Whether you are weightlifting as part of a general fitness programme or because you want to develop serious muscle you will find that accessories can prove to be very useful.
Here we examine some of the most useful and popular weightlifting accessories.
A bar jack or barbell jack as you may see it referred to, is a tool that allows you to easily load and reload a barbell for deadlifts. The advantage of this piece of equipment is that it makes loading weights quick so you don’t waste time and it prevents injury, particularly to the lower back. Essentially it means that you don’t waste energy on the loading of weights, rather you save it for the exercises themselves.
When looking for a good bar jack look for one that is easy to use, is lightweight so it is easy to transport, check that it can lift a substantial amount on each side and that it offers stable footing.
Wrist straps, not to be confused with wrist wraps, are usually made from fabric, are 12-18” long and 1 to 2” wide with a small loop at the end. You wrap them around your wrist and then the bar or handle that you are using. The advantage of using a wrist strap is to help with grip and align the wrist when conducting presses, squats and deadlifts.
Essentially the wrist strap takes the stress from forearm muscles, assisting the forearm flexors to perform the correct movement.
When looking at wrist straps you will find three different types available, loop straps, Olympic straps and hook straps. When selecting the rights strap for you do consider its fit so that it feels secure, check out construction materials and ensure you get the right length for your needs.
This is also often referred to as a barbell collar or barbell neck pad. It is usually made from foam, shaped in a tube shape and covered with fabric or leather. Attached to the barbell it provides a barrier between the barbell and the body.
The advantages of a neck pad is that for many people it creates greater comfort for the shoulder, neck and back when using a barbell. Many users comment that it can help when adjusting to a heaver weight.
But its not just for the neck. A neck pad can also be very useful when doing hip thrusts as it stops the barbell from digging into your hip bone.
When selecting the right neck pad do consider its size and thickness. Also consider how it attaches to the barbell, you will usually be offered Velcro or straps. The outer covering is usually fabric or leather. The latter is often more popular as it is nonslip and can easily be wiped so is also a hygienic option.
Weightlifting belts are commonly seen on professional weightlifters but are now increasingly seen on normal gymgoers and those in CrossFit classes.
The purpose of a belt is to prevent stress on your lower back when you are lifting in a standing position, it does this by compressing the abdominal cavity. It also prevents the back hyperextending when you are doing overhead lifts by creating a rigid wall around your lower torso.
For many gym goers wearing a belt also creates a feeling of safety and stability and helps people focus on their back and core when lifting.
Considerations when buying a weightlifting belt include whether it is easy to take on and take off, this can be important if you don’t require it throughout your workout. Then you need to consider the material, neoprene is acceptable for most gymgoers but leather will last longer and is most suitable for bodybuilders or powerlifters.
You also need to look at the edges, the smoother they are the less your skin will pinch when you bend. Also check your measurements carefully, a belt should sit on the waist not your hips so do measure up properly. Finally check fastenings, a double prong will give you more support when doing squats and deadlifts.