USA Powerlifting's Raw National Championship and the Qualifying Total Debate

-Daniel Gaudreau, USAPL National referee/judge and world record holder


With the coming of a new powerlifting season, we must engage in the annual debate on qualifying totals for Raw Nationals. This year a survey will be taken of USAPL members to attempt to get a consensus from the organization. The recent history of the conversations on this topic at National Governing Body meetings and Raw Committee meetings has been resoundingly in favor of letting the present Raw National model continue as is. The question then becomes, why are we so intent to modify a proven successful product?

The reason for the success of Raw Nationals may be a hard to nail down, but we can’t discount the philosophy of inclusion that has been present since Raw Nationals’ inception. Raw has been all about grass roots lifters and those lifters speaking as to how they want lift and compete. The Raw movement has many parallels to the origins of USAPL (ADFPA). Lifters asked for a new way to compete, and an organization responded.

Daniel competing at the Arnold this year putting up some huge numbers

Daniel competing at the Arnold this year putting up some huge numbers

The most important survey on this matter is the survey that occurs every year, the number of lifters who desire to compete at Raw Nationals. The trend seems to be on a steady upward track, making the championship one of the most popular on USAPL’s calendar.

The same cannot be said of some USAPL meets with qualifying totals. With the exception of High School Nationals and Collegiate Nationals, every other meet with qualifying totals has remained flat or declined in participation. This stagnation occurred with some of these championships well before the raw movement started.

The question may be, should we remove qualifying totals for all the other meets, excluding High School Nationals and Collegiate Nationals? Why should we tinker with a proven product, which has become a celebration of the raw philosophy, to satisfy what some might think their vision of a National Championship is?

Meet promoters are vying for the right to hold the Raw Championships. Lifters want to attend. When we cull the meet down with a qualifying total, where will the lifters we exclude go? The Raw Championship obviously cannot grow uncontrolled. When we get to that point, regionals may be an option.

   The lifters that have shown up to Raw Nationals have represented themselves very well. The meet is always exciting with inspiring performances across the entire spectrum. Competitors may leave happy with 14th place and looking to improve their total next year, or winning their class with a personal record on the 3rd pull in the deadlift.

In conclusion I would ask the members of USA Powerlifting to allow the Raw athletes to navigate their own course. Let them enjoy the Raw National Championships as it is, a festival of strength, following the Olympic creed as stated by Baron de Coubertin “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

- Daniel Gaudreau


We welcome discussion on this topic both here and in other social media outlets, or in person, and look forward to seeing what could potentially be the largest meet in USAPL history this year at Raw Nationals. 

Bryce Lewis2 Comments