Support gear

6.90 Regardless of where you train, the use of support gear is a possibility. If used it can easily become a crutch that is difficult to rid yourself of.

6.91 You may be able to add about 100 pounds to the total of your best squat and bench press singles, but without building any strength or adding any muscle. Just become an expert with the use of a squat suit, knee wraps, a thick belt, and a bench shirt. ^is serves no function other than removing an advantage your competitors would have should you be lifting in powerlifting contests. As they prepare for a contest, powerlifters must use all the support gear that is legal. At other times, though, and for all non-competitive powerlifters, train without support gear other than perhaps a belt.

6.92 A belt can help to prevent injuries to the lower back, especially if you have previously had problems there. But it cannot help you much unless it is very tight. A tight belt is uncomfortable, so cannot be used for high-rep work. Strong torso musculature, especially midsection, is your own natural belt. Be sure to train your midsection seriously and progressively.

6.93 A belt, if used, should not be on for every exercise or every set. It should not be worn as part of a trainee's "uniform." Use it selectively—for low-rep squats and deadlifts, and overhead presses—or not at all. Otherwise, you will become dependent on it to generate the necessary intra-abdominal pressure you need to protect your spinal column during heavy lifting; and without that armor you will be a shadow of your usual self.

6.94 If you are used to wearing a belt for all your heaviest lifting, do not lift heavily without it. Start a new cycle with reduced poundages, and no belt, and build back your poundages over time. ^en you can safely condition your belt-free body to lift increasingly heavier weights. Eventually, and belt-free, you can return to your belt-assisted poundages, but you will need a few months to do it.

6.95 Wrist straps and hooks, though illegal for competition lifting are used by many people in their regular training. ^ese are temptations that are best avoided or else you will become dependent on them for some exercises. Instead, invest the time and effort needed to build a grip to hold the bar with no assistance other than the use of lifters' chalk, which is a recommended support aid.

6.96 Using straps and hooks to tie yourself to bigger weights than you could otherwise handle, can be dangerous. ^ere is a risk of injury because of a large weight increase without the necessary strength having been built up in the involved joints and connective tissue. For example, you need extra strength in your elbows and shoulders when performing the deadlift and pulldown with substantially more weight. If you add 50 pounds and 25 pounds respectively, in one jump each, you are asking for injury. Never impose a sudden big increase in load.^

Do you really have some progress in muscle and might to show for your efforts in the gym over the last few months? If not, your training is not working and it is time to make major changes—time to try the advice given in this book. Time is pressing!

B 23

T lease pause for a couple of minutes to ponder upon the following two paragraphs, and let their message sink deep so that you will never forget it.

Never bemoan the discipline that must accompany serious training. Never bemoan the discipline that must be applied to your diet and other components of recovery. To have the opportunity to apply all this discipline is a blessing. Appreciate it, and savor every moment of implementing that discipline.

You will not be able to train forever. Eventually you will not be able to apply dedication ad determination to anything, let alone your training, diet and recovery. So be sure you make the absolute most of the present!

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