Each night I sit down and sort through emails and registrations for the RPS Texas Gainzsaw Massacre. Each night I find myself more elated than the night before by the outpouring of people who are interested in the federation and all that we offer. While some of the questions can easily be answered by searching our rule book, a lot of the questions are asked by lifters who are taking the platform for the first time. HOW EXCITING! Many of the lifters registered are first time platform experiences and they’ve chosen RPS as their debut platform experience. YAY!
Before we get into the meat, remember this: We are all individuals, therefore there is no right or wrong way to prepare for your day of awesome. It is your day and you know how you operate best in high stress situations better than anyone else. That said, the tips here are ideas and tactical ways to prepare that I have found to work over my many platform appearances. Use them as a guideline for your first meet and evolve them from there.
Preparing for the platform…
Pack Everything. Powerlifting meets are traditionally very long days so pack accordingly, as if you were going on an overnight road trip. Bring everything you’ll need to lift: wrist wraps, belt, squat shoes, deadlift shoes, baby powder, and extra singlet (if you have it), extra underwear (ladies!), nose tork and an extra set of clothes for when you are done lifting. Pack a cooler of food – and bring the food you like to eat (I bring pizza) – and lots of hydration (water and gatorade). You will have time in between your flights to decompress and refuel your body. Take advantage of this opportunity and eat and drink throughout the day. In all of this don’t forget about your mind, bring something to do or focus on outside of the lifting: music, crochet, crossword puzzles, pillow and blanket for naps (my personal favorite), or coloring books are all good ideas.
Make friends. Say what? This is a meet, a competition… you’re competing against these other athletes, aren’t you? No, you’re not. At your first meet, before you even have a total, you aren’t even competing against yourself. So rather than get yourself all worked up to “beat” your competition, take advantage of the community of athletes there that day and get to know them. Everyone that is there, regardless of how long they have been competing, is going through or has gone through exactly what you are experiencing. If you’re there by yourself, you’re going to need help handling your warm ups at a minimum. Lean on the community, ask for help and ask questions. When the day is over, become Facebook friends and follow each other’s journeys. When you get the next meet, you’ll have a friend there with you and it’s nice to have conversations outside of the voices in your head on competition day. Related note: some of my best friends, training partners and mentor relationships have come out of talking to other lifters at meets. Don’t waste this opportunity to make new friends. You’re going to need them the further you go in your lifting career.
Go 9 for 9 (or at least 6 for 9). Set yourself up for success and plan to hit all 9 of your lifts. Have attainable goals in mind for your third attempts, but for your first meet they should not be hail mary attempts. Why? Because lifting on a platform is different from lifting in training and getting red lighted sucks. Let’s spare you that disappointment your first time on the platform. For your first attempt – the attempt you don’t want to miss – take something that you know you can 5-rep in training. It’s a weight you are confident with and you’ll be more mentally prepared for attempts 2 and 3 after hitting a smooth and easy first attempt. Your second attempt should be your gym max or very close to it, but never over! Give yourself the opportunity to smash your best training numbers on the platform – they are the only benchmark you have at this point let them be your North Star and help guide your success. On the off chance you miss it, you’ll get a second chance to complete the lift in your third attempt. Which brings us to the granddaddy of all attempts: the third attempt. For your first meet, go for the 5 or 10lb PR. Even if the weight before it flew up, take the small PR home with you and use it as your training number. You’ll be happy you got the PR and if there’s more in the tank, then you’ll know what to expect next time.
Don’t ‘make’ weight. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Do not put your body through a diet or a water load going into your first meet. You want to be as strong as you can possibly be every time you take the platform. There is an art to making weight and the recomp that follows. Your first meet is not the time to experiment with cutting weight as you don’t know what to expect from your body when asking it to perform 9 max effort lifts in one day. How you think your body will react could be the complete antithesis of what actually happens. Sorry, not so sorry… it’s the truth. The fact is, the judges and spectators don’t care what your weight class. What they care about is you being successful under the bar so don’t add to the mental and emotional stress of the day with a cut. It’s not worth it.
Records-schmecords. It’s great to aspire to be a record holder of any kind and it’s great to know where your training numbers may have you ranked on the “best of” lists. We should all aspire to be better than we were before. That said, you don’t have a “before” yet you have nothing to base your success against, so why compare yourself to other lifters? If you happen to break a record and/or make it on to a ranking list after your first meet – awesome! – it’s an added bonus to the experience. But don’t put yourself in a situation to achieve a goal you may very well not have in you the day of the meet.
Have fun. Taking the platform is a celebration of all of your hard work. Who wants to celebrate anything all stressed out and filled with angst? The further you get in your career the more you’ll learn about what you need to focus on the platform and smash the weights you have trained to smash. At your first meet however, make it a party. Laugh, smile, dance. Make friends, ask questions and enjoy the day. You earned it!
The most important thing to remember at your first meet is this: THIS IS YOUR FIRST MEET. You’ve never done this before so do everything in your power to set yourself up for success.
About Dana “SweetDee” Rygwelski: Dee is a PRO-level RAW powerlifter, a goal she achieved as a natural lifter using pizza and proper sleep to power her gainz. Dee was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and lover of Pit Bulls (especially her little pitty puppy Squat!). A domestic traveler, Dee has been to over 50% of the continental United States and lived on both coasts, enjoys creating new experiences, and shaking her tail feather to a good house beat on the dance floor. In her professional life, Dana is a marketing, communications, and operations strategist for startups and multi media conferences. A jack of all trades, SweetDee’s passions include inspiring people to become the strongest version of themselves both in and out of the gym, long-wandering walks, loud laughing, and making people smile. She recently moved to Austin, Tx, started training as a multi ply lifter and will be taking the platform at the SPF Women’s Pro Am this April – all while brining RPS to Texas as the State Chair and training at Austin Simply Fit. You can follow Dee’s strength journey by friending her on Facebook or following her on Instagram.