By: Rachel Mangold
Ever see people walking around the gym with strange belts, and straps, and a bunch of other seemingly random things? Ever wonder what they are and whether or not you should be using them? If yes, keep reading as I’ll be going over the most common training gear and equipment that you may want to invest in!
Useful for: Squats, Deadlifts, RDLs, Good-mornings, Heavy Rows, and Heavy Lunges
I would say this is the most common and most important piece of equipment you can utilize. A lifting belt’s role is to provide stability to the lower back and core of the lifter to help prevent injury by allowing the lifter to remain braced throughout the lift. These are best if used for heavy compound lifts or any other movements that places strain on the lower back. However, it is important to mention they should not be used for every lift or every set as it then becomes a crutch for improper form and inadequate core engagement. There are many different versions, from simple Velcro and canvas to heavy leather and metal. I’ve attached some of my favorites as well as which ones are best for different lifters.
Other: Harbinger Lifting Belts, you can find these on Amazon for less than $50 and they work great as a starter belt!
Lifting Wrist Straps:
Useful for: Deadlifts, RDLs, Heavy lunges, Lat Pulldowns, Rows, and most pulling movements
These straps are likely the second most common pieces of gear you will see floating around your gym. Lifting straps are great for any pull movement as well as RDLs and lunges because they allow you to focus on engaging the working muscle, without worrying about if your grip is going to give out. Especially in gyms that don’t allow chalk, lifting straps can greatly impact the amount of weight you’ll be able to lift and increase the engagement and utilization of the targeted muscle. Some people are reluctant to use straps because they view it as ‘cheating,’ but it allows you to perform with greater concentration and better form. I’ve attached my favorite straps as well as more traditional straps.
These are great because they are better for your wrists, they last a long time, and they can also be used for push movements. They are pricier but very much worth the extra dough.
Lifting Wrist Wraps:
Useful for: Bench Press, Overhead Press, Squat
While commonly confused with wrist straps, wrist wraps provide a different service. They keep your wrist secured and decrease the range of motion in your wrist to prevent possible injury, especially on pressing movements. By decreasing the range of motion of your wrist, it keeps it from rolling backward or forward, which are both common causes of wrist pain in the bench press. These are especially useful once you begin lifting heavier, specifically on bench press. They also provide extra wrist support and stability during a back squat.
SBD (more expensive): https://www.sbd-usa.com/product/sbd-wrist-wraps/
Harbinger (good quality, cost-friendly): https://harbingerfitness.implus.com/products/straps-wraps-and-lift-assists/red-line-wristwraps
Lifting belts, wrist straps, and wrist wraps are the most common pieces of training gear you will see, but there is a slew of other items you may come across. The top three brands I would buy from are SBD, Rogue, and Harbinger: Harbinger being the most cost friendly. While these items may help improve your lifts and keep your joints and muscles safer, they are simply tools to assist you. No piece of equipment will keep you completely safe if you don’t lift with proper form and utilize recovery: but that is for a future article.