This is based of my own experience of being coached, lifting at competitions, and coaching lifters through the process.
I am not going to talk about a specific program here as that is way too individualized, and would take a huge amount of time to write. I will be talking specifically about how we, ‘Supreme Training Powerlifitng Club’ prep ourselves the week leading up to competition, and actual competition day.
I’ll write it down as a step-by-step process, and this should make it a little clearer.
1 - WEIGHT CUTTING: First of all, I’d like to start this of by saying that in my opinion, unless you’re challenging to win a competition, you shouldn’t be cutting weight. I completely understand why lifters put themselves through a weight cut if they can potentially win, but I cannot see the point in going through it if you’re going to finish in the middle of the pack.
Speaking from experience, in the past I weighed around 96kg and I’d cut to U93kg. I was a middle of the pack lifter, finishing 3rd once, and the rest of the time I’d end up finishing 4th/5th/6th. I was a beginner, and was training relatively well for a beginner, so therefore I was benefiting from ‘newbie gains’. My weight was creeping up to 97kg/98kg and the cut to U93kg was getting harder, and harder.
It wasn’t until I had Delroy McQueen at Supreme Training Gym to deliver a seminar that he told me straight, that cutting too much, too often, and especially as a beginner was hindering my lifts. I was stalling my progress by not letting my body fill out.
Since moving up to the U105kg weight category I’ve added KG’s to my total and even been more competitive in competitions. I don’t expect to win any, as there are some seriously strong dudes in my category (as there is for all the weight categories now). But as long as I can compete for a space on the platform and increase my total, that’s enough to keep me hungry for more.
That been said, if you are going to put yourself through a weight cut, avoid doing anything drastic. Don’t leave yourself too much to cut, too close to the competition. Nerves will already be bad enough leading up to the competition for many beginners, adding this extra stress will not only have a negative impact on your lifting, but will make the whole process less fun!
2 - TRAINING: The last week of training, I like to hit openers, or something close to what my openers would be. This lift shouldn’t be too taxing, and it should give you confidence going in to attempt two.
In the past I have tried to hit my openers two weeks prior, or even ten days. I’d often split the lifts up, e.g. Deadlift two weeks, to, ten days out. Squat, eight to seven days out. And Bench Press six to five days out.
I’d often struggle in competitions with the demand of hitting all three lifts in the same day. I hadn’t conditioned my body to do so in training, so why did I expect it to do so at a competition!
After alterations to my training programs, this mainly came after I hosted a Reactive Training Systems seminar with Mike Tuchscherer, I was much better conditioned for all three lifts on the same day, and have from then on, hit all my openers anywhere from five to seven days out.
Doing this has helped with my confidence as the lifts are fresh in my mind. But my body also feels looser, and I would perform the lifts better technically.
A day or so after hitting openers, I like to do warm up sets. This is literally following a warm up protocol I will do on competition day, but stopping at around 75% of my maxes. You’re not going to get any stronger at this point, but you can certainly get weaker, and, potentially injure yourself. Treat each warm up lift with respect, and execute them as you would a working set.
3 - COMPETITION NECESSITIES: Now training has finished, you won’t need your squat shoes, deadlift shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, singlet, and, belt. So make sure you pack them in your gym/kit bag ready to take to competition. This may seem obvious, but I like to get this done early, as it’s just something else you don’t need to worry about. Other essentials you’ll need; chalk (unless venue provides it), talc (for deadlifts), membership card (for the federation you’re competing in), a pen (to fill in attempt sheets), and anything for your warm ups e.g. foam rollers, resistance bands, if the venue doesn’t provide them.
4 - COMPETITION DAY: The best Tips I can give for competition day are very simple. Turn up early, get your kit checked early, get your rack height set early, and, get weighed in early. See the theme here? Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t be flapping, and running around last minute. It’s all unwanted, added stress. Check the running order of lifters for the day, and plan how long before you’ll need to go and warm up, this is where already having done your warm ups during the days leading up becomes a bonus.
For food and drink, I like to carry on doing things I know work, and by work, I mean things that you can digest with no difficulties. You shouldn’t do/try anything different on competition day, as you don’t know how you’ll react. One to many cans of monster might send you for a long stay on the toilet! Stick to foods, and drinks you know, and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Above is literally the blueprint for Supreme Training Powerlifitng club comp prep, and has been for a while now. A few things might vary depending on the individual, and how their training has gone.
If you’re new to Powerlifting, and have entered a competition, I couldn’t recommend reaching out to a club for support on the day enough. Learn, and use that experience in future competition.
The above is all very basic, and it should be. There is no need to complicate things. We focus on executing the simple things well, and then we can fully focus on our own performances!