The Myth of an Unfair Advantage

Back in March, Crossfit HQ posed a question on Facebook: “Do you think weightlifting shoes should be allowed at the CF Games?” There were all the usual responses. “It’s unnatural”, “You weren’t born with weightlifting shoes on”, and so forth. The question that they posed got me thinking about all of the complaining that I see on various websites that involve things like wrist wraps, knee wraps, bench shirts, you name it.

I started to think about how ridiculous the whole idea of an “unfair advantage” really is. After all, anything that you have at your disposal in your training that someone else doesn’t have can be considered an advantage. Many athletes that point the finger and accuse something as being unnatural seem to forget a few things. First off, unless everyone is the same height and weight and works out naked, anything can be can be perceived as an advantage.

I am 9 feet, 15 inches tall (actually I am 6 foot 5 inches) and my legs start somewhere between my ears and my throat. Obviously this is does not benefit my squats and my levers are all off. Most lifters I see are under 5’11 and they obviously have a huge advantage with the shorter range of motion. Rather than crying myself to sleep in Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, I take pride in the fact that squats are harder for me because I know it makes me a stronger athlete.

Getting back to the topic of lifting shoes, I am not sure how they can be considered an advantage, but other shoes aren’t. After all, minimalists advocate that the thinner the sole of a shoe, the more benefits you gain by have your foot closer to the ground. Is that not a benefit? Everything has its own benefits and drawbacks.

For things like wrist wraps, they are no more of an advantage than taking fish oil, wearing a sweatband on your head, or using rubber bumper plates. As someone who primarily trains with iron plates, I don’t have the luxury of being able to drop weights. Take your disadvantages in stride because they will only make you stronger. There are guys in Russia and Africa that are snatching with iron rods and wheels from boxcars. Suddenly your first world problems don’t seem so bad, do they?

Even things like moisture wicking shirts and fight shorts with vented sides offer benefits over traditional clothing. Using chalk is a huge advantage over having sweaty palms. A high quality diet is obviously an advantage that not everyone can implement. Where is the line drawn when a benefit becomes an unfair advantage and who is drawing that line?

Think wrist wraps are unfair? Okay, then make sure you take off your sunglasses if you are in an outside competition. That gives you an advantage when the sun is glaring in your eyes.

To sum this article up: Quit the bitching about someone using something that you consider unfair because its “not natural”. Natural is relative only to the person saying it. Your complaining won’t make you a better athlete, and will do nothing to get you closer to the top. Rather than wasting time and breath complaining, take your disadvantage and turn it into your biggest strength. Your strength will thank you in the end.

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