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Last month Dave Hoff fired the squat heard ‘round the world when he squatted a World Record 1210lbs at the IPA Westside Invitational Pro Open.  He followed that up with a 975 lb bench and an 820lb deadlift in route to a World Record 3005 lb total.  Now you would think that this would be a day for the Strength Sports Family to celebrate, but unfortunately as is normally the case there wasn’t much celebrating.  Instead it devolved into an argument over judging standard, Federations and World Records.

The irony of it all for me wasn’t whether the squat was high or not, it was the fact that people think it’s an All Time World Record.  Let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I LOVE POWERLIFTING.  I have competed for many years, and am looking forward to getting back on the platform in the not to distant future.  Not only that, but I have met many great people through powerlifting and other strength sports.  Having said that I have often wondered how one could set an “All Time World Record” in Pennsylvania, when 95% of the World’s Population doesn’t even know the sport exists.  It’s similar to the shortsightedness of calling it the World Series despite the fact that it’s played only in North America.

Semantics aside, everyone that ripped Hoff’s lift was talking about the “integrity of the sport” and invoking the Ghost of Ed Coan.  I remember this same reaction when Mike Miller squatted his 1220, and that was 7 years ago.  How can you compare what Ed Coan did to what Multi-Ply lifters are doing today?  Or better yet, why would you try?  They are NOT THE SAME THING.  And why does everyone of these arguments always spill over into the Raw vs Gear lifting.  It is so tired I will be bored before I finish this sentence.  The thing I don’t get is that if you don’t like (or respect) Geared Lifting then what do you care what they do?  Do you think what geared lifters do hurts the integrity of the sport?  Well here is a news flash for you:

NO ONE OUTSIDE OF POWERLIFTING CARES ABOUT POWERLIFTING.

If you are a competitor you know the difference between a competitive lift and a gym lift.  If you are not a competitor then you group everything together and you think that a bench shirt is something magical that if you had one you could bench 600lbs overnight.  You also, if you are not a competitor, always know a guy that used to be a World Record Holder in some kind of strength sport.  People outside of Powerlifting have no clue, and they don’t care.  The only people that care about Powerlifting are the competitors.  So why is there so much fighting?!  People in different feds that do NOT compete against one another bickering is no better than keyboard warriors that don’t compete at all criticizing.  If someone is not in your fed, then in what way does it affect you?!  Not only is the arguing counterproductive, IT’S F/N POINTLESS!

The lifters were the worst part of this of this whole episode.  It is easy to ignore keyboard warriors when it is clear they have no frame of reference, they “are like a child that wanders into the middle of a movie .  But when you have established lifters going back and forth on Facebook, THAT is what “gives the sport a black eye.”  It’s much more embarrassing to the community as a whole than one guy’s questionable squat on a random Saturday.  Some lifters even went so far as to say that Hoff cheated.

It really is a shame how carelessly people use the English language.  Saying someone cheated is a serious accusation especially considering Hoff’s past.  How is squatting to a questionable depth and having it passed cheating?  That is like saying that a MLB pitcher that knows he is going to get the pitch an inch off the plate called a strike is cheating if he throws it there.  IT’S NOT CHEATING!  And people accuse Westside of getting all the questionable calls.  Again how is that any different from the fact that Michael Jordan pushed off Bryon Russell, and no foul was called?  Sometimes reputation influences refs, umpires and judges.  I am in no way suggesting that is what happened here.  However it happens in every other sport and no one bats an eye.  Why should powerlifting be any different?

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The even greater irony is that Powerlifting’s greatest attribute is also its greatest weakness.  The fact is there’s is no unifying body and the sport is splintered into dozens of federations with different rules.  It’s hard enough to claim a World record when no one knows there is a competition, but even more ludicrous to try to claim it in a sport where the rules are never the same.  Think of all the different meets out there.  There are raw meets, raw meets with knee wraps and belts, single ply meets, multi-ply meets.  Some meets you have to walk a squat out, others you get to use a monolift.  Some meets you just have to touch the chest on a bench, others you have to hold it there for at least 12 seconds (I am looking at you USAPL).  Some meets you weigh in the day of the meet, other meets you weigh in days before the meet and hit the stage 20lbs heavier.  Even if you just compare geared lifting to geared lifting.  The squat suit today makes the squat suit 10 years ago look like a Model T.

“What does walking a weight out have to do with squatting?  Isn’t squatting just about lowering the weight and coming back up with it?  If you want to walk around with heavy weight on your back, don’t they already have strongman competitions for that?”

The thing is in other sport when equipment evolves you change the rules.  As golf clubs evolved course got longer.  With a sport that is measured by gravity, then only way to adjust for better equipment would be to have the World Championship held on another World.  Considering that Neptune’s Gravitational Force is 112% of Earth, that might be the next planet to hold Worlds on.  It takes 12 years to get to Neptune so be sure to pack your cooler.

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Trying to get a World Record out of the different federations of Powerlifting is like trying to determine a World Football Champion out of the National Football League, Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, and the Lingerie Football League.  Ok, I just added the last one for fun, can you blame me?  Even without the ladies of the lace, my point still stands.  If someone were to suggest that it would be clearly asinine, and yet that is what Powerlifting attempts to do….compare things that shouldn’t be compared.

Acceptably Soft Football Players

I understand that nature of competition, and people always want to know who #1 is, but at the end of the day it only matters if you want to brag to your buddies, you want some trophy to collect dust, or you wanna win a free tshirt.  There is no money in powerlifting.  It is not a career.  In fact, truth be told it is simply a kick ass hobby.  So why waste your time arguing about shit that really doesn’t matter?  How does Dave Hoff’s World Record Squat effect your life?

You want to know what true strength is?  True strength is being stronger than you were last time, simple as that.  Who cares if your 100% is a Record or not, it’s the most you can do either way.  If you think Hoff’s squat was high, then here are you options.

  • A) Go get you a magic squat suit, put 1211 on your back and go deeper with it.  Problem Solved.
  • B) Start your own federation, set your own standards, and pick your own judges
  • C) Bitch about it
  • D) Go on with your life.

Personally I am going to choose Option D.  However, I encourage the more motivated of you to choose either A or B.  Truth is the only people who affected by Hoff’s performance are Brian Carroll and Donnie Thompson.  Brian is the guy that had the 275 Squat Record before him.  And if you know Brian you know he is a standup guy.  He took the time to congratulate Hoff on the new record on Elitefts.  And Donny Thompson, the guy who’s total Hoff broke, was running the meet.  So if the two guys that actually were directly affected by Hoff’s squat are ok with it, then what the hell is anyone else’s excuse?

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Don Johnson

Head Strength Coach at Mammoth Strength
Don is the founder and Head Strength Coach at Mammoth Strength. His strength and conditioning facility specializes in small group athletic training for serious athletes from Junior High School to Professional Ranks in all sports...as well as men and women of all ages looking to shred pounds of fat and get extremely fit.

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