From Raw to Gear

By Lisa Guggisberg

Since I started powerlifting I have always lifted raw.  I started out raw with a belt only, transitioned to knee sleeves and eventually knee wraps, when I felt I was ready for them.  Brian Carroll and I had always discussed the transition to gear as it would be a natural progression for me.  After the Arnold and the 2016 RPS US Open I was feeling beat up and ready for a change of pace.  I had no meets on the horizon and looking at a long offseason, it seemed like a good time to make the transition.  What made me finally decide to take the leap?



I’m going to be honest, the first time I saw anyone lift in multiply gear I thought it was weird.  My first meet I did in 2011 there was one multiply lifter at the meet and I didn’t understand it, I didn’t get it.  It looked more like a pain in the ass to lug all the gear around and then the process of getting it on and taking it off.  Over the years my fear of gear was further imbedded when I saw lifters get stuck in their bench shirts or briefs.  I told myself I would never wear gear, I would never be a multiply lifter.  But yet there was still some curiosity when I saw people like Allison Lockhart looking like a total badass in gear.  The more I was exposed to multiply lifting and learned the roots of multiply lifting the more I became fascinated with it.  The slight changes in a lifters form can mean disaster, the numerous ways you can jack down a bench shirt, adjusting the new Inzer Leviathan Ultra Pro, this is all so interesting to me and I want to learn how to master the gear.

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As a lifter I love that I am constantly evolving and learning how to better my craft.  Raw lifting for years gave me a great foundation to transfer to gear and I started to wonder what would gear lifting do for my raw lifting?  Would the gear help me get more comfortable handling heavier weight?  Could learning to squat wider in gear help my raw squat or even deadlift?  What could I learn as a multiply lifter?  These were all things I wondered so I figured why not evolve, grow as a lifter and learn something new that I could potentially apply to my raw lifting.

Access to Coaching From the Best

I am lucky that my coach, Brian Carroll, is one of the best multiply lifters and that he happens to train with some of the best multiply lifters at Team Samson.  Team Samson has had all time totals and multiple world records come out of the gym in multiple weight classes.  Adam Driggers and Team Samson have years of knowledge and experience, I knew they would not steer me wrong.  Paul Key who has coached guys with 800lb benches was gracious enough to offer his time to teach me how to bench in a shirt.  I am not an expert in gear and my knowledge forte is with raw lifting so I am thankful and fortunate I have these guys to guide me.  Without these guys I would probably be pretty clueless regarding the gear.   A lot of lifters don’t have access to experience multiply advice or even a crew of people to help them train in gear which is a huge component that holds some people back from trying multiply.  I had the offer for help so why not accept it?  Not accepting that offer would just be stupid!

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Needed a Change of Scenery

Raw lifting was becoming a job.  I was chasing numbers and getting so caught up in goal chasing that I wasn’t having fun anymore.  Obsession lead to despair and I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I once did.  I was feeling beat up, physically and mentally and I needed a change.  Since I have been working in gear it’s refreshed me and has renewed my passion for lifting.  Lifting in gear, because it is still so new to me, is fun which makes lifting fun again.   I needed something to remind me why I started lifting.   I’ve renewed my passion and excited to go back to raw lifting soon.

Wanting to Test Ability to Switch from Gear to Raw and Back

The idea of being able to be a top raw and geared lifter is pretty fucking rad to me.  Why can’t you do both?  Why not test your ability as a lifter to switch back and forth between the two? There are a handful of lifters that have been able to dominate both raw and equipped lifting and I would like to take that challenge and test myself.  Regarding programming for offseason and the idea of being able to balance the two is pretty intriguing to me as well and I look forward to experimenting using 10/20/Life as template.

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I have not given up raw lifting completely.  I still have goals I want to obtain raw.  For now though I am enjoying the change of scenery.

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A self-proclaimed former high school band nerd turned meathead nerd, Lisa has been coached and mentored by Brian Carroll using 10/20/Life principals for 3 years. She started CrossFiting in 2006 but gave that up after realizing all she wanted to do was squat, bench and deadlift heavy. She now competes as a raw and multi-ply powerlifter in the 114 and 123 weight classes. Lisa has All-Time top 10 totals in both raw and multi-ply in her respective weight classes with a raw pro total of 936 lbs at 114 and a pro 1118 lb multi-ply pro total at 123 and 1090 lb multi-ply total at 114. She is currently ranked the #1 female multi-ply lifter at 123, #2 at 114 multi-ply female and #3 raw with wraps. Lisa has a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration, but hates politics and political debates. She is a mom of two, a firefighter wife and has worked as a full time litigation paralegal for almost 20 years.
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