I have competed in powerlifting for 20 years now. My first meet was in September 1996. Yes, I have always competed using gear, but from day one of competition I always knew what my goals were: to be the best I could be. I guess that is why I fit in at Westside. I had the same outlook on lifting as many of the others at Westside did. First was to get my elite total. Second was to try to be number one or as high up as possible in the top 100 in my weight class. Third was to try for a world record.

What is Elite?

First, what is elite? As seen by the chart, these are the true original USPF elite lifter qualifications.

elite standards

If you want to be elite, this is what you need to set as your goals. In a time where people are turning into pussies and we give fucking participation awards because everyone is a fucking winner now, we have turned into bitches. We get pissed and started new federations. Federations have caved to lower the standards so that everyone wants to lift in that federation so they can be elite. I get pissed when I hear some goofball talking about his elite total and he only totals 1800 in the SHW.

"Well, I’m raw!"

Bullshit! You are not elite until your ass totals 2033, regardless if you are raw or not. Looking back, Don Reinhoudt totaled 2391 with no supportive gear and in the IPF. To lower the standards for elite is a slap in the face to those such as Don.

I competed in the SHW class. I have totaled 2673. No way do I ever consider myself close to being in the same category as Don Reinhoudt. Without gear my best, even though I never actually entered a competition without gear, was an 850-pound squat, 550-pound bench, and 800-pound deadlift. At best I would have had a 2200 total. I can say I legitimately had an elite total (over 2033), as well as a pro geared total (over 2500).

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My advice is to focus on yourself. Each time you compete, focus on PR’s. If you break your PR’s each meet eventually you will reach that elite total. Powerlifting is not a race. Too many young lifters I see start in powerlifting and immediately want trophies and recognition. You don’t go to college for one semester and expect a degree, do you? It takes time and hard work and dedication. You must pay your dues just like those before you. So if you're hoping to call yourself elite, now you know what the true level is.

What is the Top 100?

The second goal was to be number one or as high up as possible in the top 100 in my weight class. Things are a bit different today than in the past. We used to have the Powerlifting USA top 100; each month had a different weight class and the current standings for the top 100 in that class. When at Westside we would go to meets and most of us wouldn’t even collect trophies. We were there to post a total and to try to move up that top 100 list. Powerlifting USA is no longer in publication so the new source of current rank is Powerlifting Watch (I guess — to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you anymore). Also, back then there wasn’t a separation or distinction as there is today with raw versus gear. Powerlifting was powerlifting and you did what was needed to get stronger. The only separation between classes was open or drug-free, and even that separation didn't matter for the top 100. For the top 100, everyone was together.

Trying for a World Record

The third goal was trying for a world record. We did not recognize so-called world records that each federation had. Westside only knew one world record and that was the all-time world record. Even today that has gotten diluted. In the years when I started, you went to state and local meets to reach the elite status to be able to go to the Senior Nationals. If I remember correctly, as I was never a world record lifter, you could only break world records at national or international meets and at least two judges had to be of international qualification to judge the lift for it to be considered a world record.

So when you look to set your goals, don’t short yourself or cheat those who came before you. They made no excuses. They worked their asses off to get their elite total or world record. So should you. We should not lower our standards to make it easier for you to achieve. You should work harder to get what is needed.