I hear and read all the crap about raw vs. geared lifting, drugs vs. no drugs, and monolift vs. squat stands in powerlifting. I have a very strong opinion on this situation: quit making it a situation!

For the love of God, we are all lifters. Raw guys, quit acting like you do something different than the guys using gear. Gear whores, take the shit off and train! I mean, really. I’ve seen guys struggle to bench 315 or even squat 315, then put their gear on and bench or squat 800. That would have been like me only squatting 425 raw when I squatted 1160 geared — and I was around an 850 raw squat back then.

Hell, after both hips being replaced and being retired, I can still squat near 800 with a little training right now. Whether you are raw or geared, you should approach training the same. The only difference between the two is foot or hand positioning. If I am squatting raw, I bring my feet in a little to get a bit more quad and leg drive into the lift. If I am in gear, I go as wide as I can to shorten the stroke as much as possible and use the gear to its fullest potential. Same with the bench: If in gear, I get my hands as wide as legally possible and if I am raw I bring them in just a bit to utilize more triceps.

RELATED: Is There Really A Difference Between Raw and Geared Lifting?

The width also depends on the amount of gear and how tight it is. Obviously single-ply gear does not support as much as multi-ply, even though the single-ply gear is getting pretty damn amazing. Therefore, single-ply would be a little narrower for me than multi-ply, but wider than raw.

Swede Matt

My approach on training is exactly the same. I don’t train any differently now without gear and both hips replaced than I did when I was competing in multi-ply. Strong is strong. We train to improve. We train to build strength. As for drugs, do what you are comfortable with but don’t criticize the other side because they differ from you. Drug-free guys, you have the drug-free divisions, and those that choose the other have the open division.

All you assholes want to bitch about level playing fields. Well, it's level as long as the drug-free guys stay in the drug-free class and the users stay in the open class. The only time it is not level is when the lying asshole that is jacked to the hilt enters a drug-free competition and represents himself as a drug-free athlete. Other than that, it's fair game. If you are drug-free and you enter an open meet, not tested, don’t bitch because I’m jacked and I kick your ass.

Last is the monolift or walkout. For all you that want to keep powerlifting from keeping up with modern advancements, let’s think about this. If you think the monolift is cheating and that it shows strength to walk it out like the old days, then let’s do it up just like the old days: two-hour weigh-ins, round robin tournaments, walk-outs, no hand-outs, no gear.

So what is a competitive lifter? What separates us from all others?

Integrity. Being a competitive lifter means that you expect to not be like the dipshit in the gym who loads the bar with all that it can hold, does a butt wiggle with it, and calls it a squat. We all have seen numerous YouTube videos of the dumbasses that load the bar and don’t even get low enough to call it a quarter squat. Being competitive means you put yourself in front of your peers to be judged on the integrity of your lifting and validate your ability.

Desire. Being a competitive lifter means stepping out of your comfort zone and aspiring to be something more than the strong guy in your neighborhood gym. It means first working to reach the top at the local level, then state, and working toward reaching the top of the national and world levels. Desire to not be average.

Dedication. Being a competitor means you know PRs aren't just given to you. They have to be earned. You know that you get out of it what you put into it. No one can give you a 500-pound bench. You can’t inherit it. You can’t buy it. The only way you can reach it is to bust your freakin' ass. And once you get there, no one can take credit for it but you.