Are Today’s Lifters Stronger than Yesterday’s Lifters?

by Al Myers

That is a question worth finding an answer to!!  But how do you “really know”?  Rule changes, drug use and today’s equipment allowances make it near impossible to answer this question using Powerlifting Records.  In today’s “geared” Powerlifting it is as important to learn how to maximize your equipment to it’s potential as to get stronger.  That is an art in itself that has nothing to do with actually getting stronger.  New advanced bars and rule changes have definitely helped Olympic Lifters today – so it is hard to use Olympic Lifting as your model.

I am going to undertake this challenge of answering this question using All-Round Weightlifting as my data source.  After all, not much has changed in All-Round Weightlifting over the last 50 years.  We have never allowed any gear besides a lifting belt, no one can say we are drug users as we test regularly and more than any other organization at meets, and our rules have not really changed any.  Sure – some may say the “judging was more strict in the old days”, but I have watched old videos and I feel not much has really changed with officiating. After all,  Bill Clark was judging THEN and is judging NOW!!

Thanks to Frank Ciavattone for providing me with the old Region IV Missouri Valley Odd Lift record List so I have something to compare today’s lifts with.  This Record List covered the States of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  This was also the Region that Odd Lifting was most contested in – under the direction of Bill Clark.  This Record List was established in 1961 and went to 1987, at which time the USAWA was formed and the USAWA Record List started.  So we got 26 years on the Old Record List and 22 years on the New Record List.  Sounds like a good matchup to me!   There are some difficulties in setting up this comparison however – as in the “Old Days” weight classes were in pounds and today they are in Kilograms.   But I have devised a plan for comparison and it goes like this:

Group 1.  Compare best record mark in the “Old” 148# Class and below to today’s 70 K Class and  below.
Group 2.  Compare best mark in the “Old” 165# and 181# Class to today’s best record in the 75 K and 80 K Classes.
Group 3.  Compare the best record in the “Old” 198# and 220# Classes to today’s best record in the 85 K, 90 K, and 100 K classes.
Group 4.  Compare the “Old” 242# Class and HVY Class records to the best record in today’s 105 K, 110 K, 115 K, 120 K, 125 K, and 125+ K classes.

This give 4 body weight groups to compare in rounds.  I will pick lifts that were done in the “Old Days” as some of the newer lifts we have today were not done then.  All together – I have come up with 36 lifts to compare so this will be an extensive study. So come back tomorrow to the USAWA Daily News for the First Round of this Comparison!!  I’ll see if I can answer that age-old question, “Are today’s lifters stronger than yesterday’s lifters?”

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