Published on December 11th, 2017 | by lifthold
The Rundown On Powerlifting Equipment: Raw vs. Equipped
In the powerlifting world, there are raw lifters and there are equipped lifters. However, there are articles of equipment that can still qualify you as a raw powerlifter. When someone is considered “equipped”, they are using equipment such as squat and deadlift suits, and bench shirts. These pieces of equipment allow the user to lift more weight.
At this point, you might start to think: “Wait, don’t belts help you lift more weight?”. Yes, they do, but not in the same way that these suits do. A belt does not help with the muscular and joint movements in a lift. They can help you lift more weight by allowing you to brace your core and stabilize your spine, though. You are still considered “raw” if you are using a belt. Also, one misconception about the belt is that you are hindering your progress if you use one frequently. If your lift goes up with the belt on, the numbers are still going to improve over time when you try to lift without a belt. For example, if someone starts deadlifting at 135 pounds while wearing a belt and then he or she improves to 225 pounds, their lift is not going to be stuck at 135 pounds when he or she takes that belt off. It doesn’t work like that.
Knee sleeves/wraps also allow you to be considered a raw powerlifter. These sleeves serve only to prevent and protect against injury to the knee joint, by providing compression. They don’t directly assist in lifting more weight, but if it helps your knees feel better, and gives you more confidence that your knees are stable and protected, you might end up lifting more when wearing these.
Many lifters overlook shoes, as a piece of powerlifting equipment. You have quite a few options, but you need to stop lifting in running shoes right away if you are currently lifting in those. Running shoes offer too much padding that is suited for comfort during running, but this is not ideal for powerlifting. Instead, you want a shoe that has a hard, flat sole. This is why people swear by Chuck Taylors and do all of their lifts in them. You might also want to consider squat or Olympic weightlifting shoes. There are different brands for these, but the most popular ones are the Adidas Adipowers and the Nike Romaleos. These shoes work in that they have a hard, flat, non-compressible sole, but the heel is also raised. The advantage of the raised heel is that it provides more ankle flexibility and can help you get better depth and knee movement with your squats and various Olympic weightlifting exercises. The heels on these types of shoes can range from 0.5 inches to 0.75 inches.
One piece of equipment that needs special attention is lifting straps. These seem inconsequential compared to the other pieces of powerlifting equipment mentioned in this article so far, but they are not. The reason they are important to talk about is that they are not allowed in powerlifting competitions. However, if you want to use them as a tool in your training and possibly get a couple of extra reps in your deadlift set, go for it! Just do not depend on them, and you will be fine.
To summarize, a lifting belt, some knee sleeves, and a pair of reliable shoes that are appropriate for lifting are all you really need. Highly-quality powerlifting gear can serve you for a very long time, through training and even many competitions. Just make sure it is legal!