By: Barbell Logic Team
Meet Day Planning and Checklist
It’s Springtime which of course means that there are lifting meets almost every weekend. Whether you are an experienced meet-day veteran or you are just dipping your toes in the waters of competition below are some tips and lists to help you get organized. The perfect meet day is one where you only have to focus on your lifts. Follow these guidelines to help you eliminate any extra stress or anxiety on the Big Day!
Know the rules of your federation.
There are general rules and technical rules for every competition, and they are going to change a little bit from federation to federation.
The general rules cover the competition lifts, the lifting categories, and the scoring system. For example, the United States Strengthlifting Federation’s general rules look something like this:
- The three competition lifts are the Squat, the Press, and the Deadlift.
- The competition takes place between lifters in categories as defined by sex, body weight, and age.
- Each competitor is given three attempts for each lift. The summation of the best valid attempt for each constituting a total.
- The lifter with the highest total wins. The lifter with the highest number of points based on the Wilks formula is the best lifter.
But knowing the general rules just means you know you signed up for the right kind of event. It’s the technical rules that are cause last-minute headaches and meet-day anxiety. The general rules tell you the goals of the competition, but the technical rules tell you how the game is played.
The technical rules will cover all the details of the meet.
- The standards for performing the lifts
- What you can wear and what gear is allowed during the meet
- The types of equipment allowed
- The order of the competition:
- When you need to show up
- The weigh-in/-out process
- The organization of flights
- How to pick your attempts
This information is essential for you to have a great day of lifting and to make plans for the whole day. You can read the full Technical Rules of the USSF here. For other federations, you will find the rules posted on their websites.
The number 1 rule of Meet Day is Do Not Do Anything New. Once you know the technical rules of your meet, you can start making plans for the day. You may not realize that some of your habits or favorite gear in the gym are not allowed. The sooner you can adjust, the better. No new food, no new shoes, belt, wraps, or straps. Not even new socks. The only thing new to you at the meet should be the number on the bar as you crush that PR.
- Squat shoes (you should really be wearing these for all 3 lifts)
- Tee shirt for under singlet (if you sweat a bunch you may need several tees)
- Hand towel to wipe your sweat
- Knee sleeves
- Compression shorts to wear under singlet
- Sports bra (for girls and any super heavyweight dudes)
- Wrist wraps
- Deadlift slippers (if you deadlift in your socks – you can order these online): http://www.roguefitness.com/metal-deadlift-slippers?gclid=Cj0KEQjwp4fABRCer93Klpaki94BEiQAsXJMGogMjXbMtoaLiEfjIJ59KG-DpbLCq0_VAV6J6RLjWd8aAoYW8P8HAQ
- Long knee-length socks for deadlifting.
- Headphones and phone with chill music stored on it.
- Blanket and Pillow
- All planned attempts on a 3×5 notecard written in Kilograms. (Also include training PRs and Competition PRs.)
- Easily digestible foods (Fruit, yogurt, low-fat granola bars)
- Liquid carbs (Gatorade mix, Pedialyte)
Optional: Only if you use these during your regular training. DO NOT decide to try ammonia caps for the very first time when you are walking up to your 3rd deadlift attempt.
- Liniment (Tiger Balm, Absorbine, Biofreeze, etc.)
- Miniband for stretching/ lacrosse ball
- Nose Tork/ ammonia caps
- Hair bands (for girls or CrossFit dudes with man-buns)
- Caffeine/Pre-workout (optional)
- Supplements: Creatine, BCAAs, Whey, Beta-Alanine (optional-bring if you currently use)
- Ibuprofen/ Tylenol/ DMSO (NSAIDS)
TIP: Show up early and claim some floor space in the warm-up area. Put down your bag and pillow, a blanket, a camping chair, cooler, whatever. This is your dedicated resting space. You will be spending most of the day right here.
This will be a 6- to 8-hour training day, so you must force yourself to eat and drink throughout the day.
On the morning of the meet and throughout the day you want to eat plenty of easily digestible foods, low fat, and lower-moderate protein. Don’t eat junk carbs. Eat things like fresh fruit, water, water and Gatorade mix, Pedialyte, yogurt, low-fat granola bars, etc. will be awesome.
- Warm-up 15 – 20 minutes before your first lift.
Everyone will want to start lifting too early. There will be people in the third flight, who won’t be lifting for 90 minutes who will begin warming up. Don’t make the same mistake. If you lift in the first flight, but you are the 13th lifter in the flight, then you do not need to be ready when the meet starts. Warm up slowly, taking 6-8 min between lifts, and time it so that you are ready just in time. There’s nothing worse than taking your last squat warm-up 45 minutes before your first attempt.
Note: If you aren’t in the first flight, it is usually a good idea to start warming up when the 2nd round of the flight-before-you begins.
- Make your last warmup <90% of your opener.
If you picked a smart, confidence-building opener, then you do not need to hit that weight in the warm-up room or even close to it. Use the warm-up to get warm and focused, use your opener to shake off the last of your meet-day nerves.
- Don’t do anything new in your warm-up routine.
During warm-ups make things as routine as possible. Set the bar to the height you usually have it, don’t bend too much for other lifters. Take regular rest or even a little longer than usual on your warm-ups. Your adrenaline will be through the roof, so you’ll have a tendency to warm up too fast. Don’t. Take your time and plan your warm-up attempts.
- Conservative first attempt
- Small PR second attempt
- Adjust your third attempt for a slightly larger PR
If you are a novice or early intermediate lifter, this is a good basic strategy. Your first attempt on all 3 lifts should be something you could hit for 3 reps without it being a grind. Pick something you have confidence that you can hit even on your worst day. The second attempt should be a small PR (1-2 kgs). The 3rd attempt will typically be a bit larger PR (~3 kgs on the press for women, and ~5 kgs on the press for men, and ~5-6kgs on the squat and deadlift for women, and ~10kgs for men). The 3rd attempt can always be adjusted slightly—lower a bit if the 2nd attempt was slow and grindy, and a bit higher if the 2nd attempt was fast and smooth—so have a plan A and a backup plan B.
Your main goal is to go 9/9 for the day. Any missed attempts mean you left weight on the platform. A 9/9 strategy is best, whether this is your first meet or if you are trying to win the whole thing.
Between attempts, stay warm. Remember, the meet will progress at a pace of about 1-minute per lifter (for a very efficiently run meet) plus short breaks between lifts or flights. Do the math. When you finish your last squat attempt, go rest. You have time.
The United States Strengthlifting Federation uses weight-outs. When you finish your last deadlift attempt, someone will escort you to the scale and check your weight. Check your weight immediately after your final press attempt, and see if you have any room to drink/eat anything else before deadlifts. If not, cut it off after press and try to pee a few times before you deadlift.