Making your way to a powerlifting meet is not just about turning up in your best physical state, there will be essential and optional items that will help you with the competition process.
So what should you bring to a powerlifting meet? At a powerlifting meet, you should bring items that are both compulsory and optional. Compulsory items will include your lifting outfit, performance equipment, food, and competition paperwork. Optional items will include warm-up items, change of clothes, and other performance aids.
Not everyone should be bringing in the same items, so let’s go into detail on what you need to bring depending on your situation.
But first, one thing to mention…
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Powerlifting Meet Day Checklist
- Membership Card/Number
- A Form of Identification
- Footwear and socks
- T Shirt
- Backpack or duffle bag
- Lifting belt
- Alternative Footwear
- Wrist Wraps
- Knee Sleeves
- Water/other fluids
- Attempt Selection Plan
- Pen and paper
- Squat Suit (Equipped Competitions Only)
- Bench Press Shirt (Equipped Competitions Only)
- Deadlift Suit (Equipped Competitions Only)
- Knee Wraps (Equipped Competitions Only)
- Suit and Shirt Slippers
- Talcum Powder
- Liquid/Powder Chalk
- Headphones & Music Player
- Athletic Tape
- Change of Clothes
- Extra Socks or Underwear
- Ammonia Smelling Salts
- Video Recording Device
- Mobility/Warm Up Tools
- Pre-Workout/Coffee/Sport Supplements
- Band-Aids/Travel First Aid Kit
Items You Should Bring To A Powerlifting Meet: 3 Categories
The items that you should be bringing into a powerlifting meet can be orderly characterized into three categories: what is universal, what is important, and what is optional.
It is important that you plan well ahead of the competition because as they say, failure to prepare is preparation to fail.
Being disorganized and forgetting to bring in certain items may cause undue stress and negatively impact your performance at the competition. Or worse, render you disqualified from competing.
Universal items can be described as items that need to be brought in by everyone with no exceptions.
These items are compulsory to being allowed to compete so if any of these items are missing, you may risk not being allowed to compete.
It is important that these items are prioritized and double checked prior leaving home to go to the competition.
Bringing in the universal items will be the bare minimum of your checklist.
Important items are items that will have a huge impact in your performance.
If you are missing them it does not mean you can’t compete, but it may impact your performance massively.
Important items will include items that most powerlifters will bring with them but there will be exceptions.
Optional items are items that may provide a small benefit to you as a competitor but may not be disastrous if missing.
These items will often have a lot of variability among competitors.
Universal Items: What You Need To Bring
Here are a list of universally necessary items and notes for why you need them:
- Membership Card/Number: This may be in electronic or physical form but most federations will give you some form of a membership number that is associated with your identity.
- A Form of Identification: This tends to be more necessary for national or higher level competitions but some regional or qualifying competitions may check for this but identification is needed to verify the identity of the competitor.
- Singlet: This will be more relevant for classic or raw competitions, but most federations require some form of a singlet. The singlet permitted may need to fall under an approved list.
- Footwear and socks: Most federations will require appropriate footwear and socks that reach to a level right below the knee particularly for deadlifts. The socks are for health and safety reasons as some individuals may scrape the barbell’s knurling onto their shin.
- Underwear: Some federations may stimulate what appropriate underwear is permitted in competition. This is particularly relevant to the IPF federation.
- Openers: Your openers are your first attempt for your squat, bench press and deadlift. These are the 3 important numbers that you will need to give to the official during the weigh in process. Having them written down is useful but you will need to remember them at least. Note that you will have an opportunity to change your opener once.
- T Shirt: This is particularly relevant to the IPF rules, but a t-shirt is a mandatory piece of clothing to be worn underneath the singlet.
Important Items – What You Should Bring
Here is a list of items that many individuals will consider to be important but not necessarily compulsory according to federation rules.
- Backpack or duffle bag: Unless you are going to carry or wear all your items, you’ll need a bag big enough to carry all your items. It is worth labelling your name on your bag in case you have the same bag as another lifter.
- Lifting belt: Most powerlifters consider a lifting belt to be essential but there are occasionally some individuals who do not wear belts for personal reasons. Ensure that your lifting belt falls under the federation approved list.
- Alternative Footwear: You may choose to bring other specific footwear for different disciplines, e.g. heeled weightlifting shoes for squats, deadlift slippers for deadlifts.
- Wrist Wraps: If you train with wrist wraps, ensure that you bring them in and that they are an approved wrist wrap according to the federation approved list of equipment. You generally do not want to be using a brand knee pair as a newer and unused pair may cause discomfort on the wrist and hands that you may not be used to.
- Knee Sleeves: If you train with knee sleeves, ensure that you bring them in and that they are an approved knee sleeve according to the federation.
Some individuals like using a fresh and less used pair to create more stiffness and support for squats. Ensure that you are still able to put them on by yourself using legal means.
- Water/other fluids: Hydration is generally a very important thing for performance. It will be useful to have fluids in your immediate vicinity. You may not be guaranteed a clean water fountain at the venue.
It is important to remember that you are responsible for what goes into your body so ensure that you keep an eye on your bottle of fluids. There have been rare stories of individuals spiking other athlete’s bottles with performance enhancing substances. This is rare but important to remember.
- Food: As a rule of thumb, choosing foods that your gut is generally used to and grazing throughout the competition is optimal for competing and feeding comfortably. The last thing you want to do is to vomit in the middle of performing a heavy lift in front of the judges and end up on youtube as a powerlifting fail.
If the competition you are going to is quite a large competition meaning there is a considerable amount of time between each discipline. You may want to bring small meals to immediately consume after the first two disciplines.
- Attempt Selection Plan: Having some sort of a written plan for your attempt selection for the 3 lifts will be important.
Normally, you will have 60 seconds to make your next attempt after finishing an attempt.
This means you want to have a rough idea of what you want to do next. Not having a plan can make you over think and potentially not make a good decision or worse, not put in an attempt in time. This attempt selection plan should also have a guidance on what weights you should do.
- Pen and paper: Depending on how well organized a meet is, the chances are that you will be using attempt selection slips that are handed to the lifter at the weigh in.
You should bring a pen to use to write down your attempt selection on the attempt selection slip.
Bringing in a few back up pens will be useful as you may lose your first pen.
- Squat Suit (Equipped Competitions Only): Squat suits are specific to equipped powerlifting meets.
- Bench Press Shirt (Equipped Competitions Only): Bench press shirts/suits are specific to equipped powerlifting meets.
- Deadlift Suit (Equipped Competitions Only): Deadlift suits are specific to equipped powerlifting meets.
- Knee Wraps (Equipped Competitions Only): Knee wraps are specific to equipped powerlifting meets.
- Suit and Shirt Slippers: Suit and shirt slippers are important for helping the equipped powerlifter get into their squat, bench or deadlift suits.
This is specific to equipped powerlifting meets.
- Coach/Handler: Having a coach or handler who is familiar with how powerlifting competitions are run is going to be an incredibly useful thing.
Having a good coach or handler will help you optimise.
Optional Items – What You May Want To Bring
Here is a list of optional items that may be more specific to the individual. They may be important to some lifters but may not be useful to others.
- Talcum Powder: Talcum powder or talc for short is often used on the legs of powerlifters during the deadlift discipline.
Talc helps make the lifters’ legs become a lot smoother to reduce friction when the barbell rubs up the leg during execution.
Do not confuse talc with chalk!
Liquid/Powder Chalk: Most well-organized powerlifting meets will provide chalk. Although there may not be enough to go around.
You may want to bring in a personal stash of chalk in case you go chasing for chalk and stress out.
You may also prefer to use liquid chalk.
Related Article: Chalk vs Straps: Pros, Cons, & Which Should You Use?
- Headphones & Music Player: This is really dependent on the individual. As an athlete, you want to mentally be in a flow state of mind that allows you to psychologically perform best.
Many lifters often use music and so you may want to bring in your own personal music player to keep you mentally ready for performance.
- Athletic Tape: Athletic tape is occasionally used by powerlifters who execute the deadlift with double overhand hook grip.
Please note that there may be federation stipulation to how much athletic tape is permitted for the fingers and thumbs.
- Change of Clothes: For personal hygiene or even fashion reasons, you may want to bring a change of clothes for use between lifts and post competition.
- Extra Socks or Underwear: For personal hygiene and comfort reasons, you may want to bring in extra socks or underwear to change between attempts.
Please note that for most federations, long socks are mandatory for deadlifts.
- Ammonia Smelling Salts: Some powerlifters like to use ammonia smelling salts as part of their psyching up routine prior performance on the platform.
If you have not used smelling salts or you are not used to using smelling salts, do not use it as it may overwhelm and put you off performing well.
- Video Recording Device: For the purpose of reviewing performance and personal record keeping, you may want to bring in a video recording device such as a camera or smartphone to record your lifts.
- Mobility/Warm Up Tools: Depending on what your warm up routine consists of, you may want to bring in your own mobility and warm up tools such as foam rollers or resistance bands.
- Pre-Workout/Coffee/Sport Supplements: If this is something you often do during training, you may want to bring in your own pre-workout, caffeine source or sport supplement.
Please ensure that if you are in a drug tested federation that your supplements match do not contain banned substances under your drug testing organization.
- Anti-Inflammatories: Anti-Inflammatories may be useful for individuals who are nursing an ongoing minor injury.
- Band-Aids/Travel First Aid Kit: This may be useful for moments where you may accidentally cut or graze yourself during the meet.
How To Get Most Out Of What You Bring
A huge priority during competitions is to manage stress well so that it optimises your mental readiness and focus for performance.
As a rule of thumb, you want to be as familiar as possible with any items you use during the powerlifting meet.
Any perception of foreignness may throw you off mentally and cause undue stress.
With performance equipment, it should ideally be used often during training.
If you are planning on introducing new equipment or if you are planning on using new supplements, it may be a smart idea to experiment with it approaching competition.
What Is The Best Powerlifting Equipment To Bring?
I’ve reviewed hundreds of different powerlifting products and have compiled several resources that detail my experience using them and which are the best. Take a read if you’d like to learn more about the best powerlifting gear on the market.
- Best Shoes For Squats
- Best Shoes For Deadlifts
- Best Wrist Wraps For Powerlifting
- Best Knee Sleeves For Squats
- Best Knee Wraps For Squats
- Best Elbow Wraps For Bench Press
- Best Powerlifting Belts
- Best Mouthguards For Powerlifting
- Best Shin Guards For Deadlifts
- Best Lifting Straps
What Should I Do The Week of A Powerlifting Meet?
On the week approaching the powerlifting meet, you should ensure that you are rested for the competition and it may be useful to pack your equipment, food and drink ready about two days prior to the meet.
What Should I Eat and Drink During A Powerlifting Meet?
As a rule of thumb, you should graze throughout the powerlifting competitions as opposed to having large meals that stay in your stomach. You should really focus on food products that you are familiar with as you do not want to risk having an upset stomach.
How Should I Use Caffeine Pre-Workout During A Powerlifting Meet?
You can evenly sip on your pre-workout or have a dose 30 to 60 minutes before your openers for your lifts.
Should I Use Smelling Salts During A Powerlifting Meet?
You should only use smelling salts if you are familiar with the product in training, you have used it before on multiple occasions and if you find a subjective benefit from using it.
One of the last things you want is to realise that you forgot to bring something that you need and stress out. The stress will negatively impact your performance.
Ensure that you prioritise bringing in the universal and important items relevant to you and whatever optional items that you feel you need.
After reading this article, you should check out my complete guides on:
- How To Start Powerlifting
- How Strong Do You Need To Be At Your First Powerlifting Meet?
- How Powerlifting Meets Work
- Competition Gear For Powerlifting
- How To Pick Your Attempts In Powerlifting
- How Powerlifting Is Scored
- What To Eat During A Powerlifting Meet
- How To Pick Your Weight Class For Powerlifting
- 55 Powerlifting Mistakes To Avoid
- How To Find Powerlifting Meets
These articles will provide you with the necessary resources to have a successful powerlifting competition.
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com