Very few individuals awaken and begin their day with the thought that the world needs another barbell set. In our ongoing TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS series of articles, we have explored, discussed, and dissected the evolution of barbells as they have been utilized in our sport of powerlifting. There are a number of quality barbells on today’s market, and some perfectly suited to the needs of the powerlifter. Ivanko, Eleiko, the original Capps Texas Barbell, and others manufacture bars specifically for powerlifting. There are many “older” bars floating around the training community, used but in exceptionally functional condition. Dependent upon the year and series run, some of the York barbells can be depended upon to give continuing good service past the decades they have already been in use. Should one be fortunate enough to stumble upon one of Jim Sutherland’s Hastings Barbells manufactured in the early 1980’s, they will have an underrated model that had limited distribution, that still has every advantage of the newest barbells on today’s market. Our facility utilizes a seventeen year old Leoko bar that has seen daily service without complaint. There are companies that make Olympic weightlifting bars that are very applicable to powerlifting and while I would not own, use, or “gift” any of the junk imported bars that claim “1500 pound test” for example, almost all non-competitive trainees could spend a lifetime under one of these barbells with little risk of injury or product failure.
In brief, there are a lot of good barbells out there with a favorite usually due to personal preference, the brand of bar one first used when starting training, a specific product that resulted in many successful contests, or one given as a gift that has paid dividends. Thus, we are back to our original thought: does the world need another barbell set? Titan’s Pete Alaniz must have awakened with the thought or otherwise had this exact idea because he now has brought TITEX barbell and plates to the market. Think: TITAN/TEXAS = TITEX! What Pete truly wanted was the feeling and excitement all of us experienced when we first began training and competing, forming a bond with our equipment, our training partners, and our sport. This new set has all of the advantages that modern design, materials, and manufacturing allow for, but that also brings the enthusiasm of starting anew in the sport.
There are, among barbell manufacturers, two camps; those who literally and figuratively buy into the concept of being officially certified for competition, and those who do not. Obviously, one has to begin with the actual product. If the barbell and/or plates do not meet the standard of the official/certifying organization, the conversation ends, there is nothing to certify for competition. If the barbell and plates can be officially certified because the plates weigh to exacting standards and the features of the barbell meet the criteria of the organization, then there is a choice to be made by the manufacturer. For many if not most, there is a dilemma because money is involved and money is the bottom line when one is in business. Some in the industry believe that being certified by a specific organization, and having to pay an official, organized, governing body money to attain that certification, to use the term stated to me in this very conversation, is “bullshit.” The argument is, “Why spend a significant amount of money being certified when your product is already of high quality, does in fact meet the standards of any official powerlifting organization, and there is little benefit to be had in being certified?” If one believes they sell a great product and many lifters and non-competitors will purchase and utilize their equipment because it is a terrific, high quality product and having the equipment either seen in a major competition or associated as being “XYZ Organization approved” will not affect sales, then this is a legitimate stance. Others, with TITAN and TITEX being among them, believe that there is in fact an advantage being associated with, and being certified with a particular organization.
One fact beyond argument, remains a fact; if the longest existing world organization in the sport, the organization with more participating lifters than any other and perhaps more than all others combined approves and certifies a barbell and plates as “official” and meeting every standard of the organization, that barbell and those plates can be used any place, in any competition, and by all lifters knowing that the equipment is “right.” TITAN made the choice to fill a void and have an American company bring an officially IPF certified set to the marketplace. Having some input during the prototype stage, something I have previously done for other barbell manufacturers, I know how painstaking and carefully completed, every step in the design and manufacturing process was for this specific set. While some of the forums have revealed “dueling opinions” on the appearance of the plates, a great deal of thought was given to the design, appearance, and performance of the TITEX product.
I am not that computer savvy but my daughter is the coordinator of media affairs for a large, national corporation and she gathered various forum based information for me and it seems that the majority of those who believe the appearance of the plates is “odd,” are bodybuilders! Powerlifters, and especially those powerlifters who either used the TITEX set at the recent Arnold event or saw the bar and plates in the warm-up room or on stage, absolutely raved about the appearance of the entire set. In use, on a moving bar, this is just a very cool set! That they also raved about the performance of the bar, one that meets all of the demands of the IPF and their affiliated world-wide organizations, is more important and more gratifying. In part this comes from the input of a number of TITAN team members, world class and world record holding powerlifters who were solicited for their opinions during the ongoing design process. I believe it’s great that we have a new, American company entry to the certification list, and meet directors and gym owners, as well as garage based lifters like myself, will want to utilize the TITEX bar and really great looking plates in training and competition. Yes, a void has been filled but more importantly, a terrific option has been presented to powerlifters everywhere.