Hey there and welcome to Pt. 2 of this little minseries, geared toward all things preparing for your initiation into the Powerlifting family! In the previous post we talked a bit about why we do what we do, our all around positive attitudes toward everyone regardless of their strength/performance levels, as well as a brief yet simple run through on how to choose a federation that provides you with a comfortable environment, regardless of your goals. If you’ve not read it yet you can now do so by clicking here:
Otherwise, we’re now going to go into a bit of detail about the essentials.
How To Pack For A Powerlifting Meet
It may seem simple but it can be a little complicated it you don’t read between the lines in your chosen’s fed’s rules and bylaws. But let’s go over the basic requirements first.
- Singlet – this is required by all federations. These are usually the same singlets you ‘ll find high school, collegiate and Olympic wrestlers wearing. However there are singlets that are made specifically for Powerlifting and are approved by the IPF and are available for just under $40 on Amazon. You don’t necessarily have to buy a brand name singlet, also most are just as cheap. Even if your fed has sponsors you can just have a plain color singlet (or man teddy, as my girlfriend calls it) and off you go. In fact I just bought a plain black singlet in a large before my first meet last year; it’s was probably the simplest of anyone’s singlets, but it still got the job done.
- Shirts – it’s most likely a requirement in every fed that you must wear a t-shirt for your Squat and Bench Press attempts, but it won’t be a requirement for the Deadlift. The two most important things you need to know is that your shirt must usually stop before the elbows and unless you’re really good at covering it up your shirt(s) cannot have any profanity on them. Even if your fed isn’t the USAPL/IPF there are some feds, such as RPS, that pride themselves on promoting a family environment so their tolerance for things like that is pretty low. You might also want to bring a few extras along incase you’re one of those people who sweat a lot. Just saying.
- Socks – this may seems like a no brainer here but believe it or not some feds actually don’t require you to wear long, calf length socks for your Deadlift attempts. IPF does, obviously. But RPS doesn’t and neither does USPA. In fact, when Gene Rychlak, the meet director/fed owner read us the rules he flat out told us that if we scrapped up our knees to the point of bleeding, “no big deal, we’ll just clean it up, pour some bleach on the bar, on to the next lifter”. Ew! I think I’ll wear socks…thanks…
- Footwear – so long as you have shoes at the meet the style you wear, whether they are Chuck Taylors, Wrestling shoes, Olympic style with the raised heel, etc., is up to you. You can wear slippers for the Deadlift, however. This can get just a bit dicey though based on how you position your feet when you Bench Press, however. Some people tend to keep their entire foot on the floor after they arch and some won’t. But some feds will require that your entire foot stays on the floor, as a friend of mine explained to me as he was preparing for his USAPL debut back in December. So, my recommendation here is that if you feel more comfortable benching with your feet raised and your fed doesn’t allow that, you can simply just get yourself a pair of Olympic style shoes. Adidas makes plenty of great shoes like that, as does even Nike!
- Belt – if you’re reading this and are new to the sport, please please PLEASE make sure you get yourself a quality leather belt that’s one length all the way around. That means do not get one of those cheap belts they sell at sporting good stores – I made that mistake years ago. I wonder why those belts are even being made still; they may be generally aimed towards bodybuilders but I wouldn’t even recommend it for them!
- Underwear – one more time, read your federation guidelines and make sure you ask questions. Some feds will make you wear tighey whiteys, no ifs, ands, or butts (see what I did there?). Yeah, I know. Some will let you wear compression briefs but again you need to check and make sure.
In getting your basic requirements together please remember that some federations will check your bag(s) upon your arrival to make sure your gear meets their standards. The following items from here on in can be thought of as a survival kit for the day. Remember, you’re here anywhere from a few hours to the whole day so make sure you’re prepared:
- Knee Sleeves – these are acceptable in all feds. Just make sure they’re the right size so you can put them on/take them off with efficiency. Also remember that some feds do have sponsors so if you’re lifting for that particular fed make sure your sleeves are sponsor approved, as with all other gear.
- Wrist Wraps – these are allowed in all feds. Just make sure that they stop short of your palms. Of course, read all your fed guidelines before you do anything.
- Foam Roller – always bring a foam roller with you. Me and my foam roller? We be tight son! We’re bros for life. The foam roller is a highly recommended tool for both pre and post-workout use, meant to loosen the muscles and open up key parts of your body, areas such as your Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex and your Thoracic Spine. I don’t have time to get in all the ways you can use a foam roller in this post but in short, if you’ve never used one before you’d probably benefit from investing in one. You’d also greatly benefit from taking one with you to the meet. Think about it; depending on your fed and meet location you’ll be at the event anywhere for a few hours to virtually an entire day, and you’ll be performing three lifts with three attempts per lift with short to long stretches in between. You want to be able to loosen yourself up before you even begin your Squat warmups, you’ll want it to loosen up again after you finish for the night, and you’ll definitely want it around if you feel something get tight and even knotted up somewhere in between. You’ll thank me later. 😉
- Food – first off, make sure you eat a nice, big breakfast before you go anywhere. I’m talking four or five scrambled eggs and a flank steak, with an English muffin or home fries for carbs. Upon my departure I brought with me three bottles of water along with two nutrient dense protein smoothies I made at home so I could avoid spending any money at the hotel. Of course, you can do whatever you want with your money. I also knew that there was no restaurants of any kind in sight where I was going. Make sure to pack a few protein bars with you and if you’re like me and you depend in pre-workout to get through your lifts – take it with you!! It’s also recommended that you bring with drinks that contain electrolytes, especially if you sweat a lot. Gatorade comes to mind.
- Liniment or Icy Hot – I’ve not had this issue yet but you might find yourself in a spot where you’re just that sore, where not even a foam roller or lacrosse ball can help you. So your next best bet might be to take some Icy Hot and just lather yourself in it, as least until you get home and take a nice, cold shower. That’s right, I said cold!
- Smelling Salts – these come in various forms, such as nose tork or even Ammonia capsules, which were very useful to me in my first meet. In either form these are a mix of various chemicals that release a small Ammonia gas. This gas irritates the vessels in your nose, causing a rush of oxygen to the brain. The use of such items goes all the way back to the days of the medieval barber-surgeon, so you could only imagine how potent it is as a nice wake up if you’re feeling very tired or close to unconsciousness. I didn’t touch any though, until I knew I really needed it, that point being my final Deadlift attempt, which took place after 10pm. So if your meet takes place anywhere other than a gym, it might be something to consider because you’ll clearly be stuck for a while.
How To Train For Your First Meet
This is not necessarily the post for me to get into various powerlifting routines, for I have no right to assume I know your strength level. You might be a beginner but for all I know you could be an intermediate or even an advanced lifter. Hey look, a friend of mine who trains in my gym just flawlessly pulled 455lbs for the first time last week at a bodyweight of only 155lbs and without any kind of belt yet he’s never competed. But regardless of your strength levels and your abilities I will tell you that in the month leading to your meet you must take great responsibility with your body. You need to have the discipline to start restraining yourself and your workouts. If you have a particular rep scheme that you use for the main lifts, stick to them and do not do any more than what’s prescribed. You should also cut down on most if not all assistance work if you’re even doing any. The focus from here on in is the three lifts. One week out, I wouldn’t do any lifting at all. I’d use the week to foam roll as much as I can for the sake of keeping my mobility, perhaps take a nice, brisk walk outside for light cardio, and use the rest of that time to pack your bag(s) and make sure you have everything you need. If you have to drive a little bit out of your way you definitely don’t want to do anything hold off anything until the last minute.
I also have here a great link from Heavy Sports that goes into detail about what I just discussed as well as how to warm up for your lifts once you arrive at the meet. You can read it here:
So here before you is a short list of all the essentials you’ll need to survive your first ever Powerlifting meet, along with ways to physically prepare as well. You’re aim here is to make sure you’re both emotionally and physically prepared to do your best and have a lot of fun while doing so. As I stated in Part 1, you’re going to meet a lot of great people, witness some amazing feats of strength, and have plenty of fun. If you’re reading this and you’re already preparing for your first competition I wish you the best of luck and hope this article and it’s predecessor are helpful. If you’re thinking about, think no further. Just do it and I promise you won’t regret it. Get ready for an amazing ride and welcome to the family!
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment or message me with any questions. You can also find me more frequently on Instagram and Tumblr.