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Top 100, Weight Class and Gear Differences

by Gary F. Zeolla

The Top 100 chart for 123s just came out (Powerlifting USA, October 2006, p. 87). My rankings on it are as follows:

Lift Weight Rank
Squat 385 #16
Bench 190 #66
Deadlift 400 #19
Total 975 #22

I am very disappointed with these rankings, but it wasn’t unexpected. These lifts are all from the WNPF contest I entered back in April (2006), when I competed raw. For those who followed my gear problems back then, my original plans were to compete with double-ply gear at an IPA contest. But over the winter, I had all kinds of problems with my gear, got fed up, and decided to just go raw.

In addition, if I had entered the IPA contest, I probably would have cut to 114s. The difference is that in the IPA there is a 24-hour weigh-in rule. So I could have weighed in the morning before the contest, giving me plenty of time to eat and re-hydrate and get my weight back up before the contest. But in the WNPF, weigh-ins are not until the evening before, 6:00 pm in this case. And that wouldn’t have given me enough time to get my weight back up. And I was afraid if I tried to eat and drink a lot that late, I wouldn’t have slept. So I just went 123s.

In any case, compare the above with my most recent contest, an APF contest on Labor Day weekend. I used double-ply gear, and since the APF also has a 24-hour weigh-in rule, I cut to 114s. That contest was too late for my lifts to have been included on last month’s Top 100 chart for 114s. But if my lifts had been included, my rankings would have been:

Lift Weight Rank
Squat 415 #2
Bench 215 #17
Deadlift 400 #7
Total 1030 #4

What a difference! If I had followed my original plan and done this back in April, I could have been #2 in squats rather than just #16. And look at benches, #17 versus #66. Deadlifts are just the difference between weight classes since I pulled the same at both. But the most important number, the total, in the top 5 versus not even making the top 20.

My dad commented at my most recent contest about “how much easier” it was when I competed at 123s, raw. And he was right, it was much easier not having to cut weight and not having to lug a bunch of gear to the contest and struggle with gear all day long. But the above difference is just too much to ignore.

This also shows how very much my raw bench sucks. It is way out pf proportion to my raw squat and DL. The problem most likely is due to having messed up my right shoulder in a bicycle accident over seven years ago. The bones never healed correctly. If you look closely at my right shoulder, you will see a “bump” on the top that is not on my left shoulder. Apparently, the bones healed at an angle, and my right shoulder is still noticeably weaker than my left. See Bicycle Accident Story for further details.

By comparison, in college (before bench shirts were even invented), my best bench at 114s was 205, and at 123s, 240. If I could bench that 240 now, that would have placed me at #25 on the 123s chart, that would be more in line with my placements for squats and deadlifts. And even a 205 bench would be enough to move my total into the top 20.

But it seems that a shirt helps to compensate for this problem somewhat. My shirted bench is not out of proportion as much as compared to my geared squat and DLs as my raw bench is to my raw squat and DL. So this is probably one more reason to keep competing with gear.

However, it can be seen that I am only getting about 25 pound out of my bench shirt. I really feel like I should be getting closer to 50 pounds. If I could get that out of shirt, then my shirted bench would be equal to my shirtless bench from college. Considering my shoulder problem, I would be happy with that.

And on squats, the “raw” squat was done with 2.0 meter wraps while the geared squat was done with 2.5 meter wraps and a double-ply suit. I figure the extra 0.5 meter of wraps adds about five pounds, so that means again, I am only getting about 25 pounds out of my suit. But if again, I could get 50 pounds like I think I should, that would have been enough to move me into first place on the 114s chart (the top squat was 435).

And on DLs, I pulled 400 at both meets. So that means I’m getting nothing out of my DL suit. But if I could just get something out of it, that would help some on both DLs and total.

In any case, the above is an incentive for me to try to stay at 114s if at all possible. But I have no idea if I will be able to cut to 114s for my next contest since it won’t be for a while. But then, my best total in college at 123s was 1095, and that would place me at #6. I would be happy with that if I could get up to that level. And with better gear, I should be able to. And I really do need new gear. Finances are really tight right now, but I am looking into it.

And finally, even my dad commented that there should be some notation to indicate I was competing raw. And it would be nice to know how many of those above me were raw and how many were using gear. If Powerlifting USA were to adopt some such notation system (noting who is raw, who is using single-ply gear, and who is using multi-ply gear), that would go a long way in calming down all of the gear debates.

Top 100, Weight Class and Gear Differences. Copyright 2006 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site October 7, 2006.

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