elitefts™ Sunday Edition

So you say you have a world record. What federation was it in? In what class was it done? How much weight was it? Is that number even in the overall top 100 for your weight class? Would you brag about this world record in a room full of top lifters...or only in a room of people who know very little about powerlifting? So, is that really a world record or just a fancy title covering up mediocrity?

With so many federations and different classes in existence, it seems as if the opportunity for people to grab onto false titles is running rampant. There are so many world champions and world record holders out there that it's ridiculous. To make matters worse, so many of these people have no business claiming these titles. In my opinion, it is an insult to themselves, not to mention an insult to the real world record holders and champions out there. Personally, I have trouble comprehending why people would even want these false titles or why they would make these false claims. Do they want to set themselves apart from their average life but are not willing to do the work? Are they not willing to suffer or bust their asses? Are they not willing to put forth the sweat, blood, agony, and pain that it takes to set themselves apart from the normal population? They make themselves false gods to followers who don't have the intelligence to see that they are full of shit!

During my years in powerlifting, I have seen a lot of things that just make my eyes roll. I have seen lifters dog meets with smaller numbers than they are capable of in order to stay in lower classes (such as a class-I rated lifter). Why? Well, they do it so that they can keep training to get stronger and are able to break the class-I records. I have also seen guys get "WORLD CHAMPION" tattoos after winning small meets...with no real competition. I am talking about guys who barely make it into the top 100 (or not even at all). Sure, they technically won a world championship, but where is the pride when it's a small federation and you competed against two guys?

Plus, they couldn't even qualify for a real world championship. I have seen guys try to stay in or change weight classes based on how many people are in the weight classes—assuring themselves a trophy as long as they don't bomb out. I have seen others look up federation records in order to find one where they can get the record. I have also seen people tell their employers of their great titles and even call newspapers or news shows. This type of thinking is completely beyond me, and I wonder how they convince themselves that what they have done is really something impressive. Maybe if they would focus that energy toward their lifting, they would really do something impressive.

What really pisses me off, however, is when these people use these false titles to deceive others. This can simply be walking around like they have done something great and trying to appear better than others. In my mind this just makes them a douche! Most of the truly strong people I know never walk around and brag about their accomplishments. They know what they have done and don't need to advertise it in that way. If they do talk about it, it is usually because people ask them or they are just trying to promote themselves and the sport.

Plus, being bigger or stronger doesn't make you better than anyone else, it just means that you're bigger and stronger. It sets you apart, yes, but it certainly doesn't make you better than anyone else. Even worse is when I see people, like some trainers, use these so called "titles" to make others believe that they know what they are doing. If these people knew what they were doing, then they would have real titles. Their egos and low self esteem could end up hurting people because, in most cases, they know little about lifting or lifting technique. If people do fall for this, hopefully they will be able to quickly see this person's true colors.

This deceptive and arrogant type of mentality will never set you up to achieve something worthwhile. It cannot only be about getting a title or a world record, it has to be something deeper. Really, what is the use of a title or world record that you know in your heart is shit? I always looked up to the best of the best, and that is who I want to be. Sure, I wanted to get world records and world championships—who wouldn't? I wasn't going to take a short cut or brag about some bullshit title to get there though. As powerlifters, we sometimes have to make sacrifices and choices—we have to compete in meets that are close home or financial affordable. Unfortunately, this means that we sometimes win competitions that really aren't such a big deal. That, however, doesn't mean that you get to go brag about it and act like you're the shit. Those meets are just stepping stones toward becoming a lifter to be proud of. I would even say that some of the first world records I broke were not that impressive.

Yet, by the time I was done with them, I think they were. I took the time to give myself small goals, but I always kept a distant eye out for the bigger goals I had. Always looking to the top dogs kept me grounding in the things that I had really accomplished. I was always proud of the things that I did—like my first 900-pound squat or 700-pound bench. However, I also knew that there were guys who were doing a lot more than me, so I kept it all in check. When I was breaking amateur world records, I was proud. Still to this day, I am proud of my drug-free world record squats of over a 1,000 pounds and totaling over 2,400 pounds. At the time, though, the pro guys were totaling a lot more, so I knew my place. Those where the top guys. They were the ones I wanted to compete against. I wasn't going to rest on my world championships or my record because I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish. It sure as shit wasn't about just claiming to be a world record holder or a world champion...especially if those where bullshit titles.

I am sure there will be people out there reading this who will get their feelings hurt, so I will clarify and say that I am not against some of the different world records or classes. I think that if it's looked upon correctly—if it is looked upon as a stepping stone, then it is a great way to give lifters something to shoot for. I think class-I type records are a good way to motivate lifters. I just wish they would realistically remember what they achieved. Is it really so hard to say, "I hold the class-I world record," instead of puffing up and saying that you're a world record holder? Isn't that enough in itself to be proud of? You're probably in class-I because you're a beginner in the sport and you have done well as a beginner. Be proud of that, but at the same time realize what a class-I record is. Then keep pushing and move on to bigger and better records. The same thing for age group classes. If you're younger or older, I think it's awesome that you're out there competing and pushing yourself. I think it's awesome that you're breaking records. Again though, is it so hard to say, "I am the 60- to 65-year-old world record holder?" Shit, in some ways that is even more impressive than the open world records.

For me, if someone says, "I am a world record holder," then that means open class. Even then, I think you should be saying that you're the so-and-so federation world record holder. I think this goes for championships, too. In what federation is your championship? Would you readily say that information if you were really proud of your accomplishment? I held the WPO world record bench press in a full meet. When people would ask if I had a world record or how good I was, I would express that I held a record in a full meet. I am proud of that record, but I don't want to take anything away from the bench-only guys or the feats that they have accomplished. I didn't have the WPO bench press world record; I had the WPO full meet bench press world record.

One of the big problems with all of this is that there are so many federations—and more and more of them are popping up all the time. Anyone who has been around powerlifting for a long time knows that it has always been this way, and it probably always will. There is not a lot we can do about it because there will always be people bitching, complaining, and willing to start their own deal. It's like the trolls on the forums—they will always be there. It was because of this that I really put most of my focus into the Top 100 list and the All-Time lists.

There are always going to be different factors at meets and in federations—different judging, different gear, drug-free, non-tested, different weigh-in times, and so forth. But the All-Time numbers don't lie. If you make the All-Time Top 20 at any time, then you were pretty damn good regardless of all the differences. The championships or records are great, but I was more about the All-Time lists and highest numbers ever. I was more about what I was capable of and how far I could push myself. I didn't rely on titles or records to make me proud.

It all comes down to being proud of yourself and what you have accomplished. Did you push yourself as hard as you could? Did you learn as much as you could possibly fit into your head? Did you train intelligently and utilize all your assets in order to do the best that you could? If you did, then be proud of it. You don't have to hype it up or make it seem more impressive than it is.

One of the greatest things about lifting is that most lifters have gone through the same things. I have never seen lifters look down on someone at a competition for not lifting enough. Yet, I have seen guys receive congratulations for improving even though they didn't lift very much. If you have big life responsibilities and you're 47 years old, be proud of that. If you break a world record in some federation and someone asks how good you are, then tell them, "I broke the 45- to 50-year-old (or whatever class it is or masters) world record in so-and-so federation." Say that with pride because it deserves it.

You don't have to try and come off like you're the absolute best in the world. I am not the best in the world, and I have yet to put up the All-Time total. However, I am still damn proud of what I have accomplished. I am proud to have made the All-Time Top 25 in History for the squat, bench, and total. I am proud of all my records and titles. At the same time, I will not claim to be the best in the world. If you want to be better or considered better, then get your ass out there and get working on it. And while you're working at it, always have pride in yourself and your accomplishments. We all start somewhere and we all have our story. Be proud enough of yours to tell it just the way it is.