BELTS, KNEE SLEEVES, WRIST WRAPS, BANDAGES
A long time ago, when I was in a children’s sports school just starting my weightlifting, we were given ordinary Soviet leather shoes and a red woolen singlet. We could only dream about having branded outfits. If you managed to develop your skills to a level close to that of the National team then you could get something from the older guys. We had only one lifting belt for the whole gym, which meant none of us got to use it very often. In those days I didn’t know about things like neoprene knee pads and wrist wraps. My only exposure to them was in the photos from the world championships.
Of course, everyone understands that selling sports equipment is a business. That’s fine, but I am often surprised by young athletes, who have just crossed the threshold of the gym and already look like a mummy. All bandaged up in knee pads, wrist wraps, belt...only their faces are visible. My opinion is: athletes don’t always do their research to even know why all this equipment is needed.
So let’s you and me take it point by point.
BELT. This has always been used in strength training and especially in Olympic weightlifting, but we know that even among the scientific research there is a lot of conflicting information about the effectiveness of belts, both in terms of improving the result, and in terms of improving training safety.
My opinion is that at the beginner training level (up to 2 years of training), when the foundations of technique are first learned and the muscular corset is formed, belts should not be used at all. When the load begins to approximate the training process of a real weight lifter, belts can be used starting from loads of 80% or higher. My, let’s say, “relationship” with the belt ended in one of the world championships when I was in the warm-up zone and I realized that I had forgotten my belt back in the hotel. At first I was panicked, but when I took some time to calm down I convinced myself that I could lift without a belt. I did, and I performed just fine without one. After that, I made the decision that I would perform and train without a belt. My results have grown – and I’m not plagued by injuries.
KNEE SLEEVES. In weightlifting, only fabric and neoprene knee sleeves are used. The purpose of these is to warm up your knees and keep them warm, and also to create a slight compression (info about the increase in the speed of recovery from all kinds of compression clothing is still very doubtful and, to tell you the truth, I have not felt it myself). But, I will remind you once again that knee sleeves don’t protect you from injuries. What will protect you is the correct technique of movement, an optimal training program and common sense.
WRIST WRAPS. Undoubtedly, wrist wraps provide a certain kind of fixation and support of the wrists during the snatch and jerk. When I was a young athlete, we used just the boxing wraps, because there were no other options. Nowadays, there is a huge choice of wrist wraps: fabric and elastic fabric ones, with various types of fasteners and even with a convenient elastic loop for the thumb. I believe that their use can be fully justified both during the period of large training loads and in the time of competitions. For many athletes, this is also a powerful psychological factor, but I don’t even know whether it is good or bad - I have already told you my story about the belt. I can say for sure that, unfortunately, those who do not want to fold up their elbows fast in the clean, the wrist wraps will not save from injuries.
BANDAGES. In weightlifting only fabric, elastic bandages are used. At the same time, several times in my life I have seen athletes who managed to compete in weightlifting competitions in powerlifting rubber bandages... I’d like to sympathize sincerely with these guys, but unfortunately, they still did not understand what weightlifting is. In my sports practice, I also used fabric elastic bandages, not because they “increased” strength, but because I, like many others, had problems with the technique, and for a long time my knee was sore and I hoped to protect myself in this way. If you have something that hurts, pay attention to the training process, and do not wrap yourself up as a substitute. Elastic bandages can cut off blood circulation, turning your extremities blue, reducing your strength, and limiting your results.
To sum up, I would like to repeat: bandages and belts will not do a qualitative workout for you, knee sleeves or knuckle wraps will not make your technique perfect. Remember! The best and most faithful equipment is your well-prepared, warmed-up body: muscles, joints, ligaments and, of course, a cold mind which can lead you to victory!!!