Put The Belt Down and Step Away From The Barbell

Put The Belt Down and Step Away From The Barbell

I feel like I write this blog every 8 months due to the obvious cycle of new people coming in and out of both locations, and the growing lore of the evil dictator Lando and his crusade against all things gear and equipment. Here I want to dispel some of the rumors about my stance on using gear (as in equipment), the important pieces everyone should own, and why I feel the way I do about belts in particular.

The business of CrossFit is this beautiful thing. You can almost refer to HIIT/CrossFit as an industry itself parallel to Fitness, with niches like apparel that have grown from CrossFit to areas well beyond. Reebok obviously being the prime example, a brand nothing more than an afterthought earlier this decade now at the forefront of apparel and sport science for what we wear and how we wear it to get fit and stay healthy.

The gear/equipment industry has experienced this like any thing else, in a way blending with apparel in many places. We have to look good while getting an edge and staying safe, right? Let’s be serious, I think I would rather I know I look good while snapping my neck than using a piece of equipment that guarantees my safety but makes me look like…I usually look.

In the landfill of #Gottahaveit gear pieces are a few real must haves that not only help you stay safe but help you perform. As with many things this is just my view but I am drawing upon years of experience using and coaching while also invoking the experiences of colleagues and athletes Ive coached. These items are:

1) Wrist Wraps (comprehensive list of different brands)Possibly the top of the top because of the combination of necessity and cost. For less than $40 you can get a very good quality set of stylish wraps that help stabilize your wrists and forearms during many, many things. Snatches, cleans, overhead and front squats immediately come to mind as movements that wrist wraps will make much easier and less painful. Anything that you need to flex your wrist or use your hand/wrist/forearm to support weight is aided by these fine pieces of gear.

Unlike weight belts which will be talked about shortly, for the most part you don’t have to worry about wraps hurting you in the long run by decreasing the natural strength in the areas they support. Yes, using them for every single movement involving your hands will hinder the development of strength in your wrist flexors. However the benefit you get from the support and lack of pain for many far outweighs this aspect. One way of finding a happy medium is similar to switch grip on deadlifts, warming up without wraps then wrapping up when things get serious.

To be clear I am talking about these, not “straps” for bigtime pulls on the deadlift, practice reps for the snatch, and snapping your wrists on the clean (don’t google for the video on this, it’s not good).

 

2) Lifting Shoes (comprehensive list and review site here)A near must have with the only reason I keep it off the same level as wraps being cost. It’s just hard to say we need to buy something that runs you upwards of $100 for any that are really worth the purchase at all. Yes you can get a cheap pair of powerlifting shoes for $50, but you might as well just stick with old Chucks or whatever CrossFit shoe you use for WODs instead of wasting the cash.

Nowadays there are really 2 types of lifting shoes : CrossFit focused and pure weightlifting focused. CrossFit focused lifters made by Reebok and Inov-8 are hybrids, with Reeboks being the only real ones as they invented this subcategory. Lifting shoes are essential for quality olympic lifting

3) Lifting Belts…the forbidden fruit: This is the one that has much controversy around it coming from a lot of fake news and alternative facts about my view on gear in the first place. Truth be told, I do in fact hate them. I think weight belts are the crutch of the weak, stupid, and sheep, just doing what everyone else or the big guy that always wore one at their last gym did. For the most part, once you go belt, you never go back…

Dramatic, for sure. 100% factual, eh. But my point is that weightlifting belts should be looked at as a support for situations when the core is compromised. This encompasses individuals with previous back/core injuries that are chronic, those with injuries that recently occurred and the belt is a temporary, rehab type thing, or the 1%ers out there squatting 500# + or 3x BW and literally use the belt to save breaking in half.

For the same reason as wrist wraps belts have a down side due to their use limiting the strength building of the area it supports. Unlike wrist wraps, however, lifting belts happen to support the most important structural area of our entire body. The core connects everything to everything, supports and stabilizes everything, and protects that thing called our spine which is pretty important. We must learn and continue to learn to develop the muscles of the core from now until we drop dead. The day we start going down the path of sedentary can be blamed on a time when we stopped allowing ourselves to be in situations where our core was stressed.

Like any part of our body, reacting to stimuli is integral to the development of our core. However, since our spine is also part of this area, or a large part of it, there is also a strong participation of our nervous system, both peripheral and central, to all movements that stress the core. This is the core reason (like what I did there?) why the back squat is such a good exercise. It loads the legs as primary movers and can be done so to a great degree (lots of the weights), but it also puts our core muscles and spine front and center of the support system. Every time we squat, pull, even press overhead and have to adjust, readjust, and adjust another time in our core, making us

 

THURSDAY

CrossFit

Strength : Press
3-3-3-3-3

WOD : For Time, 8 MINUTE TIME CAP
5 Thruster 75/55
10 Push Press
15 Hang Power Snatch
20 Walking Lunges, barbell on back
25 Back Squat
30 Hang Squat Snatch

  • Every time bar is dropped athlete must perform 1 Wall Climb. Bar can rest anywhere but floor

S: Scaled Wall Climb, Bar can be dropped for free every 5 reps, 65/45
L1: Scaled Wall Climb, Bar can be dropped every 10 reps

Rx+ : 95/65

 

Strong

Lift : Push Jerk
a: Warmup with 3×3 Snatch Balance (exact same as normal just work hands closer together each set)
b: 8×1 working to max, E2M

Accessory : Press
3-3-3-3-3

 

Conditioning

Part 1: EMOM 8m
1 Clean + 3 Jerk (push), 70-80% “lift” max

rest 4m

Part 2: For Time, 8 MINUTE TIME CAP
5 Thruster 75/55
10 Push Press
15 Hang Power Snatch
20 Walking Lunges, barbell on back
25 Back Squat
30 Hang Squat Snatch

  • Every time bar is dropped athlete must perform 1 Wall Climb. Bar can rest anywhere but floor

S: Scaled Wall Climb, Bar can be dropped for free every 5 reps, 65/45
L1: Scaled Wall Climb, Bar can be dropped every 10 reps

Rx+ : 95/65

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