Welcome to the inaugural issue of British Strength Magazine. It feels amazing to know that what I’m writing now could be the start of something very exciting. The first issue of this magazine is something I’ve dreamt about and planned for months, so without further ado I would like to tell you a little bit about how and why this magazine came to be.
I’ve been competing in powerlifting for two years now and one of the things I’ve come to realise is just how underappreciated our athletes are. Now, I can’t speak for the other strength sports ie. strongman, strongwoman, weightlifting and crossfit, but it just seems that in the UK there are a plethora of awe inspiring lifters who just aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. Sorry, I’ll rephrase that, they aren’t getting any recognition. Okay, fair enough, we all have our friends, peers and family members posting nice comments on our videos on Facebook and other social media outlets, but don’t you think there should be a little more? I certainly do.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all the top lifters in our country should be famous with camera crews following them around everywhere they go. No, not al all. What I’m saying is that although powerlifting is seen primarily as a hobby, the elite in the sport should be given at least some of the benefits that the elite in more popular sports are given.
So where do we start? In my opinion, a reputable media outlet is imperative, and that’s what I aim to bring to the sport with the help of some of the best athletes and minds in the industry. More and more people are becoming involved in powerlifting and that’s an extremely positive thing for what has historically been a niche sport. However, in order to attract the kind of numbers we need to make each competition truly competitive and to earn the top men and women the sponsorships and maybe even financial backing they deserve, we need to be able to reach out to more people.
Of course, there’s a possibility that nothing will come of this publication other than a fun, informative read for the average strength junkie, and that’s cool. To fill the magazine-sized gap in the UK’s strength culture is definitely a positive thing as long as everyone is represented, and represented fairly, which brings me onto my next point...
I see it all the time on Facebook, Instagram and in person: the assisted lifters trolling the drug free, the drug free lifters trolling the assisted, crossfiters proclaiming to be the most superior band of lifters there is, and everyone else hating on crossfit... and that’s before we even get started on the equipped lifters being slated for their high squats constantly.
It seems fashionable for every lifter to belong to a “camp”; to identify with a certain fraction of the strength community. For example, in my sport, the tested lifters and non-tested lifters each tend to train and socialise only within their own crowd. Oftentimes a lifter from the GBPF or BPU will throw a little quip out there about the tested federations, and it only serves to make the divide greater.
Powerlifting isn’t like boxing, where a champion of a certain federation can cross over and fight the champion of another federation until he or she has collected all the belts and become undisputed champion. For obvious reasons lifters from the non-tested feds don’t really venture into competition in tested federations and there are very strict rules put in place by the drug free feds which prevent the opposite from occurring. I personally think it’s a great thing to have tested and non-tested champions as it gives lifters a choice regarding whether or not they want to use, ahem.... “supplements”. But that’s beside the point, what I’m trying to get at is that all the different federations, although useful in a way, create lots of division in a sport which is already quite small.
Another great example of what I’m trying to illustrate here is the recent decline of equipped powerlifting and the huge resurgence of raw lifting. You may have to humor me a bit here as I’m probably what you’d class as a newbie to the powerlifting scene, but from what I understand.... Ten and twenty years ago, equipped lifting was all the rage; single ply gear was getting much better and multi ply was gaining popularity. Louie Simmons was widely accepted as the god of powerlifting and today’s fashion of lifting big weights whilst being lean was almost non-existent, it was all about being as huge as possible so that you could fill out your gear and become as strong as humanly possible.
These days however, the powerlifting demographic has changed massively. Geared lifting is not what is was in terms of its popularity and it seems to me like it is a very much “underground’ sport now. This changing of the guard has been so extreme that equipped lifting has become somewhat of a joke. I regularly hear people making fun of how high some of the multi ply lifters like to cut their squats, and in all fairness this is a problem, especially when referees are allowing high squats, unlocked/unpaused benches and hitched deadlifts to pass. However, this type of judging is only prevalent in some federations (mainly American... sorry, but it’s true) and to be quite honest, the reputation equipped lifting gets because of it makes me feel a little sorry for the geared lifters.
The reason I feel sorry for the equipped lifters has a lot to do with what I said before about how everyone likes to belong to a camp. Beginner lifters see experienced raw lifters hating on the equipped guys and assume that it’s the “in” thing to do, so they start doing it. What results is a decline in the popularity of equipped lifting which is proliferated largely by social media. Although I’m raw and likely to stay raw, I don’t think this alienation is beneficial or fair for the men and women who have spent thousands of pounds on kit and have sacrificed years of their life to become good at lifting in gear.
So here’s how the above rant relates to my vision for this magazine.... My aim is to keep every type of lifter in the loop; to avoid alienating people. No matter if you’re assisted, drug free, male, female, equipped, raw, a strongman, strongwoman, crossfitter or weightlifer, this magazine is for you. Of course, I’m a powerlifter and the majority of my interpersonal interactions tend to be with powerlifters, so most of the articles you’ll read in this issue will be by powerlifters. However, as I’ve mentioned, the door is open to writers from other strength sports. As long as the article is good, I’ll publish it.
I really do hope that this magazine ultimately provides a platform for lifters from all backgrounds and disciplines to share with us their knowledge and experience. In this issue we already have such drug free federation competitors as Charlie Shotton-Gale, Owen Hubbard and Jake Downes providing us with articles on programming, nutrition and attempt selection respectively. We also venture out of the realms of powerlifting with drug worker Dave Smith providing an unbiased, matter-of-fact article on performance enhancing drugs and Lizzie Havers’ piece which gives us an insight into what it it takes to cultivate the mindset of a winner in weightlifting. So those are just a few examples of the writers I’ve recruited to break away from subjects which pertain only to my circle of associates. Hopefully future issues will bring yet more variety.I think that’s enough of my rambling for now, I’ll leave you to peruse the magazine at your leisure and enjoy the words of some of the most amazing athletes and minds in the strength community.
Long live British Strength Magazine.
Your Editor In Chief,