The Next Step

Last Friday you were tasked with pulling your balls out from between your legs and committing to a competition. The day you sign up will be one of the greatest days of your life because your training will suddenly have new meaning. You won’t understand this until the end of the competition. You’ll either walk away from the competition’s last effort thinking, “This was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to do it again,” or “I could have been better, I should have been better, next time I will reach my full potential.” Either way, you will be of the mindset that your life craves competition, needs it.

If you haven’t signed up for something: do it. There’s no better time to sign up. It’s like cleaning a toilet; the longer you wait, the more it stinks and the less likely you will be to do anything about it.

Assuming you’ve signed up, it’s now time to ensure your training is efficient so that you have a fun and successful first competition. Most likely you can just keep doing whatever program you’re doing now, but just do it better. Increase your bar speed on every rep. It’s easy to go through the motions, but when you actually grit your teeth, clench your B-hole, and attack every rep like it owes you money/sex/bacon/chocolate, you’ll accomplish much more. Make the bar go fast; make the weights go boom.

I found this when Googling “B-hole”

If your program has a lot of dicking around — activities that will not improve your performance in the competition — then cut them out. This is, of course, an individualistic and circumstantial thing, but you don’t need to do conditioning or irrelevant assistance exercises in the six weeks before your lifting meet (other competitions may have different guidelines). Let this be a time where you train primarily for something, and you’ll be rewarded with good progress. Especially if you put a premium on spending all of your recovery resources on specific training (i.e. recovering from compound strength lifts instead chest flyes and wiener lifts).

Next, pay attention to the “outside the gym recovery”. Improve your daily protein requirement, hydrate, sleep, do your mobility (this post is a little dated, I’ll write a new one), and eat well. If you do any of these things poorly, you will not be as prepared for your competition as you could be. If you don’t go 9/9 in powerlifting or 6/6 in weightlifting with PR’s, then you could have done something better. To be clear, PR’s are not necessarily the goal in competition because competition lifts are different than gym lifts. But, if you walk away from a good or bad competition thinking you could have done better, chances are that these “outside the gym recovery” variables could have been improved. And they can’t just be worked on a few times a week like lifting — they have to be done well every day.


Commit to something. Bash the shit out of quality reps in training and then start good habits outside of the gym. Eliminate the fluff in your program. Have a week of reduced training leading into the competition and be smart with weight choices (there are many resources on this site pertaining to meets), and you’ll walk away knowing that you busted your ass for something, and it paid off. Is there a better feeling?


42 thoughts on “The Next Step

  1. Not in for a competition (yet), but got the approval from the missus to get the squat rack and such set up in the garage. Good times shall be had by all.

  2. After signing up and paying doll hairs for a meet, my next move was to map out the next 8 weeks of training to ensure I would get what I want at the competition.

    I NEVER miss training days now. Instead of thinking “I hope I get a successful intensity day,” I think “I MUST complete these reps.”

    Signing up has brought intensity, focus, and joy back into training… And now I can officially call it “training.”

  3. I’m not familiar with all the different federations so it’s hard for me to find a meet near me. Does anyone know of one near north Alabama/south Tennessee? I would like to go to one and see what it’s like so I’ll be ready next year. Thanks.

    • Finding a powerlifting meet is actually way harder than it ought to be. It’s not impossible though. Just keep googling/searching for meets and eventually one will be announced near you. They’re usually announced officially about 3-4 months before game day. A couple to search for: “USAPL” (USA Powerlifting) or “100% Raw”

    • Hey bro, I’m in Huntsville … wanna go watch a bench press only comp in B’ham on Feb 9? Yeah, me neither.

      I wanted to go watch a comp too before I signed up. Seems like a logical first step.

  4. You’re absolutely right. There is nothing more motivating than thinking about the “other guy” is doing the day you decide you’re too tired to get under the iron. Arnold has a couple of great lines to this effect. I actually made the mistake of tryign to highlight all of the motivaitonal quotes in his new autobiography, only to realize that my book started looking like a coloring book.

  5. Do weiner lifts induce hypertrophy? Hmm, probably just in the PC muscles, and that might be a hard set to show off. Yeah, I agree then: no more weiner lifts.
    On the bright side – my back isn’t killing me any more! I’ll have to enter my own mental competition and get myself back on the program. Excellent advice Justin!

  6. Sorry to spoil the party with a team sport, but I’m stepping it up on the rugby pitch this season. I hope time this summer allows me to get in my first powerlifting meet, but as far as team sports go I think rugby fits the 70’s big bill fairly well. Tiny shorts required, beards encouraged, and men, or women, smashing each other and tossing each other in the air.

  7. This may be a stupid question: I am hoping to eventually set up a home gym this year and have while looking at bars I noticed that they have varying grip widths from 28mm to 32mm. Is there a standard bar thickness for powerlifting competitions? Olympic lifting?

  8. Signed up for the Orlando Barbell meet in Orlando, FL on Feb 23rd. Governed by APF/AAPF so basically dudes on roids/clean guys. I’ll be competing in the AAPF Raw at either 165 or 181 (currently like 164 and I dont want to worry about staying under 165)
    hoping to total 1000 pounds. We’ll see!

    Anybody else in FL?

  9. Pingback: Letter of Intent 2013 & PR Friday | 70's Big

  10. Pingback: PR Friday – 11 Jan 2013 | 70's Big

  11. Pingback: Letter of Intent | 70's Big

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.