Update version 1.4
Updated weightlifting shoe links
[spoiler show=”Show past updates” hide=”Hide past updates”]Update version 1.31
Added singlet, shoe (Canadian) and belt (UK) links
Added section on knee sleeves
Added section on chalk[/spoiler]
I get questions periodically on singlets, belts, shoes, etc. This post will link to some older articles, touch on some important points, and open the forum for the input of the readers. Let’s make this a comprehensive gear post where someone can learn about, compare, and find links to various products. It is important to note that 70’s Big is open to advertising for companies that sell lifting gear. Also, you’ll notice that we aren’t talking about squat suits or bench shirts because they are fucking irrelevant (more on this another time).
Read about why lifting shoes are important here.
Shoes will improve efficiency and safety when lifting.
1. The sole is wider, thus more stable (an important reason why lifting in Chucks is inadequate).
2. The sole is made of material that increases the coefficient of friction when articulating with the ground so that you don’t slip. This is obviously imperative when Olympic lifting but still useful for squatting.
3. The upper is typically made of leather as opposed to canvas, thus it is more stable when compounded with…
4. The metatarsal strap(s) help hold the feet in place to prevent foot-in-the-shoe movement. This is, again, imperative with Oly lifting, but incredibly useful for squatting.
5. Most importantly, the additional heel height (of about .75″) improves mechanics for squatting and pulling. The angle change in the ankle reverberates to the knee and subsequently hip to have a better balance of musculature around the knee and hip. When someone squats in lifting shoes for the first time, it always — ALWAYS — looks better.
6. The sole and heel are made of non-compressible material which prevents any spongy bounce from redirecting the force you are trying to apply into the ground. Yes, Chucks compress. Running shoes are ignorant; each rep is a new experience because of the cushioned sole. Not to mention those shoes don’t have the other qualities already listed.
Some times shoes are just called “lifting shoes” and other times they are specifically called “Olympic weightlifting shoes”. In either case, you’ll want the slight heel like the picture above. Avoid any that have a heel larger than one inch. Brands include Risto, Rogue, Pendlay (not direct link), Nike (another), Adidas (or try here), and VS Athletics.
Here’s a site that has various brands.
For Canadian buyers.
Some of the shoe brands only list one of their shoes. If you want to post a link to other brands, or a greater selection in each brand, do so in the comments and I’ll edit the section.
I’ve written about belts a lot, but I still get workshop attendees who don’t understand why they are necessary (same with shoes). Here are four links to information on belts with varying levels of detail.
One — Generally speaking
Two — types of belts
Three — how to break in a belt (video)
Four — a detailed post, look here for best info
A belt most certainly does not “turn the abs off”, but instead makes them stronger to help aid in the Vasalva Maneuver, or increase in intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure that protects the spine in lifting. A belt functions on the abdominals, not the back. Thus, belts that are narrow in the front and flared in the back are irrelevant. The slight constriction of trunk volume by a belt with the same breath of air (a big breath) will result in increased pressure compared to no belt (volume down, contents same = pressure up — Boyle’s Law). The abs contract harder isometrically into the belt and get stronger quicker. Not only are the muscles getting stronger, but the additional pressure increases efficiency and safety. By choosing to not be safe and efficient, you are not only limiting your strength improvement, but doing so with crappier form and a higher potential for injury. Probably something you should think about.
Brands and Types
Good belt websites have changed a bit since this site has been active and I haven’t had to buy one lately, so I’m unfamiliar with the market. Please post belt sites to the comments with some quick comments. It’s important to note that suede belts are used in strength training (including powerlifting competitions) while the velcro belts are typically only used in Olympic weightlifting. Also, in some powerlifting federations you can’t wear velcro belts.
For the UK
Unless you’re pulling well over twice your body weight or have been lifting at least for several years, you won’t need to worry about straps. If you are, then I always look to Iron Mind for straps. The world’s strongest men use them. I mean that literally, they use them in the World’s Strongest Man Competition. There are various kinds of various lengths fit for Oly lifting (the shorter, sewn kind) or heavy fat bar pulling.
Iron Mind Straps — Note that there are two pages
If you have used other straps, feel free to post the brand links to the comments.
Singlets are necessary for competition. Styles and colors can vary; Olympic weightlifting are typically spandex material with longer legs and powerlifting singlets typically have shorter legs. I will point out that singlets are made of stretchy material and it’s better to have a singlet that’s a bit too small than too big. I’d suggest getting a size smaller than what the company fits you for — I bought one that was a bit too big and the straps irritatingly slid around (of course it was too small for my thighs).
Knee sleeves aren’t required, but some find utility in them. They provide some stability and proprioception feedback that will help the lifter feel more comfortable. More importantly, they will trap heat that the leg is giving off to keep the knee warm. This will provide external warmth (as opposed to internal via blood flow) to the superficial ligaments and tendons of the knee, particularly the patellar ligament and tendon. When these structures are warmed, they are more pliable and less likely to experience pain or be hurt. Powerlifters and weightlifters both use knee sleeves.
Rehband knee sleeves are top of the line. They are expensive (around $60 for a pair) and made of neoprene, but they will be the best warmth and support for knees. They won’t provide an ergonomic aid to the movement like knee wraps would, yet they will feel like they “help”.
The expensive Rehbands aren’t mandatory if you are having general knee soreness (which is usually caused by too much too soon, and can be alleviated over time unless there is an existing injury). I used cheap sleeves from a local sport store. They were black and a similar material to an ace bandage and were five dollars each. It provided the warmth I desired at a low cost. I wore them to nationals. It’s noteworthy that this section isn’t referring to knee sleeves with a whole over the patella (I’d prefer to not have a whole to keep the warmth in).
Chalk is necessary for lifting, especially when sweating. It increases the coefficient of friction when your hand touches a bar. Your friends can even draw phallic symbols on your back with it. It is available in lots of places online, whether you are searching lifting or mountain climbing chalk. Most lifters will agree that having the actual block (or pieces of it) to rub on your hands is preferable to a bowl of dust.
Amazon Chalk Selection
If there are any other pieces of gear you think should be on this page (like supportive wrist straps), then give your thoughts in the comments. Feel free to comment on brands that you actually own so that potential shoppers can get objective feedback. Don’t give your thoughts on something you haven’t actually used consistently over time.
I know straps get knocked a lot, but I have a pair (Iron Mind) and love them. I use them on accessory lifts where I’m not trying to focus on grip work. I’ve pulled my one rep max with hook grip and had no issues at all grip wise, so I don’t feel the need to fry my grip with accessories. I use the straps on DB and BB rows and not much else, but since I do those for upper back development I think straps only help.
For belts I got mine at http://bestbelts.net/ Dude was awesome to deal with, had me take some measurements and punched the holes custom for my size to allow for growth and a snug fit now. Plus he sent some coasters cut from the extra suede. :)
I’ve had a belt from Elitefts for most of a year now, and after breaking it in it’s served me well on all my heavy lifting.
Lifting shoes fixed my side to side knee movement in a single session, though I haven’t had them long enough to say anything else.
I support customsinglets.com, but I also like http://www.singlets.com
Not as many color/design options as the former, but if you aren’t an attention whore like TBone, I don’t think that’s really an issue. :)
I read the comment, then was like, “uh oh…” and then saw who it was from and laughed.
I have a 4 inch, suede belt at 11mm, and I love it.
I have the short sewn Iron Mind straps. I got them for snatching, but haven’t gotten to use them for that since I haven’t been Oly lifting. My only complaint is that the material needs breaking in IF you use the straps for shitty bars that don’t have good knurling.
I have VS Athletics weightlifting shoes. They are okay. Mike wears my first pair that has been in regularly use since 2008. It seems that the leather upper has possibly stretched a bit. All things considered, I won’t be buying VS again. It’s good for the money (they are cheap), but I’d want a higher quality shoe for regular Oly use.
I have a Harbinger velcro belt I use for Oly lifting. It works nicely.
Awesome post. Tons of great info. Any chance you can make a shortcut to this one? It would be good to reference in the future.
I’m going to update the FAQ, and this will be in there.
Shoes I have Pendlay Do-Wins, blue suede. Love them. Got them a bit tight but they broke in real nice and fit great. Just going to make some straps tonight. I rigged some up last night for snatch pulls so just need to make them a little less “rigged” and a little easier to use.
Oh, and I have to say, get lifting shoes that fit! My first pair I ordered online were too big. What a difference getting proper fitting lifting shoes made.
Shoes: Rogue Do-wins, my first and only pair of lifting shoes. They are great and are very comfortable.
Belt: I got mine from http://www.bestbelts.net, the thing is a beast. The owner, Dean, is a great guy, I spent 30mins on the phone with him going over my belt and what I wanted. Like Chris, he also sent me coasters with the leftover material. I cannot recommend this company enough, awesome customer service and a quality product.
Belts made in the USA (in my hometown of Cannon Falls, MN):
I may be bias, but I love my belt for heavy squats. It also has my name embroidered on the back. YES!
I’m trying to put a team together and we’re looking at custom singlets.
I have the 2009 Rouges for shoes, They’re about a year old and the sole is starting to peel off at the toes. They’re good otherwise though.
My belt is the Inzer 10mm Lever, it’s good, but inconvenient to adjust the size.
My old VS Athletics shoes had the sole peeling at the heel. We glued it on. Mike now wears that pair to squat in. They were 11.5s and for the next pair I got 11s (again, they were cheap), yet they were also big, almost no difference. I don’t like my foot sliding around in the shoe.
As you have probably figured out, most of these places are awesome, but will charge you double or triple shipping to get to Canada. I have had Do-Wins (not rogue) from Power Firm http://weightliftingshoes.ca/ for over a year and I love them. Online is hard, but the guy is really good and will even have you submit a tracing of your foot to establish size.
For my belt, I like the toro power belt from titan brand, but there was the same problem. If you go through titan-canada.ca, louis can hook you up, even though payment is a pain in the ass.
Hope this helps!
shoes: I have the pendlay do-wins and like them a lot. I guess the bottom coming off is a common issue, but easily fixed with gorilla glue. Personally I like the suede look of the rogue do-wins better, but they are basically the same shoe.
belt: valeo makes nice belts (non leather weightlifter variety). Available on muscledriver.com I believe.
Straps: I make my own out of cotton webbing used for military belts. Takes some breaking in, but work very well and last a long time. I like the cotton better than nylon or whatever else they make straps out of (grips better).
Thanks, smithb9. Some points for other readers:
Nylon has to be broken in if you use a bar without sharp knurling. If you have sharp knurling on the bar or dumbbells, then it will work fine. Nylon will be indestructible. Cotton will not, but will last for years and will work for most people here.
What kind of shoes should I use for deadlift when it’s required in competition?
I use Adidas Adistar weight lifting shoes for squatting and keep them on for pressing and power cleans, but I’ve always heard barefoot is good for deadlifting since it puts you closer to the ground. Deadlifting in weight lifting shoes with their slight heel feels weird and doesn’t seem like it would help with mechanics, although I don’t know much about this.
I’m planning to wear an very old pair of chucks laced up really tight (soles are pretty damn compressed) at this USAPL meet on Saturday since they require you wear some kind of footwear. Is there a better alternative?
The “being closer to the ground” argument actually means having a “shorter overall pull” since the bar won’t have to travel the extra distance of the heel height. Unless you’re pulling over 600 pounds, it isn’t relevant (and specifically not to you, Maslow). If pulling in slippers or wrestling shoes feels better, that’s fine, but it could be more efficient with the slight heel — but that is dependent on body type.
Long torso/short femur — heel height will help (Chris fits this type — pulled 661 in a meet a few days ago in Oly shoes)
Short torso/long femur — heel height will suck, need flatness (Mike fits this type — pulled 606 a few weeks ago in Chucks)
Mechanically the heel can help bring some quad in the pull off the floor without compromising hamstring tension, yet that occurs with the optimal body type. With the bad body type, it will exacerbate the back angle to be more horizontal and remove quad.
I got some Rogue Do-wins, couple years old, love them. They’ve handled slot of abuse they probably should not have been subjected so far.
Inzer 10mm single prong belt, feels awesome, broke in in about 2 weeks. Some people complain about the customer service, but I had no issues.
APT wrist wraps, I only use them when my wrist is giving me problems. They work great, I just prefer not to use wrist wraps because I am not used to them.
Straps, I cut the seatbelt out of the back seat of a buddies car that he left at my house and wouldn’t move. I feel I deserved that at the least.
Knee sleeves, I rock the classic Rehbands when I squat and need to keep the knees warm. They feel great, but I don’t wear them when it’s warm out because I hate being hot.
Seat belts work well.
I was mistaken, my shoes are called Addidas Ironworks III. http://fitasfuck.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/adidas-ironworks-iii.jpg?w=350&h=259
I have no doubt they help me squat more and with better form.
I also use the Inzer 10mm single prong and I’m a huge fan of it. I regret not getting red white and blue but the blue is doing me well. This belt is a beast. Be sure to break it in like Rip shows in that video. I did not know about this the first time and figured I had to break it in by using it like you would a baseball glove. I ended up with pretty nasty bruises on my sides. Also be sure when deciding what size to get that you measure your circumference at your widest point (navel), not where you wear your pants. Otherwise you’re going to have to send it back, pay shipping again, and wait six weeks for a replacement. They build these things as they’re ordered apparently so it takes a while, but it’s well worth the wait.
I actually thought they had great customer service. An english-speaking American human being answered the phone when I called and answered my questions. No touch tone menu and no recording directing me to some website. I got my singlet from them too and saved $3 by not getting their name on it. I got large size (I’m 5’9″ 200 lbs) and it is a little too tight for comfort but it’s wearable, so I guess that’s what I wanted.
Chalk is also an essential piece of gear in my opinion if you want to progress on the deadlift. If you don’t have any get the $10 pack of blocks off of Amazon. It’s practically a lifetime supply.
Chalk is essential, yet there aren’t multiple variations to worry about.
@justin What kind of glue did you use?
Super glue. Someone else said they used Gorilla Glue.
Don’t forget knee sleeves!!
Rehband OG Blue knee sleeves are one of my best investments. I wear them for everything- awesome warmth with little to no support.
I love the cheap cotton straps, but I break them after about a year…Worth the 8 bucks at Big 5.
NRS kayaking shorts. 2mm neoprene. Awesome hip warmth and lower back warmth on cold days.
I think you posted this as I was typing the update for the Rehbands, but good call.
I suggest the IronMind straps. They won’t break and aren’t expensive (my pair was around $8).
My home town, which is otherwise well equipped for most things, is for some reason utterly lacking in weightlifting chalk. I use violin resin, which seems to work extremely well.
Chalk is available online for cheap, as Maslow pointed out.
For the benefit of anyone in the UK:
This belt has served me really well, especially considering it’s ridiculous cheapness: http://www.sshealthfoods.com/pages.php?page=lt.fitnessgear&details=1355
And a strongman mate of mine swears by this place: http://strengthshop.co.uk/
the sole on my Rogues started to come off, and Bill Henniger said to use Shoe Goo. its an epoxy, i believe. works great.
Thanks, I’ll pick that stuff up if I fail to convince my parents that Adistars would make an excellent birthday present.
I don’t like the Adistars. They are expensive and then are narrow in the middle. A kid I trained for a long time (a long time Oly lifter) had them, and they seemed to not be as stable (as in the medial/lateral movement in the ankle because of the lack of width). This makes me think they aren’t optimal for squatting, deadlifting — slower lifts.
But, I never owned them or wore them, just got feedback from him. I also don’t like the way they look, yo.
Rogue Do-Wins (2010)
Inzer 10mm single-prong
Rogue HG collars
Shoe Goo (adhesive for fixing shoes)
All gear that I whole-heartedly endorse.
I’ve been using a pair of .5″ Rogue Rips for the past few months. No complaints at all. My feet are pretty wide, so I was pleased to see that they can accommodate my duck feet.
Guys that can’t find chalk…Pretty much ANY athletic store has chalk. They won’t know what ‘weightlifting chalk’ is, but ask for Gymnastics Chalk…same thing.
What about bands, Justin? I recently started using bands with deadlifts, but I use them more for warming up and for isolation work- rear delt face pulls, shoulder dislocates, etc. I’ve found them extremely helpful in rehabbing a bad/sore/difficult shoulder.
Foam roller as well!
Softball rolls for deep tissue work.
Sorry…last one! Fat Gripz. Turn a dumbell into a 2″ handle easy. Or for pullups. Make your mitts strong!
We have a 2″ plate loadable dumbell, Rolling Thunder, and axles for grip work as well.
Broken stick with rope and small plates for forearm rolls.
I just got my Inzer 10 mm single prong and trained with it for the first time yesterday. Felt a bit weird, especially at the bottom of a heavy squat, but I think I will get used to it soon. I never used a belt before. Compared to other (cheap) belts I´ve seen, this thing is a monster.
I own a pair of Adidas Ironwork II, they fit perfectly despite my rather short and wide feet and although it took a while to get used to them (lifted in indoor soccer shoes before) I now can´t imagine to squat without weightlifting shoes again.
I also use a pair of cheap neoprene knee sleeves but will probably buy Rehbands soon.
To avoid fights with the gym staff where I´m training, I use liquid chalk. It´s a bit more expensive and you can´t really put it on your back but so far it has worked quite nicely.
Inzer 10mm econo-belt
Pendlay Do-Win 2010 red
Ironmind straps (the cheapest, smallest ones)
These things have served me well. I also have APT pro wrist-wraps that I don’t often use.
Maybe I won’t get new shoes, The rouges are serving me well, and if the Adis aren’t going to be amazing or anything, why bother.
I’m going to come out and say that I don’t think a belt with a taper is necessarily irrelevant in all cases for the follwing reason:
I am fairly short (5’5″), and have tried lifting in belts that are 4″ all the way around, and a tapered belt which suits me better because I do not have 4″ of space between the front of my ribcage and the top of the iliac crest of my pelvis in front. I can’t sufficiently tighten a 4″ belt because it comes up against one or both of those bones.
While a tapered belt may be no better than one that was narrower all the way around, I don’t feel that it is any worse either, as the 4″ in back does not interfere with anything. The tapered belt is also more widely available: I got mine from Best Belts, and they had the belt that tapers to 2.5″ in front, but nothing that was 3″ all the way around. Having used it for a while, I can say that it is definitely functional, and does what I need it to do. While the tapered belt may make no sense for most people, I think it’s definitely better for shorter lifters that wearing a belt that won’t fit right where it needs to. What do you think?
Tapered belts for people short people are fine, yet short people aren’t common enough to make that distinction in the general belt summary. To others: If the belt is smashing your rib, and you have the bottom of it right at your ASIS (hip bone), then you may need a 3″ belt or tapered belt instead of the normal 4″.
I have some Metal Brand Wrist Wraps from EFS.com. You can make them as hard as you want depending on how tight you wrap them, and there more than enough support for me. The velcro has lasted well over the last 3 years as well and I personally like them because there’s no logo on them at all.
What advice would you give about powerlifting and oly lifting in vibrams?
Is this a serious question?
Edit: Since this is a learning post — you should never fucking wear Vibrams for powerlifting or Oly lifting. I shouldn’t have to explain why, but if you’d like to hear more, use your Google fu and search “vibrams site:70sbig.com”.
I can’t say enough good things about Best Belts. The people are terrific, talked to them on the phone for probably an hour when I ordered my belt and they custom make it just for you. Absolutely love it.
Justin – do you have any used pairs of lifting shoes that you wouldn’t mind sending overseas to Japan? :P
What’s a good indicator for deciding between wearing shoes and not for deadlifting? Some lifters go with shoes, some go with socks, and in reply to maslow you talk about anthropometric factors that decide between the two.
Thanks, and good post. I read your post on why we should wear belts awhile back. Had a hard time with my squats, and found an old belt in my school’s weight room. Put it on, and to my amazement, found that when I unracked the barbell, I felt extremely stable. Went down to full depth… and the belt tore. I didn’t make the lift. I’ve since gotten my own belt, and have been lifting better ever since. My stabilization feels so much better, with or without the belt, and I’m moving more weight.
I don’t think anyone here should really mess with socks, but they don’t listen anyway.
And I’m fresh out of pairs of shoes to send.
wow i feel very silly for asking that question now. please forgive my ingance.
Ignorance is okay, I just would rather have had you learn the answer from the post or the linked posts. Nevertheless, I am here to teach, and I wasn’t bashing you in particular.
Know a few people that have ordered belts from http://www.bobsbelts.com/
Seems like nice belts but haven’t used a broken in one yet.
Benni just deadlofted 1015 RAW in socks…but none of us are even close to Benni. Shoot, probably very few even deadlift HALF of what Benni pulls! Until then, Oly shoes or Chucks.
I have seen some lifters with a wrist injury using some kind of strap to hold onto the bar with. Is that just a normal pulling strap like those Iron Minds mentioned in this post?
I believe Max Aita from Glenn Pendlay’s place used some kind of strap in a resent video shown here on this site?
I ordered an Inzer 10m forever belt. Unfortunately I think I’m some kind of mutant, because even though I’m 6’2″ the belt is too wide (up/down) to fit between my hip and bottom rib.
Does anyone make a 3in wide (all the way around) belt that is suede, 10mm, and nice like the Inzer? Should I just get the Inzer tapered belt?
That is mutant-ish. I coached a dude like that. I’d like to know if there are 3″ suede belts also, because people ask all the time.
I’m short (5′ 5″) and use a 13mm 3″ belt custom made by bobsbelts.com (the “junior” belt). Its a little pricey, $110.00, but it’ll last forever and once I got it broke in, feels great. Took about a month and half to receive it after placing my order
Wrist wraps have been great for heavy benching, especially in competition or if you bench index fingers on the rings like me. APT makes tons of great wraps, I have used APT convicts as competition wraps and I use a pair of light $3 special efs wrist wraps in training that do the trick just fine.
Link for APT?
I would suggest EliteFTS brand heavy knee and or elbow sleeves. They offer good support, warmth, and are breathable. They run about $25 a pair. And if you wait you can usually catch a sale or free shipping. Only downside I have heard is the sizing can be off for some people. So maybe order a size bigger than you think or call and talk to customer service.
I just rocked the ATP singlet at my first meet, it was fine.
And if you search around some you can find coupon codes that get you %off and free wrist straps when you order, pretty cool.
I also have a belt from Best Belts that is freakin sweet, love that thing.
Justin, did Dean ever get a hold of you?
And I own a pair of the Rougue Rips lifting shoes. I like the .5″ heel very much and the clean black look.
130x1x2 power clean
125×1 and 120×3 front squat
increased my reps on the 50lb DB row
oh, i guess i also figured out how to clean and jerk an axle. that was fun. was also able to pick up the 135 atlas stone from a height of about 12″ and get it about nipple high on my chest a couple times.
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I just got my belt for $20 from this site: http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/pwr4belt.html . I thought it would be a piece of shit given the price, but it’s actually really nice. Very pleased with this purchase.
Received my belt from Dean at Best Belts http://www.bestbelts.net/ and am thoroughly impressed by both the belt and Dean himself.
Dean talked to me for almost half an hour to determine what exactly I needed.
The long-lost art of top-notch customer service!
FWIW I love my Inzer Forever Single Prong belt http://www.inzernet.com/detail_belt.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FOREVER_LEVER_10MM