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How to Prepare for Your First Weightlifting Meet

Probably the most intimidating thing about a weightlifting meet is not knowing what to expect or how they work. So let’s go behind the curtain and clear all of that up!  We will go through the pre-meet details here, and part 2 will cover the day of.

Step 1: Pick a Meet & Register

You will want to find a meet that is at least 6 weeks out so you’ll have plenty of time to prepare & train. I personally prefer to go 12 weeks out so I can complete a full training cycle prior.

In order to register you will need to know a few things.

Determine your weight class

They are in Kilos, so take your weight in pounds & divide it by 2.2 to get your weight in Kilos. I would select the one that you fall into at your mid day weight eating as you usually would. You can cut or mass to hit another weight class but I would not recommend doing that for your first meet.  Use the first meet to get a feel for the flow of these events vs worrying about weigh in.

If the competition day rolls around and you gained or lost weight, you can still declare a new weight class.  You just need to tell the judge at the weigh in prior to stepping on the scale.

Weight Classes

USA Weightlifting Membership Number

You will also need to register as a USAW Member in order to compete, so make sure to do that when you sign up for the meet itself! Here is the link to join: USAW Registration.

Search for a local meet that is at least 6 weeks out and get registered HERE.

Step 2: Train & Prepare!

Pick a Training Program/Cycle: Now that you’ve determined when you will be competing, it is time to get a plan together.  There are some great free programs out there, or we can help you put a plan together based on your goals for the meet.  (More to come on this option in June!)

Learn the Rules: If you’ve never seen a weightlifting meet before, I would highly recommend reading through the rules so you are prepared.  There are a long list of rules, and if you’d like to nerd out you can read them all HERE.

A few basic rules are:

  • You get 3 attempts at the Snatch, then 3 at the Clean & Jerk.
  • The order of lifters goes from lowest attempt and builds up from there.You will need to declare your next lift to the scores table so you can be worked into the lifting order.
    • Once a barbell is loaded weight cannot go down. So you will want to make sure your next attempt is submitted so you don’t miss the weight on the bar you want to attempt. (Have a coach or friend help with this, it makes life much easier).
  • You have 1 minute from the time the bar is loaded and you are called lift.
  • If you are following yourself (for example you missed and want to repeat a weight and no other lifters will be attempting that weight), then you get 2 minutes for that lift.
  • You must catch the barbell with locked out arms for it to count. If you press out it will be a no lift.

Determine your Openers

Your opener should be something you can hit for 2-3 doubles during training. You should be able to hit it 1-2 times in the back (for the snatch, not the clean & jerk) with 100% confidence. Then walk out and crush it for your first attempt.

Second attempt should still be something you’re confident in, and not more than a ~4kg increase from the first on the snatch. For Clean & Jerk not more than ~6kg for the second attempt. The third attempt can be a bit more risky, but something you typically make at least two out of three times in training.

Set Goals: This is your first meet, so set your goals accordingly. My first meet’s goals were

  • Have fun
  • Learn as much about meets as possible
  • Get a Total (AKA hit at least 1 snatch & 1 Clean & Jerk)

While it is possible to hit a personal best lift at your first meet, I would plan to pick an opener you know you can hit. Be a bit more conservative as nerves are a funny thing during that first lift with all eyes on you.

Practice!

Find some time to get together during an open gym with friends for a mock meet (we are happy to help). Two weeks before a meet is a great time to try out your openers in this format.  Even if it is just lifting with a few friends with the timer running. Ask someone pretending to be the judge that will be in front of the “platform.” Have them simply give you the “down” call, which is what the judge will do at the meet once you have the bar controlled.

Up next: A Guide to the Day of the meet