The Cost of Competing in a Powerlifting Meet

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash.

A powerlifting meet boils down to one main thing: pushing, pulling, or lifting some heavy-ass weight.

However, if you were to pull back the curtain behind the big ol’ face of Oz, you would see all the costs involved with the sport that is powerlifting — aka squat, bench, and deadlift.

First off is joining a federation of your choice. I picked the USAPL due to the fact that it is drug-free. A yearlong membership will run you $55, but all this does is give you the option to compete and a fancy (read: paper) membership card.  You may not be ready to step onto a platform in front of others just quite yet, so where better to train than a gym for the meantime? I consider myself pretty lucky in the fact that the one I go to only charges $35 a month.

Once you decide that you want to throw yourself into the midst of a meet, you’ll have to pay for that as well. The KC Metro Classic (and a few other meets I’ve been in) cost roughly $45 and registration is typically three to four months out. Sign me up!

This is about the time you realize, Shit. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing… and start frantically googling coaches in the area. It is a mere twelve weeks out from the meet, and your new coach charges $50 per four-week block of programming, $150 for coaching it is. Now you have someone there to tell you your form is weak and push you to your limits — perfect.

Weeks go by, the weight you lift gets heavier, and you start to dive into the wonderful world of lifting accessories. You’ll want knee sleeves ($45), wrist wraps ($20), and a lever belt ($200 — don’t judge me, I had to have a custom one) to protect your joints and core. Definitely buy knee socks ($5) and liquid chalk ($10) to help the deadlift bar not rip your palms and shins to shreds. Possibly even throw in some squat shoes ($50) and flat-soled Converse ($50) to give your feet a solid base. You’ve accumulated so many items that you’ll have to get a nice gym bag to put it all in, so there’s no chance of losing anything ($100).

Time is ticking down closer and closer to the meet and there is one last piece of apparel you must buy. The world’s most flattering piece of spandex you will ever get to cram your body into: the singlet ($25). I avoid wearing my singlet as much as possible, because it gives me what I lovingly call “reverse muffin top”. Instead of fat pouring out of the top of your pants, it lovingly squishes out of the bottom of the singlet.

Twenty-four hours to go until you stand on a scale in front of a state referee to make sure you aren’t a fraction of a kilogram over the weight class you selected. If you are anything like me, the second the weight is officially recorded it will be time to slam down some food. Pre-packing your goodie bag is a must. Protein cookies, Swedish Fish, teriyaki beef jerky, rice crispy treats, energy drinks, carbs, protein, fats, caffeine, all of the essentials ($25). Making new friends is always a plus, so may as well stop out the morning of and pick up a dozen donuts too ($10).

I tend to choose local meets so my travel costs are usually pretty negligible, but we’ll say I use an average of a half tank of gas for the hell of it ($25). Drive, drive, drive, and suddenly you’re there.

It is now 7 a.m. It is just you, your coach, and a thirst for competition. Oh, and a bag filled with enough snacks to put anyone into wired-toddler state of hyperactivity. Time to push, pull, and lift some heavy-ass weight.

Total cost of three months of training for a single powerlifting meet: $920.

Alexandra Elzein holds the state deadlift record for her weight class. She has competed in four meets and has an impressive collection of limited edition Oreos.

This story is part of The Billfold’s Experience Series.

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