Getting into the gym and lifting weights is an amazing first step toward your personal fitness goals. When you first start, your focus will likely be just getting the hang of things and hopefully practicing good form. After you start to really get into working out it’s time to consider several accessories that will elevate and enhance your weight training potential. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
The lifting belt is one of the staple fitness accessories you’ll find in most gyms, especially powerlifting gyms. The belt is designed to protect your back through your heaviest lifts like the deadlift and squats. The belt should be worn around your midsection, fitting between the top of your hip bone (Iliac Crest of the Pelvis) and the bottom of your ribs. It should be tight enough that your core feels active and engaged. This rigid belt reduces movement through the lower back in these big lifts that can cause serious injury. It encourages you to keep your core tight and your back straight. Do not start powerlifting without a lifting belt.
Our joints are the first to go. That’s probably true for all of us, but it rings especially true for weightlifters. As we get older our joints, the knees in particular, start to weaken and make it harder for us to do high intensity workouts. Add to this the repetitive stress of sending a lot of weight through that joint in exercises like the squat and it just speeds up the rate of decline. If you’re worried about your joints, a pair of knee or arm sleeves might keep you in the gym for longer. These sleeves add stability to the joint to improve form during the workout and aid in recovery afterwards. Practicing good form should give you peace of mind in the longevity of your joints, but the added stability you get from a sleeve offers great protection in the short term.
Weight lifting gloves are another accessory that just make weight training so much easier, and safer. When you pick up a barbell, particularly during deadlifts, you need to be sure of your grip on the bar. The rough knurled surface of a barbell is there to improve your grip, but during a sweaty workout it’s not enough to guarantee safety. One solution to this in the weightlifting world is chalk which absorbs the moisture of the sweat, but for comfort and security go with the gloves. In addition to improving your grip, these gloves will protect your hands from the friction of the bar. Take my word for it, tearing the calluses off your palm on a brand new, extremely grippy bar is not pleasant.
The weight you stack on the bar is what creates the resistance in your workout, but there are accessories beyond those weight plates to make you work harder still. You could very simply add resistance to your workout with a weight vest or ankle and wrist weights. These are great accessories to strap on before a run, but they also have a lot of value in the gym, strengthening the burn you get from exercises like squat jumps and walking lunges. Exercises that rely on your bodyweight to create resistance like pull-ups hit a point of diminishing returns, but when you add extra weight you can keep seeing your gains increase.
Get the Most Out of Your Workout
Lifting weights alone might seem like enough when you start working out, but there’s a lot that goes into training in the gym that can have a massive impact on the results you achieve. Accessories in the gym are there to optimise your workout, to make sure you work as efficiently as possible. That means increasing the challenge as much as it means focusing on safety and recovery. Give yourself the tools you need to succeed.