Just as in any sport, there is proper equipment to use. If you don’t have equipment as good as the competition, you are at a great disadvantage. For example, a Nascar driver would not think of racing with regular street tires while everyone else had racing tires. A football player would not play without a helmet while the other players were all wearing helmets.
In powerlifting, training gear has moved forward leaps and bounds since I started competing 13 years ago. The material that they make bench press shirts, squat suits and deadlift suits out of not only keeps the lifter safe but helps increase their lifts tremendously.
The greatest magazine to learn about powerlifting is Powerlifting U.S.A. It’s full of articles, meet results and upcoming competitions. Training gear can be purchased at many places, some of the best known are Titan Support, Inzer Advance Designs and Metal Gear.
If you decide to purchase knee wraps, I would suggest going with the 2.5 meter wraps. They give you more wrap to protect your knees and will give you more rebound out of the hole. Personally, I have used the Titan THP wraps, the Inzer wraps and the Frantz TP5000 wraps, which are all very good.
How to wrap your knees is important. First of all, you will want to sit on a bench or chair and have your leg straight with no bend in the knee. Start the wrap just above the knee. As you go down the knee, overlap 1/2 of the wrap each time you go around. Once you are just below the knee, use the rest of the wrap and make an X across the knee cap. If you have more wrap left, make an X twice then tuck the wrap within itself so that it does not come loose when you stand and squat. The wraps should be put on snug with your light sets and then as you go up in weight, put them on tighter. In competition, you will want a brand new set of wraps. Also chalk your leg area so that the wrap does not slip as you put it on. If you wish, you can have a training partner put your wraps on for you as long as you have practiced it in the gym so he or she knows how tight you want them. Putting knee wraps on tight takes energy and at a meet you want to conserve as much as you can for your lifts. Just remember as soon as you are done with the lift, you will need to take your knee wraps off until you do your next set.
Purchasing a quality lifting belt is mandatory. You will want a 13 mm belt, leather preferred. You can get them with a buckle or a latch to close and lock them in. Your belt should last you a lifetime unless your body weight changes drastically.
As far as bench press shirts, deadlift suits and squat suits, it’s all personal preference. Some people like other company’s training gear over another. Everyone needs to do their own personal research to decide on what they will purchase.
Your shoes are your foundation. For squatting, you will want a hard flat bottom shoe. I prefer a high top for ankle support as well. Many lifters use the old Converse shoes. Inzer Advance Design makes a shoe just for squatting that is excellent. You will need a special shoe when you deadlift also. I prefer a wrestling shoe myself as it gets me closer to the bar and there is no lift in the heel.
Wrist wraps are also important gear. They are like the new wrap material and you use them for wrist support. There is not much to know about them. You just wrap them around your wrist area and up onto your hand above the wrist when bench pressing or heavy shoulder pressing.
If you are going to compete in a powerlifting meet, you will need to consider using the following gear:
- a squat suit
- bench shirt
- deadlift suit
- knee wraps
- wrist wraps
- lifting belt
- quality shoe for the squat
- a slipper or wrestling shoe for the deadlift
- singlet to wear over the bench shirt
- brief for under your squat and deadlift gear
- lifting chalk
- baby powder and some mineral ice or bio freeze.
You may also want a mouth guard as many lifters bite down when they lift heavy weights. Guys might want a cup as the squat and deadlift suits are a bit uncomfortable. You will also need a good gym bag to haul all your gear in. Find one with plenty of pockets for storage.
You can compete in “raw events”, which means you don’t use any gear at all. That is a true test of strength as you’re not getting any help from training gear.
Competing is not about luck, so I won’t say “good luck” to anyone that plans to compete. Competing is all about training year round, sacrifice, good nutrition, strong mental approach, preparation, planning and a never give up attitude.
When you compete, you will be the only one on the lifting platform so the pressure will be there especially when you get to the world level with meets as big as 800 lifters competing. But if you do your homework throughout the year, your hard-earned work ethic will pay off as you will be in the middle of the podium when the awards are given out!