Blake Lehew has been a fixture in powerlifting for years. A former USA Powerlifting (USAPL) Juniors raw National Champion (2016) in the 74-kilogram weight class, Lehew now dominates at 82.5 kilograms. A stellar performance at the World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) American Pro, where the athlete attained the all-time heaviest total of 930-kilogram (2,050.3-pound), says as much. Judging by the latest update on his training progress, Lehew seems poised for even more pending greatness.
On Feb. 26, 2023, Lehew posted an Instagram video where he successfully pulled a 385-kilogram (848-pound) beltless deadlift. The powerlifter completed his pull from a sumo stance with a traditional grip, and he said he weighed 190 pounds at the time of the lift. What’s more, according to Open Powerlifting, the deadlift matches Lehew’s all-time raw competition best, also achieved at the latest American Pro.
“I believe the belt is a thing of the past for deadlifts.”
The beltless pull aside, Lehew had nothing else adorned to assist with the feat. He leaned fully on his strength to reach the lockout position.
The main benefit of a lifting belt is that it provides a rigid surface to brace against. Bracing is when you inhale to expand your entire core — front to back — for spinal stability and support. Your core is the center of your entire body; if it is loose during a lift, your form will fall apart.
Take Lehew’s deadlift as an example. His back would round and fold under the bar’s weight if he failed to brace properly. Elite lifters like Lehew have mastered their bracing technique. Still, belts help you brace tighter than you could if you weren’t wearing one, which is why Lehew’s beltless 385-kilogram pull is so impressive. While it’s not entirely accurate to say he could pull more if he were wearing a belt, it’s clear that Lehew is strengthening his core and optimizing his technique — two factors that do add up to a stronger overall deadlift.
In the caption of Lehew’s post, he alludes to an impending competition on his calendar. He has been hinting at these plans since the start of 2023. At the time of this writing, it is unclear which contest he is referring to, as he has not offered specifics on his social media platforms. The “six weeks out” reference would line up with a date sometime around Easter Weekend 2023 in early April.
Given that Lehew has mainly featured as a WRPF and United States Powerlifting Association competitor lately, there are a variety of possibilities.
Per the WRPF 2023 events calendar, there is the WRPF Face Off on April 2, the Drug Tested Out For Blood 2, the Southwest Showdown, and the War for the Valley on April 15. According to the USPA 2023 events calendar, the only date and contest roughly matching Lehew’s timeline is the 2023 USA Powerlifting Battle at Bionic Barbell on April 2.
Whichever event Lehew ends up featuring in soon, it seems apparent he’ll be ready to add another illustrious accomplishment to his resume. He should probably expect nothing less as one of powerlifting’s current stronger stars.
Featured image: @deadliftingorangutan on Instagram