I like to believe that the powerlifters who take the time to scroll through the TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEM site are a “step above” the typical lifter, with at least some appreciation of the sport’s history. I have been consistent, strident, and unwavering in my belief that knowing the history of the activity enhances all aspects of it. If there was a “Number One, Number Two, and Number Three” order to the lifting sports inclusive of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding, the application to athletics would have been in the above stated order through the 1960s and ‘70s with the understanding that weight training in any form should not be done at all, prior to the early 1960s. By the early 1980s, the order would have changed with powerlifting nudging its way to the top of the heap, primarily because a greater number of powerlifters were involved as strength coaches. Bodybuilding was always seen by coaches and most athletes as not providing the benefits as applied to athletics, that the two “real lifting sports” would. Of course if one were to examine the lifting portions of any major university or professional sports team’s preparation program, one would be hard pressed in most cases to figure out where the emphasis was or which of the lifting sports held more of an influence.
Although most of my own training was done in the garage or basement or our home, in the basement of a few training partners, or even in the backyard, which would have made more sense if I was turning the soil over for planting purposes, this series has indicated the wanderings to warehouses, storefront gyms, and the very few “professional” or well equipped for the day facilities in order to both gather viable training information, train with more advanced men, or enjoy workouts that provided “something different” or an
emotional shot in the arm due to the unfamiliar atmosphere. As far back as 1963 I recall men at the Jaycox brothers’, later to be owned by Tony Pandolfo, Valley Stream, N.Y. small storefront facility making the statement that they “were lifters.” Anyone who was “a lifter” would have been an Olympic weightlifter or someone who competed in the various odd lift contests our area held at the different YMCAs or at other storefront gyms with a definite emphasis on “our guys versus your guys” format. Some used the term “powerlifter” to describe what it was they did but that designation meant a lot less prior to 1964 when the sport was actually given a recognized, formal level of organization.
Of course, at all of the local Y’s, there were also men who engaged in the performance of the overhead press, snatch, and clean and jerk who called themselves “Olympic lifters” yet never entered a contest nor did they have the ability to do so. As powerlifting became more popular, it became more frequent to see “powerlifters” in the gyms or having those who did a lot of bench pressing in their home facilities describe themselves as a “powerlifter.” I can recall men who rarely squatted, never deadlifted, but bench pressed in the area of 300 pounds always provide the badge of “powerlifter” when the uninformed asked “Do you lift weights?” As more college athletes, especially football players engaged in the bench press, squat, and deadlift as but a part of their on-campus supervised training program, they would often state that “we powerlift” when giving detail regarding their actual lifting activities. To some it might be splitting hairs but powerlifting, especially to us engaged in the sport, who compete in the sport, who understand the nuances of abiding by the rules and doing everything to an accepted and “legal” standard while training or competing, powerlifting, the act of squatting, bench pressing, and/or deadlifting is a sport. Powerlifting is a sport that is separate and unique as is every other sport when compared to similar activities. It is governed and defined by very specific rules that determine if any or all of the three lifts were done correctly and if not within the sport’s clearly defined standards, it is not and was not “powerlifting.” Those that understand this also understand that there are not many powerlifters around when compared to all of those engaged in a form of weight training or strength enhancement no matter how that improved strength or physique is applied. They understand that not many relative to those who frequent commercial gyms or their home facilities actually engage in powerlifting and even those who build their regular training programs around the squat, bench press, and/or deadlift are not powerlifters.
While utilizing the three competitive powerlifts to become muscularly larger and stronger can be and usually is beneficial, performing these on a regular basis does not make one a powerlifter. Performing these lifts on a regular basis does not mean that one is “powerlifting.” It is only when one trains to specifically compete against others doing the three lifts under the circumstances of a judged standard do they earn the right to be called a powerlifter and while doing the lifts is a positive for athletes and lay individuals, this does not come close to calling upon the courage and fortitude necessary to face limit weights in an attempt to do one’s best specific to these three movements. That is powerlifting.