Whether new to the gym, or have been around a while, you have probably seen different people using different lifting aids and other tools. Some may be better than others, some may just be an accessory to show off at the gym. Here are descriptions of several lifting aids that you may be considering adding to your gym bag and their intended uses.
Training Log – an absolute must in my opinion. Keeping a log, whether it be in
a notebook, a sheet of paper, a card, or even a phone app, is an invaluable tool
in the gym. Use it to track your workouts and progress from week to week.
However you set it up, be sure to include the date, each exercise, the number of sets and reps you did, as well as the weight used. It takes the guess work out
of trying to remember what you did the previous workout, and gives you a clear focus for what you want to accomplish this workout. It may be one more rep, or adding 5 more pounds, but it gives you an in your face visual of what you did and what you want to do!
**The following 3 tools should only be used for your heaviest work. On your
lighter sets let your muscles bear the brunt of the weight and help strengthen
overall areas. For example, not using straps for every set will help strengthen
your grip. Using straps on your heaviest set only will enable you to squeak out
another rep or two where your grip would otherwise fail first.
- Weight Belt – this is a tool, not a fashion accessory. You have probably seen
people who wear their weight belt for an entire workout, but this is not the
purpose of the belt. A weight belt should be used only during your heaviest
sets to aid in supporting your core muscles.
- Lifting Straps – these are used to aid in holding on to the bar, or dumbbell, on
exercises where your grip may give out before the working muscle group. Straps
are great to use with back exercises such as rows (barbell, dumbbell, pulley),
lat pull downs, shrugs (barbell and dumbbell) and dead lifts.
- Knee Wraps – some people will use these on their heaviest sets of squats and leg
presses. It is not uncommon to see powerlifters and strongmen using knee wraps.
Dipping Chain/Belt – there are commercial versions you can buy, or make your own,
like I did. The dipping belt is a way to add weight to exercises like dips and
pull ups where you are able to handle your bodyweight and want to add more
iPod/mp3 Player – I put this on the list simply as an extra. For some people,
myself included, using an mp3 player is a great way to block out any
distractions in the gym and focus on your own workout. It doesn’t need to be
turned up full blast so you are blowing out your eardrums, but loud enough to
block out the surrounding noises in the gym. Plus load it with your own playlist
and it can provide extra focus for whatever workout you do.