Powerlifting is simple sport at heart. You perform 3 compound exercises, and if you lift more weight than the rest of the people in your weight class, you win the competition.
What could be simpler, or more primal in nature?
Yet, there is a vicious ongoing debate in powerlifting circles over whether or not an individual should be a “raw” lifter or geared up with equipment.
So, what does it mean to lift “raw” and what’s the difference between raw and equipped lifting?
Let’s find out!
WHAT IS LIFTING “RAW”?
Technically speaking, “raw” in the world of powerlifting means lifting with little to no additional equipment (lifting belts, bench shirts, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, etc.).
In competition, raw lifting means that athletes are allowed to use minimal equipment which must be approved by whatever federation is hosting the meet. Complicating the matter is the fact that there are no singular, hard set, all-encompassing set of rules that “standardize” what constitutes raw lifting across the world as each federation allows and prohibits certain things.
And, even if there was one rulebook to govern all, people would still try to test boundaries as that is the nature of high-level competitors.
Now, regarding “equipped” or athletes using gear, would be those using additional gear beyond what is allowed in “Raw” lifting. The gear aids an athlete in lifting more weight and offers additional protection to the body. This gear most often refers to deadlift and squat bodysuits as well as bench press shirts.
SHOULD I LIFT RAW?
At the end of the day, no one can force you to lift raw or with gear. Some of the best athletes in the world use equipment while elite competitors don’t. Experiment with both methods and find which one suits your training style best. The more important thing is that you continue to train, lift heavy ass weights, and kill every workout.
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