This started out as a top 5 list, but they just kept coming. To all of the people I know personally who this is going to upset.... I still love you despite your lifestyle choices :)
1.) You have an oversized beard.
Fact: women prefer short facial hair and stubble above a fully grown beard. You are not a lion and that dead animal on your face is not your mane. 18 months of beard growth does not cover up your shitty meet numbers.
2.) You have unconventional hair.
This is a facet of regular hipster-dom that is creeping its way into lifting culture. Mohawks, Fauxhawks, weird fades, tarzan hair, man-buns..... having unconventional hair means you are, in fact, a hipster. Having unconventional hair while lifting weights means, by the distributive property, that you are a strength hipster.
3.) You are covered with tats.
Tats are absurdly common nowadays, but somehow they still maintain their counter-culture appeal. What defines a hipster more than mainstream counter-culture? It's bad enough people view advanced bodybuilders and strength athletes as having something to compensate for. But when I see a horror- themed chest piece poking it's way out from under a singlet, it's hard not to see it as the lifting world's version of the lifted truck.
4.) You rep the PL lifestyle to the fullest.
This point is related to the importance hipsters place on style over substance, and whats a more stylish accessory to your man-bun than a Class 2 powerlifting total. The strength hipster will walk into the gym on a mission. Not to actually improve on last weeks training, mind you, but to make sure that everyone knows that they are a powerlifter. It's not enough to say you lift weights as a hobby or that sometimes you spend a weeks pay to attend a meet because it's fun for you. No, people need to know that it's a LIFESTYLE! It's who you are! You break yourself against the weights on a daily basis, grinding against God and nature to establish your supremacy as a Man! You are a lion and the bar is your fucking gazelle and you will not be denied!! RAAAAAAWR! What does any of this have to do with getting stronger? Not a goddamn thing.
5.) You aren't very strong.
Because style is not important to getting stronger. Cause and effect is. The hipster is motivated by perception and what the general public perceives as 'lifting culture' usually involves a bunch of novel shit that they saw in passing in an MHP ad. The bells and whistles, the things that scream the loudest 'yeah, I compete' are the same things that don't have a whole hell of a lot to do with a solid, consistent training program. Bands. Chains. Elastic fabric. Odd accessory work. The most effective programs tend to be very basic and boring. A lifter just coming out of his first year of training who regularly incorporates accomodating resistance or substitutes box squats for deads just isn't going to advance the way a more disciplined, results oriented lifter will. But, damn, will they look legit.
6.) You cite studies to back training methods.
This one makes me apoplectic. Science (if we accept is, like, kind of important) has two components: theoretical and experimental. The theoretical involves the ideas, thought models, and hypothesis of what we think might or should work. All of that means absolutely dick if it is not applied in the field. Strength hipsters like the feeling of being an authority before having actually earned that title (because this is an image thing for them) and because field experience takes too much goddamn time, they depend on literature to extrapolate their training ideology. Nothing burns me more than the deceitfulness of a person trying to represent expertise in a field they are unfamiliar with. It results in loss of standards and waters down the vast body of knowledge that we have to work with. Really unimportant shit becomes all encompassing because, well, there was this study I found that suggests there is more fiber recruitment with TRX bands..... Who needs 100 years of training history to rely on when you have Pub Med? This is a trend that the inititated, the 10+ year vets, need to smack down every time they see it.
7.) You do ANYTHING Westside.
Westside sucks. If you get wet at the idea of following incomprehensible accommodating resistance charts and conjugating your lifts every single week, you are a strength hipster. And probably not a very good lifter. (Apologies to the 0.5% of successful raw lifters who incorporate Westisde methods).
8.) You think Louie Simmons is actually the Godfather of Powerlifting.
This highlights the lack of perspective and affinity for nut riding that most strength hipsters display. I'm not sure who coined this, or why anyone still thinks it holds true, but in reality he is more like the Uncle that nobody talks to.
There are plenty of good things to be said about the man. He runs a viciously competitive gym, has turned out multiple champions in HIS sport (geared lifting, not raw), and is said to be one hell of a nice guy and mentor. Objectively his methods are convoluted, contradictory, and have contributed little to the rest of the sport. Louie hasn't turned out any raw champions because he doesn't care about raw lifting. And there is only one Louie because no other coach has used his methods to turn out a world champion raw lifter.
Geared lifting is damn near dead, and thank God because powerlifting won't be taken seriously as a sport until there is some sense of unification. What's left is a resurgence of squats deep and unassisted, traditional pressing, and deadlifts that don't drag 300lbs behind the squat. Here is actually a really good article on the subject from JTSStrength.com
9.) You pull sumo.
If you are actually competitive and sumo dramatically improves your leverages, then have it! But for most people, sumo is just a technique they associate with 'legit' lifters. The fact is a conventional deadlift will develop you in more meaningful ways than a sumo pull will, and at some point we have to remember that actual physical improvement is the point of all of this.
A kid trained with us for a while that was desperate to become a 'real' powerlifter. He was built kind of like me, with short stocky legs and all of his height in his torso. The short legs make for good squatting leverages (if you can stay upright), but the ratio of leg to body makes pulling a pain in the ass. We coached him into a passable position that kept his knee and hip angle as optimal as possible at the start while utilizing the leg drive a big squatter needs to get the bar moving. Every single time he walked up to the bar, he insisted on doing the exact opposite.... setting up in a sumo position like he was reenacting a Dan Green video. It was like he was obsessed. Apparently pulling conventional isn't the same. Everyone at LA Fitness pulls conventional. REAL lifters pull sumo! Forget about the fact that sumo put him in a below parallel squat out of the hole and he pulled less weight with shittier form. He's a real lifter, goddammit!
10.) You have a favorite lifter.
Strength sports tend to be more one-dimensional than other sports (like football) in that fewer physical abilities are tested. There is no gamer mentality. No last minute comeback. No X-factor. Just more or less weight moved. What could you possibly rate a lifter on besides that?
Lifting is open access, which means showing up to compete in some sense puts you on the same tier as the best in the world. Engaging in a sport like strongman for 10 years at the amateur level, I have had casual conversations with some of the best athletes in the world. The impact on my progress from the knowledge gained from these conversations has been invaluable, and that makes these sports truly unique. To act like an uninitiated fucking tween at a One Direction concert because you saw a Lilliebridge at the other end of the expo hall removes you from the level of 'peer'. It is a choice, and a pretty Beta one at that.
11.) You 'coach' lifters even though you have less than 2 years experience yourself.
Ever see someone coach the same que to every lifter they came across? Being able to comprehend that other individuals require unique circumstances aside from what worked for you in your first month of training takes years to grasp, let alone apply effectively. See the post on citing studies. It's been a symptom for decades in training culture that anyone who has lifted for 6 months thinks they have something important to say. I'm not sure why in this day and age with such easy access to the best minds in the field that this shit still goes on. Coach is not a title you give yourself, and a few months of newbie gains or an Elite FTS deadlift video doesn't mean you 'figured it out'.
12.) You think lats are more important than pecs in a raw bench press.
Yes lats are important. No they are not more important than pecs. This is a remnant of the geared lifting era (good riddance). Pecs are huge in driving the bar off of the chest and a bench shirt eliminates the need for this. The fact is you can 5 board press 800lbs without needing an exceptional set of pecs. But there is literally no physical way that the humerus adducts through a full range of motion(as it does in a raw bench) without use of the pectorals, and there is no way that building the pecs will not contribute to this effort. This myth is a basic contradiction of Anatomy 101 in the same retarded Westside vain as as squats not requiring big quads. I find this myth to be perpetuated routinely by high arched, elbow tucked, sunken chested, overly-technical bench press hipsters who wouldn't place in a high school combine.
13.) You are proud of your 'natty' status.
This isn't 1890, technology has improved and there are better ways to get strong. Vocalizing nattyness is almost always a comfort blanket that covers up a general lack of physical ability. A common theme of the strength hipster, besides style over substance, is an over-representation of their status despite not being very good. A strength hipster will micro niche themselves into smaller and smaller ponds so that they can appear to be a bigger fish. And what pond is smaller than the one of all-natty lifters?
14.) You own lifting products besides belt and wraps.
Bench Blockz, Fat Gripz, Slingshots, etc are all fancy frills that add to the visual style of the strength hipsters gym bag, but almost always over complicate training and detract from more consistent methods of progress. Who was the last WR holder to credit their all-time PR to their purchase of Power Shoes? Exactly.
15.) You listen to awful metal music.
Listening to music during long hard training sessions can keep aggression high even after fatigue sets in, but the effect of sound and lyrics on your psyche is deeply personal and differs between individuals. Hell, I heard that Gene Rychlak used to listen to Elvis before his 1000+lb shirted bench attempts. Every time I walk into the gym and hear 'Black Dahlia Murder' blasting at 200 DBs, like somehow filling the gym with pots and pans being banged together is going to spur the next big PR, I want to burn the place down and go home. There's a reason this shit is used to torture terrorists. You can't understand the lyrics, which means there is no personal meaning that may contribute to increased aggression, and the loud monotonous noise gives about 3 seconds of shock arousal before diminished returns set in and it's just aggravating. If that's your thing, fine. But for most of you it isn't. You just like the way that Amon Amarth shirt looks under your beard while you do above the knee rack pulls.
16.) You hate Crossfit despite being the PL equivalent of a Crossfitter.
Powerlifters are so fucking Crossfitty it's gross. I worked at a small Crossfit box for a year and some of the stereotypes definitely hold up: they can be cliquey, trendy, and covered in kinesio-tape. But all in all I was pleased with the positive supportive nature of the members and the genuine willingness to learn from those more knowledgeable than them that seems to be absent from most of strength culture. Lifting gyms are filled with an unhealthy competitive quality that talks constant shit about other contenders while simultaneously refusing to compete in an appropriate division for fear of not getting a plastic trophy. And cultish? Dear. Fucking. God. If I have to pry one more of my members off of Mark Bell or Brandon Lilly's nuts, I'm going to need a new crowbar. I have guys that have literally bought every version of Juggernaut, Cube, and 5-3-1 without knowing the meaningful ways in which they are the same. So actually powerlifters are worse: all the trendiness and shitty programming of Crossfit without the upbeat competitive nature.