There is a lot of different equipment out there, it can be difficult to know what it all does, never mind if you need it or not. Here is a brief over view of some different equipment I have come across, what it does and whether you actually need it.
First up is chalk. You’ll see a lot of people putting chalk on their hands or all over their shoulders before deadlifts and squats. Put simply, chalk sucks up the sweat and moisture from your hands (lovely…) so you’re able to grip for longer. I have recently started using chalk and I’ve found it really useful for my heavier deadlifts, however, it is certainly not a necessity when you’re first starting out. If you find your grip is fine then you don’t need chalk.
Another piece of equipment to help with grip are wrist straps. I have never used wrist straps but many people I train with do. For heavier deadlifts they are really helpful in keeping your grip but you shouldn’t rely on them. Training your grip strength is really important and so I would probably avoid using wrist straps all the time. If you do get them, maybe just reserve them for your heaviest sets.
Next up are weight lifting shoes (squat shoes). There are lots of different reasons these can be helpful. Firstly, they will give your ankles more support and elevate your heel slightly, which will help you to maintain proper form. They also have a solid base, which is really important to ensure good form and keep your stability. All of these things means improved safety. Weight lifting shoes are pretty expensive and so you might not want to splurge out if you’re only a beginner, which is completely fine. Instead, you could always do these exercises bare footed (just be careful with your toes) or, lots of people will train in a pair of converse because they have flat soles and very little padding. Training bare foot is not something you can rely on forever, but don’t feel you have to rush into making a purchase.
Another pretty expensive purchase is a weight lifting belt. Not only is there a potential safety benefit to wearing a belt, they also allow you to lift heavier weights. Basically, the belts are thick and stiff and can be adjusted to however tight you fancy. Your abs push against the belt which leads to internal pressure build up. This increased pressure means you have more stability, which means you can do more weight. A belt is definitely a considered purchase and it is a personal decision, if it feels better for you then go for it, if not then it really isn’t a problem. Again, when you first start off these really aren’t needed but might be something you decide to purchase when you’re lifting a bit heavier.
Next is something I have spoken about before. Lacrosse Balls and Foam rollers. These really aren’t too expensive and definitely worth a purchase. Basically, it is an affordable and easy way to get a deep tissue massage. By rolling over them, you break down adhesion and scar tissue, which will speed up recovery and help prevent injuries. I’ve been using these since the start of my weight training journey (although more so now), and they do hurt but it is worth the pain in the long term.
Now for wrist wraps. Different to wrist straps, these help to give you wrist support, particularly handy if you’re doing front squats or low bar squats. Again, you don’t need these but they do help prevent potential injury when you’re lifting heavier weights.
Finally, knee sleeves. Knee sleeves, like a lot of things we’ve talked about, are designed to help prevent any injury. They also act as compression which increase blood flow and reduce any knee pain. Basically, compression and increased blood flow leads to better recovery. They are also good for keeping your knees warm and making you more aware of form. I have yet to use any knee sleeves but I think they will be my next purchase.
You’ve probably noticed a bit of a theme. You don’t need any of this equipment, it is there to help you advance and prevent injury, however, you can get on completely fine without it. Getting equipment should not be at the expense or a way to cover up bad form or issues. These are not miracle workers, they will help but ultimately it comes down to working hard and going at your own pace. If you don’t think you need something, you probably don’t.
If you have any more questions about any of the equipment above or any other item not mentioned here, just let me know.