The Story of My First Powerlifting Meet

One WOD Lead to Discovering Powerlifting

In a CrossFit class back in 2012, our WOD (workout of the day) was on finding our 1-rep max on three lifts: the bench press, back squat, and deadlift. I was familiar with these lifts due to other WODs and sport conditioning when I was younger. But I hadn’t realized just how much I enjoyed those lifts, until that day.

I shared with my Crossfit Coach how much I loved the WOD and he told me these lifts are part of a sport called: Powerlifting.

Exploring the Sport of Powerlifting

Once I knew powerlifting was a standalone sport, I went down a research rabbit hole. I found a coach who, unfortunately, was located too far from me for regular training together but who provided me a training program and met for in-person sessions once a month.

I was persuaded by my lifting coach to sign up for an upcoming meet scheduled a few months down the road, and while I didn’t love the idea of performing in front of a crowd, I relented and registered. The competition gave me a great goal to focus on and work towards.

Once I agreed to do the competition, my in-person training with my coach shifted to learning the ins and outs of what the meet day would entail. All sports and competitions have rules, specific gear requirements, and so on.

I ended up ordering my first belt: and a singlet. I decided to compete in the weight class that didn’t require me to drop any weight prior to meet day. However, even despite choosing that weight class; I kept my nutrition clean in the two weeks leading up to the competition to avoid any weight fluctuations and to feel my very best.

My First Powerlifting Competition

The morning of the meet was an early one. I arrived by myself and didn’t know anyone there. Luckily, the powerlifting community is a welcoming one, and I was provided with details and support from those I encountered throughout the day.

I had to officially weigh-in by 7am. I was shocked upon weigh-in to find that I dropped 7 pounds. I came prepared with a light snack and an electrolyte drink to sustain energy and ward off dehydration.

As it came time for the meet to start, my nerves kicked in. Flights, or competitor groups, were posted showing the order in which I would lift so I had an idea of when to be ready for my turn on the platform.

Each lifter has three attempts per lift. The expectation is that each lift attempt would be successfully made, improving on the previous attempt. In reality, a lack of knowledge around how to warm up properly before each lift made each attempt feel more difficult than in training.

The competition starts out with the back squat. I recall being pleased with my performance in this lift. My cheering squad of family and friends provided the boost needed to power through.

Next up, was the bench press. During my lift attempts, I experienced some muscle cramping and performed below my ability.

Finally, it was time for the deadlift. I thought that I could make up for my sub-par performance in the bench press by putting up some big numbers here. I successfully completed 2 of my 3 lifts.

Alas, this was a first time. I was able to walk away happy, knowing that I tried something new. And because the meet was a smaller one, I was the only woman in my age group, so by default, I won the age group and received a trophy for my efforts.

What I Learned from my First Powerlifting Competition

Despite planning ahead, things didn’t go as smoothly as expected but I able to walk away with knowledge I could use for future meets and that might help you:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My muscle cramps stemmed from dehydration, and it affected my performance.
  2. Nutrition is key. Adjust your diet before meet day only with the guidance of a professional. Losing several pounds affected my energy levels and ability to effectively prepare in the weeks leading up to the meet.
  3. Make warm-up a priority. Know where the warm-up areas are and have a warm-up strategy in place.

Steps I Took Following My First Powerlifting Meet

In the months following my first meet, I was able to locate a gym, team, and coach in my area. The ability to train closely with a coach, in a supportive environment of fellow lifters, was invaluable. I went on to compete a few more times with marked improvement meet-over-meet.

While I no longer lift competitively, you can still find me lifting weights. Feeling strong and empowered keeps me coming back for more.

Your Turn

Do you have first time competing in a sport story? What was your experience like? What did you learn?

Or is there a sport you would like to compete in for the first time? Could you use some help, support, and encouragement to do it? Join us in the #365FirstsChallenge Facebook Group and let’s talk about it.

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