Weightlifting – The Competition
You have now exerted high levels of energy into your training, the meet arrives, and there are three things to do. First, make weight. Second, you select your opening weights, and third, you warm up.
Make weight – very few of us are in the need to make weight at the local and provincial level of competition. Typically one does not want to carry any more weight than 3.5% over the weight class while training, this allows for an easy drop in weight before competition. Losing weight quickly before a competition can many times come with a drop in energy and strength, so it is not recommended to have to drop excessive weight to make class.
Typically if the competition is one of your first then making weight is not even a concern. Athletes should focus on training and mental prep rather than making weight. Athletes in their first competition have too many other things that can cause stress, adding one more is not worth the worry.
Selecting open weights – The first rule for weight selection is to choose an opening weight which ensures success. It is important to take into account nerves, lift consistency, current physical state, and the location of the competition when choosing opening weights, as each of these variables may affect a lifters focus.
When choosing weights for a beginning athlete it is important to choose weights that allow all successful lifts. There is no better feeling when leaving the first competition and knowing that all lifts were a success, it eases nerves for future competitions and training. First competitions are solely for gaining the experience of taking in competitions, very little else.
Again, the first attempt needs to be a lift that ensures success, after which the second attempt should be something that again has a high level of potential success, as it is important going into the last lift with a feeling of confidence and achievement that allows for the last lift to become a personal best. Making your first two lifts allows for much higher concentration and focus towards the last lift.
It is also important to not get locked in to the chosen first lifts because there are many factors that influence an athletes focus and confidence the day of the meet.
Pay attention to movement quality in the warm-up, are the shoulders slightly over the bar on the first pull, is the bar lightly gracing the thighs through the middle, is the receiving position quick and efficient, and are the legs strong and lively. These qualities may help choose opening lifts as they are a sign of athlete readiness.
Contest warm-up – When an athlete arrives at the meet location before weigh in nerves can be lowered by keeping focused on day’s tasks. Bring along a foam roller or tennis ball to do some myo-fascial release work while waiting. All myo-fascial release work should be done after arriving at the competition to take out any tightness created from the drive to the meet and then again 30-90 minutes before the actual competition. General stretching should be done 30-90 minutes before the competition as well to ensure the muscles stay warm and limber for warm-up.
Proper warm-up protocol:
After stretching and myo-fascial release it is time to begin the actual warm-up. Grasp a PVC pipe or empty bar to go over the mechanics of the lift in slow motion, feeling all the points of leverage and contact with the bar. Perform a few overhead squats and split squats along with your movement prep. Ensure the movement pattern and body are fully warm and then move into light weight warm-up lifts (40-60%). With this load do multiple reps, but avoid fatigue. Choose either power or full movements, but mainly focus on the entire lift rather than smaller portions of it. At a competition it is important to focus on the whole lift as that is what the competition demands. After multiple warm-up lifts at a low weight (40-60%) one can then move into singles at the following;
- Snatch – 60, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90%, and then 2 pulls at the opening load
- Clean and jerk – 75, 80, 85, 90%, and then 2 pulls at the opening load
These lifts should happen every 2-4 minutes, based on time available. Again, fatigue should be avoided – feel strong, rested, and able.
Once the competition lifts begin it is important to stay warm, if lifts are longer than 3-5 minutes apart, do 1-2 pulls in the warm-up area at 80-85% of the next load attempted.
Lastly between lifts stay moving to keep the joints free and blood flow optimized. If you must sit, do so for no longer than 2-3 minutes.