T Nation

When to go Equipped?


I've been wrestling with this idea for awhile. Being an athlete of other sports, powerlifting has helped tremendously to my performance (especially using DeFranco's modified Westside template). However, it also led to a love of PL itself. Last year, I competed for the first time and set eight state records with USAPL raw. My training age at the time was under a year (not that the records were very high).

My training age right now is about a year and a half exactly, which I know means that there's still a lot to grow from here. All the same, I'm pretty certain I'll qualify for nationals in 2011 and am hoping for a 400lb squat by the end of the year (at a bodyweight of 148).

I feel like some time in the next six months, I'll start stalling out. I was wondering if it's better to start training equipped early on and maybe do an equipped meet some time after the new year.. or if I should stick to purely raw for a while longer.


Did you call Miss Cleo or any of her psychic friends to come to that conclusion? You either have no idea what you're talking about or the most precise programming known to man.


Well, I lost the "newbie gains" quite awhile ago, and I've already started slowing down (took three months to put 20lbs on my DL). I know it's going to vary from person to person when the next big plateau hits, how you've been training, and so forth.. But I FEEL like I'm getting pretty close to what my body can handle right now at this bodyweight.


heres the thing with powerlifing, its hard as shit. u arent gonna be able to put 10 lbs on ur squat and DL every month. it just aint gonna happen. it takes guys maybe a year to put 20 lbs on their bench. just keep goin RAW. that's what I'm doin right now. i'm 15 so theres no need for equipment. and seeing how your quat is only about 400, u should definitely keep goin raw.


Is there a reason you have to stay at 148 lbs? Trying to hold your weight down as a relatively new lifter (who wasn't overweight to begin with) is a good way to stall your progress somewhat early. If you eat and steadily gain some lean body mass you will be able to make good strength gains for years to come. If you decide to go equipped because that's what you want to do that's fine. If it's because you feel like you've maximized your raw potential already, then you need to look more closely at your training and nutrition.


Well, what I mean is that I'm going to end up going equipped eventually.. Is it better to start it earlier or wait until I feel like I've truly maximized my raw potential?

Staying at 148 allows me to do acrobatics and bodyweight maneuvers more easily, and part of my job involves stunt performances, so I can't chance going up in bodyweight and then not being able to perform a certain movement anymore.


Use gear when you want to compete in a geared federation whether single or multiply. I don't view it as an extension of maximizing my raw potential. They are different things. My raw lifts drop a bit when I train geared extensively and geared are tougher when I've gone raw for months.


I have a problem with the notion that gear is more advanced than raw lifting.

Do you need experience before you start putting on gear? Sure. But that doesn't mean that the next logical "advancement" to raw experience is gear.

They are 2 different versions of the sport. It's like the difference between greco-roman and freestyle wrestling. One is not a more advanced version of the other; they are each just a little different take on the same sport.

The only reason to do either (especially in a sport like powerlifting where there isnâ??t any money or Olympic medals) is because you love it. I personally wouldn't start buying, training with, and competing in gear for the sole reason that you feel like you need to in order to advance. If you think gear is going to make it more fun and is worth the monetary cost, then go for it. That's the only good reason to do it.


Okay, I think I should clarify a little further:

I'm 90% sure I'm going to start competing in equipped in the future, anyway. My question is whether or not it's better to start it off sooner or if it's better to wait until I've tapped out my raw gains.

Seems like the vast majority here are saying, "If you're going to do it, do it sooner, because it's independent from raw." So thank you.


You havent tapped out your raw gains. No one on earth has. Ever. Following this logic, why even get the gear? Say you get it, use the shit out of it, and add 300lbs to your total. Then what? Is the gear tapped out too?

If you want to use gear either go buy some or find some to borrow. Thats about it. If your raw strength doesnt increase while you use gear, then you wont be able to lift anything in the gear. Shirts and suits arent going to magically make you stronger but it will make you more technically sound. You might want to get up with someone who knows what the hell they are doing and save yourself years of frustration... if you even have years left before you get tapped out.


This is spot on. Most people just think "ohh i'll put on the squat suit and bench shirt and like magic your stronger", but geared lifting is hard as hell, you have to find people to lift with (spots, getting gear on, ect), you have to change your form, get used to the gear, it's basically a whole new ballgame.


Two questions:
1. Why do you think you are anywhere near your raw potential? 1.5 years is NOTHING. Come back in 1.5 decades and see if you aren't stronger.
2. What makes you think you would be able to make progress in gear if you've "tapped out" your raw gains? Ultimately, progress in either is all about getting stronger.


This rings true. Training in gear is hard, sweaty and painful. Before a geared competition lift, I feel like I can't breathe sometimes. Raw is much more comfortable and makes lifting fun again, for me anyways. I think someone mentioned borrowing or buying some second hand stuff to try out before you commit to spending money on anything, I think that is the smartest thing to do.


I won't let my son use gear yet because I don't want to pay for it. That's the reason. He's lifting at 132 and might have two meets at that weight. I might let him lift equipped at 148. and by let him means if I have to pay for it.

If he has the money, whatever. but it's going to be hard for him to use the gear when he's with his mom training at L Gay Fitness as he calls it.


90% sure you are going to lift in gear? You will either lift in gear and learn how to use it or not.
First of all compete, then decide 100% that you want to lift in gear. If you want to be competitive in a geared fed then get some gear and if you are going to stay raw then lift that way. Have fun and good luck either way.



Please don't be tempted to use gear ever. Stay with "raw" competitions, I'm sure they are the future of powerlifting. Surely it's better to be the strongest guy in your weight class than the guy who can afford the best "equipment". To me a "raw" 400lb bench is way more impressive than a 600lb "assisted" bench. I can't believe people are failing lifts because they can't touch the weight to their chests these days. It's laughable.


I only say "90%" because I won't do it if it interferes with my job. Right now, raw lifting complements my job (part of my job involves stunt performances). If equipped lifting makes me less explosive with my own bodyweight, then there's no way I can do it. This all said, I really don't see why that would be the case.


I may have worded it improperly, because I know that I'll be getting stronger for several years to come (for the rest of my life, really).. What I mean is that the effect of newbie gains has gone away, and my gains are slowing down.. so if there was a correlation between raw lifting and equipped lifting, then I was asking if it's better to start learning how to use the gear at this point.

Your second question doesn't make any sense to me, since the statement that the end does not appear to logically follow the question at hand.

In any case, I think this whole thing has been confusing people and half aren't answering the question I asked.


How is that not logical? You get stronger, your lifts go up. It doesn't matter if it is raw or geared.

There is no such thing as newbie "raw" gains and newbie "geared" gains. If you've stalled (highly unlikely) with your raw lifts then you'll likely stall with your geared lifts as well. Maybe you can make a couple of tweaks or adjustments that get you a few more lbs. but your strength will not suddenly shoot up because you've switched to gear.


I think people are confusing "strength" with their "lift totals". Putting on gear doesn't make you any stronger but your lifts will shoot up because of all the extra support the equipment gives you. I thought people lifted raw on principle. Gearing up will only "artificially" inflate your numbers.