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POWERLIFTING MEET – The Ultimate Checklist for beginners

Read on for What to expect on meet day, what to bring (checklist), and how to have a great experience!

Somehow you ended up here, on this page. Either because you’re interested in Powerlifting, you signed up and committed to doing your first meet, or you just needed a refresher on everything that’s involved in the word of Powerlifting. OR maybe it’s because I told you to (haha). Regardless of WHY you’re here, the goal of this blog post is to help you have your best first meet EVER!

I wanted to start by saying that IF you are here due to an interest in competing in powerlifting, I HIGHLY recommend finding a coach who has experience in the powerlifting community to help you out. It makes THE WORLD of a difference. I am currently taking on clients myself, BUT I would actually recommend Kurtis Tallaire (You can reach him on Instagram @kurtis.t ) because he’s been in the community for significantly longer than I have and I would say that he is extremely specialized in the sport of Powerlifting. There are also many other coaches out there in Manitoba and regardless of who you choose, it will likely be better than you trying to do it all on your own. Things to look for in a coach in the simplest terms; an energy level that you vibe with, programming that helps you feel prepared for your first meet (you should not be getting injured all the time), and preferably someone who is willing to be there to handle you on meet day (essentially pick your numbers and attempts based on how you perform). I could go on about this and touch topics like the right support, communication, form analysis, proper progressive overload, injury management, and proper peaking, but that is not the point of this post.

Once you’ve found a coach and started training and feel comfortable with the lifts, I am a big advocate for just jumping in as soon as you can to get your feet wet! That being said, this timeline differs for everyone. A lot of my clients train with me for at least a year before they jump in – not on purpose – it can just take time to build the confidence to go out and do it al in front of a crowd. If you feel ready sooner, DO IT! I usually recommend before jumping in to do 2 things. First thing – Watch a powerlifting meet. They are actually quite fun to watch, and it helps you get an idea of what you’re getting into. Second thing – Volunteer at a powerlifting meet. This isn’t required, but it makes a world of a difference. You learn a lot more of the ins and outs of a meet AND you make friends with people in the community. It really helps reduce that ‘cluelessness’ during your first meet and can make it feel less intimidating as well.

OKAY, now once you’ve done all that, and you’re ready to do a powerlifting meet, you need to get a CPU membership! There are some costs associated with Powerlifting. From mandatory singlets and other optional equipment, to a CPU membership and Truesport certification, to registration fees for an actual meet. So just make sure that you are ready to spend money on that before jumping in.

Here is the link to join the CPU (Canadian Powerlifting Union);

Follow the instructions in this link to get both your CPU membership and your Truesport Certification (Make sure you give yourself lots of time to complete this!). The certification is a course on the anti-doping policies that are in place, and this is required to be completed before you compete.

From there, register for your first meet! Here is the link to upcoming meets

Now that all that is over, you can continue training and preparing for your first Powerlifting meet! Some things to play with during prep – shoes, stance, technique, commands – be sure to familiarize yourself with commands especially. You can find this information online, and your coach can/should also go through all of this with you well beforehand. There’s also usually a free Online seminar before meets for beginners to go over all of this, which I would highly recommend attending. At about 4-6 weeks out, I would stop playing with variables like stance width and shoe choice and commit to what you’re using/doing consistently so you peak properly.

At around 2-3 weeks out start experimenting with some simpler carbs and foods you intend to eat on meet day, just to get an idea of how your body reacts to them/if they give you digestive discomfort. Do NOT bring vegetables to a meet. If you love them, save them for after you’re done. You want to choose some higher carb foods that leave you feeling fueled but not bogged down by your digestive system (lower amounts of protein and fats because these slow digestion down). There will be some examples below but rice crispies, peanut butter honey sandwiches, oatmeal with chocolate chips, candy, Gatorade, etc. are all things that work very well for keeping you full but not too full, and providing you with energy to fuel your best performance possible. If you’re water cutting, be sure to bring salt, Pedialyte, and Gatorade powder so you can rehydrate ASAP after you weigh in. Pedialyte is a favourite for that. After weigh ins, if you’re water cutting, drink 1L of Pedialyte before you eat. Choose a good breakfast (oatmeal is my go to and it’s portable – or overnight oats) – whatever you’ve practiced with. Continue to hydrate until it’s time to warmup. I would wait to eat breakfast just so you weigh in a little lower, unless you’re not competing against anyone, then it doesn’t really matter if you choose to eat breakfast before or after weigh ins. I would not do coffee (risk of digestive upset – especially after water cutting), but energy drinks/caffeine pills/pre-workout are all fair game. After squats, eat something small, and chew on candy while you wait for bench. If you’re caffeine tolerant, have some more. If not, you might be able to wait until after bench to have another round, but I WOULD recommend another round for deadlifts. Usually you’ll be tired by then so it’s good to have something to help keep your energy up for the biggest lift of the day! After Bench, you also want to make sure you eat your biggest meal of the day, whatever that is – oatmeal, sandwiches, bananas, all of the above, give yourself some time to digest it but definitely try to eat more than you did before bench. And STAY HYDRATED throughout the day with Gatorade and water and maybe even salt.

Now, let’s talk ATTITUDE. I’m sorry but it’s your first meet, and you have no business going in there acting like you’re better than everyone else and/or deserve a break because of your limb length/age/water cut. You are just as important as every single other lifter out there. It is your day, but it is THEIR DAY too so don’t forget that. Be respectful of other people no matter what. And regardless of if it’s your first meet, or your 15th, leave your ego at the door and give it everything you can for THAT DAY, understanding that every single day is going to be different. It also does not matter what you hit in the gym on your own time for lifts, it is DIFFERENT on that platform where you get ONE CHANCE and ONE MOMENT to hit the number you set out to hit, under the eyes of a crowd and 3 judges who get to decide if you hit the standard of the lift or not. It does NOT matter what your coach thinks, what you think, or what the crowd thinks, if the judges call it a no lift, it is a no lift. Make the changes and redo it. Does it suck? Of course it does! But this sport is SUBJECTIVE and if they think that you did not meet the standard, then you have work to do to change that. If you miss your first attempt, I would recommend ALWAYS repeating the weight you missed on your second, no matter what the lift is or what the reason was. There are exceptions, but if you’re a beginner, it’s better to play it safe. The last thing you want is to risk bombing out, especially on our first meet. I like to make the goal of getting 9/9 on all 3 lifts, and if something goes awry, that’s okay, it happens. Do not try hitting some number in your head that you have no business doing that day because NO ONE really cares about the number you DIDN’T actually lift. Make sure you take the time to connect and talk to people. The powerlifting community is a great place to make friends. And remember that you’re there to HAVE FUN. This sport is supposed to challenge you and your limits, providing you with a safe place and the best energy ever to max out your lifts and see what your body is capable of. Embrace it, and enjoy it. Because before you know it, that 12 week or 6 month prep that you had will all be over and you’ll be looking back at a (hopefully) positive experience. So don’t dwell on the negative stuff while you’re there.

Now that we’ve talked about all of that, here’s the main thing you may or may not be here for, the MEET DAY CHECKLIST:


o CPU membership # (Picture of it is fine if you don’t have it printed out)

o TrueSport Certification (Picture is also fine)

o Photo ID (Driver’s License)

o Competition singlet

o Competition underwear* You cannot go commando, and Boxer style is also not aloud.

o Deadlift Socks (knee high)

o Regular socks

o Competition shirt (No V-necks allowed, and mainly no logo that is not approved by IPF – T shirt MUST cover shoulders. Any MPA volunteer shirt is good.)

o Shoes – Lifters and deadlift shoes (or whatever you use for lifts)

o Opening Attempts for S/B/D - In KG, not lbs

o Know your rack heights for bench and squat (can also figure this out on meet day but you will need them for weigh ins)



o Belt - if you have a lever belt and you’re water cutting – you might want to bring a flat head screwdriver just in case to adjust for the difference between AM and End of day weight.

o Knee sleeves

o Wrist wraps

o Baby powder

o Chalk (good to have just in case)

o Extra underwear, change of clothes

o Pad (if you tend to pee during heavier lifts and are worried about it being noticeable – or don’t. It’s not the end of the world and totally common among female lifters)

o Headphones

o Smelling salts (if you have experience with these, if not, please DON’T lol)

o Sandals to wear between events

o Foam roller, lacrosse ball, massage gun – if you’re used to having access to these

o Potentially bands if you use those to warmup – big/mini. (I usually bring my bag of them to meets for my clients)


o Gatorade OR Gatorade powder – MUST

o Pedialyte (Especially if water cutting)

o Water bottle with water but you’ll be drinking mostly Gatorade because ENERGY 😊

o Tums

o Table Salt

o Candy – your favourite kind ! Mine is fuzzy peaches. Sour patch kids too but sometimes those make me feel a little ill.

o Pre-workout (if you take it) and/OR caffeine pills and/or Energy drinks (I usually opt for an energy drink or 3… 😉 JUST ON MEET DAY I PROMISE)

o REAL-ISH FOOD – mostly carbs, no matter how healthy you are, you want to be fueled by carbs with very little in the way of your digestion of them. Good examples;

- Peanut butter honey sandwiches

- Oatmeal w/ chocolate chips and bananas

- Bananassssss

- Rice crispies

- Even Sweet potato!

Tada! Hope this helps! Remember, it’s you VS. you, even if you have other people competing in your weight class, you have no control over what they lift. Just do the best you can and at the end of the day that is all that really matters.

Buh bye for now!

Mercedes Wyenberg

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