Weightlifting Gear – Introduction
Weightlifting Gear You Need – Knee Sleeves, Wrist Wraps, Belts, and More!
Whether you are a bodybuilder, powerbuilder, or powerlifter, you don’t need a lot of weightlifting gear to achieve your training goals.
In many cases, all you need is a good barbell, plenty of weights, and a decent space to train, such as an excellent home gym.
That said, if you are serious about making the best progress possible, there are a few things that you can add to your gym bag that will make your workouts more comfortable, safer, and even more productive.
Essential Powerlifting and Weightlifting Gear
To get strong or build muscle, you have to expose your body to progressively heavier weights.
After all, you need to train your body to adapt, grow, and get stronger; using the same weight poundage repeatedly won’t do much for you.
While progressively heavier loads and harder workouts will increase your muscle size and strength, they can take their toll on your joints.
Heavy squats are especially tough on your knees, while upper body pushing and pulling exercises can leave you with sore elbows.
Neoprene knee sleeves are useful for preventing and reducing joint pain.
They’re flexible enough to allow you to train as usual, but provide you with a modicum of extra support to take the stress off your hard-working joints.
Knee compression sleeves also increase joint temperature and keep them warm all through your workout.
Helping your joints stay warm increases synovial fluid production, which is an oil-like substance that lubricates and nourishes your joints, making them feel more supple and less creaky and cranky.
Many lifters find that they feel more confident and ready to train when they pull up their knee sleeves – like putting on armor before a battle.
Very snug-fitting knee sleeves can even increase your performance in exercises like squats and leg presses.
They bunch up behind your knee and act a little like springs to help you extend your knees.
While the boost is only small, it can still be very welcome, especially if you are a competitive powerlifter.
The best knee sleeves for squats are between 5-7mm thick and have taped and stitched seams for durability.
The thicker the knee sleeve, the warmer and more supportive it will be.
Some are also contoured and pre-bent, so they fit your knees better.
Whether you have or want to avoid knee problems, neoprene sleeves can help.
That’s why most competitive weightlifters, powerlifters, and strongmen wear them.
And it’s not just knees that can benefit from neoprene sleeves – you can wear elbow sleeves too for protection and support during the bench press.
When to Use Weightlifting Gear
Beginners don’t need knee wraps for squats, but it’s still worth mentioning them.
Knee wraps are long, elasticated bandages that powerlifters wrap around their knees to increase performance.
Unlike weightlifting knee sleeves, they work by acting like powerful springs that stop your knees from bending too quickly and then provide you with lots of rebound out of the bottom of your rep.
Because of this, they can help you lift more weight than usual.
You wear weightlifting knee wraps very tight – even painfully so – and they often require help to put them on.
They hurt to wear and can leave your knees bruised and your skin sore.
You will want to take them off between sets, and it can take several minutes to rewrap your knees.
All in all, powerlifting knee sleeves are much more user-friendly and provide more passive support, with only a tiny increase in performance.
In contrast, once properly applied, knee wraps make your knees almost unbendable until you have a heavy weight on your back.
Most exercisers should stick to the best knee sleeves for weightlifting and powerlifting, and only use knee wraps if they are entering a competition.
How to Use Knee Wraps
Don’t confuse weightlifting wrists wraps with wrist straps.
Wrist straps are lengths of webbing that lifters use to reinforce their grip in pulling exercises like rows and deadlifts.
Strongman competitors also use them for things like farmer’s walks.
They increase friction, which helps boost grip strength and endurance.
In contrast, wrist wraps are durable elasticated bandages that wrap around the wrist joint to keep it straight during exercises like bench presses and overhead presses.
When you do heavy pressing exercises, there is a tendency for your wrist to bend backward, which can be painful and can also reduce the amount of weight you can lift.
However, if you are using massive loads, some wrist flex is almost unavoidable.
Wearing wrist wraps provides your joints with some extra support.
Like knee sleeves, some lifters find that putting on wrist straps also delivers a psychological boost, and the act of putting them on before a big set of bench presses helps them focus on what they are about to do.
They make your wrists feel more powerful and stable.
Some lifters wear wrist wraps for deadlifts.
Because if you wrap them low around your wrists, they help keep your hands closed.
While they won’t boost your grip as wrist straps can, this small advantage may still be worth pursuing if you are lifting hefty weights.
Wrist wraps are typically made of firm elastic bandages.
You place your thumb in the loop at one end and wrap them tightly around your wrist, fixing them in place with Velcro.
In powerlifting competitions, you must then remove your thumb from the loop, but for general training, it’s fine to leave your thumb in.
How tight should you wrap your wrists?
Tight enough that you want to take your wraps off between sets!
If you feel like you could wear them for several sets at a time, they aren’t tight enough to provide you with much support.
How to Properly Use Wrist Wraps
A lifting belt can add a lot to your workouts.
For starters, they help support your back during exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bent-over rows.
They also help increase intra-abdominal pressure, which helps increase lifting performance and strength.
Wearing a belt can also boost your confidence and focus.
Putting on and doing up your belt helps fix your mind on what you are about to do.
The best belts are broad, thick, stiff, and durable.
They need to be broad to give you something against which to push your abs.
If they are narrow or flexible, they won’t provide you with the support you need.
You also need to know how to wear a weightlifting belt properly.
Belts don’t work passively; you need to work with them.
You can’t just buckle one on and expect your performance to improve.
Instead, you need to do up your belt tight and then press your abs out against it – and that includes your waist.
This increases the all-important intra-abdominal pressure, which helps stabilize your spine from within.
Lifters call this blocking or bracing.
It’s a skill that has to be learned and practiced.
But, once mastered, it will have a significant impact on your performance.
Leather weightlifting belts come in all shapes and sizes, and with different types of closure.
Buckles and levers are best as they allow you to get your belt good and tight.
Velcro might seem like a good idea, but it’s not.
If your belt suddenly opens mid-squat, you could lose intra-abdominal pressure and end up hurting yourself.
How tight should your belt be?
Tight enough that you need to take it off between sets.
If you can wear it for more than a few minutes at a time, it’s too loose to do you any good.
When Should You Wear A Weightlifting Belt?
Shin Guards or Long Socks
Hard and heavy deadlifting can take its toll on your shins.
If you are deadlifting correctly, the bar should stay very close to your lower legs.
If the bar moves away from your legs, you lengthen your levers and lose some of your mechanical advantages, increasing the load on your back.
However, while the bar should stay close to your shins, it shouldn’t touch them.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t.
Dragging a knurled up your legs can cause a lot of damage!
If you are worried about scraping your shins, knee-high powerlifting socks can help.
They have padded panels at the front so that, if the bar gets a little too close to your legs, you won’t scrape off skin or draw blood.
That’s why they are a compulsory part of competitive powerlifting gear.
No long socks?
Alternatively, you can wear deadlifting shin guards.
The main advantage of shin guards over socks is that they are more robust and hardwearing.
Socks can snag, and a few untidy deadlifts can mean your socks are ruined.
Deadlift shin guards won’t wear out as quickly.
Shoes for Lifting
The shoes you wear can have a significant impact on your lifting performance.
Shock-absorbing running shoes distort under heavy loads, making you unstable.
That’s the last thing you want when squatting big weights!
Also, running shoes have raised heels which are not ideal for deadlifts.
An elevated heel will push you forward and onto your toes, robbing you of some of your mechanical advantages.
Because of this, if you are serious about performing at your best, you should choose your lifting shoes wisely.
Flat-soled shoes are best for deadlifts and wide-stance squats, whereas weightlifting shoes with a stable, raised heel are best for narrow stance squats and Olympic lifts.
Why You Need Weightlifting Shoes | Coach Mark Rippetoe Explains
Compression shorts and T-shirts can be beneficial for strength training.
They work in several different ways to reduce the risk of injury and increase workout performance.
Compression clothing fits snugly and usually made of a mixture of Lycra and polyester.
Wearing compression clothing helps keep the underlying muscles and joints warm.
That’s useful if you are training somewhere cold or are taking long breaks between sets because you are doing heavy strength training.
They also provide a small amount of support.
Compression shorts help support your hips, while a compression T-shirt will help support your shoulders and spine.
While this support is minuscule, every little helps when you are training heavy and hard.
Compression garments also increase kinesthetic awareness, which can help improve performance through a phenomenon called Hilton’s law.
Hilton’s law states that the nerves that innervate (switch on) the skin is the same nerves that innervate the underlying muscles.
Wearing compression garments increases your awareness of that area, which improves underlying muscle contractility.
Wearing compression shorts will help fire up your hips and thighs while wearing a compression shirt will help fire up your entire upper body.
It’s worth noting that any advantage of wearing compression garments is minimal, but even a small performance boost can be very welcome.
Recommended Weightlifting Gear
If you want to lift heavy on leg day, these are the knee sleeves you want.
- 7mm thickness for optimal warmth, knee support, and compression
- Designed to increase drive out of the bottom of the squat
- Stiff enough to increases joint stability but flexible for unencumbered movement
- No seams at the back of the knee for increased comfort and flexibility
Powerlifters love these stiff, thick knee sleeves.
- 7mm thick level 3 neoprene to support max effort
- Provides "Sling Shot" effect at the bottom adding pounds to your squat
- Use during heavy sets for maximum support
Mava Sports compression knee sleeves are a basic but well-made product that will provide your knees with warmth and support for squats, weightlifting, and CrossFit training.
At less than half the price of some premium knee sleeves reviewed in the 7 Best Knee Sleeves for Squats buying guide for 2020, these knee sleeves are ideal for beginners who aren’t sure if they want or need knee sleeves.
For more knee sleeve alternatives, see the 7 Best Knee Sleeves for Squats on the Market Today in 2020.
- UNMATCHED CUSTOMER SUPPORT: If you didn’t get the right size or the...
- 7mm THICK that actually offers Support - Our Pair of Knee Compression...
- ANATOMICALLY SHAPED FOR PERFORMANCE - They provide the right amount of...
You don’t have to wear a weightlifting belt, but many people find that it makes them feel more stable and secure, especially when lifting heavier weights.
Weightlifting belts as mentioned above don’t support your spine passively.
Instead, a good belt gives you something to brace your abs against during strenuous exercise, which increases intra-abdominal pressure, and that internal bracing helps support your back.
The ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt is an excellent leather lifting belt – great quality and reasonably priced.
- IMPROVED FORM & TECHNIQUE – Maintaining proper squat and lifting...
- PREVENT BACK INJURIES – Properly supporting your lower back (lumbar)...
- COMFORTABLE LEATHER – Each 4” wide genuine leather belt is...
Here is what you will like about Moxy socks:
- They protect your shins while deadlifting.
- Moxy Socks are comfortable.
- Go over the knee which keeps your knees warmed up for both squats and deadlifts.
- Last a long time.
- And look great.
- I have been asked many times where to get Moxy Deadlift Socks.
Try them out yourself, I am confident you will like them as well as much as I do.
You will enhance your style, training, and comfort no matter what your sport.
Check out 5 Best Deadlift Socks Review and Buying Guide for more choices.
- Reciprocated Heel and Toe
- Ventilator Mesh Top
- Full-Protection Area
THEFITGUY weightlifting shin guards can be worn over your skin, socks, or training pants.
Their durable layer of 5mm Neoprene material will help impede injuries.
Best of all, with THEFITGUY shin guards, you do not need to remove your shoes, saving you valuable time.
You can find more shin protection in the 5 Best Deadlift Shin Guards to Buy in 2020.
- ULTIMATE SHIN PROTECTION: Built of strong durable 5mm Neoprene...
- SAVE TIME - QUICK WEAR AND REMOVE: Takes only a few seconds to wear...
- USE ONLY WHEN NEEDED - DURING WORKOUT: Optimize your workout by...
Sabo Deadlift Shoes are specifically for deadlifting.
They are very light and get your feet as close to the floor as possible, almost like you are indeed barefoot.
The flat sole alone will improve your deadlift because your feet are firmly planted to the floor, ensuring a more reliable foot drive to get the weight moving.
Pairs currently retail for 80 to 90 dollars. All in all, Sabo Deadlift Shoes are one of the best you can purchase and use today.
See the 5 Best Shoes for Deadlifts Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020 for additional selections.
- New anatomical last was created especially for deadlifting.
- New non-marking outsole is made of high density material with a...
- Two lateral straps allowing for an individual fit and precise tuning...
With their elevated heel, Reebok Lifter PR Cross-trainers are ideal for squats but can also be worn for deadlifts.
They are not flexible or cushioned enough for cardio, but, for all-round strength training, these shoes are hard to beat.
Better for squats than deadlifts, you can still use these shoes for both lifts.
- BREATHABLE AND DURABLE MATERIAL: These weightlifting sneakers feature...
- EFFICIENT FOOT SUPPORT: These athletic trainers feature the Powerbax...
- STAY COOL AND DRY: This footwear features anti-friction lining that...
10 Tips For Novice Lifters | Strongman and Powerlifter Alan Thrall
Weightlifting Gear – Final Thoughts
While there is nothing wrong with shunning all these items and training with no added weightlifting gear, doing so could limit your performance and make your workouts less productive.
You might also experience more aches and pains as a result.
Using the equipment mentioned above won’t take anything away from your workouts.
Instead, they will allow you to train at your limit, making better progress.
If you are serious about getting the best from your workouts, it’s worth adding some of these weightlifting gear items to your workout wardrobe.
- 5 Best Weightlifting Shoes For Men And Women Buying Guide
- Best Deadlift Equipment: Home Gym Guide; Start Lifting Today!
- 5 Best Deadlift Shin Guards on the Market in 2021
- 7 Deadlift Muscles Worked That Can Change Your Life
- What Muscles Does a Hex Bar Deadlift Work?
- 7 Powerful Squats Muscles Worked Will Improve Your Life
- Squats for Weight Loss and Body Transformation
- Great Bench Press Benefits, Muscles Worked, Variations + How-To
- 5 Best Deadlift Bars on The Market Today in 2021