It’s not uncommon for powerlifters to do a mock meet, whether new to the sport or a seasoned veteran.
Here are the 6 steps to doing a mock powerlifting meet:
- Be prepared with the right gear and knowledge of rules
- Have a game plan of your three attempts
- Weigh-in at your normal body-weight
- Warm-up properly to prepare yourself for max lifts
- Execute your lifts and adjust as necessary
- Reflect on what worked and what needs improvement
This article intends to act as a complete guide, avoid pitfalls, and ensure you can have a successful mock powerlifting meet.
What Is The Purpose Of A Mock Meet?
A mock meet is used to closely resemble a powerlifting competition day.
The purpose of a mock meet is to re-create a competition day as closely as possible without actually competing.
It can serve as a good guide to whether or not you have made progress since your last training cycle. Furthermore, it can act as the bridge between someone training in the gym for strength, and a competitive powerlifter.
In fact, my first exposure to a mock meet was 1 week before my first competition.
A mock meet is an example of going through the motions in a practice environment before the “real thing”.
It’s a great step to take for a lifter thinking about competing in powerlifting, who want to dip their toes before an actual sanctioned competition.
Should You Do A Mock Meet?
As a coach with almost 10 years of coaching experience, the powerlifting community is often guilty of wanting to lift heavy / maximal weights as often as they possibly can.
This may not always be the most appropriate for progress and the same goes for a mock meet.
A Mock Meet Is A Great Idea In The Following Scenarios:
- You are coming to the end of a training block (Read my article on How To Taper For Powerlifting).
- Your meet got canceled or for some reason, you can’t make it.
- You want to “dip your toes” in a powerlifting competition.
- The competition calendar in your local area doesn’t line up.
A Mock Meet Is NOT Recommended In The Following Scenarios:
- If it’s not planned ahead of time and you just simply want to “max out”
- If you have not followed a structured program leading into the mock meet.
- Carrying an injury where performance may be limited or dangerous.
When Is The Best Time To Do A Mock Meet?
A mock meet would ideally be completed following a successful few weeks of training following a deload and a peak.
Most powerlifting programs you will find on the internet do these in some way or another.
The majority of programs will have you build towards a “max attempt” in the squat, bench, and deadlift.
This time period is typically 8-16 weeks depending on the program you choose to follow..
The best time to do a mock meet would be following one of these programs and doing a mock meet when the program calls for the typical end of program test.
Those working with a coach, or who self-program will likely want to spend at least 6 weeks building into higher intensities (% of 1RM) and should have exposed themselves to lifts ~90% range with a deload / peak before attempting a mock meet.
These higher intensities should give you an idea of roughly where you are at in terms of strength following on from previous training blocks, or the last time you moved a similar weight. Things to look at and compare here are:
- How do the loads you lift compare with your levels of fatigue?
- How does the bar speed look under heavier loads? How does your technique breakdown past a certain percentage or loads?)
Takeaway: The best time to do a mock meet is when your training program is coming to an end. It will give you a light run-through of what a meet day might feel like as well as being a good way to test your strength after your training block.
6 Steps To A Successful Mock Meet
Let’s now discuss the 6 steps for a successful mock powerlifting meet:
1. Be Prepared With The Right Gear And Knowledge Of The Rules
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.
As much as it is cliché. There is a lot of truth to this, especially when it comes to a meet day.
I would typically encourage my lifters to pack their bag with everything you might need as if it were a meet day.
A list of these things would include anything you need to squat, bench, and deadlift:
- Knee Sleeves
- Wrist Wraps
- Squat Shoes
- Deadlift Shoes
- Knee-High Socks
- Any Supplements
- Smelling Salts (if you use them)
- Items you might use for warming up (bands, etc)
For a complete list: Check out my article on Competition Gear for Powerlifting.
Part of being prepared here will also include having people to spot you (1 to 3 people will do just fine) and someone that knows the rules of powerlifting to referee you (try to make sure this is the kind of friend who will be honest with you).
If having some friends to help you out on the day isn’t possible, then you could always film your attempts and review them later.
This might also be a good time to go over your federations rules to make sure you are lifting to a standard that would get passed in competition.
2. Have A Game Plan Of Your Three Attempts
In a powerlifting meet, you get 3 attempts on each of the lifts.
If you want to know how to structure your attempts, check out my article on How To Pick Your Attempts For Powerlifting.
As you plan these attempts, try to use “ranges” rather than exact values. This will help you keep a flexible approach to picking your attempts.
For example, having a “light attempt” (if things don’t feel so good), a “planned attempt” (if things feel as expected), and a “heavy attempt” (if things feel really good).
Here’s the breakdown of the three attempts:
This should be something you can hit every day of the week under the worst circumstances.
The percentage range I recommend for most people is between 89-92% of 1RM. If using the RPE Scale this would typically be a RPE 7.5/8.
The “opener” is the lift that gets you into the competition and starts the road to you building a total.
In a full powerlifting meet, if you miss all 3 attempts on any given lift, you will bomb out, and depending on the federation and level of competition you may not be able to continue lifting.
You are better off opening a little lighter and taking a slightly bigger jump than opening too heavy and not making your lift.
In competitive powerlifting, the smallest jump you can take in most federations is 2.5kg.
However, in a mock meet, feel free to use lower increments if you have access to micro plates (either 0.5kg or 1kg increments).
Your second attempt should set you up for a personal record on your third attempt.
In my coaching experience this is where people tend to get a bit overzealous and try to either jump too big or go for a PR, this in my experience isn’t the best way to go. Instead, set yourself up for further success on the third attempt.
Typically, this tends to be in the 95-98% range or if using RPE 8.5/9.
You may also note that the jump between 1st and 2nd attempt will typically be the same size or slightly bigger than the jump from 2nd to 3rd attempt.
The 3rd attempt, a time to edge up your 1 rep max if all has gone to plan.
This is a case of putting the right weight on the bar and not going over, this is also where a lot of people let emotions get the better of them!
It’s important to take what’s there and be honest with yourself about what you can lift, and hopefully if that honest friend who has been refereeing you all day could weigh in on your next attempt.
3. Weigh-In At Your Normal Body-Weight
Now, doing a mock meet means there are no weight classes, and I would encourage the majority of people to simply lift at your normal body weight, and not try to “make a weight class”.
This is because the main goal of a mock meet is to validate the training process and to increase your 1 rep maxes. By adding in a “weight class”component, it can increase the level of stress you experience leading up to your mock meet, and may cause you to make dietary choices you otherwise wouldn’t make.
You want to leave your nutrition largely the same leading up to mock-meet and not force a weight cut.
In other words, today isn’t the day to try your super crazy new pre-workout or some extreme water loading/cutting method.
With all this being said, it’s worth getting your bodyweight so you can compare it to future mock meets or powerlifting competitions. It will also allow you to get a “Points Score”, which gives you the ability to compare your total across different body-weight categories.
Want to learn more about the “Points Score”, check out my article on How Is Powerlifting Scored?
4. Warm-Up Properly To Prepare Yourself For Max Lifts
Preparing yourself to lift maximally is something you need to prepare yourself for physically and mentally.
Here we will cover the physical component.
This should be similar to how you normally would warm-up with the caveat of potentially doing slightly less reps as you get closer to your top-end, or in this case, your opening lift.
Check out my complete guide to warming up for powerlifting.
5. Execute Your Lifts And Prepare Yourself For Max Lifts
So far, we have covered everything to get you to having the barbell on your back or in your hands.
It’s now time to lift.
A few recommendations here:
- If this is practice for a powerlifting meet in the future, it would be good to have someone give you commands and hold you to the standards of your federation.
- Another thing to consider is you will probably want to rest somewhere between 5-10 minutes to make sure that it is relatively specific to what you will see in the competition.
- As well, if you miss a lift, you need to count that as an attempt. You should not be going for any more attempts than what is allowed in competition. So if you miss your 3rd attempt squat, you don’t get to try it again. You need to move on to the bench press.
When you do end up competing, make sure you read my article on how strong you need to be at your first powerlifting meet.
6. Reflect On What Worked And What Needs Improvement
Mock meets can be a great way to gauge your progress and have some fun at the same time.
The results of testing can give you some really valuable information with regards to your program, and what you respond well to.
It can also be a great insight into what a powerlifting competition might feel like. If you really enjoyed it, then you can always sign up for a competition sometime in the near future!
After a mock meet, you should consider doing an off-season powerlifting program.
What Should You Do If You Have A Bad Mock Meet?
Not every mock meet will go to plan.
Try not to be disheartened by this, it can still give you some really great information as to where things may have gone wrong.
As mentioned above try to reflect take what positives you can get from the meet, learn the lesson, and implement it for next time.
You can always run another training cycle and do this again!
Mock meets are a great tool that could be used to help you understand whether your training is working. It’s also an opportunity to reset your training rep maxes and set new personal records. If you do end up wanting to compete in a sanctioned powerlifting competition, then a mock meet can allow you to practice what it feels like maxing out on all three lifts in a single session.
About The Author
Kent Nilson is an online strength coach, residing in Calgary (AB). When he’s not training, coaching, or volunteering on the platform at powerlifting meets, you’ll likely find Kent drinking coffee or enjoying his next Eggs Benedict. Connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.