Your first Powerlifting competition – Part One

A beginners guide to your First Powerlifting Meet

Weights for Powerlifting

So you have made the decision to enter your first powerlifting competition, but are unsure where to begin. This is a basic guide to successfully entering your first competition with a minimum of stress.

Choosing a Federation

There is a huge array of federations to choose from, all with differing rules, so which one do you choose? The first thing to look for in a Powerlifting federation is whether or not they run competition in your area. If they don’t then they are not a good choice for you. The second issue to consider is drug testing, Do you want to compete on a level drug free playing field or do you prefer a whatever it takes approach.

I am based in Australia, and the Federation officially recognised as the governing body of Powerlifting in Australia is Powerlifting Australia who are affiliated with the IPF and is a drug tested federation, with competitions run all across the country and has both a RAW and Equipped division.

Powerlifting Equipment

After reading the rules of your chosen federation you need to select equipment which meet their competition requirements.

 Socks and Jocks

Long socks are a requirement, This is so that you don’t leave skin and blood on the bar during your Deadlift. Underwear can be any commercially available brand but cannot provide extra support for lifting unless you choose to compete in an equipped division and then only approved brands are allowed, you can find the list of approved brands in the Rules for your chosen federation.

T-Shirt, Singlet and Shoes

You must wear a T-shirt underneath your competition singlet, it must not be reinforced and needs to have a round neckline, again any branding on the shirt must be of an approved manufacturer, it is easiest to stick to a plain shirt. A lifting singlet is also a must have, this is the one piece soft stretchy suit that offers no assistance, like everything else it must come from an approved manufacturer. Shoes can be of any commercial make but by far the most popular are the very basic Chuck Taylors. Olympic Weightlifting shoes are also common, due to the raised heel.

Powerlifting Belts

Powerlifting belts come in three types, Single Prong, Double Prong and Lever style belts. The style of belt used is up to personal preference but must meet the standards of your federation and some federations require the belt to be made by an approved manufacturer, a cheap Bodybuilding belt is not acceptable in competition.

Wraps and Sleeves

Wrist Wraps and knee sleeves are optional pieces of equipment, which provide additional joint stability during you big lifts. There is wide range of differences between Powerlifting federations as to what can be used, so again read the rules of your federation.

Equipped Powerlifting

Most Federations have a Division for Equipped Powerlifters, Entering an Equiped competition is not advised for your first meet as it requires slightly different training to learn to use such items, Including Bench Press Shirts, Deadlift Suits, Squat Suits, Erector Shirts and Powerlifting Briefs.

So now you have joined a federation, selected a competition in your area and entered in your chosen weight division it is time for ……..

Pre Competition Training

As a beginner it is not essential to change you training prior to competition if your making strength gains in your current program. A peaking program written by a qualified coach is ideal but most beginners do not have access and rely on the common Powerlifting programs which can be found online.

It is important to De-load, during the last week prior to your Powerlifting competition, this does not mean doing nothing during this week, but training at a much reduced load and intensity, ensuring your body is fresh and ready to go.

Choosing your opening Lift

It is important in your first competition to choose the weights for your opening lifts wisely. Bombing out is a common problem for novices who choose to go to heavy on their first attempt at each lift. Your First attempt needs to be a weight that you can lift comfortably under any condition, as competition conditions are not the same as lifting in the gym or in your garage. Choose a weight that is approx. 80-85 % of your estimated 1RM to make sure you get a score on the board, after the first attempt at each lift you have 2 more to improve on the first lift and set new PRs.


Don’t make any sudden diet changes right before you compete, at your first meet you should not need to worry about cutting weight etc. Leave that sort of fine tuning until you have a little more competition experience.

In the next article I will cover what happen on the day of your first Powerlifting Competition.

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