Lifting Gear- The Essentials
There is a whole lot of misleading information on training gear and what is necessary. This is often spewed by coaches or trainees who have never exceeded intermediate levels of strength. These are the extra regular mother fuckers of fitness and have no place telling others how to get strong. Granted, there are exceptional lifters out there who have reached impressive levels of strength with limited resources, but I’d bet a pretty penny that they would chose the smoother road to strength gains if they had the choice. Voluntarily putting yourself into a disadvantage doesn’t make you hardcore, it makes you hard headed. So if you’re sick of being the team captain of Club Average and going nowhere with your time in the gym, here are your equipment essentials:
Squatting in running shoes is like running a 5k in high heels. We hear it all the time…”but lifting shoes are so expensive!” Really? They cost about the same as a neon pair of running shoes and last three to five times longer. A good pair of lifting shoes should be worn only when you are lifting. We’re talking lifting shoes here guys, not the hybrid fairy slippers that are marketed towards people who do more burpees than deadlifts. Don’t fall prey to the all purpose shoes. It’s just another way of saying “these shoes are equally average for everything gym related.” Invest in a good pair of lifting shoes. The raised heel and stability make a world of difference in your squat form and its importance should be more than obvious for those who train the olympic lifts.
Sure, beginners need to learn proper abdominal bracing and nail down the breathing pattern during squat and deadlift variations. But to say the belt is “cheating” is a foolish statement. Another funny one I hear often is, “if you can’t lift it without a belt, it’s too heavy.” These guys usually grind out ass ugly paused squats from the bottom because they don’t know how to use their posterior chain. The purpose behind using a belt isn’t to save the low back and certainly doesn’t guarantee that you won’t reach excessive flexion or extension during a squat or deadlift. The belt is used to have something to brace against which assists in keeping your intra-abdominal pressure. Not sure what that means? Breathe out at the bottom of a heavy squat and you’ll figure it out. Most of your heavy training should be done with a belt, while it is totally up to you as to whether you want to use it on your high volume/light training.
These are arguable. There are guys who compete without sleeves or wraps. Some train without them and taper into using them when they peak for a meet. Others train with them year around on their heavy days, some on all days. Nonetheless, aside from the elastic effect during the lift, the compression helps protect the loaded joint and may be a great idea for longevity.
If your grip sucks, get a stronger grip. But in the meantime, don’t let your lack of grip strength inhibit the amount you can train at for your deadlift. Straps will allow you to progress the given movement/exercise while your grip catches up.
Because nothing looks cooler than a dramatic chalk cloud amidst destroying everything before you. Oh, and gripping too…
Say what you will, but these are common finds in nearly any seasoned lifter’s gym bag. Using gear or equipment shouldn’t be viewed as taking a short cut. Rather, look at them as tools that will aid in getting the most out of your lifting and extend your training life. Incorporate some of the things mentioned above with practical programming and you will be well on your way to getting out of that intermediate slump.
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