I always chuckle at this question. Not because it’s a bad question but due to it generally coming about after someone sees someone else with something new. In all honesty it can be tough to decide what gear you need. From flashy shoes to shiny knee sleeves how do we make sense of everything?
Here’s a couple of things to consider.
Base your choice of shoes on the activity you’ll be doing in them. Let’s focus on two: General training shoes and weightlifting shoes.
General Training Shoes need to support your foot not someone else’s. Don’t just buy what everyone else has. I recommend basing your choice on your running tendencies. I also highly recommend having a coach take a look at your running style. If you run on your heels (heel strike) you’ll want a different shoe than if you’re more of a forefoot/midfoot runner. If your heel is striking the ground first you’ll do much better in a pair with some cushion in the heel. Keep in mind this is not the same as heel differential. If you land on the balls of your feet you’ll most likely want something with a more minimal design. Why? Because a heel could cause you to take an unnatural stride – a recipe for disaster. I also recommend trying on a bunch of different brands and styles. The brand-new-flashy-special-edition-bulletproof-super-sole-technology shoes that your friends are all wearing may not be what you need. Plus I’ll probably be able to save you some money.
Weightlifting Shoes I tend to take a similar thought process with. I actually don’t care what brand you have. Are some better than others? Doesn’t matter. Get something you like, that provides stability, and most importantly that you’re comfortable in. The less you’re thinking about your shoes the more you can focus on moving the barbell. Get a pair, tie them tight, and get to work.
Lifting belts can get tricky because people tend to misunderstand what they’re actually doing. I’ve seen people use them incorrectly far too many times, and it frustrates me to no end. A belt should provide the lifter with feedback and some support. When you brace by creating intra-abdominal pressure you push out against the belt, by feeling this you become aware of whether or not you’re remaining braced throughout the lift. What belts are not for is fixing bad movement. If you move incorrectly without a belt you will move incorrectly with a belt. If you tend to round your back, for example, you will still round your back with a belt on. In fact I’d argue that you’re more likely to continue allowing your midline to become unstable due to the false sense of security.
Some people will tell you to wear one when you pass 80% or a 1RM lift. Whatever. I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. Some people will tell you that you will somehow weaken your core by wearing one. Whatever. I think those people are reciting something they read in a magazine 15 years ago. Don’t let someone else decide for you. I highly recommend having a coach or other qualified fitness profession watch you move with and without one and getting their opinion. In the end it’s only a choice for you to make – but – get educated.
Go for it. I’m a firm believer in doing what makes you feel comfortable. I would recommend not running in knee sleeves…ever. If you want to get in a workout with knee sleeves on good for you. I don’t buy into the hype, much like actual compression gear. There’s no science that I’ve seen that shows that blood flow is being promoted, byproduct is being flushed, or whatever other claims they make. A small study that I recently read pointed toward placebo-effect and even that was negligible. Again if you feel good working out in them then by all means that’s what’s important and could possibly have a positive effect.
Keep in mind neoprene sleeves and actual wraps are two very different things.
Fun fact: In one compression gear commercial a man who was borderline crippled slips on some compression gear and is suddenly able to ride a bull. I’m exaggerating a bit but when you see claims like this you have to question what’s really going on.
In my opinion this is another misunderstood piece of gear. For example if your front rack is sub-par and your wrists hurt because you’re holding a barbell 6 inches from your shoulders…wrist wraps aren’t going to do anything for you. Nothing. Don’t believe me? Try it out…wrists still hurt? Thought so. That’s because your issue isn’t limited flexibility in your wrist (and if you think it is why are you wearing something that limits your wrist flexibility) it’s limited flexibility in your shoulders. This could be due to tight lats, triceps, or a handful of other typical culprits. I digress…
Wrist wraps are for adding some support to your wrists. That’s all. If you like them go ahead and rock ’em but as I have been saying this whole time – know what they’re actually doing.
Another misuse of wrist wraps is wearing them high and tight for Olympic lifts. Stop. In this situation you’re limiting your ability to extend your wrist. You need to be able to extend your wrist in order to catch the bar.
In the end keep it simple. Try out different things. Settle on something that’s appropriate, that makes you feel cool, and look sweet. Why? Because feeling good is often overlooked in favor of trying to fit in. You already fit in!
Hopefully you got some clarity. We could go on and on with this topic but truth is in the end it doesn’t matter much. People are religious when it comes to gear. You’re going to wear what you want, as you should. I’ve had people make all sorts of fantastic claims about what makes their gear special. What makes it special is that you’re in the gym and moving…think about it. In the end all I really care about is people getting healthy and staying safe not what brand booty shorts you have on. As always I can easily be reached RIGHT HERE or feel free to CONTACT ME HERE or shoot me a call at 603.490.3188. I love talking about this stuff and I’m more than happy to help guide you in the right direction. This applies to anyone reading this. You don’t have to be a member of 603 for me to spend some time steering you down the right path.