We all know that strength training is a competitive sport that requires dedication, discipline, and hard work. Whether you are going for records or simply competing with yourself to get better.
Competing in strength training can be a daunting task, but with the right mind set and preparation, you can achieve a level of success that you never thought possible and have a great time along the way.
I always have been fascinated by what the body can accomplish since being a gymnast in my younger years and eventually moving on to coaching. It’s driven me to be successful in Powerlifting & Strongwoman and most recently winning my first bodybuilding show as a Figure Competitor at the FITX Strom Classic. I have broken multiple British Records across different weight categories in Powerlifting. I won the U64England’s Pro Show Qualifier in the Midlands in Strongwoman and have won a handful of Log and Deadlift competitions. I have competed many times so I thought I would pass on some tips for anyone thinking about competing.
Define Your Goals
To be successful in strength training, you must define your goals. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to compete in powerlifting? Strongman? Bodybuilding?! Do you want to improve your overall strength or increase your muscle mass? Once you have defined your goals, you can create a training plan that will help you achieve them. An old training partner of mine says “Anything is possible, it just takes longer than you think” which is very true. Strength isn’t built overnight but if you train consistently, you WILL get stronger.
Find the Right Coach
Having a coach can make all the difference when it comes to competing in strength training. The right coach will help you develop a plan that is tailored to your goals and will work with you to improve your technique, form, and overall performance. Look for a coach who has experience in the type of competition you want to participate in and has a track record of success. Remember, your coach can only give you the guide, it is up to you to do the work and follow the plan. Every rep and set counts so you can't be upset with the results you get if you don’t put the work in.
Develop a Training Plan
With your goals defined, you can begin to develop a training plan and possibly set a date for a competition. Your plan should include a combination of specific strength training exercises, mobility, and cardio – For all you Powerlifters out there who don’t do any cardio, you are missing a trick.
Nutrition and Hydration plays a crucial role in your overall performance. Make sure you are fuelled going into your sessions. You can’t expect a car to run without petrol.
Technique is king. Poor technique can result in injury and hinder your progress. Work to develop and perfect your technique for each exercise. We are all built differently, and some lifts and events will suit some better than others, but improvements can always be made through targeted training.
It’s important to work on your weak areas but don’t forget your strengths. Peaking for a competition is a fine art, and I’ve seen many people underperform on comp day because they haven’t peaked correctly.
Embrace the Competition Mindset
Competing in strength training requires a fierce and competitive mind set. You must be mentally prepared for competition day and ready to perform at your best. Visualization techniques, positive self-talk, and focusing on your goals can help you stay focused and motivated. I believe in mind over matter, if you are not fully committed to the lift or event there’s a good chance the lift or event may not go as you would like.
Nerves will always play a part on competition day – especially on the first lift or event. Keeping composure is important. Try not to get overhyped or do anything different than you would in training. Remember, you have to do all of the events in one day and it’s a big ask of your body and mind.
Rest and Recovery
Rest and recovery are just as important as training when it comes to strength training. Make sure you get enough sleep, take rest days, and allow your body to recover from intense workouts. Overtraining can lead to injury and hinder your progress.
Competing in strength training can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By defining your goals, finding the right coach, developing a training plan, focusing on technique, embracing the competition mind set, and resting and recovering, you can achieve your highest level of success. Remember, competing in strength training is not just about physical strength, but mental strength as well. With dedication and discipline, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.