Peaking for a powerlifting meet means that we program training so that we are at our best "physically & mentally" on comp day. We do this by decreasing/tapering volume and intensity in both auxiliary and main lifts as we get closer to meet day. If you want to do the best you can and with seriousness at a competition, learn how to peak properly for your meets. This takes time and practice.
Why is peaking necessary? Peaking is a little more complicated than just resting a day or two and then going into a meet to try to hit your max. We are raising our "Preparedness" to be able to express our strength to our best physically and mentally. Our preparedness can be broken down into 3 components of fatigue, fitness, and specificity.
Fatigue will mask your strength - Volume is one of the primary factors that contribute to fatigue (sets and reps). As we approach our meet we must lower volume. Typically this is done 3-4 weeks prior to meet day. The more muscle you have the more time you may need to lower fatigue.
Intensity (weight on the bar) is another factor to our fatigue that play its part. We want to keep intensity (weight) as high as possible for as long as possible. There are many ways to decrease volume & intensity, for both, the goal is to slowly taper volume first by lowering sets and reps, then start lowering intensity as the meet day approaches.
Overall Fitness & Strength
Can we just rest for 3 weeks before the meet to bring down our fatigue? I wish it were that simple but unfortunately the same factors that lower our fatigue (volume & intensity) also lower our fitness/strength level when we just stop doing them. However, the good news is that we can MAINTAIN our strength level by manipulating volume & intensity. We cut volume first in our taper, and only cut intensity later. This helps to keep our strength while still allowing our fatigue to be reduced.
Overreaching is another component we use to keep our strength levels maintained while tapering. Many in our local GGB gym have just experienced this overreaching and we can all tell you... we reached pretty far. What is overreaching? Training harder with more volume & intensity than what we can normally keep doing right before we start to taper our volume & intensity. This overreaching creates a powerful effect combined with the drop in fatigue from the tapering.
We are training to lift our 1 rep max squat, bench & deadlift at the meet. During the last few weeks is the time to focus on your set up as you approach the bar, your technique, and your mindset. Wear your wrist wraps, your belt, and chalk up as you would at the meet. Auxiliary work is geared toward movements that will improve your 3 lifts. Speed is also a key specific training to focus on during the taper. Move weights with intention & force even more so during the tapering period.
Practice makes you better and if you are a new lifter, start to know why your doing what your doing, become a student of powerliftng. Learn from more experienced lifters and don't be afraid to show vulnerability because someone will always know more than you. I'm still considered a baby in powerlifting with only 6 years of competing and I cherish the knowledge that my coach and others with more experience have passed down to me. Learn and pass it on.