We all know that guy in the gym that has every damn sleeve, cuff, wrist wrap, ankle sleeve they sell on the internet. Lookin like the Allen Iverson of Planet Fitness. Listen, im no stranger to a knee sleeve or an elbow cuff, and even wrist straps. Ive used training aids throughout my whole fitness life, and there are some amazing weightlifting accessories that can help you through a plateau, or even through an injury, but I think they can be overly relied upon and sometimes create issues as well….let me explain.
Do weight training accessories help or hinder?
Many of the best gym and fitness accessories can be great aids when your body isnt feeling at its best. I found myself begining to use weight lifting wrist strap on every pulling exercise just to allow myself to pull more weight without my grip giving out. In my mind I was going to be able to train my back harder and do those few extra reps. Little did I realize I was doing myself a huge disservice at the time. Due to me overusing the weight lifting wrist wraps, I mightve been able to do some heavier weighted sets but my grip strength was now growing disproportionately. I noticed after a while of overusing the wrist straps that I was developing some pain in my elbow. After trying stretching and massage with no results, I thought to myself what else I could change. I decided to go back to square one and do every exercise “raw” as they call it in the fitness world, to get my strength as proportionate as possible. I made a rule that I will only do weights and sets where I can grip the weight throughout the whole set. For example, if I was doing bent over dumbbell rows with 60lb dumbbells and I can only get 10 reps before my grip gives out, then thats all I was getting whether my lats were fatigued or not. It forced me to get my grip strength up to par with the rest of my body. Low and behold, my elbow pain sowly went away.
Now im not saying that wearing wrist wraps to help grip a bar or dumbbells is a bad thing. I think the best gym accessories or weight lifting accessories are tools. I believe they are best used as tools to help get you through a plateau or to be able to work through rehabbing an injury. Weightlifting accessories are tools that can be used to both help or hinder us. Its all in how we use them.
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Are lifting accessories necessary?
Weightlifting accessories are definietely necessary depending on what your fitness goals are. One thing I do know is fitness is NOT a one size fits all type of world. There are so many different aspects of fitness and so many different types of goals that people have. For example, Ive never been the strongest guy in the gym. I tried to be at one point and it led to nagging injuries, a hurt ego, and not a lot of progress in my physique. Once I decided to stop ego lifting, I began to pay attention to HOW I do a movement for an exercise. I began to see how my body worked and got to a point where I wanted to be able to be more proficient with body weight exercises. I told myself that I shouldnt have to use aids to do my own bodyweight, or even lighter weight/high volume work. Also, noticing this shortcoming in my muscle development has also allowed me to look inother areas that I need to work on as well such as stretching and mobility work.
Should you use weight lifting accessories?
Hey, you can do whatevery the hell you want to. We still live in a (somewhat) free society.
All jokes aside, I think that weight lifting accessories can be great TOOLS to use to help you through a hard time in your training. I dont believe its a smart idea to become reliant on these training aids due to the imbalances that can be developed in overused. Now, if these training accessories are the difference between you being able to train efficiently or not, then I say keep it up. Remember, the name of the game is longevity. We train to be healthier mentally and physically. We train so we can be the best version of ourselves while on this earth, so if you have to wear a knee sleeve or an wrist wrap then so be it. Moving is the important part. The day we stop moving is the day we die.