PowerliftingPosted: February 26, 2011
I can appreciate a 15-year-old boy’s ability to lift 445 pounds of weight off the ground, but I can’t help but ask myself why?
I spent the better part of Saturday marking scores for my high school’s powerlifting meet. I don’t know how I was selected for this task or what makes me a qualified candidate to perform such an activity, but I do know I witnessed an event that had me simultaneously applauding and scratching my head.
Basically a high school powerlifting meet goes something like this.
1) Several weight stations are set up around a gymnasium that can accommodate the activities of bench pressing, squatting and dead lifting.
2) Teenage boys show up in droves, clad in spandex uniforms (which leave little to the imagination) and attempt to out perform one another in muscle flexing and grunting.
3) Each student gets three attempts in each of the three weight lifting events to prove they can, in fact, hold more weight than their peers for about a two-second time period.
As you can imagine, powerlifting is not a burgeoning spectator sport, but I did find myself rooting for each student to succeed in meeting their weightlifting goal, partly because I wanted them all to do well and partly because to fail to lift the weight properly can easily result in serious injury.
The competitors would approach their weight lifting station with such determination, such prowess for the heavy lifting that lay before them. Some struggled with their loads, muscles shaking as they moved the weight over their heads or down to the ground. Others would gracefully move the bar back and forth with ease, like it was nothing more than a milk jug. While I admired their dedication, I still can’t figure out what motivates someone to sign up for an activity with such a high risk or explosion.
Competitors don’t just approach their stations in spandex and a smile. Their knees come wrapped in support bandages so tight, their thighs turn purple from lack of blood circulation and their walks turn from an expected bipedal stride to that of a G.I. Joe action figure with no hip joints. And their waists are adorned in back-supporting belts that are cinched so tight they look like 19th century women laced in corsets. All of these precautions to ensure that, while lifting these weights, their knee caps don’t go flying through their leg meat or their backs don’t crumble from the stress. I won’t even walk on a floor barefoot if I think I can get a splinter and these teenagers are risking their ability to walk with out a cane when they are 25. I say again, why?
Strength is a valuable commodity and a quality that I certainly appreciate and promote. After all, I go to Heath frequently to carry my heavy boxes or open those unopenable jars. But as far as powerlifting competitions go, they are about on par with a hot dog eating contest, power hour. or running a marathon. Just because your body can do something, doesn’t mean it should.