Investing in some weightlifting gear is a great way to boost your confidence during lifts and make your time at the gym more comfortable. But it's hard to decide what you need and what you don't. Here is a quick break down of some of our favorite gear for beginners.
High volume over head movements, like thrusters, jerks and overhead squats may cause soreness in the forearms. Wrist wraps are used to brace the wrist during these movements and will make you feel pretty bad ass too. You can purchase two different kinds, a stiffer velcro secured wrap or an all cloth wrap. Both work equally as well at supporting your wrist and are easy to adjust.
Please use wrist wraps sparingly. Just like any other weightlifting accessory we don't want to become so dependent on it that we can't perform without it.
Knee sleeves are my favorite piece of weightlifting gear. They make warming up much quicker, especially on cold winter mornings. Knee sleeves are known to add more heat to the knee and are allegedly help with patellar tracking and knee stability. Sleeves are also a great way to save your knees during lunges.
Depending on the thickness of the knee sleeve they may also add an assistive effect when squatting below parallel. Some of the thicker knee sleeves can add up to 10 pounds on to a squat, by adding a spring effect.
Belts are by far the most common accessory found in a gym. Contrary to popular belief belts aren't designed to directly support the back. During movements where the midsection must be braced (i.e. squats, deadlifts and just about barbell movement) they help create internal pressure. This increased pressure creates a more rigid mid section allowing us to lift heavier weights safely.
Weightlifting belts range in quality from $20 cloth and velcro ones to beautiful $120 leather ones. If you are just starting CrossFit or olympic lifting a cloth one will do just fine.
Just like other accessories its important to use belts sparingly. They should be reserved for heavy squats and deadlifts. Using belts too often may weaken your core and put you at risk for injury when a belt isn't available.
In a previous blog post we discussed briefly why having a proper pair of CrossFit shoes is important during MetCons. During strength pieces you may find extra support from weightlifting shoes. These shoes have a heel raise (typically 0.5 inch to 1 inch) that allows for better range of motion during squatting. Raising the heel slightly always us to keep our torso more vertical without any extra mobility.
Weightlifting shoes also have hard plastic bottoms which, unlike other shoes, transfer energy rather than absorb it. These extra hard soles also create a wide stable platform.
The Take away
Before you buy any lifting gear its important to know what you should be looking for. Every athlete will be comfortable with a different degree of gear. Just remember that these accessories are supposed to make lifting more comfortable, not do the lifting for you. Make sure you use all of the gear above sparingly.
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