Powerlifting Gear Essentials
Powerlifting – It’s a sport with the lifts everyone thinks of when you say the word “lifting.” And like any sport, there are a few musts to have when training. As a sport, powerlifting represents with the self like few others. Meets feature a combination of the barbell squat, Olympic barbell deadlift, and bench press, all for a single, maximum repetition, with the poundage added up into a score.
Competitors typically get three attempts at each lift, and so stamina does matter to a degree, but the overall goal is explosive power in the movements, and technique rules the day. Without the strictest of form, the power one generates in the movement, push or pull, goes elsewhere but the direction required. This results in a sub-optimal lift, or perhaps worse, an injury.
Powerlifting workouts tend to emphasize heavier weights for lower reps across a higher number of sets than a standardized bodybuilding routine. And along the way, one incorporates a number of exercise add-ons to increase the explosive nature, often by forcing the lifter to drive through the movement. It’s not that lifters can’t train without these tools, but having the right equipment certainly makes a difference, particularly when it comes to raw power.
Powerlifting Gear Essentials
In terms of physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit of time. This amount of energy is usually defined in terms of mass, in other words, how much weight you can move how quickly what distance. To that extent, powerlifting and its sibling, Olympic Weightlifting, both offer a test of power in terms of sheer weight moved. To hit a one-rep maximum lift, sufficient power is required to move the bar in an explosive manner to reach the destination as quickly as possible. You don’t want to be struggling with a weable-wobble grip with 400 pounds on the bar. The biggest difference between powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting is the lifts performed. Whereas Olympic weightlifting focuses on dynamic, multiple-movement lifts like the snatch or power clean, powerlifting focuses on three lifts quite dynamic in their own right. The bench press, the deadlift, and the squat, are actually much more technique oriented than the observer might believe, and when done right, require a great deal of skill. Compared to these sports’ barbell brother bodybuilding, actual weight lifted matters more than appearance. Consider that powerlifting is a horse-pulling contest, and bodybuilding a horse show. While there are typically weight classes in powerlifting, the fact is, the lift matters more than your own weight, and no one cares how you look.
If you’ve never engaged the sport as a sport, it wouldn’t hurt to look up a coach or trainer. Bench pressing for bodybuilding is much different than for a competitive powerlifting meet as the powerlifter uses a bridge technique to arc the back and bring the lats into play for one big drive off the chest. A true deadlift is also quite rare in the gym world, where many a novice actually performs a bent-over row or stiff-legged deadlift instead of a true competitive version. And squats are an exercise that can always use a mindful spotter, particularly one who can watch your knees and hips as you go down well past the breaking point where most casual lifters would stop. A powerlifting meet would make a great goal as one attempts to increase their fitness levels, much like a marathon for weight loss. And there are certainly a number of cool tools of the game that can help.
1. Rogue 5/8” Chain Kits
Unchain the beast within by incorporating heavy-duty Rogue chains into any of your basic lifts. The kit includes two 15-pound lengths of 5/8-inch chain, complete with carabiners, and two 4-inch connector chains, at 5-pounds each. That’s a total of 20 pounds worth of drag weight to add onto the end of the barbell, or across the middle when deadlifting, for a total of 40 pounds. The zinc-electroplated chains are four feet long and are used to create a drag at the bottom of a lift, as the full weight of the chain rising up with the barbell requires a lifter to drive all the way through. Most trainers recommend using a weight of chains that represents 10-20% of the one-rep max for that lift, meaning 40 pounds worth is plenty for most lifters, but more can always be added as you grow. In addition to barbell work, the chains can be thrown across the shoulders for pull-ups, dips, or push-ups, and even sled work.
2. MOXY Socks: The Deadlift Block 4-Pack
The upside to the deadlift is that it represents one of the truest measures of strength. The downside is that it can wreak havoc on your shins. The movement, which requires a lifter to pick an Olympic barbell straight up from the ground to their knees, winds up forcing them to drag, or at least bump, it against their shins along the way. And that can be a real pain when heavy weights are involved. Enter the deadlift socks. Superior to simple shin-guards, the socks are a heavy-knit fabric with extra padding placed on the shins. Whereas wraps or shin-guards can come loose during fast movements, the socks move with the lifter and remain snug.
3. Rogue Fitness BenchBlokz
If you’ve ever used traditional bench press boards, you know the struggle to keep them balanced is real. The Rogue Fitness solution is the BenchBlokz, A customized, hard rubber square, the BenchBlokz comes in both Large and Small, each with a number of slotted positions at varying heights to afford the same elevated lift as stacked boards across the chest. For those uninitiated, the purpose of placing boards on the chest while bench pressing is to elevate the lifting point up a few inches from the chest so as to train the muscles through a particular sticking point. Every bench presser finds themselves getting stuck at a particular height along the drive upwards, and the blocks help one find, and break through, that point. The actual BenchBlokz weighs less than a pound, but the large version includes four positions which equal: Two boards at 3-inches; three boards at 4.5 inches; four boards at six inches; or five boards, at 7.5 inches. An easy fit in a gym bag, it goes where you go.
4. WODFitters Powerlifting Bands
High-quality latex fused into giant rubber bands, this 4-band set and carrying bag includes: A #1 Red, at ½-inch width and 10-35 pounds resistance; a #2 Black, at at ¾-inch width and 30-60 pounds resistance; a #3 Purple, at 1 1/8-inch width and 40-80 pounds resistance, and a #4 Green, at 1 ¾-inch width and 50-125 pounds resistance. At 41 inches long, the bands can be used for a multitude of purposes, and powerlifter know them as extra resistance for barbell lifts. By placing one loop around the end of the barbell, and another to an anchor, the barbell immediately becomes much harder to drive through to the end of the lift. Whether training the bottom portion of the deadlift, squat, or bench press, the bands help ensure powered follow-through to the top, irrespective of your strength level.
5. Fat Gripz Extreme
Every lifter knows their max is only as good as their grip. Irrespective of how strong your triceps are, if you can’t hold the barbell firmly, you’ll never bench much. And the same is particularly true with deadlifting. The Fat Gripz molds are made of a military-grade, high-density compound which grips the bar without compacting under heavy loads. By slipping the wrap onto the bar, users immediately get another three inches on the diameter, five inches long. The Fat Gripz themselves weight one pound, but more importantly, they train the hands and forearms to grip much harder, and in doing so, produce a tighter overall hold when going back to the regular barbell.