Prepping For A Powerlifting Comp

This post is for people who don’t know what it’s like to prep for a comp or even a few tips for people who already prep for comps. There are a few things that people don’t know about what goes on behind the scenes when prepping for a powerlifting comp, even more so when someone is trying to lose weight for the comp.

The best part about prepping for a comp is the mental focus that occurs when you commit your mind and body to the comp. The small aspects of training, nutrition and sleep all pick up. All those little things that you let slide by are no longer happening- the lack of sleep on some nights turn into an extra hour a night, the extra snack you have after dinner stops, the extra cardio isn’t missed, extra stretching and mobility sessions are added in, and the training sessions are intense. Overall, time is found where there was ‘not enough time’. This is due to the need to succeed from each competitor, they want to really see what they are made of. Of course this time was already there but since the priorities have changed you are now able to utilise this time efficiently with training.

Overall a lifter’s programming reduces overall volume, or repetitions and the intensity or weight is increased. This is called coming to a ‘peak’. It must happen over a series of weeks so that the body can accustom itself to lifting heavier and heavier weights. Let’s call this ‘priming‘ the body.  There is also a fine line between lifting heavy and lifting too much that the body is overly fatigued, another reason that the peak needs to happen over a series of weeks. It’s at these times where the weaknesses within these lifts will really be brought out. Everything is at its limit and the weakest links will show through.

The disbenefit to lifting such heavy weights is that your ‘Central Nervous System’ or CNS for short, gets fatigued. Along with this, the immune system is also fatigued, increasing your risk of getting sick. So lifters peaking, ensure to take your vitamins and minerals- Glutamine and vitamin C have been known to boost the immune system. The joints and ligaments are also stressed a whole lot more- pain and risk of injury increases. Increasing your mobility and stretching before and after sessions is vital to avoiding an injury. Also, more regular visits to either a chiro or physio will help with the pains and injuries that may come from peaking.

Powerlifting in a federation requires lifters to meet a certain weight class before competing. If a lifter is well under weight, they can eat to perform and be well fuelled for their peak of training and their comp as well. For those lifters who are over the weight of their desired weight class, an extra stress is added to the equation. If you are well overweight, more vigorous techniques will have to be used before competition such as water loading, then water cutting before the competition. Regardless, food will have to be altered as well as your energy output. Food restriction adds a variable that can affect training. Having less food to use as energy may make sessions less intense or bring down your levels of intensity during times that you need to lift with the most intensity. The extra steps/energy output also takes a toll on the mind and body. As the body is completing the extra work, fatigue will slowly accumulate, adding to the barriers of the peak. The big one is the mental side of things, making sure you able to fit the walk (walking reduces the fatigue on the muscles compared to running) can take a toll on scheduling and some sacrifices have to be made.

Speaking about sacrifices, the major thing you may see with people competing is that they have to be able to say no to social outings, as they know that it will be hard to say no to any social pressure during these outings for extra food and alcohol. The mental focus is a benefit here as normally that same individual would find it hard to say no to that person.  

Overall, prepping for a comp does put more mental and physical pressure on the individual competing, however it also increases the intensity of their training, helping push them to new heights and new levels with their training, which without this timeline (being the comp) they wouldn’t have been able to achieve. The tunnel focus that comes with the comp makes for efficient training and all the extra effort required to get the best result possible for the comp.

April 03, 2019 — Daniel Felstein

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