That powerlifting meet that I just competed in was one of the most exhilarating feelings that I have not felt in a long time. It reminded me of what it feels like to compete again. The aggression, the roar of the crowd, and most of all, positive competition. There was slayer music playing for eight hours straight.
If you’re thinking about doing a meet but are hesitant, just stop and sign up ASAP. Whatever hang ups you have about not competing pale in comparison to what you’ll actually get out of the experience! Your training will be more focused, I can assure you.
Just having a fixed date to prepare for, to know that you are training for something specific, really takes away a lot if the procrastination. In fact, it really helps to bring back the love of why you lift.
Actually, part of the reason why I started to compete was so that I’d continue to have a need to train. At some point, once you jump into intermediate level training, and you realize how much patience it takes to progress in this zone, you may wonder why you even do this. This competition had made me feel as excited about strength training as when I started. It reminded me of the joys of competing, and it gave me focus above all else.
Tatted up and Hipstered down
Walking through the quiet, strip plaza on Saturday morning. It was dead quiet outside. But when I opened the door to the gym where the meet was held, I was blasted by the maelstrom of energy and weirdness that would represent the meet.
Over a hundred people cramped together. Everyone was huddled around the competition p!atform like it was a garbage can fire and we were all standing outside in the freezing cold. The energy was frightening. Full sleeved tats, jacked, and untested (what a slogan). Imagine Motley Crue, but they lifted. I’m ashamed to say that I initially felt scared. There was a feeling of being an outsider among the copious piercings, hipster beards, and some very suspicious tatoos. Who are these people? Do I really want to be like them? Is this what I’m going to become if I continue this hobby? All these irrational thoughts were passing through my mind as I tried to justify the REAL fear of actually having to compete.
Then I saw a lifter trying to stay warm. She was tough. She was thick. She looked like she could rip your head off. She, was wearing a Pikachu onesie. In that moment I realized how stupid it was for me to set up these walls of me vs them. If anything, this meet was just people being themselves and doing their thing. In fact, it was doing their thing that brought them all together at that meet. It really made me appreciate the sport of powerlifting. A fringe sport doesn’t force others to conform who they are to some pre-conceived notion of what people participating in the sport should look and act like. You just lift weight.
There was a good amount of guilt building inside of me for even conceiving the idea that I was better then these folks or that we were so different that I couldn’t/shouldn’t be part of this. Total BS. My competitors were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. When you started talking to them, they oozed with this aura of the kind of people who bring you up and don’t force their accomplishments down your throat (a nice change for once).
The Power of Honest Interest
Making friends/networking should be natural. You shouldn’t have to force it. and it really sunk into me in that moment. Something should draw you together and that common joy,interest, passion, should drop your barriers and guards and let you be vulnerable. Because you can’t fake authenticity. No one wants to be treated as a Rolodex that you just spin through like a role of toilet paper.
The Power of a Hobby
To this date, this meet would be the farthest I’ve taken my hobby of weightlifting, and the farther I go with this the more it gives back to me. People don’t do hobbies just to pass the time, and they certainly don’t spend a life time sticking to them. There is something deeper to be gained from them that keeps making people continue to take part in those hobbies. Hobbies are not just things you do on the side. They become part of hwo you are. They are not the most important thing in your life, but they are still important things.
Competition can bring out our best
Its funny though, for an individual sport to have so much camaraderie. Before my first meet, I got the advice from another competitor that it doesn’t matter what the other guys are lifting. All that matters is that you step on the platform and you leave everything there. And if you break a personal best, then you walk away with something. Even if you don’t, you now have a competitiong-grade acknowledgment of a lift’s quality. So many times we train in the gym thinking we’re being honest with our depth on our squats or that our touch and go bench press is powerful, but its not necessarily the case.
Competition really does bring out the best in us. Now, competition in the real world may not do so. You put in work and sometone else may take the credit. You have to play the slew of coroporate politics and you still might not get the prize. A person can lose hope in their own efforts, in their will to keep pushing because of how convoluted the game is. Like snakes and ladders.
But with the iron, its just you and the weight. Its just your efforts, discipline, consistency, focus, that directly correlates to success and progress. On the topic of progress, here’s the biggest lesson from weightliftng you can take. Progress is more important than anything else. Even if it means take one step back to take two steps froward. Even if you go at a snails pace, you still reach your goal, eventually.
Don’t underestimate yourself
Going into this meet, I did not intend on going for big personal bests. I didn’t even plan on cutting weight, yet I managed to make weight. On that note, make sure to have an accurate scale to measure weight with. My deadlifting was very conservative as I bombed my two bench attempts and got stapled by by my last squat (I got really excited by the hype and moved too fast, sacrificing technique). The fatigue of the overall meet was starting to creep up. I ended up going for an 18 pound or of 419 on the third attempt, which went up fast. However, I got a talking to by a couple of lifters as to why I held back.
One elderly guy who was deadlifting 350 said something that had me. He said that we train with good form so we don’t hurt ourselves but when it comes to the meet, it should be a different story, especially on the last attempt of the night. You should go for broke. The meet is the only time when you’ll be this amped up. Go for it. I had not completely flipped the switch.
Squats 350/380/400 (miss) Bench 190/225 (miss)/no third attempt Deadlift 375/396/419 (played it conservative on deadlifts with a small PR). Overall, I have takeaways to improve on for the next meet and had the chance to meet some great people. Competing was totally worth it.
NOTE: Posts like these usually are a reflection of peoples’ performance at meets and what they can do technically to get better. The reason I’ve gone away from that is to really motivate anyone reading to go ahead and compete. You are really cutting yourself off from the community and big picture that this hobby can provide. Do it for the experience as well as for the positive impact that it will have on your lifting.
For this reason, I’ve signed up for a marathon in May. Competition is a drug and the best way to learn is to compete, in my opinion.