Weight Training Aids Improve Performance

Weightlifters and power athletes have a variety of training aids that increase grip strength, stabilize the core, prevent slippage, compress muscles and support joints. James Church and colleagues from Arkansas State University described these in an article. Chalk is a tried-and-true training aid for reducing slippage. Surprisingly, little research supports this. Also, chalk is banned in many gyms because of the mess it creates. Many athletes also use straps during deadlifts, cleans and snatches. While straps help minimize grip limitations during these lifts, they may ultimately limit grip strength by reducing stress on the forearm muscles. Joint sleeves and wraps increase joint stability and can improve performance, but they alter movement biomechanics, which might ultimately increase the risk of injury. For example, knee wraps that compress the kneecap may place damaging stress on the undersurface of the bone. Weightlifting belts increase intra-abdominal pressure, which stiffens the core and improves performance. However, using a belt during submaximal reps may limit the benefits of weight training on core fitness. Compression garments are relatively new training aids that provide support during exercise and may promote recovery from intense training. Many weight-training aids improve performance, but they sometimes alter biomechanics and reduce the beneficial stress of exercise. (Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33 (3): 11-17, 2016)

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