How To Peak for A Meet

Deanna Rosemarie deadlifting

Written by Deanna Rosemarie

Powerlifting season is in full-swing!  The @Girlswhopowerlift community is ready to go #949 on the platform!  Every lifter knows preparation is the most important part of performing well at a meet, however, sometimes finishing out a program isn’t really enough to fully peak or taper training for a meet. This article will discuss how to manage fatigue and overreaching in your training, and how to manipulate intensity and volume in your training before a meet to maximize your preparedness for meet day.

Why Do We Peak and Taper Before A Meet?

In order to dive into the specifics, we must first understand some basic training principles and understand how these work together to prepare an athlete for a powerlifting meet.

  • Intensity vs. Volume: Intensity is the measurement of exertion (overall % of 1 rep max or Perceived exertion) However, volume ties your complete session together as Reps x Sets x Weight.  As volume increases, your training effect increases. With the increase in training, your body will become more fatigued. (for more on how to use intensity and volume to PR more often see this article)
  • Fatigue and overreaching: With the increase in volume, your body becomes more fatigued. The period at the end of your program where you’ve accumulated the most volume and therefore the most fatigue results in a period that is often described as the
  • Overreaching phase: During this phase of your training your body takes longer to recover from each workout, and with that comes a decrease in your sport-specific preparedness. (The ability to execute the highest 1RM that you are physically capable of.) (More on Overtraining From Powerlifting To Win)

Putting it all together: As you end your program, volume increases which results in greater fatigue during the overreaching phase of your training. By tapering into a peak, you allow your body to recover and have maximal performance on your meet day, which results in a true peak of performance.  

Let The Peaking Begin

Three Weeks Out: Overreaching

  • Volume stays moderate
  • Accessory work begins to drop to make training more sport-specific
  • Intensity stays high while volume (reps) start to decrease slightly
  • Example: A Squatter who has a 1RM of 200 lbs. will squat 170 (85%) for 4 sets of 3 reps for a total volume of 2040 lbs. in a session

Two Weeks Out: Taper

  • Volume decreases significantly
  • Accessory work is very limited
  • Intensity of your lifts increase as sets and reps decrease
  • This results in a decrease in volume and allows your body to recover for the meet while remaining sport-specific
  • Example: The same squatter will squat 180 for 2 sets of 3 reps for a total volume of 1080 lbs. in a session. This is almost half of the volume of the week before, but at a higher, more sport-specific intensity

One Week Out: Cessation

  • At the start of the week before your meet, lifts should be at 50% of your 1RM or lower
  • Volume and intensity are decreased significantly in order to promote recovery
  • Example: A 200lb squatter will limit their top sets to 100 lbs. for 3 sets of 3 reps and a volume of 900 lbs. for their session.

How To Apply This To Your Training:

Tapering and Peaking before a meet maximizes your opportunity for optimal performance.  Does your training program include these elements in the weeks leading up to your meet?  If not, it may be smart to plan to end your program a few weeks in advance to allow for time to taper and peak before the big day.  This article from Juggernaut explains this concept even further (Read Here)

Comment below if you have a program that you run that includes a great taper and peak for a meet!  


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