How to deal with the Post-Meet Blues

Written by Sarah Strong

You pull your third deadlift, wait for the “down” command, and lower the bar grinning with satisfaction. Three pretty white lights flash behind you. You finished your meet. You got that PR you wanted… or maybe you didn’t. You achieved that goal total, or maybe you’re just under it. But regardless of how you placed, all nine attempts are finished and you left it all at the bar. Now what?

After completing a meet, many lifters face what is known as the “post-meet blues.” This experience varies for each lifter, but generally is a feeling of sadness surrounding the commencement of the big event.

Antoinette Bashir, USPA lifter, explained, “After every meet, I’ve felt almost hungover. Tired, headaches, and overall fatigue. Emotionally, I felt a sense of depression and lack of motivation to do anything. A few times I even cried for no reason. I even questioned myself once “am I pregnant or something?”

Why do lifters commonly experience this period of depression after a meet?

  • At the end of a training cycle leading up to a meet, we often count down the days to competition as a method of motivating ourselves to persevere through the mental and physical fatigue of peaking. Once that date passes, we no longer have anything to count down till or look forward to.
  • Attempting 1 rep maxes at a meet is physically draining, plain and simple. The fatigue and physical pain and soreness felt after a meet can also be draining emotionally.
  • If you had a drastic cut for weigh-ins, you may be feeling “fluffy” after carbing up for the meet. Seeing yourself shredded (though possibly dehydrated) for weigh-in can make seeing yourself at your “normal” weight difficult. We can set expectations for ourselves to always look at that peak, and be disappointed if the shredded look is not maintainable.
  • We all set goals for a meet. If you meet your goals, you are often left with a “what next?” feeling after. Or, if you do not hit your goals, you might feel disappointed that you trained so hard and did not succeed.

So how do you avoid or get rid of the post-meet blues? Lifters who have already planned out their next meet seem to have less experience with this phenomenon. Consider looking up meets later in the year that you might want to sign up for—that way you already have a new goal lined up. Another way to prevent this burn-out would be hiring a coach who can guide you through a proper deload so your brain and body have the rest they need. And if you are already experiencing the blues, be patient with yourself and give your body the rest it needs.

Jennifer Hemingway, USAPL lifter, explained that the extra free time after a meet can be dangerous for one’s mind. She recommends spending some time out of the gym:

“I get over the blues by doing some fun fitness stuff that isn't powerlifting. Whether it is going for bike rides, rock climbing, swimming, or playing tennis, just getting out and being physically active really helps keep the negative energy away, plus it is great for recovery. On the mental front, I constantly remind myself that off-seasons are VERY important for my health and longevity in the sport, so it is wise for me to use that time to focus on something besides just strength training. I can work on improving my aerobic capacity, calisthenics, or just improve my general fitness and athleticism.”

The blues after a meet can be rough. Know that you are not alone in these feelings, and reach out to others in the powerlifting community. Take time for self-care, set new goals, and have grace with yourself. Avoid burnout and injury by learning to rest, and when your mind and body are ready, get back out there and crush it.

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