Estimated reading time: 7 mins
If you haven’t heard… We’re following our copywriter as she prepares to compete in powerlifting for the first time. And today Ellie will be sharing her experience with insights on what to expect on comp day.
Comp day is here!
My stomach was swarming with butterflies but I was fuelled and ready to tackle the challenge. Comp day had arrived and there was no backing out now!
We arrived at the venue at 8.00am on a rather cold and drizzly Hobart day. My gym bag was packed to the brim with everything I would need (basically everything but the kitchen sink). I also had a separate ‘snack bag’ containing an assortment of food and drinks to get me through the day (aka a good stash of sour worms).
I was keen to start fueling up so I had plenty of energy to lift, but my first point of call was weigh in.
First order of business: Weigh in and gear checks
The first part of the day involves taking off all your clothes in front of a referee.
My meet, like most powerlifting competitions, had a two-hour weight in (i.e you weigh in two hours before lifting). The point of this is to ensure you’re within the weight of the class you registered for. But never fear, if you’re over or under you can just slot into a different class.
Basically, you strip off and the refs record your name, weight, Powerlifting Australia member number, weight class and your first attempts on all three lifts. Before you leave they’ll hand you a stack of coloured cards, these are your attempt cards.
You have three cards for each lift which you fill in and give to the team on the tech desk. You (or your coach) need to get these to the tech desk within one minute after your last lift or else it will be automatically increased by 2.5kg.
Whilst waiting in line for my weigh in, one of the refs came around to check all of our gear to make sure it complies with the rules. This includes your belt, knee sleeves, soft suit, socks and so on.
After a successful gear check and weigh in, it was time to prepare for the event!
Referees will check your gear during weigh in to make sure it’s compliant with the rules
Refueling, checking rack heights and warming up
With weigh in done, it was time to eat! I first hydrated with some electrolytes as I hadn’t had anything to drink since waking and followed it up with a Protein Matrix+ smoothie as this was easy to get down.
Another important thing to do now is check your rack heights on the squat and bench press. For most people they haven’t ever lifted on the gear used in competition and it will likely differ to the rack height you know at your own gym.
Having the right rack height is key to setting yourself up for a good lift (especially for the squat), you don’t want to be calf raising the bar to get it unracked! Once I found good heights, I wrote them down on my attempt cards so they could be set up for me each lift.
Powerlifting comp day supplementation
Like any other day I had my stash of Bulk Nutrients supps on hand to help me get through a long and tiring day.
My go to was Electrolyte Plus. Electrolytes with fast acting carbs are so useful during a meet as they not only help with hydration but deliver simple carbohydrates which can be used as energy for fuel and for replenishing glycogen stores.
I also used Pre Workout 101 to get hyped up ready to lift heavy weights! What I love about PW101 is that I can always rely on it, it’s effective for energy and performance and never leaves me with a crash at the end of the day. It’s also HASTA certified so it’s safe for use in SIA (formerly ASADA)/WADA tested sports.
Now let’s get into the actual lifting!
Starting with Squats
I can’t even explain how I was feeling before my first lift of the day. I definitely had nerves, but was also pretty excited too. Everyone I’d spoken to before the comp had said that the nerves disappear after the first squat. But for me… They didn’t really. I can’t even remember actually squatting!
Here’s what I put on the bar, just missing my third attempt…
The deadlift is probably my favourite lift and they moved so fast on the day
Then on to Bench Presses
Next came the bench press, and I was a little nervous for this as it isn’t my best lift but after the first attempt, I felt like the nerves died right down. I missed my third lift as I jumped the press call (I forgot to pause).
Finishing on Deadlifts
Now to the pointy end of the meet, the deadlift.
With minimal calls and things to stuff up I felt much more at ease and my nerves had settled down. Plus, it’s simple right? Pick up the bar and put it back down again.
Lucky for me, my deadlifts moved seriously fast and I got a 7.5kg PB with my third pull of 147.5kg!
A silver medal in tow
At the end of the day, I had completed my first ever powerlifting competition, placed second and had a great time while doing it! And this was my first ever medal too, so I was pretty stoked.
What was probably the best part was the atmosphere, everyone was so friendly, encouraging and having a good time.
I ended up with a total of 327.5kg and a Wilks score of 300.28. Overall, I’m just proud of myself for challenging myself and trying something new!
On the podium with the two lovely girls I competed with
Tips and tricks
- Food – Bring easy to eat snacks! I packed salad sandwiches for lunch but really struggled to eat them. Next time I think I’d pack more fruit and maybe a jam/honey sandwich (because carbs)
- Headphones – My hubby (also a powerlifter) swears by noise cancelling headphones to get him in the zone before lifting and I really liked doing this. It cleared my mind and allowed me to sit and rest whilst waiting to lift.
- Take it easy the week after comp! Your body may not feel that sore but you’ll likely experience CNS fatigue which will leave you feeling pretty darn tired. Take plenty of rest, sleep lots and eat well. Don’t try and go crazy in the gym, deload and let your body recover.
- Just have fun! It’s an awesome sport and fun event so just go and enjoy yourself.
Grinning from ear to ear with my first ever medal
Back to the gym I go with a new training program and new goals.
I think competing makes you hungry for more and now I want to see what I can do with a proper training stint and more practice. I’m keen to work hard and improve on my own efforts, and get even stronger.
I love going to the gym and hitting the weights, but I get more out of it when I have a goal and a plan as it keeps me accountable and stops me falling off the bandwagon. Gone are the days of wandering into the gym with no idea what I was going to train.
Thanks for joining me on this three-part blog series, I hope it’s been beneficial for any aspiring powerlifters or strong girls out there! Please leave any questions below and I will answer them.
Will I compete again? You’ll just have to watch this space.