I remember a time when USA Weightlifting sanctioned competitions were few and far between. In a time when “oly” wasn’t quite that popular and literally no one knew what it was in Florida, we could count on a solid 4-5 local competitions TOTAL in a calendar year. Now, athletes can take their pick from multiple local meets per month happening all throughout the state!
But even with all these options, you still might be on the fence of whether or not you should take the plunge into a spandex onesie — and that’s OK! My personal and professional opinion is that everyone (yes, everyone) should try a meet at some point if their training consistently includes the Olympic lifts of any variety and hopefully this article will shed some light on why aiming for a meet is downright awesome.
Let’s dive right in.
Why should you do it?
There are many positive take aways from doing your first Weightlifting competition, so really the question is why SHOULDN’T you? Signing up for a Weightlifting meet gives you a tangible goal to shoot for, something to train for, and will give you something to look forward to with your training. It helps to have a coach in your corner to help you with the logistics of what to do and how to do it, but it’s not impossible to go about it on your own.
THOUGH, my recommendation would be to enlist the help of an experienced coach who has been here and done that so that you don’t have to worry/stress/freak out/meltdown in the darkness of your own solitude.
Intent with your first competition:
For your first competition, do not worry about your numbers or how much weight you should be lifting. Your first time out should be an overwhelmingly positive experience brought about by you making as many lifts as possible — even if that means you don’t hit a max out lifetime PR or whatever. Keep your lifts manageable with weights that you know for a fact that you can hit. You’ll have enough to deal with since you’re trying something new, lifting in front of referees, dealing with anxiety, etc (none of which are bad things, just the nature of literally testing your progress in an official capacity).
In other words, #LearnTheProcess before you can #TrustTheProcess. See what I did there? 😉
What to expect in your first competition:
The Cliff’s Notes of it all is that you’ll share warm up space with other athletes in your session, have 3 attempts at the snatch and 3 attempts at the clean & jerk and that’s it! There are other things like knowing the rules of competition, meeting new and friendly people, and having the Weightlifting community supporting and cheering for you no matter how much weight you are lifting or how many times you’ve done a competition. We are all there for the same purpose and everyone understands that it may be more challenging for some — but one thing reigns true: EVERYONE you’ll see at a competition has done (or is doing) their first meet at some point!
Are you ready?
There is really no hard indicator or scale to quantify your state of readiness. I believe that if you decide that you want to do a competition, that’s as ready as you need to be. Trust your training, practice well and hard, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or lean on a coach for advice.
Though, it’s an easy cyclical trap to fall into for those who frame a competition as, “Well, I don’t want to compete until I’m competitive,” or “I need to be able to lift at least [xyz] KG to be taken seriously,” etc. The problem here is “until I’m competitive” and “being taken seriously” are very nebulous and subjective concepts; neither of which can be objectively satisfied thus cyclically preventing the athlete from taking that first step into a competition. For this reason alone, I purposely call competitions “meets” to avoid the charged connotations that come with the word “competition” — at the expense of sounding cliché, you’re not competing with anyone but yourself!
It helps to have a coach in your corner and a team at your back, but if you’re going in solo, just know that you will generally meet very welcoming and supportive athletes and coaches in the Weightlifting community regardless of where you decide to go.
My unsolicited closing advice!
In short, DO IT! Competitions are fun no matter how you slice it (at least ours are!). So in closing:
If you do the Olympic lifts, do a meet!
If you need help, ask for it!
If you want to make friends with Weightlifters, go to a meet!
If you’re still on the fence after this article, just do it anyway!