Powerlifting is a popular strength sport that revolves around three main lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. While all powerlifters aim to increase their overall strength, there are two distinct approaches to training and competition: equipped powerlifting and raw powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting involves the use of supportive gear such as knee wraps, bench shirts, and squat suits, while raw powerlifting requires lifters to compete without any additional equipment. Each approach has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between equipped and raw powerlifting ultimately depends on personal preferences and goals. In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of both styles to help serious lifters make an informed decision.
2. Understanding the basics: Equipped and Raw Powerlifting
Before diving into the pros and cons of equipped and raw powerlifting, it is important to have a clear understanding of the basics of these two styles of training and competition.
Equipped powerlifting involves the use of supportive gear such as knee wraps, bench shirts, and squat suits. These gear items are designed to provide additional support and stability to the lifter during the lifts. For example, knee wraps can help provide compression and support to the knees, bench shirts can assist in generating more pressing power, and squat suits can aid in maintaining proper squat form and providing a rebound effect.
On the other hand, raw powerlifting requires lifters to compete without any additional equipment. Lifters in the raw category rely solely on their own strength and technique to perform the lifts. This style is often seen as a more purist approach, as it tests the lifter’s raw strength without any external assistance.
Now that we have a clear understanding of equipped and raw powerlifting, let’s discuss the pros and cons of each style.
Equipped Powerlifting: Pros and Cons
1. Increased lifting potential: The use of supportive gear in equipped powerlifting allows lifters to handle heavier weights than they would be able to lift raw. This can lead to higher numbers and potentially record-breaking lifts.
2. Injury prevention: The supportive gear used in equipped powerlifting can provide additional stability and protection to the lifter’s joints and muscles, reducing the risk of injuries.
3. Technical benefits: Supporting gear can help lifters maintain proper form and technique throughout the lifts, leading to better performance and higher numbers.
1. Cost: Equipped powerlifting requires investing in supportive gear, which can be expensive. The cost of these gear items may deter some lifters from pursuing this style.
2. Learning curve: Mastering the use of supportive gear and understanding how to optimize its benefits can take time and practice. It requires learning proper techniques, adjusting to the gear, and understanding how it affects your lifting abilities.
Raw Powerlifting: Pros and Cons
1. Natural strength assessment: Raw powerlifting provides a more accurate assessment of an individual’s raw strength and abilities, as it doesn’t rely on any external assistance.
2. Simplicity: Raw powerlifting requires minimal gear, making it a more accessible and cost-effective option for many lifters.
3. Level playing field: Competing without supportive gear ensures a level playing field for all lifters, as it removes any advantages that may come from using gear.
1. Increased injury risk: Without the additional support provided by gear, raw lifters may be more susceptible to injuries, particularly in heavy lifts and high-intensity training.
2. Limitation in weight lifted: Raw powerlifting typically involves lower weights lifted compared to equipped powerlifting due to the absence of supportive gear.
Ultimately, the choice between equipped and raw powerlifting comes down to personal preferences, goals, and individual circumstances. Some lifters may prioritize lifting potential and records, while others may value the purist aspect and natural strength assessment of raw powerlifting.
3. The advantages of Equipped Powerlifting
Equipped powerlifting offers several advantages that make it an attractive choice for serious lifters looking to maximize their lifting potential. Here are some of the key advantages of equipped powerlifting:
1. Increased lifting potential: One of the main advantages of equipped powerlifting is the ability to handle heavier weights compared to raw powerlifting. The supportive gear used in equipped powerlifting, such as knee wraps, bench shirts, and squat suits, provides additional support and stability, allowing lifters to lift more weight than they would be able to in a raw setting. This can translate to higher numbers on your lifts and potentially record-breaking performances.
2. Injury prevention: The supportive gear used in equipped powerlifting also plays a crucial role in injury prevention. The gear provides added stability and protection to the lifter’s joints and muscles, reducing the risk of injuries during heavy lifts. For example, knee wraps can help provide compression and support to the knees, bench shirts can assist in generating more pressing power while maintaining proper form, and squat suits can aid in maintaining proper squat form and providing a rebound effect.
3. Technical benefits: Equipped powerlifting can also offer technical benefits to lifters. The supportive gear helps lifters maintain proper form and technique throughout their lifts. For example, squat suits can assist in maintaining proper squat depth and form, bench shirts can help with generating maximal pressing power while maintaining the required bar path, and knee wraps can assist in maintaining stability and preventing knee valgus or varus during squats. By providing additional support and guidance, equipped powerlifting gear can help lifters optimize their performance and achieve higher numbers in their lifts.
It is worth noting that equipped powerlifting does come with a few considerations and potential drawbacks. The use of supportive gear requires a financial investment, as quality gear can be quite expensive. Additionally, there is a learning curve associated with mastering the use of supportive gear. Lifters need to learn how to properly use the gear, adjust their techniques accordingly, and understand how the gear affects their lifting abilities.
Despite these considerations, equipped powerlifting remains a popular choice for serious lifters who are looking to push their lifting potential to new heights while minimizing the risk of injuries. Ultimately, the decision between equipped and raw powerlifting depends on personal preferences, goals, and the individual circumstances of each lifter. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and drawbacks of each style and choose the one that aligns with your goals and aspirations in the world of powerlifting.
4. The advantages of Raw Powerlifting
While equipped powerlifting offers its own set of advantages, raw powerlifting also has its own unique benefits that make it a popular choice among serious lifters. Here are some of the key advantages of raw powerlifting:
1. Pure strength measurement: Raw powerlifting focuses solely on the lifter’s raw strength without the use of supportive gear. This allows lifters to accurately measure their true strength levels and progress over time. By relying solely on their own natural abilities, lifters can get a clear understanding of their raw strength potential and work towards improving it.
2. Enhanced muscle activation: Without the aid of supportive gear, raw powerlifters rely on their muscles to generate force and power during lifts. This leads to increased muscle activation and engagement, resulting in greater muscle development and gains. Raw powerlifting can help lifters build a solid foundation of strength and muscle mass, which can be beneficial for overall athletic performance.
3. Mental toughness and resilience: Raw powerlifting requires a high level of mental toughness and resilience. Lifters need to build mental fortitude to push through challenging lifts without relying on external assistance. This mental strength translates not only to the gym but also to other areas of life, as it helps develop discipline, perseverance, and determination.
4. Accessibility and affordability: Unlike equipped powerlifting, raw powerlifting does not require expensive supportive gear. This makes it a more accessible and affordable option for lifters who may be on a budget or just starting out in the sport. Lifters can focus on developing their technique, strength, and skills without the need for additional equipment.
It is important to note that raw powerlifting also has its own considerations and potential drawbacks. Without the added support and stability provided by gear, lifters may be at a higher risk of injuries, especially when lifting heavy weights. It is crucial for raw powerlifters to prioritize proper technique, form, and injury prevention strategies to mitigate these risks.
Ultimately, the choice between equipped and raw powerlifting depends on the lifter’s goals, preferences, and individual circumstances. Some lifters may prioritize maximizing their lifting potential and utilizing supportive gear, while others may prefer the purity and natural strength measurement of raw powerlifting. Whichever path is chosen, consistency, proper training, and a focus on continuous improvement are key to achieving success in the world of powerlifting.
5. Considerations for serious lifters: Which option is right for you?
When it comes to powerlifting, serious lifters must carefully consider their options and make an informed decision about whether to pursue equipped or raw powerlifting. Here are some key considerations to help you determine which option is right for you:
1. Lifting goals: Consider your specific lifting goals and what you hope to achieve through powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting may be the better choice if your main objective is to lift the heaviest weights possible and compete in competitions that allow the use of supportive gear. On the other hand, if you prioritize raw strength measurement and want to focus on maximizing your natural abilities, raw powerlifting may be the preferred option.
2. Risk of injury: It is essential to assess the potential risks associated with each type of powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting, while providing added support and stability, can also increase the risk of injury if proper technique and form are not maintained. Raw powerlifting, on the other hand, places a greater demand on the lifter’s muscles and joints, increasing the risk of overuse injuries. Consider your injury history and susceptibility when deciding which option is safer for you.
3. Training considerations: Training for equipped and raw powerlifting may vary significantly. Equipped powerlifting requires additional time and effort for learning how to properly use and adjust supportive gear. It also demands a different training approach to accommodate the gear’s effects on technique and muscle activation. Raw powerlifting, on the other hand, focuses on building pure strength and requires a more traditional training approach without the reliance on gear. Consider your training preferences and available resources when deciding which option aligns better with your training style.
4. Cost considerations: Equipped powerlifting often requires investment in supportive gear such as squat suits, bench press shirts, and deadlift suits, which can be costly. Raw powerlifting, on the other hand, does not have this added expense. Consider your budget and financial resources when deciding which option is more sustainable for you in the long term.
5. Competitive opportunities: Consider the competitive opportunities available for each type of powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting has its own distinct competitions and records, and if you have aspirations of competing on a larger scale or setting records, equipped powerlifting may be the route to consider. Raw powerlifting also has a strong and growing competitive scene, with its own competitions and records to aim for. Research and assess the competitive landscape to determine which option aligns better with your competitive goals.
Ultimately, the decision between equipped and raw powerlifting is highly individualized and depends on personal preferences, goals, and circumstances. It may also be helpful to consult with experienced powerlifters or coaches who can provide guidance based on their expertise. Remember, regardless of the path you choose, consistency, proper training, and a focus on continuous improvement are key to achieving success in the world of powerlifting.
6. The drawbacks of Equipped PowerliftingWhile equipped powerlifting has its advantages, it also comes with some drawbacks that serious lifters should consider before deciding which path to pursue. Here are some key drawbacks of equipped powerlifting:
1. Technical complexity: Equipped powerlifting requires the use of supportive gear such as squat suits, bench press shirts, and deadlift suits. Learning how to properly use and adjust this gear can be a complex process that requires time and patience. It may take significant effort to understand how the gear affects technique and muscle activation, and mastering these adjustments can be challenging.
2. Higher learning curve: Due to the technical complexity mentioned above, equipped powerlifting has a steeper learning curve compared to raw powerlifting. It takes time to become proficient in using supportive gear and optimizing its benefits. This can be a barrier for lifters who prefer a more straightforward training approach or who do not have access to knowledgeable coaches or experienced lifters who can provide guidance.
3. Cost of gear: Equipped powerlifting can be a costly endeavor. The supportive gear required for this style of powerlifting can be expensive, with prices ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars. This cost may not be feasible for lifters on a tight budget or those who are just starting out and uncertain about their long-term commitment to the sport.
4. Maintenance and repair: Supportive gear used in equipped powerlifting requires regular maintenance and occasional repair. The gear can wear out over time, especially with frequent use, and may need replacement or adjustments. This additional responsibility of maintaining and repairing gear adds to the overall time and effort invested in equipped powerlifting.
5. Limited competitive opportunities: While equipped powerlifting has its own distinct competitions and records, the number of competitions for equipped lifters may be more limited compared to raw powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting is not as widely recognized or practiced as raw powerlifting, and finding local or regional competitions that cater specifically to equipped lifters may be challenging in some areas. This limited availability of competitive opportunities may be a drawback for lifters who thrive on competition and aspire to compete at a higher level.
6. Perception and controversy: Equipped powerlifting is sometimes met with skepticism and controversy within the powerlifting community. The use of supportive gear can be seen by some as detracting from the true strength and skill of the lifter. There is ongoing debate about whether equipped powerlifting is a true representation of the lifter’s raw strength and abilities. This perception and controversy may have an impact on the overall experience and reception of equipped powerlifters.
It is important for serious lifters to weigh these drawbacks against the advantages of equipped powerlifting in order to make an informed decision that aligns with their goals and preferences. Ultimately, the choice between equipped and raw powerlifting is a personal one, and what works best for one lifter may not work for another. It is recommended to carefully consider the drawbacks and benefits of equipped powerlifting and seek guidance from experienced lifters or coaches before making a decision.
7. The drawbacks of Raw Powerlifting
While raw powerlifting has gained popularity among serious lifters, it is important to consider the drawbacks associated with this style of lifting. Here are some key drawbacks of raw powerlifting:
1. Increased risk of injury: Raw powerlifting involves lifting heavy weights without the use of supportive gear such as knee wraps, wrist wraps, or lifting belts. This lack of support puts additional stress on the joints, tendons, and ligaments, increasing the risk of injury. Lifters must rely solely on their own strength and stability, which can be challenging, especially when performing maximal lifts.
2. Limited weight capacity: Without the assistance of supportive gear, lifters may be limited in the amount of weight they can lift. Supportive gear such as squat suits, bench press shirts, and deadlift suits can provide additional stability and assistance, allowing lifters to handle heavier loads. For lifters who are focused on pushing their strength to the absolute limit, raw powerlifting may not allow them to reach their full potential.
3. Greater emphasis on technique: Raw powerlifting places a greater emphasis on technique and form. Without the added support of gear, lifters must rely on proper technique to execute lifts safely and efficiently. This requires a higher level of technical proficiency and attention to detail, which can be more challenging for novice lifters or those with limited experience.
4. Increased training demands: Raw powerlifting requires additional training to build the necessary strength and stability to lift heavy weights without the assistance of gear. Lifters must focus on developing their overall strength, muscular endurance, and stability to perform well in raw competitions. This increased training demand can be time-consuming and physically demanding, requiring a higher level of dedication and commitment.
5. Limited competitive opportunities: While raw powerlifting has become more popular in recent years, it may still have fewer competitive opportunities compared to equipped powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting competitions are more widespread and recognized, making it easier for equipped lifters to find local and regional competitions. Raw powerlifters may have to travel further or compete in smaller events to find suitable competitions, limiting their competitive opportunities.
6. Perception and controversy: Raw powerlifting is not without its controversies within the powerlifting community. Some lifters and enthusiasts argue that the use of supportive gear in equipped powerlifting detracts from the true strength and skill of the lifter. There is ongoing debate about whether raw powerlifting provides a more authentic display of the lifter’s raw strength and abilities. This perception and controversy may impact the overall experience and reception of raw powerlifters.
It is important for serious lifters to carefully consider these drawbacks before deciding to pursue raw powerlifting. While raw powerlifting may align with certain goals and preferences, lifters should also consider the potential risks and challenges associated with this style of lifting. Consulting with experienced lifters or coaches and seeking their guidance can provide valuable insights and help make an informed decision.
8. Making an informed decision: Factors to consider
When deciding between equipped and raw powerlifting, it’s important for serious lifters to take into account various factors. By considering these factors, lifters can make an informed decision that aligns with their goals and preferences. Here are some key factors to consider:
1. Personal goals: Define your personal goals in powerlifting. Are you looking to compete at the highest level and set records? Do you prioritize strength and raw power, or do you value technical proficiency and skill? Understanding your personal goals will help guide your decision-making process.
2. Lifting style: Consider your lifting style and what feels most comfortable and natural to you. Equipped powerlifting may provide additional support and assistance, which can benefit lifters who struggle with stability or have specific weaknesses. On the other hand, raw powerlifting demands greater technical proficiency and relies solely on the lifter’s own strength and stability.
3. Injury history: Take into account your personal injury history. If you have a history of joint or tendon issues, equipped powerlifting may provide additional support and reduce the risk of reinjury. However, if you have no significant injury history and prioritize pushing your strength to the absolute limit, raw powerlifting may be more suitable.
4. Training demands: Consider the training demands associated with both styles of powerlifting. Raw powerlifting typically requires additional training to build strength and stability without the assistance of gear. Equipped powerlifting may require specific training to learn how to utilize supportive gear effectively. Assess your time availability, commitment level, and willingness to invest in training for your chosen style.
5. Competitive opportunities: Research the competitive opportunities available for both equipped and raw powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting competitions may be more widespread and recognized, making it easier to find local and regional events. Raw powerlifting competitions may require more travel or participation in smaller events. Assess the competitive landscape and weigh it against your desired level of involvement.
6. Community and support: Consider the community and support system associated with each style. Engage with lifters, coaches, and enthusiasts from both equipped and raw powerlifting communities to understand their experiences, perspectives, and advice. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can contribute to your overall enjoyment and growth in the sport.
7. Cost considerations: Evaluate the financial commitment associated with each style of powerlifting. Equipped powerlifting often requires the purchase of supportive gear, which can be costly. Raw powerlifting, on the other hand, may have fewer equipment expenses. Consider your budget and financial feasibility when deciding which style is best for you.
By carefully considering these factors, serious lifters can make an informed decision that suits their goals, preferences, and circumstances. It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for others may not necessarily work for you. Ultimately, choosing between equipped and raw powerlifting should be based on your individual aspirations, strengths, and needs. Seek guidance from experienced lifters or coaches to gain further insights and perspective.
9. Conclusion: Finding the balance between Equipped and Raw Powerlifting
When it comes to deciding between equipped and raw powerlifting, serious lifters must consider a range of factors to make an informed decision that aligns with their goals and preferences. By assessing personal goals, lifting style, injury history, training demands, competitive opportunities, community and support, and cost considerations, lifters can determine which style best suits their individual aspirations, strengths, and needs.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to powerlifting. What works for one lifter may not work for another. The key is to find the right balance between equipped and raw powerlifting that maximizes performance, minimizes the risk of injury, and allows for personal growth and enjoyment in the sport.
Lifters should engage with both equipped and raw powerlifting communities to gather insights, perspectives, and advice from experienced lifters and coaches. This can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the decision-making process.
Ultimately, the decision between equipped and raw powerlifting should be a thoughtful and well-informed one. By considering all relevant factors and seeking input from trusted sources, serious lifters can find the right balance that allows them to excel in their powerlifting journey. Remember, powerlifting is a dynamic and evolving sport, and as lifters progress, their preferences and needs may change. Stay open-minded, continue to learn and grow, and always prioritize your individual goals and well-being.