In many different types of sport, there is an element of competition involved; team sports are primarily competitive and even exercising solely for the physical benefits can become competitive if you wish to enter bodybuilding competitions. I myself compete in Powerlifting; this is squat, bench and deadlift. The goal is to lift as much weight as possible while maintaining proper form.
I had my first powerlifting competition recently and in fact did very well, qualifying for nationals in autumn and coming third in the F63 category (and first in the U23 F63 category). During preparation for my competition, my primary goals were to cut weight to under 63kg in order to compete in that category and to maintain and build strength. All the while knowing that my body was getting the right macro and micronutrients, and that I could be confident that any supplements I took had been WADA approved, as GBPF powerlifting is a drug tested sport.
For cutting weight, I followed a strict diet high in protein and making sure to be in calorie deficit. On a diet like this, it can be quite easy to forget key nutrients; if you are eating a meal less every day, you are getting a whole meal fewer vitamins. For this reason, I took the AM:PM sports multivitamins which were perfect for my needs. I liked the PM vitamin especially as it promotes sleep, which is necessary for recovery when on an intense training programme – an issue with which most athletes can relate. You may also find your sleep suffers in the run up to competition through anxiety or excitement. By timing my meals, I ensured I wasn’t eating carbs or caffeine near bedtime to prevent any further sleep loss.
To aid my cut I also took the BULK POWDERS™ fat burner, Complete Thermogenic™, this is essentially a caffeine supplement with a few other ingredients to promote fat loss. For me taking caffeine was helpful as it gave me more energy for my workouts. It also reduced food cravings and appetite. Through taking a supplement like this I maintained confidence that the majority of any weight loss was fat, and would not affect my performance.
To maintain and build strength, I followed a regular training programme, taking the proper recovery precautions to avoid any injuries which may be incurred when going for a heavy weight (such as in competition). Protein was crucial to all of this though, I would generally have 15-25g before lifting with a banana or oats for carbs in order to fuel my workout. I would then have 25-40g after with a second small portion of carbs to aid recovery.
My favourite part of my strict diet was the INFORMED WHEY® protein I had. It was delicious and I was able to cook it into decadent tasting pancakes or even mug cakes. The flavour of the INFORMED WHEY® genuinely surprised me as I had bought it for its nutritional qualities and the fact that it is batch tested. This protein powder was so delicious, that even on such a strict diet (mainly just protein powder, dairy, meat and vegetables) I never felt deprived. In fact, many of my friends and Instagram followers were jealous of my meals.
One of the hardest parts of actually competing was the mental game of it, keeping your nerve through a full day of lifting and watching other incredible athletes can be very intimidating. I started powerlifting less than a year ago, a few close friends and my coach were always there to help me see the motivating side of it.
The most important piece of advice I can give in preparing for a competition is to make sure you’re excited for it. Competing is, and should be fun! It is a chance to meet other likeminded individuals and promote your sport, even if you don’t achieve a new PB. In a GBPF Powerlifting competition, there are many spectators cheering you on. While I was struggling with my PB deadlift, the shouts of “UP” and “GET IT LEILAH” helped me finish the lift with 3 white lights.
Set your own goals and get after them!
About the Author
Leilah Forward studies Mathematics full-time at the University of Surrey. Before evolving to Powerlifting she practised Yoga and general gym training. She has a creative enthusiasm for health and fitness.