So you just did a powerlifting meet. Now what?
There are many potential answers to this question. Here are my suggestions, compiled from conversations, methods, and opinions from fellow coaches and athletes, many of whom are far more knowledgeable than I am.
Take some time off from under the bar.
This is especially true for beginner and amateur lifters. Some lifters with more experience will do “prep” meets gearing up for their “main-focus” meet.
In that case, after your “main” meet, I highly suggest taking time off, i.e. AWAY from powerlifting movements entirely.
Powerlifting meets take a lot out of you. Between the excitement of the meet and the heavy weights, the body does not brush this elevated stress in just 1-2 days (even if PED’s are at play). Your body cannot sustain balls-to-the-wall performance demands year-round. There are some athletes out there that push themselves for extended periods of time, but you can only out-run physics and biology for so long.
During your deload, I would suggest reflecting on the whole training cycle leading up to the meet. What went right on meet day? What went wrong? Figure out everything that you feel aided you, from your very first training session through your last training session prior to lift day. Determine what exercises you liked and which ones you felt did not aid you. These are the details that will make you a better, healthier, and smarter competitor. Write them down!
#3 Ease Back In
Lastly I would ease back into training, what our team usually implements is a General Physical Preparedness (GPP) phase that entails very low intensity and high volume movements. There will be a lot of unilateral exercises, and many High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions that go along with this. This is what builds the base of the “pyramid.” If I was to ask you, “what is the only way to build a bigger pyramid?” the answer would be, “A bigger base!” The peak of the pyramid is when we compete. That is the pinnacle of our training, everything else leads up to that moment. This is why it is very important to have a large base (foundation), which is built with GPP.
Don’t go straight back to training heavy.
Maybe you were dissatisfied with your meet-day performance and want to get back to training heavy right away. I would suggest re-evaluating your strategy.
Injury is bound to happen if you push your body during a time when it is recovering from repeated attempts at (or above) maximal loads.
Whether you’re embarrassed or on a mission to “never let that happen again,” an injury won’t help you reach your goals. Take the damn week off.
Don’t keep eating like you’re trying to make weight.
Unless you didn’t cut any weight or adjust your nutrition significantly, your approach to food should change after you’ve competed.
During recovery, your body needs food (aka calories), so give it what it wants!
Just as with heavy training, maintaining a nutritional “peak” is not sustainable. No one can stay on the same food regimen their entire lifting career. Your body adapts to whatever you feed it, so find a nutritionist and have them aid you in recovering from your meet.
Change your eating habits back to a more “normal” regimen. Even if powerlifting is your top priority, you have to figure out a balance. When the meet is over, shift things back in alignment with a progressing lifestyle. It will not set you up for failure for your next meet, I promise.
Don’t dwell on the negative.
If you have a bad meet, you must acknowledge it, but ultimately move on. Learn from the mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. Focusing solely on the negative will create toxins in your mind which will set you up for failure getting prepared for you next meet. Or worse, it has the potential to torpedo your whole lifting career if you can’t get past that mental state.
Lastly… Enjoy life!
Help others and pass on what you have learned. Let your experiences add to their tool box of information. Take a step back from the bar. It will make you respect the sport and want it that much more!
Take the time to broaden the base of your pyramid. Build a solid foundation.
Once you’ve got your strong foundation, you will be ready to put your body through the next set of challenges.