Compared to some other sports, weightlifting doesn’t require a lot of equipment; just some heavyweights you can find at the gym. But if you want to get serious about weightlifting, then introducing some accessories can help you lift heavier while looking after your form and safety.
So, what accessories should I use in weightlifting? In my experience, I found that the essential accessories any weightlifter should have are: weightlifting shoes, a weightlifting belt, weightlifting straps, wrist wraps, and knee support.
Together, they help to keep all parts of your body protected when lifting weights, keeping you safe and helping you reach your goal. In this article, I’ll be going over these common weightlifting accessories, explaining what they do, why they are important, and how you can find ones that meet your needs. Keep reading to find out exactly what accessories you should be using and how.
The first accessory I’ll mention is weightlifting shoes because it’s hard to get a good lift without them. While they won’t make much of a difference in the amount of weight you can lift, a good pair of weightlifting shoes can offer you more stability and comfort, helping you to push harder. Here’s what sets them apart from other types of shoes:
What are Weightlifting Shoes?
Weightlifting shoes are a type of athletic shoe with a raised heel and some additional straps designed to keep your foot well-supported. They can be made out of different materials, including leather or polyurethane, and are usually engineered to be particularly breathable.
Why are Weightlifting Shoes Useful?
Weightlifting shoes are useful to keep you comfortable during your lifts and increase your range of motion. First, starting in the 1960s, companies like Adidas or Puma started coming up with special designs for weightlifting shoes that included a raised heel.
They found that this addition to the regular sneakers athletes used to wear during training made them more stable, especially in their squats. With a raised heel, you can squat lower more comfortably and without losing any balance.
The other feature that makes weightlifting shoes particularly useful is their strap, which is meant to keep the foot well secured. With a regular shoe, any looseness around the foot can lead to a lack of balance, which can make your squats weaker. When wearing weightlifting shoes, you are encouraged to strap them up tightly, ensuring minimal movement in the shoe during exercise.
What to Look For In a Good Pair of Weightlifting Shoes
Although all weightlifting shoes have roughly the same features, there’s a couple of things that can make a pair stand out for you. The first thing to look for is the material: a weightlifting shoe should feel breathable, but also somewhat heavy.
Sticking to well-known athletic brands can provide you with some guarantee of quality, but there are also some new players on the market making great-quality shoes for a good price
The most important choice you’ll face when choosing a weightlifting shoe is the size of the heel that you want. Weightlifting heels usually range from .6″ up to 1″ in height, with an average of .75″. This is a sizable difference that can really impact your squatting experience. Choose a heel height that you feel comfortable with, but also one that matches your needs and your anatomy.
For example, someone with longer legs will generally require a higher heel, above .75″, while someone with shorter legs may want to get a heel that is below average. Your squatting style also impacts the type of heel you’ll need.
For example, someone with a narrower squat will do better with a higher heel, while someone with a wide stance squat may feel more comfortable with a lower heel.
Weightlifting shoes also come with different types of straps, depending on the level of security that you need. If you have narrower feet or are more susceptible to losing your balance, you may want to go for a shoe that has two straps, or a thicker one.
I really recommend Reebok’s weightlifting shoes. You won’t go wrong with this choice, I’m sure. You can check the price on this Amazon link.
Next in our guide are weightlifting belts, an accessory that becomes crucial as soon as you start lifting heavier weights. Here’s what they can do for you:
What is a Weightlifting Belt?
A weightlifting belt is a thick heavy belt that weightlifters wrap around their waist to gain the necessary support and maintain proper form during a squat or a deadlift. Unlike a normal belt, this one isn’t meant to be wrapped around the hips, but much higher, at the level of the abdomen.
Why you Should Always Wear a Weightlifting Belt
So is a weightlifting belt something that simply sits on your waist and holds it steady? The purpose of a weightlifting belt is much more complex than that. What it does is that it restricts the way that your abdomen moves during breathing.
With a belt wrapped securely on your abdomen, your belly breaths will have to be lighter, which has the effect of increasing the stability of your spine. And a strong spine means stronger movements, no matter what or how you are lifting.
Not only does a weightlifting belt protect you, but it can also help you to lift stronger as well. When you are not wearing a belt, your body will prevent your muscles from contracting too hard and lifting too heavy, as this could cause severe damage to your spine.
But when your body senses that your spine is stable and well-supported, your legs and lifts will actually be able to contract a lot more, helping you gain a stronger lift.
What to Look for In a Good Weightlifting Belt
When looking for a weightlifting belt, quality is key. You want something that will stand the test of time, so go for solid materials. Leather is a good bet, as is any vegan leather alternative from a reputable brand. Remember: you are looking for an accessory that will serve you in the long-term, not just something that feels comfortable now.
This also means that you should be staying away from belts that feel great straight-away: these may be too weak and lose their stabilizing abilities overtime. Instead, go for a belt that is sturdy even if it feels uncomfortable to wear, or even painful. Like a good pair of leather shoes, a weightlifting belt will adapt to your body and needs a bit of time to be broken in.
In terms of size, go for a belt that is around 4 inches thick or under. Any more than that risks being too uncomfortable and hinder you when squatting lower. Of course, this will also depend on your size: someone with a longer torso and abdomen will do better with a wider belt, while a shorter person should consider a thinner one.
Finally, remember that you will have to put your belt on and take it off quite often. So choose one that you find comfortable to put on and adjust. Depending on your size and on the type of weightlifting that you practice, you may find that you want a certain type of belt to do certain exercises.
For example, some people like to have a looser belt for deadlifts, a tighter one for squats. So choose a belt that you find easy to put on, preferably a single-pronged one.
You can’t go wrong buying this weightlifting belt. You can check the price on this Amazon link.
Next, let’s discuss weightlifting straps. Although these accessories are not talked about quite as often as belts or shoes, they can be just as useful, and really keep you lifting weights for longer. Some people might consider them a kind of “cheat” accessory, but considering that they can also help your safety, I don’t consider them an unfair advantage. Here’s what they do and how to use them:
What Are Weightlifting Straps
Weightlifting straps are a very simple accessory, essentially just a thick strap made out of solid fabric that is meant to wrap around your wrists and the bar. They are meant to be easy to adjust, easy to use, and just give you a little bit of extra support in gripping a weights bar.
Why Are Weightlifting Straps Useful?
The reasoning behind using weightlifting straps is: why stop lifting just because your fingers or hands are tired? When lifting weights, you may find that your arms, your legs, your muscles generally can keep going and do more reps or more sets. Unfortunately, your fingers are starting to give up, getting sweaty, cramped, and painful.
This is when straps come in handy. You wrap them around your wrists and around the bar, making the weight of the bar more evenly distributed through your whole hand and wrist.
Although people don’t usually use weightlifting straps for all kinds of exercises, they are very useful for lifting heavier weights, heavy deadlifts, and rows.
The only downside of using straps is that you might get used to how much easier they make your lifts. Unfortunately, straps are not allowed in official weightlifting or powerlifting competitions.
In any case, it is recommended to work on your grip strength so that you can eventually lift comfortably without straps. In the meantime, however, straps are a good tool that can enhance your lifts and help you get the most out of your workouts.
What to Look For in Good Weightlifting Straps
When looking for good weightlifting straps, you’ll need to find some that have the right width, and feel comfortable on your hand. Of course, the quality of materials matters too after all these straps are going to help support quite a few pounds!
But if you buy them in a specialized shop, the chances are that even the most affordable weightlifting straps will be made out of resistant fabric, able to withhold the weight of your lifts.
Don’t be afraid to ask to try straps on before you buy them, as comfort is essential. They will have to sit around your hands and wrists for a long time, so the last thing you want is straps that dig into your wrists.
However, you can buy them also online if this option is more convenient for you. But always check for as much as possible for positive reviews from people who bought them already.
Finally, the best straps have a ready-made loop, making them quicker and easier to use and to fix onto the bar for a new lift.
I do have those below, and I bought them on Amazon. They are really simple and practical in use. You can check the price on the Amazon link.
Somewhat similar to wrist straps, wrist wraps aim to keep your wrists and hand joints protected during heavy, overhead lifts. Though you won’t spot many athletes wearing them during competitions, they can be a great accessory for safety and comfort reasons. Here’s what they do, and why you may want to use them:
What are Wrist Wraps?
Think about a weightlifting belt. Wrist wraps are kind of the same thing…but for your wrists. They are a tight piece of rigid fabric that you wrap around your wrists, helping to support the joints during heavy lifts. These are especially popular with cross-fitters, Olympic weightlifters, and anyone trying their hand at overhead lifts.
Why do Weightlifters Use Them?
The first reason for using wrist wraps is that they support your wrists and help you to maintain proper form with them. When lifting heavy weights overhead, it can be easy for your wrist to get in the wrong shape, get overextended, and eventually start hurting. And as a weightlifter, the last thing you want is a wrist injury, which will stop you from performing virtually any kind of lift.
If you are lifting very heavy, if you are already feeling some tension in your wrists or if you are prone to joint problems, then wrist wraps are an essential weightlifting accessory you shouldn’t try to do without.
How to Use Wrist Wraps?
When using wrist wraps, it’s advisable to train without them for lighter weights, putting them on only for heavier ones. This is because, like the rest of your body, your wrists need to gain strength. By overusing wrist wraps, you risk not training your wrists sufficiently. In the long run, this can mean becoming reliant on wrist wraps, which you want to avoid.
How to Choose Good Wrist Wraps?
When looking for a wrist wrap that will support your wrists through the heaviest weights, look for something that feels rigid, almost hard. Much like a weightlifting belt, wrist wraps shouldn’t feel too comfortable at first, there should be some resistance there.
In general, look for natural materials like cotton, with heavy elastics, or added nylon for support. That being said, the material of the wrist wrap will also be in direct contact with your wrist, so make sure to stay away from synthetic materials that might irritate you over time, or cause a reaction.
If you plan on using wrist wraps regularly, you’ll end up having to wrap them around your wrists a lot. Make sure it’s a simple process. Ideally, you’ll want a wrap that only wraps around your wrist once or twice: this will simplify the process and make them easier to use.
Although wrist wraps don’t come in a lot of available sizes, make sure that you choose one that works for the size of your forearm. That’s right; we’re not all born with the same length of wrists! So if you suspect your arms might be shorter or longer than average, take some time to try on wrist wraps and see if their size works for you.
Finally, some wrist wraps have different stiffness options. People who lift very heavy will generally benefit from a stiffer fabric, while others may want to look into a more comfortable, medium-stiff option.
Those above are an excellent choice; their quality and a reasonable price. You can buy them from Amazon.
It looks like we’ve covered pretty much every part of the body in this guide: from wrists to spine to feet. All that’s left to do now is introduce you to knee sleeves, a very useful piece of equipment that follows the same logic as the others: helping to keep you safer and more stable so that you can lift more, and better. Here’s what specialized weightlifting knee support looks like, and how to choose the best:
What Kind of Knee Support Can you Find for Weight Lifting?
The most popular kind of knee support for weightlifting is knee sleeves. These come as semi-rigid pieces of fabric that you wear over your knee for added support. Think about a strong, tight sock, but for your knee.
Why are Knee Sleeves Useful?
So why do athletes choose to wear knee sleeves? Well, for starters, they’ll make you feel a lot more secure. When training squats or legs, your knees are a critical part of the process: you want to make sure that they remain strong and stable, without putting too much weight on them. By compressing your knee, knee sleeves can help you get rid of any shakiness, making you feel more confident in your movement.
Another important reason for using knee sleeves is that they keep you warm. This may not be something you think about much, but having warm joints is essential to avoid injury when training. This is why you should follow your warm-up routine religiously. However, even after a warm-up, it’s important to keep your joints warm. Knee sleeves come in handy there, helping you feel more comfortable, and maintaining that warm looseness in the knees that can help prevent injuries.
How to Choose Good Knee Support?
When choosing a knee sleeve, you’ll be swamped with options. The most important thing to do will be to determine what kind of weightlifting you intend to use them for. Powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and Crossfit all require different types of knee sleeves.
Powerlifters are advised to go for a more rigid sleeve, which will keep them warm and provide the support they need for their movement.
Olympic weightlifters, on the other hand, while they still need the support, should go for knee sleeves that don’t impede their mobility. This is because a rigid knee sleeve will make it very difficult to squat low. Choose something with good compression, but a lighter fabric that will still let you move freely.
Crossfitters have to consider what kind of exercise they want to focus on. Anything that requires more mobility will be better accommodated by a softer sleeve, while you’d be advised to choose a stiff one for more static, weight-based exercises.
All knee sleeves use a combination of neoprene and fabric. The rigidity of the neoprene and its ration to fabric is what will determine the stiffness of the sleeve. And as ever, choosing good materials is always a good idea, as it will ensure better support and an accessory that can last you longer through your weightlifting career.
Those knee support are excellent. Personally, I’m pleased with them. You can buy them also on Amazon. Here you can check the price.
Questions and Answers
Now that we’ve covered the most useful types of accessories, what they do, and how to choose the right one, you may have a few questions. Here’s a helpful FAQ on those common weightlifting accessories:
Q: Will using weightlifting accessories stop me from learning the proper form?
A: It depends. Relying too much on a belt or wrist wraps as a beginner can indeed prevent you from learning the right moves to lift safely. As a general rule, start weightlifting with lighter weights and make good learning form your top priority. Accessories will only come later.
Q: Are weightlifting accessories allowed during competitions?
A: Some, but not all of them. In a powerlifting competition, you will be allowed to bring a belt, shoes, knee sleeves and wrist wraps, but not wrist straps. The same goes for Olympic lifting competitions.
Q: Why are weightlifting accessories so expensive?
A: Accessories like belts or knee sleeves can be expensive because they use leather and other high-quality materials. Other accessories like wrist wraps or straps can actually be quite cheap. In any case, going for quality will always be the safest choice: a good weightlifting accessory is yours for life!
You don’t need many accessories in your weightlifting adventure—but some of them definitely helps. From keeping you safe to help you perform better, easing off pressure on your joint, or keeping you lifting for longer, there is a ton of reasons to use those.
Weightlifting shoes, weightlifting belts, weightlifting straps, wrist wraps, and knee sleeves are the ones I always recommend and the only ones I think you really need. So don’t hesitate to try and see how they work for you, and remember: be safe, and always invest in quality accessories!
If you like this post? Don’t forget to share it on Pinterest!