There are numerous things to plan out on meet day. Failing to have a realistic and sound plan can be a recipe for ruining months of hard work leading up to a meet. I can’t count the number of lifters I have seen over the years bomb out of meets because they didn’t have a good plan on meet day. They were strong, just not prepared. A very important part of this process is understanding how to set up your attempts. There are lots of different strategies, but here are some things to consider.
YOU ARE COMPETING IN KILOS NOT POUNDS
If you have been training hard for that 135lb bench press, understand that on meet day you are either going to be lifting 132lbs or 137.8. In most powerlifting federations you must take 2.5kg jumps or roughly 5.5lb jumps between attempts. Understanding this will help you set up your strategy on taking the appropriate jumps and organizing your day. Most federations will have their kilogram conversion chart on their website like USPA Powerlifting does.
SET UP YOUR OPENERS APPROPRIATELY
This is one of the most avoidable mistakes I see new lifters make. They start out too heavy and get themselves into trouble. You have 3 attempts to hit each lift. If your goal is to go 9 for 9, that would mean you would hit your heaviest/goal attempt on 3rd attempt on each lift. How you get there is important. You need to make sure you warm up appropriately in the warm up room. Usually openers are around a 4-5RM which is about 87-90% of your goal. I have seen countless people get crushed on an opener, and I scratch my head wondering what the thought process was. You want to know you have your opener in your back pocket. If you miss your opening attempt you CANNOT go back and ask the table to lower your attempt the weight can stay the same or move up.
As to why people miss the opener? Either they over trained leading up to the meet, cut too much weight before the meet and it hurt their performance, or they lifted from ego instead of knowing what they are capable of.
HAVE A MEET DAY PLAN
When you show up for weigh-ins they will ask you for your openers, have them ready to go. I also set meet day plans for all my lifters. We have a card that has openers, planned 2nd and 3rd attempts. Sometimes we have a plan A and plan B. When you are done with your attempt you have 1 minute to give the expeditor your next attempt. I see lifters all the time frantically scanning the kilo chart trying to figure out their next attempt and going back and forth. There are enough nerves on meet day as it is, stressing out about getting your numbers in shouldn’t be one of them. If you don’t get your numbers in on time the table will bump your next attempt up 2.5kg and move on. They will not slow down the meet because your lack of preparation. Again, get a coach, set a plan, execute the plan.
In terms of taking jumps between attempts, I have heard numerous strategies. One general way of breaking it down could be as follows for a goal of 137.5kg (303lb)
Attempt 1: 88% 120kg/266.4lbs
Attempt 2 93%. 127.5kg/281lbs
Attempt 3: 100% Goal. 137.5kg/303lbs
I have seen successful lifters take bigger or smaller attempts. I do know that as the meet day goes on the body becomes tired. I know it is common for lifters to take bigger jumps to avoid wearing themselves out. I have seen lifters in the above scenario just go from 120kg to 137.5kg because 127.5 is just one more lift to tire them out enough to distract them from the goal. Much of this will have to be learned from experience and knowing yourself as a lifter.