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Be ready for your next Weightlifting Competition: A guide for Coaches and Athletes

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 22, 2015 at 1:35 PM



Pack all your gear in 1 bag that you will be using on competition day in 1 bag. If you don’t have one by now get a gym bag. Keep your shoes, belt, singlet, tape, knee sleeves, belt, etc. in this bag. This is especially important for those traveling by plane with more than 1 connection. I can’t count how many times over the last 13 years of competing I’ve had my bags get lost during flights. Luckily I always take a carry on with all my Weightlifting gear so if all else fails I have what I need to get the job done.

Trust me on this it’s no fun running around trying to find somebody to borrow a singlet from or even worse lifting in somebody else’s shoes if you can even find somebody with your size to borrow from. Just be prepared and bring all the shit you need and don’t lose it!


This should be pretty simple but for some reason it always stumps new athletes and coaches alike. I’m not saying you should take the same exact jumps in training every time you snatch and clean and jerk but you should definitely have a general idea of what lifts you take when you warm up to produce the best results. Most lifters try to warm up with about 5-7 attempts at different weights. I don’t mean take 5-7 reps but 5-7 jumps to different weights progressively before you get to your opener.

EX: I want to open with 110kg snatch. Here’s what my warm ups normally look like…

Bar work, 50kg 3-4 reps a couple power snatches and full snatches, 70kg 1 power 1 full, 90kg 1 full snatch, 100kg 1 full snatch, and 105kg full snatch. Then I would open with 110kg and probably take 4-5kg jumps since that’s what I am comfortable with taking in training. The idea is to get your body prepared to lift as heavy as possible without wearing yourself out. You don’t want to be in the back doing 3 reps at your opener only to go out and miss it. Likewise you don’t want to take a 20kg jump from your last warm up to your opener. Keep it simple and stick to what works for you in training and you should be fine. This leads to my next point, which is also more focused towards the coaches reading this.


With so many new athletes and coaches getting into the sport this is something you HAVE to learn if you want to be successful. In theory it’s actually pretty simple to count attempts but I see people screw this up so many times.

I’ll use examples for this one to keep it simple then I’ll get into some weirder scenarios…

Let’s say there are 12 lifters in the session and you’re lifter is going to be the opening at 90kg. You have athletes starting at 65, 68, 73, 78, 80, 85, 88, 95, 100, 103, and 112. You’re athlete is going to be toward the end of the session in the snatch. So looking at this we can assume there will be roughly 16 attempts before your athlete will take his opener. How do I know this?? Well, I like to use common sense and past experiences. If the first 5 guys are opening up 10kg less than my athlete I can pretty much bet they won’t be taking any attempts at 90kg or more. So now I know there will be at least 15 attempts before my athlete. Now I see a couple athletes opening at 85 and 88 which is pretty close to my athlete opening with 90kg.


Seriously though, you know what your weight class is and you know (well you should know) how much you weigh before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning. This let’s you know how much you weight you fluctuate or “float” over night. This is very important especially for those of you who lift early in the morning. Sometimes it’s impossible to get up and find a sauna so you need to be on point and know exactly how much you weigh before it’s too late.

Don’t wait to the last minute to cut weight. All it’s going to do is hurt your performance, especially if you’ve never had experience with water cutting techniques. I’m really not a fan of lifters cutting at all early in their career. Think about it like this…

Are you really going to be a better weightlifter because you cut 4kg in a week to qualify for Jr. Nationals so you can go and finish in last place??? NO! If you want a long career in this sport you need to think LONGTERM! Unless you have a lot of spare body fat you can lose, let your body grow and do what it’s going to do. I’ve seen tons of lifters literally stall their progress because they just have to be a certain weight class. Meanwhile CJ Cummings has literally shattered records in every single weight class since he started and he has probably rarely made a drastic weight cut for a competition.

Let your body grow, let your body progress, and you will have a great career in this sport. You’ll eventually end up in the correct weight class whether that be by gaining muscle and moving up, or losing body fat and moving down. So unless you’re planning on medaling at Nationals or making a world team don’t worry about cutting and focus on hitting PR’s. If you do find yourself needing to cut some weight there are some important things to take into consideration like how much over you are and what time you weigh in. Timing is everything when it comes to cutting weight. My personally preferred method is to start with diet. Cut out all the bullshit. No beers, no soda, just stick with water when it comes to drinks for at least a few weeks. You will easily see some body fat dropping off just by doing this. Next thing is clean up your carbs. No more late night ice cream runs, no more huge plates full of pasta, and definitely stay away from the doughnuts. You should be fueling your body like an athlete anyways. Stick with lean proteins, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I’m not saying don’t have carbs but be aware of how much excess you are putting into your body that you probably don’t need.

If you still find yourself overweight after cleaning up the diet you’ll probably have to cut some water weight. This is where that magical “float” number can come in real handy.If you know you normally float then you will at least have an idea of what you weigh the morning of competition. If you are only .5kg over you can probably get away with just not drinking anything the day of depending on how late you weigh in. If you are more than that and are limited on time then keep reading…

There are a couple different ways to cut water but let’s start with the sauna. The best sauna is a dry sauna, which are the kind you usually find in nice health clubs. They’ll have a big heater that has rocks in it. Should be pretty hot anywhere from 170-200 degrees F. I personally know I can lose about .5kg or more in 20 minutes of the sauna no problem. Sometimes even more. I like to do 20 minute sessions and come out and “cool off”. If you are over a couple kilos you’ll probably need to take a few sessions to get all the weight off. This is why it comes in handy to practice this technique ahead of time as well. Don’t wait until the competition comes for your first trip to the sauna. You really need to train your body and get used to it so you are prepared for it otherwise it can really zap your strength.

Timing is everything with the sauna as well as most things in weightlifting. You don’t want until hit the sauna to soon and spend a lot of time dehydrated. I like to hit the sauna within an hour of weigh ins. The longer you spend dehydrated the worse you will feel when it comes time to compete.

Hot baths are another good tool, especially if you can’t find a sauna. It’s really a pretty simple technique for losing water weight. Fill a tub up with water as hot as you can handle and submerge your body. This is also something you will want to experiment with beforehand so you know how much weight you will lose in a specific time frame and also how you feel afterwards. Just like training we want our body to be prepared for what we are about to put it through so definitely practice these techniques a few times before you try them out at a competition.


There is nothing more infuriating to me than watching a new lifter bomb out or only go 2/6 in their first competition.

One of my favorite quotes from my coach, Kyle Pierce, is “It’s not about where you start but about where you finish.”

I see so many lifters missing openers and this should NEVER happen. I know it does occasionally but it really shouldn’t, especially if you’re a new lifter and you have no chance at winning you should be there to make lifts and hopefully hit some competition PR’s.

Your first lift should be a “gimme” lift, just something to get on the board and get the flow going. Most new lifters are going to be pretty nervous so even routine lifts in the gym become difficult under pressure. Whatever you plan on opening with in optimal conditions just go ahead and drop that a couple kilos and get one on the board. Once that is done then you can take some bigger jumps to get closer to that new PR lift!

The only way to get more comfortable competing is to get in as many competitions as possible, the more the better. I recommend newer athletes competing as often as they can because you never know what kind of scenarios you will come across in a competition.

I’ve had competitions run so smoothly before and others that were a nightmare. All of the sudden I went from 10 attempts out to 3 because a bunch of athletes jumped their openers and next thing I know I’m behind on my warm ups and have to take some crazy jumps from my last warm up to my opener.

The more often you compete the more opportunity there is to learn from each experience. I hope that this helps those of you out there who are thinking of competing/coaching at your first competition and good luck to you all.

Remember, at the end of the day, we’re all there to have a good time so don’t stress out about it. YOU ARE #BUILTFORTHIS!

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Reply James
9:45 AM on February 20, 2017 
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