S0, it’s your first powerlifting meet, or you’re new to the Michigan APF. You’ve seen a meet before, maybe not, and maybe even competed in some other strength sport in the past. You know there are three lifts, squat, bench press, and deadlift, and you know you show up and do each with as much weight as you can without dying. If you lift a lot then you maybe win something or break a record, and then go home. The specifics beyond that point though are fuzzy or non-existent. Well fear not, you’ve come to the right collection of 1’s and 0’s floating about the internet tubes. This article gives the general breakdown of how a meet works and what to expect on meet day. Each meet’s a little different, but this should give any new lifter (or even the old ones who have forgotten some of the finer points of the rules) a general layout to go by.
There are four different meet formats offered by the APF:
- Full Power: The classic powerlifting meet. You compete in squat, bench press, and deadlift for max weight in each lift and an overall total. This is the most common meet format.
- Push Pull: Full power minus the squat. You only compete in bench press and deadlift. This is also sometimes called Ironman.
- Bench Only: You only compete in the bench press.
- Deadlift Only: You only compete in the deadlift.
Each meet will offer all, or a subset of the above options. Which you chose is completely up to you and your goals and abilities. At most large meets all four will be offered and run simultaneously. Basically all three lifts will run and you only compete in the ones you signed up for. If there are enough lifters bench only will sometimes be pulled out into its own separate event conducted at a different time from the full power meet. For the purposes of this article, we assume a normal full power meet. There are some minor rule differences between the different forms which will be pointed out, but for all other intents and purposes the formats follow the same form with only the lifts involved changing.
Before anything can happen you first have to weigh-in. Per the rules, weigh-ins are conducted in periods starting 24 hrs before the meet actually begins. This gives people the chance to weigh-in early so they can cut weight and have time to recover before competing. If you’ve ever competed in wrestling, combat sports, or other weight-class based events then this should be familiar territory. There will be scheduled periods the day before the meet and the morning of the meet when you can weigh-in. The meet promoter will publish these times and locations. You are by no means required to weigh-in early. You may weigh-in during any of the posted times, it’s just often easier to do it early as it eases the pressures on meet day (both for you, the competitor, and the people running the meet).
At weigh-ins the following will occur (not necessarily in this order):
- Verification of your entry and divisions/events entered
- Verification of your APF/AAPF membership card: Please bring your existing card with you, or you may purchase a new card at this time if you do not already have one. Cards are $30 for a single federation (APF or AAPF only), or $40 for a dual card (APF and AAPF). Cash or check only.
- First Attempts Entered: You are required to provide your first attempts (amount of weight you want to lift for your first try at each lift) at weigh-in. Don’t worry, you may change these up to the point the meet begins, but we need something in the system even if you’re not sure. Some meets will be conducted in lb, some in kg, so make sure you check the meet information and have the correct weight ready. Attempt weights must be a multiple of 5 lb (2.5 kg).
- Weighing: You will be weighed on the official scale in a private room by an individual of your own sex. You may weigh-in nude, or with undergarments on. If you do not make your desired weight class you may try again as many times as needed up to the point the final weigh-in session is complete.
- Bench/Squat Rack Heights: Your rack height for the bar in the squat and bench will taken. The competition bench and monolift will be available to determine these heights.
A general schedule one could expect on meet day would be as follows:
- 0730: Meet day weigh-in (if you didn’t weigh-in the day before). This is also the earliest you can show up to get ready.
- 0800: If you already weighed-in this is probably when you should show up to start getting ready.
- 0830: Rules meeting. The judges go over the rules and procedures and make sure everyone is clear on everything.
- 0900: The National Anthem is played, and lifting begins.
You should bring everything you need with you to the meet: ID, lifting gear, snacks, change of clothes. Lifting chalk, a warm up area well stocked with weights and racks, and room for your personal possessions will be provided. Please be sure to review the lifting costume requirements listed in the official rules to ensure you have the proper attire and equipment (Rules Page). In general a singlet is required (you may wear a t-shirt underneath if desired), long socks (up to the knee) are required for deadlift, and shoes or lifting slippers must be worn while performing all lifts (you can’t lift barefoot or with only socks).
Order of lifting
The order of lifts is squat, then bench press, then deadlift. We lift in flights (groups). The flights are based on weight class and are enumerated alphabetically starting with A (A,B,C,D ect.). They are used to keep the group of active lifters to a reasonable size (10-15) so people don’t cool down too much or have too much time between lifts as to be counterproductive. Flights are determined by the meet organizers and will be posted before lifting begins.
Everyone in Flight A will perform all three lifts of the squat (everyone takes their first attempt, then we cycle back around for the second, and then the third). Once Flight A is done, everyone in Flight B performs their three attempts at squat. This continues alphabetically until all flights have gone. We then take a short break (10 mins), and repeat with bench and then deadlift. Flight A always goes first with the other flights following it in alphabetical order. The flight groups never change (if you’re in Flight A for squat you’re in Flight A for bench and deadlift).
The order of lifters within each flight is determined by attempted weight. We always start with the lightest attempt and go up from there. An important take away from this is that the order of lifting can change attempt to attempt (you won’t always go after the same person in the same order). This is because the second and third attempt orders are determined on the fly by the weight each lifter requests after they complete their previous attempt (you always start with the lightest attempt and go up). You have to make sure to check the order for each attempt as its updated to make sure you know when you’re up.
I know this sounds complicated but don’t worry. All this information (order, flights, ect.) will be posted at the meet on TV screens and updated in real-time so you’ll always know exactly where we are and when you’re up.
When it’s your turn you have one minute from the time the bar is loaded and ready to make your attempt (the head judge will call “bar is loaded”). If you fail to make the attempt within the time your attempt is forfeit (this rule exists to keep the meet moving and make sure people don’t take absurd amounts of time to go). Once you take your attempt, you then have one minute to decide on and give your next attempt to the scoring table. If you got your lift then you must increase your next attempt by at least 5 lb (2.5 kg), if you missed your lift you may re-try the same weight, or increase it. Even if you missed your lift and are re-trying you still have to tell the scoring table.
If you miss your lift you may NEVER go down in weight – thus it is very important to choose your first attempt carefully. If you choose your first attempt too heavy and can’t get it, you’re stuck with that weight and may bomb out of the meet. Bombing means to fail to perform a good attempt at a lift (out of three attempts). If you bomb at any lift you are disqualified from the meet and do not continue.
Entering and Changing Attempts
As for changing and entering attempts (how much weight you want to lift), this gets a little complicated – actually really complicated. First the easy part, all attempts must be a multiple of 5 lb (2.5 kg). You can request 125 lb but not 127 lb.
You may change the weight you have listed for you first attempt on any lift:
- First Flight: any time up to five minutes before the flight starts.
- Following Flights: up to five(5) attempts from the end of the previous flight’s final round.
Prior notice of these deadlines will be announced by the announcer.
Second and third attempts must be entered within one minute of completing your previous attempt. If no weight is submitted your next attempted will be forfeit. Even if you missed and are repeating the same weight you MUST still tell the scoring table.
- You may not change your second attempt once entered on squat or bench in a full power meet.
- You may change your second attempt once for deadlift in a full power meet. This must be done any time before you have been called to lift (“bar is loaded”). You cannot change after called
- If you are doing a single lift meet (bench or deadlift only meet), you may not change your second attempt.
- You may not change your third attempt once entered on squat or bench in a full power meet.
- You may change your third attempt twice for deadlift in a full power meet. This must be done any time before you have been called to lift (“bar is loaded”). You cannot change after called.
- If you are doing a single lift meet (bench or deadlift only meet), you may change your third attempt as many times as you like. This must be done any time before you have been called to lift (“bar is loaded”). You cannot change after called.
This only applies to world and select national meets where world records may be set. In such meets there is an optional forth attempt. The forth attempt may be taken in order to break a world record. The attempt MUST break a world record, and it can only be taken if you got your third attempt. The forth attempt does not count toward your meet total or any meet scoring. It exists only to break world records. The forth attempt must be requested and given to the scoring table after your third attempt. Once entered it cannot be changed. There are other points of rules addressing breaking world records which will not be presented here but can be found in the official WPC rule book (available here).
Note On Single Lift Meets
The single lift meet rules only apply if you are competing in a single lift ONLY meet. That is the only thing being contested is one lift. E.g. a bench/deadlift only meet (the two may be combined, or separate). If you are doing bench/dead only in a full power meet, that is the bench only is being run along with full power, then the full power rules apply even to the single lift competitors. Yes it’s odd, yes it may seem unfair, that’s the rule. This means that if you are bench only in a full power meet you CANNOT change your second or third attempts, but you can in a bench only meet.
Yes it’s strange and very confusing I know, it’s how the rules work. There are different rules for first, second, and third lifts and for single lift events. If you have any questions on attempt changes ask the scoring table.
The meet is done and you survived! You’ve made some new friends born in blood, sweat, and the adrenaline of the iron, and had a hell of a time doing it. It’s time for celebration! About 20 minutes after the lifting completes awards will be given out. Every competitor gets a medal and recognition. Select best lifter awards may also be given based off of heaviest lifts, or lifting coefficient scores. Now, swag in hand, you go forth with your bretheren and and strike fear into the heart of the all you can eat buffet owner. Oorah!
Please visit the FAQ page for answers to other commonly asked questions we receive. http://www.michiganapf.com/faq/
This is just a general breakdown of a meet. For more details on the exact rules and regulations please refer to the offical WPC/APF rule book available on the Rules and Regs page here.