We all need a little help every now and then with our training and the support we receive can come from various sources.
For the purposes of this article, the support I’ll be talking about is training accessories.
Anything that can help support, stabilize, increase lifting capacity, enhance grip or add mental assurances in your attempts at moving weight, is considered a training accessory.
Some have used training accessories for reasons other than the ones mentioned before and have inserted a level of egotistical value on them when strapping up versus intelligently employing the effects a belt, wrap or strap can provide.
These accessories, when used correctly, will greatly improve your training efforts and therefore your overall progress towards your goals.
Here then are my top five training accessories for enhancing your workouts in no particular order.
#1 Training belt
There are many people out there that will tell you using a belt while training is a bad idea because it will only lessen the strength in your core.
When in reality, there are many studies out there that prove just the opposite
. In any case, my take on the matter is if wearing a belt helps me squat more weight or pull more off the floor during dead lifts, then I’m using it.
Proper positioning of the belt in relation to your core/hips will vary from person to person but generally speaking you wear the belt wherever you feel the most support.
It may also be important to note that while you may choose to wear your belt for the entire duration of your workout, it’s not always necessary to have it cinched as tight as possible all of the time.
My advice would be to wear it so that it’s nice and snug during all of your warm up sets and then when it’s time to go heavy, cinch it up nice and tight.
#2 Wrist straps
I’m all for grip strength, especially when studies have linked poor grip strength in young men to a lessened life span.
That being said, your grip strength can only take you so far when it comes to training your back. Your back should be much stronger than your grip, which means utilizing wrist wraps will allow you to use a weight that will sufficiently train your back without the worry of not being able to hold onto the weight or being able to hold on long enough to complete the set.
The same can be said for training your traps and performing shrugs. The traps are also a very powerful muscle so gripping a barbell or dumbbell with enough weight to stimulate growth in that area minus a good pair of wrist straps may be holding you back in your development.
Personally, I like the idea of waiting as long as you possibly can prior to putting your wrists straps on simply for the sake of continuing on with developing your grip strength and the added bonus of a pretty decent forearm workout but with that said, wrist straps definitely play an integral role for many and their training.
#3 Knee wraps
Squats, hack squats and leg presses are among the favorites of bodybuilders looking to add size to their upper legs.
Sometimes due to our structures or perhaps an injury, these exercises become increasingly difficult to perform accessory free.
If you feel like you have more power in your upper legs but can’t tap into that because your knee joints won’t support it on their own, then wrap up.
It is after all bodybuilding, and no one is going to be asking you if you used wraps or not to build your impressive thighs when you step on stage.
The only problem I see with the use of knee wraps is very similar to the use of wrist straps in that people tend to reach into their gym bags for them far too prematurely in the workout.
There is no need to wrap your knees on every single set (unless you have an injury, an old nagging injury or the possibility of an injury is present for some reason).
So do yourself a favor and work up in weight as much as you can, wrap free, prior to their use.
One word of caution to you if you aren’t already a veteran of the sport; be careful where you tighten up the wraps around your knees.
The key is to allow for your patella to move freely and naturally while in the wraps so as you wrap either top down or down up, when you place the wrap over your patella (and some people skip right over their patella) just make sure it’s not as tight as it is directly above and below your knee.
Restricting patellar movement can create a whole host of knee problems for you that you’re going to want to avoid.
#4 Elbow Sleeves
I’m sure many of you out there are heavy pressers and can handle a ton of weight on the bench, the shoulder press and also exercises such as skull crushers.
All of that weight that you’re using will no doubt bring about the gains you are in search of but eventually (and trust me) you’ll pay the price to some extent via elbow pain and/or discomfort.
And that’s where elbow sleeves can play an integral role in your training or ability to continue training.
I know there are some who wear sleeves extremely tight so that it helps increase their presses, which is completely fine, but then there are those who wear them because without them no presses would ever be performed.
Elbow sleeves in my opinion provide support for the triceps and it’s tendons along with keeping the olecranon process (pointy part of elbow) nice and warm so that it can move relatively pain free.
I know many people who have bone chips in their elbows which cause a lot of pain.
Utilizing elbow sleeves not only for support but for the purposes of keeping the area warm has been a tremendous help in saving them from having to quit all types of pressing movements.
#5 Wrist supports
Ever try pressing dumbbells so heavy that your wrists give out before your chest does?
Ever experience any type of pain or carpal tunnel in your wrists?
Well if you have experienced either of these then securing your wrists with a solid pair of wrist wraps is a must.
Either type (the stretching type similar to knee wraps or the Velcro nylon ones) will do the trick.
You decide on how tight they need to be from set to set but I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in your pressing capabilities.
One little trick you may want to try with your wrist supports to really get the most out of them is when you tighten them up, the further down your wrist and onto your hand you can go the more support you’ll feel.
You also don’t need them extremely tight for the entire duration of your workout (my hands have gone numb before from doing this) so I would say follow the same guidelines for wrist supports as you would for using a belt.
Bonus Accessory: Compression shorts
If you’ve ever experienced any type of lower back pain or discomfort, I highly recommend you invest in some compression or core shorts.
These things have literally saved me when it comes to lower body training.
The support they offer is incredible and a nice safe almost bouncy feeling occurs when they’re on.
Training accessories are not for the weak; despite what you might hear people saying. If it helps you build more muscle or get stronger, then how can it be a bad thing. Use them to your advantage and prosper in their presence.
Author: Dana Bushell