In Powerlifting today there are several ways of competing; classic/raw, fully equipped and some variations in-between. The following article deals with equipped lifting and discusses the equipment used and the benefits of each. Different federations have different rules on equipment, however under the IPF the suits are made of single-ply material and are highly restricted in terms of model and design. In equipped lifting, athletes lift much more weight than their classic lifting counter parts however the stress on the body is much greater and the average training session typically takes much longer due to the equipment being used.
What is a squat suit?
The suit's function can be compared to an elastic/compression harness. The further down the lifter goes, the more rebound effect and force is created in the upward movement that follows. To master an equipped squat often takes years of practice and is, in many ways, a completely different challenge than regular squats. The loads get higher, but it still feels as heavy on the back. The margin for technical error is severely slimmer than an unequipped squat, which is why the equipped squatting is such a fascinating experience.
What are knee wraps?
The knee wraps are of a 2-meter standard length. They can be longer in federations other than IPF. A knee wrap is wrapped very tight around the knee joint. This allows the rebound effect over the knee joint to be a lot greater than with only the use of knee sleeves.
What is a bench press shirt?
Perhaps the most controversial piece of equipment is the bench press shirt. Why? That is anyone’s guess, but it is also by far the trickiest one to master. However, the reward can be great if successful. The same way the squat suit harvests kinetic energy on the way down, the bench press shirt does the same by compressing the chest, as well as stretching (just a bit) in the fabric. In order to succeed as an equipped bench presser, you´ll need exactly the same strengths as a classic lifter but you need to be even more solid, especially in upper back and posterior shoulder region. If momentum is lost due to lack of shoulder stability, the lift is going to be a failed one. Since the shirt gives most rebound in the bottom part of the lift, strong triceps are a feature of every good equipped bench presser.
What is a deadlift suit?
Looks a lot like a squat suit, and a lot of lifters use squat suits for a sumo pull, but the challenge here is the lack of energy to harvest on the downward movement. Its called dead lift for a reason. The bar is dead on the floor. To compensate for this a conventional deadlift suit is VERY tight, but often a bit thinner fabric, and the lifter can struggle a bit to get into a good start position. The deadlift is the lift where there is least difference between classic and equipped lifting, both due to the nature of the lift and the fact that the grip strength can become a limiting factor and no straps are allowed to be used in conventional powerlifting. It is fair to say that classic lifting and equipped lifting are almost two different sports, however, there are significant transfer between the both. Especially the CNS, central nervous system, stimulus you get from equipped lifting can be beneficial for classic lifting. If you are interested, give it a try! Desert Barbell will soon offer equipment from the leading manufacturers of suits, wraps and shirts. Author:
Co-Founder Desert Barbell
Started weight training 1991 and IPF Powerlifter since 2002