Take all the support you can get

July 2, 2009

Today’s discussion is about support aids, and how great they are. You’re probably very familiar with the ‘weight lifters belt’, a wide, stiff leather belt which can be worn whilst lifting weights. It helps to support your lower back structure under pressure, which is obviously a good thing, as without it you risk injury. I think support aids like these have become overlooked. When you decide to put massive strain on your lower back, or have to jerk the weight off the ground, the belt is there to help you get that extra mile out of your workout. Of course, it also enables you to lift not just 100% of your 1 rep max, but more than that, maybe 110% of your max. By lifting more than your body is capable of, you will provide an extreme hypertrophic stimulus for the muscular/neurolinguistic cortex, safe in the knowledge that your support aids are ‘covering your back’, so to speak.

Apart from the ubiquitous belt, there are also numerous wraps primarily for joints such as elbow, knee, wrist, shoulder etc. Personally, I wear all of the above whilst working out, and if I want to go for a hard session I’ll also use boxer’s bandages to tightly wrap all of my limbs. If you want to get to the level of an elite athlete, every once in a while you’ll also want to wrap rigid bars under these bandages such as thin diameter steel piping, to give extra reinforcement to your limbs.

Don’t forget footwear. In the gym I wear either hiking boots or special support boots for people with collapsed ankles (ask your local health service). A neck brace is also a good addition, (if you don’t mind getting funny looks for it) as it helps keep your spine in a neutral posture whilst reducing the amount your neck muscles have to compensate for movement.

In short, the more you use external aids to brace and support your body, the more your body can get used to them and so not have to deal with supporting itself, thus allowing you to lift more and work harder.


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