Jan 23, 2013

I'm not really a fan of using support equipment during my training but there are 2 pieces I  recently added that have made a HUGE difference. They are a powerlifting belt and weightlifting shoes. I have great confidence that these 2 implements will help me improve my numbers and get stronger.

Now I'm not suggesting that they will help at all without a solid program, proper nutrition, and a crap ton of drive, but rather that they will enhance my efforts and possibly make my gains come a little faster than they already are.

Weightlifting Shoes

I chose to pick up the Wei Rui weightlifting shoes mostly because of the reviews but also because of the price for the quality. Before I get into the details let me break down why I even chose to buy a shoe I was only going to use for squatting.

Normal cross-trainers by any of the popular brands have cushioned heels. The cushion acts as a shock absorber and performs exactly as it is intended, absorbing the shock while running, jumping, so on and so forth. The problem with using these types of shoes to squat is that you don't want any of the force to be absorbed by the shoe. You want to keep the energy stored in the muscles to apply directly to the floor and drive out of the hole. Taking any of this energy away will drain the power you need to fire up from a heavy squat. The shoe also gets a little squirrelly when your squatting really heavy weight and usually causes the feet to roll onto the medial (inner) side creating an off-set torque pattern at the knee and consequently at the hip. No bueno.

Another problem that many people have when squatting is ankle mobility, particularly dorsiflexion (bringing the toes up towards the knee). Most cross-trainers are flat or have a very slight forward pitch (raised heel). Getting to depth with poor ankle mobility will send your torso forward placing unnecessary stress on the lumbar. Nobody likes a sore back.

Fortunately the weightlifting shoe, at least in my case, fixed these problems. The shoes have a compressed rubber heel (extremely hard) which feel super solid when squatting. No wobble, no flex. I have really good ankle mobility but these shoes enhance that fact. They have about a 1 inch heel (actually 0.75 inch) and a forward pitch which allow me to squat deeper and a lot more upright. I literally had to relearn my bottom position because instead of sitting back I was pretty much just sitting in between my legs. It made me a lot more comfortable in the hole. All in all I give the Wei Rui shoes 2 thumbs up. A definite must-have for a serious lifter.

Powerlifting Belt

I used a powerlifting belt for the first time in forever about a month ago and holy intra-abdominal pressure Batman!! I threw it own during my last set of squats and the amount of support I got was amazing. Hit a decent rep PR too (330lbs for 7).

The entire purpose, in my mind, for using a belt is to give you that extra support (intra-abdominal pressure) during heavy loading. I see far too many people wearing a belt during their entire workout. This is NOT a good idea. You want to stress your core and posterior chain (hips, glutes, hams, low back) and strengthen them to be capable of handling heavy loads. Only use a belt on your heaviest sets.

When looking for a belt, don't go to Sports Authority. Get something of quality, made by a knowledgeable company, that you know will last for years to come. So of course I suggest going for something from Elite FTS. Great company with a background in strength sports. The link I provided is for the exact belt I bought. Solid, strong, comfortable, and doesn't get in the way while lifting. All-around awesome buy. I think I may try a latch belt later on in my training as they are much easier to get on and off, but for now I'll just have to break this one in a bit more.


Anywho, if you are serious about getting stronger these 2 pieces of support gear are must-haves. Choose wisely and don't just go for the cheapest price. Buy something from a reputable company and made with quality.

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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