The training equipment you should add to your regimen and the stuff you can ditch.
Hitting the gym isn’t just about free weights, kettle bells, plyo boxes, cables and elliptical machines. What about the lesser known equipment that supplements your routines? What are they, what do they do and how effective are they? To clear the air, we asked Men’s Fitness/Muscle & Fitness advisory board member and owner of Total Performance Sports, C.J., Murphy MFS, C-ISSN, for his take on the most useful—and useless—alternative sports equipment.
Old school philosophy dictates that weight belts support the back during a squat or deadlift, but this premise isn’t accurate. In reality, weight belts weaken the back and actually serve more as a fashion accessory than functional fitness equipment. However, Murphy does believe there is a place for weight belts, which is when you are doing your heaviest set to allow for a safer lift. How to use them properly: Cinch the belt tightly for your heaviest set. Inhale as much as possible into your belly and push your abs into the belt, hold your breath and do one to two repetitions. After completing your lifts, exhale and reset the belt. Don’t forget to take the belt off between sets. Usefulness Ranking (1-10) 10, when used properly on heavy sets; 1, if used as a fashion accessory.
Wrist straps are used to help you hold more weight than you can by yourself. Many lifters use such straps for deadlifts, pull-ups or any other exercise in which the lifter’s grip may fail before the primary muscle being trained does. Murphy believes, in most instances, that straps are another “crutch” used by lifters. They’re OK if used sparingly and only for the heaviest sets, but overuse of wrist straps can result in a lack of grip and forearm strength. How to use them properly: Put your hand in each with the strap running between your thumb and index finger. Wrap the strap around the bar once and pull tightly. Using them on your heaviest set only will allow you to perform more repetitions or muster a super-heavy lift. Usefulness Ranking (1-10) 8, when used properly; 1, when used constantly.
To see the usefulness rankings of more gear, go to mensfitness.com