First time Competing?

First time Competing?

Sep 21, 2014


^^First meet for 50+ year old Branka Stemack with only a few months powerlifting training

You hear it in the gym all the time – “I’m a powerlifter, but I don’t compete.”

Why?  Afraid?  Think you might be the only first-time lifter at the meet?  Afraid that you might not lift as heavy as everyone else?  Hey, those competitors are monsters!


^^2014 Illinois State Meet (APF/AAPF) – over 140 lifters!  Mostly Raw, mostly first-timers!

If you watch YouTube posts you might get scared off looking at all of the ‘gym lifts’ or may have heard of Tiny Meeker or Scot Mendelson benching well over 1000lbs (or over 1100 lbs).  These are the exceptions, not the rule.

Right now we are seeing the single largest influx of new lifters coming into the sport – mostly raw.  At a recent meet with about 140 lifters (yes, 140 lifters for a local meet), about half had never competed before.  The good news, unlike many other sports, is that the novice competitor will receive a lot of support and coaching before, DURING and after a competition.  In the last one that I participated in as the local techie (computer and videographer), only a few of the novice lifters did not complete the meet and many walked away having performed well even against seasoned lifters!

We have even experienced novice lifters attending their first meet at a national qualifier for worlds!  Yes, it is possible!  We literally have, in 2014, lifters who will represent their country at a world meet as their second powerlifting competition experience.

While I am, personally, a little ‘put off’ by this, I do have to admit that one of my first return meets to the sport was the 2012 WPC Worlds in Las Vegas as a raw lifter.  This was an exciting adventure and I got to meet and talk to some of the lifters that I had either only heard about or had only met on Facebook.  By and large, it is a very tight community that is readily accepting of those entering the sport.

Afraid you won’t have anyone to coach you at a meet or lift off for you?  Guess again!  Spotters, loaders, other competitors, other competitors’ coaches, seasoned lifters from the audience, all will help you get a great lift!  In my first five meets I arrived without knowing who might show up and without a coach!

As the majority of new lifters entering the sport are ‘raw’ with a great many coming in from Crossfit gyms, the discussion of raw versus equipped seems to have come up as an issue, again.  I will say that I have noticed a much larger public crowd at the raw meets as the weights are ‘human’ and many raw lifters who are first time competing draw family and friends in to watch.  Equipped tends to have more of an audience of ‘technical’ lifters who watch to see how they can improve their technique, see what’s going on with their competition, or catching up on the names that many hear in the circuit.  The exciting part is when you see the first-time competitors come back for more!  After a while, many of them also turn to equipped training while some remain as raw lifters.

I have written my opinion on equipped vs raw lifters – I do both.  (

If you are a lifter who is seriously contemplating competing in the future, contact your local powerlifting gym or an experienced powerlifter – we tend to be a very passionate group!  More than willing to help!  We’ve all been there before and welcome all additions to the sport!

If you are not sure where to start – comment on this post or contact me directly.

Women – afraid you might look bad training for a powerlifting meet?  All bulky, un-sexy and stuff?


^^Best female lifter 2014 APF Nationals.  Yes, she is holding Ernie Frantz’s “Ten Commandments of Powerlifting”

Yeah, that would be awful.



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