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Reds and Whites: The Power of the Lights


The powerlifting world has recently exploded over the weekend. There are a few lifts that are streaming around YouTube of lifters that competed this weekend that are being highly debated about depth. I’m going to shed some light into the power of “reds and whites” and what they really truly mean. I understand this is going to be a HOT topic, and I’m not going to lean either way, but rather, focus on how us powerlifters can use these stages to set a powerful example, and help develop and grow the sport, not tear it down. While I may be a “young buck” in the sport of powerlifting, I believe that gives me a great opportunity to provide my analysis of these issues. When we were growing up around other younger children or siblings, our parents or teachers always told us to set an example because we are so impressionable at young ages. I see myself as being impressionable since I am relatively new to the sport, and can see the sport in a non-biased frame of mind. While I have competed and done very well, I’m still learning so much from those around me and the likes of the best that step foot on the platform.

Integrity; noun, \in-ˈte-grə-tē\ (As from

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values

2: an unimpaired condition

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided

Integrity might be the most valued characteristic when it comes to sports. We hear about athletes and coaches obtaining integrity and respecting their sport. When it comes to powerlifting though, integrity is always debated via federations and rules. What is considered parallel? Flat feet on bench? Lockout on bench? Hips on the bench? Wraps or no wraps? Drug tested? The list can go on and on, and depending on what federation you compete in, the rules are slightly different about everywhere you go.

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So how do we build integrity in the sport?

Simple. We hold it to ourselves as lifters to high standards of integrity to perform the best and abide by the rules set before us through the federation we chose to compete. I’m not going to go into depth about what should and shouldn’t be the standard for federations. It’s up to you as a lifter to pick your federations based on your beliefs. If you believe your hip has to break parallel, pick a federation that requires that standard. Is this ideal for the sport? Probably not, and it will be debated probably until the end of time. But you as a lifter get to choose which standards you wish to abide by.

What we need to do as powerlifters is join together as a community and force each other to get better and become a brotherhood. There is too much conflict between gear, federations, rules, and other bullshit, and it’s holding the sport back. In my opinion, if there is any reason powerlifting isn’t in the Olympics, it’s because of us lifters bitching at each other over forums and YouTube videos about other people’s lifts, when really we should be supporting each other and trying to make each other better.

Do you ever wonder why the XPC Finals and Raw Unity are the best competitions in the country? Because all the lifters get together under one roof with one set of standards and compete together and support each other! We see the best lifters in the country at these meets, and they throw away all the bullshit and push each other to bring their best performances. The sport has so much room to improve and grow, and if we can take these simple qualities and apply them to every meet, we can enhance the sport and each other to new levels.

I dislike CrossFit just as much as every other powerlifter, but what they do as a community is unparalleled! They don’t go about bitching at each other over Fran times but rather support and help each other. If there is anything we can learn from CrossFitters, it’s unity!

Now with that out of the way, let’s discuss judging.

The judges are merely abiding by the standards set before them based upon said federation. It is up to the judges to hold the integrity of the federation during each attempt. If you know of a federation that can’t do this, then don’t compete in that federation. The only way you can make a positive influence on a federation is to pay to compete under their sanctioning body. If you don’t support them, they can’t thrive. Now, some people may say that certain lifters go to certain feds because they know they are more likely to get whites. This again comes back to that person as a lifter. If they are willing to cheat themselves, let them. Take pride in your integrity and sink every squat, drill every bench, and own every deadlift! Only you as a lifter can set an example of what should be displayed. Your performance speaks louder than you can imagine, and judges and lifters alike take notice in this, and lean to you representing the sport on a positive platform for your community, gym, and peers.

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But really, we need to blame all of us in the sport; from lifters, judges, coaches, federations, websites, and sponsors. It’s basically a checks and balances of each other when you really take a look at it.

    • Coaches teaching lifters proper standards
    • Lifters holding training partners to these standards
    • Federations holding judges to proper standards
    • Judges holding lifters to proper standards
    • Websites and sponsors rewarding lifters of proper standards

It’s just a giant loop! So you as a lifter have to take the initiative if you wish to see the sport improve. Together, we can make a community that supports each other for “whites” and the hard work put under the bar to achieve the goals we have. Lifts will probably always be debated and argued, but that’s just some of the nature of the sport. There is going to be some human error, but if you as a lifter take the initiative to abide by these standards and make your lifts unquestionable it not only makes the judging easier, but an influence on younger lifters to perform the way they see it done.

“Reds” or negativity is not the answer to improving the sport. We need to be filled with “whites” and positivity, support the sport and try to improve upon it the way we can, with great individual integrity and hard work together as a community. When we start doing this, we’ll finally see powerlifting become the best strength sport it can possibly become, and make better lifters across the world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section and how we can help grow and improve the sport!

  1. We can play pretend and act like its all about supporting each other or we can cut to the chase. For Powerlifting to be popular we need to get rid off all the stupid federations that allow shallow depth and equipment. Plain and simple. You are out of your mind if you think high school athletes will be attracted to powerlifting in suits where you can’t even put your arms down and are benching 200 pounds more than raw.
    If powerlifting is to become popular, the USAPL should reign supreme and everyone should get involved with it. It is the best federation out there.

  2. Brandon Lilly said something very similar to this

    My reply was.. “Brandon’s words are great and something to get behind. However, it still remains that that record will stand. And a lifter (and judges) who does respect the rules required of a proper squat may be denied any chance of beating that total because that lifter lifts “as powerlifting should be”. Yes we must look to ourselves, but as a Strength community we have to stand up and condemn this, and say “You’re destroying the integrity of the sport I love!” Our Inactivity risks validating this controversy”

    I understand your point concerning ““Reds” or negativity is not the answer to improving the sport.”….However, it’s not negative to ‘call a turd… a turd’. And we shouldn’t be scared or accused of being negative when we stand up for the rules and integrity of our Sport.

    1. Brandon S.


      Thanks for reading!

      I agree with what Brandon Lilly said. I also see your point. While it’s not the best to just stand back and let things happen, it’s very hard for other lifters to make a great deal of change. While I see what you’re getting at, I’m not sure there is much that WE can do. This really boils down the federation and judges. You would think that federations would want the best for the sport and lifters, but sometimes, federations want the publicity that comes with records and huge numbers and performances and just “let it go”.

      This is a problem that will never be resolved unless powerlifting goes to one major federation, but I never see that happening. It is what it is, and it’s sad that not much can truly be done from our end other than what we do as individuals. While some lifts can be “overturned”, I’m not sure the steps that require this to be done. Maybe a crap ton of complaints AND video evidence? Beats me.

      It’s a great topic and discussion though!

      In Strength,


      1. To some extent I think it may work itself out eventually, as long as opinions continue to be voiced.

        For how long are the guys, putting up bad lifts, going to try to ignore the majorities opinion? I figure you can only pat your own back for so long. The’ll eventually go where they can find the attention they are looking for.

        1. Brandon S.


          Thanks for reading and the comment!

          I agree that eventually it will work itself out. We as lifters just have to do our part to ensure that. As for lifters getting rewarded for bad lifts, they’ll probably be able to “ignore” it much longer than you’d think. In their eyes, everyone that was there that didn’t confront them (or have the balls to) and the judges agreed it was good. You do hear of some coaches that will admit it wasn’t good, but these are also few and far between. Hopefully us as lifters as we end our careers or start to phase out, we go into helping gyms and teams and getting them to abide by these standards and also judge competitions ourselves. I see this as being our way to give back and stay involved in the sport. I know at many of the competitions I’ve competed in, many of the judges still compete themselves or have had long careers, and this makes me feel much more confident in quality of meets. Great points though! Thanks!

          In Strength,


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