I could talk about why and when you should use a belt all day long. Before you considered strapping up your belt, ask yourself these questions.
Does my back hurt? If yes, no belt.
Do I know how to properly breathe through this lift? If no, no belt.
Do I know how to properly use this belt and where to wear it? If no, no belt.
Am I lifting more than 80% of my 1RM? If no, no belt.
Here is a section from a Squat University article that really shines some light on this topic.
“Our goal as a coach is to always ensure our athletes are safe and lifting with the best technique possible. A belt can help facilitate this. Some athletes will not use a belt, even with maximum attempts. That’s okay, as long as they maintain good technique. However, if you are going to use a belt you should know how to use one correctly. I recommend practicing with a lighter weight with the belt on, making sure you’re using correct breathing/bracing. Therefore, when you do attempt a heavy squat it will be second nature. If you have a weightlifting belt, I caution you to use it sparingly. I often will keep mine in my gym bag until my heaviest or most intense training lifts.”
The bottom line, build your belt.
Popular Weight Belts: Rogue, Scheik, 2Pood, BearKomplex, Unbroken Designs
Knee sleeves are compression garments that surround the entire knee joint. They come in a variety of thicknesses and allow your knees to stay warm throughout the training session. There are some that believe that the physical sensation of wearing knee sleeves can help give the athlete better awareness of their knee positioning while lifting and therefore potentially improve technique. Because knee sleeves do not directly improve performance they may be worn as often as you like. However, they should NOT be worn to cover up the pain. Athletes will resort to buying a pair of sleeves in an attempt to fix aches and pains of the knee joint. This is NOT what they are meant for. If you are dealing with knee pain, I suggest finding WHY the issue started instead of trying to cover it up with sleeves or other methods (medication, ice, warming ointments, etc).
Popular Knee Sleeves: Rehband, BearKomplex
Knee wraps are wrapped around the athlete’s knees as tight as possible (either in a spiral or figure 8 technique). What makes the wrap different than a sleeve is the mechanical advantage that is created as the elastic material (rubber filament) is stretched during the lowering phase of the squat.
Knee wraps need to be worn sparingly. Extended use could potentially lead to compromised stability of the knee joint. For this reason, it is recommended that athletes who want to use knee wraps only use them for their heaviest training sessions and/or during powerlifting meets.
Popular Knee Wraps: SlingShot, Harbinger, Mava
This is a great article from CrossFit Invictus about wearing wrist wraps.
“The purpose of a wrist wrap is to provide support to the wrist joint during heavy or max effort lifts in pressing movements and overhead lifts. During these movements, the wrist can be pulled into excessive extension under load and result in compromised mechanics, possible injury, and failed lifts. Wrist wraps are certainly worth having for an athlete, but I notice many don’t use them correctly. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your training.
- Warm-Up Without Your Wrist Wraps
- Don’t Tie Your Wrist Wraps Too Low
- Use The Right Kind of Wrap
- You Don’t Need To Wear Wraps For Most Gymnastics Movements
- Don’t Use Wrist Wraps To Hide Mobility And Flexibility Issues”
Popular Wrist Wraps: Rogue
“Perhaps the number one benefit of using straps is that they allow you to fatigue the target muscle without worrying about your grip failing first. This is in direct accordance with the “right link/wrong link” rule that should govern just about everything you do in the weight room.” – Tony Bonvechio To simplify if you are training for functional fitness you do not need to wear lifting straps. Clean and deadlift what you can hold onto. In real life, you probably won’t have an opportunity to strap up before you have to carry something. If you are strictly weightlifting and want to build your traps or fatigue the bigger muscles before your little ones give you then, sure go ahead. As CrossFitters holding onto a heavy bar will help us hang on the rig easier, take bigger sets of KBS, and gives us that forearm pump!
Stay tuned for PART THREE of the gear guide that will cover everything gymnastics related.