History of Powerlifting, Weightlifting and Strength Training – Number 79

Posted by in Dr Ken Leistner on June 17, 2015 Comments off



I began last month’s column, Part 78 in our series, with the statement, “Very few individuals awaken and begin their day with the thought that the world needs another barbell set.” I was clear that at some point in time, TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEM founder Pete Alaniz had that exact thought and over the course of approximately eighteen months, the result was TITEX. We have had a quite a bit of reaction and response to the announcement of the product release, the appearance of the set, and commentary on the performance of the new barbell and plates by some of those who utilized them in their debut at “The Arnold.”

One of my lifting partners who frequents the powerlifting forums also passed on a comment that someone had “called (me) out” for writing a piece that was “too commercial in nature.” Allow me to say “guilty as charged” with an explanation. For those who have read the TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS series of columns since their inception seventy-nine columns ago, recall please that the series began under the banner of Eleiko. Pete Alaniz had worked very hard to become “the” distributor of Eleiko powerlifting products in the United States, had established a nationwide distribution system that utilized his Corpus Christi importation and transportation networks, and was in fact granted the rights to proceed. It was, despite what will no doubt be their “outrage” and denials, Eleiko’s proposition to include the sales and distribution of the Eleiko Olympic weightlifting products also as they expressed dissatisfaction with their existing United States network. This was not Pete’s idea or the intent of TITAN, it was Eleiko’s and Pete responded in the most professional manner while trying to be fair to everyone involved. Part of my job and the intent of the columns as I chose to write them, was to spread the word that TITAN would handle the Eleiko products. Thus, “yes,” there was, woven into the extensive history of powerlifting, equipment evolution, and personal journey, a push to give exposure to the TITAN-Eleiko connection. For TITEX, absolutely I want to get the word out!


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Regarding Eleiko, Pete remains too much of a gentleman and polished individual to utilize the language I would, but the summary can be stated that Pete was screwed over and instead of moaning about it, decided to produce his own barbell set specifically designed for powerlifting and one that could be certified by the major organizations. This ushers us into a list of questions that I have fielded since the posting of last month’s column. The two most frequently asked questions were “Why TITEX instead of TITAN?” and “Why get certified?”  I have at times described myself as a street guy with a very good education. As a former educator, coach, and school administrator dating to 1969, I was already made acutely aware that the level of basic, common sense, and broad ranging education offered by public schools was poor and lacking relative to what I had experienced only a decade before. Much of the dumbing down came from the debilitating influence of a very definite and strong liberal flavor given to the curriculum by those in charge who believed that the “new, hip, modern” alteration in the culture as personified by the “do your own thing” attitudes needed to be incorporated into the school experience. As the general level of common sense, emphasis on the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, and fundamentals related to living in a courteous, considerate, and compassionate manner have further eroded within the boundaries of the educational system, it is accepted that our current generations cannot compare to former ones when it comes to having a wide base of general knowledge, history, “everyday math” (with computations made within one’s head or manually as opposed to the use of a calculator , computerized cash register, or cell phone app), and what used to be called Civics which provided a blueprint on how to live successfully within one’s community. I received an excellent public school education but none of it was relevant to trademark and copyright law.


The legal system is often counterintuitive to the application of common sense. “Well, it’s the law” is a very frequently utilized explanation to a lot of questionable situations but all too often it is often counterintuitive to everything that seems to be “right.” TITEX was a result of a foreign country having a barbell product that was using the name “Titan.” Relative to the powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, and general fitness industry, the “other Titan” is hardly known and certainly unknown in the competitive arena. Common sense would dictate that the name, owned and used by TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEM with all of their products connected to and associated with the TITAN name since 1980, would be allowed use of the name for a specific powerlifting competition and training product. This is where common sense is trumped by “legal” and because the Titan name for a specific barbell product was “already taken,” an alternate was needed. That was left to the Creative Department which of course consists of Mr. and Mrs. Alaniz! The original TITAN displaying molds had to be scrapped but TITAN + TEXAS = TITEX made a lot of sense and the bottom line is that it did not alter the quality of the product.


Another area of comment, and one that all of us at TITAN were most gratified to hear, was the overwhelming approval of the appearance of the barbell and TITEX plates. An additional comment I made in our last column was “In use, on a moving bar, this is just a very cool set!” Up close and personal, the set looks terrific. Many give no thought and put absolutely no energy into thinking about the appearance of their plates. If they need to squat 352 x 5, they want to be able to load 352 pounds onto the bar and just go, with the desired and planned upon level of resistance to exercise or compete with. Allow me to interject that I have some very old equipment and some very odd equipment. In the early 1980’s, MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT Magazine requested that I provide a few years’ worth of articles and all were related to training hard and intensely. Almost every one of those articles was illustrated with photos taken by my wife Kathy and all featured our children, our group of trainees, and/or our training partners. It was perhaps the first inkling and first illustration of much of the “odd lift” type of equipment we had been using for many years both in our family’s training and what we applied to the training of our clients and patients. Sewer covers, I-beam sections, classic globe lead-shot loaded barbells, thick handled barbells and dumbbells, and my original-training-equipment flywheels and truck gears used as plates were routinely featured.


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The author’s garage has always been the center for lifting activity in the community, especially among the powerlifters and “football guys.” In a dated photo, former CFL and St. John’s University standout Ken Cobb deadlifts a “tire bar.” Fashion and style never mattered, it’s always been about the equipment and actually lifting it


The equipment was “cool” to some, “crazy” to others, and even inconsequential to a few. For me, I wanted equipment we could utilize to become muscularly larger and stronger and all of it was. I also wanted to enjoy my training and utilizing the odd-ball equipment, knowing I was lifting on a “really good” bar, and pushing and pulling on resistance that I was confident weighed accurately made my training more enjoyable and exciting. At the same time, and unlike many, I never cared what I was wearing while I was training as long as I could in fact train without restriction from the clothing. Some have to wear their “lucky” tee shirt or insure that the shorts and sweatshirt match in color or emblazoned logo while others can only squat in “this one pair of squat shoes.” I have trained in sweats, jeans, overalls, shorts, hooded sweatshirts in warm weather, and two or three tee shirts and an “everyday jacket” if that was all I had at the moment. My equipment however, was viewed with more concern, not only for the sake of safety but also, based upon what I “just liked.” Thus, I often painted my 45 pound or 20 kilo plates to mimic a specific national or world championship meet, or to utilize a color I was temporarily attracted to or thought would look great on a barbell.


The unique “stripe” pattern of the TITEX plates provides something different, and to me, something exciting and enjoyable to train with. It also allows powerlifters to know that this is “their product,” one provided by a “powerlifting company.” Pete, myself, and all of the others, some at the level of Brad Gillingham (with Brad pretty much in a class by himself,thus allow me to restate that as “some who lift at a very high level”), and the engineers involved know what works and what powerlifting performance should be and one glance at a distance allows identification of the TITEX product.


The other major question among lifters was “Why get certified?” and does it affect pricing or compromise of the development, or actual manufacturing of the product? The answer is “No” to both questions and the explanation will come in our next column.