What to Bring (I always forget something, so here are my musts)
- Weightlifting Shoes (or whatever shoes you usually lift in)
- Any training equipment you usually use to lift. Knee sleeves/wraps, belt, tape. You may want to bring some chalk just in case.
- A written down plan for your warm-ups (or a coach who is doing this for you, we can help with this!)
- Your USA Weightlifting membership card. You’ll need to show this during weigh in (can be printed out or a digital version on your phone works too).
- Food, water, supplements and anything else you like to use before a workout.
- Layers of clothing to stay warm, and maybe even a pillow if you’d like to lie down and relax after you weigh-in.
You will get notified (usually via email) of what time your session & weigh ins will be, usually 2-3 hours prior to your session. If for some reason you are over or under your originally declared weight class, you just need to tell the official at your weigh in BEFORE you hop on the scale. You will also need to tell them your opening lifts at that time. Remember to divide your planned weight in pounds by 2.2 to get the correct weight in Kilos to submit.
The time between weight in and lifting tends to be the most stressful. Do your best to stay relaxed, stay hydrated eat a light snack or meal (especially if you fasted for weigh in). I like to watch the session happening before me to get a feel for timing and flow of the event, and it’s also a nice distraction and a great way to support your fellow lifters!
Warming Up Overview
Timing warm ups is probably the toughest part of the meet. I would HIGHLY recommend having a coach or a friend help you plan this out and submit your weights to the marshal, even if they are just the runner so you can focus on lifting it will help.
The lifting order with athletes’ openers will be listed either on a TV, or the cards with attempts will be laid out on the marshal’s table. You will want to take a look at that list so you can determine the starting order and where you fall within it. The easiest way to plan is to assume each attempt will take about one minute.
I like to do a warmup before touching the barbell consisting of PVC pass throughs, air squats, inch worms & some yoga flows for shoulders and upper back openers. Then an empty barbell warm up, finally building up to my snatch opener.
At some point during this time, I like to find a focal point, or something to look at during your lifts on the platform. I’ll peek around the corner, look above the judge centered in front of the platform and pick a spot that I’ll look at while I lift. It’s usually a logo, or a wall ball line or even the top edge of the back wall. Something I can focus on that won’t move if someone in the crowd does. (At my first meet I missed a lift because I made weird eye contact with someone in the crowd. Don’t be like me.)
Strategy to Build to Your Opener
The easiest way to explain this is with an example. You NEED to be flexible in your plan as things change with lifts the day of, but having an outline of your planned building sets will help greatly!
Here is an example of how to time your lifts for the snatch:
In this example there are 10 lifters in your session, and you would like to open with 70kg (154lbs).
There are three lifters opening with 50kg, two opening with 60kg, two opening with 65kg, you at 70kg, and two more at 80kg.
- The lifters opening with 50kg will likely take all three of their attempts before you open – that’s nine lifts.
- The lifters opening with 60kg will likely take at least two attempts before you open – that’s another four lifts.
- The lifters opening with 65kg will likely take one attempt before you open – that’s two more.
- There’s no need to worry about the guys opening with 90kg, because they’ll open after at least your second attempt.
So given this example, there will be about 15 attempts before your opener (9+4+2=15). And we are assuming 1 min per attempt, so that puts us 15 minutes out from the first lift, so we want to be ready at about that time.
- 3 lifts out/mins (when there are three lifts before your first attempt) take 68-70kg (last warm-up)*
- 6 lifts out/mins, take 65kg
- 9 lifts/mins out take 60kg
- 12 lifts/mins out take 55kg
- 15 lifts/mins out, take 50kg
- 18 lifts/mins out, take 40kg
- 20 lifts/mins out, warm up with the bar
Since you are the 16th lift of the session, this means you should be done with your general warm-up (rolling out, stretching, etc) and taking the empty bar roughly 5 minutes or a little more before the session starts. Particularly in your first meet, it’s better to be a little bit ahead of the clock than a little bit behind it, so start a few minutes before you really need to and slow down a bit if you get too far ahead.
There is also an introduction that happens just before your session where all of the lifters are introduced. Takes about 3-5 minutes, so plan for that. So if this session began at noon given the lifts shown, I’d start my warm up at 11:40 (non barbell stretching), and pick plan to pick up the barbell at 11:50, then lifting every 3 minutes or so.
After snatching is complete, C&J is up next. Grab a light snack & make sure to hydrate. Meets have a 15 minutes reset between snatch and clean & jerk, so keep an eye on time once the last lifter goes to time your warm ups for the clean & jerk.
You’ll want to do the same math as we did previously to see if you are still 16th to open. It will likely be a similar spot, but since not all athletes have balanced lifts, you may be quite a bit earlier or later in the session so don’t skip the math!
Warm ups for clean & jerk are similar, but with a few tweaks. Let’s say you are opening with 90kg (198lbs):
- 4 lifts/mins out, take 85kg
- 8 lifts/mins out, take 80kg
- 12 lifts/mins out, take 75kg
- 15 lifts/mins out, take 70kg
- 18 lifts/mins out, take 60kg
- 21 lifts/mins, take 45kg
- 24 lifts/mins, take the empty bar (if you take the bar before clean & jerks)
Biggest difference here is we are lifting every 4 minutes/attempts once it gets heavy or so vs 3 for the snatch. C&J is heavier and more taxing so a bit more rest is helpful between lifts. So if we were 16th again, I’d start with the barbell about 10 minutes prior to the first C&J attempt.
*Some people like to hit their opener in the back before their first attempt. I aim to hit about 5-10 lbs shy of it for my last warm up to save what I can for the bigger lifts/attempts, and its consistent with how I build to heavy lifts in training. This comes down to personal preference.
Go Time – On the Platform
RELAX. You have put in the work. You had a solid warm up plan, you are ready.
The announcer will call the next lifter, as well as who is on deck. This is when I stand up and prepare to walk on once they call my name.
The most important thing to remember once your name is called: YOU HAVE TIME! DO NOT RUSH. With 30 seconds remaining on your clock, a buzzer will sound, to let you know where you’re at.
As soon as my name is called I walk to the chalk bucket, and take a deep breath while I chalk up. Upon approaching the bar, find the focal point which you located earlier. Once you’re set on it, don’t take your eyes off of it unless you absolutely have to. Forgot to pick one earlier? No biggie, simply walk to the center of the platform, take & break & look past the crowd. Find it, then your approach the bar.
DO NOT rush your set-up. Approach, setup, & lift just like you do every time in training. This is probably where I see the most new lifters miss their attempts – they get too excited and hurry through their set-up.
Once you stand up with the lift, WAIT for the down signal! This may be a referee saying “down!” or a buzzer going off. I have even added holding the bar overhead for an extra second to my training to prepare and get used to this. This is probably the most frustrating way to miss a lift in competition, so HOLD THAT BAR!
When the first attempt is done, smile & take a deep breath, the toughest lift of the meet is done. Head straight to the marshals table (or have your coach do it) and declare your next attempt. You should officially declare it within 30 seconds, otherwise you will not be allowed to make any changes. Once you’ve declared, just relax until your next attempt.
Try and pick your attempts so that you don’t have too long a rest between lifts (reference Part 1 on how to pick you attempts before hand). Stay relaxed and follow the same process for every lift. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!
If you happen to be competing in the Star of the North on June 15th and want some awesome action shots, make sure to sign up with with Samantha Chin at https://www.samanthachinphotography.com/ for an amazing photo package (like the photos in the blog)!
Courtney Shoemaker is a Co-Owner of CrossFit Icehouse and Flux, and in charge of the behind the scenes juggling to keep the Icehouse ship sailing smoothly. She is passionate about fitness and identifies as a CrossFitter, Weightlifter, Yogi, Skydiver & overall Shenaniganer.