I didn’t always have equipment. Shocker, right? By equipment, I mean gloves, wrist wraps, compression knee sleeves, powerlifting belt, and basically any device that should assist with lifting weights. I say “should” because sometimes these devices can actually be detrimental rather than helpful. I’ve been wearing gloves for the past few years as a personal choice; ripping one callous off during deadlift was enough to make me turn to gloves. Let’s face it, no one likes blood on the bar, okay? Gloves are relatively harmless, and I still have callouses even after all these years. So, let’s talk about the more “heavy duty” pieces of equipment.
Powerlifting wraps come in a wide variety of lengths for specific uses. Generally,the longer the wrap, the larger the joint that it’s meant for. For example, knee wraps are usually 2-3 ft long; whereas, my wrist wraps are maybe a foot long. I only use my wrist wraps when I’m doing flat bench press at higher weight (100+ lbs) or trying for a new 1RM. Using these wraps at lower weights can be detrimental if used consistently for too long. How? Eventually, performing other exercises at similar or even lower weights will be too difficult on the joint you wrap. Personally, my wrists couldn’t handle bench pressing over 80 lbs for the longest time because I ALWAYS used wrist wraps. Not only that, but incline press, decline press, flys, etc. also put a lot of strain on my wrists and made lifting difficult without wraps. Only resort to using this sort of equipment when you begin hitting weights that you struggle with significantly or if you begin to feel strain (NOT PAIN!) in that joint while lifting. Wraps should not be used for low weight-high rep type work outs; you would be cheating your joints out of the strain necessary to keep them strong and healthy! The same idea goes for knee and elbow wraps, as well. My wraps are basic red-line Schiek wraps.
Weight belts are usually thick, stiff, leather belts designed for squatting or deadlifts. They profide support to your lower back while driving with your legs. They are incredibly stiff for a reason- to provide support and stability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of people that can’t deadlift properly without a belt and throw out their backs but then start using a dang weight belt. If you can’t lift properly WITHOUT a belt, what the heck makes you think you can lift any better WITH a belt?! Aye aye aye! Let me step off my pedestal again. Function follows form in the case of lifting; you’re ability to lift heavy and safely is determined by your ability to lift correctly. Don’t bother investing in lifting equipment until you learn to do more complicated lifts without assistance and injury. I’ve used a weight belt before, and it’s incredibly helpful on occasion, such as when I’m doing heavy box squats (225+). I prefer not to use one for deadlift or regular back squats because I want to make my back stronger during those lifts. I suggest Rogue Fitness belts, Harbinger, or Schiek So, use weight belts with discretion.
Compression Knee Sleeves
I just got my first pair of knee sleeves this weekend as an early Valentine’s Day gift from my man. I had been wanting a pair for quite a while, but they are typically very pricey (about $30-40 per sleeve). Yes, they are sold individually, not in pairs. There was a night that I was doing some heavy leg work (heavy back squats followed by heavy box squats followed by heavy leg press, you get it) and during leg press I began to feel mild aching in my left knee. So, I stood for a while, stretched it, massaged it, worked out the pain, but as soon as I sat back down the pain fired back up to the point I couldn’t lift anymore. The pain didn’t last through the night, luckily, but it did make me consider alternative exercises and getting wraps, for those days I just want to lift heavy (or heavier). J got me the blue Rehband support wraps. I’ll keep you posted on this experience in the near future.
These are similar to wrist wraps, however they are particularly designed for pull-type exercises (deadlift especially). J has a pair that he uses pretty often. They latch around your wrist and have long straps that you slide around the bar repeatedly until your hand is in contact with the strap as it’s wrapped around the bar. This piece of equipment allows you to lift heavy regardless of your grip strength. Some days, I wish I had a pair for when I deadlift and can’t for the life of me hold onto the bar long enough to get it up. J’s wraps are by Schiek.
I have had all sorts of gloves. I pretty much shred them within 6 months. I currently have a pair of Harbinger gloves that are falling apart, and I have a pair of Bear Komplex gloves designed for crossfit. The Bear Komplex gloves are taking a while to break in because they are made from stiff leather, and you will get callouses between your fingers breaking these suckers in.
Keep in mind a lot of people call these pieces of equipment different names. I have bought most of my equipment at Academy, honestly. Other buying options, other than straight from the manufacturer, include Amazon, secondary suppliers (WalMart, Academy, some gyms, etc), and secondary websites.