. When you are at the gym, ask your partner questions about form, technique, and weights.
Get a second opinion on how your sets look.
Asking questions will help in preventing injury and keep you aware of how your lifts look and how your programming is working.
Write down goals
This is a huge part to anything in life and powerlifting is no different.
Sit down after each meet. Write down new goals or refine existing ones. Even if you do not have a coach, goals are something you can always look to, to help keep you moving forward and accountable for the work you need to do to reach your personal milestones.
If you do not have the help of a hired coach, some training days might be a little bit daunting. Maybe you’re in PR territory so you are nervous, or had a long day at work or school and you are feeling a little bit underwhelmed about going to the gym.
Stay positive, look at your goals and stay focused on where you are headed.
You are doing something good for yourself. You are passionate about this amazing sport, and if you get in there and get it done today you are helping your tomorrow self. Don’t set yourself back, get in there, get it done, succeed and make yourself proud!
Remember every single person is different. This is your body and your training. You are in control. Find the right support and environment that will keep you honest, positive and motivated.
About the author
Teighan McIntyre has been powerlifting for two years. She is the 63kg Junior 2015 National and Provincial Champion, and competed at the IPF World Championships in Salo, Finland in June 2015. She is a recreation therapist and a yoga instructor.