Five Reasons Gear is Good
Last week we told you why you don’t need to use equipment to lift heavier. While it’s great to focus on form and biological cues when starting to powerlift, once you have mastered the main three lifts and feel comfortable with a barbell in your hands, you’ll notice that even a little bit of an edge can give you a huge advantage. Powerlifting meets can be won with just a 5 pound increase.
It’s important to consider the different types of equipment out there, and what can help you, or hurt your progress. Most people don't need a huge arsenal of equipment. These can help you keep your form good, or protect your joints when things really get heavy. Here are five pieces of equipment that can help max out your total.
One of the cheapest performance enhancers out there for powerlifters is a good bowl of chalk. Chalk helps you maintain your grip by drying out your hands, eliminating slip when holding onto a barbell. It can also help those who bench stay in position. You might see someone with a line of chalk across their shoulders as they set up for bench - this is designed to help them maintain position in the arch, keeping their shoulders from sliding on the bench. For those who don’t want to be clapping and showering the gym with white powder, there’s liquid chalk available, which can even come in fun colors!
2. Weightlifting Belt
When working in the higher level of your total, you may want to resort to a lifting belt. A lifting belt squeezes your stomach, allowing you to keep intra-abdominal pressure which protects your back and spine from heavy loads. You should only wear a belt when you’re looking to max out - you might see someone at the gym wearing a belt their whole workout, or even doing something like curls. The belt should only be used when you need it. Otherwise, use your workout as an opportunity to perfect belly breathing so you can get power out of every movement.
3. Wrist Wraps
Powerlifting is a weird sport - and sometimes that means your body is in weird positions. The wrist isn’t a particularly big complex of joints, which helps it stay flexible. This can also mean that putting a lot of pressure on it when it’s not in a favorable position, can cause pain or injury. Wrist wraps help stabilize your wrist. This can prevent your wrist from entering an unstable position when benching (your palm should be stacked right over your wrist to prevent injury!). Many lifters will use wrist wraps when they squat as well, just to make sure their wrist stays in line with the bar, keeping your elbows back so you can keep your lats engaged.
4. Knee sleeves
Knee sleeves are a piece of equipment that has multiple functions, making them one of the greatest tools in a lifter’s arsenal. For one, they keep your knees warm, thereby preventing injury when the joints lock up. They also keep your knee tracking properly from the hips, so you don’t get any unsafe twisting when lowering into a squat. Finally, for really thick sleeves, you can get a rebound out of the bottom of a squat, helping you stand with heavy weight on your back. If you’ve ever had a knee injury before, sleeves can also help you squat pain free!
5. Squat Shoes
Aside from a quality lifting belt, squat shoes are one of the most expensive pieces of equipment we recommend. Squat shoes are healed lifting shoes that raise the heal less than an inch off the ground. This allows for a more favorable ankle angle when squatting, allowing you to hit depth much more easily. Ever try to squat without weight, and feel your heels come up? Squat shoes can help with that. You should ONLY wear squat shoes when squatting, so their expense might make them a piece of equipment you hold off on buying for some time - however if you have poor ankle mobility, they’re definitely a tool you can use!
Overall, there’s no replacement from training without equipment, and learning to push your body without assistance. However, if you like an edge, these five pieces of equipment can help you max out your total, and maybe even help you win a meet!
If you are looking to compete, make sure you get equipment that is approved by the federation you lift in. Some brands might give you too much of an advantage over other lifers, meaning they’re banned in certain federations. Always check the rules before you train or compete in a piece of equipment you’re not sure of!