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Powerlifting Gear Update

By Gary F. Zeolla

Below are several messages I posted in the Weight Trainer's United forum about decision I needed to make in regards to the wearing of gear for training and competition.

Next contest/ raw vs. gear decisions

Now that my contest is over, I have some decisions to make. My plan was for my next contest to be the WNPF PA States, September 10, in Ephrata, PA. This would be about a 4-hour drive away and would require two nights in a hotel.

But I recently found out that the APF will be holding its PA States in South Park, which is less than a hour away. So no hotel stay would be required. This is the same distance away (but in the opposite direction) of my last contest. As I mentioned in my contest report, it was really nice competing at a contest so close.

But there is a big difference between the WNPF and the APF. The APF does not have a raw division. In fact, the APF has about the most liberal rules there is in regards to gear: unlimited ply, any material. Up until my last contest, I had been competing with double-ply gear. But that gear is rather worn now, so I will need to get new gear if I enter the APF contest.

For those who followed my posts back in the winter, you know about the problems I ran into trying to get new gear and why I decided to go raw. And the main reason I entered the WNPF contest was to enter the raw division. The WNPF is only fed with meets in my area that allows knee wraps in their raw division. So my plan was to stick with competing raw in the WNPF.

However, I ran into a few problems training and competing raw. In the weeks leading up to the contest, I injured my right groin/ adductor area, my right hip, and my left pec. None of the injuries were that serious, more nuisance pains than anything. So I was able to continue to train and to compete.

At the contest, the pec bothered me some warming up but not during my bench attempts. My hip did not bother me during the contest, but it did afterwards. However, these pains might be a "warning" that competing raw is not really a good idea, especially for someone like me in his mid-40s.

So I am thinking that with the APF holding a contest so close to my home, maybe it would be a good idea to go back to using double-ply gear. But finances are tight right now and double-ply gear can get rather expensive.

However, when I was on the APF’s site, I happened to click on the “Powerlifting Supplies” link, and that took me to the page for Frantz gear. I’ve seen Frantz gear at IPA contests before, but only the canvas squat suit. But listed on this page is some very inexpensive double-ply poly gear. So I was thinking of going with it. But I was wondering if anyone was familiar with it? The page is located at: 

It should also be mentioned that the WNPF has an “unlimited division.” So if I were to get new double-ply gear and get used to it again, I could still enter a WNPF contest in the future. For that matter, I could also go back to the IPA. All three feds have similar gear rules for their geared divisions. The IPA is now holding its Nationals and Worlds each year in York, PA, which is about a 3-1/2 hours drive. So I would have a lot more flexibility in terms of contests to enter if I go with double-ply gear.

So that’s my thoughts. I’m leaning towards going back to using full gear. But I need to decide for sure soon. After the problems I had in the winter getting new gear, I want to leave plenty of time for getting the gear, getting it altered as need be, and using it in training before the APF contest in August. But any comments would be appreciated.

Contest decision/ Gear order

I decided that my next contest will be the APF PA States in August. It's listed on their Web site, but the exact date is not yet set. In fact, it was because of me calling them that they listed it. I saw the meet results for last year's contest in last month's issue of "Powerlifting USA." So I called them to see if they were having it again this year.

It wasn't listed yet as the meet director had been sick. But after I called, they contacted him, and he said he was definitely having it again this year, in August in South Park, same as last year. But he hadn't set the exact date yet.

If something were to happen with the meet director and the meet does not happen, then as a backup, I can enter the WNPF PA States in Ephrata in September. Both the APF and the WNPF's unlimited division have similar gear rules. And the contests are close enough together that I could do either one.

Assuming I enter the APF meet, then it would be possible to also enter IPA Nationals in York, PA in November. The exact date is not yet set, but Ellen Chaillet told me it would probably be the weekend before Thanksgiving. So there would be about 3 months between contests, the minimum I like. And again, the APF and IPA have similar gear rules. So it's possible I could end up entering contests in three different feds this year, the WNPF contest I just entered, APF States, and IPA Nationals.

So with this decision, I went ahead and ordered new gear. I ordered the following Frantz gear:

Double-ply poly squat suit
Double-ply poly bench shirt
Double-ply poly deadlift suit

The bench shirt is completely open back with Velcro at the bottom only. I asked about getting Velcro on the straps on the suits. But I told him about my lifting alone and needing to loop the straps over the safety bars in my power rack to get the suit on and off. And he said the Velcro would probably pull apart. So I had to go with regular straps.

Total cost was only $265. They said it will take about two weeks to ship.

I also ordered the following from Titan:

THP 2.5m knee wraps
THP wrist wraps (50cm/ 20")
Single-ply briefs
Power Wash
TK wraps
Suit gloves

The APF and WNPF both allow 2.5 meter knee wraps. But I have two pairs of almost new 2.0 meter THP wraps. So I'll probably use them for training and save the 2.5 meter wraps for the contest.

The APF allows double-ply briefs, but the WNPF only allows single-ply. And I figured that double-ply briefs would make the suit harder to put on, so I just went with single-ply.

The "Power Wash" is Titan's specialty detergent that is supposed to actually strengthen poly gear when you wash it. I don't know if it will work, but I figured it was worth a try.

The TK wraps are neoprene sleeve type wraps. I'm planning on trying them on DLs. And the suit gloves are supposed to help with gripping the suit when you put it on.

Total cost for the Titan stuff was $127 including shipping. So my total gear costs were $392. That's not too bad.

Gear update - I’m happy now!

I got the gear I ordered, both from Titan and from Frantz. Most was good, but I had a few problems with a couple of the items.

I got the Titan order first:

THP 2.5m knee wraps
THP wrist wraps (50cm/ 20")
Single-ply briefs
Power Wash
TK knee bands
Suit gloves

The briefs did not fit right. They were very tight in the legs but way too loose every place else. Getting a smaller size wouldn’t do given the legs. So I just sent them back. I could get a customized pair, but I figured I’d wait on the Frantz gear and then decide.

The wrist wraps were too short, so I also sent them back. Titan does have longer wraps, but they not in stock where I ordered from. So I’ll just stick with my CMW and Inzer wraps for now.

The TK knee bands are really nice. They’re tighter and provide more support than the drug store, sleeve type knee wraps I’ve been wearing on DLs. One thing though, they were rather long, 24 cm. I checked the rulebooks for the feds I might enter. The IPA and WNPF don’t mention the length on such wraps. But the APF does and limits them to 20 cm. And they were longer than I would like anyway, so I cut them. The material is such that you can cut them without them unraveling.

The suit gloves were a waste. I should have sent them back as well. They’re too thick to get your fingers under a tight suit to pull on it. So don’t waste your money.

I haven’t tried the knee wraps or power wash yet.

I then got the Frantz gear I ordered:

Double-ply poly squat suit
Double-ply poly bench shirt
Double-ply poly deadlift suit

I tried everything on as soon as I got it, and it seemed to fit just right! I am psyched! I wasn’t in the mood to go through several rounds of getting gear altered. But I won’t use any of it in training for another three weeks. My main concern is the bench shirt. It is really tight. So I will have to see how much weight it will take to touch. But I am looking forward to trying it.

I was able to get everything on and off myself without too much trouble. It only took about 15 minutes for all three items. The suits could actually be a little tighter. But it’s for the best. I am planning on ordering a pair of Frantz briefs. But I need to hold off until I know for certain what contest I’ll be entering. The IPA and APF allow double-ply briefs while the WNPF only allows single ply briefs.

I also want to try the gear for a workout and see how they feel, and I need to decide if double-ply briefs will make it too hard to get the suits on. I’m also concerned about DLs and if with a double-ply suit and briefs I’ll be able to get down the bar or not. I might end up getting double-ply briefs for squats and single-ply for DLs. Then if I enter a WNPF contest, I can just use the single-ply for both.

But I am thinking that I will wear the suits without briefs for training, then only add the briefs for the last workout or two before a contest and, or course, for the contest. That way, it won’t be a struggle putting the suits on for training. But the briefs will give me that little bit “extra” for a contest.

Note also that the two suits seem to fit a little bit differently. The DL suit fits a little bit looser than the squat suit. I was going to just get a squat suit and use it for both lifts. But I’m glad I got two suits. I don’t think I would have been able to get down to the bar on DLs wearing the squat suit.

So as of now, it looks like my new gear will work out. But I won’t know for sure until I use it all in training. I’ll post another update on the gear when I post my first workouts using it.

New double-ply briefs and TRIPLE-PLY shirt

I have been using a double-ply poly squat suit, bench shirt, and deadlift suit from Frantz Gear. But for my workouts next week, I will be using two new additional pieces of Frantz gear.

First is a pair of double-ply briefs. I am hoping these make a significant difference in my squat, and maybe even help a little on DLs. Not only will it double the layers, but my squat suit and deadlift suit fit snug, but not real tight. I can get them on and off myself without too much trouble. But the briefs should make it all fit really tight. It will probably be very difficult to get it all on and off, but I am hoping it will be worth it.

Second, I like the double-ply shirt I have been using, but it doesn’t fit just quite right. The arms are a little short. I think this is why I’ve been having problems keeping it in place. I keep pulling the arms up, and they slip back down. I was going to send it back to get altered. But then I had an idea; my next contest is an APF meet, which allows triple-ply shirts. So I had Frantz specially make a triple-ply poly shirt.

I’ve tried different shirts (including denim), but I have never been able to get one that really works well for me. But I am very hopeful about this shirt. I had them make the arms a little longer, so it fits just right. But otherwise, the fit is about the same as my current shirt. I’ll only have a couple of workouts to get used to it. So hopefully, there won’t be much of a learning curve with it.

A couple of problems with using this gear though. As I said, my next contest is an APF meet, which allows all this gear. But I entered a WNPF meet earlier this year, and before that I was competing in the IPA. The WNPF allows triple-ply shirts, but only single-ply briefs with double-ply suits. So if I enter a WNPF meet, I will have to get a pair of single-ply briefs.

The IPA, conversely, allows double-ply briefs with double-ply suits, but it only allows double-ply shirts. So I don’t know what I would do if I enter an IPA contest again. There are no equipment checks, so if I don’t say anything, I probably could get away with wearing the triple-ply shirt. But I would hate for a question to be raised about the validity of my lifts.

So maybe I will contact Mark or Ellen Chaillet beforehand. The shirt really is not that thick, probably about the same as Metal Pro gear, and that is allowed. So maybe they would allow it. I think it really is a question on what a “ply” is.

But I’ll cross those bridges when I get to them. Right now, I am really looking forward to next week’s workouts to see how this new gear works out. On squats, I will also be switching from 2.0 to 2.5 meter wraps (which are allowed in all three of these feds). So I am hoping for a big squat on Monday. We shall see!


For details on how the above new gear worked out, see "Week 9" at Full Workout Logs: Starting 7/7/06: In-Season/ Weeks 6-11. Bt in a nutshell, squatting with the Frantz suit and briefs went okay, but not great. and I was very disappointed with the triple-ply shirt. It was no better than the double-ply shirt. That then lead to the following post. And again for how this all works out, see the above mentioned workout page

Comparing Crain and Frantz Gear

Someone mentioned in my “Disappointed” thread that he compared his new Crain shirt to Inzer gear and found the Crain shirt was thicker. So I pulled out my old Crain gear to compare it to my new Frantz gear.

Comparing the Crain double-ply Genesis squat suit to the double-ply Frantz suit, there is no doubt the Crain suit is thicker and heavier. I even used my postage scale and weighed them. The Frantz squat suit weighs 12 ounces while the Crain suit weights over 16 ounces.

Meanwhile, the Crain Double Xtreme shirt is thicker than the double-ply Frantz shirt but not as thick as the triple-ply Frantz shirt. All three shirts are open back, with Velcro at the bottom. But the Velcro on my Crain shirt I added myself (well, a local seamstress sewed it on). But it is only two thin strips of Velcro from a crafts store, while the Frantz gear has the 4” wide Velcro that generally comes on Velcro shirts. The latter Velcro is much heavier, so I cannot compare the shirts by weighing them.

But I tried all three shirts on, and the Crain shirt is obviously tighter. And that could very well be the problem with the Frantz shirts. I thought they were fitting okay, but now I can see they’re simply too large. Also, the style is different. The Frantz shirts just don’t seem to “hug” as well. And pulling my arms back, I can get my elbows back farther with either Frantz shirt than with the Crain shirt.

But the problem with my old Crain gear is just that, it’s old and pretty worn. The problem was, when I first got the gear, I would wash it every time I used it, but I would hang dry it. After numerous uses, Ricky told me I was supposed to be putting the gear in the dryer. And doing that did seem to get some of the original tightness back.

But it was because of this problem that last fall I began looking into getting new gear. As I mentioned in the “Disappointed” thread, I planned on getting the new Crain gear back then, but it was delayed in coming out. So that is when I tried unsuccessfully at getting some KK DD gear, went raw for one meet, and then got the Frantz gear.

But now, I don’t know what to do. It’s too late and I just don’t have the money to get any new gear. So I will have to make do with what I have. But I’m not sure if I should stick with the Frantz gear or go back to my old Crain gear.

I’ve used all of my new Frantz gear in training, so the only way I will be able to tell which is better is to use the Crain gear in training. I have one workout with gear left for each lift.

I will be deadlifting with gear for the last time this afternoon (Sunday). I delayed this workout from Friday as I was feeling burned out. Problem is, I only have a single-ply Crain deadlift suit. For my last contest using Crain gear, I used my double-ply squat suit on deadlifts. But that was when I was still deadlifting sumo. With my new conventional stance, I’m not sure if the squat suit will work or not.

So as I write this, I am not sure if I should use the Crain double-ply squat suit, the Crain single-ply deadlift suit, or just stick with the Frantz double-ply deadlift suit. I had someone tell me a while back that a squat suit works better on DLs if you put it on backwards. I tried this once before with my Crain squat suit, back on New Year’s Day. And I don't know if it made any difference, but it did seem easier to put on. But that was when I was deadlifting sumo. So I might try that again.

But for squats, I will definitely try the Crain suit. And I will try my Double Xtreme shirt for my next geared benches.

I know it’s rather close to a contest to still be deciding on gear. But I’ve used the Crain gear many times in training and at contests, so there’s no learning curve. It’s just a matter of deciding which will be best for this upcoming meet.

Sorry for the overly long post, but I am really struggling over this issue!

Crazy Gear Ideas

See "Week 10" at Full Workout Logs: Starting 7/7/06: In-Season/ Weeks 6-11 for the results of my most recent workouts. But with these workouts, I had a couple of crazy ideas on what to do for my upcoming contest.


My squat test showed I might be best off using my Frantz suit and Frantz briefs. Problem is, it is extremely difficult getting the double-ply suit over the double-ply briefs. And when I tried the briefs on after my workout, I could tell they are simply too big.

So I had an idea. I have a Crain single-ply squat suit that is barely worn. I used it for my first two contests, and just a couple of workouts before those meets. I then got the double-ply Crain suit and used it for workouts and contests after that. Looking at the Frantz briefs, they are basically just a suit without straps. So I was thinking that I could just get the straps removed from the Crain suit and it hemmed as needed, and use that for briefs.

I tried the suit on. It’s the same size as my double-ply Crain suit, but with it being only single-ply, it’s not quite as hard to get on. And getting the Frantz suit on over is difficult, but not as difficult as using the Frantz briefs. And once I got it on, it felt really tight, and I think might work just as well if not better than the Frantz combo. I also have a Crain DL suit. So I tried that with the Frantz DL suit. That combo fit tight, but not excessively for DLs.

I, of course, could just get a pair of Crain briefs. But I doubt I will ever enter a single-ply contest, so the two suits are just going to waste. And it will cost a lot less to get both suits altered than to get just one pair of briefs. So I already took them to a local seamstress to be altered.

Problem is, I do not have any heavy squat or DL workouts left to try these combos out. But the “feel” is not that different than what I’ve been experimenting with. So my plan is just to open with what I would if I was wearing just the Frantz suits. If the converted Crain briefs give me some “extra” then I will adjust my second and third attempts as need be.

One minor point, the APF rulebook states, “A pair of briefs of any design may be worn, provided that the length of the legs does not exceed mid thigh, and that the waist does not extend beyond approximately midtorso.” My Frantz briefs extend well above midtorso. So I figured I would need to get them altered anyway. But I talked to the meet director, and he said he couldn’t car less about the brief’s length. But still, I think I will get the Crain converted briefs set to midtorso just to be sure.


While I was on the phone with the meet director, I also asked him about the APF’s rule on shirts. Since the APF allows triple-ply shirts, I asked if it would be allowable to sew a single-ply shirt inside a double-ply shirt. I was actually surprised when he said it would be, provided the two shirts are sewed together enough that they are in essence one shirt.

I have a Crain single-ply Power Shirt that, as with the squat suit, I haven’t worn since my second contest. So I first thought of sewing that inside my new Frantz double-ply shirt. But the two shirts are so different that it would be hard to sew them together. But I then tried putting the single-ply Crain shirt inside my Double Extreme Crain shirt. And those matched up almost perfectly, and they are both the same color (red). So if the seamstress does a good job sewing them, it might actually be hard to tell they were originally two shirts.

But before having them sewed, I wanted to try the combo for a workout. So I did that yesterday. And it worked great! See my workout post for details. So I will definitely be wearing this combo shirt for my contest.

What this probably means is that my Double Xtreme shirt is too large. For that matter, this is probably the answer to my shirt problems. My shirts are all just too large. I need to change my conception on what a “tight” fitting shirt is.

In fact, when I get the two shirts sewed together, I’ll have the seamstress shorten the arms and lower the hem line around the neck and shoulders. So if I were to get a new shirt, I’d probably want to get one a couple of sizes smaller. And I’m guessing, if I were to get a new double-ply Crain shirt with Crain’s new material and a smaller size, it might work about the same as this combo shirt.

In any case, tomorrow, I will take the shirts to the seamstress to be sewed together. Of course, the problem with this is I will no longer have the Double Xtreme shirt to use. But I will have the double-ply Frantz suit. So I can use that if I have to, and I was thinking of using it for training after this contest.

However, I noticed that with the combo shirt, it changed my groove some. I had to bring the bar lower. So it would probably be best to train with it. In fact, I wish I had thought of this weeks ago. If I had a couple of more workouts to get use this combo shirt, I’d probably be able to do even better with it.

Gear Update

I finally got my gear back from the seamstress last night (Thursday). That was cutting it a bit too close for comfort. But she did a good job on converting the suits into briefs and sewing the two shirts together. On the latter, as I hoped, you can barely tell it was originally two shirts.

I didn’t bother trying on the briefs as I am sure they will fit. But I tried the combo shirt on, and it seems to fit just fine. But I’ll see how it works on benches for the contest tomorrow.

See APF PA State Powerlifting Championships - 2006 for details on how this all worked out.


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