A lot of great tips already so I will take the time to tell about my first "real" meet. I say real because my first actual meet was not a sanctioned meet. I was in the Army and while deployed they put on a powerlifting meet at the base gym. I entered and did well but the experience was not much of a big deal because I was competing with other Soldiers who hadn't trained seriously up to the meet. This Army meet took place in August of 2011. I got out of the Army in June of 2012 and decided that I wanted to get serious with my lifting so I joined a Powerlifting gym owned and operated by Scott Warman who was a Professional Powerlifter back in the 90s.
AS soon as I got there Scott asked me about my past lifting endevours and told me that I should find a meet to train for as if I had something to train for I would be more dedicated to my training. I began looking in my local area and was unable to find anything I wanted to compete in a few months away so I would have time to train for it. That summer I went to Sacramento California to visit some family and decided to train at Supertraining Gym with Mark Bell and his crew. For the next 6 weeks I trained there and got to know Mark and his training partners and heard about a meet he would be hosting in November. This was around the end of July at the time so I decided it would be perfect.
I returned to El Paso, Texas on a mission to train my butt off for my first "real" meet. My first training day back was August 18th which was 77 days or 11 weeks out from the meet. With the help of Mr. Warman and all the wisdom I absorbed from the guys at Supertraining I backward planned an 11 week training cycle for the meet. 4 days a week everything started off great I was doing working sets of 7s around 70-80% for the first 4 weeks then 5s around 90% for 3 weeks, then 3s adding a few pounds each set for 2 more weeks then deload and meet.
About 3 weeks out my deadlift suddenly took a dive. I pulled 455 for 5 at week 5 out then the next week I couldn't get 405 off the floor because my lower back was fried from all the volume. Scott told me to drop the deadlifts and just do light accessory work to recover. I hated the Idea but trusted his judgement. All of my other lifts went as planned.
Two weeks out I deloaded at 50-60% and then took the last week off. I flew into Sacramento a few days early, rested, went to the gym to see the guys and visited family until the weighins. The day before the meet I went to the weighins and weighed 239.5 which was good because I was going for the 242s.
The day of the meet I arrived early and tried to calm down but I saw all of the people from the Magazines and internet that I followed walking in. Dan Green, the Lilibridges, Stan Efferding, Eric Spoto, Pete Rubish, ect. I was far from relaxed. I was so excited to watch these guys lift, let alone lift myself. Warmups for squat started with Stan Efferding and Eric Lilibridge. I was warming up with these guys!!! Then it was time for me to squat while they were still warming up.
I hit my first squat but missed my second. Repeated my second for the third and nailed it. Was a little disappointed that I didnt hit all three but moved on. Warmed up bench about an hour later and all felt great. Hit my first two second being a PR but missed my third which was ok with me because next was my favorite lift, the Deadlift. I was nervous because the heaviest i hit in training before the meet was 455 for 5 5 weeks ago but warmups felt good so i pushed the fear aside and went for it. Nailed the first 2 and up came a PR of 505 for the third. I was pumped up and everyone was cheering eachother. 505 went up like it was 315!!!! I had alot in the tank but it was a PR so it was Great. I flew home the next day on a cloud that lasted at least a week later. My first real powerlifting meet was one of the best experiences of my life.