- SPS Gym
YOUR FIRST WEIGHTLIFTING COMPETITION!
So you want to sign up for the Speed Power Strength Rite of Passage? This means you’ve never done a competition before in this sport so you might be wondering how exactly things go. We’d be remiss to just leave you hanging to just show up on the day of and be left to figure things out for yourself though so here’s a basic primer on how a meet is run, and how things might be a little different (in a good way) at SPS!
We won’t get TOO into the super nitty gritty detailed stuff like playing clock games and picking attempts to mess with other competitors. That’s more of a thing you see at national level meets and at the ROP we’re all out here doing it for the first time trying to have the best experience!
Let’s start with Registration!
All meets have some sort of registration process, either run through a third party service (Like USAW directly) or will handle things on their own. Typically, there’s a registration fee and you’ll need to answer a few questions so that you can be sorted properly! But first things first, you need to get a USA Weightlifting Membership.
In Order for a meet to be sanctioned, and in order for us to allow you to compete you must have a USAW membership and number and you can find all that here https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Weightlifting/Membership/Membership-and-Recertification-Fees
USAW Memberships are good for a year and allow you to compete all over the country, not just at our awesome facility in Oakland! When you sign up, you’ll be assigned a membership ID number, and we’ll need that when you register for the Rite of Passage.
We’ll typically also ask you for your weight class. This doesn’t need to be where you fit in right now, but where you plan to be on competition day. We ask for it so that we can organize the sessions based on weight class so everyone you compete with in a session is around the same bodyweight. Some meets will do an entry total instead to sort people that are around the same strength level regardless of bodyweight, but since this is your first meet you don’t have an official entry total yet! But after the ROP, you will.
Now we understand that plans (and life) can change when it comes to your bodyweight and weight class, but you can always email the meet director to update them as we get closer to meet day in case we need to resort you into a different session.
That’s about it for general registration stuff. Meet hosts may do things slightly different but that all depends on the gym and competition you’re going to
Pre-Meet (but closer to the day)
You should get a session schedule that for the ROP is organized by weight classes. Some sessions may have multiple weight classes in them in order to have fully stocked sessions and allow everything to run smoothly and on time. You may also get a full session list that shows you exactly what session you’ll be in along with the lifters you’ll be lifting side by side with.
Now let’s talk about the gear you might want to have ready before meet day:
The most important being a singlet! The singlet is the single most important piece of clothing you need to have for the competition. Without if you won’t be allowed to compete. There are tons of options out there from major brands though so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding one that fits your style.
Shoes! Typically, people like to compete in weightlifting shoes, but it’s not a requirement. Whatever you’re comfortable training in should be good to go, just don’t go barefoot!
Belts: Lots of people like to lift in and compete in belts and they’re absolutely allowed! However, there are size limitations, typically the width of a belt cannot exceed 4 inches. Good news, the vast majority of belts fall into this category, including those worn by popular weightlifters and powerlifters. We also won’t be out there with a ruler measuring your equipment, nor would we penalize you if you happen to be using one that is too large but if we notice we’ll let you know for your future competitions!
Wrist wraps are good to go, but no weightlifting straps are allowed in competition. Show off your hookgrip!
Knee sleeves and Knee wraps. There’s no real restriction on the type or material of sleeves or wraps, they just can’t cover your entire leg or shin. Essentially they can’t touch your singlet or socks
That about wraps up the equipment aspect. End of the day as long as you have a singlet and a pair of shoes you’ll be good to compete!
Now here’s the big day. You remember that schedule you got for your session? It’s important because your weigh in time is tied to your session time!
Weigh ins start 2 hours before your session is scheduled to begin, and last an hour. So if you’re lifting at 10 am, you have from 8am-9am to get checked in and get weighed! Personally, I like to show up as early as possible to get weighed in early, that way I can eat some food well before I need to lift.
Please note, you HAVE to weigh in during your window. If you miss it, you won’t be allowed to compete, and we’ve had lifters get their weigh in time wrong and have to wait another year if they wanted to do ROP.
Speaking of RoP when you arrive at SPS you’ll notice some things on your right as you enter and move towards the competition platform. The first thing is our pop up café where you can grab some truly awesome food and coffee. The second is a hallway that leads to our bathrooms. There’s two indoor bathrooms and one handicap shower room (we’ll also have porta potties outside). Priority for the indoor bathrooms should be given to lifters who need to change or to use as they may be on a time crunch! Also don’t take a shower in either of the bathrooms with a toilet, it’s pretty messed up to take a bathroom away from everyone and it’s something I’ve personally seen at a competition.
The second hallway after the bathrooms leads past the main office into a larger room. Normally this a treatment area for our amazing soft tissue therapists, but today its registration and weigh ins! We have a competition scale in a curtained off area where you’ll be weighed in. You’ll check in at the table and receive your competition card (more on this card later). You’ll be taken back to the weigh in area with someone of the same gender who will verify your weight and ask you for your opening lifts. You’ll initial your card next to your verified bodyweight and your opening lifts.
Side note, weightlifting competitions are all run in KILOGRAMS. Your bodyweight and weights lifted are all going to be measured by KG, so if you’re accustomed to training with pound plates you’ll want to have some conversions ready to go!
Once you’re check in and weighed in, you can relax a bit, maybe grab some food from our pop up café, move around and stretch to stay loose as your session gets closer.
Warm Up Room!
We talked about things being on your right as you move through the gym, the last thing on the right is the warm up area. Now unless you’re a lifter in the current session, or in the next session as the current one is getting close to finishing, or you are a coach, you should not be in this area. We don’t want things to get too crowded there!
There will be 10 platforms available to warm up on each with a bar and plates. Now sessions will likely have more than 10 lifters, which means you’ll have to share a platform and bar with some of your fellow competitors. Please be nice and courteous to each other and help each other out with changing the weights between the two or three of you!
Speaking of etiquette, please be respectful of the equipment. In other words, do not drop and empty (unloaded) bar directly onto the platform. I don’t care how many Hookgrip videos you’ve seen of the World Championships or Olympics warm up areas where high level lifters are dropping the empty bars down, you aren’t them and you aren’t there. My understanding is that they do so to “break in” brand new bars that were brought in just for that competition. Our bars are already broken in, so just don’t do it. There’s not many things that can result in being ejected entirely from our facility, but this is one of them.
You’ll also see some tablets set up throughout the warm up area. This is a digital card display (remember that card you initialed your weigh in on?). It’s basically a cool way to help check the order of lifters and plan out when you’ll be lifting without having to go up to the card table each time. It’s something fairly unique that our competition organizers do that you usually won’t see at any other local competition (or even national ones), but we like to spoil our competitors at SPS.
So you’re weighed in, had some food from Hiroshi’s Catering, taken your pre-workout and the session before yours is approaching its end, time to make your way over to the warm up area to get ready!
Let’s start by explaining how a weightlifting session goes though. First off, the scheduled start time is usually when lifter introductions begin. You’ll be brought out as a group to the competition platform and your name will be announced to your crowd. Strike a pose, wave to your family and fans, let them snap a picture or two. Since this is your first ever competition let me give you a piece of advice that’s useful for every competition you do for the rest of your life. Take a moment to stand where the bar will be and look out at the facility. Find that point on the back wall you want to focus on when it’s your turn to lift, just like you might do in training. Get a feeling for it so when you take your opening lift its not the first time you gazed out at the audience.
After introductions, there is typically a 10 minute clock set before the first lifter is called up. So if you’re going to be the one of the first lifters of the session, you may want to have already taken some of your warm up attempts before this so that in that 10 minute window you can finish up and be ready to step on stage!
But how do you know when you’re going to lift? In weightlifting, attempts progress by weight on the bar. In other words someone opening at 20kg lifts before someone doing 25 kg. The weight on the bar only ever increases, it does not go back down. SO, for example if you’re going to lift 20kg on your first and 23kg on your second, you’ll be taking BOTH lifts before the lifter taking 25kg. The order is maintained by the cards (remember that card again??) which will be managed at a table by the Marshall, and is also updated to our tablets. You can typically “count” attempts to see when your lifting and plan your warm up lifts accordingly. Preferably you have a coach to do this part so you can just focus on the lifts. If you don’t have a coach though fret not. The electronic system makes things easy and we typically have volunteer coaches around to help you navigate things, I might even be one of them!
Time between lifts: When a lifter follows someone else, there is a 1 minute clock set. The clock doesn’t start until the weight on the bar is changed (if there’s a change) or tightened up and centered on the platform. If a lifter changes their attempt and it swaps to a new lifter, the clock resets for the new person. If you’re taking consecutive attempts (like our 20kg-23kg example) then a 2 minute clock is set instead.
Also, if you miss an attempt and wish to repeat it (and no one else is taking that same weight) you’ll also get that 2 minute clock since that’s considered following yourself. You can always go up though instead, you just can’t go down in weight.
What about if multiple lifters are taking the same weight though? It gets a little more complicated. First off you go by attempt number. Someone taking their first attempt goes before someone taking their second or third, and similarly second attempt goes before third attempt. Now if multiple lifters are on the same attempt at the same weight? Then it comes down to lot number, with the lower lot number lifting first. This number is randomly assigned to each lifter and is on your card. The card marshall and electronic system will take that into account though and automatically sort the order for you!
After you lift, make or miss, you’ll have to go to the card Marshall and declare what you’re going to do next. You can choose to declare the automatic 1kg increase if you make it, or declare the same weight if you miss and want to repeat the lift, or declare something heavier. You also get 2 changes that can be made (again, only going heavier in weight). Whenever you make a declaration or a change, you’ll be asked to write it on your card and initial next to it. This is also something your coach can and should be doing on your behalf if you have one!
Note, you should always declare a weight as soon as possible after your lift, even if its just to confirm the automatic increase. There are circumstances where if you don’t declare a weight you also lose your 2 changes and you’ll be stuck with the automatic weight. If you have a coach this should be their responsibility. Personally, I’ve made this mistake for a lifter and it sucks for everyone, so be sure to make your declaration!
Remember, you only get 3 attempts at each lift so pick your attempts well. Since its you’re first competition though, the goal should be to go 6 for 6! It’s not always easy to make all your lifts in a meet, but for your first time? Go for the makes. Trust me it’s more fun than trying a PR and missing, and you’ll be super motivated to keep training and competing.
After everyone finishes their snatches, there’s usually a break between lifts (10 minutes is average but things can vary based on schedule, check in with the organizers at the Marshall Table) and then we move onto clean and jerks. The second lift runs exactly in the same manner, but usually takes a bit more time just by the nature of the lift versus the snatch. After everyone takes all 6 attempts, you’ve done it! Rite of Passage success!
Now, you may also want to brush up on some of the do’s and don’ts of the lifts. Luckily we have this handy video we made for past Rite of Passages to help you out!
Things that can cause you to get red lights (a no lift):
Catching the weight overhead with bent elbows and then finishing the lockout with your arms. This is called a press-out and results in red lights. It might be allowed in a Crossfit Competition but today we’re doing Weightlifting! That said, there’s 3 judges and you only need 2 whites to for a good lift. So sell it with your confident face, and as Big Mike says, “When in doubt, press it out”
Any part of your body other than your feet touching the ground! If you drop a knee to the platform, it’s red lights. If you’re gifted with great mobility and your butt touches the ground? Also red lights.
Elbow touch on cleans: If when you catch a clean, your elbows hit your knees that’s unfortunately a red light as well.
Dropping the weight before you receive a down signal. After you have the weight overhead, you need to wait for the buzzer (or sometimes a verbal down from the center judge) before you put the weight down. Do it too soon and you could get red-lighted
SPIKING the bar. I don’t care how big a fan you are of Jon North, do not slam the bar down. Guide it down past your hips but don’t hurl it down there.
Dropping the Mic, similarly, don’t just release the bar from overhead like a mic drop. Guide it down a bit.
Dropping the bar BEHIND you is also a red light, has to be controlled down in front of your body.
And lastly as reminder, DO NOT DROP AN EMPTY BAR. It’s not red light offense on the competition stage (since there are no unloaded bars there) but if you do it in the back, expect to be asked to leave.
That covers it! We’ll see you at the Rite of Passage ready to kick some ass, have some fun, and eat some food!