The negative response is derived entirely out of fear, though it's fear of the wrong thing. Instead of lifters fearing embarrassment due to the fact that their numbers suck and they're fat, they're worried that they'll lose weight off of their generally unimpressive lifts. This fear is compounded by the fact that they'll be unused to cutting, which will presumably cause their bodies to enter into some sort of shock from which they cannot recover.
Somehow, I don't think Li Hongli's losing any sleep over the fact that somewhere in the world a fat man outbenches him.
All of this is, of course, fucking nonsense. One's primary concern when entering a strength competition is winning. As such, you should be focused entirely on what it takes to win. If you're already focused on what it would take to win, you should be focused on what you can do to fucking embarrass everyone around you for even showing up. Thus, having the highest possible relative strength should be your primary concern, rather than the greatest absolute strength. This, of course, flies in the face of the conventional online wisdom that "he who lifts the most wins", as anyone who's not a sloppy fucking mass of adipose tissue would be far more impressed with a stupendous lift by a guy with visable musculature than they would with a Louis Cyr lookalike's world-shattering lift. This is why everyone shits their pants about Stan Efferding, Joe Ladnier, and Matt Kroczaleski when there's a new record broken in the squat by a different circus fat man every 45 minutes. This is also the reason why most of you know who 170 lb Bulgarian Olympic Ivan Stoitsov is, and have seen his pic a thousand times, but have no idea who Tatiana Kashirina is, in spite of the fact that she probably clean and jerks what you deadlift.
Quick! Someone email Lu Xiaojun and tell him he's a bitch because he's only 170!
If you're wondering why no one knows the name of a fat Russian chick who holds the world record in the clean and press and the snatch (a chick who probably outlifts the vast majority of us on just about everything), don't. Fat people aren't really people- they're placeholders where people should be. No one wants to look at them, strong or not, nor be around them long enough to locate their genitalia and fuck. They look like shit, wheeze when they breathe, and are in mortal danger of stroking out when doing anything other than doing a single repetition on one of their pet exercises or eating. This doesn't change much when a fat guy or girl picks up something heavy- we expect them to be able to do so when the object they're lifting is a fraction of their bodyweight, no matter how heavy that object is.
Jeff Lewis squats 1202 in a bulletproof squat suit. Given that he's 525 lbs and has cellulite on his knees, I can tell you confidently that I don't give a flying fuck.
Thus, if really doesn't matter that a fat person is all that strong. You might be thinking, however, that you're not necessarily morbidly obese, but just have a "powerful torso" or somesuch. All that means is that you're leaving weight on the table by which you might be able to fuck up the competition. For instance, if you're competing 235 and sitting on something around 20% bodyfat, you're doing yourself a fucking disservice if you're competing at 242 because you're too fucking lazy to diet a bit. That extra bodyfat is doing nothing but holding you back from greatness, as you could ostensibly be crushing shit at 220, or dominating everyone and looking ridiculous (Chinese Olympic weightlifting style) at 198.
Cutting weight is not, as some people would have it, the death knell for a lifter's total. Provided cutting is done sensibly and fairly slowly, one's strength can rather easily be maintained, and can even be increased slowly if the cut is managed correctly. The added volume you'll probably implement to cut the weight will just contribute to your total workload in the gym, and you could see random lifts jump up as you increase your mobility and strength to weight ratio. Additionally, you won't feel like you need a nap if you have to take the stairs one day when the power goes out.
Throw on top of that the fact that strength does not increase proportionally with bodyweight- the law of diminishing returns kicks in like a motherfucker. This means endless weight gains to shut up the fat guys talking shit on some message board are probably pointless. At some point, you're going to hit a wall where your body's pretty much at it's upper limit for maximizing strength for your bodyweight. Thereafter, your strength gains will probably be incremental, while your bodyweight increases could be exponential. There's no point in asking other people at what point that will occur, either- it's entirely individual and completely unpredictable. Thus, you should experiment with your bodyweight to find your "sweet spot".
Not a bodyweight sweet spot. Also, is anyone else wondering why the Special Ed kids loaded that bar?
All of this is of course heresy to the myriad fatasses of the world, who will likely hold aloft one person as the entire basis of their argument- Ed Coan. Coan was a fucking freak of nature, however, and it's relatively certain that unless you've recently destroyed every record within reach, you're not fucking him. So why, then, would they postulate something so absurd? To justify the fact that they look like they do. There's no other possible reason, as there will always be someone stronger than they are, which obliterates their supposition regarding absolute strength. Additionally, I don't think you'll find any of them criticizing Coan for dropping to 242 after competing at 275 for a while, especially given the fact that he looked fucking awesome.
Laura Phelps is stronger, and probably leaner than you. Food for thought.
So, when deciding whether or not to drop weight for a powerlifting meet, consider the following:
- Should you bother competing at all? This is the most critical, and usually the most overlooked question of all. If you're not one of the strongest people you know, there's really no reason to do so. That won't stop many people from doing so, however, which leads me to the following question.
- Are there weight classes in this meet? If so, you should probably think about cutting to make a lower class, thus ensuring the highest strength to weight ratio and thereby placing you further away from the possibility of embarrassing yourself, whether it be when you disrobe or when you lift in the meet.
- Do you have weight to lose? Chances are you do, unless you're already ripped to shreds. Unless you're planning on smashing a superheavy record or sitting at 5% bodyfat, there's absolutely no conceivable reason why you shouldn't drop weight.
- Can you see your genitalia without a mirror and a partner? If the answer is no, it doesn't matter if you're going to smash a record in any weight class- you need to lose some fucking weight. If the answer is yes, refer to question 3.
There you have it- a simple, easy to follow guide to whether or not you should cut weight for a meet. In the next installment of this series, I'll fill you in on how I cut, and how other people cut. Now, flame away, flamers.
None of this applies to chicks with big asses, as they should preserve the booty at all costs, strength to bodyweight ratio be damned.