9 Meet Day Tips

Photo by Thomas Campitelli
Photo by Thomas Campitelli

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.

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The Dangers of Lifting with Mismatched Plates

Today, I have a guest post from our correspondent in the field, Vera Nahce. 

Vera comes to us with a theological background in Social Mediology, holds a PhD in BroScience, and is an expert at taking naps, having carried out extensive research on many different types of couches, laps, chairs, floors, beds and trains in a diverse array of circumstances. Vera writes about the dangers of a seemingly benign behavior that can be witnessed around the world, even in your own gym!

I write today in the hopes of educating about the dangers of lifting with plates that are mismatched. While this may seem like an arbitrary action, it is in fact, one that unleashes a massively destructive impact on the immediate environment, our society and even our solar system. To prove my point, I have compiled the data from several scientific studies and first-hand accounts of such atrocities.

If you are unaware of what such a practice looks like, here is an example:

image1

Take care to read the scientific evidence behind the following devastating effects of lifting with weights that do not match. Heed my warning for your own good and the good of humanity.

1. You’ll Die

You’ll just die. It happened to my mom before she even had the chance to conceive me. I never even got to know her.

Still don’t believe me? Just ask the inhabitants of the Island of Brahemia. Oh wait, you can’t. BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD. All of them. Wiped out by the unknowing neglect of the law of iron. All we know is that the last status update that came from an inhabitant of that that place was “all my bros dicks are falling off and we are dying AF. plz send halp”.

2. Nickleback

A fate worse than death.

While performing a rep with mismatched plates, the lack of symmetry between the two sides amplifies the effects of a vile frequency. The reverberations trigger a cataclysmic event – the unmistakable sounds of Nickleback music. A deeply unfortunate event. It’s theorized that this is the cause of the aforementioned fate.

I took it upon myself to verify this, and I am sad to say that it is true. I could only three manage light reps before suffering from crippling nausea. I am grateful to have escaped with my life.

3. Your sex organs will shrink

In 2013 a team of BroScientists collected data from a group of 46 men and women, ages 18-24, who were subjected to a 12 week training program. All participants in the study were cleared for strength training based on their Tinder profiles.

The participants practiced barbell training 3 days per week. They Squatted, Bench Pressed, Overhead Pressed and Deadlifted. The control group (Group A) lifted with plates of matching make and size. The other group (Group B) lifted with a janky ass set of weights, leaving them with no choice but to mismatch weights.

The BroScientists recorded fluctuations in body fat %, male penis size, female bra cup size, number of Instagram followers, quality of each individual’s relationship with his or her mother, and desire to wear Vibram Five Fingers.

The results? Group A realized decreased body fat while either maintaining or increasing penis size and bra cup size for the males and females, respectively. Group A also experienced increased Instagram activity, getting “likes” from socially popular individuals such as Kim Kardashian and The Rock, who could definitely smell what was cooking. The relationships between those in Group A with his or her mother improved, even if it was described as “Good” from the beginning. No fewer than seven (7) mothers started doing the laundry of her offspring. Lastly, there was a favorable decrease in any desire to wear Vibrams. Each Group A lifter finished the study with the conclusion that they “would sooner die than wear those terrible things.”

Now for Group B. After 12 weeks, about half of Group B showed signs of dying. Additionally, average penis and bra cup sizes decreased to an unfortunate state described as “I’m sure it’s just because your hands are so big.” Several mothers of members of Group B revised their wills and claimed to have been barren their whole lives. We don’t even need to talk about Instagram. Oh, and they all bought those fucking toe shoes.

4. Gastrointestinal distress

Lastly, if you mismatch your plates, your chances of farting mid-rep are increased by 97%. Do you want to be that person in your gym? Sure, it happens, but why would you want to habitually tempt social suicide? Additionally, our ozone layer is fucked up enough as it is.

There you have it. Even if you are just knocking out your warm-up reps, don’t subject yourself or others to these potential atrocities.

Doing the hard thing

Who told you that “training” was going to be easy? Did you expect to be comfortable? If you haven’t realized yet that, you’re probably new to training or you need to find a new program. Just ask anyone who’s been training seriously for more than a couple years, your belt being “tight and pinchy” is nothing compared to trying not to piss or shit yourself during your set. Yes, that’s actually a thing.

When you train, you have goals – goals to become stronger or leaner, or both, than you are now. Creating this kind of change requires you to put your body under a stress that it has not yet experienced because you need to give it a reason to adapt, you need to overload it. Which of these words: “stress,”adapt”,” or “overload” give you cause to think that working hard won’t be involved?

We’ve all had things that we really wanted – to graduate, to get a new job, to get a raise, to run a business, to maintain a relationship, to get over an addiction, etc. What kinds of sacrifices did you make to get the things you wanted? Surely they weren’t all easy to make, I bet some of them were really fucking hard to make and you questioned yourself many times. But, you get up everyday and you make the choices, sometimes they are easy and sometimes they are hard. Sometimes the payoff is quick and others are years away, but you build your future one brick at a time, not in one shot.

In his book, The Mindful Athlete George Mumford writes about achieving great things on and off the court, “Often these things come incrementally. Remember that taking small steps, consistently, in the right direction will eventually yield big results. That said, you have to have motivation and intention behind these small things.”  Keeping your intention in mind will carry you through difficult times. Taking steps with intention, even if they are small, can yield powerful results. Similarly, training is a process that involves spending hours and hours working on your technique, learning from your mistakes and putting in the work, even when you don’t want to.

You’re not going to want to go to the gym every single time. You’re going to be tired, you’ll get sick, you’ll have a bad training day, you’ll have to deal with an injury and the weights will feel heavy. Of course the weights feel heavy! That’s their job! Stop accepting every little thing as an excuse to skip the gym. If you can’t make it to your normal gym, bite the bullet and get to another one. Does something hurt? Modify your workout. Feeling sick or tired? Lower the weights or drop a set. You owe it to yourself to at least get the gym, any gym, and do the best you can. Putting in the work will contribute to your intention and give you good training days, too.

There are certainly good reasons for needing to miss a workout, but there are definitely a higher number of unacceptable reasons. I can tell the difference between someone who is dedicated and someone who isn’t. When you show up to the gym, notice you’ve forgotten your shorts and squat till you’ve torn a hole in your jeans, you are dedicated. When part of you travel arrangements are finding gyms and tailoring your program accordingly, you are dedicated. When you show up to a session obviously tired from your demanding job but forge ahead, you are dedicated.

On a personal note, I’ve successfully and unsuccessfully spent training sessions holding back tears and doubting my capabilities. At times like these it’s incredibly easy to go into a dark place. For me, having a light house is important. The light house, in this context, is the person who can remind me of what I know but am too emotional or tired to remember for myself, even though I can see if for others. Your coach can see things that you may not be able to. Listen to him or her!

Learning what it takes to achieve what you really want can be a difficult process. If you’re a little lost here, you may need some input to help you manage your expectations and be realistic with your circumstances. A good coach can help you strike a balance.

So, until you can get a 500lb Deadlift from Amazon Prime or a 225lb bench delivered from an app invented by some skinny hipster with no ass , you’re going to have to put in the time, make some sacrifices and be tough. Show up, take the bad training days with the good and do your best not to shit yourself (especially if you are wearing your jeans with the hole in them). You’ll need to ask for help and guidance along the way, but the only person who can actually make the change is you.

What it is

This blog contains:

  1. Personal revelations, thoughts and ideas about lifting, training, eating, learning, feeling and living that tend to occur between sets. Although, I may stray once or twice to include any magic that occurs during a set.
  2. Grammatical errors.

I have no experiences other than my own. Just as you have yours. To each of us, they are completely unique as are the learnings and interpretations that come from them. I hope that by sharing my own, I may help you to create possibilities and accomplish what is important to you, between sets or during.