Gear Up For success with dave, the founder of apexnutrition.shop

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Learn how to choose the right equipment to support your training goals from the personal experience of Dave, the founder of apexnutrition.shop and amateur powerlifter.

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Gear Up for Success: The Ultimate Equipment Review and Buying Guide

Gear Up for Success: The Ultimate Equipment Review and Buying Guide

Posted by Davis Lenss on

Hello, fitness enthusiasts and plant-powered athletes! I'm thrilled to welcome you to this comprehensive guide on building your ultimate fitness equipment set. As someone who has embraced the vegan lifestyle for the past five years and dedicated the last three years to powerlifting in the gym, I understand the importance of quality gear to support your fitness journey. Throughout this article, I'll be sharing my personal reviews and insights on essential equipment like lifting belts, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and more. Let's dive in and gear up for success!

NOTE:

Before we dive into this article, I want to let you know that it contains affiliate links, and your support is greatly appreciated. Initially, we had the idea of developing our own line of fitness equipment. However, we realized that there was no need to 'reinvent the wheel.' The equipment we'll be discussing, specifically from Strength Shop, is not only IPF-certified (a certification that would have been nearly impossible for us to obtain), but it also utilizes high-quality artificial leather. They ship worldwide and offer an excellent money-to-value ratio. I personally trust Strength Shop equipment in both my gym training and competitive powerlifting. It has played a pivotal role in helping me achieve all of my personal records.

The Big Question: Do you even need the equipment?

Oh, this brings me back to the early days of Googling: "How much will my squat increase with knee sleeves?", or: "Can wrist wraps help bench more?"

The answer to whether fitness equipment provides certain benefits is a bit nuanced—it depends on various factors. There are several common misconceptions surrounding the use of fitness gear, such as the belief that it offers a protective shield against injuries or grants an almost unfair advantage in lifting.

While both of these notions do hold some truth, it's crucial to remember that these tools serve as aids to complement a well-developed technique and a well-planned training program. They don't eliminate the risk of injuries entirely, as I've often seen beginners using a lifting belt when attempting a personal best on a deadlift with less-than-ideal form. Without a proper foundation in technique, especially bracing, injuries can still occur.

On the flip side, fitness equipment doesn't possess any magical abilities to boost your lifts unless you've already established a solid groundwork of strength and skill. Nevertheless, as your training progresses, these tools can become highly valuable by reducing strain on your joints and enhancing your ability to brace effectively, thereby contributing to an increase in maximum power output.

The Basics Anyone Can Benefit From (in order from what to get first)

A Lifting Belt

When it comes to essential fitness equipment, a lifting belt should be your top priority. It stands out as the most versatile tool, providing support across all compound lifts. Its primary function lies in aiding core stability, effectively minimizing power loss during your lifts. The impact it can have on your performance is significant. A high-quality lifting belt, coupled with refined technique, has the potential to boost your one-repetition maximum by as much as 30%, though a more realistic improvement falls within the range of 10-20%.

In my personal training routine, I incorporate a lifting belt during exercises like squats, deadlifts, and rowing movements, particularly when the weight exceeds 70% of my one-repetition maximum. This strategic use enhances my overall lifting experience and helps me go after heavier weights with confidence.

What Belt Should You Get

When it comes to belt choices, I prefer the Strength Shop Lever Belt 13mm over the prong belt, primarily due to its adjustability and speedy closure mechanism. The lever design allows for a tighter and more secure fit while being convenient to fasten and release.

One standout feature of the Strength Shop Lever Belt is its use of Amara synthetic leather, which strikes the perfect balance between firmness and comfort, an excellent choice for vegan athletes. What sets this belt apart is its versatility; it's available in a wide range of sizes, catering to lifters of all levels, from beginners to seasoned competitors.

Designed to be compatible with robust steel buckles, these lever belts have been put to the test in competitions where they've supported athletes lifting astonishing loads of over 400kg. For added peace of mind, Strength Shop offers a lifetime performance warranty on their belt buckles, underscoring the durability and reliability of their product.

It's not the cheapest on the market but it's the most affordable IPF-certified belt I've found (just look up the price of SBD), and it's one of the few professional-level belts which doesn't use a cowhide.

CLICK HERE OR ON THE PHOTO TO SHOP BELTS

*By shopping using our affiliate link, you pay the exact same price as you would by shopping using a direct Strength Shop link. 

Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps are not only budget-friendly but also an invaluable addition to your workout gear. They provide support during pressing movements, such as the bench press and shoulder presses. Their primary function is to stabilize your wrists, maintaining a secure and safe position while optimizing your power output.

By safeguarding your wrists and promoting proper alignment, wrist wraps effectively protect your joints and enable you to tackle heavier loads with confidence and reduce the risk of injury.

What Wrist Wraps Should You Get

I primarily use Strength Shop's Heavy Wrist Wraps, though I also keep a pair of Medium Wrist Wraps for accessory movements. Before discovering Strength Shop, I used to run through 3 pairs of wrist wraps every year as they quickly stretched out and lost their supporting ability.

What sets Strength Shop Heavy Black Wrist Wraps apart is their durability. Even after six months of regular use, they have maintained their original tightness and reliability. The 'Heavy' version, specifically designed for near-maximal loads, proves invaluable when I'm aiming for a personal bench press record. On the other hand, the 'Medium' variant offers a gentler level of support and versatility, making it perfect for accessory exercises like dumbbell presses, shoulder presses, and various other pressing movements.

CLICK HERE OR ON THE PHOTO TO SHOP WRIST WRAPS

*By shopping using our affiliate link, you pay the exact same price as you would by shopping using a direct Strength Shop link. 

Knee Sleeves

While knee sleeves may not be a common sight in your average gym, they have become an essential part of my leg day workouts. I had some knee discomfort, but ever since I incorporated knee sleeves into my routine, those aches have nearly disappeared.

They won't miraculously skyrocket your lifting numbers; their primary function is to provide warmth and support to your knee joints. However, here's a little trick: getting a size smaller than the recommended one can add a touch of extra elasticity. This slight adjustment can make a noticeable difference, especially when you're deep into a squat.

What Knee Sleeves Should To Get

I use Strength Shop's Inferno Neoprene 7mm Knee Sleeves, and here's why they've become my go-to choice. These 7mm knee sleeves are thicker than the 5mm ones, offering more support. I'm also in between a size L and XL, so I went for L, I'm even considering getting a size M but they might be difficult to put on and off.

What truly sets them apart is their durability. In my previous experiences with generic brands, I often found myself replacing knee sleeves within a month or two as the stitching would start to unravel. Strength Shop Knee Sleeves, on the other hand, have proven to be incredibly resilient. These knee sleeves are IPF-approved. Knowing that elite athletes trust them while squatting weights of 300kg (well over 600 pounds) and beyond assures that they meet the highest standards in the lifting community.

CLICK HERE OR ON THE PHOTO TO SHOP KNEE SLEEVES

*By shopping using our affiliate link, you pay the exact same price as you would by shopping using a direct Strength Shop link. 

Elbow Sleeves

I used to avoid using elbow sleeves since they're not allowed in competitions, but I've found them to be quite helpful in my training. I don't use them for every bench press session, but now and then, they offer some extra support for my elbow joints and help me push through multiple bench press sessions a week. Yeah, I'm the guy with a solid squat and deadlift but an unimpressive bench...

What Elbow Sleeves You Should Get

I've added Strength Shop's 7mm Neoprene Elbow Sleeves to my gear collection. These sleeves function on a similar principle to the knee sleeves I mentioned earlier, but this time, they support your elbows.

While I don't typically recommend or use them in all my training sessions, they can come in handy when you're aiming for a personal record on the bench press, especially when pushing for heavier loads multiple times a week.

CLICK HERE OR ON THE PHOTO TO SHOP ELBOW SLEEVES

*By shopping using our affiliate link, you pay the exact same price as you would by shopping using a direct Strength Shop link. 

Elbow and Knee Wraps

Strength Shop offers a range of elbow and knee wraps as well, which are known to provide significant assistance in lifting heavier weights. Yes, with these you do lift more! However, I've chosen not to add them to my routine because they are not allowed in the competitions I want to compete in.

Summary

I've shared insights on essential fitness equipment, based on my experience as a vegan powerlifter. While they won't perform miracles, they can enhance your technique and support your training. Keep in mind that this article contains affiliate links that help us recommend the best equipment options.

To summarize, consider investing in a quality lifting belt like the Strength Shop Lever Belt. Wrist wraps, such as the Strength Shop Heavy or Medium Black Wrist Wraps, provide essential support for pressing movements. Knee sleeves like the Strength Shop Inferno Neoprene Knee Sleeves. Additionally, elbow sleeves, though not competition-approved, can aid in training.

Equip yourself with the right tools to excel on your fitness journey, and remember, your support through affiliate links is greatly appreciated. Happy lifting!

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