Everyone knows that to grow bigger and stronger muscles you need essential weightlifting equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and other free weights, but there are a few fitness accessories that could also be considered essential because they help you get the most out of your workouts by protecting you from injuries or helping you lift heavier weights! We’re talking about weightlifting straps, belts, pads, and all kinds of different fitness gear that you might see lying around the weight room or worn by other lifters while they perform their strength training routines.
While none of these are 100% required for you to make progress, they can definitely help you achieve your goals safely and comfortably, especially if you’re a beginner that’s just starting to get used to weightlifting or you’re a more advanced lifter that needs to protect themselves from possible injuries due to the heavy weights. This is why we’ve put together a list of some of the most effective weight lifting accessories that will help you get far in your muscle-building journey, so you can step into the gym with confidence the next time you go lift some weights!
This one may sound like an obvious one, but we’re kicking off this list by talking about gym bags because there’s more to it than just carrying your gym stuff! When choosing a good gym bag, it’s important to have a few things in mind, such as the size and the number of compartments. The size usually depends on your gym necessities and your gear, but having a big enough bag to fit most of the basic stuff is essential. Any pads and straps that you may have, a towel, a change of clothes (if necessary), your protein bars or a pre-packed light snack, your bottle of water… All of these and many other things that you may choose to take with you to the gym should fit comfortably in your gym bag, so other than being big enough, it should have a variety of compartments for your essentials! Throwing everything in the bag and struggling to get something out when you’re already at the gym doesn’t sound ideal, so it’s better to have everything in its designated place.
Another thing that people may not think about much when it comes to their gym bag is the material, but you definitely want your gym bag to be durable. You might be transporting heavy items with you, and maybe even tossing the bag at the gym or home when you get back. Leather is a great material for gym bags because it’s durable and it looks very nice, but it might be a little bit on the expensive side, and also extra heavy. Some cheaper but durable alternatives are good quality nylon, polyester, and canvas, and you can find a variety of styles with these materials! Additionally, gym bag design is important because you want to be able to carry your bag comfortably, so whether you prefer to carry your bag on one shoulder, like a backpack, or in your hand, make sure you choose the best option for you and your comfortability.
For all kinds of fitness activities, having the correct pair of shoes is essential if you want to be able to perform at the max level. For weightlifting, in particular, the best kind of shoes are those with a hard sole that can support your weight as well as the weight you’re lifting while supporting and protecting your feet. A lot of weightlifting beginners tend to use their running shoes on their lifting days because they’re their go-to fitness shoes, but the cushioned and soft design made for moving your feet and bouncing off your heels isn’t ideal for weightlifting, since you need to make sure your feet are correctly in place during the lifting movements. This is particularly important if you’re working with a barbell, because you need to be able to maintain your center of gravity and your body stable during your workout during all kinds of lifting movements using different weights, but the barbell is usually loaded with a much heavier weight that you need to be able to control with your whole body.
Flat sole shoes such as Converse are very popular among beginner, intermediate, and even some advanced lifters - and they’re Fit With Iulia’s favorite lifting shoe! Any flat sole shoe, like Converse, can do the job better than regular running shoes due to their hard sole. But if you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts with minimal risk of injury and better form, a good pair of weightlifting shoes is what you should look for! They’re sturdy and ergonomically designed to protect your feet as well as your ankles, and they usually come with an elevated heel that promotes proper posture. You don’t need to be a powerlifter to use these shoes because they can be beneficial to anyone, so if you’re looking for a good pair for your strength training days, don’t be afraid to look specifically for weightlifting shoes!
A weightlifting belt is an adjustable strap that you wrap around your waist, between your ribs and your hips, to protect your lower back and your spine by giving it additional support during your heavy lifts. During the exercise, you push your abs, back, and obliques against the belt for stability and more lifting power. In other words, it allows you to lift heavy weights safely by helping you stabilize your core. The use of this belt has been widely debated across the bodybuilding and lifting community, with some saying that it’s necessary to protect your lower back while others say it prevents you from building a stronger core. So what’s the truth? Well… Both!
While weightlifting belts are recommended for exercises that put a lot of stress on your lower back, such as squats and deadlifts, they’re usually only needed when lifting really heavy weights, over 80% of your maximum lifting capacity, so you can make sure you’re supporting your back and spine safely and lifting the weight without struggling. Weightlifting belts are also great when you’ve already put stress on your lower back on an earlier exercise and you’re about to perform another one, so you can lift the weight without discomfort. That said, you don’t really need a weightlifting belt for warm-up or light sets, since this is equipment designed to help you with heavy loads. Whether you want to use it more frequently is your choice, but allowing yourself to lift without it will help you build a stronger core and back, which will subsequently build your maximum strength. All in all, a weightlifting belt is a great essential to have at hand for those days where you want to challenge yourself to the max and lift heavy loads without the risk of injury!
When it comes to lifting with control, weightlifting straps are the star accessory! The straps go around your wrists on one end, and you attach the other end to the barbell, securing contact with the bar and locking it with your hands. This allows you to have a better grip on the barbell, helping you lift more with just your hands and preventing them from slipping off the bar, which might happen with heavier weights. Weightlifting straps are more commonly used for pulling movements, such as deadlifts, rack pulls, and shrugs, because they help you keep the bar under control and stabilized during the lifting movement. This is an excellent accessory for developing your grip and confidence with heavy barbells since it allows you to perform safely while focusing more on your form. But just like with weightlifting belts, it’s also important to work out and lift without the straps so you can develop natural grip strength and make more progress towards your weightlifting goals.
Lifting gloves are another accessory that allows you to have a better grip on the bar, and they can be used as a beginner alternative for lifting straps! This is because these gloves are thickly padded, offering your hands protection when lifting and preventing burning, blisters, calluses, and general pain in your hands from lifting the weight. This is generally used by those who are just starting their weightlifting journey and are not used to how the bar feels in their hands, but it’s also a great option for those with sweaty hands to prevent the bar from slipping!
The wrist wrap is an excellent accessory for pressing exercises like the bench press and the overhead press because they provide your wrists with extra support while lifting. They go tightly wrapped around your wrists and help you keep them straight and in a neutral position, which is particularly helpful when you’re first learning proper form and how to grab the bar correctly. When you’re lifting, the wrist plays a key role in the movement, and there’s a risk of overextension when you don’t grasp the bar correctly or when you’re dealing with a heavy weight. These wraps help you lift heavier weights thanks to the joint support that they offer so you don’t accidentally flex your wrists too far back or too forward, as they allow you to develop confidence in your form and lifting technique without risking your wrist health. This is also a great accessory for those suffering from a wrist injury to protect it from further damage while still working on your gains and making progress!
The barbell pad is often referred to as a squat pad because it’s more commonly used for back squats, but it can also be used for barbell hip thrusts and other exercises that involve pushing the bar with your body. This pad helps cushion and protect your shoulders and upper back when placing the heavy bar behind your neck. It’s basically a roll with internal padding, usually made out of foam, that you wrap at the center of the barbell where it makes contact with your body to provide protection against the heavy weight. It’s a great piece of equipment that helps reduce the pressure from your shoulders, neck, upper back, and even your hips, offering extra support and avoiding the risk of injury during the movement. The best thing about the barbell pad is that you can use it at any fitness level, and it’s especially useful when getting used to new weights! If you’re lifting to gain muscle mass and grow bigger muscles, eventually you need to start adding more weight to your barbell to keep pushing your body to the max, and the barbell pad is perfect for those first times getting accustomed to how the new weight feels on your shoulders or legs, so you can eventually lift comfortably without the need for any cushioning. Or if you prefer it, you can always opt for the pad to avoid discomfort!
If there’s something that you might see all around you at the gym, or even when you watch sports, it’s people with athletic tape on their bodies! This kind of tape is widely used by lifters, athletes, and all types of active people because they help prevent injuries by protecting different body parts. You can use athletic tape around your wrists, ankles, or knees depending on what you’ll be doing so that you can stabilize and support your joints while you move your body or the weight around. What this tape does is keep your muscles on bones in a certain position, which is why the tape is usually rigid, so you can move freely without having to worry about overextending your joints and possibly risking sprains and other workout-related injuries. It helps stabilize and support the joint movement as well as improve muscle contraction, and it’s ideal for injuries to prevent them from getting worse or not healing correctly. It’s important to keep in mind that the athletic tape should always feel comfortable and allow you to move without pulling your skin or cutting off your circulation, so be careful not to wrap it too tight!
Last but not least, having a training log can be just as useful as training gear for many reasons! A training log is like keeping a journal with all your fitness and health data, and you can either buy a notebook so you can carry it with you wherever you go or download an app that does all the organizing for you so you can have all your info at the touch of your fingers. It helps you to keep track of all the metrics regarding your fitness journey, such as how much you’re lifting, how many reps you’re doing, the days that you’ve trained, total training time, your specific workout routine, even your diet! This is incredibly helpful when working towards a specific goal because this way you can track your progress and see where you can make modifications or improvements in your routine to keep progressing, or notice your weaknesses and work on them.
The great thing about training logs is that they keep you motivated to keep going. Seeing your progress written down or shown on your phone screen helps you feel inspired by your training routine and the gains that you’ve made, so you definitely should keep a log if you struggle with a lack of motivation and self-doubt so you can see for yourself what you’re capable of achieving. If you’re looking for an app to log your workouts and general progress, you can try the Fit With Iulia app! Before trying any of the goal-focused workouts planned by Iulia, you can set the number of reps and the weight that you want to use for a specific exercise, and you can later revisit that info on your training log so you know how you did on a specific day and whether you want to increase the intensity or not. And you can try your first workout for free by just downloading the Fit With Iulia app - no subscription required!
As you can see, weightlifting gear and accessories can be incredibly helpful in your weight training journey, but that doesn’t mean that you need to buy everything at once! There’s no need to go all out when you’re just starting, so first focus on having appropriate lifting attire and a nice gym bag that can carry your essentials, and then you can start thinking about what you want or need to buy next. Have trouble performing back squats because the bar hurts your shoulders or neck? Look for a barbell pad! Notice that your wrists are flexing too far back when doing an overhead press? A pair of wrist wraps will help you lift with more control. It’s all about your own journey and how you feel more comfortable, so remember to listen to your body, especially when something hurts!
Need help finding high-quality and durable lifting gear?
UPPPER Fitness Gear has you covered! UPPPER is our sister company, they specialize in bringing better lifting gear and accessories to the fitness world! Iulia and the team at UPPPER created collections of high-quality, durable, and stylish fitness gear, including Ankle Straps, Barbell Pads, Lifting Belts, Lifting Straps, Long and Short Resistance Bands, and Wrist Wraps! Check out their collection, or read the helpful articles about why their gear is so great so you can learn about how and why their gear is better than others 😉
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