Powerlifting Meet

The Ultimate Guide to Thriving At Your First Powerlifting Meet

Competing for the first time can be very overwhelming and very confusing, so the Primal team has come together to create what we feel is the ultimate guide to thriving at your first powerlifting meet! Because we think one can do a lot better than just surviving it!

Powerlifting is an incredibly fun and inclusive sport! Anyone that can squat, bench and deadlift can do well! Just ask us at our personal training team in Mississauga – we live powerlifting!

Now that you found a federation and you paid to do your first meet! Now is usually where some nerves and panic start to set in.

Here is a quick run-down of the major, frequently asked questions (FAQs) from lifters doing our meets and our clients.

You might be starting to think, “do I need a coach, what do I bring, when do I weight in?” So, let’s get into it!

1. “When will I weigh in?”

Depending on the federation, it will be a 2-hour or 24-hour weigh in. This information will be sent to you or can be found on the federation website very easily.

2. “Weight classes, how do I pick one?”

We recommend going with the weight you currently are at the present moment (we will go into more of that later).

3. “What happens if I don’t make weight on meet day?”

In IPF federations (which are the CPU and OPA in Ontario and Canada), if you miss the weight class you are signed up for, you will not be allowed to lift or you will have to change your class and lift in a heavier class.

In all other federations currently in Ontario, this is not the case and if you miss our weight class, you are allowed to elect to lift up a class or more and still compete at the meet.

4. “Should I cut weight for my first meet?”

At Primal, we strongly recommend against a water cut or weight cut going into your first meet. You are already doing something very new and are not sure how the body will react, so there is no use adding more stressors and more variables. Not mention, you have most

likely just started lifting and you will not know yet where you will be at your strongest weight.

5. “Do I have to have a coach on meet day?”

A coach is not required, however, bringing a buddy or as they call it in powerlifting “a handler”, is very helpful for your first meet. All lifters in every federation are allowed one person in the back room and to help put in attempts, etc. on meet day.

When choosing a handler, your coach or a training partner is usually best as they understand you and how you lift best. In absence of the above, a close friend is also an option and one that knows powerlifting would be best.

Meet day packing list


Water, Gatorade, some snacks that are carb based, 2 easy to digest meals with low to moderate protein, moderate to low fat and high in easy to digest carbs that are slow releasing (i.e., rice)


Briefs not boxers for underwear, plain t-shirt (important in the IPF), singlet, shoes (all shoes you use if you use different ones for each lift), wrist wraps, a 10mm or 13mm single prong or lever belt, and 7mm thick knee sleeves.

For IPF, CPU, OPA lifters – you must use IPF approved equipment. To check this, follow the link below. In other federations, they may have some rules as well, so always precheck the federation website to double check everything: https://www.powerlifting.sport/fileadmin/ipf/data/rules/approved-list/Approved__List_2019-2022_Final-new-1.pdf

Meet day nutrition

Make sure you eat a big meal the day before that is high in carbs, but make sure it doesn’t make you feel slow and bloated. A good one we like is sushi or rice with meat, as it gets you a lot of carbs and will not bloat up most people too much to the point that you can’t lift well and don’t feel good.

Make sure you have a good breakfast either before you get to the meet or if you’re on a 2-hour weigh in, after the weigh in especially if you’re close to your weight cut off. In IPF federations, we do this just to be safe.

Make sure you are well hydrated and bring lots of fluids. Not just water, but things that will replace your electrolytes like sports drinks and Pedialyte as well. Extra salt and some magnesium to help replenish these levels between lifts, as salt and magnesium will greatly help your strength.

Make sure you have some high sugar or fast acting carbs like fruit to snack on between lifts, as well as some food as some meets are very long. Food is necessary to keep strength up for the whole event.

Meet day is not the day to try new foods. Stick to what you always eat at the gym and at home, and don’t eat any more or any less.

You will, as you get used to competing, find ways to eat and lift heavy as we need carbs to fuel powerlifting, so eating at a meet is a must.

Meet day mindset

You must go in with a game plan in terms of what you want to achieve and be realistic of what you can expect at your first meet.

A realistic goal for most is to post a total that equals their gym total. It is not usually a good idea to have goals of prs or national records at your first meet, as you are still adjusting to the competitive environment.

Go with a set objective of posting a total and gaining experience and anything else is just a huge bonus. Leave the awards and such for later after you done a few meets and have an idea of how the lifts are judged. This also comes along with learning how you respond to a meet environment and conditions and what you need to do your best.

Always start conservative and add more. Leave aggressive openers to the veterans and professional level lifters that have a set goal that day of maybe a record or some other similar objective.

Setting openers

Always be very conservative with your openers. A good ballpark rule for new lifters for a opener at a meet is something you could do for a very easy set of 3 on even your worst day.

Doing this allows you to gauge how you feel on the day, but also adjust to the standard of the meet and get the pre-meet nerves out of the way and build your confidence. The last thing you

want to do is add more stress by making the opener hard than it is. You can add more each attempt and push as opposed to overdoing it and either draining yourself out for the next few attempts and other lifts, or in the worst case, bombing out. This is what we want to avoid, as it would really suck to bomb out of your first sanctioned meet.

You want to build confidence as you work through your attempts, so you feel as confident as you can on your final attempt.

Tips and tricks from our coaches

1) Read the rule book for the meets’ federation the week before to avoid any surprises

2) Bring extra everything (socks, underwear especially)

3) Pack to feed an army. You never know how long it will be, so better to have more food than not enough food

4) Triple check before you leave

5) CPU lifters: always print out your true sport and have a photo of your CPU card with you

6) Don’t expect conditions to be perfect and roll with the adjustments

7) Don’t be afraid to share and lead the warm-up room

8) Don’t warm up between attempts….

9) Be realistic on what you will achieve at your first meet

10) Go in with a good friend and just have fun!

Meets can be overwhelming, but with the right mindset and proper preparation in terms of what to bring and support, you will not only survive but thrive at your first meet! If you would like help with powerlifting competitively, schedule a call with Coach John and learn more about Primal Performance.