People who lift weights regularly often toy with the idea of competing in a strength sport, but ultimately dismiss it as they feel they are not strong enough.
This is nonsense. There is no arbitrary set of numbers that you must be able to lift before you decide to compete.
If you wait to be strong enough, you will likely never compete. When you eventually hit the random goals you set for yourself, you will likely see someone on Youtube lifting heavier and it will scare you away once again.
The best thing to do is compete as soon as the idea sounds appealing. You will improve at a much faster rate and will likely find a new passion.
I’ve never met someone who regretted competing. A small percentage of people do not like the competition experience and would not do it again, but the vast majority become hooked and wish they had started sooner.
Competing will make you stronger
For a long time, I thought that I had to be stronger in order to compete. I was encouraged to enter my first strongwoman competition by my coach, but I had a little more confidence as I knew I was good at speed events – even if I was completely shithouse at anything strength-based.
Powerlifting, on the other hand, seemed like a scary monster that I was by no means strong enough for. I thought there was no point in competing unless I could squat at least 100kg (220lbs), unless I wanted to embarrass myself.
When my coach, Alanna Casey, convinced me to sign up for a powerlifting competition in December last year, my best squat to date was 95kg (209lbs) – and it had been stuck there for more than a year.
Submitting a competition entry form will light a fire under your butt. By doing so, you set yourself a clear target in order to get better. And, more often than not, you will. At my powerlifting meet in February, my best squat in wraps was 107.5kg (237 lbs), and it felt easy.
In June, I went on to squat 120kg (265 lbs) in sleeves only (meaning I could have probably hit 130kg or so in wraps).
Something similar happened in the lead-up to my last strongwoman competition. In February, I pulled 135kg (298lbs) for the first time ever. I had no idea how I was going to rep 135kg just 12 weeks later.
Rather than crying about it, I trained my ass off and managed to get four reps. Although it was nowhere near as good as what my competitors achieved, it was the event I was most proud of on the day.
If I hadn’t entered either of those competitions, my squat and deadlift would likely still be stuck at 95kg and 130kg, respectively.
I can promise you that having a competition on the horizon will make you a million times less likely to skip a training session or go out drinking all night.
Your only competition is yourself
This always sounds like such a cliche, but it is completely true. You may not have any idea of who you are competing against until the day, and your weight class may contain more or less people than you expected.
At my powerlifting meet, I was the only person in my weight class. My only goal was to qualify for Nationals, so others’ performance did not matter one bit.
In strongwoman, I have competed against 10 other women in my weight class and performed better than I have in competitions where there has only been three or four others in my weight class.
If I constantly worried about my competition and their lifts, I guarantee I would talk myself out of competing every time. Sure, I always look at competitors’ lists in advance, but I don’t keep myself up at night watching their training videos.
There is no point, and you can only do so much. If one of your competitors can squat 130kg, but your best is 80kg, there is not much you can do about it except hope to show up and get a new PR. Heck, that’s why it’s called a personal record/best.
In strong(wo)man there are a million things that can go wrong, and you should not stress out thinking about them all. Events will change on the day, the implements you have trained with will be different to what you have to compete with, and you can drop implements and fall over your own feet. Powerlifting is a little more predictable, but things can still go wrong.
Ultimately, on the day of a competition, competitors are focused on themselves. Unless you are vying for a title and points are very close, they will generally not be paying attention to your weight attempts or timing your farmers’ walks.
I can count on one hand the number of negative stories I’ve heard about competing. One thing that competitors mention over and over again is how supportive everyone is. People you don’t even know will cheer for you, including your competitors. It is not a catty or bitchy environment at all, and almost everyone wants to see you succeed (those who don’t are assholes, so you needn’t worry about their opinion anyway).
I can promise you that not one person would have batted an eyelid whether I squatted 107.5kg or 67.5kg. There were women who squatted more than me in lighter weight classes, and women who squatted less than me in heavier weight classes. And you know what? No one gave a toss.
The goal for your first competition should be to step outside your comfort zone and improve yourself as an athlete. Most people have an irrational fear of competing for fear of being judged, when the most courageous thing you can do is just get out there and do it. As I said in my last post, do not worry about cutting weight for your first competition.
Once you have dipped your toes into a few competitions, you can then worry about purposely trying to beat others. Until then, have fun and enjoy the experience!
If you’re ready to enter your first competition, I read this post.
Have you ever competed in a strength sport or thought about it?