Training RAW vs Training With Gear

For most of my lifting life I trained raw. Never wearing belts, wraps, straps, or anything of the sort. I was one of those people that looked at geared lifters as pussies.

To me, it seemed that they were too weak to lift the heavy weights raw, so they needed gear to help them out. I really thought it was akin to using a jack to lift a car up. I kept this up for many years through many arguments and often looked down on those people. [Note: FJ still hates geared lifting, but it's his personal preference]

Boy oh boy was I mistaken!

The world of geared lifting is not only fun, but just as tough as raw. First, you have to learn a complete new way of lifting as it goes against anything you’ve ever heard about how gear works. Rather than take you through it in a boring way, I will detail how each piece of gear felt different.

Bench With A Shirt

I will start with the bench shirt.   When I first saw this I was like, “wow, a denim feel with a spandex back….. WHOOPIE!” [FJ's comments: who the hell still says 'whoopie' as a grown man? Jon, this geared lifting is doing something to your man hood bro] 

So I put it on and as you can imagine, it was tight as hell around my arms and chest. I could not drop the bar to my chest with no weight.

So I tried 315 lbs, and could not do it.

Bumped it up to 405 lbs and I could go a few inches and that’s it.

Finally, 465 lbs came around I was able to almost touch on the shirt, but not quite.

Then with 500lbs, I was able to touch and it went up so easy, I was shocked.

Then came 550. As soon as I un-racked this beast, my first thoughts were, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS HEAVY AS HELL!!”bigjon_bench

Video Of Me Benching Here

It came down and hit below my chest then I pressed that sucker up. And you know what? it was fucking phenomenal! So we took my measurements and ordered a custom shirt to fit my sexual figure.

When the shirt came in, I realized something right away… IT WAS REALLY TIGHT! I had to use plastic bags to put it over my arms in order to help slide the shirt up. Then pulling it over my head required a partner and they had to hold material so I could “swim into my shirt.”

Once that was on, we used a belt and Pulled excess material down, tightened belt, and went to benching.

I could not touch 465 lbs. I had to pull and tuck HARD just to get 500lbs to touch. And once it touched, it FLEW UP SO FAST!

So I went to 583 lbs and it was a bit of a struggle because my triceps were not ready for it. But it came up good off my chest. There is an amount of pain that is involved here that I should mention. The stress the shirt puts on your arms HURTS! Some more than others. You need to be able to take pain to wear gear. It’s not really for pussies after all. Once I took the shirt off, I had red marks and bleeding on my arms, chest, and back. IT WAS GLORIOUS!

Squatting With A Suit

Squat suits are a whole different beast. First off, they are so tight you almost cant take a full breath. It’s so tight on your hips and stomach that you have to breath with your chest. Working into a suit for the first time you have to attach the straps to a power rack or dip machine and hang to slide in.

The pressure on your thighs is intense for a competition fit suit.   From there you need to load up weight and do squats as deep as possible while the suit moves into position. After racking it you pull the legs up more and squat, followed by hanging more to move the suit back up. You have to do this over and over until its on.

From there you just squat and squat and squat. Wet the denim on the suit to make it stretch more, and SQUAT. My legs and groin area were so marked up that it looked like I was canned. The knee wraps were just as tight and felt amazing though! It gives you almost a “pop” from the bottom of your ROM as you go up.

You need to really load the weight up to get this kind of weight down to Parallel or below and power up (just as how I had to use 500 lbs to get it to touch my chest). Squatting in a suit is really different: you “sit” back into the suit hard, allowing the fabric to build tension so you can sit right “in the hole” (basically the bottom most position of the squat where your leverage is the weakest).

From there you power up; toes out, knees out, hips and ass back – the same concept applies as a full RAW squat. But there is just a tremendous pressure here that needs to be felt in order to fully understand it.

You still feel very drained when you are done using gear. Your body is really beat up and sore. But it’s a fantastic feeling to be able to move (in some cases) 200 Lbs + above your RAW max! Gear may not be for everyone, but until you try it I highly suggest that you don’t knock on it right away. Most of the geared lifters you make fun of can out lift you RAW any ways.


So that’s my experienced with geared lifting. I didn’t include the deadlift because it’s actually  not that much different than RAW. The deadlift is a very honest lift, so regardless of how you “assist” it, you’ll always be pulling heavy shit off the floor in one way or another… and either you can, or you can’t.

Hope you enjoyed this, and if you have any questions about lifting in gear (or RAW lifting) then feel free to leave some comments below and I’ll get back to you.

P.S – Are you having trouble with your powerlifting program?

Are your lifts taking forever to improve or has your progress stalled completely? Then let my experience help your ass out. Head over to and sign up (it’s FREE!). It will allow you to send in your current workout program so I can take a look at it, and give you a break down of where  you’re screwing up, and what you need to do to fix it. I’ll be ruthless, so you can see progress (don’t forget to mention my name as the coach you want assigned).

Keep lifin’

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One thought on “Training RAW vs Training With Gear”

  1. I was told this article was written for me, so I read it. This is indeed an excellent article. It is refreshing to read about somebody who is extremely biased to gear, like me, then actually uses it just to see what it’s like. Though, I still don’t like it.

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