A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.
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On the 2nd of February, I competed within my first North West Powerlifting competition. I am very familiar with the environment surrounding Olympic Weightlifting competitions, therefore making this environment a little unfamiliar. I have been using Powerlifting (squat, bench press and deadlift) within my Olympic Weightlifting training for approximately 4 years now, which has improved my Olympic lifting. Recently, my poundages began to increase more frequently in my Powerlifting than in my Olympic lifting, so I figured I would give a Powerlifting competition a try. Read more about my experience below.
The environment and setup
In order to be able to compete, I registered with British Powerlifting and North West Powerlifting and therefore kept track of their competitions on their website and Facebook page. Just like within Olympic Weightlifting, I had an idea of my opening weights prior to the competition. I arrived on the day, competing within the unequipped U18 Sub-Junior -47kg category and just made it into the category by 0.1kg (meaning I may be in the -52kg category next time I compete). Within Olympic Weightlifting, the bodyweight categories are different to those within Powerlifting. When I weighed in, I gave in my poundages as starting on 50kg Squat, 30kg Bench, 87.5kg Deadlift. Unlike Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting competitions have a total of 9 attempts altogether, there are only 6 attempts within Olympic Weightlifting (although both of the sports contain three attempts per lift).
Before the competition begins, you will be measured for your rack heights for your squat and for your bench. This number will be written down and altered for each of your attempts, you can alter this if too high or too low. I seem to recall mine were either squat height 6 and bench height 8, might have been the other way around. This was a completely different experience for me, as within Weightlifting you don't use racks so height measurements aren't needed to be measured. Before I turned up on the day, I checked to see which equipment could be used, as although it was only a divisional competition, the rules sometimes still apply to the standards of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). This meaning, specific logos could not be worn unless approved and some materials or specific equipment could not be worn. I also made myself familiar with the powerlifting commands, which I will mention within the next few paragraphs.
During the competition
A Powerlifting competition has a different structure to an Olympic Weightlifting competition. An Olympic Weightlifting competition is ran in order of how much is being lifted. For example, Lifter A is lifting 45kg, Lifter B then lifts 46kg, and Lifter A then complete their second attempt of 47kg (this providing there are not more attempts in between). Within Powerlifting, everyone within the flight path will complete their first attempt, then the bar is reloaded for Lifter A's second attempt and then everyone completes their second attempt until it's time for Lifter A's third attempt. This was strange to get used to during the competition, as often I would expect to be back on the platform immediately again, but actually I would have a good 20 min rest. In Powerlifting, you can increase with 2.5kg, however in Weightlifting you can increase by anything more than a kilogram and in some circumstances (age or failure) stick at the same weight.
Usually, within a Weightlifting competition, Group A would complete their Snatches and their Clean + Jerks and then they would be given awards and sent away. However, after I had finished all three of my squats in my flight path (group), then the next flight path would complete their squats and then the next. Then my flight path would begin the bench press and so on. I much preferred this layout, it made it more relaxing to watch the other groups and made it fairer so that the other groups that were later on actually received an audience, rather than everyone who'd already competed had already gone home.
During the competition, it was useful to see the number of spotters upon the platform that would essentially ensure the bar couldn't fall on the lifter in the event of a fail. The bar could be passed to you in the bench and maybe one spotter was on the platform for the deadlift. The system for loading was very efficient and I believe it would make Olympic Weightlifting competitions run more smoothly and quickly. A computer program was used to indicate the colour and order of the weights that were required on the bar, this would then be called out for the loaders to load on.
Here is a summary of how the competition went:
Squat: 50kg, 52.5kg, 55kg
Bench: 30kg, 32.5kg, 35kg
Deadlift: 87.5kg, 90kg, 92.5kg
I received all white lights for every lift, achieved a personal best deadlift of 92.5kg and beat three North West records in the U18 category (Bench, Deadlift and total) and then two records in the U23 category (Deadlift and Total). I also placed first within my category (nobody was in my category). I will now explain what is meant by the judging system, results and the commands for the lifts.
I was told prior to one of my squat attempts that there must be a gap between my knee sleeves and socks (and also the legs of the singlet). Before the competition began, I checked that I could wear my Olympic Weightlifting singlet as although Adidas is not approved, it was only a divisional competition. I learnt that I can only wear neoprene knee sleeves (and thankfully I had bought my neoprene ones with me as well as my cotton ones). I learnt I wasn't allowed a Velcro belt so I ordered one and picked it up from the post office THE MORNING OF the competition. Very stressful, but it did the job for a £60 breaking-my-bank belt. There are still other reasons why equipment cannot be used, for example, not wrapping anything around the bar and not using the thumb-loop on your wrist wraps (which I was gently warned about prior to being on the platform).
The white lights mean that the lift was good. Just like in Weightlifting, three red lights mean it was a no lift, whilst only one red light is still acceptable. You can gain three reds for not obeying commands or keeping up to the technique standards. I will briefly explain some of the reasons you can fail a lift, this being very strict and different to Weightlifting. I have linked the IPF rules on the commands, which can be found on page 9 and 10 of the attachment.
The result of the competition can either go based upon wilks (a coefficient taking into account of bodyweight and gender), age-adjusted wilks (age is taken into account), total (total amount lifted, highest three lifts added together) or ipf points (a newer equivalent to wilks).
Currently I am at:
Ipf points: 358.77
Olympic Weightlifting usually uses your total or a Sinclair coefficient.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Whether you are an Olympic Weightlifter, Powerlifter or none at all, I hope this post has shed some light upon a competition environment within the sport. Overall, I had an amazing day and met some great people as everyone was so kind and welcoming; I look forward to my next competition later on in the year.