So you wanna do your first Olympic Weightlifting meet?
Olympic Weightlifting is becoming more and more popular due mostly to the Snatch and Clean and Jerk being used in CrossFit. CrossFitters are increasingly seeking out ways to improve their technique and knowledge in Weightlifting and along the way some of them find a new passion in Weightlifting. Because of this new found passion in many people the idea to try and compete in Weightlifting is becoming more and more popular, but not everyone has a coach who has competed or understands the different complexities of a Weightlifting meet. This blog post is devoted to guiding the first time competitor to their first meet in order to ensure it is a fun and rewarding experience!
The first big thing to know when you decide that you want to compete in a Weightlifting meet is that everyone in the Weightlifting community is extremely supportive and understands that you are a beginner. Never be afraid that you’ll be the only beginner, because there are always beginners and each and every lifter knows what it feels like to be there. Know that everyone will go out of their way to help you out!
When should you do your first meet? In our opinion you are capable of competing after you’ve learned the movements under the guidance of a coach and can perform them correctly and safely.
What should you lift in the meet? For beginners the goal is to make all of your lifts successfully. This is to ensure that the beginner has a great time and leaves wanting to do more meets in the future! To get an idea for what your lifts should be we first need to figure out what your first lifts or “openers” will be. For our beginners we usually take 10kg off of their max lifts in both the Snatch and Clean and Jerk to establish their opener. You get three attempts in each movement. The opener should be a confidence boosting lift. The lifter should be able to hit it 2-3x with no misses.
For example a lifter snatching 50kg would open with 40kg. You get three attempts for each movement and we go up 2-3kg for each successful attempt. For this beginner we would start them at 40kg for lift one, 43kg for lift two and 46kg for lift three. This is based on the lifter successfully completing all of the lifts in the snatch. Notice that we do not go up to their 1RM in the meet. This is deliberate as we do not want our beginners in their first meet to miss any lifts. The first meet needs to be fun in order to set the stage for success in future meets. This would be the same for the Clean and Jerk (Ie 63kg C&J would open with 53kg, second attempt at 56kg, and third attempt at 59kg. Assuming all lifts are made).
Now how do you prepare yourself for the meet? This section is for both the lifter and the coach. First follow your coach’s advice, then for beginners about a week before the meet (assuming the meet is on Sunday) do the following:
Max your snatch (no more than 3 misses)
Clean and Jerk
opener or 10kg below your max (no misses)
Work up to a heavy set of five
Hit your opener three times (no misses or ugly lifts)
Clean and Jerk
Work up to your opener or 10kg below your max
Work up to your Snatch opener (no misses)
Clean and Jerk
work up to 10% below your opener
CrossFit workouts during this week should be very low in intensity and not very taxing. Saturday should be a rest day for both CF and WL! Beginners should NOT cut weight or try to make any weight classes their first competition. This only adds unnecessary stress to the beginning lifter and takes away from the fun of the meet. After the first meet is when it is time to worry about what your ideal weight class should be.
During the meet you will generally weigh in two hours before you lift. After the weigh in get some fluids in and eat a meal then start warming up. Here’s how you should approach the warm-up this should be your coaches job entirely. There will be cards at the meet in the warm up area showing the order of lifters. For each lifter count on three minutes (one minute per lift) per lifter. So if there are 5 lifters ahead of you then you’ve got about 15min until you lift from when the lifting in your session actually starts, which means you should begin your general warm up 5-10min before the scheduled start time. (If you are the very first lifter, you need to start warming up 30min before the scheduled start time.) It’s important that your coach knows and keeps track of this to ensure a proper warm-up. From there your warm-up should look like this:
Example of a 50kg opening lift:
Time | Bar or general warmup | Reps
25-30min out | Bar/general warm up | –
20min out | Bar | –
18min out | 25kg | x3 Above knee
15min out | 25kg | x3 Below knee
13min out | 35kg | x2 from floor
11min out | 35kg |x2 from floor
9min out | 40kg | x1 from floor
6min out | 45kg | x1 from floor
3min out | 48kg | x1 from floor