Athletes need to possess physical strength, mental toughness, and dedication to ace powerlifting. With rigorous training and a well-planned diet, powerlifters must mentally and physically prepare themselves for competitions. This preparation is commonly referred to as “meet prep.”
Typically, meet prep involves a comprehensive approach to training, recovery, and nutrition. It includes specific strategies for peaking at the right time and optimizing performance during the competition.
What is a Powerlifting Meet Prep and What Steps to Follow?
Meet prep is the period leading up to a powerlifting competition, where powerlifters adjust their training, nutrition, and recovery strategies to ensure peak performance on the day of the competition. The time duration for meet prep varies from person to person; however, on average, most people start 12 weeks before the competition.
Here are the three major lifts in powerlifting that you should understand before signing up for a meet:
- Deadlift: The barbell is lifted from the ground to hip level. It’s often considered the most straightforward of the three lifts in terms of technique, but it requires significant strength in the legs, back, and grip.
- Bench Press: The lifter lies on his/her back on a bench and lifts a barbell from the chest to arm’s length. It primarily targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Back Squat: The lifter places a barbell on their back and performs a squatting motion, lowering their hips until the thighs are parallel or below parallel to the ground before standing back up. It targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Tips to Prepare for a Meet Prep
To ace your meet prep journey, these tips can be helpful;
- Start early: Give yourself at least 12-16 weeks to prepare for the meet, especially if you are new to powerlifting. This will allow you to gradually improve your strength and technique leading up to the competition.
- Follow a structured training program: Find a program that suits your goals, experience level, and competition schedule. Make sure to include exercises that specifically target the squat, bench press, and deadlift, and gradually increase the weight you lift over time.
- Practice your form: Proper form is essential for performing your lifts safely and efficiently. Take the time to practice your form regularly, and consider working with a coach or experienced lifter to improve your technique.
- Dial in your nutrition: Proper nutrition is crucial for optimizing your performance during the meet. Ensure a balanced diet with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Don’t swap many things in your diet during meet prep; it’ll disturb your maintenance calories.
- Have a plan for the day of the meet: Make sure to arrive at the powerlifting meets early, warm up properly, and have a plan for your attempts. Consider working with a coach or experienced lifter to develop a lifting strategy based on your current strength and competition goals. Make sure your plan for the day also includes proper nutrition!
What Nutrition for Meet Prep?
As mentioned earlier, you should not make significant changes in your diet before the meet prep as the diet affects your recovery time which then affects your performance. Sticking with your original diet is the best way to prepare for your powerlifting meets. You know your maintenance calories and how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need to ensure good training and recovery sessions. However, if you want to make any changes, start with smaller ones.
Record what you eat daily and check your weight after one or two weeks. If you maintain weight on this diet while doing heavy training, there’s no need to change. However, you can add five to seven percent over your maintenance calories if you see weight reduction and poor powerlifting recovery time. These extra calories are not meant to gain body fat or muscles but to make the recovery time faster.
Grab our Free pre/post-training meals guide to quickly improve your training outcomes.
What is Peaking in Powerlifting Meet Prep?
Peaking for a powerlifting meet refers to maximizing your strength potential for a competition over the course of several weeks leading up to the event. The goal is to have your body and mind primed and ready to perform at your best on competition day. This can include taperinging your training, reducing overall volume, and increasing intensity. Moreover, it involves incorporating specific exercises and training techniques that mimic the competition lifts.
You must also work on your nutrition and recovery strategies to ensure you hit your peak at the right time. When you do a powerlifting meet prep, you see your peripheral fatigue going down and your central fatigue going up. You will also experience central nervous system fatigue, leading to moodiness and irritability. So, to ensure you reach your peak at the desired time, you should drop your fatigue without affecting the muscles. That’s where tapering comes in!
What is Tapering?
Powerlifting tapering is the process of gradually reducing training volume and intensity leading up to a competition, with the goal of optimizing performance on the day of the event. A proper taper is essential for maximizing strength and reducing fatigue, which can lead to improved results. According to this article in Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2 to 4 days of training cessation is ideal for optimal performance. Here are a few types of peaking:
- Step taper: This strategy involves a more abrupt reduction in training volume, with several big jumps in volume over a shorter period of time (1-2 weeks). The intensity remains high, similar to the linear peak, but volume is decreased by 30% to 70%.
- Linear taper: In this strategy, training volume is gradually reduced in a straight-line fashion, typically over a period of 2-4 weeks. The intensity remains high throughout the tapering period, while you may reduce by 20% volume each week.
- Exponential taper: This strategy involves a gradual reduction in training volume and intensity, typically over 3-4 weeks. The rate of tapering decreases as the competition approaches.
Some powerlifters don’t use tapering, while others do to ensure they reach their peak on the meet day. However, each individual has a different peaking and tapering type or plan based on the meet duration, athlete experience, strength, and much more!
In conclusion, a powerlifting meet prep requires a comprehensive approach that addresses training, nutrition, rest, and recovery. You should also consider factors like tapering to ensure you reach your full potential on the meet. With a positive mindset and dedication to your goals, you can achieve the best performance on the competition day.