Lately I've been seeing some powerlifting numbers thrown around on the LBEB and I feel there might be a misconception or a lack of understanding as to what powerlifting, specifically geared powerlifting, is. Did you know or realize that when you see numbers like a 1000lb bench press or even a 1000lb squat, these are not in fact what we at LBEB would call "pure lifts"? In other words, the lifts were not accomplished using only the power of the human body and gear that is designed to keep it safe like a belt. Rather, these lifts were accomplished using "bench shirts", "squat suits" , "squat briefs" and even "deadlift suits". A lot of times when you see powerlifting videos on the Internet, the athlete is not wearing a singlet, but rather a variation of one of these suits.
Before I get into the explanation of the gear used, I feel it necessary to explain the current state that modern powerlifting is in. Quite a while ago as more and more assistance gear was introduced, there was much debate amongst the athletes as to what gear should and should not be allowed. What this caused was a major split, then even more splits, in the powerlifting world. Tons and tons of powerlifting federations popped up, each with their own set of rules regarding assistance gear, squat depth, bench pause time, etc etc. Unfortunately, this greatly divided and confused a once GREAT sport where pure, raw, static strength was tested on standardized equipment. We are starting to see the revival of more and more "raw" (no assistance gear) federations, specifically under the direction of Sean Katterle, but again unfortunately more often than not, when powerlifting numbers are thrown around people are usually referencing "geared" or "equipped" powerlifting.
So, lets get into the gear. Powerlifting gear is varied and wide in its scope. Nowadays an athlete can find a suit or shirt to fit any body type and to provide almost as much or as little assistance is needed, and if an athlete can't find what they want they can contact gear companies and have suits or shirts custom made to suit their needs. How much assistance does gear provide you ask? Well, that all depends on the gear. I've personally known "1000lb squatters" that could only squat 5-600 without their gear. Bench shirts offer even more assistance at times. No man has ever benched more than 730lbs without assistance gear yet the "bench press world record" currently stands at a little under 1100lbs!!!! I myself am a 500lb give or take a little depending on the day, but my very first time in an Inzer Rage X bench shirt I was able to bench press 700lbs! Not all gear offer extreme gains like in my examples, deadlift suits for example only offer 20-50lb no matter what type of suit you use simple because the mechanics of a deadlift don't allow for gear to be effective. The IPF and USAPL powerlifting federations also minimize the type of gear that can be used in order to more legitimize the lifts being accomplished.
We at LBEB are not bashing on geared powerlifting, in fact some of our lifters have dabbled in it a time or two. What we are doing is trying to educate you as a lifter. There is nothing wrong with being a geared powerlifter, but if this is the route you choose to go accept and realize that you are competing in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SPORT than raw or standard powerlifting. Please don't claim to be a 1000lb squatter if your best squat raw is 405, just say you are a 1000lb geared squatter. We have the utmost respect for geared powerlifters and we agree that these men and women are in fact very strong in their sport. The fact is though that we at LBEB prefer raw lifting in all it's forms so we will always be biased towards that. In addition we will always be more impressed by a 400lb raw squat than even an 800lb geared squat for example. So, when hearing numbers thrown around keep this in mind, only 18-20 men have ever deadlifted 900+ under powerlifting standards in competition, no one has EVER squatted 1000lbs without gear and the biggest raw bench to date is 730lbs. This should give you just a bit of a reference point to go by.
Written by Marshall White.