3 Big Novice Mistakes

I hate myself for making such a buzzfeed, click bait style title. At least I didn’t use “3 Things Everyone Does Wrong… And You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” or “Have You Done This? If So, Click Here and Brace Yourself.”

This must be why trainers hate me.

1. Not Competing Soon Enough or Often Enough.

I’ll never understand why competing gets put so far on the back burner for some people. Why invest all this time and energy into training for something that you aren’t even 100% sure you’ll even like? I can’t even count how many times I have heard or read of someone thinking they aren’t strong enough or competitive enough to compete. If you’re strong enough to click a pen and sign a check, then you are good to go for a powerlifting meet. You don’t need to wait for the peaking block of your 128 week beginner training cycle either.

For my first meet, I had to call the meet director to make sure I had a spot because I signed up for it a week in advance. I couldn’t have been more unprepared. Zero training, I had no idea how anything worked, I didn’t even know I needed a singlet, but I still went, competed, and loved it. That was in 2005. Just to let you know how much things have changed, that meet had a 24 hour weigh in and knee wraps were allowed for raw lifting… and it was a USAPL meet.

Before you do your first competition, your maxes are exactly 0, 0, 0 for a 0lb total. Everything you do, assuming you don’t bomb out, will be a PR and you will have actual competition numbers to work with for the rest of your training. From this point, I would suggest competing as much as possible in your first 3-5 years. This will pay dividends later on. As you become more competitive, you’ll notice the playing field will slowly start to level off. When you get into a situation where you are competing against people at similar strength levels, the lifter with the most competitive experience will win. Every single time.

2. Emulating Stronger/More Experienced Lifters. 

The best example of how this is a terrible idea is the sweeping trend of validating a rounded back deadlift. Yes, there are lifters that do this year in and year out without injury and with continued progress. Whats the difference between a beginner and someone who can successfully utilize this technique? Pretty much everyone that is a proponent of this style has a very high level of training experience, uses a deadlift specific bar, and uses enough weight to take advantage of the significant amount of “whip” and “slack” in that specialty bar.

What I am getting at here is, much like the actual training protocol will change, your technique will evolve over time. But, in order for anything to get to the point of evolution, it has to survive long enough to reach this point. If a SIGNIFICANT amount of time isn’t spent on the basics, odds are, you’ll be dead long before you’ll ever need to incorporate advanced techniques. So, no. You’re knees shouldn’t ever valgus. Don’t roll the bar when you deadlift. Don’t let the bar sink when you bench. Focus on postural control and getting everything from your erectors to your pinky toe extensors as strong as you can possibly develop them. Worry about advanced techniques once you are actually advanced enough to need them.

3. Worrying About Weight Classes.

The only reasons to know what your bodyweight is before a meet if you have been competing for less than 5 years:

  • You’re keeping your diabetes under control
  • You’re looking to break a record… like a real record. Not something stupid like the SPF/USPA/Backdoor Meet of The Century 259lb Submasters Push Pull Classic Raw World Record. Basically, if it’s not a record held in a federation that’s been around for a while, it’s not an actual record. I know that your elite pro junior total in the RPS sounds cool. To people that actually compete in places with established decades of records, it’s borderline offensive. Don’t get me wrong, the RPS actually seems like a great place to compete. It just needs to exist a little longer to be a valid alternative to some of the more established federations. I want to do a multiply meet at some point in the future and that is definitely where I am going to do it. The SPF/USPA, on the other hand, is something like an apocalyptic wasteland filled with marauding nomadic biker gangs that have figured how to survive by drawing sustenance solely from well organized circle jerks.
  • You’re morbidly obese. Not BMI morbidly obese. Like, if you see stars when you bend down to tie your shoes, take 25 minute rest intervals between sets, can eat for free at the Heart Attack Grill but still can’t squat 800lbs, and get nose bleeds everytime you buckle your seat belt extender, then you need to reevaluate somethings.
  • You are qualifying for a bigger competition.
... but, on site cremations are $1 per pound.
… but, on site cremations are $1 per pound.


I am sure this weight advice is going to rub some people the wrong way, but here me out on this:

All cutting weight does is limit the amount of baseline strength you should be developing and it also adds undue stress to meet day. Your first 10 meets should just be you at whatever body weight you need to be to total the most weight you are physically capable of. It takes most people years, not an endless enfeebling parade of 6-10 week cutting and bulking “cycles,” to get to their ideal weight class.


So, what is the ideal weight class for you? I am too fat, weak, and stupid to answer this questions with any authority. But, if you’re 145lbs and towering over your competition, you might need to put on a few ell bees. On the other hand, if you are a super heavyweight but are commonly mistaken for a perfect spherical celestial body of a human being, then stop using a strength sport to validate your early onset heart disease and actually TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF… what a novel concept.


Hate mail in:

3, 2, 1…



Sprint. Kill. Eat enough quadruple bypass burgers and they will pay for your actual quadruple bypass!



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