Sunday, May 12, 2019

A 1991 Ken Leistner Article

As often as it is said that "the more things change, the more they stay the same" it just as often remains true. In the sport of powerlifting, there have been obvious advances in the areas of equipment and nutritional supplementation, but a close look reveals that the basics of the sport and those that participate in it provide a constant that is a positive.

If one opens up the pages of PLUSA from issues dating back to the early '80s, there are several manufacturers and suppliers supplying belts to our very specialized market. The originator of the thick, wide, powerlifting belt was Bob Morris. One of the best squatters of the late 1970's and early 1980's was a California lifter by the name of Marvin Phillips. Bob made the first belt for Marv, and it was such an obvious advantage that others soon requested one for themselves. Within a short period of time Bob was making his quality belts on a full time basis. He was the first to use suede coverings, both for improved function and appearance. His buckle designs evolved so that the belt could be used in an "easy on/easy off" manner.

In these older PLUSA magazines, there are others providing belts to the market, but it seemed to be the general agreement that Bob's was the best. A look at today's magazine yields the same results. There are a number of belts available, but in my opinion Bob Morris still made the best one. And do these belts help? Are they an advantage over the typically seen skinny gym models?

Dr. Tom McLaughlin, also within the pages of an old PLUSA, provided good research data indicating that the production of increased intra-thoracic pressure provided, in effect, a rigid column anterior to, or in front of, the spinal column, that supported the spine in a significant manner. The proviso was that one wore the belt very tightly, tightly enough to at least allow for the internal pressure increase. The smaller belts do not do this to a significant degree. This means that it is impossible to benefit from the belt if it is worn loosely, so it becomes obvious that one cannot strut around the gym in one's belt. It has to be tightened to the point of discomfort prior to a set, and unbuckled immediately afterward to avoid respiratory discomfort. Was this a step forward? Obviously it was for the purpose of competitive lifting. New type buckles have also been available since the early 1980's, but it is only recently that they are being widely seen.

The tight lifting suits that are unique to powerlifting are also not new. Again, those date back to the late 1970's. George Zangas was one of the earliest to bring a tight fitting lifting suit, made of elastic type material, to the marketplace. John Inzer is relatively new on the block, as Titan, Elite, Bridges, and a slew of others too were selling suits as long as eight years ago. Some materials and design improvements have occurred, but basically, the suit, like the canvas underwear multiple Ace Bandage wraps around the body before them, provides unyielding support which leads to a rebound effect. As much as I detest all of the supportive gear, the suits were a major step forward relative to adding pounds to the total. They don't necessarily lead to gains in "strength" but they will obviously help one to use heavier weights. If we date the first "suit" back to Tom Overholtzer's penguin wrap at the 1968 Seniors, then it is obvious that this, too, is not a new concept.

The so-called advances in nutrition have been discussed often in this column and this magazine. The basics of a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement and protein powder, which long served the lifting community, may still have a place for those who do not eat well, consistently, or enough for what their goals require. A look at the old PLUSA mags indicates that each new "breakthrough" has a lifespan of high popularity of approximately one year, and then settles in for another year or two of sluggish sales. After a while, occasional ads can be replaced by yet another "indispensable" item for increased totals. Many of our football players used Mike Bridges' weight supplement this summer, because it was impossible for them to eat enough to gain weight with the demands of our lifting and running programs, work, and summer classes. Yet, skim milk powder, malt powder, chocolate powder, eggs, peanut butter, bananas, etc., and milk, mixed in a blender could have served a similar purpose, had they wanted to take the time and effort to procure the ingredients and then mix them. Nutrition for the lifter, despite claims that increases in totals have occurred because of it, hasn't changed in decades. Despite the glitz, like training, the accessories, nutrition, and equipment have remained stable and basic. The same could be said of training methods, although that's something we discuss constantly.



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