Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to NOT bomb at your meet and add to your total

If you remember, I wrote that I had a couple of guys I was helping out in terms of meet preparation a while back.

Well one of my guys lifted yesterday, and he bombed for the most part.  

This was very frustrating for me because he hit all of the lifts he needed to in the gym, however some of the things I needed him to do, he did not do.  And on meet day, I left it in his hands for what to use on his openers, second, and third attempts.  Obviously this was a mistake.  

To start, I believe in hitting all your lifts when prepping for a meet.  I think you should be able to hit every lift that you write out.  At the same time, this is tricky because you also must MUST grind some lifts at some point during the cycle.  Because you're going to grind some lifts at the meet more than likely, AND those grinding reps are great strength builders.  You just can't overdo it on them through a cycle.  

So I will start with that.  

At various points in the cycle the plan would call for my guy to hit a triple.  He would inform me the next day that he knew he was supposed to do a triple with it, but that the double was hard so he just racked it after the double.  This shits on the program.  I setup a double or a triple for a reason through a cycle.  Sometimes it will be hard, and sometimes it won't.  But if I need for you to do a triple, you have to at least attempt it.  If you do fail, it's not the end of the world.  It's better to fail in the gym than on the platform.

As far as attempts go, your opener should essentially be your last warm up.  I don't know how much more clear I can make that.  You don't take near PR attempts on your opener.  Your opener should account for something going wrong.  In one meet I did, I opened with a mere 315 on bench.  315,365,405 was the plan.  On my first attempt the bar popped out of my hands (I use a thumbless grip) and the bar fell on my chest.  I've never had that happen in more than a decade of thumbless benching.  I took 315 again for my second, and it was fine. 

The problem?  

315 was too light.  It shot up too  fast after the pause and right out of my hands.  Unlucky for me, I just went to 365 after that because I was nervous at that point.  Of course it was an easy lift, and I left frustrated because I knew I left 40+ pounds on the platform.  However, I at least didn't miss a lift.  To me, missing a lift on your 1st or 2nd attempt is just atrocious planning.  

Your first attempt should be something you could do if you came down with the flu on the day of the meet.  Ask yourself that question.  You should be able to do it with the flu, while a retarded monkey does a somersault over the top of you.  It should be that much of a sure thing.  At one meet, I was in fact, sick as hell.  I was on two antibiotics, sudafed, and mucinex.   I had lost at least 15 pounds over the course of the previous two weeks and weighed in at a mere 217.  I hadn't squatted in a month and when I did last it was 315.  I opened with 455 because that is a weight I can squat on my death bed.  I went to 500 after that and made that.  I went to 550 and tore my adductor off when I went into the hole on my third.  

I still benched after that and opened with 315 and made it, despite the fact that I couldn't breathe, couldn't walk, and was in incredible pain.  This is how easy your openers should be.  This is not a "look at how tough I am" story.  This is an example of how to pick openers, and second attempts.  

Your second attempt should be a small PR.  5 pounds, 10 pounds.  It could be more if you're more on the novice side.  Your third should be a big PR if it's there.  I have heard guys say that if you don't miss on your third then you didn't go heavy enough, and this is flat out retarded.  Your plan should be to be successful.  Why the fuck would I train my ass off for several months, spend money to travel, get a hotel room, eat and plan everything to miss a lift?  It's one of the dumbest things I've ever read in regards to powerlifting.  If you do miss but it's a legit attempt, fine.  But don't miss because you're being stupid.  

This shit is not complicated.  Yet every meet I've been to, I see guys opening OPENING with shit they miss.  How on Earth can you be so stupid as to open with something you miss?  Guys, leave your fucking ego at the door.  Be smart about this shit.  Or don't, and do stupid shit.  If you have missed on an opener then you failed to live in reality with your own abilities.  And I don't care how advanced you are, or how many meets you've done.  That's stupid beyond comprehension.  It's either that, or you have a mental block at competition time.  I've seen that too.  That's just something you have to overcome on your own somehow.  Sometimes a guy misses a lift or two, then his confidence goes into the shitter.  You have to learn how to overcome that and go after it for the next lift.  

So when you arrive on meet day, you should know what you want to hit on each attempt.  However the only one that should be set in stone, is your opener.  If your opener feels heavy and you are having an off day, then a PR may not be in store for you on your second attempt.  Try something you know you should be good for on your second, then the small PR on the third.  Again, this is smart planning.  I've seen guys "wake up" after a couple of attempts and hit PR's when they thought they were having an off day.  

Some may scoff at the 5-10 pound PR rule.  But think of it like this.  If you add 10 pounds on each lift, that's 30 pounds on your total.  If you compete three times that year you've added 90 pounds on your total.  In two years that's almost 200 pounds on your total.  So you've gone from a 1400 guy to a 1580 guy.  And that's a hell of a big difference. 

NFL teams don't do training camp, pre-season, and practice through the week to fail in the 4th quarter.  MMA guys don't spend months on end to lose in the last round.  Don't be a dumbass and train, only to fail on your attempts because of poor planning.  


  1. If your guy was lifting raw than it shouldn't have been that difficult to pick attempts. I see guys bombing alot in equipped meets because they have such tight stuff on they can't get depth, touch their chest, etc... In the equipped game you have to walk a fine line between optimizing equipment and still getting your openers in, which is one of many reasons I got away from lifting that way.
    At my last raw meet by second attempts were PR's by 15, 5, and 15 lbs respectively. My thirds were a 35 lb PR in the SQ that I just missed, a 25 lb BP PR that was also just missed, and a 35 lb DL PR that was successful. Even though I missed two third attempts, I PR'ed all my lifts and still had a respectable total based on what I wanted coming in. Many guys think that just because they hit a certain number once in the gym they should be good to open with it.


  2. Your frustration just melted my screen :).

  3. Exactly man. For raw guys, getting in a 5-10 pound PR is the name of the game. Not 25 pounds.

    People also forget a few things that happen at meets.

    The adrenaline surge that happens early tends to take some out of you later. And squatting effects shoulder strength for benching.

  4. Trust me bigs it's been a frustrating day and a half for me as well.