My First Powerlifting Meet Part 1
About a year or so ago, I found and fell in love with, powerlifting. What is powerlifting you ask? According to wikipedia “Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift”. If you asked me, I would say it’s a badass sport focusing on the above three lifts.
How exactly did I get into it? I had been weight lifting on and off for years and had a lot of friends who were powerlifting. I would see their amazing pictures and videos defying gravity and defying their own preconceived notions of themselves in the process and I was mesmerized. I researched some basic information to get started, and armed with some advice from friends, began my own journey into powerlifting.
Learning the basics was a very interesting process but I did it. Then I was able to start adding weight to the main movements and was constantly getting stronger. It totally felt super badass and empowering to be in a gym full of big, burly people and doing the same movements as them. As I learned, I kept increasing my weights. I remember how amazing it felt to finally deadlift 200 pounds. It just felt so amazing to hit a huge goal and kick it’s ass. It was empowering and definitely helps me in everyday life too because now I am not struggling to carry all of my groceries.
Me Without A Clue Above!
A short time after I closed the bakery I hooked up with a really great coach in the area, Jeannine Trimboli at Real Fit Life (check it out!), and started training with her. Her program was a really great fit for me at the time because she is super positive and knowledgeable. I then decided to start training for an actual powerlifting meet. I will probably talk about training for a meet at another time but I want to fast forward to the actual meet experience.
My first meet was a mixture of many emotions. I was super excited and also really nervous. I would have to be lifting in front of a fairly large crowd of people and lift among people of all experience levels. It was definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone at the time. In addition to the emotions and crowd, I would also have to successfully navigate the meet so I could be aware of when my group was up or when I was up. There’s a lot going on honestly. The meet was at ABC Fitness in Latham, New York on January 23rd. When I first got there, I had to check in at the table and sign a waiver and a form stating that I don’t use any performance enhancing drugs (this is something I will NEVER do). Then I received a bracelet saying I was a competitor. Next, I had to get all of my gear inspected and approved so I pulled everything out of my bag: flat soled Chuck Taylor shoes for deadlifting, my Adidas Powerlift weightlifting shoes for squatting and benching, Strengthshop weightlifting belt, wrist straps for bench, Inzer singlet and a sufficient t shirt for underneath, and my knee high socks for deadlifting. I was good to go and moved on to get weighed and submit my first lift attempts.
Getting weighed was weird because it was a huge line of women going into the bathroom. Once I got in I realized that I had to strip down to my underwear to weigh in, which is something I haven’t done in front of a lot of people before so that made me a little anxious. I was fine though because I was starting to get amped up. Everyone in line was super duper nice and reassuring. Actually, everyone at the meet was super duper nice and reassuring. It was really great for a first experience. After I weighed in I moved on to the platforms to find my rack settings and get them written down on my card. This saves a lot of time during the meet so they can have it all setup for you when you come up to the platform during your turn. If this didn’t happen, the meet would take too long to finish.
After I got everything settled it was time to warm up and then watch other weight classes go. I was honestly nervous and sometimes confused the entire time because I was a meet newbie but between my coach, teammates, and other competitors I was able to successfully navigate it and didn’t miss any of my turns. There are announcers calling out lifters for their turns and there are monitors to watch to see the order for each group so you can keep track of when you’re up. Each lift is also more technical at a meet because not only do you have to remember all of your usual cues for performing the lift, but you also have to know the judges commands and not miss any or your lift will not count.
The first lift was the squat. I had been working on my squat for a really long time and it still didn’t quite feel awesome. In fact, it was only a week or two before the meet that it felt ok. Squatting just always felt like a struggle to me, and now I realize that it was because my body wasn’t happy with the way I was doing them (I will write on that some other time). Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about squatting. I started to warm up using the list my coach had given to me, which basically consisted of lifts working up to the first weight performed. It’s very important to warm up adequately because you’re going to be putting a tremendous amount of stress on your body while performing your three highest lifts for all three kinds of lifts. You don’t ever do that in training because it takes a lot of time for your body to recover. That is why training efficiently and safely is so important…you are getting your body ready to be able to lift a lot in one day at a competition.
Anyways, after I warmed up my group was called and I realized that I was FIRST to go in my group. That made me even more nervous! My first squat was 121.3 pounds (at a meet it’s all in kilograms so the numbers are weird). I ended up going way too low and couldn’t get it up so the spotters caught it for me. I was too nervous and weirded myself out. I was kind of upset but shook it off and was determined to make the next attempt. I ran to the judges table to hand in my next attempt, which was the same weight, and sat down to watch some other really badass people lift. Soon enough I was up again and was ready to go. I got under the bar, picked it up, stepped back, braced my core, took a deep breath in, went down and came back up. I was so excited that I forgot to wait for the judge to tell me to rack the bar, and I did it BEFORE she said to, so the lift didn’t count. I was so upset and took it out really hard on myself. People I didn’t even know were coming up to encourage me and told me to shake it off. It was really awesome. I handed in my next attempt at 132.3 pounds because the second lift felt really strong. Sadly, I didn’t end up making this squat either so none of them counted in my total score. I was so disappointed in myself for a bit but I was able to eventually rise above it as I warmed up for bench. Stay tuned for the rest of the competition in part two (this is way too long already!). XOXO
My 2nd squat attempt at 121.3 lbs during my first powerlifting meet