Shrugged Collective

Avoiding common competition mistakes w/ Travis Mash

No one know’s weightlifting competition strategy quite like Travis Mash.

This week on the Barbell Life podcast, Travis and friends talk about some of the most common mistakes they see at competitions, and what you should do to avoid them.

If you’re an aspiring lifter, pay attention.

One of the very best things you can do to accelerate your strength development and progress as an athlete is to compete. Just get on the platform, it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel ready for it. It doesn’t matter what you life, believe me. The only mistake you can make is putting it off.

You will be fine, you just need to avoid some common competition mistakes.


1. Don’t blow your load.

The very first mistake you might make is warming up too soon. 

Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Take your time. As a general rule, start warming up 21-25 attempts before you’re due to lift. 

Take about 1 warm-up lift for every 2 lifts occurring out on the platform. Slow down your pace once you’re 3-4 lifts out. 

With that pace, you’ll do just fine. Trust me. 

2. Avoid the hype.

If you want to maximize your performance come competition day, you MUST control your emotions. 

Inflamed nerves lead to anxiety, second guesses, tightness in the muscles, and in general, shitty lifting. Instead, take your time. Just be there. Smile. Warm-up on time. Listen to pleasing music. Laugh and talk a little shit with other lifters. All in all, just have a blast and enjoy the experience. 

As the real lifts approach, sharpen your focus. Keep smiling on your opening lift. Get a little quiet and serious on your second attempt. Then, for a big finish, allow the adrenaline to flow a little bit. Get excited, huff and puff if you must, but still, remain in control. Keep smiling. 

I think you’ll find this approach beats raw intensity any day of the week. See for yourself.  

Be chill! 

3. Remember, this is a privilege. Leave your ego at the door.

Competing is an honor, an opportunity,  the absolute quickest path to strength. So…appreciate it. Keep the proper mindset. 

Have fun with the other competitors, don’t worry over what they will lift. You’re not here to win, you’re here to test yourself. You’re here to feel some pressure and respond. You’re here to see study superior lifters, how they carry themselves through warm-ups and attempts. 

Make the most out of every competitive experience. This is a chance to grow in more ways than one, after all. 


4. Don’t do it alone. 

There’s no doubt about it. You can do well on your own at a meet, but, you can never do your best.

The pace of a weightlifting competition can be unpredictable. You might have a big delay between your attempts. You might find yourself with no time at all. In short, shit happens! You need someone to manage that mess while you focus on what matters most, lifting the load.

Strategy is one thing, but you have to also consider the relationship. A coach is a manager, a friend, teacher, for sure, but they are also something more. A great coach sees what you cannot see. They push and guide you towards goals you don’t think are possible…now, at least.

You don’t have to go in alone. Find someone who can help you out. If you don’t have a coach, go find one!

5. Don’t freak out over your bodyweight!

No matter what, don’t freak out over your bodyweight before the meet. Out of all the variables you could worry over, this is one that you can control. So, do a great job of managing it!

If you’re within 3-5 kg’s of your target bodyweight before the competition then you’re fine. You could even get away with weighting a little more, so long as you’ve got that coach in your corner to help you through the weight cutting process. Worst case scenario, if you come into the competition way too heavy, just go to the next weight-class up. Really, it doesn’t matter.

No, you might not do as well in the competition, but you’ll still learn all the lessons and reap all the benefits that competition has to offer.

For some specific weight-managing and cutting tips, don’t miss Travis’ appearance on Episode 141 of Barbell Shrugged. Take notes and you’ll avoid doing something silly to yourself.

Show some love

You can check out the full discussion from Travis and friends below. Support his show by sharing, rating, or leaving a comment.

Now, go compete!


For more

  • Check out more from Travis Mash’s Barbell Life HERE.
  • How to become a world champion Weightlifter. Episode 141 of Barbell Shrugged.
  • Travis Mash’s “Learn to Lift” seminar is coming soon. Click HERE to learn more.


Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?

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