A little bit delayed but heres a little reflection of our clubs first powerlifting competition. The competition was hosted by North west powerlifting (a division of British powerlifting). The novice competition was hosted the day before but sold out within 15 minutes of accepting entries. We had two members (one male and one female), that were hoping to get a place on the novice comp. The reason for telling you this is just to highlight how proud I am of our club. As soon as the announcement was made the group pulled together and offered to form teams for the following day. This is something that both myself and the other founder of our club couldn’t have hoped for more. 

We ended up with a male team and female team.

  • Each participant only has one lift (bench, squat or deadlift) and the team form the 3.
  • Results in powerlifting are formed from working out each team members wilks score for their lift.
  • The wilks score is based on an equation based on age, bodyweight and the weight lifted.

The team competition was a mix of experienced and novice lifters. It is a fantastic experience to gain confidence and exposure in powerlifting.

British powerlifting (including the North West division) adhere to the The International powerlifting federation (IPF) rules. The IPF is the main governing body for competitive powerlifting and coaching federation standards.

With regards to the all power lifts the IPF have a comprehensive set of rules for the athletes to adhere too with regards to the the lifters apparel, attempts and the movement itself. If the movement is considered inadequate, it is classed as a non lift. Here are just a few mainly noted as there were odd non lifts on the day from most teams:

  • On the Squat you must start erect and finish the same (with the knee’s locked out and standing upright).
  • On the deadlift you must lock the knees at the top of the lift and lower the bar down (not drop).
  • You must not Hitch / roll the bar up the legs.
  • On the Bench press you must have your feet on the floor, bum, shoulders and head on the bench.
  • Also you must lower the bar to the chest and then straighten the arms before finishing the movement.
  • Wait for the cues – when to lift, lower and rack (no sooner)

Now these rules may sound obvious and simple however when the pressure is on or when fatigue kicks in from the adrenaline.

I would also like to comment on how amazing and fantastic the atmosphere was. All the coaches and other lifting teams along with the volunteers were all supportive and wanting each other to do their best… after all who wants an easy competition? to be the best you have to beat the best.

All in all our team did amazingly well. They didn’t come last or come first but they got plenty of personal best lifts (PB’s).

Everyone at the competition (including our supportive members that came to watch and support), loved the competition. It was such a positive atmosphere and truly brought the best out in everyone.

From my perspective:

On the day we set off from our club early and went down in car shares. When we arrived there was a warm up area and we waited with the team for there weigh in. Once the weigh in is done most people have their breakfast and fuel for the lift.

Our lifters were all prepared and brought food with them (do not rely on food being nearby). Make sure you also bring plenty of water.

I spent most of my time during the competition in the area behind the platform. For our lifters (it was their first time lifting -All bar one). So with this I was surprised that more coaches weren’t back there but for me I wanted to support my lifters and this was greatly appreciated by them. When nerves started to kick in I was able to talk them through, push them to up their weights when they doubted themselves, and give them the odd cue. Feedback from the day: our members really appreciated me being back there to help them focus and encourage. Some responded better to just the odd word, others needed a bit more encouraging, so for me as a coach I felt this was the right thing to do.

At national level only the qualified coaches are allowed back there or in the warm area but in smaller grass routes or team comps most will allow other supporters to be there too.

I do feel with some of our more experienced lifters and competitors this wouldn’t be necessary. Many athletes once they have had a few exposures to either competition or high pressure situations will find a method in their warm up and intrinsic coping mechanisms. Eventually identifying the pressure, nerves and adrenaline as a positive state of excitement rather than potentially overpowering nervousness.

A few more points for anyone looking to compete:

  • Before lifting you will need to measure your bench and squat rack height.
  • Don’t over do it in your warm up. This is just as risky as not warming up enough. You will fatigue fast and may find even a modest opener will feel challenging especially under pressure.
  • Practice your warm up multiple times prior to the competition day and find what works for you. If you have mobility issues/ injuries you may need a little longer on certain area.
  • Practice having your lifts spotted how they would be in competition your coaches or other competent lifters. You could even mimic the competition scenario with having 2 observers/coaches side on and in front of the the lift to pass / fail the lift (based on IPF rules).
  • In some competitions you will have a choice with bench press if you want someone to spot for you or you prefer side or centre spotters.
  • Don’t forget IPF approved apparel will be needed for most competitions (belts, knee sleeves etc)
  • No compression tops or assistance clothing.
  • There is equipped and RAW each have different options for gear that can be used.
  • High socks needed for the deadlift
  • No bare feet (pic the best shoes for you, flat or weightlifting shoes – take note of any wedge as their are restrictions on the height of these).