When boxers are training for a big fight, they acclimatize themselves gradually to be able to fight effectively at the time they are scheduled to fight.
If there is a time difference, this might mean hitting the track at 3 am every morning to get their cardio in, going to bed at 6 pm and adjusting their routine to match how they will behave close to and during the fight.
Powerlifters of all levels could learn something from this approach and attention to detail.
If you are an elite level powerlifter who can literally do anything to achieve the best competition results I would recommend you follow the boxing example to the letter. Except do squats, bench press, and deadlift rather than hitting the track!
If you have powerlifting competition in The US and you are living in the UK, you will be completely out of kilter when you fly over to compete if you haven't put in the preparation time.
Estimate the times you will be lifting, eating, and sleeping, and over the weeks, change your routine to fit a pattern that would work for the timezone you are competing in rather than the timezone you are in now.
You might adjust your routine by an hour each week.
To use our UK-US example, let's say you are competing in Florida, which is 5 hours behind UK time it would take you 5-7 weeks of slowly changing your eating, training and sleeping habits if you shift everything by an hour each week.
This is an extreme way of preparing yourself for an international competition. These are the methods that win and lose competitions on the international stage against the best in the world.
At this level, you need to take advantage of anything you can.
If you are competing in a country that has a time difference of 1-2 hours your transition period will be much less extreme and won't involve as much disruption of your everyday routine but it is still worth doing to give you an advantage over other lifters traveling to the same competition.
Intermediate & Recreational Powerlifters
To perform well in a competition, you need preparedness. Recreational powerlifters don't often compete internationally so time differences don't need to be considered.
Preparedness is an ability to handle the stressors thrown at you in a competition. Here we will chat about how to slightly increase your preparedness as a recreational powerlifter.
You'll likely compete on a weekend. You'll do all 9 lifts in one day unless you are doing a single lift or push/pull competition.
A great idea is estimating at what time you'll be doing a particular lift and make sure you are able to perform a lift at that time in the weeks leading up to your comp.
Squats are often performed on a morning, particularly if you are in the lighter weight categories. In the build-up to competition, make sure you are capable of performing squats proficiently on a morning.
Making sure you can do your opening squat at ANY time is a great strategy to analyze your preparedness.
If you want to test it, set an alarm for 3 am, warm-up and test your opener at 3.30 am in your home gym, if you can lift it, congratulations, you've prepared well!
Sleep is a precious commodity you can't afford to part with?
You have things in your life other than powerlifting to consider?
Bench Press is normally performed late morning/early afternoon with deadlifts coming afterward.
Once again, make sure you are capable of doing the lifts at any time of day for maximum preparedness.
All 3 Lifts In One Session
As we discussed in the podcast with Lyle McDonald, it's often a great idea to be prepared and competition-ready by performing all 3 lifts in a tough weekend session on a regular basis.
This is much more important for high bar squatters to have this session in their program as it's the shoulder girdle that needs to be acclimatized to a full day of hard work.
For low bar squatters, their shoulders will be more "competition-ready" (or completely battered) because their shoulders won't get a break on lower body days, squat days, or whenever this person trains the squat pattern.
This is because during the low-bar squat, the shoulders and pecs are taking a pounding particularly if someone has low mobility. This isn't the case during high bar squats.
To get into the finer details of programming, if a lifter has one low bar session per week, it's often wise to add a session featuring all 3 competition lifts on a weekend to prepare them for the rigors of competition.
If the person never low-bar squats, a session featuring all 3 competition lifts is important. High bar squatters can probably handle more bench volume too, but that's a point to consider in another article.
The higher level powerlifter you are, the more dedication it takes to give yourself a competitive advantage over everyone else, or at least to not be at a disadvantage if you are competing internationally.
Even if you are a recreational lifter, you can still give yourself an advantage over other lifters by being competition ready. This means training at a similar time to when you'll compete and potentially performing all 3 comp lifts in sessions.
If you are competing for fun. these changes may be a step too far, if you are doing everything you can to do well, these tips will help you to achieve that goal.
Stay strong and listen to lots of metal my friends!
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach