Setting goals for your first powerlifting meet

Having a plan for meet day will set you up for success and minimize additional stress and anxiety. Your coach should send you information and details on what to pack or prepare the night or nights before.

With the details under control, you’re inevitably going to start thinking about your personal goals for your meet. Hopefully your coach has already reviewed this with you. You will surely have numbers in your mind that you want to hit based on what you’ve been doing in training.

female powerlifter starting to squat

Goals for your first powerlifting meet

For our first time powerlifting competitors,  we have three main goals that we would like them to achieve during their first meet. And if you’re looking for more tips our powerlifting 101 blog has tons of info too.

  • Remember and Follow Commands

  • Get a Total

  • Have Fun


Remember and Follow Commands:

With the stress of a first meet, the commands can easily be forgotten. Hopefully you’ve gone through a mock meet or a few practice sessions using the commands for your federation. You or your coach should be familiar with the rule book and commands for the federation. Set a goal to listen to the judges and nail all the commands. Don’t miss a lift due to forgetting to wait for a signal or a call.

Get a Total:

female powerlifter competing at bench press competition

Don’t set your openers too high. Make sure these are numbers you can hit no matter the circumstance. For first time competitors, it varies how we determine these, but we typically recommend something you can hit for three in training on any given day. Starting with something you can definitely execute will not only spike your confidence for the remainder of the meet, but it will also give the judges a good impression of your execution abilities. Powerlifting is subjective and some judges can be very particular with what they are looking for as far as depth and positioning. Your main goal for this first meet is to get a total which means hitting at least one of each of the three lifts. Don’t aim too high and bomb out just because you want to try for something big, especially at your first meet.

Have Fun:

This doesn’t mean you need to be laughing and joking around with other competitors the entire meet (some people do this, though, and that’s totally fine). If you think that a higher stress competitive environment and challenging your physical and mental toughness is fun, then you’ll be just fine. If you hate the experience, maybe competing isn’t for you. We aim to make sure every client we have finds enjoyment during (or even after, upon reflection) their very first meet. This sport is not for everyone and we want to make sure you enjoy it because it’s years of work for 9 minutes on the platform.


Meet Day Performance Expectations

In summary, don’t overthink your first meet. You’re getting in there and getting your feet wet. Use it as a learning experience and don’t try to compete with anyone else. Get to know the flow of competition, the commands, and how you react to the stress of meet day. Don’t worry about your weight class or your Wilks. Just do your best to perform and take everything in.

If you’re looking for more concrete numbers for what you can expect from your performance, it will vary, especially with beginners. A study in 2012 (Le Meur, et. al) showed that the numbers vary, but on average, lifters who follow a proper taper can expect around a 3% increase in performance on meet day. Be sure to understand (or work with a coach who understands) your strengths, weak points, and how you perform under pressure. Your should be practicing physical and mental drills for the day of the meet. Visualization and even mantras can be powerful tools to use during your prep cycle.  On top of all this, nutrition, sleep, and stress should be in check leading up to the meet.

Good luck!

Heather & Katie
The Power Couple

Ready to elevate your lifting game? Tune in to our podcast, ‘Stronger than your Boyfriend‘ for expert tips and tricks, then level up with our personal training program! Whether you’re seeking workout wisdom or one-on-one guidance, we’ve got you covered. Transform your body and mindset today. Hit play on the podcast and join our program to crush those fitness goals together!


  1. Le Meur Y, Hausswirth C, and Mujika I. (2012) Tapering for competition: A review. Science & Sports 27: 77-87

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