Meet prep is a different beast. You signed your name on the line and now you need to produce results. I wish it were as simple as following a program, lifting at the meet, and breaking PRs. Every meet prep has its own obstacles that need to be overcome.

This article is not about tips and tactics. This article is about the survival, detours, and the -itis that come with meet prep. Your prep will not always go as planned, so be ready to roll with the punches. With more experience, you will see more of the punches coming your way and know how to better deal with each one.

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I would love to say that every meet prep is going to go just as planned, but that is a lie. But not so fast, my friend. Every meet produces its own problems. Injuries, time, stress, life, loss of training partners, or a host of other variables can pop up unexpectedly. You have to be prepared to make changes on the fly. This is why you have a system. You have a system, right? In that system, you know how to make adjustments based on everything that pops up. Don’t be afraid to make changes.

Making changes does not mean being a big pussy and quitting when stuff gets hard. There will be times you want to skip or back off of a workout, but you have to do the work. This is what makes meet prep so different from working out. You have to do hard shit that makes your head feel like a volcano about to blow.

On the flip side, if taking another bench is going to crush your shoulder for the next workout, it might be smart to pass on that last set. Detours are not dead ends. Wrong turns and bad decisions can have you at a dead end and possibly out of the meet.

matt ladewski meet prep

Find the Skeleton

Each and every human on earth has the same skeleton. There may be abnormalities, but for the most part, we all have a femur in our upper leg, vertebrae in our back, and bones in our fingers.

Yet on the surface, we all look very different. Some are tall, short, fat, have blond hair, black hair, etc. This is how each meet prep will be. They will all have a very similar skeleton, but when looking at the final product, they can look very different on the surface.

When planning your training for a meet, write out the big picture and where very specific workouts need to fall. Cycles like circa max, isometrics, and gear work should be planned out, but not every detail is set in stone. It is just the skeleton of training. Start from the meet date and work backward on the calendar. Each meet prep will then develop over the weeks into a look of its own.

The -Itis

Training is going right along and over time the -itis will start to creep in. Arthritis, bursitis, or any other -itis can hit any hit you when you least expect it. Younger lifters who are new to competing may have fewer issues but must still take care of their bodies. Longevity is important in the sport of powerlifting, and you must learn to manage aches and pains. Soft tissue and structural issues need to be managed so you can go into each workout as close to 100 percent as possible.

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To stay healthy, you will need a good team to help put you back together when things start to fall apart. A good doctor, chiropractor, and massage therapist are my first tier. After those, other modalities will come into play, as you need specific work done on your body. You will also need to keep things at bay with good nutrition, liniments, and recovery tools.


There will be a time (weeks 6-3) during meet prep where it is about surviving that workout or week. Once you clear three weeks out, it is downhill, and as long as you don’t get sick or hurt, you will be ready for the meet. But those weeks will put you mentally and physically to the test.

When pushing the human limits and overreaching, you might find yourself with a shorter fuse than normal. Once you are aware that you will be a grumpy bastard for a few weeks, you can try and keep it in check.

You Are Not Going to Get Any Stronger

Inside of 21 days, know that at this point you can only screw up what you have done and will not do anything to get stronger other than recover and wait for the delayed transformation. The work should have been done by now, and you can’t make up for anything you missed. It is better to go in under-trained than it is to push and be over-trained. Wrap up the peak training at 21 days out, and then just don’t mess it up.

Doing your best on meet day is more than just following some sets and reps from a program. To be your very best, you must be all in and manage all aspects that can drain pounds from your total. Some can be learned from articles like this, but some can only be learned over time.

If I can be of any help to you and your prep, let me know at