After months of tough training, dialing in your technique, failed attempts (and some mild cursing), it’s finally show time. That’s right — it’s Meet Week.
As a longtime athlete and performer, I’ve learned that these precious few days leading up to that moment you take your first step out on that platform can either make or break your performance. Whether you’re a rookie or seasoned lifter, Meet Week is crucial in preparing to compete.
Here are a few things I like to do during Meet Week to make sure I can bring it when it counts.
Image courtesy of Herman Chan.
1. Self care
At this point, you’re most likely used to training in a tougher setting, having to battle mental fatigue and physical discomforts like callus rips and scraped shins. During Meet Week, I like to take some time to nourish my softer side.
I like to ensure my hands are in top shape by shaving down any build up of dry skin. I like allowing myself a long soak in an Espom salt bath and investing in ointments and creams to help soothe my muscles. Spending a little extra time to pamper yourself will not only help you feel fresh physically but mentally as well. An upcoming meet can be a real source of anxiety and cortisol, so do your best to relax.
2. Stick to your program
The biggest trap you can fall into is thinking maybe going heavy just one last time before competing will change it all. But adding reps, weight, or an additional half hour of core accessory work won’t do much for you in your last week of training.
This last week of lifting is really just a formality to give your body enough stimulus for it to stay in peak condition while recovering all at the same time. Stick to your deload program and focus on making every repetition (empty bar or not) of utmost quality during this last chunk of your training.
[What’s the difference between short and long meet preps? Here’s what to remember if you started prepping late.]
3. Practice visualization
“Lifts are made before you even put your hands on the barbell.”
Envision yourself on the platform in every detail possible, leaving little to the imagination. Even if Meet Day doesn’t play itself out to match the scenario in your mind, create an expectation of how you’ll present yourself from your weigh-in to your warm up to your first snatch attempt. This leaves little room for doubt.
You can also practice with a dowel at home to keep your muscle memory fresh (I prefer using my Swiffer duster). Run through specific cues while moving through each lift, zeroing in on the feeling of every motion.
[Visualization is an extraordinarily useful tool for athletes, just don’t fall into this common trap.]
4. Stay consistent.
I’m no barbell guru but I’ve definitely learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Maintaining consistency in your recovery, food, lifting gear, and general lifestyle is a must during Meet Week.
Sure, you may have more time on your hands now that your sessions are taking you under two and a half hours to complete. This gift of time is your chance to let your body prepare to compete—not grab late night tacos with your crew on a Tuesday. It’s especially not the time to buy new lifting shoes or try this sick lifting belt that Joe Schmo claims to have helped him put on an extra 20kg on his back squat.
Aim to replicate your regular routine so that you avoid needless distractions on Meet Day.
Give yourself a solid 8 to 9 hours of quality sleep, it’s really a no-brainer. Especially when performing in a sport that demands so much of us mentally and physically, our bodies and our brains need it. If we didn’t, we (as a human species) would have evolved out of it centuries ago.
You should really be emphasizing your sleep regardless of whether or not you’re prepping for a meet but in this case, staying on top of a strong sleep routine is an absolute must. A few of my personal favorites include going for a quick ten-minute steam session before hitting the hay, rolling out the soles of my feet on a spike ball then running through some meditative breathing exercises to wind down. Get acquainted with your bed—Netflix can wait.
Congratulations, you’re ready to tackle your prep for Meet Week. Obviously, you’ve also got plenty to discuss with your coach about your programming and your competition lifts, but to be honest there isn’t much you can do to dramatically enhance your performance in the course of these seven days. But if you stick to these tips above, you can absolutely help your chances of performing at the standard you know you’re worth and will reflect the work you’ve put in. Trust yourself and enjoy.
Featured image courtesy of Herman Chan.