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Strategically Select Your Third Deadlift

posted May 17, 2017, 9:20 AM by Dicy Saylor   [ updated May 18, 2017, 3:18 PM ]

While it is important to be familiar with the rules of powerlifting before you arrive at your first competition, there is nothing wrong with not knowing some of the finer details of the rulebook. If you’re at your first meet it best to show up with your attempts already selected and stick to them. However, it may surprise you to learn that there are two rules about changing your attempt selection that can be some of the only ways to bring strategy to a powerlifting competition.

  • You can change your third deadlift twice up until your name is called with your original bar load and/or the new weight doesn’t lower the bar load below what is already on the bar.


If you are neck and neck with another lifter, the difference between securing a medal or not can come down to which of you makes all three of their deadlifts. In this case, you may want to put in a “fake” third deadlift attempt that is sufficiently high enough that it puts you after the person you are lifting against. That means they will lift before you in the flight, so you can see if they make the attempt or not. If they don’t, then you can change your deadlift attempt to the bear minimum that you need to lift to beat them (as long as it doesn’t lower the bar load on the bar when you submit the change). If they do make the lift, you can change the weight to what you need to beat them, and then go for it!


Situations like these are when it’s really important to have a coach or handler standing near the scorekeeper with an attempt change card already filled out.


This rule may seem a little confusing, but it’s a useful game plan to have in your back pocket at an important competition such as regionals or nationals. You are ultimately there to lift whatever you prepared to lift, but if you can lift less weight and still lock down a medal/podium position then I would recommend going for a medal over setting a new PR.

  • If you are in flight a, you can change your openers until 3 minutes before your flight begins. Lifters in subsequent flights are able to change their openers until three lifters are left in the previous flight (approximately 3 minutes).
Why would you want to do this? The first reason would be if you tweak something in the warm up room and need to change your game plan. The second reason is a little more strategic. If you want to mess with your fellow competitors minds, you can put in “fake” openers so they don’t know what you’re going to lift that day.

I don’t necessarily advocate using the above rule for sneaky purposes. Like I said, you’re there to lift what you’re going to lift and psyching out your follow lifters isn’t going to do much other than come across as bad sportsmanship.

One last note on the rules of attempt selection, you have 60 seconds after your attempt to enter your next weight. If you do not enter a selection, the scorekeeper will automatically increase your attempt by 2.5kg-the smallest jump allowed. 

If you have any questions about attempt selection in general, I am more than willing to chat! You can find me on email at Thanks for visiting!