To use a belt or not, to use knee wraps or not, to use wrist wraps or not? These are all questions that athletes and coaches have.
Reason to Use Supporting "Gear"
- With a belt is used athletes can generate more intra-abdominal pressure and therefore lift more weight leading on a given set. Lifting more over time leads more adaption over longer time periods.
- Knee wraps and certain knee sleeves provide resistance on the descent allowing the athlete to have a little more spring out of the bottom of the squat to ultimately lift more weight.
- Knee wraps and wrist wraps for some athletes can reduce wear and tear injuries and allow athlete to train at higher volumes and intensities
- Knee sleeves/wraps provide a certain level of warmth to the joint that allows the athlete to "feel" warmer and looser quicker
Reasons not to Use Supporting "Gear"
- Beginner athletes should learn to "brace" properly without the aid of a belt. Belts should not be used to mask or hide injuries. Based on my own observation lifting without a belt has greater carryover once a belt is put on versus belt to no-belt.
- Knee wraps and knee sleeves may alter knee tracking leading to pain and possible injury in some athletes. Knee wraps or certain knee sleeves may slow down an athletes rapid descent into the bottom position on snatches or C&Js - if not slow down than at least alter the "feeling" of moving under quickly
- Supporting gear should not be used to mask injuries caused by technical issues, programming issues (too much volume/intensity) or improper warmup. The root cause of the problem should be addressed first.
Some general thoughts as a coach. For the first year or so I like my athletes to lift without the aid of a belt or other supporting gear. For squats I like to see my athletes capable of at least 80-85% and sometimes even 90% of their belted lifts.