How to Prepare for a Powerlifting Meet

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Feb 24,2024|12 min| 1343

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Prepare for a Powerlifting Meet

Get ready to lift some heavy weight

So you finally got yourself into the gym and fell in love with the process of getting bigger and stronger, but where do you go from there? If you are really in love with training, do you just continue to train and train? Maybe you want to be above average, and do something that many people can only ever dream of, which is compete in powerlifting. The only issue is, getting started to prepare for your first powerlifting meet is the hardest part, as there is a lot that goes into your first meet, and you may not know exactly what direction to head in when you are trying to prepare for a powerlifting meet. Now, there are a lot of things you can look at on social media to help you prepare for a powerlifting competition, but our team at Boostcamp has put together a step by step guide on guiding you through the process so you can hit those big lifts.

Don’t worry, we are here to help you get started on getting on the platform for the first time.

What is Powerlifting?

Unlike bodybuilding where competitors are judged strictly on their physiques, powerlifting is competing to see who can lift the most in the big three compound lifts. These lifts include the barbell squat, barbell bench press, and barbell deadlift. Competitors are divided into categories based on their bodyweight.

The preparation for a powerlifting meet is much different than other sports, like bodybuilding, and it can be tricky to understand all that goes into it.

Finding a Federation 

This is the biggest task that you have to tackle, finding a federation to compete in. A few examples of federations include USPA (United STates Powerlifting Association) and IPF (International Powerlifting Federation). One of the key things to consider is if you want to compete in a natural federation, or non-tested, meaning there is a possibility that some of the athletes are using anabolic steroids

Understand the Rules

Aside from finding the federation, you need to understand the rules that come along with it. Each federation has different rules in terms of form, so whatever federation that you choose you need to understand what you are getting into. Another thing to watch out for is what equipment is allowed in each federation. 

There are different rules on things like weightlifting belts and knee sleeves or knee wraps, and even wrist wraps, so you want to be prepared for that. The last thing you want is for your gear to not be allowed, as there is nothing worse than preparing for a powerlifting meet and it turns out the entire prep you were using knee sleeves that are not allowed in that federation, so come meet day you have to lift raw, this can put a bad taste in your mouth on just your first competition. 

Commit to the Meet and the Weight Class

One thing that you need to do is commit to a powerlifting meet, this is an important part of goal setting and gives you a set amount of time to get ready. Committing to a meet is like having a training partner that holds you accountable for the next few weeks of training. The commitment gives you the drive to continue your training and a goal to work towards.

Committing to a weight class is also crucial as it will force you to keep your diet under control throughout the powerlifting prep. The weight class commitment makes your training and diet fall in place, and helps to eliminate variables that may pop up on meet day. For example, if you are committed to a weight class and stay around that weight during the prep, then you will not have to drastically cut or bulk right around the time of the meet, which could greatly affect your strength and performance.

Once you commit to all of that, memorize the schedule for the day. A powerlifting meet is typically an all-day event that is packed with different things, so memorize the schedule for things such as weigh-ins and when you should be warming up, and when you will be on the platform.

Follow a Training Program

The biggest mistake that you can make when it comes to preparing for a powerlifting meet is not following a program. Sure, going into the gym and maxing out your squat, bench, or deadlift is great, but continuously hitting one rep maxes is not going to help you. A proper program will help you track your progress, and helps to make sure that you are using progressive overload as well as deloads to help prevent injury. Aside from that, a program will make sure that you are staying on track and help you to actually peak for the powerlifting meet

The best possible advice we can give is to pick a powerlifting meet that is 12 weeks out, then follow a 12 week powerlifting program. That gives you plenty of time to ease into the program and gradually work up to your peak, so you can certainly hit the weights on your second attempt and third attempt once you are on the platform. 

Choosing a Program

When it comes to choosing a program, you want to find one that focuses on strength and technique. There should be days with higher volume than others, but there should not be too much volume to the point where it is all hypertrophy training. There are plenty of junk programs out there that will have you maxing out far too often, or not enough, risk injury, and will have you showing up unprepared. 


A great place to find some free powerlifting programs is Boostcamp. You are able to choose from 50+ free training programs on this workout app, all from numerous well-known trainers, or create your own custom workout routines, and track your progress. Keep in mind that good programs will help with your fitness journey, so you want to find a program that caters to your needs and guides you in the right direction, making sure that you are making the most gains. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with making progress, then finding a good workout program is the key. Where do you look for a good workout program? Check out the Boostcamp App for some great programs.

Boostcamp is home to over 50 FREE workout programs that consist of strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program, you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some arm training to further your powerlifting progress, then check out Boostcamp.

Focus on Form During Training

Another thing that is crucial during your powerlifting prep is to focus on form. During a powerlifting meet, you need to have perfect form or else the lift is no good. For example, your squat needs to undeniably hit depth, and if you are not training with proper form during your prep, then come meet day, you will be thrown for a loop. Lifting heavy weights is great for getting your body used to it, but if you are doing so with improper form, then you may as well forget competing in the powerlifting meet. 

Something that you may not have thought of using during your training, are commands. This is when you remind yourself what to do throughout the movement, so you know that you are using proper form. For example, reminding yourself when to go “up” once you hit the hole in a squat is great for knowing you hit a good lift. 

Pick Your Opening Attempts

This is another big part of preparing for a powerlifting meet, and that is picking your opening lifts. You will choose these once you get into your peaking or tapering block. You only get three attempts for each lift, and your first attempt should be a weight that you can lift for three reps. Your second attempt should be a bit heavier, and then your third and final attempt should be a whole lot heavier, it should be a one rep max.

Proper Diet and Supplementation

While the powerlifting diet is not as strict as bodybuilding, it is still something to pay attention to. You want to be eating quality foods and hitting your caloric intake each day to make sure that you are able to meet your weight class. 

As far as supplementation, this is crucial for the recovery aspect and making sure that you are getting the proper nutrients to stay healthy. Then on meet day, it is a long process, so you need to plan your food accordingly to have enough to keep you full throughout the entire day of your powerlifting meet. 

Powerlifting Prep Wrap Up

Overall, preparing for a powerlifting meet requires a lot of time, dedication, and focus. It is more than just lifting heavy weights. You have to take things like diet, recovery, training regimens, and more into consideration to really work towards your powerlifting goals and achieve them.

Will you be preparing for a powerlifting meet anytime soon?

Check out the Boostcamp App for some great programs. Also, be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!

*Images courtesy of Instagram (@chloelikestolift)