New Competitor Info

So you are getting ready to do your first USA Powerlifting powerlifting meet and have some questions about what the day is going to be like?  Here are some resources for first time competitors.

New Lifter Tips

USA Powerlifting has a great website with a checklist for new lifters and some things to think about.  They also have a PDF version to print out!  These lists are pretty exhaustive and include information on timing, equipment, basic rule information, and drug testing.


Whether you have competed in USA Powerlifting before, or you have done a non-USA Powerlifting meet, it is important to be current with the USA Powerlifting rules.  The full rule book can be a bit daunting, so the USA Powerlifting has but together the Lifter’s Handbook which is a great overview of the most important parts of the rules for lifters.

There are always a lot of questions about acceptable underwear and deadlift socks, check out this PDF for additional clarification.

How is the meet run?

How will the day be run?  Here is a basic outline:

  • Pre-meet – This is the time when there is a lot to take care of; show your photo ID and current USA Powerlifting membership to check-in, next have all of your lifting gear checked by the referees, find the competition racks to get your squat and bench rack heights and then ‘weighin’ for that day’s actual bodyweight to be used in scoring.  The posted contest start time may show 9:00 am and this is when the actual lifting starts.  Pre-meet time would then be from 7:00 to 8:30 am and cannot be extended.  Arrive as early as possible as there is typically a line at each point.
    • Meet directors will often provide a preliminary flight schedule within the week of the contest.  You might be asking ‘what is a flight’?  In powerlifting we want the competition to flow pretty smoothly while not causing the lifters to wait too long between attempts.  Flight is the word used for a group of competitors who will do all of their attempts on the same platform in sequential order.  The only reason why the flight schedule is called ‘preliminary’ is because some may not show up for the contest or may have a valid reason to switch flights, all coordinated by the meet director and announced ideally at least thirty minutes before competition start time.
    • Once you know which flight you are in, you will know how early you need to start warming up. Be respectful of those competing before you so that they get their time in the warm-up area to get ready first.
  • The meet! – Contests do have an established that can be confusing initially. Often there can be multiple platforms, flights, and even sessions; know when and where you are lifting.  For example the 2015 WI USA Powerlifting State Open had one session with four platforms, and multiple flights on each platform.  In the example of a three lift meet, the lifting order is squat, then bench and then deadlift.  Some think the deadlift is the most exciting part as you may be trying to beat someone on the last ‘pull’.
    • All lifters on a given platform in the first flight will do their opener squat from the lightest opener to the heaviest, in that flight; then everyone in the first flight will do their second attempt squat, again from lightest to heaviest, and finally their third squat.
    • After the first flight completes their squats then the second flight will do their squats, and so on until all flights for a platform have squatted.  The equipment is changed for bench.
    • The same will happen for bench and then deadlift
    • Be aware when you are up, lifters only have one minute to get the start command on squat or bench from the head referee.  The minute starts from the time the head referee says ‘bars loaded’. There is no start command on deadlift
    •  You may not always follow the same lifter from attempt to attempt as the attempts are rearranged in sequential order as they come in and not mixed in with the current attempts

    Make certain that you plan enough time to eat, hydrate and energize during the contest.

  • Post-meet – make certain you stick around to see if you have been selected for drug testing (even if you bomb out of the meet you can be tested).  And the awards – as it is a competition!

Tips from Experienced Wisconsin Lifters & Coaches:

  • Neal Steinmetz – bring food
  • Aaron Philips – food and water
  • RG Luckow – don’t forget the breifs
  • Kat KasabuskeListen to others, take advice, don’t hurt yourself, be smart, read labels, train harder than your competition, safety first, and don’t give up.
  • Matt Rodock – know the rules, pay attention to commands, watch some full meet videos on YouTube of USA Powerlifting or IPF meets before hand, open with a weight on each lift that you can complete cleanly on a good or bad day
  • Scott Lade – My advice to first time competitors would be about 100 different things but to put it in a nutshell I would tell them to open with some conservative number in the squat! That is an incredibly unnerving situation at every meet, but even more so at meet 1!! You need to get a strong start in the meet and then let it rip. My second bit of advice is to make sure that you have a helper and make sure they know you and they are competent. There is a short amount of time between attempts to talk to the lifter, put in attempts and at the end possibly figure strategy if you’re in a tight battle.  My third piece is to have fun!! I know we all put in a lot of time to improve and I know it’s pretty serious business when its meet time BUT it’s also the day you get to let it all hang out and show your colors. Have a blast. Watch me Sat the 17th. I’ll be in my approx. 80th meet and I’ll be having more fun than anyone.  My last bit of advice is for the future of new lifters. DO NOT take yourself too seriously. Every one that competes has an idea or a thought. Listen to it and think about it for second. Nobody has all the answers; nobody is that great that they need not take advice or tips. You can make a ton of friends in this sport if you’re able to give a little and take a little. Enjoy
  • Erin Walterman – My main advice for new competitors is to sign up for a meet. No one is ever ready enough or strong enough so just sign up. After that, read the rule book, make a meet day checklist, don’t cut to make a weight class at the first meet, and pick easy openers. At the meet ask others lifters for help. Powerlifters are some of the most generous and upright people I know. That’s it, keep it simple and have fun.
  • Jason Christus – Find at least one good training partner or a small group of training partners that can give you constructive feedback on your lifts. If this is unavailable seek out competitive lifters before the meet so you can at least have someone with competitive experience make sure your lifts will pass at a meet. I have seen people struggle with squat depth at a first meet only because they didn’t prepare by finding training partners or other lifters to help them. That will make sure your first meet is as fun as possible. I have also seen several lifters show up without a singlet not knowing you need one. That actually happened to me at my first USA Powerlifting meet as well

You should remember your wallet with photo ID – many have forgotten this in the rush to leave for the contest. Yikes! Besides your t-shirt, singlet, long socks and all of the other lifting gear to be in your bag, stuff a piece of paper in there with your all of your first attempts and warm-up sets on it.

As always, if you have questions, please feel free to post on the our Facebook page or contact the state chair.

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