Competing in a
meat meet is very different than a normal training day. Aside from the movements that you are performing, there’s really not much that’s the same, especially the schedule and environmental conditions.
You’ll have to wake up hella early, haul around bags of food and equipment like a white girl at Coachella and stand in front of a room full of people to execute max efforts in a skin-tight onesie revealing to the world, give or take a few million, your god-given “talents”.
It’s an exhausting day, but competing can be very rewarding and it puts your training into perspective. I’ve learned a few things from my own experience that help make a meet day “good” for me. I won’t speak much about your training leading up to the meet, that’s a whole other subject, but some of this advice may work for you during your own meet day.
1. Dress rehearsals
A couple weeks before the meet, familiarize yourself with the commands and “costume” regulations. These can be found in the Rule Book for the federation you are competing in.
Each lift has its own set of commands that will be dictated by judges. If you don’t pay attention to these, you can get red-lighted, and that sucks. During your training, have someone give you the cues for each lift so you can practice. When you’re at the meet, listen and watch for the commands.
Your mandatory “costume” for most federations will be your singlet, t-shirt, shoes and socks (for the deadlift). Optional equipment in a Raw meet are your wrist wraps, knee sleeves and belt. Check in the rule book to see if your federation has an “Approved” list and be sure yours comply. Wear these during most of your last training sessions leading up to the meet so you can get used to moving around in your singlet and to making any additional preparations.
2. Netflix and chill, the PG-13 version
The day before your meet should be a very low stress day. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to do much besides your weigh-in. If you are traveling to the venue, stay in a hotel as close as possible. Spend the day relaxing, lounging and eating (as planned). Basically, become a cat. If you are going to watch TV, I recommend staying away from intense movies or shows right before you go to sleep.
Keep your caffeine low so you can get to bed early; you want to get a good amount of sleep. I get very anxious the night before so I know I won’t sleep much. But, as long as I act as much like a cat as possible the day before, I still feel rested.
3. Don’t watch the meet!
Watching people compete is surprisingly draining. You’ll exhaust yourself by cheering and “feeling” for people. Be selfish. Between lifts and attempts, go sit in a corner with your headphones on or go to a quiet place and rest. You are there to lift, not socialize and take selfies. Personally, I don’t really like to talk much during a meet. I try to keep the few friends that I have who attend meets, bless their hearts, by warning them about this ahead of time.
4. Bring a handler
If you’re not watching the meet, how are you going to know when to lift? This is when a handler is really nice. Not all people like to have a handler, it’s a personal choice.
Your handler can be someone like your coach, lifting partner, spouse, friend or parent. This person will watch the flight schedule to help guide your warm-ups and let you know when to get up to the platform. Your handler, depending on how much of a saint they are, can do many other helpful things – remind you to eat, help you stay focused, tell you to sit down, record your lifts, and give you bench hand-offs. He or she can also help you by giving the score-keeper your next attempts.
While we are on the subject, have a plan for your attempts. My coach always gives me a Plan A if I’m feeling good and a Plan B if things are not as good. They’re not set in stone, but it gives you one less thing to have to figure out in the moment.
5. Food and drink
Don’t rely on venues to have the food that you need. Bring a cooler with food that you normally eat on training days plus a little extra. Bring more than you think, you don’t want to be hungry going into deadlifts.
6. Have a plan for your warm-ups
The warm-up room can be crowded and chaotic. There never seem to be enough racks, space is limited and if you’re tall like me, you’ll probably always squat and bench with someone shorter than you. Point being: it’s never ideal, but you can make it work.
Be mindful and prepared so you don’t rush through your warm-ups and end up sitting around getting cold for 15 minutes before even stepping onto the platform. I see this a lot with new competitors.
Just because you are sharing equipment with someone, doesn’t mean you need to follow his or her warm-up. Plan out your weights, reps, sets and rest periods ahead of time. Check and see where you’ll be in your flight, then count your time backwards to determine when to take your warm-up reps. Your handler can help you with this.
If you are shy, too bad. You will need to speak up if you want to warm-up. Jump in to a group that appears to be either the same height or using the same weights as you. Help load and unload plates and take your lifts when it’s time.
You may want to wear some easy-to-remove sweatpants and/or hoodie which you can throw back on between attempts. Don’t be in a hurry to put your singlet all the way on, you’ll be taking it off to pee about 1,095,904 times.
7. Resist peer pressure
This is not a day to try new foods, caffeine pills or drinks, supplements or god-knows what, you’ll spend enough time in the bathroom with nervous pees as it is. There’s no good reason to up the odds of dealing with the mess of an upset stomach or feel like your face is going to melt off while suffering from heart palpitations.
Same thing applies to your lifts. Unless you forgot your own stuff, stick to your own equipment and set-up routines. Just because homeboy in front of you does a warrior cry and interpretive dance before his attempts, doesn’t mean you need to.
8. Do the damn thing
All of your training is done. The time for practice is over. This is not the time to try and fix your technique. Save your energy and don’t threaten your confidence. Just Squat. Just Bench. Just Deadlift.
9. You can only do you
This is some of the best advice I have received and learned and can pass on to you. It is a biggie for meets and for training.
You are going to be competing side-by-side with people who are stronger than you and who are weaker than you. They’ll have different technique and “amp-up” routines than you do. Sometimes the judges will white-light things that you find unacceptable in your training. None of this matters.
You have your own training background and potential that has nothing to do with anyone else at the meet or on the Instagrams. Personal bests are called “personal” for a reason. Stick to your own goals and planned attempts and squat below parallel because IT’S THE LAW.