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What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Your First Weightlifting Meet


Written by John Pate, TSS Barbell Intern

If your first weightlifting meet is quickly approaching and you have no idea what to do, don’t panic: I’m here to offer some advice to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. All of these pointers can be applied at any skill level:


  1. Do nothing.

Approach competition day as any other training day: Do not spend an additional hour warming up if you never do that in training; Do not try a new pre-workout if all you eat before training is a banana and a handful of gummy bears. Definitely do not change your form to mimic a Hookgrip video you watched the night before. By keeping your environment on meet day as familiar as possible, you will set yourself up to have a relaxed and enjoyable meet day.


  1. Embrace your feelings.

Are you nervous? Afraid? Excited? Good! Feelings are what separate humans from animals, from toaster ovens, and from the barbell. Feelings are what make life worth living and you should embrace the unique and amazing opportunity that you have to compete. Your ultimate goal on meet day should be to have fun and to enjoy the moment–hitting PR’s, making new friends, or qualifying for national meets are all experiences that can make competing in weightlifting special. Competition is a performance, and all the training sessions leading up to the meet are dress rehearsals. Trust in the skills you have developed in the time you have dedicated to this beautiful sport.


  1. Be prepared

You should know how to snatch, how to clean and jerk, and the numbers (in kilograms) that you are capable of lifting. If you are attending a USAW sanctioned meet, you should have a singlet to wear and your ID and USAW number handy at registration. Additionally, you should have your opening attempts handy for weigh-ins (with your opening total equaling at least 20kg of your entry total). Check the meet schedule to determine when you weigh-in and compete, and show up on time.


  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If the previous sections left you feeling confused, don’t hesitate to reach out and learn from those around you. Learning from seasoned USAW athletes and coaches will help you understand the flow of future meets. Ideally, you should ask questions far in advance.


  1. Be Proud

You should be proud to be partaking in this next step in your weightlifting journey. Being on the competition platform is the culmination of your hard work and sacrifice spent in training. The lessons you learn can be applied both on and off the platform. You decided to make yourself and this moment a priority and that is admirable—regardless of your game-day performance, you will grow from the experience of competing.

I can’t wait to cheer you on.

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