On Saturday the March 10, Iron Asylum hosted its first ever USPA power lifting meet! It was a rousing success across the board, everyone did so well that over 10 state records were broken!
Special Congratulations to Mel with Team Iron Asylum that broke both the bench and dead lift state records! So strong!
One of the things that struck me while I was there competing was how few of the spectators understood how the meet actually works. Even some of the first time competitors had some confusion, so I figured it would be worth a little explanation.
How does a power lifting meet work?
Once you have paid your entry and trained up for months, the big day arrives…..really it starts the day before the big day. This is the weigh in, power lifting competitions are separated by weight class, age and gender. For example, I lift in the 90kg (198.4lbs) category and masters men 40-44. Of course everyone knows that this is really a ploy to make sure the old guys and our freaky old man strength don’t hurt the feelings of the younger competitors!
Soooooo…. I might has missed weight for this meet due to unforeseen events, or possibly because I stayed up drinking beer and playing card games with my buddy David. Either way at a normal meet, you can just bump up to the next weight class. Once you weigh in it is time to go home, eat, rest and get ready for the next day.
Morning of the meet everyone shows up for the rules meeting and gets a rundown of the basics and things that will cause you to fail a lift. It usually pays to show up a little early and get a good place in the warm up area to make home for the day!
The structure of the meet is pretty simple once you get the hang of it…..Lifters are separated into flights of roughly 8-12 lifters, each flight will complete 3 attempts at one a single discipline before moving onto the next flight. For example if flight A has 8 lifters, all 8 lifters will complete their 3 squats before moving onto flight B. Within the flight the lifters cycle through, in order of opening weight, to ensure each lifter has a rest between attempts. Once all of the flights have completed a discipline, it starts over with flight A on the second discipline and so on.
Before we finish there are a couple of other rules that are super important to be aware of in power lifting meet. The first is if you miss all three attempts at a single lift you are done for the meet. For example if you miss all three squats, you don’t get to bench press. This is where a good coach and/or lifting team come in, making sure you are lifting as much as possible without bombing out.
Once all of the lifters are done, totals are added up and awards are given for the different categories as well as best overall lifters. This is calculated using the Wilks coefficient. The easy explanation is that the Wilks it is a way to compare lifters of different weight classes in a balanced way.
I will say that power lifting, while it can be difficult and frustrating, is a very rewarding sport. The things that I love most about power lifting is that at 40 years old I can still compete, feel the adrenaline rush of being on stage in front of a crowd with everyone cheering me on, and challenge myself physically. You will be hard pressed to find a more supportive and friendly group of people that the competitors at a power lifting meet.
As a side note, I got 1st place my division, setting PR in both the squat and bench press!