This year has been challenging for me with my training for a couple reasons. One has been working around injuries and worn out body parts but the main reason is I have been trying to learn how to lift in gear.

Unless you are a powerlifter and have been around the circuit a bit you probably have no clue what I'm talking about. What is gear you ask?  Let's see, briefs, squat suits, deadlift suits, bench shirts. Even if you have watched geared lifting or are familiar with the terms, if you have never tried it you definately should not be knocking it.


I hear the words so often, oh they are cheating they are using gear (equipment). Well no, it would be cheating if a geared lifter was competing against a raw lifter but equipped against equipped is nothing but fair and at the end of the day, the best man/woman wins.

I've also heard people say well I can squat 4 plates raw so I should be able to throw on one of those suits and squat 8 plates easy right?

The first mistake from that comment is geared lifting is NOT easy.  It has to be one of the most challenging sports I have ever tried and I'm just starting to  learn how to use it.

Putting on equipment that is tight is not fun. It's like trying to squeeze into your blue jeans from high school when the zipper is 4 inches apart and you know your not gonna get your fat ass in them but you try anyway. You lay on the bed and suck in your gut. You jump up and down hoping all that excess fat moves somewhere else so you can just get those jeans done up and say hey, look at me I'm wearing my jeans from high school, now that would be progress.

Lifting in gear down right hurts. You get bruising on your triceps, hips, legs and god knows where else.  Just getting your gear on is a comedy show in itself. You can't usually do it alone if it's tight enough, sometimes you have to hang from the monolift just trying to squeeze every last inch up to your crotch. As for bench shirts, well imagine the pressure of a blood pressure cuff at it's maximum. Multiply that times about 30 until your hands and fingers go numb and your shirt just might be tight enough.

Let's talk about head pressure for a minute. Imagine you have overloaded your CNS so much that your head feels like it's going to explode.  Maybe pop a few blood vessels in your eyes, get a nose bleed or have your face covered in petechial hemorrhage rash. Oh ya baby, now that's a lot of trauma to your body, fun wow.


Whatever you do, don't pass out at the bottom of a squat because the pressure is so intense your head feels like it's going to explode.  When that bench press touches your chest and you feel like the jolly green giant just stomped on your chest making it feel like your brain is going to squeeze out your ears, oh what fun.

I asked a couple of our Outlaw team members what geared lifting means to them, here are their answers:

Ken Whetham

“Geared lifting is an extreme sport that requires a much different level of skill to become proficient in all three lifts.  Unless you’ve tried lifting in gear, you won’t have any appreciation for how demanding it is on your body and your CNS.  It’s turning your body into a Top Fuel dragster VS a Super Comp dragster.  Even though both cars drive down the ¼ mile, Top Fuel is much more extreme!  Pushing your body to the fine line of success or failure on every lift.  It’s much different lifting in gear vs lifting raw. Most people don't have the patience or drive to try lifting in gear".


Jamie Don

“A common misconception with “gear”, is that it automatically makes you stronger.  You actually have to be more athletic to train in gear.  The pressures and skill required to adjust to the new movement patterns are not for the faint of heart.  Remember that everything above and below the gear is still handing the load, so if you are wearing a squat suit, your legs, upper back and shoulder must still be able to handle the heavy load.  On the positive side, gear is a lot of fun.  Once you learn how to us it, and it really is a different sport.   It can increase your longevity in the sport by giving you tons of protection in your joints that normally would take a pounding”.


Matt Brass

To me. There are two extremes to equipped lifting. On one side there is the HARDCORE. The motto is simple. Lift as much weight by any means necessary!!! These guys and gals love 3m knee wraps, canvas, ammonia, and as many plies they can get their hands on. On the other side you have the tinkerers. These people, if not lifting would be building something, fixing something, creating something. For them it's more about learning the equipment, the struggle of finding the right groove, size, and material, the quest to put it all together into the perfect moment. The best lifters have a little bit of both and I've been fortunate enough to learn from and train with lifters on each end of the spectrum. I do love lifting heavy, but it's the quest for the perfect lift that I enjoy, I find nothing more enjoyable about my lifting than that last struggle to make a bench that shouldn't touch, touch perfectly."


So why do we do it you ask? Well, because it's a god damn challenge that's why. It's obsurd, different, empowering, enlightening, extreme and down right crazy, or so I've been told.

My best raw squat was 380 lbs at the Worlds Nov 2016.  This is my squat opener for my meet in less than 2 weeks, 436 lbs with a single ply suit. This gives you an idea what it has done for my numbers in a short period of time.

I can honestly say it has been an eye opener for sure these past few months learning how to lift in gear. I have much more respect than I had before, and trust me I had lots of respect just being around the lifters and handling Ken at his meets. I have so much more to learn and give back to the sport. I don't know where I will go after this next meet but for now I'm just a 55 year old Grandma taking single ply for a ride.

#singleply #teamoutlaw #teamelitefts