I Am Not a Geared Powerlifter [Context Matters]

A few years ago, I posted a squat video on Youtube. Not the best source of intelligent commentary on good days, several comments stuck out to me. These users, with the best of intentions I’m sure, gave me what I can best describe as “internet powerlifter squat advice”, which I found confusing.

I’m not a geared powerlifter. I don’t train in suits or briefs. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve wrapped my knees. For me, “equipped” means putting on a belt. My preferences are not to be taken as a criticism of supportive equipment, or those of you who choose to train in gear. They’re exactly that: my preferences.

It happens that my preferred squat style resembles that of Olympic lifters, with a high bar position and a narrow stance. My knees travel over my toes. My torso stays fairly upright, rather than folding over into a quasi-good morning. I arrived at this style after years of experimenting with the more traditional low-bar, wider-stance “powerlifting” squat. This suits big men, natural squatters, and geared lifters very well. But I’m skinny, with the proportions of a tall man. The high-bar Olympic squat fits me much better. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two muscles I’ve torn while squatting both happened with a wider stance.

I have no reason to listen to the Westside-EliteFTS approach to squatting. No, I don’t need to keep my shins vertical. No, I don’t need to sit back more. No, box squats don’t help my squat very much. I don’t squat like you. None of that matters. You might as well be telling me how to change a lightbulb while I’m fixing my car.

Context matters. Squats, like every other exercise, are individual. Your levers are different from my levers. Squatting raw might as well be an entirely different exercise from squatting in a suit and wraps. What builds your squat may not build my squat. What builds a raw squat does not necessarily build a geared squat.

Remember this when digesting training advice. Hammers will always find nails.

9 thoughts on “I Am Not a Geared Powerlifter [Context Matters]”

  1. Geared or raw, your squat was high. I can can judge that without seeing the video. Internet judges unite!

  2. I completely agree. I started out with Olympic back squats cause they felt natural. When I experimented with powerlifting squats it seemed like the most awkward exercise I've ever tried.

  3. Yes as much as Westside and Elite have helped bring popularity and more people to the strength sports, all lifting technique is not the same for every person!

  4. The author of the post clearly needs to be educated on proper form. First, he is not using the proper padding on the bar; I don't know how his upper back can take it. Nor do I see the weight belt, which should be worn at ALL TIMES during a resistance training session. He is also using an absurd amount of weight, as anything over 225lbs is unnecessary and just showing off. Furthermore, if he took some weight off the bar perhaps he could perform the correct set and rep protocol (3 sets of 10). He is squatting far too low – well beyond the recommended 90 degrees of knee flexion. His head is tilted forward, instead his neck should be hyperextended so that he is looking straight up on the ascent. Finally, he is not using appropriate footwear for exercise- where are the comfortable running shoes or soft cross trainers?

    I would hate to see what he does on chest day – he probably does not even put his feet up on the bench when he bench presses.

    Matt, if you came into the Planet Fitness where I train, I would have no choice but the give you the lunk alarm. Please learn how to do these exercise properly before you attempt to educate others.

  5. Is this 'So you think you can squat' hate? If so, you've really mellowed out bro. haha. Grea post anyways. Glad o see new material up here.

  6. It'll always come back to preference and what you're doing it for. Westside-EliteFTS squatting suits them because that is the demands of their sport, and I refuse to hate on them for performing their lifts within the confines of their federations and sport; they are strong at what they do and I respect them.
    What is more worrying to me is people not taking words with a little bit of salt or even questioning what they read or pick up. As Perryman points out, there is no reason to take to a specific kind of lifting or anything if it isn't relevant to what you want to do. I couldn't care less about another person's claims that they have the strongest squat or lift or whatever – the battle with Lady Iron, after all, has always been first and foremost a battle of self. :)

  7. haha, nah this wasn't really in response to any single thing — it's been on-going for years. As I see it squat advice is as individual as the person taking it. It just bugs me when I see people who have a good form put together get savaged and told to completely re-do it…because of an article on a website. Matt's First Rule: If it works, keep doing it.

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