Updated: Jan 21, 2019
David Arcemant, BS, CSCS
So you have started your journey into becoming the strongest version of yourself. Congratulations on making such a wise decision. However, as you become stronger, your addiction to training becomes in direct correlation with its difficulty. I mean, who doesn’t want to get stronger, faster, leaner, and better? You are literally leveling up!
To keep progress moving, here are a few items to add to your gym bag (roughly in order of priority) that will definitely help along the way!
A log is by far the most important thing for your workouts. It is what will allow you to remember what works, what doesn't, where to go, and how to achieve your ultimate goals.
One must quantify their training in order to find a steady progression
Sure, you can still progress without logging in your day-to-day workouts, but if you want to be as efficient as possible and not waste time in the gym spinning your wheels, a log or training plan is a must for your fitness journey!
If you wear tennis shoes, you are not wearing the proper attire. While they are often comfortable, they are not designed for hard training in the weight room.
-This is for 2 main reasons-
1) They absorb force
2) They are narrow.
For almost every exercise worth its salt, the force you exert from is connected through the floor.
1) You want to produce force through the floor
2) You want as much contact with the ground as possible.
A good weightlifting shoe will ensure your entire foot is in contact with the floor and will maximize surface area by providing a wide base. Most weightlifting shoes also have varied heel support which will mostly help with squats. However, you can also opt for flatter shoes.
If you wear shoes to go out, shoes to run, and shoes for work, you should invest in shoes to weight train; and unless you completely abuse your shoes, they will last forever.
Here are a few considerations on a proper weightlifting shoe:
-Budget Friendly: Adidas Powerlift 3.1's-
-Most Popular: Reebok Legacy Lifters-
As weights become heavier, the need for stronger bracing will be required. During the “functional training” era, coaches and trainer would advise to stay clear from using a belt as it would hinder the ability to engage the core. However, there are studies showing this is simply not the case. Furthermore, if you logically consider using a weight belt, you will soon realize that couldn’t be true anyway.
if you start with a 100 pound squat and train up to a 500 pound squat, belt or no belt, your core has developed for certain!
Instead, what the point of the belt is to give what’s known as “proprioceptive feedback”. In other words, it gives your abs and back muscles something to push against, therefore allowing a stronger contraction from your core.
-This then means the total opposite of what was originally thought-
Using a belt helps make your core Stronger!
The main times to use a belt is when working up to working sets and/or when you personally feel the weight is becoming heavy. Because of this, most lifters only use the belt on the heaviest lifts (i.e. Squat, Deadlifts, Bench Press, and Overhead Press).
There are a few types of belts to go for depending on preference. Some are wider, some are thicker, and some have a taper (mostly used for olympic lifting).
Standard 4” belt: Most Popular. Thickness usually is not a big factor as most come in standard 8mm. Further, Dual Buckle, Single Buckle, or Lever Buckles (By Inzer) would not play too much a role in their usefullness.
Slimmer 3” belt: Great for smaller people and deadlifts. I have only come across these through the company Pioneer Belts, whom also provide awesome custom and 2" belts.
Taper Weightlifting Belt: Usually a best choice for Olympic Weightlifters. The smaller front allows for cleans and snatches to be performed without the buckle interfering.
Velcro Belts: Give minimum support compared to 8mm leather buckle belts, but can still help lifters that need something to brace against.
If you are new to lifting, you won’t necessarily need these for quite a while. In fact, some people never use them at all! However, 9 times out of 10 (after you have really started adding some weight to that bar), your grip will give out well before your bigger muscle groups do. Furthermore, fatigue usually sets in the most on your grip strength.
In other words, if you are tired that day, best of luck gripping anything in your session!
Fortunately, these are real cheap and very handy!
#5: Wrist Wraps
These are optional because some people will never have problems pressing without the wrist bending. However, as weight goes up in your presses, the tendency to move the wrist will become greater and can therefore put progress to a halt! With wrist wraps, you can shift the focus of the weight from the wrist into the muscles of the elbow and shoulder girdle.
I have also found that they can help with shoulder discomfort partly because they will limit wrist movement and therefore enhance stability while pressing.
There are different lengths to these: smaller ones providing less support than longer ones (but of course…)
#6: Knee Sleeves
While there is little to no evidence that sleeves help increase actual lifts, they can still help support knee movement during those heavy squats and cleans. Similar to the weight belt, knee sleeves can give proprioceptive feedback and awareness of where your knee travels. Furthermore, as the knee flexes, the sleeves ensure the security of your ligaments and can limit wear and tear in the long run. You can get simple ones for mild security to more professional grade sleeves for ultimate support.
As one invest time into the gym, they will find the importance of investing into their training!
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