by Rijker Cox, Supreme Strength Coach | February 4, 2022
Your powerlifting equipment won’t make or break your competition result, but it can give you the extra edge. This guide will tell you what to bring to a meet and offers some nutritional guidelines for optimal competition performance. The list can be divided into three categories: Essentials, Optional Items & Nutrition.
The complete list includes the following items:
This needs little explanation, if you don’t have your passport you are not allowed to compete (at least this is the case in The Netherlands). Don’t make the mistake of bringing your driver's license. It MUST be a passport or ID card. Be sure to double check for this before you travel to the meet venue.
If your coach is new to handling or if you are going to self-coach at the meet, do not forget to bring a pen. Without a pen you can't write down your attempts. Even if your coach is experienced, bringing a spare can never hurt.
Singlet, sleeves, wrist wraps & belt(s)
If you are doing an official IPF meet, be sure to check the list of verified equipment for these items. It goes without saying that you should not change up the equipment you use on competition day. If you are the type of lifter that uses a different belt for squat and deadlift, bring both belts!
Squat shoes/Deadlift shoes
Footwear is often 100% up to the lifter's preference, however if your shoes look like they have been chewed up by your dog, there might be a chance they do not meet requirements. This also goes for the rest of your equipment that has to be checked; if your sleeves smell like blue cheese and have holes in them, they might be better off in the trash. Besides, a new pair of sleeves might just give you that extra edge to squeeze out that 2.5KG on your squat.
A T-shirt is mandatory but be sure there are no brands/logos on your t-shirt unless these have been approved. 100% cotton shirts are recommended as they provide the best grip and work well with chalk. Bring a spare!
Socks can be easy to overlook when packing your bag. If you do not use deadlift socks because you train in joggers/leggings, consider getting them for the meet to prevent from bleeding all over the barbell. Your fellow competitors will thank you!
Baby Powder & Towels
Talcum powder, otherwise known as baby powder can greatly aid during deadlift to prevent friction. If you decide to use it, bring a towel! The people that have to clean up the meet will be grateful. Protip: when applying, wrap the towel over and under your feet as to prevent baby powder from getting under your shoes.
Because you never know when you might shart mid deadlift. But in all seriousness, this one could come in handy for female lifters, who sometimes deal with urine loss during heavy squats and deadlifts. If this is an issue for you, consider also using incontinence pads for your squat and deadlift attempts.
If you use a lever belt, you might want to bring a screwdriver in case you need to change belt holes. Especially, if you are doing any sort of cut for the meet, it is important to have this flexibility as your belt might fit differently depending on your fluid intake. This is not necessary for the SBD belt or PAL levers which are easily adjustable.
If you use any mobility tools during warmups, bring them to the meet as well, as we want to make competition conditions as close to training as possible.
If you find success using ammonia during training, definitely bring it to your meet. However, if you have never used it before, do not make the meet your first time!
If you prefer music before lifting be sure to bring these along.
Chalk at meets can at times be of poor quality, or worse, barely available. Bring your own chalk to not be dependent on the meet director. Liquid chalk can also do the trick and easily fits in your bag.
This one might appear odd at first glance but cola or other sugary sodas can be a lifesaver if you are dealing with a slippery carpet. Pour some coke on your towel and stand in it with your shoes prior to bench or deadlift. Be sure to get regular cola as the light/zero version won't not work.
Definitely an "optional" item, but tiger balm can come in handy for quick pain relief. Only use if absolutely necessary as it can mess with your proprioception.
These items are only relevant for those that pull hook grip. More on this will follow in our hook grip blog, coming soon.
Be sure to bring plenty of water to the meet. You want to have consumed the majority of water about an hour prior to your first squat. Then in between attempts drink when needed to make sure you are fully hydrated. If you need to refeed after a water cut, you might want to have some gatorades/sports drinks to get in some fast digesting carbs and electrolytes as well.
When we go to meets we will often see lifters bring loads of snacks such as cookies, chocolate & candy. And although these foods can be psychologically comforting, they are not optimal from a performance perspective. After weigh-ins, I recommend having a meal that is relatively high in carbs, moderate protein, and relatively low in fat. For some this will already be similar to how they normally tend to eat before a training session. We want to prevent eating too much fat as this could sit in the stomach for longer than wanted. Bring one large meal for after weigh ins, plus a smaller meal for if you get hungry during the meet.
In between bench attempts and later on in the meet you can consider some light snacks. This is primarily to make sure we don’t get hungry during the meet. I recommend fruit, power bars, or any other fast-digesting carb source that is easy on the stomach.
Sodium is vital for athletic performance. Sodium helps deliver oxygen and nutrition to our cells and, similar to how creatine works, sodium allows for water retention in the muscles which can increase strength. Another performance enhancing benefit that is specific to powerlifters is the bloating effect of sodium. This is especially helpful for the squat and bench press where we want our belt and sleeves to be nice and tight. For deadlift we want to be able to get into position and too much bloating might impede the ability to do so. Therefore, I recommend lowering sodium consumption after squats.
If you have done a watercut you could probably benefit from a slightly higher sodium intake to prevent cramping and to rehydrate properly (more on that below). Bringing a salt shaker to the meet is the most straightforward way to get your salt in. Soy sauce also works. Important to note is that sodium is not the same as salt! A gram of salt contains 388mg of sodium so be sure to remember this when determining the appropriate sodium intake. Make sure to also consume adequate potassium to keep your electrolytes in balance. Bananas and oranges are a sound option for this purpose.
The performance enhancing dose of caffeine has been found to be 3-6mg per KG of body mass (Guest et al., 2021). For a 90 KG lifter this means a dose of 270-540mg prior to lifting. This is however a fairly high dose and if you are not used to high intakes I recommend sticking with the lower end. A lower dose can still be beneficial due to the cognitive effects of caffeine such as improved focus, but you will not be able to experience the performance enhancing and thus potentially strength enhancing effects of caffeine.
For our caffeine sources we can go with caffeine pills, pre-workouts, or an energy drink. If you have a low tolerance but still want some of the cognitive benefits from caffeine, an iced coffee drink (< 150mg) is a good option. I have found the most benefit from caffeine by spreading out consumption over the course of the meet, with perhaps a slight increase towards deadlifts when we can use a boost in energy the most.
Oral rehydration solution (ORS) and magnesium can be important as part of a refeeding strategy after a water cut. If you will not have breakfast before weigh-ins you can also consider bringing these items. Proper electrolyte balance is important to prevent cramping!
This guide should give you a solid foundation for your own packing list, but it should certainly be personalized. Your packing list is but a small part of your preparation and another important factor in setting yourself up for succes lies in attempt selection. Planning out your attempts and warmups in detail is key, so definitely bring your attempt plan to the meet as well (more on this topic soon). Your powerlifting meet will not always go according to plan, so prepare well, be flexible, and most importantly remember to have fun!
- Guest, N. S., Van Dusseldorp, T. A., Nelson, M. T., Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Jenkins, N. D., ... & Campbell, B. I. (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 1-37.