Is Multi-Ply Powerlifting Losing Its Credibility?

So, today I saw a truly disheartening video. The video in question was this one with Dave Hoff ‘lifting the biggest total of all time 3005lb’.

At 42seconds Hoff hits the ‘bottom’ of the squat. I’d say it’s a good 3-4 inches high from parallel. However, cue white lights and wild celebrations…

Don’t get me wrong I have huge respect for Hoff having the strength to simply unrack that weight and take it down, but that is not a completed squat by any Powerlifting Federations’ rules.

If Powerlifting is to become mainstream and appeal to a growing number of viewers, this can’t happen. As experienced strength sport enthusiasts we ridicule those that claim their half squats as parallel and new PR’s. Well here’s one of the biggest, most respected gyms sending out lifters hitting 3/4 squats and claiming world records. I am a big fan of Westside Barbell and have followed Louie Simmons since I started training. Now however, I must admit, I’m losing my former interest in this type of geared lifting. This isn’t just a Westside thing though and it would be unfair to simply put all the blame onto that gym. The federations these lifters are participating in are becoming a joke as each meet we see higher totals from lifters not getting stronger, but from squats getting higher and higher.

And I’m not going to even talk about this incident also involving Hoff…

This needs to change, or Powerlifting will attract no new lifters and even current fans will lose interest (which I now count myself one of those disillusioned former fans) . It’s no surprise to me that people just aren’t interested in these massive totals any more when they realise it’s in gear and videos like this crop up. In my opinion Raw is the future of Powerlifting. As sad as it would be to see geared lifting die a death, I think that’s where it’s heading.  I can see geared lifting becoming even more of an underground scene than it already is. With the federations divided and faith in them dwindling in the strength community, interest moves to Raw lifting. That is where my interest firmly resides until videos like Hoff’s ‘record total’ stop cropping up.

Powerlifting – Clean up your act. That just isn’t good enough.

I’ll finish with a quote from Brandon Lilly in The Cube Method Manual which for me sums up my concluding thoughts on this issue

We have the ability to fix this. We are the lifters, if we demand more of ourselves, and then demand more from our teammates, and then more from our competitors, at some point the promoters, and the federations will hear us. As long as we give away World Records as quick as you can load the bar, and when the figure heads that say they stand “for what is right” support records that are obviously bogus then the sport loses credibility. We as lifters lose credibility. It’s time to take back our sport. And the time is right now.

Pg 9, Cube Method Manual, Brandon Lilly 2012.


Edit. Update: A Legend Speaks: Goggins on the Hoff debacle



Strong Body. Strong Mind.

3 thoughts on “Is Multi-Ply Powerlifting Losing Its Credibility?”

  1. Interesting post. I agree with you that the future of the sport lies in Raw (and I would add single-ply to IPF standard) lifting. I think that the IPF probably need to take a leaf out of the multi-ply feds in terms of marketing and internet presence. How many of the big IPF players can we name? Yet we can all name the EFS sponsored guys & gals and probably a fair few Westside folks too.

    I doubt very much that Louie cares if the spotlight on his lifters is somewhat negative – the spotlight is there and the old adage that no press is bad press possibly applies. I also think that multi-ply is playing off the negativity directed at it by playing the victim card. You always hear the same excuses “It’s xthousand pounds! Isn’t it amazing that he is even standing there!” – completely disregarding the fact that no squat (as we would understand it) ever took place. The IPF is critiqued for squats that are too deep (which is dangerous and bad apparently), bars that are too stiff, and weigh-ins that actually get close to discovering your actual lifting bodyweight…..

    What we are heading for is a rewrite of the rulebook for geared lifters. The squat will be redefined as hamstrings parallel, benches will touch and go, and only the deadlift will remain the same – that great leveler of a lift between raw and multiply lifters. But my sense of it is that a lot of people like watching the freakshow with massive weights that is multi-ply and so don’t really care what it means for the sport. If that means that the rift gets bigger then so be it, a hardcore will follow multi-ply but I hope that there is enough growing momentum behind raw lifting now to ensure it continues to grow in popularity.

  2. Agreed on many of your points Chris. The only thing to note is that internet presence as we observe does point towards elitefts and Westside guys etc. But if you ask the rest of Europe and Asia, they’ll name the IPF guys. These multi ply feds are stuck in America and they don’t (really) give two hoots about what’s going on in the rest of the world. If you asked Christensen or the big Russian guys about US triple plyed lifting, they wouldn’t care either.
    Westside and US multi ply may be the most vocal, in terms of it’s online marketing as you say, but things are changing. I think everyone outside of these multi ply groups that have a vested interest in powerlifting are looking at the IPF as the gold standard of lifting now. We see this with Mike T, Brandon Lilly, Lillebridge etc all doing their big raw lifting outside of America.
    Westside and multi ply are shooting themselves in the foot with the lifting as shown by the video above. They think that people want to see bigger and bigger squats and so they bend the rules to give them that….Well as strength fans we don’t care about that any more, when Hoff is squatting 3-4 inches above parallel, that is BS whether he has 1000lbs on his back or 10lbs. I’m not surprised interest in geared lifting has plummeted recently.
    There’s therefore an issue with places like Westside holding the power over this discipline – they can dictate the ‘rules’ as you say and they become the face of powerlifting. I hate to say it but Westside needs to fall for powerlifting to progress. Not only from an image perspective but this idea that Westside conjugate style of training is at all optimal for raw powerlifting. It just isn’t, no matter what the Westside zealots will tell you.
    I know the IPF were recently rejected from being recognised as an Olympic sport option, but progress is being made. I think it was Mark Bell who said we need money and recognition in this sport. That will only come in a raw format, that rejects the bollocks above.

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