Mar 8, 2019
This episode the duo has a conversation about singlets! They cover where they believe singlets originated and go over why it is important to wear one in competition. Plus they tell what kind of singlets they wear. If you want to know more history about the singlet check out Timmy’s article below!
Check My Total is a powerlifting podcast hosted by Andrew Hinson and Timothy Payne! Listen to their hot takes on the sport as well as exclusive lifter interviews, meet recaps and whatever else is on their mind! Deadlifts, chicken nuggets, videogames, it’s all on the table!
HISTORY OF THE SINGLET IN POWERLIFTING
It’s easy to get flustered before stepping on the platform of your first powerlifting competition. Butterflies swirl around your stomach and your mind races a million miles per minute. Sometimes it isn’t even the weight that scares us. It’s being in front of a crowd in a singlet.
Where did these “unitards” even come from and why are powerlifting federations making me wear one? These are questions I’ve often wondered while I’m standing on deck, tugging down the pant legs of my singlet to make them just an inch less revealing.
Let’s roll back to the nineteenth century. Numerous strongmen, such as Eugen Sandow and Apollon the Mighty, popularized lifting heavy weights in front of a crowd. These strongmen wore tight clothing and often only a pair of trunks while they preformed. The revealing uniforms were to show off their physiques and the origin of their strength. As they traveled from continent to continent more men became interested in these emerging public figures. It also prompted more men to challenge these figures’ feats of strength in order to prove who was the strongest of them all.
This growth in competition persuaded challengers to call for the regulation of lifting code. They wanted everyone to be on the same, even, and fair playing field. The cry ultimately led to the inclusion of weightlifting in the 1896 Olympics. Weightlifting would become a spotty occurrence in the Olympics until the mid 1900s. While challengers competed in the snatch and the clean and jerk they still did not lift in the standard singlet that we think of today.
The oldest sport known to man, wrestling, often influenced the attire of other athletics. The evolution of a wrestlers’ attire often goes hand in hand with the evolution of a weightlifters’ attire. In wrestling it is important to wear a tight fitting uniform because it is a rule that competitors are not allowed to grab the other’s clothing to use for leverage. It also allows the referee a non-hindered view in order to call when a competitor scores a point. This philosophy translated well to weightlifting because the judges needed to make the same calls based on the view of a lifter’s position.
Between the 1920s and 1930s it was common to compete bare chested while wearing full length leggings, or tights. Over these tights wrestlers would wear a “Black Tom” which was a black outside supporter. As the sport moved into the 1940s the tights would disappear and wrestlers would wear only trunks made out of wool. While the tights returned underneath the trunks for the 1950s it wasn’t until the mid 1960s that the NCAA banned shirtless wrestling. Wrestlers now had to wear three pieces; a sleeveless top, full length leggings, and wool trunks.
Concurrently during the 1960s, weightlifting’s popularity started to decline which influenced then Olympic weightlifting coach Bob Hoffman to shy away from the sport. This was due to the attractiveness of “odd-lifts” and competitors wanting to prove their strength in competition alternatively to the snatch and the clean and jerk. Originally Hoffman opposed the change until September 5, 1964 when he organized the ‘Powerlifting Tournament of America’. The event composed of the squat, bench, and deadlift and consisted of 21 competitors that ushered in the United State’s first powerlifting competition.
It wasn’t until the following year, in 1965, that the Amateur Athletic Union held the first sponsored and sanctioned powerlifting meet. They disregarded Bob Hoffman’s tournament providing an open opportunity for all records to be set, giving the sport a fresh start. These early competitions saw lifters wearing the one-piece singlet that we are familiar with today. However regulations were still relaxed as some lifters wore loafers.
Moving forward into the early 1970s, the surfacing of the one-piece singlet increased. This was due largely in part to the NCAA lifting its ban on one-piece singlets for collegiate wrestling. Since then singlets have been a mainstay in wrestling, weightlifting, and powerlifting. Today, in most federations, singlets are necessary in order to set state, national, and world records.
I personally can say singlets are just a part of the norm. Once you get around the meet venue and realize other people are wearing singlets too it definitely makes it easier to walk around in your own. Putting on a singlet is almost like joining a fraternity, harkening back through its rich history and bonding you to the legendary strongmen of old. Plus, no one is going to make fun of you for wearing a singlet when you’re crushing Elite numbers.
If you still don’t feel comfortable in a singlet that’s okay! Iron Boy Powerlifting allows all youth, teen, and novice lifters to compete wearing a t-shirt and tight fitting shorts. We feel that it is important to introduce and to get new lifters in the sport. We don’t want a singlet to be the reason why someone can’t find their new passion.
Iron Boy Powerlifting