Has Powerlifting Turned Negative?

TAGS: politics, powerlifting USA, powerlifting, dave tate

elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Below something I was asked to post in my log by several elitefts™ team members. This is an email I sent to them late Wednesday night...

From: Dave Tate
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 00:29:49 -0400
Subject: Has Powerlifting Turned Negative?
To: Team elitefts™ Powerlifters

To Team elitefts™ Powerlifters,

Over the past few days I have received close to a dozen emails asking about or informing me of all the negative stuff that "seems" to be surrounding the sport of powerlifting. I have written the same reply in several different ways over the past few days. Today, I went and looked to see what all this negative stuff really was so I could see how bad it actually was.

Twice today I was asked about a couple of the items and twice more I sent replies — each saying close to the same thing.

I decided I would clean these emails up and create one that I would send to anyone else who emails me.  Then I figured, why not just be proactive and send this to you all, because I REALLY think people are missing the big picture and would like to share what that means to me with you.

As always, thank you all for what you do for elitefts.com, your team and myself.

Dave Tate


Go with wise men and be wise: but he who keeps company with the foolish will be broken.
Proverbs 13:20

Follow me, this Proverbs quote does have meaning here. It's all "a matter of perspective"

When I tell people that I think the sport today is BETTER than it has ever been in the entire history of the Iron Game, they look at me like I am insane...but I honestly believe it's true. Nothing you see today, in the negative tone, didn't also exist years ago. The difference is the speed of communication. I can remember a gym conversation back in '84 in which lifters told me a lift that was high at a meet. This lift had been at a meet the weekend earlier and the news came from a phone call, but in my gym the lift was high as a kite! Or a lift would be in PowerliftingUSA and showed the lifter's squat high (in a picture) and BAM! it was "skyscraper high". The meet director was giving away gifts! The worst was when the meet write-up in PLUSA stated the judging wasn't good and the guy who did the write-up was at the pool all day flirting with all the lifter's girlfriends, and had never even seeing the squats.

So, it was all the same crap you see today, but just delivered through a different means of communication. It was much slower, but the same. An interesting point here (due to slower speed of communication) was that the news lasted longer. That high lift in the picture was high until the next month's PLUSA came out... and you got to see the next high squat.

If the write-up said your squat was a tad high… well, you were a high squatter until your next meet was reported and had to hope it said that your squats were good. Most of the time there wasn't a follow-up saying your squats were good, so you were listed in the "high squat club" for life. Today, the high squats will be completely forgotten within two to three days.

Here are a few other things from "the PRIME years of powerlifting" that I remembered and confirmed when one of my old training partners stopped out a few weeks back and with Ed Coan and Steve Goggins at this last last seminar (we actually did a video interview on this very topic that will post soon):

1. The one federation politics were brutal. People would qualify for Worlds and then travel, only to be told they can't lift for some dumbass rule that had just been made up. The judging was also very inconsistent and favoritism ran rampant. While all the same things exist today, the lifters have a choice. Before you didn't, and if you were not on the A-list, you were fucked. There are many stories that I could share, but another key point to keep in mind is, unless you knew the parties involved, ALL the information was filtered through PLUSA or the select few people who spoke for the sport (authors in PLUSA, federation committee members, and just people in-the-know). Meaning, the bad shit had to be FAR worse and I am sure we didn't hear about the majority of the shit that was going on. There are many people out there right now who are reading this nodding their heads because it wasn't what people think it was (those of you who were not even born yet). There is a reason why other federations were born. Actually, not A reason, but MANY reasons.

2. The camaraderie was okay, but not great. You knew some guys because you were in the same meets, but you were also competing against them, so you never really hung out at all. As a beginner or amateur lifter, unless you had big balls you never spoke to a big name lifter and, if you did, for the most part, they would blow you off. I was blown off by a shitload of them, but there were standouts like Louie, Bob Wahl, John Black, Ed Coan, Steve Goggins, John Florio and a few others who did help me out. But there were ten times as many that were assholes to you unless you were at their level. They were also rarely seen, unless you went to a National meet or they happened to be qualifying in the state meet you were in. At the same time, they were intimating as hell. THESE were the guys in PLUSA! All you knew about them was what you saw in the mags (pictures and numbers) and what you saw on meet day.

3. NOBODY shared shit for training advice. All we had was PLUSA and most of those programs were made up by the writers for the magazine and not what the guys were really doing. Or, if the guys did send it into PLUSA, they just made some shit up so they could get the exposure in the mag. They did not share how they trained. This was like a cardinal sin. It just didn't happen because they didn't want their competition to know and then beat them.

This is not shit I'm just making up because, like so many readers online, I was a beginner at the time and this is what I saw (the perception of a beginner). I wonder if this is the same perception beginners have today? Keep reading...


1. Lifters know meet results AS THEY HAPPEN. We used to have to wait four to six weeks to see meet results. Now, if the lifter is not posting them on Facebook as soon as their wraps are removed, someone in the audience probably is uploading the video.

2. Lifters know and can access the best lifters in the world no matter WHO you are — and the majority will respond in kind. They have been "humanized" by being online. They are seen as "real people" and not superhuman beings that you only see on meet days and in the magazines. They are just like everybody else, just stronger and wiser about their training.

They are also willing to help!

3.The camaraderie is WAY better than it has ever been. Think of how many top lifters you know, email or hang out with. When you go to a meet, you know almost everyone and everyone gets along (key point) AT THE MEETS, where it REALLY MATTERS, everyone gets along great, regardless if they compete raw, classic raw, single-play, or multi-ply; whether they are in the tested or untested division, and no matter what training style they adhere to. This is because the ones who create the most noise are so few and/or do not compete. This is not to say there are still not assholes at meets and egos that are out of control but, if they stay with it, those egos will fade. The weights eventually will humble everyone.

3. The level of training knowledge and information is insane right now.There is so much of it that it can be argued that there is too much. I think it's better to have too much than not any at all (or just made-up BS). With very little money and/or effort, you can find great training information, programs and advice that can help a beginner all the way up to the most advanced lifters. In many cases, you can have advanced lifters (or just friends in the sport) look at a video of your lifts and tell you what you are doing wrong — and have all this done in less than one hour. I used to have to drive two hours to have someone look and help me with technique. So technical advice today can be gained for free within minutes, while when I was coming up it took an entire day to get the same advice (assuming you knew the right people and were within a couple hours driving distance).

4. There are also WAY more lifters than ever before. There were some years that PLUSAcouldn't run 100 lifters deep in the top 100 and the women were always hard-pressed to fill a top 20 list. There are now top 100 lists for raw, multi-ply and single-ply. Meets are now within driving distance for almost any beginner — multiple times per year. I was lucky to come up in Ohio where the sport has always been popular. This wasn't the case with many other states.

Today, there are more lifters who have greater access to training info and top lifters than ever before. They ALL get along at meets GREAT with better camaraderie than ever before and, to be dead honest, maybe better than any other sport in the world! The ease-of-entry to the sport has also never been better. Finally, you know how your friends are doing in their meets while the meet is going on. When you step back and look at the forest instead of the trees, the sport is bigger and better than it has ever been in the entire history of the iron game!

What I am trying to say is step back and look at all the GREAT things there are in the sport. They are ALL right there in front of you. For many, I think they are so close to them, they can't see it. Maybe it's just being taken for granted because they think it's just the way it's always been.

Well… it hasn't.

There will always be critics, negative BS, and those who want to toss others under the bus. This is part of sport, business and life and human nature in general. I choose not to be a part of it. This is why I will not watch the news on TV, and rarely read my newsfeed or forums. I only visit sites that will help me or elitefts™ become better. I honestly do not have the time to waste with stupid shit I have no control over anyhow. I'd rather spend my time making sure elitefts™ is living up to the vision we've (YOU) have all worked so hard to establish. You have built a team known for it's strength and for helping others and passing on. This has been done through your lifting but more importantly through your Character, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Teamwork.

I know that most of you don't even read the negative crap anymore and are now wondering what the hell this is all about (no need to look), but I felt compelled to send this anyway because there is another side of this entire e-mail. That is, when I do get e-mails about this stuff I always know it's never one of you who started it because you are better than that. You know it's better to spend the time helping others than tearing them down.

This makes me proud to have you all representing elitefts™!

Dave Tate
Founder Elitefts.com Inc.

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