Matt Perryman Matt Perryman

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.