Is This Your First Weightlifting Meet?

So you've signed up for your first weightlifting meet? Congratulations! There are some things you should know before you get out on the competition platform.

First, you'll need a USA Weightlifting membership and a singlet (these are my favorite, and these will do as well).

A couple of weeks before the meet, you'll receive the start list that will tell you what session you're in, what time you weigh in, what time you lift, etc. This will give you an idea of whether you need to make any hotel arrangements or adjust your travel plans or wake up routine. During this time, you don't want to make any drastic changes to your eating habits. Continue eating foods that you normally eat in the days leading up to and the day of the meet. You don't want to introduce any new foods that may not agree with your stomach during this time to avoid a crappy meet (pun intended).

On the day of the meet, you have 1 hour from the start of your weigh in time to get weighed in and declare your openers. I typically try to show up about 30 minutes before weigh in to give myself plenty of time to get there. As far as your weight goes, I wouldn't worry about weight class or cutting weight. There's no sense in adding another stress to an already nerve wracking event. After this meet, you can sit down and figure out your goals moving forward and see if a specific class is something you need to shoot for at your next meet.

Your coach (you have a coach, right?) should give you your openers before the meet. If you don't have a coach, you'll need to make sure you are extremely comfortable hitting the openers you choose. You also need to find someone to count for you during your warm ups. If you don't know anyone, don't sweat it. Weightlifting coaches are pretty nice people, so you can usually find someone to help you out the day of the meet. You just have to ask.

After you weigh in you'll have ~2 hours before the start of your session. During this time you can eat, practice visualization of your lifts, relax, or take a nap. When your session starts, you and the rest of the lifters in your session will be introduced, and then you'll have a 10 minute clock to finish your warm ups before the first lifter is announced. The weight on the bar starts at the lowest announced opener, and then builds up from there. You could be in a situation where no one else has a lift near you causing you to follow yourself after each attempt with a 2 minute clock versus the normal 1 minute between attempts. You could also be bunched up with several other lifters all lifting around the same weight causing you to have several minutes between your attempts. This is where it comes in handy to have a coach to take the stress of knowing how and when to warm up off of you so you can concentrate on making your lifts. You'll be taken through the warm up process for the snatch, followed by your three competition attempts. After a 10 minute intermission, during which you should have a snack that is easy to digest (a protein shake and gatorade or a snickers bar will do), you'll be taken through your warm up attempts for clean and jerk and then your competition attempts. 

Once you've finished that last clean and jerk attempt, you are done competing in your first weightlifting competition! But that doesn't mean you're finished yet. When you're done in the warm up area, clean up any water bottles, snack wrappers, tape, etc. to leave it clean for the next group. If there are still sessions that haven't lifted yet, you can volunteer as a loader, referee, or help your teammates out in the back. If you want to volunteer as a ref, you'll need to take the referee course from USA Weightlifting. It's a good idea to take this as it doesn't cost you anything if you're already a member, you'll understand the rules of the sport better, and it can help pass the time if you're spending all day at a meet and don't have anything else to do. It's also a good idea for parents that are comfortable with judging, as you also end up spending a lot of time at meets with your kids.

Once the meet is over, if you're able to, help clean up as a thank you to the people who ran the meet, or at the very least, say thank you to the meet director as it can be a stressful job at times. Hopefully you went 6 for 6 and you're searching for your next meet. Regardless of how you did, you should reflect on the previous training cycle and determine what adjustments need to be made before your next meet.

Good luck at your meet!


Jack Gaines