Belts, and Wraps, and Shoes, Oh My!

For as long as I can remember I've been extremely resistant to using ANY kind of implement to help me with lifting. This goes as far back as the very beginning of my powerlifting career when I was hesitant to even buy a belt -- something that I'd consider essential now. 

I have a really stubborn mindset that I don't want to rely on any extraneous item to be able to lift the weight that I can lift. I want to be a raw lifter through-and-through. (Raw is a category in powerlifting competitions that means you aren't using any type of aid for your lifts such as a squat suit, knee wraps, bench shirt, etc. that allow you to lift much more with them than without them.) And even though things like belts, wrist wraps, and squat shoes are meet-legal and still allow you to compete in the raw category I'd been so deadset against these things because of that stubborn mindset I'd been stuck in. 

All the way back to when I caved and bought my first belt, I was convinced that training with it would make me a weaker lifter. I only used it on my very heaviest sets, because I didn't want to create a dependency. But what I've come to accept over time is that a weight belt is absolutely necessary to heavy lifting simply for the added safety and stability it provides. You will hardly ever see a powerlifter compete without a belt, because they are so incredibly beneficial to the sport. But despite being told this over and over and over and over again, it took me probably an entire year after buying mine to accept it. 

Now? I use my belt for every single squat, deadlift, and overhead press session. And, as I mentioned, I consider it essential to the practice of powerlifting. 

And, despite being fully aware of my stubbornness and its lack of base in reality, I'm seeing the same pattern emerging for the wrist wraps I bought just a few months ago and the squat shoes I JUST started using a couple days ago... 

In my mind I'm seriously still convinced that I'll be weaker if i make a habit out of using wraps and shoes. But I KNOW that these things will actually make me stronger. They are meet-legal implements that will help me reach my highest potential weight lifted and that's what the sport is all about. Not only that but they'll keep me safer and more protected during my lifts, too.

The wraps support my wrists and keep them feeling noticeably better during heavy or high rep bench press (and front squats!). The shoes provide better leverage during squats making my weaknesses and bad habits occur less, which in turn protects my knees, hips, and my ankles. 

So, you may be wondering what the downside is... And there truly isn't one. (Except for maybe cost, but these things are only expensive, because they've got to be durable, tough, and long-lasting.)

Belts, wraps, and lifting shoes are perfectly fine for competitive powerlifters, recommended even. And even a stubborn old lifter can be convinced, clearly, because despite my futile resistance I've ended up with all three! And all three of them have had a profound positive impact on my training.