Early this month I had the pleasure (?) of helping a friend of mine at his local powerlifting meet. Over the months he had squatted, benched and deadlifted with a remarkable intensity and focus. When the time came for the big day, I was honoured that he asked me to come along. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect.
Despite training for over a decade at this point, a time that has included powerlifting programmes, my knowledge of the sport was largely confined to big athletes lifting even bigger things. The powerlifting meet changed that. At least somewhat. Still big athletes and big things but now there were elastic singlets, knee wraps and in the warm up benching shirts. What I thought to be a simple sport (in theory, not in execution) was anything but.
Competitors discussed the relative merits of heel height in their lifting shoes, the importance of tight weightlifting belts and which squat suit provided the best bang for their buck. When the time came for my friend’s first squat, I had to peel him into, and then later, out of, his own squat suit. Moral of the story? Always ask what exactly is entailed when you agree to help someone!
In any case the experience rekindled my interest in the history of powerlifting, specifically all its bells and whistles. In today’s post, we’re going to discuss the emergence of weightlifting belts, shoes, squat suits and bench shirts to determine what emerged, when and why.