Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Russia, Poland, and Romania have dominated the world powerlifting scene for many years with athletes such as Poland’s Jaroslaw Olech and Bulgaria’s Ivaylo Hristov often walking away victorious at international competitions.
While it may not be evident to the naked eye while watching these and other powerlifters on television, they, like any other athlete, require special gear that will not only enhance their efforts but protect them against injury as well.
There are some items such as shoes, knee sleeves, and belts that a powerlifter simply cannot do without.
Apart from powerlifting gear, nutritional supplements can boost physical performance by up to 17.2%, according to research published by the US National Library of Medicine.
Furthermore, supplements increase strength and muscle building efforts, reduce injuries and decrease recovery time.
The following can all be considered to be of great value to an avid recreational or professional powerlifter.
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Whether you are partaking in powerlifting as a hobby or competing on a professional level, powerlifting supplements can be of great benefit to you.
There are countless supplements available, ranging from those designed to boost your energy levels to those aimed at increasing the growth of lean muscle mass.
Whey protein, for example, is a simple supplement with a host of benefits.
Whey protein is fast-digesting which is ideal for powerlifters as their muscles require the protein and as soon as possible.
A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated how protein supplements such as whey protein could lead to substantially larger muscle mass and strength increases than when compared to training without a protein supplement.
BCAA’s, on the other hand, increase muscle mass and connected fat loss when taken in conjunction with whey.
If you take your BCAA’s before your workout, they may improve your stamina whereas, if you take them after, they may help with your recovery.
Other common powerlifting supplements include creatine which can help you gain muscle while enhancing your body’s innate ability to perform the high-intensity exercise in short bursts.
Researchers at the Institute of Cell Biology in Switzerland found that creatine can also be used successfully as a complementary therapy for treating bone fractures and osteoporosis, highlighting its immense benefits if used responsibly.
Beta-alanine is another commonly-used supplement which, like creatine, temporarily increases your endurance when performing short-term, high-power exercises.
Supplements can be divided into two broad categories, pre-workout and post-workout with both having their advantages and disadvantages.
Before adding any supplement to your routine, it is advised to seek out professional assistance to make healthy, educated decisions.
If you want to be successful at anything in life you have to start with a solid foundation.
The same principle applies to powerlifting which is why proper footwear is so important.
While wearing the correct shoes for powerlifting may seem insignificant, it can leave you performing well below your potential and even increase the risk of injury.
For deadlifting, you require a shoe that has a thin, flat sole made from a dense material with minimal or no compression.
The sole of the shoe has to provide a substantial amount of grip to prevent you from slipping.
You can opt for a pair of dedicated deadlifting shoes or slippers or choose any pair of your choice that meet the minimum requirements mentioned previously.
For squats, clean & jerks and snatches you can invest in a pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes that will give you the comfort and stability required to perform at your best.
If you aren’t planning to improve your performance too significantly you don’t really need to spend money on specialized shoes – simply find a pair that is comfortable and give you the grip that you need.
Knee sleeves are an absolute must-have accessory for powerlifters as it not only improves blood flow but increases the prevalence of synovial fluid around the joint which reduces friction during movement.
Knee sleeves furthermore increase proprioception (your body’s kinesthetic awareness) and provide compression which can counter light swellings and reduce inflammation.
If you suffer from patellar tendonitis or any other types of knee pain, a knee sleeve can help ease the discomfort significantly.
Powerlifting knee sleeves are generally made from neoprene and come in a variety of colors and thicknesses. In international competition, 7 mm is generally the maximum thickness allowed.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a powerlifting belt is to not mistaken it with a weightlifting belt.
The difference is very noticeable, and once you know what to look out for, you don’t have to worry about making an incorrect purchase.
Where a weightlifting belt is wide at the back and narrower at the front, a powerlifting belt is the same width all around, is a minimum of 10 mm thick and made from high-quality leather.
If you are unsure of what belt to buy, ask a sales assistant at your sporting goods store to help you make an informed decision.
Once you have your belt, you have to learn how to use it correctly.
Putting it on as tightly as possible may seem like a good idea but that could end up doing more harm than good.
The goal of wearing a powerlifting belt is to build intra-abdominal tension which can be achieved by inhaling profoundly and using your breath to push out against the belt.
Powerlifting belts come in a variety of shapes and sizes with the most important consideration being the thickness.
A good-quality leather belt may not be as flashy-looking as its department store counterparts, but it will serve you much better in the long-run.
Wrist wraps offer significant support and structure to the ligaments and countless small bones in the wrists which is of great benefit as even a tiny pull on a ligament can cause immense pain.
While a wrist wrap is not going to boost your lifting-potential exponentially, they will help you position your wrists in a more beneficial biomechanical position which will indirectly help your lifts.
When you squat, wrist wraps can help relieve some pressure if you are prone to using grips that rely on a bent wrist.
They are, however, the most beneficial in bench presses, keeping the wrist straight and allowing you to lift with more vigor.
If you compete professionally, you need to double-check with your federation to see if wrist wraps are allowed.
Luckily most feds do view them as fair game.
Regardless of your level of powerlifting participation, the supplements and gear described will aid you in reaching your full potential while minimizing the risk of severe injury that could hamper your progress tremendously.
While it is not necessary to purchase the most expensive gear and supplements available on the market remember that you are investing in your health and well-being and that quality trumps novelty at the end of the day.
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