Intro To Competing In Powerlifting by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Powerlifting meets consist of 3 events. Powerlifting meets start out with the squat, followed by the bench press and finally the deadlift. The powerlifter has 3 attempts to squat, bench press and deadlift as much weight as possible. Whoever squats, bench presses and deadlifts the most weight combined in their respected weight and age division wins the powerlifting competition.
Although some powerlifting meets might allow equipment, some might not. Equipment includes bench press shirts, squat suits, weight lifting belts, wrist wraps, knee wraps and more. You'll want to make sure your equipment is approved by the federation you compete in. Most APT lifting gear is approved.
However, all powerlifting federations grant lifters to compete in the squat, the bench press, and then the deadlift. If the powerlifter lifts the weights according to their respected fed, they will receive 2-3 green lights. However, if the powerlifter misses the weight then the powerlifter will receive 2-3 red lights. Whether the lift is counted or not is determined by certified powerlifting judges. There are always 3 judges who will determine whether or not the lift is legit and each judge can choose a red or white light.
2) THE ATMOSPHERE OF A POWERLIFTING CONTEST-
All powerlifting meets are different. From all the meets that I have been to most include loud music of the lifters choosing or no music at all, buddies screaming their friend's name and cheering them on! Before you attempt a big weight you might here the words "you are in the hole "! This is the time when a lifter gets his named called before attempting a weight, and it's time for the lifter to unleash the best, as the adrenaline kicks and it's time to blast the weight. The judges tell you when to un-rack the weight, they give you a press command and then tell you when to rack the weight or put it down. Everyone is watching you and the atmosphere is just very intense. It's the chance to determine whether this intense atmosphere pushes you to higher heights than in normal training or messes you up all together. It's all in your mind. In a powerlifting meet the lifters around you are monsters! Just the atmosphere itself can make a fire burn in your chest and make your eyes glow! If you are competing with elite lifters they show that what looks impossible can be done! In a contest with elite lifters it's amazing watching a powerlifter smoke 500lbs like an empty bar and attempting weights near 1000lbs in a single lift!
A lot of powerlifters also have an interesting attitude to them, an insane drive. It means they are a different breed than most guys who think they are the king of their gyms. The powerlifters will not only out lift them by a lot by laugh at them as they do it! So if you want to be a powerlifter, get your game face on and join the club!
3) CHOOSING ATTEMPTS IN A MEET-
Picking a weight is like gambling in a way. Some lifters start out conservative with their attempts as others aren't conservative at all. So let's say that you jump into a contest with a 405lbs squat max and you open up with 405lbs. If you bomb out then you won't get any points. You don't want to bomb out on your first attempt, as nobody cares what you open up with. For rookie lifters you probably want to start light and be remembered as someone who finished strong. Plus by starting out easy will give you more confidence for your later attempts. However, you decide, only you have to look at yourself in the mirror when the meet is over. Remember you can never go down in weight. If you start with 405, your 2nd and third lifts must be 405 or higher.
4) DAYS BEFORE A POWERLIFTING CONTEST-
The night before competing, make sure that you get a good night sleep. The week before the contest, train very easily or don't train at all. On the day of a contest eat a breakfast that is high in carbs for energy and drink some caffeine to boost your energy levels. Think positive thoughts the whole time. If you have practiced what you will do in a meet in training then you should let your confidence carry onto the powerlifting platform.
5) WEIGH INS AND WEIGHT CLASSES FOR POWERLIFTING-
In powerlifting everyone competes in different weight classes. The divisions consist of 116, 132, 148, 165, 181, 198, 220, 245, 275, 308 and SHW. Make sure you know what weight division you will want to enter. For example, if a man is 195lbs and wants to compete in the 181s, he will step in a sauna for hours, get hot, sweat every 30 minutes get out and see how much weight he loses. Of course he will have friends dump water on him so he won't pass out. After hanging out in the sauna for a few hours and not eating, he'll lose weight during weigh-ins and weigh less than 181! Afterwards he'll load up on calories so he is over 190 again. Some lifters will maintain a body weight of 220lbs and once it's time for weigh-ins they will shoot chemicals into their body so they can compete at 240 against the 220 pound lifters, giving them the edge. Some great powerlifters will even fill their bellies with lots of caffeine so their stomachs grow and where they don't have to move the weight as far. At Critical Bench we don't recommend you do any risky techniques though and that you can compete at a weight that you feel is healthiest for you.
6) THE ENDURANCE FACTOR OF COMPETING IN POWERLIFTING-
A powerlifting meet will usually take hours! So, on the day of competition bring some food, drinks and be prepared to be there for a while! When you walk into the actual meet you will see a squat rack (or a couple of squat racks) and you might see stations for different levels of lifters. Find your station (your level of strength) and get a good stretch+ warm up in before getting ready to compete.
The next part about powerlifting is just getting out and experiencing the sport for your self. Everyone starts somewhere! You know it starts with personal records, which leads to local records, to state, to national records to world records. Becoming a good powerlifter takes years of hard work, consistent work, letting your mind grow and learning your body and what works for you.
8) WHEN TO START POWERLIFTING AND WHEN TO RETIRE?
It's never too late to start powerlifting. If you are a man in his 40s, you can start and if you are a teenager who is reading this article then it's best to start now. Don't just do it to win, get in there to compete against your self and gain experience. Everyone is out to help and will be supportive. Nobody will laugh at you for not being strong. There are plenty of strong guys who don't have what it takes to compete, so be proud of the guts, heart and mental toughness that you display. If you are strong enough to enter the sport of powerlifting then you can take this confidence everywhere else you go.
For the older competitive lifter-
You can compete in powerlifting for a lifetime. Even if you are 85 years old and deadlifting 135lbs, that's awesome because you are doing something that other 85 year olds don't have the courage to do or can't do. Powerlifting is a hobby and a life long passion.
9) COMPETING FREQUENCY-
A beginner should compete 5 times during a lifting season, an intermediate can compete about 3 times and a highly advanced lifter should compete once, unless they bombed and want to go again then twice. In powerlifting there is an on season and an off-season. During the off-season it's time for powerlifters to not train, bodybuild, or work on weak links.
10) WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE COMPETING IN COMPETITIONS WHEN THEY CAN TRAIN IN THEIR GYMS INSTEAD?
Powerlifters like to compete because competitions increase motivation. Entering a powerlifting meets gives lifters a chance to set goals. Powerlifting is also a place to meet friends who share the same interest as you. In addition powerlifting is where you can get records into the books and brings out an atmosphere that cannot possibly be duplicated in the gym.
Give powerlifting a try, remember how you prepare in the gym is how you will perform when the powerlifting event comes. So practice pausing on your benches, get proper depth on your squats and train deadlifts! Now, if interested go find a federation and let your powerlifting career explode! If you need
a training program to up your bench check out the Critical Bench Program.