So what’s with all the powerlifting equipment people use? Why can’t they just use their own strength? Surely it’s classed as ‘cheating’ if you use all this fancy stuff to help you lift the weight?
Well technically I guess yes, you could say that. In the same way you could suggest a runner just pops on a pair of daps, or a triathlete just uses any old bike, or a golfer just uses irons.
In powerlifting we use equipment in the same way – to heighten the advantages our body already gives us – or may be lacking.
Let’s look at the major ones:
- Belt – probably the one I get asked about the most. My mum definitely thinksI wear it to protect my back. It’s not for that – in lifting we take in a big breath at the start of the lift to create an internal pressure throughout the abdominal cavity. Wearing a belt enables us to brace against something making that pressure easier to maintain.
- Knee Sleeves – these are really to protect the knees. Keeping the joint really warm and allowing the synovial fluid to do its job. It also compresses the joint and provides support to keep the tracking of the patella spot on. It does also provide a small amount of rebound at the bottom of the squat to help launch you back up to standing!
- Squat shoes – They look a bit odd – I’ll give you that. Their job is to make up for a lack of flexibility in the ankle by raising up the heel and allowing the angle of the ankle to improve without lifting heels off the floor. They are also completely rigid with no cushioning to allow all the power generated in the lift to be transferred without loosing it in a cushioned shoe.
- Chalk – used on the hands and back to stop slipping or movement
- Wrist straps – To protect the wrists and keep an optimal position by reducing extension in the joint.
- Lifting straps – used to wrap around the bar if grip strength is the thing preventing the lift from going up. Grip strength is very important in lifting and life – apparently a key indicator for longevity.
- Smelling salts – really into the more niche stuff now – but used to clear the mind before a heavy lift
This is why if you see a powerlifter at the gym – they have a bag full of stuff! Sorry about that!
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