Posted on

HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING PART 87: AS PER SHAKESPEARE, “TO COMPETE OR NOT TO COMPETE, THAT IS THE QUESTION”

Hand in hand with making New Year’s Resolutions come other questions. Certainly, if not an “official” resolution, most individuals view January 1st of any year as a new beginning, a new start to specific endeavors or goals, and an opportunity to re-focus organization and effort. For those interested in powerlifting, and I purposely chose that description, deciding to improve one’s lifts or a specific lift, is a commonly held resolution or goal. Whether agreeing or not with the premise put forth in last month’s article as per the late Reverend Robert Zuver’s quote, everyone can improve and every lift can be improved. The related question is, “Should I compete?” For those who are already competitive powerlifters, this is a no-brainer. The logical and obvious New Year’s Resolution is to “increase my total” since that is the point of ultimate judgment in our sport. There have always been and continue to be those competitive lifters who look down upon those that “lift” but don’t compete. Even if they begrudgingly give some respect to the hard and consistent work put into the gym activity of a non-competitive trainee, many competitive lifters hold themselves above those that train but do not compete.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.03.53 AM

There are athletes like Linda Jo Belsito who love to train and compete. A fierce competitor in the gym and on the platform, she is a multi-time National and World Champion in both powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. LJ has, through many years, learned how to tap into her competitive nature in order to fulfill her highest expectations and potential. She continues to pass on her knowledge at her new gym in Maryland, a haven for serious training. Here she hoists a heavily loaded Beast Metals Beast Bell strongman dumbbell in Doc’s garage

Far too often in approximately fifty-seven years of active weight training, I’ve heard the question, “Why doesn’t that guy (or girl) compete? Their lifts are really good.” Very often a follow-up comment will include that individual’s willingness to train hard and move exceptionally heavy weights in the gym, weights that certainly would allow them to compete in an “acceptable,” respectable, “non-embarrassing” manner. Needless to add, a roundtable of fifteen noted psychiatrists or clinical psychologists would fail to reach a consensus regarding any individual’s true reasons or motivations to compete or to avoid competition. Yet despite being out-lifted by significant poundage in any of the three lifts and overall totals, there are those competitive lifters that look down upon those that do not compete in any “real” contest. Despite the disproportionate popularity of the bench press relative to the other two competitive lifts, among both competitors and trainees, there are many powerlifters, referring to those who compete in three lift contests, who slight the efforts of bench press only competitors. On this latter point, there has been debate since the inception, sanctioning, and acceptance of bench press only contests which were instituted due to “popular demand” in the 1980’s, with full contest competitors again looking at bench press only contest records as somehow inferior to those made at a full power meet.

When I began to compete the odd lift contests could and did consist of a variety of lifts, done in what could have been perceived to be a random order. When powerlifting took on the structure of a true lifting sport, the definitive and official order of the lifts was Bench Press – Squat – Deadlift. In 1973 this changed, with the squat being performed as the first lift. Recalling the conversations of the day, the belief was that performing one’s limit squat then took too much out of their best deadlift efforts when both “big lifts” followed each other. The reasoning for change, which did have some logic to it, was that allowing the major muscles of the low back, hips, and thighs to get some relief between the squat and deadlift, would make for a more “balanced” and true representation of a lifter’s capabilities. Of course this left many others complaining that handling any type of heavy squat caused their shoulders “to tighten up” prior to the bench press, thus limiting their best efforts on that lift. The majority agreed to the change in lifting order and this has defined the sport since ’73.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.04.05 AM

Tom O’Riordan took his passion for training onto the competition platform until stymied by injury. Like many, his competitive desires, a source of progress and improvement, took him to the powerlifting platform which resulted in even more progress

Even for a one-lift specialist, “Should I compete?” can cause self- debate and consternation. Some train for a while, look at You Tube or other Internet sites that show the efforts of competitive lifters on the platform or in the gym, produce thoughts of competing, but they just can’t seem to “pull the trigger” and actually enter a real, live powerlifting contest. Some make the commitment or are committed to competing but want “to wait until I can (choose one or more: win the contest; win my class; win a trophy; place in the top three in my class; place in the top five in my class; be the best in the state; set some type of record; make sure I’m not the worst one in the contest).” Needless to add, those with this attitude infrequently step forward to ever actually enter a contest, although they may spend literally years talking about their intent and training towards the goal of competing.

I wanted to write that “One of the best things about powerlifting…” but in truth, there are so many “one of the best things” that there are actually few limitations on the positive side of the ledger. Among the positive aspects of our sport are the ways in which we can mold the activity to meet our needs. The trainee can walk into the facility and compete with themselves in every workout. They can push to their limits, utilize all of the emotional and physical attributes necessary to demonstrate progress, and force themselves to add weight to the bar in any one lift or in every competition and assistance exercise. They can choose to specialize on one particular lift or group of lifts for a period of time of their own choosing. They can become stronger and muscularly larger knowing that they are successful, even if the challenge is completely internalized and they are the only arbiter of success or failure. The personal, private, and internal competition can go on for years or decades, with winning or losing determined only by the individual’s standards. For those inclined to compete with both themselves and others, there is sanctioned competition. One can choose to lift “just once, I only want to see how I do once in a real contest,” just as some runners might want to run in “just one marathon” before they are too elderly or infirm to do so. Needless to add, those who see the benefits of competition are provided with contests that allow them to push to their limits, utilize all of their organizational acumen to train as efficiently as possible, and then be courageous enough to show up on meet day and do their best when called upon to do so.

My personal belief is that the most important part of competing is being able to plan, train, and then actually do one’s best on the day his or her best is called for. Courage is involved in meeting the challenge to be prepared and then perform to one’s absolute best ability on a specific day and time. It is difficult for many to face what they deem embarrassment by falling short of the expectations of others or their own. Some just won’t risk it, content to have a good day in the gym, knowing that training partners or gym regulars know that they did well that day. The fear of failure, even if it is a highly personalized failure, is enough to keep many from the competition platform. The possibility of failure in front of family, friends, and/or training partners is an impediment that many never overcome and thus, they remain gym lifters only. Others compete knowing that some meets will prove to be more successful than others. Successful and disastrous contests give insight to possible improvement in training organization and techniques, mental preparation, weight selection, lifting attire, personal nutrition plans, weight control, and all of the “small details” that allow for maximal performance. I am of the belief that true competition encompasses both self and others, the testing of one’s ability at both the subjective and objective levels, and the “push” that comes from knowing that on a specific date, one is locked into performing at their momentary best.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.04.14 AM

Former University of Hawai’i noseguard Falaniko Noga is part of a family of athletes that are highly respected and feared in Hawaii. The St. Louis Cardinals did not move to Arizona until the conclusion of the ’87 season. Noga played linebacker for the Cardinals from 1984 through ’88, and while in St. Louis, did his off-season training with the best powerlifters in the metro area. Niko wanted to lift with the best in order to push to his personal limits. His pro football activities did not allow him to compete as a contest lifter but his competitive nature did produce an overachieving 6’, 230 pound linebacker, known for his tremendous strength  

If one trains and lifts in order to become stronger, they should want to pull out every stop in order to meet a goal that can truly never be accomplished, after all, how does one become “too strong” or “strong enough?” This is a lifetime quest, at least from my perspective and one should want to push forward in every way possible to attain their goals. Competing as a powerlifter will in every case, force one to do their best, call upon their best and most focused efforts in every aspect of training and for the day of competition. In summary, if one competes, they are on display, if only to themselves, and they will fight to tear down barriers. Why would one settle for less?

MORE NEXT MONTH

Posted on

HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING PART 86: NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Most individuals make some sort of resolution, or self-promise for the New Year and powerlifters expectedly make resolutions related to training and contest performances. This is not surprising but the expectations for improvement certainly have wide ranging and at times, wild parameters. For some, it is difficult to predict what is reasonable and what is patently ridiculous. Enthusiasm, passion, and dedication are necessary ingredients for a recipe of improvement and success but it has to be tempered by reality. As a high school football and track and field coach, I respected the young men and women who were competitive and motivated to consistently train and perform to their maximal abilities. Those who refused to squander whatever talent they had with a commitment to improve, were predictably a pleasure to devote time to. I had some whose competitive nature and passion far exceeded their actual ability and it was difficult to convey to them what I believed to be realistic expectations.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.06.34 PM

 Victor Staffieri, wearing number 65 on the cover of the 1976 Harvard vs Yale football program, was the 100th captain of the Yale football team. In every way, Victor was a standout academically, athletically, and as an individual of character at Malverne High School. His success on and off the field was easy to predict and he is one of the most well known executives in the energy field. For others with less obvious talent and ability, improvement and success is more difficult to predict

 At times, I would have a young athlete who proved my own expectations so far “off” as to defy any reasonable prediction. As a young teacher and coach, my upbringing made me aware that the success of any organization or institution is due to the efforts of the “worker bees” and not the Queen Bees or administrators. Experienced, long time teachers and coaches will quickly note that the real power in any high school is held by the “office and cafeteria ladies” and custodians. If you are favored by them, your existence within the school and your ability to function effectively on a daily basis is made significantly easier. If you are on their Bad List, you are in a jam. It was always my pleasure, even when it came out of my own pocket, to insure that the custodians and cafeteria workers had our Malverne High School football tee shirts, or when needed, a few pairs of socks for their own children. One of the women working in the cafeteria had an undersized nephew attending tenth grade and playing, or perhaps it is more accurate to state, trying to play junior varsity football. At approximately 5’3” and seventy-five pounds, he was not effective and in discussions with the JV coaches, we all decided that it just wasn’t safe to put him on the field during actual games.

 In the off-season, this young man asked if I could give him individual coaching in the weight room. We were one of the first high schools in the area with a “real” weight room and organized program. Most of the high schools in our area housed a multi-station Universal machine, so fondly remembered by every high school football player from the early 1960’s through mid-‘70’s, but few had multiple squat or power racks, Olympic sets, and the expectations that every member of the team despite involvement in multiple sports, would take part in the strength training program. We were well equipped to perform the five or six exercises that comprised our structured program based upon the equipment selection I had moved from my own garage into our makeshift weight room. I augmented that with some of Ed Jubinville’s benches that I paid for myself. This small young man who always worked hard to be an excellent student and the standout actor in the school’s drama department, directed his competitive nature into the weights and was fully able to contribute as a 135 pound junior. As a 165 pound senior he was a valued member of the team as a hard-nosed, two-way back of a successful team. As enthusiastic and positive as I was about the possibilities offered by weight training, I would not have predicted his ninety pound increase in muscular bodyweight, especially on an individual with a short stature. Yet, Michael “Dean” Nostrand exceeded the expectations that anyone could have held for him and as an adult, became and remains an accomplished actor, dancer, and director.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.06.49 PM

What is possible, what is probable, and what is realistic never has a definitive answer. Even with the admission of very low level Dianabol use, the 1964 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team member Louis Riecke upset everyone’s predictions regarding his ability to make an Olympic team and dramatically improve based upon what was to that point, past performances and the fact that he was thirty-eight years of age. I believe however, it is safe to say that one can add more actual pounds to their lifts in the squat and deadlift, than they can in the bench press. This of course is a function of “larger muscle groups vs. smaller muscle groups” with the most growth potential in the squat and deadlift. The late Reverend Robert Zuver was always willing to give me personal attention, a privilege I never felt truly deserving of and many of the conversations we had while sitting in the living room of his house still ring true. He made the point, relative to 1968 lifting results and existing records, the trends of that era, and his own long experience, that the time and effort put into increasing one’s bench press by twenty-five pounds, could result in a fifty pound increase if focused upon the squat or deadlift. In summary, while working hard on all of one’s lifts, put the primary effort into the “bigger lifts” of the squat and deadlift, and not the bench press. This of course will yield a higher total and while none of the lifts should be ignored, keep one’s priorities intact.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.06.59 PM

Mike Bridges, arguably one of the two or three best pound-for-pound powerlifters in the history of the sport, was already spectacular as a teenager. Having known Mike and observing him as a 148 pound beginner, one would have predicted great achievement for him but perhaps not the long lasting positive effect he has had on the sport through many decades  

 The bottom line results of a powerlifting contest and one’s standing in the powerlifting community or actual class rankings, is a function of a three lift total, not any one of the three specific lifts. Of course this differs for a one lift specialist but for “powerlifters” as the participants of a very specific and codified sport, one has to train to enhance the overall total. With limitations on training time and energy, these resources have to be directed towards what will yield the highest reward. Thus, any New Years Resolution should include the realization that this will be the year that one’s squat and deadlift fulfill all possible potential. The “other” bottom line in the sport of powerlifting is that one should expect gains, significant gains, but these will come only from hard work.

 MORE NEXT MONTH

Posted on

HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING PART 85: CERTIFICATION, Part 3, Wrapping It up

The two part article/blog regarding certification of powerlifting products generated more e mail than expected, and has led me to believe that many in the sport do not understand how the real world operates. For those of a past generation, think about the movie Back To School, starring comedian Rodney Dangerfield. As Thornton Melon, a very successful, businessman with a limited education but plenty of street smarts, Rodney decides to attend college in order to be in proximity to and support his struggling son. One of the classic comedies of the 1980’s, the relevant scene for this discussion is one in which the business class professor is shocked by the business start-up comments made by the experienced and wealthy Melon. In his role, Dangerfield notes that money will be needed to pay off building inspectors, union leaders, and others in order to actually get buildings erected or renovated, and any business off the ground floor. He notes these and other “hidden costs” such as kick-backs to those who operate the typical supply and service industries. The professor has never been in business and has no doubt never left the campus or protective walls of academia, and just doesn’t get it. However, having had more than one successful business in the New York City area, I can attest that Dangerfield’s vision of “how things are” is the absolute truth, not the cloistered professor’s.

clip_image001

A real life, training related example was our building and opening of the Iron Island Gym on Long Island. Kathy and I had a very successful business that we operated from our home office. Because our neighborhood was far from “high end” economically, had a relatively significant rate of crime, and was ethnically and racially mixed, there was no doubt that we were granted more latitude in running our business than we would have been given in a “better neighborhood.” As an exercise physiologist, Kathy had her own clientele to rehabilitate and I had a mix of chiropractic and rehabilitation patients, and athletes in need of repair or preparation for their Olympic, professional, collegiate, or high school seasons. We worked from the office area, the garage, and the driveway. The neighbors were often greeted by blood curdling screams as a lot of weight was lifted or at least attempted, and just as often followed by a string of hard-core profanity. It was “all good” but I was constantly patching the concrete driveway and at some point, knew that a frequently altered cast of neighbors due to the socioeconomic difficulties in our area would eventually cause a problem. We made the decision to open a commercial facility. Our time in California (and Kathy was Ms. California among her other physique titles. Is anyone aware that a few decades ago you could claim residency after less than a month in-state?) and Kathy’s relationship with Lee Moran and his wife brought Lee’s training headquarters to our attention and yes, the “Iron Island Gym” name that we used reflected all we wished to say about our old fashioned, hard-nosed, approach to training on Long “Island” with few frills, and also paid homage to “Johnny’s Iron Island” in Alameda, California.

clip_image003

A plate loaded Husafell Stone from Beast Metals in Sacramento, CA, the latest addition to our current home/office facility

Before opening and in fact, before signing the lease, I asked for a meeting with what could be described as a “certain known individual” who owned gyms in the New York City Metropolitan area. One was relatively close to our prospective site and this individual and three other gentlemen met me at the closed warehouse we had targeted as a terrific place to construct a gym, and walked through the space with me. I explained what I planned to do, how it would be built, what faction of the lifting/training community we would be targeting, and in short, was basically asking for their permission to go forward with the project. We had not yet gotten to matters such as trash collection when I was told in a joking manner, but one that spoke a ton-and-change of seriousness, that “You’ve done a lot for us and our people. You and your industry connections got fast delivery on equipment to our gyms, you helped a lot of our guys with their training, a lot of stuff. Hey, no problem, you and Kathy go ahead, we won’t firebomb your place.” This was spoken with a smile, a wink, a nod, and the complete understanding on both sides that if they had said I would not build and open a gym in this location, I would not have built and opened the gym. As per Thorton Melon, this is how the world works. I assumed that “everyone knows these things” when noting the lifting organizations’ monies spent on dinners, prostitutes, travel, luxurious hotels, and other “perks” by some of the lifting federation officials. Many in our sport found all of this as “baffling news.” Uh, welcome to the real world as we know it.

clip_image005

Not exactly but sort of the guys that approved the opening of our Iron Island Gym.

I must digress here and make a statement about Dangerfield. As I have mentioned numerous times, and have within one of my writings made specific mention of Dangerfield, my father and I knew him well when he was a struggling comedian. My father was an iron worker but he always had “another job,” a second job and for many years, he was the manager of a nightclub. I fulfilled every job within the walls of the club from dishwasher to cook, from bartender to bouncer when I became older, and everything in-between. I can clearly recall Dangerfield, whom we knew as “Jack,” or “Jack Roy,” altered from his birth name of Jacob Cohen, coming around frequently to literally beg for work. He would show up at the back door asking for my father, asking to perform “for only ten minutes if possible,” trying to get his career off the ground. He was already in his late thirties or early forties around 1960 or ’61, and my father thought  that he was “a really good guy” and also thought he was funny, funnier than some of the headliners. Thus, Rodney would go on stage previously unannounced, do his thing for fifteen or twenty minutes, and I was always told to “have dinner for him.” We would sit in the kitchen together and he would eat his free meal and leave until we would again see him a few weeks later, as always, asking for work. My father would pull a few bills out of his own pocket and slip it to him before he departed through the rear doorway. To his credit, he was always one of the nicest, most appreciative and modest individuals that our family met while in that business and of course, he later became a major star.

clip_image007

What is our “take away” regarding certification and should it matter to the everyday trainee or powerlifting competitor? Certification is a contract; you as the manufacturer or supplier do this, you do that, and you pay us a fee. We in turn give you a service for that fee, specifically for that certification fee. Truly, this is simple stuff, yet it of course just isn’t done due to laziness, selfishness, greed, self- promotion, or any number of other reasons. At the least, those paying a certification fee are paying for protection and the guarantee that their products will be utilized in sanctioned contests while the products of those who did not pay are not used. Simple, right? Might there be “flubs” or “looking the other way” at a local or high school level meet set in East Jerkwater, Indiana where the young lifters cannot afford to purchase a certified pair of wraps or a singlet after scrounging to pay a meet entry fee? It isn’t correct or ethical but all involved would certainly “get it” and perhaps say no more than “forget it, this benefits the kids” if the certification of attire agreement was not quite fulfilled. However, at a major national meet I witnessed non-certified singlets, wraps, and other articles of attire worn on the meet platform, a national venue with national federation approved officials, allowing this breach of contract. In some cases, the officials did not even know that a singlet for example, had to be a certified brand. Did I say this was at a national contest? In some cases, the answer was, “Well, the lifters would have to buy a new singlet here at the meet.” Well, yeah, that’s what certification is; this is what certification fees are paid for! Thus, if certification protection is not provided, simply put, certification fees will not be paid. If these fees are not paid, nothing is certified and the lifter or trainee is now subject to inferior products, illegally and improperly branded products, a lack of support for the federation(s), and the type of chaos that used to rule the sport. It is also the responsibility of every competitor to insure that they are in possession of the properly certified attire if called for, while the meet directors must provide properly certified, safe equipment on the platform and in the warm-up room. So yes, certification matters. Application of the rules of any organization should be upheld, their contract should be upheld, and lifters could avoid problems by purchasing and using only federation certified products.

Posted on

HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING PART 84: CERTIFICATION, Part 2 By Dr. Ken

Among the many clear memories I have of my initial involvement in powerlifting, are those related to the individuals that were competing or serving as administrators. Being as kind and respectful as possible, many could best be described as “characters” but to a man, they were sincere in their love and dedication to the sport. Men like Jim Witt and Joe Zarella fought hard to legitimize powerlifting and bring it on par with Olympic weightlifting. They, and numerous contemporaries, were themselves lifters, and remained in the sport years after their competitive days were behind them to foster its growth. The Amateur Athletic Union sanctioned the September 5, 1964 Powerlifting Tournament Of America in York, Pennsylvania, the first officially sanctioned contest in the nation. As our HISTORY OF POWERLIFTING, WEIGHTLIFTING, AND STRENGTH TRAINING series has noted, there were “odd lift” contests and various versions of powerlifting meets that incorporated different lifts that in time, were codified. For many, sanctioning made the sport legitimate and despite a lot of political intrigue and infighting, the sport was approved as one of the official AAU amateur sports with records kept from January 1, 1965 forward. Powerlifting had to overcome the bias of those involved with Olympic Weightlifting, and those who were committed to insuring that Olympic lifting would remain the only recognized “lifting sport” in the country. The pioneers who fought the political battles were true-blue powerlifters who wanted the best for the sport.

 

In time, as with any new activity, there were some who saw the acceptance and eventual growth of powerlifting as an avenue to make money. Where meets had been run to provide a competitive venue for local and/or national level lifters, bring everyone together for a day or two of camaraderie and socializing, a number of meet promoters stepped up to provide larger venues, taller trophies, the sale of meet related attire, and produce what they hoped would be money-making events. In fairness, it should be noted, that some, and Larry Pacifico comes immediately to mind, hosted large contests that provided all of the amenities for the competitors, had the spirit of lifting camaraderie and fellowship, presented with terrific audience participation and attendance, and had the best announcers and an experienced platform crew. Some chided him for actually profiting from the sport but in Larry’s case, at least for me, his large national contests still had the feel of the very early meets held in the basement of a YMCA or at a local gym. He proved you could have the best of both worlds but others were there strictly for the money.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 2.54.00 PM

Two of the all-time greats, Mike Bridges and Walter Thomas in a faded photo taken at the fantastic 1982 Senior Nationals hosted by Larry Pacifico and his brother. Their contests always drew the best lifters, most competent platform crew, and huge audiences that numbered in the thousands

I believe that Larry, as a lifter, understood that contests were held first and foremost, for the lifter. He also understood that the audience would not consist of the general public but instead, would be other powerlifters, and the family and friends of the competitors. Yet, he was able to attract thousands to his major contests because he was willing to spend money to allow for “the best” specifically for the competitors. Many who eventually rose through the ranks of the political or governing organizations may have started as interested trainees or competitive lifters but they became “politicians” and for some, worse. They used their positions of power for their own benefit. Certification became part of the corruption. As was discussed last month, if certification resulted in a uniform product of high quality at competitions throughout a country or the world, this would have been ideal. However, the quality of a certified product was and has remained unrelated to the specific certification. As one manufacturer said to me, “First, let’s call it what it is. This is not certification. This is: pay for play, bribery, payola, mordita.” It has been stated to me by a number of “insiders” that decades ago, an American Express card was exchanged for the right to use a specific manufacturer’s barbell at all international competitions. The card, in addition to being utilized for official organization business as per the agreement, was also used “for expensive dinners, champagne, and prostitutes.” When it was discovered that many of the charged expenses were not business related, the card was canceled by the barbell manufacturer.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 2.54.14 PM

Another photo from the archives, Chicago area lifter Dennis Reed was one of the best in the early 1980’s. He lifted whatever was placed on the bar with certification of the plates the last thing on his mind

This is not to say that every lifting related organization is or was unethical. Certainly, especially in the sport of powerlifting’s early years, there were sincere attempts to standardize the competitions and thus have the same or at least, equivalent barbells and plates on the platforms of every major meet. Ivanko was the standard at the time, not one of the foreign brands, and as was explained to me “IPF was more ethical, for instance. They came to us and asked for help to promote the Sport. Their deal was very simple. Because a lot of IPF powerlifters requested IVANKO on the platform, they wanted to make IVANKO the official IPF barbell to try and keep consistency in the sport and improve their contests. To help with their plan to standardize the Sport they needed us to supply them with a few sets for Germany and once or twice a year to ship a set to different championships, all over the world. We were the ‘Official Set’ for 8 years. We had no real exclusive but almost all contests used IVANKO because it was the best.” The above is very much a “best case scenario,” because the meet director is lauded for hosting a terrific meet with “the best” equipment, the manufacturer gets exposure for the product, and above all, the lifters enjoy a barbell set that they believe will allow them to perform at their best.

 

Numerous covers of PLUSA Magazine featured Ivanko sets on the platform of major national and international contests. If the company did not become wealthy as a direct result of this, it certainly enhanced their name recognition. However over time, the certification procedures involved more than the rather simple procedure of providing a quality product to meet directors who had purchased a barbell set that most of their participants requested or preferred. In a number of lifting organizations, a new regime would try to “play off” one manufacturer against another and/or extract significantly more money for the same certification approval, a procedure described to me by a U.S. manufacturer no longer in the barbell business, as “having the Mafia move in!” I believe that the typical powerlifter would gasp if they were aware of the high cost of “certification fees.” There would be greater justification for certification fees if a standardized set of procedures were followed in determining the quality of a barbell for example and of course, would also insure a safer product for the lifters. Tom Lincir summarized this nicely for me in stating that “A real certification should be as follows: 1)The manufacture must prove that they have, at least, $2,000,000 product liability insurance that indemnifies the (lifting organization) from claims in case someone gets hurt due to failure of the equipment.  2) The manufacture must have certs that the bar is both sonic tested and mag tested.  3) The weight and dimensions must be certified by an independent testing laboratory as correct to (the lifting organization) specifications.” Obviously, these procedures or others that would provide for a safer barbell would either force the development of an improved standardized product and/or drive those with inferior products from the competitive platform. In either case, the lifter would be the beneficiary.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 2.54.44 PM

Dr. Ken, long past his prime at the USAPL Raw Nationals on October 17, 2015 with all-time great Brad Gillingham who is always in his prime! Major contests are always appropriate occasions to remind all officials that ONLY CERTIFIED lifting singlets, suits, and other attire may be worn legally!

It should be understood too that if a manufacturer produces shirts, wraps, barbells, plates, and an array of lifting suits for example, each product has to be certified and there is a separate fee for each category of product. Needless to say, the cost of having an officially certified product can be prohibitive, especially for those companies not yet well established in the sport.

 

MORE NEXT MONTH