Figuring out what to do and how to warm up for a weightlifting meet can be a daunting task for new lifters.
Here’s a run down of what to expect at a meet and how to properly warm up:
Two hours before a weight class is scheduled to lift, weigh-ins begin. So, if the 85kg men are scheduled to compete at 11 am, their weigh in session would begin at 9 am and end at 10 am. A lifter must weigh in during this hour in order to be eligible to compete in the session. Every attempt should be made to weigh in at the very beginning of the hour. This allows the people running the meet to ensure that all athletes are weighed in and ready to lift rather than creating chaos when everyone attempts to weigh in at the end of the hour.
When a lifter weighs in, they will announce their opening attempts for both snatches and clean and jerks. If an athlete decides later that they would like to start with heavier lifts, they can always increase their opening numbers. However, an athlete can not change their openers to any number lower than what they originally declared once their turn at that weight has passed. In other words, a lifter can not drop to 95 kg when they declared 100kg if an athlete who weighed in at a heavier weight has already taken 95kg, if any lifter has already taken 95kg as a second attempt, or if the lifters on the platform have already moved on to 96 kg.Therefore, a newer athlete will typically open with 80 -85% their max lifts unless they decide during warm ups that they are comfortable taking a heavier opener.
Generally, lifters try to weigh in as early as possible, especially if they have had to cut weight. An athlete on the heavier end of the weight class might have restricted water intake and reduced sodium in the days prior to the meet to ensure that they would make weight. While these weight cuts enable a lifter to move into their preferred weight class, they also cause dehydration. Thus, an athlete should make every attempt to weigh in as soon as possible so that they can utilize the next two hours to hydrate their body.
Determining When to Start Warm Ups
An inexperienced athlete will likely be tempted to begin warm ups soon after weighing in, but the first hour should really be dedicated to relaxing, eating, and hydrating. Realistically, an athlete does not need to begin warming up for at least an hour and a half, if not longer.
A half hour before the start time, some athletes may be doing light, dynamic stretches while others are gearing up to begin with the bar. What an athlete should be doing depends on when they will take their first lift.
This is where things can seem a bit complicated to new lifters. In order to determine when an athlete will be called to the platform to take their first snatch attempt, a coach will need to “count cards.” To keep things simple, we can explain how to count cards by imagining there are 10 lifters in a meet and that athlete G has declared an opening snatch attempt of 100kg. The other athletes have listed 88, 90, 92, 93, 96, 98, 103, 105, and 107 as their first snatch attempt.
Based off these numbers, it’s likely that athlete G will take the 12th lift on the platform for the session. In order to arrive at that estimation, it’s important to understand how coaches make these predictions. More often than not, an athlete’s third (and final) attempt will be no greater than 10 kg more than their opening lift. It’s safe to assume that the second attempt could be +5kg more than the opener and the third, +10kg. Therefore, a coach would guess that the lifters listed above would take the following attempts:
Lifter A- 88-93-98
Lifter B- 90-95-100
Lifter C- 92-97-102
Lifter D- 93-98-103
Lifter E- 96-101-106
Lifter F- 98-103-108
Lifter G- 100–105-110
Lifter H- 103-108-113
Lifter I- 105-110-115
Lifter J- 107-112-117
Attempts will be taken in ascending order, starting with the lightest and moving towards the heaviest. All of the lifts listed in red will have been taken before lifter G, listed in blue, takes his first attempt. Even though athlete B is also attempting to snatch 100g, lifter A would be the first to take the lift since it is their opener whereas lifter B is taking his third attempt.
Of course these are just estimations and it’s possible that athletes might take greater jumps or that they may miss a lift and will then attempt the same weight. But this estimation is a good starting point when determining when an athlete should begin warm ups.
Taking Warm Up Attempts
A lifter should begin to take their first warm up lifts when they are 24 platform lifts way from taking their first lift on the platform. That means that there will be lifters called to take lifts on the platform 23 times before they take the 24th attempt made on the platform, which is our athlete’s opening attempt.
For lifter G, only 12 lifts will be taken before they make their first attempt. To properly estimate when to begin, lifter G can start warming up 12 minutes before the scheduled start time of the event. This would give the lifter about the same amount of time to warm up as someone who is able to base their warm ups off of 24 attempts. (12 lifts plus 12 minutes = appx 24 attempts).
To warm up to take a 100kg opening snatch attempt, lifter G would follow this plan:
24 attempts out- snatch 50 kg x 2
21 attempts out- snatch 50 kg x 2 again
18 attempts out- snatch 60 kg x 2
15 attempts out- snatch 70 kg x 2
12 attempts out- snatch 80 kg x 1
9 attempts out- snatch 85 kg x 1
6 attempts out- snatch 90 kg x 1
3 attempts out- snatch 95 kg x 1
Wait to be called to the platform for 100kg.
(Any athlete can figure out their warm ups by turning the snatch weights above into percentages off of their opener to determine their own warm up numbers. Ex: 50kg is 50% of the 100kg opening snatch. An athlete who is opening with 80kg would then start at 40kg which is 50%).
Coaches will need to continue to count cards during the snatching portion of the meet to figure out when the athlete will probably take lift number 2 and number 3. The variable here is accounting for missed lifts which might cause an athlete that may have taken 1 snatch to take two snatches before athlete X is able to their last attempt. Your coach should be able to make predictions using the card counting technique.
Its important to know that an athlete has a full minute once called to the platform to chalk up and take a lift. Typically, new athletes rush and complete their lift within the first twenty seconds or so. A minute is a much longer period of time than most realize so take the time to set up properly and get comfortable on the platform. Thirty seconds into the minute, a buzzer will indicate that there are only thirty seconds left so that an athlete is aware of the clock. Until the first thirty seconds has passed, an athlete has the option asking for more weight on the bar. This might be done if an athlete needs more rest time or if they need to lift more to beat an opponent.
Once the bar passes the knees, the lift counts. If a lifter misses their lift and is forced to follow himself (meaning no one is lifting before he will take an attempt again), he will be granted two minutes on the time clock instead of one.
Athletes must make sure to wait for the judges to give the down signal before dropping the bar or else the lift will not count. Also, a lifter can not simply drop the bar from overhead. They are required to keep their hands on the bar until it has passed the shoulders.
Judges use a system of white and red lights to indicate whether a lift is good. Three white lights mean that all judges are in agreement that the lift is good. An athlete only needs to earn two of the three white lights for a lift to count.
Warming Up For Clean and Jerks
After snatching, it’s important that an athlete refuel their body to prepare for clean and jerks. To do this, an athlete needs to consume simple sugars that are easily digested and can be converted to energy. Gatorade is a good option but an athlete needs to be careful about how much they drink as they do not want to need the bathroom once clean and jerks begin. Therefore, some gatorade paired with fruit and light snacks are best.
Warming up for clean and jerks is not as extensive as warming up for snatching. The body is already warm from having snatched so an athlete should take less lifts before being called to the platform. It’s important to be ready to lift heavy but not exhausted from warming up too vigorously.
If athlete G was to open clean and jerks with a 130kg attempt, warm ups would look like this:
15 attempts out- 90 kg x 2
12 attempts out- 100 kg x 2
9 attempts out- 110 kg x 1
6 attempts out 120 kg x 1
3 attempts out 125 kg x 1
Wait to be called to the platform for 130kg.
Note that warm ups for cleans begin 15 attempts out rather than 24 attempts out like they do for snatches. In this scenario, the lifter began with cleaning and jerking 75% of their opening attempt (not of their max).
Clean and Jerks
Clean and jerks will proceed in much the same way that snatches did.
Counting calories, macros, and other dieting tools should not be used on meet days. You lifted, you tested your abilities, and now you get to enjoy some good grub!