By: Nicholas Soleyn, SSC

Lifting meets are not about winning–at least not for 99% of all competitors. The competition is you. Your goal is to squat, press, and deadlift maximal or near-maximal weights. That is hard enough without worrying about what someone else is doing. The goal isn’t to win, but to test yourself and join your fellow lifters in one of the few communal events that we have. Unless, you are an experienced, competitive lifter embrace the fact that you probably won’t win and focus on doing your best and having fun instead.

Is it Time to Compete?

If you could reinvigorate your training with one click of the mouse would you? (Because that’s kinda possible). There’s this one weird trick that your coach secretly hopes you learn about. At first you’ll be intrigued. Then you’ll be blown away. You’ll never look at this barrier-smashing event the same way again. Try it and you won’t believe what happens next. It might just restore your faith in humanity!

I am, of course, talking about signing up for a powerlifting or strengthlifting meet.

niki sims deadlift

All my clickbait lingo aside, it is pretty tough to overstate the benefits you get from signing up and training for a lifting meet. In Matt Reynolds, own words,

NOTHING will take your training to the next level the way training for a competition will. There is literally something magic in the physical act of filling out the entry form, writing the check, putting it in the mailbox and officially signing up for a meet. That simple step will immediately change your training, because now the competition drives the training.” (from “Competition Makes the World Go Round.” )

While this is true, the sentiment is often met with a parade of excuses.

The first step toward deciding to sign up for a meet is to realize that most of those excuses are exactly why you should sign up for a meet.

“I won’t win” or “I don’t care about winning”

Lifting meets are not about winning–at least not for 99% of all competitors. The competition is you. Your goal is to squat, press, and deadlift maximal or near-maximal weights. That is hard enough without worrying about what someone else is doing. The goal isn’t to win, but to test yourself and join your fellow lifters in one of the few communal events that we have. Unless, you are an experienced, competitive lifter embrace the fact that you probably won’t win and focus on doing your best and having fun instead.

“I’m Not Ready”

Your training career is a lifelong pursuit. And you will continue to improve for most of it, regardless of what age or state you were in when you started training. If you are always holding out to be farther along or meet some greater milestone before competing, you will never be ready. Here’s the thing about lifting: Every lifting goal you have will become just another starting point for your next goal. More than that, competitions are the perfect set pieces for you to train for, meet, and exceed your current goals.

The point of competition isn’t so much the event itself but the order, structure, and meaning that it will bring to your training. “[C]ompetition gives your training purpose. In the simplest terms, competition is the difference between ‘training’ and ‘working out.’” (Reynolds ibid.) If you are training and you are serious about your progress, then you are ready for a competition.

“It will interrupt my training”

If you are a novice lifter, you are still getting stronger every week with the simplest, most straightforward program possible. At this stage in your training, there are few, if any, special adjustments to your program should you decide to compete. For the novice lifter, likely nothing will change in the week prior to the competition. For the week of the competition, you or your coach can make slight changes to ensure that the lifting meet fits into your usual workout rotation, making the event really just another training day. The only interruption to your training is a wholly sanctioned, coach-actually-told-me-to-do-this reason to try out some heavy singles and take a break from fives. Your recovery from the meet will be swift, and it will be back to training as usual with minimal interruption.

The more advanced you are, the more structured your preparation needs to be when preparing for a meet. But true periodization and peaking are only necessary for advanced lifters. As an intermediate lifter, you will plan a little bit more of a taper or a slight deload. But again, with planning, this just becomes another part of your training.

Also, if you are past the honeymoon phase of lifting. There are few better boosts to your training than signing up for a meet, paying your money, and buying a singlet. I guarantee that your very next training session will have a renewed purpose and vigor.

“Where Do I Sign Up?”

The United States Strengthlifting Federation meets are the most consistently well-organized meets. They are also usually full of Starting Strength Coaches and lifters who train using the Starting Strength model. They are also particularly friendly to lifters who are new to competing.

Also, for Barbell Logic Online Coaching Clients, we are hosting our first Virtual Meet this month. This is the perfect way to test the waters of competition without changing your routine and even without having to don the singlet.

For a complete list of upcoming events see the bottom of the Friday Fahve newsletter.

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