The new IPF kit rules

If you’re in an IPF-affiliated powerlifting federation you will no doubt be aware of the furore over the last couple of months about the new technical kit list.

For those not aware: if you lift in an IPF-sanctioned federation, your kit requirements are fairly strict. The rulebook stipulates technical specifications for personal attire – how thick your belt can be, how long your knee wraps may be, how high your shoe heels may be etc. But as of 2015 the specifications have been expanded to include equipment manufacturers. This means that while your (for example) knee sleeves may have previously met the technical specifications, if they are not made by an approved manufacturer, they may not be used in competition* from now on.

How does a manufacturer get approved? They pay the IPF a fee.

The IPF approved list is here.

As you can imagine, this has caused uproar among many lifters. Equipment lifters have been using for years is suddenly not legal, and new lifters who may have bought expensive equipment now find they can’t use it. The entry costs for new lifters have increased, because not only do you have to pay subs, competition entry fees and travel to your competition etc – now you may have to buy equipment at a premium. An approved belt like (e.g.) an Inzer Forever costs a lot more than an entry-level belt from (e.g.) Pullum that newbies might have previously used while they were deciding if competition was right for them.

Quite a few people in the GBPF groups I’m in have said they’ll leave the GBPF for the BDFPA/BPU etc over this. Me, I’m a GBPF ref, and my club is affiliated to the GBPF, so I’ll stay put. But that’s not to say I’m not pissed off. I have that entry-level Pullum belt and I like it; now, if I want to lift in the British Classic this year, I need to buy another (which will cost me the thick end of £100 after postage & import costs) and I need to break it in. All because my old belt meets the specifications in the technical rules but it was not made by an approved manufacturer.

Additionally, I will need a new singlet. I have an Adidas weightlifting base suit, and it’s fine. Except… Adidas are not on the approved manufacturers’ list for singlets. Sigh.

This is where it gets odd, though. Shoes are not mentioned on the equipment list. I have a pair of Adidas Powerlift 2.0 shoes (as do many people). So they’re OK… but only because shoes aren’t mentioned anywhere on the list. But singlets are mentioned, so we can only assume Adidas singlets are not allowed.

Confusing? You bet.

So I am in the market for a new belt & singlet. I won’t need either for my competition in June/July, but I will need them for September. I’m thinking of getting an Inzer double prong, because 1) I’m used to a double prong, and 2) Inzer have a German online shop I can order from, thus avoiding the uncertainty of ordering from the States (import duty etc).

But really, what a pain. What a fucking pain. In my opinion only thing that has driven this decision by the IPF is money – getting more fees off manufacturers. Companies like Titan & Inzer do a lot of their business with powerlifters, so not paying up would be a bad business decision for them. However I imagine they felt stuck between a rock & a hard place in their decision to pay or not.

Adidas Powerlift2.0 shoes

Adidas Powerlift2.0 shoes

Incidentally, talking about my Adidas shoes: I am currently only using them for bench, for which they are brilliant. But I’ve not been using them for squats, which they were actually for. I had intended to use them at the British last year, and again for my November competition, but they just weren’t working for me. I tend to tip forward a bit at the bottom of heavy squats, and with the additional heel height I was feeling very unstable in them. So I went back to my flat Golas for a while.

I have no idea about quad dominance vs hamstring dominance etc (these being things people seem to talk a lot about when they talk about squats) but I did notice that when I squatted in the shoes, my quads felt more engaged. So maybe I’m more glute/hamstring dominant, since squatting in flat shoes seems (or seemed) to work better for me? I definitely have larger glutes & hams than quads.

ALL THAT SAID… I’ve decided to focus on volume & lighter weight for a few weeks (especially while I’m “between competitions”) and I think I might give the shoes another chance. I squatted 75kg for 5 sets of 3 on Monday in them, and I felt OK (but still so out of condition and feeble after my holiday!!); for my next squat session I might do something crazy like 60kg for sets of 10 and see how they feel. I can always swap back to my flat shoes for when I’m running up to my next competition.

The Adidas shoes are GREAT for bench, though. I feel like I have such a better arch while wearing them, I guess due to the heel height. £80 for a pair of shoes to just bench in seems steep but… you take what you can get, eh?!

* Caveat: the GBPF has said (I’m not sure how officially) that equipment from non-approved manufacturers may be used in divisional competitions, but don’t take my blog post as gospel – ask your competition organiser.