5 Pieces of Weightlifting Gear That Can Improve Performance and Prevent Injury
Weightlifting gear was designed to improve performance and prevent injuries. But, with so much gear on the market, it can be challenging to determine which gear works and what improvements to expect. While there are certainly far more than 5 pieces of gear that are worth having, starting with an attainable bundle is best.
Although the gear was made to prevent injury and improve performance, it is important to take the time to learn how to use each of them properly.
Lifting straps are a very affordable weightlifting accessory that can make a huge difference in pull technique and skill. Lifting straps were made to isolate the weightlifter’s focus. By limiting the focus so that the weightlifter only needs to concentrate on the pull and not struggling with grip, the straps help improve the pull. No doubt, a great pull with a mediocre grip is not what any weightlifter wants. The lifting straps are not intended to bypass working on the grip. On the contrary, lifting straps allow you to focus on each part of your pull separately. When working on grip, accessories like grip builders are a great addition to your gym bag.
For lifters with strong pulls, straps are still a great idea for when wrists, tendons, and muscles feel fatigued, and there are a few sets left to do. Use the lifting straps just to provide extra support to get through the end of the workout without risking injury.
For heavy lifters and those working up to a heavy lift, weight belts become a necessity. A weight belt is not and should not be used as a crutch. When used properly, at the right time, a weight belt can provide additional abdominal pressure which is necessary to prevent the weight from crushing the lifter- or the lifter’s spine. Weightlifters will often inhale, and as they lift, hold that breath for a moment as they lift the weight and push it up over their heads. At the same time, lifters with proper technique flex their abs and core muscles. The abdominal muscles’ purpose during a lift is to put pressure on the front part of the spine in order to equal the force created by the muscles that are straightening out.
A weight belt assists the abdominal muscles in providing that pressure, giving the lifter a stronger core with which to lift. For heavy lifters, weight belts are a great way to improve their lift by providing that assistance to their core so they can focus on building strength. Any time a weightlifter is lifting over 75% of their max squat, wearing a weight belt is key to improving and increasing that lift. The same can be said for deadlifts.
Surprisingly, there are those who do not understand the difference between lifting straps and wrist wraps. To keep it simple, lifting straps are used to ignore grip issues and improve pull. Wrist wraps are used to stabilize the wrist during the push. Wrist wraps are for experienced heavy lifters and lifters working to become one. On average, a bench press of more than 160 pounds should include wrist wraps. But to better determine if it’s time to invest in wrist wraps, it is a good idea to understand why wrists may need additional support in the first place.
The muscles in the wrist are made up of Type 1 fibers. These fibers are resistant to fatigue, have a long endurance, and low power output. (Keep in mind, these are the average characteristics under normal use circumstances.)
Think of the muscles in the wrist as marathon runners, whereas the muscles in thighs are more like sprinters. Like distance runners, the wrist muscles are not highly adept at bearing extreme weight. They are far better at a low weight for long periods of time. Offering wrist muscles support during heavy weightlifting is not just a good idea, it’s a necessary technique if you want to avoid serious injury.
Knee sleeves are just what they sound like, a sleeve that slides over your foot and up to your knee. Knee sleeves are designed to fit tightly around the knee. This tightness is the mechanism that makes them valuable to weightlifters. By compressing the knee, the knee sleeves force an increase in blood flow through the blood vessels in the knee. This ramped up blood flow has multiple benefits. The first of which is happening during the workout; prevention of swelling. By compressing the tissue around the knee joint, knee sleeves prevent swelling which can cause pain or tendon fatigue during the workout.
Another mid-workout benefit is the firm positioning of the knee cap. Keeping the knee cap where it belongs and not allowing to slide during lifts means far less potential for tendon irritation and damage.
Once the workout is over, the increased blood flow that the knee sleeve provided during the workout continues to benefit the lifter by helping the knees to recover much faster than they would without knee sleeve compression.
Like every other part of life, technology is having its impact on weightlifting. For the serious weightlifter, this means access to scientific data about each and every lift. Beast Technology is a smartphone app that measures the power wattage and velocity for every single rep performed at every workout.
This technology comes with a set of sensors that are applied to the lifter’s body and the weight being lifted or pushed. It is these sensors that read and report data about the total watts of power output the lifter has in each rep and the velocity of each of those reps.
Once the app has enough data, it will begin to provide feedback that includes suggestions for load amounts, sets, and reps needed to increase strength and power. Put those suggestions to work and continue using Beast Technology to consistently improve workouts.
Getting the right gear is essential to protecting the body and improving the time spent in the box. Always remember to take the time needed to learn best practices for each piece of gear you add to your bag.
Photo credit: @maxphysiquephoto
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