This past weekend I had an excellent time competing at my first national level competition, which was the Junior British Championships. To see how I did feel free to go to my Instagram where I posted a recap.
While I was there, I obviously witnessed a huge variety of people lift and managed to observe some trends. The trend I’ll be talking about today is competition conditioning; what I mean by this is the ability to get through a competition day without suffering a loss in performance or a large amount of physical inability.
The common things I saw were people crashed out after bench press, lots of back and lower body cramp and also people not doing anywhere near as well as they thought they might due to their conditioning suffering over the long day of lifting.
I’m not trying to slate how different people train or prepare for their competition, however having experienced all of these things myself I thought I’d offer some tips for improving this which has benefited me personally but also my friends and clients.
- Squat, bench and deadlift (SBD) sessions – these have been absolutely key to ensuring I’m ready for a long day containing all three lifts. Being confident with deadlifting after heavy squatting and bench pressing isn’t easy and in my opinion is definitely something you should train for. It also humbles you a bit, as you find what your realistic deadlift strength is, which for the purpose of competing, is all that matters!
- Include general physical preparation or lifting-specific conditioning work into your routine – this doesn’t have to be a drastic change, simply running through a dynamic warmup or doing something like hyperextensions and split squats before your lower body lifts is a good way of ensuring you are getting those muscle groups conditioned and ready for the impact of a competition day.
- Don’t cut off volume work too early – I have definitely made this mistake, cutting out volume on squats and deadlifts too early in my training and suffering from it. Keeping volume slightly higher running into competition means your body can stay trained and you can maintain a higher work capacity for longer. Inevitably it means your body can handle a bit more stress and may limit the effects of competition on conditioning.
- Don’t take more than 4 days off before competing – too many days off before competing will leave your body not as ready to get through a whole day of lifting. I understand this is quite a generalization, as I’m sure this may work for some people (especially bigger/heavier lifters) but despite fatigue dropping off nicely, it can affect conditioning for the actual day.
- Hydration – this seems obvious but make sure you are hydrated on comp day! Drink lots of fluids and try and get in sodium through your food as it will help you hold onto the water. This is especially important if you have cue weight for the competition as it will catch up to you. Sports drinks also work well for some simple sugars and can limit some of the effects of long competitions.
Overall, an important thing to remember is to do what works for you, especially if you are hitting PBs in competitions, but these things are important to remember as I’ve seen people have really bad competitions purely because of their conditioning on the day. I’d definitely try adding in 3-lift sessions in at least 4-6 weeks prior to competing and see how much better you feel on the day. Let me know and give me feedback!
Feel free to contact me with any feedback, questions or enquiries at: firstname.lastname@example.org or interact with me on Facebook at “Ben Glasscock Powerlifter” and/or Instagram where I post pretty much every day: @blgstrength or a link here. Coaching is available at very reasonable rates too, get in contact via email, Facebook and/or Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!