Last month I made reference to what I believe is a fact among younger lifters who have made a foray into powerlifting history: almost everyone trained the same. It may be more accurate to state that many if not most lifters in any specific locale trained similarly. As is well known among my regular readers, I believe that the Internet’s glut of training information and immediate dispatch of powerlifting related events and ideas has perhaps done more harm than good in the development of today’s lifters. Yes, as it now is in football for example, competitors in the sport are bigger per their weight class and have posted heavier numbers but this does not necessarily make for a better sport. In pro football, few players are proficient at blocking and almost none know the basic fundamentals of tackling. For every “kill shot” that evokes oohs and aahs from the spectators, there are a dozen missed tackles or total whiffs as defenders don’t come close to stopping average ball carriers who are made to look like All Pros every weekend.
Much of the response to the Eleiko USA retrospective that I’ve penned to date has come from younger lifters. I’m including anyone under the age of forty and from this younger generation of media-saturated lifters, their primary observation, question, and source of amazement is that they believe “everyone trained the same” or close to it in “my day.” The truth is that in the 1960’s in powerlifting’s early years, there would be one individual or small group of trainees who had a major influence on the training of others in a particular town, city, state, or region. Their “style” or approach to training would very much be “the way” it was done and comparisons of methodology throughout the country did demonstrate a relatively limited approach to increasing the squat, bench press, and deadlift. This should not be viewed as a negative comment because it’s actually positive!
When this series of articles began more than a year and a half ago, its purpose was to give ardent powerlifters information with an historical bent, and focus upon the development of powerlifting equipment through the growth of the sport. As Titan Support Systems continues to distribute Eleiko barbells, plates, and collars, the initial intent remains the same. However, the articles have ranged far and wide much to the satisfaction of most readers and will at some point, even wander into what should properly be termed “powerlifting attire.” I am of course referring to lifting suits, shirts, and wraps, items that younger lifters might surprisingly now learn did not exist until the late 1970’s. In a rare find, note below the circa early 1980’s photo, as hazy as it might be, of Titan Support Systems founder Pete Alaniz and myself. Often assumed to be brothers or cousins despite the minimal resemblance between us, Pete and I have been friends for decades. Note that Pete is far better looking and obviously more intelligent but that I carry a little more muscle within the same weight class!
One of the enjoyable aspects of writing this series of articles for Pete Alaniz and Titan Support Systems is the feedback and correspondence generated from lifters I have not seen nor heard from in decades. My inauspicious career in strength related competition, one limited to and marked by a few local titles and a lot of enthusiastic participation in close to one hundred contests over a twenty-five-plus year period, allowed for contact with many individuals. My monthly column in Powerlifting USA Magazine and numerous articles that appeared there and in all of the major muscle building publications from 1969 through the present day, always kept me “in touch” with what was going on. Yet, some of the men and women who have been taken with this current series of articles have brought back even more memories.
As usual, there was plenty of feedback from the previous installment of this series of articles. Superb and highly respected Brooklyn-based lifter Pat Susco noted some of his early recollections in our e mail exchange:
Pat Suscoo writes:
“another masterpiece!… I remember using a “Corbin-Gentry” chest supported seated row in the first gym I ever trained at (after Vito`s basement of course) …Community Health Club in Queens”
If there was a consistent factor to odd lifting and powerlifting in the early to mid-1960’s, it was inconsistency. Even the equipment, as I’ve noted in our previous installments, varied from contest to contest and one could never be certain that the announced weight on the bar was in fact, close to the actual weight. Many know Pete Alaniz as “the Titan guy” and perhaps now, “the Eleiko guy” but few will recall that Pete was a competitive lifter. Coming from Corpus Christi, Texas he was, as expected, directly linked to the two biggest names from the region, names that old timers will recognize as being among the best in the sport. Paul Barbee is considered by most to be the “Father Of Powerlifting” in that part of Texas, a gentleman who started the careers of dozens of high level lifters. Rick Gaugler was among the best in his class through a good part of the 1980′s and Pete knew both, trained with both, and was influenced by both. Thus Pete’s history in powerlifting does not go back nearly as far as mine because he’s quite a bit younger but he has plenty of history under his belt.
For the bodybuilders in our area, it almost didn’t matter what bars or plates they used as long as the bars weren’t too badly bent and the plates actually fit onto the bars. These weren’t “givens” in a lot of the storefront gyms or basements we would find ourselves visiting. Anyone who saw themselves as a “lifter” wanted to use what they considered to be a “real” barbell which meant the York Olympic bar and preferably with York Olympic plates. Especially for those preparing for a contest of any type, the Olympic bar was a must, in part because this is what would most likely be used in a contest, at least in the New York Metropolitan area, and because it seemed to be important that one use the same type of bar and plates to train with that they would be called upon to compete with. In California as I later learned, contests were held using York, Paramount, Marcy, and BFCO bars and plates, often interchangeably or with a mix of each on the competitive platform. The odd lift and early powerlift contests that used 100 pound plates most often utilized Peary Rader’s Iron Man Barbell 100’s or York standard 100’s that had been drilled out to fit the Olympic bars.
Quoting from last month’s History installment, allow me to remind our readers that the equipment used for both training and in competition often wasn’t safe. Steve Baldwin, a very successful long time competitive powerlifter and friend from Memphis, Tennessee who has an official 628 squat to his credit at 181 pounds, offered some comments after reading the June article. Those like Elite Fitness honcho Jim Wendler, who told me that after his reading of Part 12, as much as he already appreciated his equipment, “I was ready to kiss my Monolift and bench press” may be taken aback by Steve’s description of what passed for “competition conditions” in the squat.
The Alaniz family are true American pioneers in the field of innovating and manufacturing Powerlifting and Strength products.Since 1981, they have played a leading role in the development of equipment and the growth of the sport through sponsorships and contributions. Pete Alaniz was awarded the prestigious Brother Bennett award from the USAPL in 2006. ×
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