Powerlifting Basics: Bombing Out of the Meet

Lessons learned from bombing out of a powerlifting meet. How to recognize and make corrections to prevent failing at a meet.

In “Powerlifting Primer: The Basics” I commented that I had made about all the mistakes that you could think of in strength training. Turns out, I was wrong. After competing for four years, I just managed to bomb out1 of my first powerlifting meet. Afterwards, one of the personal trainers at my gym commented “we don’t like to talk about our failures, only our successes”. I thought about that for a while, and think that it’s a mistake. We should discuss and learn from our mistakes. They will often teach us more than our successes.

I was fortunate enough to compete at the USA Powerlifting (USAPL) National Championships this year, and went eight for nine on my lifts. I didn’t getting a single red light until my last deadlift2. Although it was a great meet, I don’t think I learned nearly as much from that event where everything seemed to go right, as I did from this last meet where I went three for nine and bombed out on my squats.

I thought that I would share some of the lessons I learned from bombing out.

What Went Wrong?

One of my mentors once told me that a major catastrophe never stems from a single event. Rather it is the result a chain of events, each one building on and multiplying the effects of the last. Think about the last time you were late for work. You weren’t late just because you forgot to set your alarm the night before. Rather, you had gotten up early the day before and shut the alarm off so it wouldn’t go off later irritating your wife. Since you’d gotten up early you were tired that night, fell asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow, and forgot to turn your alarm back on. You woke up 30 minutes late. It’s raining that day, and since it rains so seldom in the Seattle area, people don’t know how to drive in it-traffic is backed up right to your front door. It just happens that it’s the day the new construction project starts on the highway, closing one of the lanes. I think you get the picture.

It’s a silly example I suppose, but I use it to point out that most of these variables are under your control. The trick is to break one of the links in the chain and prevent (or at least minimize the impact of) the catastrophe.

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