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Geared PL: What's the Draw?


Alright, this isn't meant to be a knock AT ALL on single ply, multiply guys whatsoever, I'm just genuinely curious why someone chooses that route rather than raw. Seeing as most, if not all, PLers more than likely start out as raw guys, what makes them suddenly want to change over? Is it simply due to the higher poundages? Is there a safety factor with the added support? I'd like to hear you guys' thoughts here.

Once again, no disrespect meant towards geared lifters, just curiosity.


There isn't going to be one unifying draw. Its simply just another way to lift, kind of like strongman or olympic lifting. It allows some people to lift with injuries, and the ability to lift greater weight im sure is equally compelling. For me I can ask the question "whats the draw with bodybuilding" as I personally don't want to diet and cardio down and get a spray tan and walk on stage, but I understand that lots of other people do and I respect that it is uniquely challenging in its own way and a form of strength athletics I respect.


I don't even understand the draw of raw powerlifting, haha.


lol, agreed.

I've never understood competitive bodybuilding or raw/geared powerlifting either. Powerlifting, in general, just seems so subjective. (No disrespect to either athlete.)


There are rules of performance and judges to enforce them, but that's about it from the subjectivity standpoint.

To answer the original question, the draw for me to equipped lifting was simple: When I started competing 15 years ago, there really were no raw meets with any meaningful competition. If I wanted competition, my choices were single ply or multi ply. I chose single ply and competed that way for 10 years. Raw lifting exploded and now there's more competition in the raw meets. And, I hung up my squat suit 5 years ago as a result.


I think this could be said about most sports....


It's just a different sport man. Obviously plenty of crossover, but the 'experience' of geared lifting is substantially different. It's similar to asking why someone would choose powerlifting over strongman competitions, or vice versa. It's simply a personal preference of what experience they prefer.

It's also important to note that there wasn't a distinction between raw and geared a couple decades ago, so at that time, if you wanted to be competitive in powerlifting, you HAD to use gear.


I think the thing most people don't get about it is why would you want to wear something that lets you lift more weight artificially. I watched the mark Rippetoe interview with Mike Tuchsherer and he talked about his foray into geared powerlifting and how much of a joke it was that he was benching high 300lbs and started using a bench shirt and got to 500lbs or something to that affect.

Most people either think it is cheating or think it is people pandering to their ego. Also there is the issue that is seems almost impossible to squat below parallel in a squat suit.

Then again most of us have no idea about powerlifting or geared lifting and probably have negative preconcieved notions about it and shouldn't speak until actually taking a proper look at it :slight_smile: .


For a guy his size, 300 is a shitty bench in raw powerlifting and 500 is a shitty shirted bench in geared powerlifting.* So its all relative.

*I think he actually benched closer to 400 @220 when he competed, IIRC.


Lifting in gear requires a high degree of skill, and I think that's something a lot of people are attracted to. There's also a degree of danger. Bench pressing, say 1000 lbs in a shirt has to be an insane experience.

Would you ask a race car driver why he uses a car to artificially travel around a track faster? Would you ask him why he doesn't just sprint? Maybe you would, but you see where I'm going. Just like a racecar, powerlifting gear is a tool some people use to substantially alter a particular experience, to one that they find more favorable. I personally can't understand why someone would play soccer rather than basketball, but that's because I simply prefer basketball. We all want to experience the world in a slightly different way from our peers, and that, to me, is enough to explain why a person would enjoy geared lifting more than raw. To each his own :slightly_smiling:


I should clarify. I can't remember the actual numbers he gave I will find the video for you guys.

Ok around 5:00 he says 480 raw and 633lbs single ply. Both in competition. They then comment "my god, just imagine what happens with the other stuff"


I understand where you are coming from but I think the difference is people associate strength sports with human physicality where as when they watch F1 they understand they are watching something that is beyond that.

In general though I get your point.


I think this is mostly what my question pertained to. Not that there is anything wrong at all with wanting to lift more, but it just strikes me as odd to want to use something that would allow you to lift more weight than you are possible of yourself. But, as flip and a few others pointed out, its just another sport. The same could be said of choosing to remain natural vs. going the enhanced route.

It really all comes down to the individual I guess. Powerlifting, bodybuilding, whatever is as much a competition against yourself as it is against other contestants. Good stuff in here so far.


As someone who competes in strongman, where all sorts of gear is used all the time and no one seems to care, I like using it because it means I can win. It's going to be the same for someone who competes in geared lifting.


It's the heavier weight lifted. If it wasn't WBB wouldn't brag about their poundage and it wouldn't even be a separate discipline. Once you learn how to wear and use a shirt or suit properly, you lift more.


Geared PL can be a lot of fun if you have a group of guys to train and compete with. I really enjoyed that aspect. It almost becomes a team sport.

The other thing I enjoyed was lifting more weight than I could without the gear (obviously). Dropping into the hole with a relatively monstrous weight on your back in gear is almost a religious experience. The pressure is so intense that it feels like your head's going to explode. I'd get red spots on my face after every training session from broken capillaries. Maybe I'm weird, but I really liked that feeling.

It was also cool to lift more almost every training session. I only lifted in gear for like 9 months, so I was basically still learning the whole time. I wasn't necessarily getting stronger though; I was just getting better at lifting in the gear. Even knowing that, it was still fun to be adding plates every session.

The downsides: training sessions take fucking forever (up to 3 hours), you can't really train effectively by yourself or even with one partner, and training really drains the life out of you. I'd be totally out of commission the day after each training session.