The best meet I ever had happened in Nov of 2007. I had spent 8 weeks training just for the meet. Now, don’t get me wrong I have spent months before that getting ready to train for the meet, I didn’t just walk in cold. In fact the bulk of 2007 was spent either getting ready for a meet, or recovering from one. In the spring I did a bench meet at the old gym and finally broke my old bench PR. The 3 months later I won the state Raw title at 275. I took it easy for a month and a half in the summer, and then at the beginning of September I got after it again. My fitness was good, this was going to be my first geared full meet in over a year and a half so my psyche was thru the roof, and I ha d a couple of training partners that were also looking for PR totals so we were rolling. So what are the little things that I did that made such a huge difference?
1) I invested in the meet. Sounds silly but I really put my money where my mouth was. I paid the entry fee early, which I never do. I bought new equipment, squat suit, briefs, deadlift suit, shoes, etc… That alone was a grand+. I also booked the hotel and the plane immediately. No turning back now. I had painted myself into a corner in a manner of speaking.
2) I set a goal, or more correctly a series of goals. I knew what I wanted to do at the meet, and I worked back from there. I knew that I had 6 heavy weeks between the start of the cycle and the end. Eight weeks with a deload week and a week devoted to hitting openers, left me 6 weeks. Goal – 6 weeks = starting point. I had a plan in my head for the squat and the bench and a rough outline for the deadlift. I also knew that I would be training 3x/week. From there it was just plug and play.
3) I DELOADED!!!!! my last heavy squat was 3 weeks out, then a week working up to my opener in full gear to make sure that everything was fitting right and I could get the whole knee wrapping thing down as this has always been a psychological issue for me. I have had knee surgery in the past and for whatever reason the pressure from wraps has a tendency to weird me out. so a deload week plus a week off and I was well rested and chomping at the bit to hit the meet.
4) I flew in a day early. The meet was on Saturday and we flew in after work on Thursday. While one of my training partners claimed that the extra day “allowed for the reoxygenation of the blood after flying,” which I have absolutely ZERO proof of, I can say that flying always dehydrates me a little and leaves me feeling wiped out. So the extra day was great. Arriving Thursday night also allowed us to weigh in first thing Friday morning. The fed we were lifting in allows a 24 hr weigh in and we used every second of it. Also weighing in first thing in the morning allows one to take advantage of the fact that you are at your lightest during the day immediately after waking and relieving yourself. Hey, every advantage helps.
5) This may seem trivial, but experience taught me otherwise in later meets, I shared a room with another lifter. I ended up sharing a room with one of my training partners that was doing the meet. This was great because we understood when the other one wanted to go to bed early, keep the window open, leave the TV on the background, etc… I’m sure it sounds goofy, but as I said in some of the meets that followed I roomed with people that either weren’t lifting or weren’t doing the full meet and my sleep was definitely compromised.
6) on the meet day I made the meet fun, but I didn’t make fun of the meet. Sounds weird, but what I mean is that I didn’t get stressed out about the meet AND I didn’t make a big deal about trying to keep a cool head. If you haven’t already seen these folks, there are always a couple lifters that insist on making a big deal about how this meet doesn’t mean anything to them and “whatever.” I have never liked those people and I go out of my way not to be one of them. If you aren’t taking the meet seriously, fine, powerlifting isn’t a life and death thing. Unless you totally suck as a human being and your only shot at redemption is a good total, no one around you, especially your non lifting friends and family won’t think any less of you. By the same reasoning, even if the meet is a throw-away for you or whatever the reason is you are doing it, don’t take away from the experience of others. I knew what I wanted to, and was capable of doing, so I just took that to heart and did as well as I could.
7) I let the little things slide. This relates to #6. On my first squat attempt, my handler bungled up my wraps right at they called that the bar was loaded. Instead of getting all bent out of shape, I just told her to pull them off and I went with no knee wraps. This wasn’t really a big deal. I had done the weight a dozen times in training with no wraps so why should today be any different? The second was during my second deadlift attempt, I got impatient to lock out a PR and ended up hitching the bar. It was a stupid mistake, and after I subtle reminder from a friend, “be patient, you have the strength to do it” I went back out got a better set up and smoked it on my third.
In the end I set 3 of 4 PR’s including a 177# squat PR and a 240#+ total PR. I didn’t win the meet, or even my weight class, not even close, but I had a great time and can honestly say that I got a close to a perfect day lifting as I have yet to experience. All of these might not work or even be applicable to you, but at least a couple will, and even if they don’t equal a new total they should help you have a better meet experience and keep you headed down the right path to break through to that next competitive level.
You can check out the video of the meet here.