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What Equipment Do I Need for Weightlifting?

Safety and comfort are among the most important factors when choosing weightlifting equipment in a sport so demanding.

First and foremost, any apparel, footwear and accessories must conform to IWF regulations.

For those looking to reach the top of the sport, every detail is important and could be the difference between a medal and failure. It’s therefore crucial to choose equipment that will provide support and assistance, as well as being practical and comfortable for training and competition.

Let’s look at what to consider when choosing weightlifting equipment.

SHOES

It’s the hands that grab the weights, but the athlete will only be successful with a solid base. Therefore a good pair of weightlifting shoes is invaluable.

Weightlifting shoes are designed to allow the lifter to achieve a deeper squat, raise the heel on the rear foot in the split jerk and improve balance.

Perhaps the most important aspect of choosing lifting shoes is the size of the heel. Many use an elevated heel of around .75 inches, which can help to achieve ample squat depth with an upright torso.

Those with a narrow stance may require a higher heel than those with a wider position, who place more emphasis on their hip flexion and less on knee and ankle.

The length of a lifter’s torso and legs are also important. If you have longer shins and femurs, you may benefit from .75 inch or higher heel, while shorter athletes can keep their torso upright with less elevation.

Taller athletes will benefit from a higher heel, but those with a long torso and shorter legs can get away with a shorter heel. The shorter the torso, the easier it is to remain upright at full depth. Those with longer legs and a shorter torso should look for a taller heel.

It’s important to take these matters into account when choosing a shoe, while also consulting coaches and experienced lifters. Try a few different options before buying your new shoes.

KNEE SLEEVES

Weightlifters wear sleeves for light joint support and warmth, and must choose an item that is mobile and follows the joint without inhibiting mobility. As weightlifters catch the weight in the bottom of a squat, a sleeve should not limit their ability to achieve depth, so thicker, more rigid options are usually not ideal. Perhaps also bear in mind that a lighter sleeve may be a more comfortable option to keep on during long rest periods on competition day.

WRIST STRAPS

Used to support the wrist and keep weight stable overhead, these fabric straps are often elasticated.

While some lifters do not use them at all, many that wear wrist strips will choose variations that feature a thumb loop to aid in putting them on.

Wraps come in a variety of lengths – longer ones can be wrapped more tightly, but can prove an annoyance. While most use Velcro to fasten, a few types use a metal fastener.

By the way, don’t forget to keep chalk – in block or liquid form – and athletic tape in your gym bag to keep your hands dry and protected.

BELT

Make sure your belt conforms to IWF rules and is no more than 12cm wide. A weightlifting belt is typically 10cm wide for back support, but tapers off in the front. Some weightlifting belts may also have extra padding in the back.

Leather and suede options are popular, although some use a Velcro-style belt because of its extra mobility.

Belts are usually sold with a thickness of 10mm or 13mm. While the latter offers sturdier support, its depth can prove uncomfortable.

Sarah Robles

USA’s Sarah Robles

SINGLET

As an item of clothing, the singlet must first and foremost fit well and be comfortable, especially as it could be worn for a long time on competition day.

A singlet successfully carries the weight of the body and ensures the muscular portions of the body are well lifted and positioned. Using the right singlet will not only keep you safe in the gym, but it will actually boost your performance as far as lifting weights are concerned.

Remember singlets are a mandatory part of a lifter’s clothing in competition. Tight-fitting shorts are allowed over or under the singlet, while a short-sleeved t-shirt can be worn underneath.

barbell weights

BARBELL AND WEIGHTS

The diameter and length of barbells are different and are often denoted by men’s or women’s size, with men’s being longer, wider and heavier.

Standard collars can be of any material, usually metal, and they can weigh up to 2.5 kilograms (5.5 lb) each for both men and women. A typical Olympic bar with a pair of collars can weigh as much as 25 kilograms (55 lb) for men and 20 kilograms (44 lb) for women (depending on the collars).

Trying to find the bar that fits most of your needs is important. Lifters may consider matters such as whip and yield strength.

It’s also useful to consider the quality of the product. For example, bare steel bars may have a nice grip but have no finish on them so are prone to rusting. Bearings in the sleeve generally allow for faster spin, but they are often more expensive.

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