9 Things you should know about lifting at your First Meet

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Caboose Barbell Club has so many very new lifters. Many of these lifters will be at their first ever meet this weekend.

New Orleans newest and largest Olympic Weightlifting Facility

New Orleans newest and largest Olympic Weightlifting Facility

Redline Athletics is hosting the Louisiana State Championships and we are attending in full force. If this is your first time ever doing a weightlifting meet, there are some things you need to know.


Let’s start from the beginning. This meet is 6 days away from now, as i write this. That means, 1 week out -> we should be in a full training taper. Your training should be relatively heavy still, but you’ll only be working up to a very specific percentage of what you want to hit in your competition.

Tapering could be it’s own blog, but here’s the TL;DR. Reduce the number of lifts, increase the intensity (weight). You’re not going to get stronger in this phase. You want to let your body recover fully while keeping the movement crisp and fast.

You want to hit every single attempt during this week. Successfully hit every attempt. In weeks leading up to this, your body is usually pretty wrecked and beat up for the progression of the training. You might even be missing a majority of lifts above 85%, which is fucking frightening.

It’s at that point you begin to doubt your training. “What’s going on? What am i doing wrong? This program is failing me, i should change it up” DON’T. DO. THAT. Your program isn’t the problem, it’s your body. You’ve used and abused it and now it’s struggling. What happens in the week of taper is quite amazing. As your body begins to overcompensate for the stimuli placed on it during the past 8-16 weeks of training AND you pull back from the volume, hormones skyrocket and your body becomes much stronger, faster and explosive than you thought possible. By competition day, you should feel good AF.

We have a program designed for this – click here to learn more. Programming is available upon request.

How much ya weigh?

Weightlifting is all in kilos, which makes you way smarter when telling everyone about your lifts and weights. You’re on par with the rest of the world now. You’re smarter and better than they are. Quite often, you’ll have to dumb yourself back down for the “box people” and tell them in pounds, but at meets, you are amongst your own kind and can speak freely in kg.

Weight Classes are as follows:

How to make weight

If this is your first meet, don’t worry about it. If you’re just a little bit over, you’ll want to buy a scale that shows kilos and check in the days leading up to the competition. If you’re 1 or 2 kg over the night before, you’re typically ok as long as you:

  • Reduce carb intake

  • Completely get rid of anything sodium in your diet

  • Don’t drink anything liquid

  • Eat light, protein packed meals with high fat content.

If you are looking to cut more weight, specifically more water weight, here are a few blogs that i would recommend

Weigh In

You should weigh in exactly 2 hours before your session begins. You must be below the weight of your weight class. As an 85kg lifter, i would need to be 84.9 or below to compete. There will only be one scale so right when you arrive at the meet, go check your weight on the scale.

If you miss your weight, you still have 2 hours to run, sweat or spit to get under. That just means you’ll have less time to recover after you weight in. Not advisable! 

At night, you probably want to go to sleep about 1kg over weight, depending on how early you weigh in. At 8am, you should be fine because you’ll lose 2kg overnight. 

Recovering after the weigh-in

You should have food and drinks packed from the night before. Good post weigh in food should be easy to digest and high in protein & carbohydrates. Avoid fat, it won’t do you any good here and will slow digestion. Lot’s of people eat big turkey sandwiches, protein + carb shakes, take a multi-vitamin and perhaps a protein bar.

Depending on how much water weight you had to lose, you’ll want to hydrate as much as possible as quickly as possible. Some people even bring pedialite with them. I remember at Nationals in Chicago pedialite was sold out at all the nearby stores.

Sit down, drink first, wait 10 minutes then eat. You want the water to absorb as quickly as possible and if you eat first, it might sit heavier in your belly.

Warming up

Depending on the venue and amount of lifters, you might have to share a platform with other lifters. Contrary to what you might think, everyone else is nervous too. They also have anxiety over choosing which platform to use and who to use it with. It’s awkward to have to share, but it happens and everyone deals with it. Remember, be courteous and always ask permission.

Additionally, about sharing platforms. Be very open about what weights you’re lifting next. If they make a huge jump that you’re not ready for, it’s ok. Take the weight off and put on what you need. If this happens often, you’re probably warming up with the wrong person. You should choose someone that’s lifting right around the same time you are. Your coach will help you make that decision.

As far at the warm ups go,

  • 90 minutes out: Pro tip, meditate.

  • 1 hour out: you should do some light stretching

  • 45 minutes: get all your gear on and get ready to go, continue stretching and activation exercises specific to you.

  • 30 minutes out: Begin to feel the barbell. Pick it up, hold her, whisper to her, grasp her gnurl, feel her whip. Hang out in the end range of motion a bit, go deep and relax.

  • 15 minutes out: start taking lifts 20%x5, 50%x3, 60%x2, 70%x1, 80%x1, 85%x1, 90%x1

  • Your coach should be there telling you when to take the lifts and how much to take.

Stepping onto the platform

If it’s your first time ever, It is customary for you to cartwheel to your bar then yell out your name and the team you represent. Be loud about it. It’s totally normal i swear.

JK, don’t do that. Your name will be called and you’ll be “on deck”, which means you’re next. Once the person on the platform drops the weight, loaders (competition helpers) will load your barbell. After the barbell is loaded, the timer begins and you have exactly 2 minutes to initiate the lift.

Walk confidently to the chalk and get your hands white. Then, look at the bar and look at the crowd. Find a spot to concentrate your eyes. You do not want to catch a lift, get distracted by someone’s zebra striped nike metcons and forget what you’re doing. (This actually happened to me in my first meet).

Get your feet set, find the spot to look, grab your bar and pull the fuck out of it. Commit to getting under and you’re all set!

The Lifts

Snatch: You will perform the snatch first. You have 3 attempts to successfully make a lift. That means, you must catch the weight overhead with arms locked out. Any rebend of the elbows will “red light” your lift. We will get to “red lights” in a moment.

Also, if any part of your body makes contact with the platform, other than the bottom of your shoes, it’s No-Lift.

Clean and Jerk: After all the competitors in your session complete the snatch, you’ll typically get 10 minutes of rest, then move onto the clean and jerk. Again, you’ll have 3 attempts to successfully complete the clean and jerk.

Unlike Crossfit, you won’t get credit for the jerk if your elbows bend when you receive the weight. This is the most common problem in weightlifting, the lockout. There are 3 people judging your lifts. If any one of them see something wrong, they can red light you. You need 2 of 3 lights to make or miss a lift. Reds are bad, whites are good. 

Progression of the Competition Lifts

Your coach will need to help you here, please allow them to play a significant role in helping choose weights for you.

When a weight is loaded on the bar it remains on the bar or increases. You cannot decrease the weight at any time. So if 50kg is on the bar, you have to lift at least 50kg. You can, however, ask for more weight.

In weightlifting, it is sometimes common at higher levels of competition to increase the weight before each attempt. This is a very complicated strategy and often used to throw off your competition. Your coach will often make this decision for you. This isn’t something you should ever think about.

The competitor who lifts the lightest weights will lift first. Stronger, better lifters lift last since the bar only increases in weight. So, if you’re really new, you’ll probably be lifting early on in your session. That’s ok! In fact, it’s much easier to warm up this way beacuse you and your coach know pretty much exactly when you lift so the timing of your warm up reps doesn’t fluxuate.

Your first attempt one the platform should be a very confident lift. Something you know you can make. The goal isn’t to try to PR here, it’s to win. As a newer lifter, you want to try to make all 6 of your lifts.  Sometimes winning and going after a new record are one in the same, but odds are, setting a PR won’t be the goal. Usually, lift one is around 92-94% of your current max (or goal max).

If your first lift was successful, you can go 95-98% on your second attempt. If you make this, you can go 101% or a little more depending on how you feel.

Now, immediately after each lift, you calmly walk back stage to wait for your next lift. If you are following yourself, you have 2 minutes until the next attempt on the bar should be made. If someone else is lifting, they have 1 minute to take their lift.

  • You: 1 minute to snatch 50kg. If you make it, then next person has 1 minute to make their lift. Their clock begins when the loaders are done loading the bar. If you miss it and no one else is attempting that weight, you have 2 minutes to try again. 

Here’s the story of my first National Level meet, the American Open in Orlando, FL 2016. I was in the middle of my session and my coach and I chose the weight 125kg to open at for snatch. At that time, my best ever was 130kg. I was hoping to hit 130kg or more, but i missed my first two attempts. Attempt one at 125kg was a bad miss. I didn’t pull hard enough and couldn’t get under. My next attempt stayed at 125kg but there were a few other lifters that still wanted to hit 125kg so I have a few minutes before I had to lift again. I also missed my second attempt like an idiot. Pulled way too hard and threw the barbell behind me. Now, i was following myself. My coaches forced me to stay at 125kg so I followed myself and had 2 minutes to make it after the miss. I made the lift. 

After your 3rd snatch, it’s now time to start thinking about clean and jerks. All the same rules apply. As I mentioned, you’ll have about 10 minutes between the last snatch and the first clean and jerk. If you’re lifting first, you should start warming up for your C&J right after the last snatch. If you’re lifting later in the session, you might want to have a little snack.

Then, go clean and jerk! After your 3rd lift, you’re done homie!

Check out this video from the 2017 National Championships!


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