Though it may shock some, I have a loyal group of readers who eagerly await the publication of TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS monthly column, or “blog,” still a rather foreign word to me, that has been an attempt to bring perspective to the iron game sports in general and powerlifting specifically. I am very much interested in the evolution, development, and construction of equipment so there has been an obvious emphasis upon that aspect of the history. However, in the past number of months, the effort, subtle as it may have been to some, has been to point to the demarcation of the three primary branches of the Iron Sports and more or less make the point, “This isn’t really a good thing.” My earlier articles for this series, written what is now almost six years ago, stressed that if one trained with weights and trained both hard and consistently, they most often were much stronger than the average man and looked much better physically than the average man. In truth, when one trained hard and consistently, they looked quite a bit larger muscularly and were in fact a heck of a lot stronger than the average man.
In Part 68 of this ongoing monthly column, I wrote:
“While bodybuilding was not ‘my thing,’ I believe I can safely say that very few Olympic weightlifters or powerlifters first saw a barbell and thought, ‘I want to be a lifter.’ They usually thought, as most young teenagers or pre-teens do that ‘I want to get bigger and stronger and look like that guy,’ with ‘that guy’ being an individual with some type of noticeable or advanced muscular development.”
If reader feedback is any measure of accuracy, even operating under the assumption that most TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEM readers are powerlifters, there is widespread agreement with the statements I have made in the last few columns regarding the differences between and among those who participate within the boundaries of the Iron Game sports. The general consensus is that powerlifters as a group, are “more hyped,” “more outwardly emotional,” and “more nuts” than Olympic weightlifters. I like the “more outwardly emotional” description best and regarding the “more nuts” label, why don’t we just say that most who are obsessed with any aspect of lifting weights probably lie outside the norm on some measure of psychological standards.
In last month’s column, a computer “explosion” forced me to produce my monthly article as a lengthy e mail, hastily sent to Titan Support System’s editor. Being thankful for many things during the Thanksgiving holiday presented an appropriate and timely opportunity to note some contest and training related glitches which in turn stimulated numerous e mails along the lines of “Gee, you should have been lifting at the Senior Nationals the year that so and so lost bowel control and…” Obviously, there is material for further gales of laughter. However, in the October 2013 column, I took advantage of being the author and included a photo of Dr. Rich Seibert. The exposure was well deserved and it could be said that Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters too, get scant attention in any media outlets other than the few “niche” or “cult like” print publications or internet sites that cater to their specific interests. Even with a successful commercial gym packed with high level lifters and bodybuilders on any particular evening, I would remind our members that we really were the extraordinary minority.
I was very late entering the computer age and still do not own a cell phone. I have few skills beyond sending e mail and utilizing the computer keyboard as one would a typewriter to compose articles. When my computer and hard drive (patiently explained to me by my friend Phil, a true computer expert) crashed/burned/messed up and otherwise unusable was deemed beyond salvaging except by the most expert of specialists, this December 2013 column was swallowed and made to evaporate with the remainder of my extensive research materials. Rather than moan about it, I was focused on preparing for our annual, major Thanksgiving feast, hosting family and many friends who have come for this occasion for nearly thirty years. Some, like Pat Susco have an extensive lifting history with many records and championships under their belts. Others like former New York Giants defensive end Frank Ferrara are rooted in a football past and most would not know a bench press from a wine press but all enjoy the fellowship and tons of food. The holiday and loss of the computer allowed me to focus on so many things to be thankful for, including a few related to powerlifting.
Not everyone believes that watching a lifting contest is “a good thing.” I directed my first powerlifting meet in the late-1970’s and it was “de facto direction” if it was anything. My friends and training partners, highly thought of powerlifters on the verge of national recognition, decided to host a powerlifting meet which would be well attended due to the popularity of the sport in the St. Louis area. Because everyone planned to lift in the contest, their focus naturally remained on their training and the highlight of the competition for me, was being attired in a non-supportive wrestling singlet, buried beneath the announcing and scorer’s table, hooking up loud speakers, when my name was called for my first squat. Obviously there would be no time to change into the new-fangled, newly introduced supportive lifting suits, the ones that resembled skin tight burlap bags, and no time to actually warm up. I passed on my first attempt so that I could take rapid, non-stop warm-ups with 135 and 225, and ran out for my first attempt of the competition. There was no strong prediction that I would have placed any higher than fourth in a very good field of six or seven as I recall the competition, but it was a poor way to begin one’s competitive day and a lesson that one should either direct a contest or lift in a contest but probably not try to do both. When Mike Wittmer and I were asked to take over the Missouri State Olympic Weightlifting Championships, it was the first opportunity I had to design a meet tee shirt, not yet a commonly seen item.
Although the emphasis is always on powerlifting in our series of TITAN articles, very much like the features I wrote for more than two consecutive decades for the sorely missed Powerlifting USA Magazine, the related materials often roam far and wide. My two-part “series” on the CrossFit phenomena brought a tremendous amount of response, both positive and negative, though it was not my intention to stir the pot with that specific subject. With a similar lack of intention to raise the hackles of the Olympic Weightlifting community, allow me please to generally praise our weightlifting brethren, yet point out a few things that some may not appreciate. Going back to an ongoing thread that has run through this entire series of articles, in the “old days,” almost everyone who seriously approached the task of becoming muscularly larger and stronger utilized all aspects of the three accepted lifting disciplines. Bodybuilders often did heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, especially in “bulking up” or “getting bigger” phases and squats were actually done with a barbell and not on a Smith Machine. They performed overhead barbell pressing, power cleans, and front squats at various stages of their development too.
Of the many responses that were evoked by last month’s article that focused upon the CrossFit phenomenon sweeping the nation if not the world, one of the brief but insightful comments I received was, “NOT SCATHING, NOT DISRESPECTFUL, JUST ONE MAN’S OPINION I DISAGREE WITH.” That of course is fair as everyone, including me, is entitled to an opinion. Titan and I received a lot of comments regarding last month’s article on CrossFit, indicating that even for the powerlifting community, it is a big deal. As everyone who knows me understands, I have been molded, and perhaps scarred, by my upbringing, some of which was done in what I usually refer to as an immigrant Polish household. “I started at the Home For Unwed Mothers in Amityville, New York and then was taken in by the dopey Polacks” is my standard description of life. My grandparents spoke Polish, as expected, having emigrated from Poland, and cooked Polish. In the neighborhood and in others of skewed ethnic origin that I lived in over the decades, the English language as we know it was altered, butchered, and ultimately utilized to present very clear and concise meaning while not coming close to English or Literature class approval. Years ago in one of my articles I noted that respects were paid when “Old Walter was burialized.” A word or term that was rarely attempted in our circle was bona fides and when it was, it was usually one of the wise guys trying to sound “intellettual” as we would put it. Even when the mispronunciation came out as “bone-a-fydz” we all “got it” and knew that someone was vouching for another and the fact that they could be counted upon to get a specific task done, and had “the stuff” to get it done.
From Wikipedia: “CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program designed to help people gain a broad and general fitness. CrossFit programming concentrates on constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity to achieve overall physical fitness, so people are prepared for any physical challenge. CrossFit is a trademark of CrossFit Inc”
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