Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Staring you in the face

This past weekend, Dan Green went over to the land down under and broke his own world record in the 242 class, by going 2171 with knee wraps.

As you can see, even Animal made notation of the fact that it was with wraps.  Larry Pacifco still has the no wraps record at 242 with 2080.

I make a notation to point this out not to disparage Dan at all.  I think Dan is currently the best powerlifter walking around at the moment, and I hope he doesn't end up injured and can sustain what he's been doing the last year or so, for a very long time.

I make a notation of this because numbers in context DO matter.

Just so I don't have to type "beltless" "belted" "belt and knee wraps" etc over and over again for this article, here's how I define "raw".

Rare = no belt, no wraps.
Raw = Belt only
Medium raw = Belt and knee wraps

Then of course, you have single ply, and multiply.

I find it odd, that powerliftingwatch.com keeps tracks of rankings and numbers and records in appropriate fashion, yet some gym owners or lifters like to throw out numbers without adding in the context or manner in which they were done.

Don't think a walk out matters?  I promise you it does.

Getting a hand off in benching matters.  If you don't think so, unrack your own shit and see if you can press as much, and get back with me on that.

A belt matters, a belt and knee wraps matter, and of course single ply and multiply matter.


If you didn't listen to my interview with Capt. Kirk, he was very aware of what his belted and beltless squat PR's were, and did whole cycles based around building that beltless squat.  His best beltless work was 655x8 (fuck my life) and 800x1 (fuck my life!!!).  With a walk out of course.

Kirk told me that after 6 weeks beltless, he'd simply throw a belt on the next week, add 20 pounds to the bar (675) and do that for 5 reps easily (so the next phase of his training would start).  Kirk said he got roughly 50 pounds out of adding the belt on squats.  Maybe more.  He squatted 800x5 with a belt only.

Throwing out numbers without the context in which those numbers were done is disingenuous.

When I was in Chicago with Brandon Lilly he told me at 19 he walked out 660 with belt and knee wraps and dunked it at 219.  He did 600 without the knee wraps.

Years later, after being in gear for an extended period of time he decided to do some raw training.  Now weighing over 300 pounds, he took 650 out and went down with it and his words (more or less) got his face pushed into his crotch.  Let's put this into context.  Brandon was squatting over 1,000 pounds in gear at the time.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while.

To add a little more context to this, Brandon's best geared total around that time was 2,500.

His best medium raw total is 2,204.  Without training in gear Brandon went back and did an equipped meet and hit 2,612.

Ask him of all his totals which one he feels the most proud of.  Not only that, but we've had a discussion about him going rare and hitting a certain number there (I won't say, that's all up to Brandon).  Brandon is a smart guy.  He knows he can't go 2,200-anything sans belt and knee wraps.

Jamie Lewis went 1,618 rare at 181.  1,705 with a belt.  Give or take, 75 pounds difference.

When I was at the nationals Scott Smith was pretty upset because he was going to end up taking second place to Chris Pappillion, who can't bench 425 raw, but can bench right with Scott in gear.  And Scott is a 500+ bencher.  It's because Chris knows how to work his shirt, and Scott hates it.  But raw, Scott would walk all over Chris, and Chris knows this.  But they weren't raw that day, and Chris won under a level playing field.

And this is why context matters in numbers.

See, I don't have anything against any particular style of lifting.  Rare, raw, medium raw, equipped, whatever.  I don't care.  Do what makes you happy.  What I do have a particular issue with, is for someone to throw around numbers and claiming superiority without making apple to apple comparisons.  A multiply squat of 900 isn't the same animal as a belt only 900 squat, which very very few people have ever been capable of.

Yet 900 pound squats are pretty common at multiply meets now.

How many raw-anything guys can squat 900 right now?  Very few.

So just because you're strong in gear, doesn't mean you're strong out of it.  This has to be proven.  It has to be done.  No different than Brandon getting face planted by 650 even though he was squatting 1,005 in gear.

Powerlifting, I thought, was supposed to be a representation of strength.  Not just numbers.

However, and unfortunately, in powerlifting numbers are not always a representation of strength at face value.  The manner in which those numbers are obtained DO MATTER.  I've read where some people bitch that I always label my videos or lifts "no belt/no wraps" or "close grip bench".  Well, I do because it fucking matters.  A 455 bench and a 455 close grip bench well, they aren't the same thing.  I'm very aware that I don't get style points for benching close grip in meets, however I promise you I get the respect of my peers for it.  Plus well, it looks far more bad ass.  And KK does it too, so that has to count for something.

Most of this shit is really just great big dick measuring contests.  And dick measuring contests are fine.  That's what sports are really about isn't it?  I'm more "bad ass" than you are?  Sure, let's roll with it.  But if we're going to measure dicks then make sure that when we break our rulers I want to make sure you're not using centimeters for inches, and  then claim that your 18" dong is so much longer than my measly 7" one.

"We get so much deeper inside our women because we've got 18 inches and all those guys are packing a fraction of that."

Too bad she can't tell the difference.

Eventually the wool (lambskin?) gets removed and people can see this shit for what it's worth.  At least, I hope they can.  That way, respect can be given across the board to anyone who trains, competes, and puts their dick on the measuring block.  If not, and you want to talk shit and break out the ruler, then go meet those people at doing what they do and outperform them in their arena.  Don't sing it, bring it.

Strong is strong, is strong.  If you're only strong under specific conditions then how strong are you really?

To quote Nino Brown, "money talks, and bullshit runs the marathon."

Doesn't powerlift.  Sells crack.


  1. Right on the money Paul. You have to know the conditions of the lift to make comparisons. I think tested/non tested federations needs to be taken into account here too. I lift belt only in a drug tested federation. That doesn't mean for one second that I don't have respect for the numbers put up by all sorts of lifters, in all types of equipment, and in all different federations. It's just that if comparisons are to be made the all the information should be out in the open.

  2. Jon Cole's record was in wraps and it's 2135 in 1970
    Pacifico has the wrapless total record at 2080

    1. You're right. This morning I must have glanced at that. Which is funny because I knew Pacifico had it by memory.

  3. God the jab at Mike Tuchscherer (in the article I assume you're referring to) really pisses me off. Supposedly Simmons doesn't care about raw lifters but the one guy he calls out by name is way stronger than any mile-high multiply bullshit "squatter". What a disrespectful, disingenuous asshole.

    1. Yeah I thought so as well. Not that any of Louie's guys could lift with Mike but I guess that doesn't matter does it?

    2. I have a suspicion Jake Anderson and Dave Hoff could "lift with Mike." To me, that is similar to the guys who've never touched a bench shirt or squat suit saying "anyone can throw on a single ply Katana and bench 800."

      But I definitely agree it's silly to talk shit if you refuse to prove it on the platform, especially for a guy like Louie who values competition numbers over all else. Walk the walk or STFU in this sport.

      I'll have to go find this article that is causing such a stir LOL


    3. Not fully sure of which article is being referenced, but I recently found out Mike lifted in my fed back in 2010 Mike Witmer Memorial FL State Championships (RAW United) and had some impressive numbers in the medium raw 735 squat 455 bench 825 deadlift 2015 total. He still holds the open fed record for deadlift and total but bench and squat were taken by other guys. Technically, the fed rules state no "fastening" knee wraps, but he was wearing knee wraps of some sort.

    4. The T-Nation Louie Simmons article from a few days ago I assume

    5. He totaled 2010 or something like that at a USAPL meet last August in only sleeves and a belt.

  4. Another X-factor to throw in the hat is a normal/IPF-style bar vs a deadlift bar.

    A couple years back Malanichev had missed 881lbs in gear with an IPF bar being used, and Some weeks later he nailed 881 raw with a deadlift bar. He commented that he couldn't believe how huge of a difference the bars made, and that he felt like he had 925 in him easily that day.

    I know guys like KK train only with an IPF bar to make meet day at comps using a DL bar that much easier.

  5. I liked the article Paul, and I agree with what you're saying, but it's a shame that in an already fragmented sport, we have to fragment it further by breaking down a lift into "non-drug-tested beltless single-ply narrow grip - Joe Blow -- 455lbs" or some shit like that.

    No one outside of experienced powerlifters understands wtf any of that really means in relation to the number beside it.

    At least when we're talking about raw totals, we're probably talking about around 5-10% inflation between "rare" and "medium raw" and they're more or less in line with what the average guy at the gym is thinking when he's thinking about you doing a squat, bench or deadlift.

    1. I'm not suggesting we further fragment the sport by having more rules at all, I'm only suggesting people don't throw around numbers without context applied.

  6. I would strongly disagree with the statement that powerlifting is 'fragmented'.

    There is one, and only one, PL federation that is globally recognized as the governing body of the sport, organizes international meets with participants from multiple countries who have to meet high standards to qualify for said meets, and enforces strict judging and application/interpretation of rules. This federation is where the world's strongest powerlifters have lifted, lift today and will continue to lift for the foreseeable future.

    I mean, you wouldn't say the NFL is 'fragmented' because some guys get together and play pickup games and/or flag football, or because their is a weekend league at your local rec center.

    As for the belt and wraps issue, they obviously help and one would do well to know the limit of one's abilities without them as well as with them. If guy A squats 500 lbs. in belt and wraps and guy B squats 500 lbs. without them, obviously B is stronger. Beyond that I don't really give a shit, and I would consider both 'raw' lifts. Just my $0.02.

    1. I wouldn't consider them both raw since they aren't done under the same conditions. That's my own personal opinion.

      In your own example 500 is not 500 is not 500. If ol boy squats 500 with knee wraps and belt, but the other guy does it without them, it's the same on the judges sheet but it's not REALLY the same.

  7. Good point, well made Paul.

    PL watch for my weight class (the 105's) has 231 as the "raw" squat world record, tied between 2 lifters, one of whom set that record in (very fkn tight) knee wraps and a belt. My fed doesn't allow knee wraps and I don't even use sleeves, yet apparently we're all "raw". Same for bench, my fed makes you plant your entire foot flat on the floor, not under your body where you get a load of leg drive without your ass popping up and if basically your whole ass cheek isn't on the bench too, you get red-lighted. Not so when you watch the vids of some of the girls pushing the big numbers in some of the other "raw" feds. So for me, I look at who's done what in the USAPL, it may not be "THE" fed (although SiouxZ and Jen Thomson lift in it, and they rock) but at least it compares to the standards I have to compete under.

  8. Off topic...

    Paul, have you ever tried out this exercise? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Szm3WGMTcg

    The man-beast Klokov says his best is 682x1 without straps, hah.

  9. Hey Paul, what is your take on the 'rawness' of elbow and wrist wraps? Thanks for the blog; it has changed everything about the way I workout!

    1. I didn't know anyone could use elbow wraps at meets? I don't think it's allowed anywhere so not much of a topic.

  10. Shouldn't the same thing be applied to deadlift bars? The bars the ipf use are stiff as hell. I mean shit... look at gillinghams dead lift at worlds... 800+ and the bar won't bend.

    At something even more 'important' would be weigh ins. A 242 in 24 hr weigh in feds is much much different than a 242 in 2 hr weigh in feds. No one is cutting 20 lbs in a usapl meet and breaking WRs. 24 hr weigh ins are increasing WR totals much more than any belt or wrap

    1. I hear you man, I don't think monolifts or deadlift bars should be used to break these all-time records from back in the day. And if the record was set with a 2 hr weigh in, then you can't have 24 hr weigh ins to break it. These things make too much of a difference to be ignored in my opinion.

    2. They do. I should have mentioned the 2 hour weigh in.

    3. It'd be interesting to hear what kind of shit guys back in the 70's said about the guys that came before them. Guys had to do a barbell pullover to get their benches into position for fucks sake lol. I believe a guy like Dan Green would be an all-time record holder no matter what. Maybe it would have taken more time, but that guy is a freak. A humble freak who lets his lifting do the talking. Lot's of respect for him and his quads of justice hahaha.

  11. You will love this, http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2013/06/20/squatting-big/ .

  12. Great article! "Staring you in the face" is my favorite article of yours. A lot of truth in the article. For the reasons you mention your squats and deadlifts are without a belt and your bench is close grip, is the same reason I let people know I am drug free. It makes a difference the same as every piece of gear, squat depth or walking out squats, etc.

  13. I lifted in that event it was my second comp and to see the speed of Dan greens squat 382.5 kg was fucking unbelievable!!!

  14. Great article Paul but I will say to many out there who get into the endless debate about how raw a fed is or how can you compare...who cares at the end of the day many feds tested or not have a shit load of lifters on an array of PED's which allows for even less comparison. In fact the whole concept is moot i.e. such and such didnt use wraps but by the way he used a fuck load of PED's?

    I agree with you we just get on and lift

    1. Well a wrapped and belt total should be seen as that, if being compared to a belt only or no belt total. PED's matter too. If you're natural, compete in a tested fed. If you're not, compete in an untested one.