We have all heard it before.
“I want to get stronger first.”
“I’m too weak, it’s embarrassing.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I’m not going to win anything.”
These aren’t the only reasons why some lifters decide not to compete, but they have certainly held people back. Well, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. For the vast majority of the ‘recreational’ lifters, a ‘competition’ gives an intense impression. There are definitely uncertainties and anxieties associated with it, especially since not everyone lifts for the sake of attaining medals or trophies. Many people have attained a level of strength that they can be proud of without competing. So, what reasons would anyone have to compete? Let us give you a few good ones.
Competition accelerates progress. With competition in mind, it brings focus and purpose to your own training. An end goal forces a sense of finality and structure to your training. We have all been guilty of being that guy before. You woke up on the right side of the bed. The stars have aligned themselves perfectly. Your fringe sweeps your forehead at the perfect angle. You are absolutely feeling yourself. You step into the gym feeling like you can turn water into wine, and you decide to PR or ER. However, preparing for competition demands a much higher level of discipline. It entails that you follow a training program, that you adhere to standards beyond your own, that you learn to be self-critical and smart. An end goal forces a finality and structure to your training because anything else is simply short-changing your progress.
However, your first meet will be an uncomfortable experience. The weeks and days leading up to the competition can get mentally difficult. You dress up in a skin-tight singlet, step out in front of hundreds of people, and attempt to lift numbers you haven’t touched before. Anxieties will surface. You have done all the work, but there’s always a little part of you that is gonna panic. This is part and parcel of the sport. Stay the course and have faith in your training plan. Overcoming these mental obstacles will strengthen you to persevere through a hard training period or even other aspects of life.
And our hot take on prizes at your first meet: they’re not that valuable. Any medals and competition records you get at your first competition are bonuses, not means of validation. If you win something, great! But be kind and give yourself the space to experience the sport without any pressures of ‘winning’ right now. Competition against others can come later when you are platform-ready.
After all, competing is about YOU. It’s about beating your past-self. As cliché as it sounds, competing is not about other people’s progress and feats of strength. In your gym, you might find yourself surrounded by strong people. They intimidate you. They make you question your life. They make you feel like a beta. You feel like your level of strength is not worth ‘showing off’. Waiting until your strength is ‘up to par’ shifts your attention on your own progress onto others’. It doesn’t matter if that Korean Oppa squats 250kg, or that Handsome Devil squats 272.5kg. If you have successfully put on kilos to your lifts, you have already beaten your past self; at the end of the day, it’s about your goals and your efforts.
Most importantly, competing opens a gate into a community of like-minded powerlifters. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with others who share your passion. You form bonds and friendships with fellow athletes in the warm-up room and cheer for them on the platform. You get training partners, and in the process, learn a lot from other lifters and coaches. Powerlifting meets are not as ‘competitive’ as other sports. The atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming, and everybody roots for one another regardless of how much you lift. No one judges the new lifter. It takes guts to step onto the platform, and your fellow competitors and spectators will respect you for that.
At the end of the day, who doesn’t love the feeling of being strong? The adrenaline rush. The roar of the crowd. The exhilaration as you lock out your last deadlift. These feelings will be intensified 10 times on the platform. You will never truly feel ready for the first time around. Take the leap of faith, sometimes that is all you need. You will look back after and wonder why you ever hesitated.
Further questions? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article and commentary first appeared on ENSO Powerlifting, on Mar 17, 2020.