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Starting Strength Fall Classic Tips:

Before meet day:

1) Don’t cut weight unless you can literally make a run at the overall winner of the Starting Strength Fall Classic. Its just not worth it. Cutting weight almost always results in a less than stellar performance, and all that should matter is hitting PRs (PERSONAL Records).

2) “Peaking” for a meet as a novice or early intermediate:

Novices doing Linear Progression:

Peaking from LP is easy. Set it so that the Monday, 12 days out from the meet, is a Squat/press/ power clean day. Train that Monday exactly as normal with normal LP weight increases. On Wednesday, train the squat and and bench press as normal, but on deadlift do 5 pyramiding singles, with the first single being the weight you did your last heavy set of 5 on deadlift the previous week. Do ~5 singles, adding ~3.5% to each single. (So if you did 300 for 1×5 last Friday, then on Wednesday you’d do 300×1, 310×1, 320×1, 330×1, 340×1).

On Friday (8 days out), you’ll train the squat and press the same way you trained the deadlift on Wednesday. 5 singles, starting at your last working weight, and increasing ~3-3.5% per single. Power clean will be done as normal.

Monday (5 days out) will be trained as normal, with a normal LP weight jump up from the last time you completed 3×5 on squat and press (and 1×5 on deadlift). Wednesday will also be as normal, with normal increases in the squat, bench press, and power clean. Thursday and Friday will be rest days. Saturday (or Sunday) is the meet day.

LP Peak:

Monday: (12 days out)          Wednesday: (10 days out)            Friday: (8 days out)

Squat 3×5                                            Squat 3×5                                              Squat 5×1

Press 3×5                                             Bench Press 3×5                                  Press 5×1

Power Clean 5×3                                 Deadlift 5×1                                        Power Clean 5×3


Monday: (5 days out)         Wednesday: (3 days out)                   Saturday: (MEET!)

Squat 3×5                                            Squat 3×5                                              Squat: Max

Press 3×5                                             Bench Press 3×5                                  Press: Max

Deadlift 1×5                                        Power Clean 5×3                                 Deadlift: Max


Early Intermediates doing Texas Method:

For Texas Method, peaking is also quite simple. The Monday (12 days out) and Wednesday (10 days out) will be trained as normal. Friday (8 days out), you will perform 5 conservative pyramiding singles in the Squat, Press, and Deadlift starting with your heaviest set of 5 in each for the first single, and adding ~3-3.5% to each single.

On the Monday of the week of the meet (5 days out), rather than training the squat and press for 5×5, you’ll drop the volume a bit, to 3×5, but with the standard increase in weight from the previous week. Wednesday will be exactly normal, with an 80% light squat, normal bench press, and normal accessory work. Thursday and Friday are rest days. Saturday (or Sunday) is the meet day.

Texas Method Peak:

Monday: (12 days out)         Wednesday: (10 days out)                 Friday: (8 days out)

Squat 5×5                                            Light Squat 2×5                                   Squat 5×1

Press 5×5                                             Bench Press 3×5                                  Press 5×1

Power Clean 5×3                                 GHR or Rows 5×10                              Deadlift 5×1

Monday: (5 days out)          Wednesday: (3 days out)                   Saturday: (MEET!)

Squat 3×5                                            Light Squat 2×5                                   Squat: Max

Press 3×5                                             Bench Press 3×5                                  Press: Max

Power Clean 5×3                                 GHR or Rows 5×10                              Deadlift: Max

3) Know the Starting Strength Fall Classic Rules forward and backward. They are here:  http://startingstrength.com/contentfiles/20160710_strengthlifting.pdf

One important note: Starting Strength Meets have NO judges commands, as you see in powerlifting meets. This means that for every lift, once your name is called, you will step onto the platform, approach the bar, and complete the lift on your own and in total control the entire time in order to ensure white lights and a good lift.

Also, you know you have to wear a singlet, right? Buy a normal wrestling singlet, not one from a sex shop or a online store for “bears.”

4) Planning your attempts: If you are a novice or early intermediate lifter, your first attempt on all 3 lifts should be something you could hit fairly easily for 3 reps. Its especially important in the squat to take a conservative first attempt, because you’ll be nervous anyway, and want to pick something you have confidence that you can hit, even on your worst day. The second attempt should be a small PR (1-2 kgs). The 3rd attempt will typically be a bit larger PR (~3 kgs on the press for women, and ~5 kgs on the press for men, and ~5-6kgs on the squat and deadlift for women, and ~10kgs for men). The 3rd attempt can always be adjusted slightly – lower a bit if the 2nd attempt was slow and grindy, and a bit higher if the 2nd attempt was fast and smooth.

5) Convert all your attempts before the meet to whole kilograms. They won’t let you make .5 increment jumps. Have these “tentative” attempts written on a 3×5 card and do your best to stay the course. Adjust if you have to, but you are probably wiser a few days out from the meet than on meet-day itself.

6) Make sure to have plenty of battery juice and memory space on your phone (or camera) to record your lifts. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a big PR and not getting video of it to share all over IG and hashtag the hell out of it (#GWPL, #GainzZz). Make sure you are video-ready.

7) Get someone to “handle” you at the meet. This is really imperative. You need someone there to be a “gopher/ go-for” for you at the meet. Its preferable for this person to be a seasoned competitor or coach, but it can certainly be a spouse, friend, or even your kid if they are over 13 or 14 years old. Have this person help refill drinks for you, prep food, and check how far out you are in your flight from lifting, chalk your back for squats, and help adjust your wrestling singlet. Be selfish today, but don’t be a high-maintenance primadonna.


1) Nutrition is going to vary based on where you are in your weight class. If you are right on the line of the weight cutoff, then I’d suggest you eat very clean, easily digestible foods for the 24 hours going into the meet. Things like chicken breast, sweet potatoes, basic rice, peanut butter, etc. seem to do well here. On the morning of the meet and throughout the day at the meet you want to eat plenty of easily digestible foods, low fat, and lower-moderate protein. Don’t eat junk carbs. Eat things like fresh fruit, water, water and Gatorade mix, Pedialyte, yogurt, low fat granola bars, etc. will be awesome.

2) Check your weight immediately after the press and see if you have any room to drink/eat anything else before deadlifts. If not, cut it off after press and try to pee a few times before you deadlift.

3) If you have 5+ lbs to spare in your weight class, then you should eat clean, easily digestible foods (you don’t want explosive diarrhea) in the 24 hours prior to competition, but you should also eat like you are in an eating contest and try to put on as much weight as possible. I eat a lot of the same things as the list above, but will add lots of potatoes, pasta (but not high-fat alfredo sauce), bagels, etc. I would also increase salt the morning of the meet – full sodium chicken broth, ramen noodles, etc. are awesome for this, as are just salting everything. Bloat up until your eyes turn squinty.

4) At the meet, you’ll eat just like everyone else – simple, basic, easily digestible food. Fruit, bananas, mandarin oranges, grapes, and turkey or tuna sandwiches on white bread work great. I like a little peanut butter and honey sandwiches on white bread as well.

5) NO ONE has an appetite at a meet because of nerves, but this will be a 6 to 8-hour training day so you must force yourself to eat and drink throughout the day.

What to bring (checklist):

1) Keep all your equipment in the same place (belt, shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, etc.) Have a place for them and don’t set your stuff down somewhere else. Its a crazy day and you’ll lose your gear in a hurry and then be stressed out because you can’t find your wrist wraps – that’s a bad deal.

Equipment Checklist: (things to bring)

  • Singlet
  • Squat shoes (you should really be wearing these for all 3 lifts)
  • Tee shirt for under singlet (if you sweat a bunch you may need several tees)
  • Hand towel to wipe your sweat
  • Knee sleeves
  • Liniment (Tiger Balm, Absorbine, Biofreeze, etc)
  • Miniband for stretching/ lacrosse ball (if you use these normally)
  • Belt(s)
  • Under-Armor compression shorts to wear under singlet
  • Sport bra (for girls and any super heavyweight dudes)
  • Wrist wraps
  • Nose tork/ ammonia caps (if you’ve never used it don’t worry about it)
  • Deadlift slippers (if you deadlift in your socks – you can order these online): http://www.roguefitness.com/metal-deadlift-slippers?gclid=Cj0KEQjwp4fABRCer93Klpaki94BEiQAsXJMGogMjXbMtoaLiEfjIJ59KG-DpbLCq0_VAV6J6RLjWd8aAoYW8P8HAQ
  • Long knee-length socks for deadlifting.
  • Hair bands (for girls or CrossFit dudes with man-buns)
  • All food and drink – in cooler/ soft lunch cooler
  • All training PRs and Competition PRs written down on a 3×5 notecard, and tentative attempts in KGs on card.
  • Caffeine/Pre-workout (optional)
  • Supplements: Creatine, BCAAs, Whey, Beta-Alanine (optional-bring if you currently use)
  • Ibuprofen/ Tylenol/ DMSO (NSAIDS)
  • Printed SS Rules
  • Headphones and phone with chill music stored on it.
  • Pillow


1) STAY CALM! The biggest mistake I see beginners (and even advanced lifters make) is that they burn out their CNS getting too excited before they lift. Do NOT take pre workout stimulants until your last squat warm up before you take your first attempt (if at all). You don’t need it for your first attempt anyway, and if you take it too early you’ll burn out your CNS by about the 2nd attempt on press, if not before. Don’t pace around. Sit down, or better yet, bring a pillow and lay down. Bring earphones and listen to something calming, like classical music or just chill coffee-house type stuff. Close your eyes, breathe deep, and try to slow your heart rate. These things become very important on meet day while everyone else is running around like chickens with their head cut off. Don’t worry about the other lifters lifting or their PRs. Be selfish today. Make your spouse or friends refill your drinks and check how far out you are – that’s something you shouldn’t have to worry about.

2) Once your name is called, even as you approach the platform STAY CALM. Chalk up, take one nice deep breath and visualize completing the lift with perfect form. Then right as you take the bar out of the rack, go CRAZY! Fill with every ounce of rage, anger, excitement you can muster up…and take it out on the f’ing barbell. Don’t get so crazy, however, that you mis-groove your lifts. Remember there are no judges’ commands, so just be in control of the barbell the whole time. Forget the judges. Forget the crowd. Pretend you are at home just crushing a PR. But get yourself psyched up a bit and DO WORK!

3) Regardless of what happened on the last lift (good or bad) FORGET ABOUT IT. Stick with your plan and don’t play mind games with yourself. Put the previous attempt behind you and begin focusing on the next lift. Go back and sit or lay down and calm down and listen to chill music again. Repeat this 9 total times and blow your previous total out of the water.

4) Don’t worry about who wins your weight class. Don’t chase other lifters and change your attempts based on someone else in your weight class or at the meet. Don’t even pay attention to other lifters. Here’s an important FACT that all new competitors don’t understand: NO ONE CARES WHO WINS. This is a small fringe sport that ultimately no one cares about but us, and the key is that you GO TO SET PRs! If you keep competing and set PRs every single meet you compete at, eventually you’ll win competitions, but even then, no one will care. No one has ever asked me how many powerlifting competitions I’ve won. When I sold my gym, I asked for 2 things: the original B&R bar from the first run that Rippetoe gave me as a gift, and a conference table that I made with my bare hands. I left over a hundred powerlifting trophies in the gym when I sold it. Why? Because after your first trophy, you’ll no longer care about the trophy. You’ll only care about the PRs (as it should be.)

5) Be cool after the lift. Celebrating is fine. Cursing is not. Take this on like a professional who’s been there before. I’m going to quote my good friend and SSC Andy Baker here from his excellent article: http://startingstrength.com/article/prepping_for_your_first_powerlifting_meet

“Powerlifting can be and is a fairly family-friendly sport. Lots of guys invite their parents, wives, and kids out to watch the event. Please keep this in mind. There is nothing more pathetic than watching a grown man throw a temper tantrum in front of others when he misses a lift. This does nothing to grow the sport and only feeds the perception that anybody who competes as a strength athlete is an uneducated immature meathead. While this might be true for some of us, please refrain from acting like it. Additionally, as a former Marine, I can probably cuss most of you under the table with a wide variety of creative words and phrases, but I don’t do it in front of my daughter or my Mom, and out of courtesy and respect I wouldn’t do it in front of your daughter or your Mom. It would be nice if everybody had this attitude, but it seems like every meet has to have at least one fool. There is always somebody who can’t refrain from letting out a string of obscenities or throw their belt across the room after getting red-lighted. Good organizations won’t tolerate that type of behavior, since they understand that it does nothing to help an already marginalized sport.”

Stretching, Warming up, and Lifting:

1) When you first get to the meet venue, find the squat rack/stands and find your rack height for squats and presses and report it to the meet director/ scorers table. One note, because we tend to squat in the low bar position and carry the bar on a press just above the meat of our deltoids (depending on anthropometry), then your rack height on press may be a notch higher than on your squat. Also, most people set their rack height on squat a tad too high. Remember that if you are 6 feet tall, and you load 455lbs on the bar, then you are no longer 6 feet tall when you take the bar out of the rack. Calculate for the compression of the weight on your frame when you set your bar height.

2) Foam roll, stretch, and put on liniment early (if you do this – if you don’t do it, don’t start). Before the rules meeting even starts, start your pre-lift routine, foam rolling glutes, IT bands, adductors, and hip flexors, as well as doing some band stretching on your shoulders and possibly some lacrosse ball work. You don’t want to have to hurry through this – take your time and start earlier than everyone else. *BTW – I don’t think any of this is even necessary and for most of you I’d rather you be would up tight like a spring. So only do this if its something you do every workout anyway and will feel “off” if you don’t do it.

3) BUT, do not start lifting too early or finish your warm ups too early. EVERYONE does this! Don’t make the same mistake. If you lift in the first flight, but you are the 13th lifter in the flight, then you do not need to be ready when the meet starts. Warm up slowly, taking 6-8 min between lifts, and time it so that you are ready just in time. There’s nothing worse than taking your last squat warm-up and then not doing your first attempt for 45 min.

Note: If you aren’t in the first flight, its usually a good idea to start warming up when the 2nd round of the flight-before-you begins.

4) During warm-ups make things as normal as possible. Set the bar to the height you normally have it, don’t bend too much for other lifters. Take normal rest or even a little longer than normal on your warm-ups. Your adrenaline will be through the roof, so you’ll have a tendency to warm-up too fast. Don’t. Take your time and plan your warm-up attempts. Do NOT take higher than 90% of your opener as your last warm-up. Nothing is dumber than squatting 365 before your opening attempt of 375. Don’t be dumb.

5) Between attempts, stay warm. If you are hot-natured, this won’t be a big deal at all, but if you have a tendency to get cold or stiff, then bring a fleece pull-over and sweatpants to wear between attempts to keep your musculature warm between attempts, and certainly for the longer breaks between lifts.

Lastly, between lifts, its important to try and relax, chill out, and joke with friends. Enjoy the day. Don’t allow yourself to be stressed and anxious throughout. We do this because we love it, so take some time and enjoy the day. It will help you to stay relaxed between lifts and not take things so seriously.

Enjoy your day and go set PRs!






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