Using supports for various areas of your body whilst training can be both beneficial and problematic. In some instances it is a catch 22, however if you understand what certain supports can do for you then you are much better equipped to decide what to use and when. Learn about a few of the most common supports used by many bodybuilders and what they can do for as well as find out the pitfalls of using them.
Perhaps the most talked about support of all is the lifting belt. This is a simple device designed to strengthen your back and support it when it is most vulnerable in the gym. The belt is also a great way to ensure your posture and form is maintained whilst performing certain exercises such as deadlifts and squats. The belt is particularly effective when lifting very heavy weights, almost as an insurance policy, and it is certainly known to help you lift a bit more weight than usual. However, there have been some drawbacks with using a lifting belt. To begin with belts are very uncomfortable therefore they are only useful for very low rep sets. Furthermore, certain pro bodybuilders have blamed the cause of their hernias on the use of a belt. Finally, becoming dependant on a belt for heavy lifting can mean that your abdominal strength declines which isn’t very good for your spinal column. In my opinion you should use lifting belts when going heavy, and that’s it. I wouldn’t get into the habit of using them for every exercise, because I feel you should let your core act as the stabilizer!
Wrist straps are also a very popular support used by many bodybuilders and athletes alike. Again these can lead to many advantages such as improved grip on very heavy lifts, allow you to lift heavier and they also take more of the emphasis off your forearms. However, the problem is again the fact that you can become dependant on them to the point where your unassisted strength takes a decline. If you look at some pro athletes, some will have crazy forearms and others will have ‘average!’ The guys with very developed forearms are usually the ones who don’t rely on wrist straps for every working set they do. Again, like the belt only use them out of necessity to go heavier!
Finally, wrist wraps are very popular with bodybuilders and for a good reason. These don’t really assist your grip however what they do is support the joint. Therefore you don’t experience some of the usual pain in the surrounding bones in your condeloid joint, which in turn allows you to lift heavier weight and focus on the muscle group your training. There aren’t really any problems with using wrist wraps as they simply help you lift heavier weights by supporting the joint and they also help prevent injury. In the past I have used these and found they did give me much more confidence lifting heavy!
There you have the low down on the most popular supports used by bodybuilders and athletes alike. As one bit of advice, don’t become dependant on lifting straps and belts. Instead use them as tools to go that bit further on just one or two sets!