Accessories: Do You Really Need Them?
If you’re new to training, you’ve probably noticed that more experienced lifters wear specialized gear such as shoes, belts, wraps, sleeves, straps, etc. You’re probably thinking to yourself, I haven’t been at this that long… Do I really need all of that??? The simple answer is NO. You don’t need all of that. However, there are basic accessories that would benefit you right now, even if you’re completely new to barbell training.
Lifting Shoes are the Exception
The only accessory you MUST have right now is a pair of lifting shoes. It doesn’t really matter if you view yourself as a recreational lifter, or if you are trying to teach your mom to lift, because everyone needs a decent pair of weightlifting shoes.
You started lifting because you wanted to get stronger. In other words, you want to become better at producing force. When lifting a barbell, the only contact we have with the Earth is our feet. This is where force production begins! We take great care to set our feet in proper position and keep ourselves balanced. As such, the stability of the surface between us and ground is critical.
The cushion of a tennis shoe that is ideal for absorbing the shock and impact of running, is detrimental to keeping a solid connection to the ground under a heavy barbell. Force that could be going into the bar is instead lost through the compression and instability on the shoe. Would you rather push a car standing on sand or concrete? The stability of your feet against the ground matters. Good lifting shoes create this stability.
A quality lifting shoe has an incompressible sole, a slight heel raise, and a metatarsal strap to keep your foot from sliding around in the shoe.
Heel heights are usually about ½-¾ inches – and this height of heel suits most lifters. Anything higher than that is usually for Olympic lifting or if someone has a range of motion problem in the ankle, such as a contracture. There are some lifters with certain anthropometry, who may need a flatter shoe, such as Starting Strength Coach, Karl Schudt. He has a very long torso and short femurs, and so chooses to lift in a flatter shoe to maximize his horizontal back angle and load the hips as much as possible. However, for most people, a heel height of ½-¾ inches is ideal.
Where To Buy Lifting Shoes
Weight lifting shoes cost anywhere from $70-200. Brands such as Adidas, Nike, Do-win, Risto and Rogue fitness carry good quality lifting shoes. Sometimes you can find them in stores, but most often you have to order them online. When in doubt with size, size down as the shoes should fit snugly to keep your foot from sliding around inside the shoe.
We have seen it time and time again – when a lifter finally invests in a good quality pair of shoes, they wish they had done it sooner! It can make a big difference in your form. Be kind to your arches, and make lifting more safe for your back and knees. Get the shoes!
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