Would The Greats Of Yesterday Have Worn Today's Gear?
At Go Heavy, Ron Fernando offers his historical perspective regarding whether powerlifters from previous eras would have used the gear available today had it been available to them.
Is Fernando correct? What arguments can be made that suggest those lifters wouldn't have used today's gear?
Let me tell you from a veteran's point of view how some of us see things today. Back " in the day" we didn't have the Internet, Elite Fitness, Metal, Titan, Inzer or anyone else to improve our lifting. We had things like Walgreen's, Sally's Beauty Shoppe( Ill explain this one in a moment) and the local Levi's shop. Truth be know, in 1977, every lifter out there wanted to improve his total by any means possible. For some that meant a trip to your friendly doctor for a prescription ( yes, very legal then) Others simply experimented with the uniform of the day( singlet, knee and wrist wraps plus belt) to make said accouterments tighter and more supportive. Still others did both. Now as far as the equipment, some of us would buy Levi 501's (with the button fly), cut them off- and wear a pair or two under under singlet in training and at the meet ( if we thought we could get away with it. )The jean shorts added maybe 20-40 lbs at the most but it was worth it. Others had a singlet manufactured by a local seamstress not to look like the normal wrestler's singlet with a lot of open spaces but one that covered as much of the body as the rules would allow but made about five sizes too tight. If you could get in and it didn't blow- you have yourself an ancient version of an early squat suit. Wraps were a joke- Ace bandages ere flimsy and unreliable, and could only hold so much tension, so some of us would go to Sally's Beauty Shoppe ( in Tucson) on the east side and buy the elastic that you used on curtains in large rolls. We then cut it to the required length and voila! A real knee wrap! Point of all of this is that equipment and the desire to use equipment to better improvement in lifting has always been around since the "Bedsheet Nationals" in 1968 where folks literally wrapped themselves like the proverbial mummy with real bedsheets under their gear. Do you think that if we all had access to a Double Ply Velcro attached suit we wouldn't have used it? Hell yes ,we would have and with glee! So, any sour grapes coming from guys of the 70's and 80's should be taken with a grain of salt- ie a wee spot of jealousy. I would love to turn the clock back to when I was 28 and at my peak and throw on a double ply suit- but I cant- I can only speculate. That doesn't make the lifts of yesteryear any better or worse, nor does equipment cheapen any of the lifts of today. Two different eras. Think about this- how fast would Jesse Owens run the 100 meters in a $200 pair of sprint shoes on a all weather surface AND using modern training? Who knows? His records though long broken still deserve a tremendous amount of respect and glory- just as the guys and gals who put up some big numbers in powerlifting sans gear ( or sans real gear as we know it) deserve the same sort of respect. The equipment guys deserve to make a living and yes- get rich if the can. This is the American way. I cannot tell you how many times they have come to the aid of lifters that I have coached and trained for equipment and yes even hard cash to help with travel expenses. So Dr. Judd, please leave them alone- we all know that if you had the gear back when you did your 603 squat at 132 you would have used them. All of us would have. It's not a moral issue but a fact of life.The only thing if any that veteran lifters like myself object to of the modern era is not the equipment but but some of the sorry excuses for lifts being passed by the head cheerleader- er.. head judge - mile high squats- unlocked benches- etc, and that these shitty lifts ( again irrespective of equipment) wind up on the cover of a magazine. To use the Track and Field Analogy again it would be like some guy using a new type of shoe claims a shocking world record in the 100- only he runs 90 meters!