When Should I Compete In My First Powerlifting Competiton?
June 12th 2019
When should you compete in a powerlifting competition, which tests for your squat, bench press and deadlift max?
Aside from putting in the work, memberships, fees, and preparations for the meet, how can lifters know when they should compete in powerlifting? After all, lifting was just for fun right? Or maybe there is a whole other level of competitiveness beyond just hitting PRs at the gym. Maybe you want to prove something to yourself. Or maybe you are the strongest lifter in your weight class. So, let us discuss whether or not you should compete in powerlifting.
Should I compete in powerlifting?
Before lifters compete in powerlifting, they should ask themselves two key questions:
- How important is strength training in your life?
- Can you support yourself financially?
Just like all sports, to truly excel in powerlifting, you cannot just put in a small amount of effort. But your first meet will set a baseline for all your future records and training blocks for you to improve upon.
For a lot of lifters, they just stumbled into lifting weights in the gym. For weight loss, strength gain or a combination of reasons, the gym attracts like-minded people. When in the tight circle, the topic of powerlifting will come. Should you compete or not? You have been training the back squat, bench press, and deadlift if you run any beginner strength training program, like Greyskull LP or Starting Strength. Or maybe you are still doing another strength training program that focuses heavily on compound movements.
How important is strength training in your life?
When it comes to deciding on whether or not you should compete in powerlifting, you should run through each of my bullets I listed here, with the first being how important is strength training in your life. How much of a priority is strength training?
We want to be realistic. When you compete in any sport, it will cost you both time and money. Both of these resources are valuable and we do not just want to waste them. So, all lifters need to ask themselves on whether or not they WANT to make strength training a priority in their lives.
And there is no right answer. It is perfectly okay if you are honest with yourself and say no, you do not want to keep doing this for the rest of your lives. Even if you excel in the sport (a sign that you may be gifted), if you do not want to compete, then don’t. No one is going to force you and you do deserve to live this life. However, you should also be aware of the added benefits of living a life as an athlete and treating your body like gold. At the same time, also be mindful of the consequences and sacrifices you must make in order to live this lifestyle. Depending on how badly you want to achieve your top goals, you should be willing to sacrifice everything to achieve your missions in life. However, there are some key points I should mention when you start to think about competing in powerlifting.
There is never a right time
You want to break 1000lbs total before competing? No problem. After a few months, you did a mock meet and totaled over 1000lbs. Now, that seemed too little and you want to total 1200lbs.
Do you see a trend here?
You will never be satisfied with your strength levels. You are always waiting for the right time but it will never come. Maybe it will come 10 years from now. But at that point, there are too many variables to consider when you have a long time frame. You will never convince yourself to compete because you will always think you can do better. And chances are, you can do better! And your second worry is that there will be someone stronger than you at the meet.
You are 100% accurate. There will ALWAYS be someone stronger than you. This stresses one of the key lessons of competing in powerlifting, which could also very well be a very clever way of marketing their sport to younger lifters - you are competing against yourself.
As someone who has been told that advice, it is difficult to internalize that and really accept it as a truth. I understand the perspective and wisdom of the stories behind only trying to beat yourself on the platform. But I am a competitor. I am trying to win. Of course, I will ALWAYS beat myself and I want to beat everyone else.
The next question is what am I going to do about it?
You will probably not break any world records at your first meet
Chances are 99% of lifters thinking about competing in powerlifting WILL NOT break any world records in your first meet. I know, I know - you want to shock the world with your strength. But life does not work like that, unfortunately.
But despite your initial disappointment, you did show up. You will set up a baseline for all your future meets and training sessions. And this is probably the snowball effect that allows many lifters to continue pushing their bodies to the absolute limits.
Can you support yourself financially?
A lot of lifters do not talk about the financial costs of competing in powerlifting. From the gear you purchased, meals prepped to even the logistics of getting to the meet, it all adds up pretty quickly. For your first powerlifting meet, expect to spend close to $1000 if you want to have a decent meet.
Of course, you can cut several hundred dollars by carpooling, buying used equipment, going to a cheap gym, living with roommates, etc. But the overall point is that this sport is not free. If you want to compete, you need to pay for the event AT MINIMUM, membership and for your meet equipment (shoes, singlet, belt, T-shirt).
And if strength sports are not your main purpose in life, it is difficult for many newer lifters to justify the cost of spending a couple of hundred dollars just to compete. On the flip side of the argument, if you do want to immerse yourself in the strength training culture, competing in a local powerlifting meet is the perfect way to get your toes wet and to meet like-minded people. Do not forget they are also STRONGER than your typical stranger as well. Just additional perks of competing in powerlifting.
Competing on powerlifting should be a yes or no decision. It is either you are in or you are out. You can’t just give a powerlifting meet partial effort. You will get crushed, waste time and lose some respect in the community. If you went through my list above, you should be well-read about the questions and concerns about competing for the very first time. This guideline should paint a clearer picture of what is expected of you when you complete in a powerlifting competition and how you can improve your physical strength in the future. Because in the end, it is not about powerlifting totals or who has the biggest wilks score. It is about improving yourself in all areas of life and continuing to push our boundaries and limits so that we can become better people in the future.