If you're new to Powerlifting you probably wonder why Powerlifters use equipment such as knee sleeves, belts, wrist wraps and even special shoe types. Is this necessary and what are the benefits?
The goal with Powerlifting is always to lift as much weight as possible on the platform. If as a lifter you get a real benefit from using this equipment, then, like most lifters, you'll use this to your advantage. Different federations have different rules on what can and can't be used. In the first federation I started out in, knee sleeves weren't allowed. In the IPF, they are! When I first tried knee sleeves I felt like someone had just put two additional springs on my knees, so the feeling and impact at first can feel so great. Once you get used to them it becomes part of your routine. I think the important thing to remember with supportive equipment is not to become overly reliant on it. Until recently, I used knee sleeves all the time. In the past few years, I never did a squat session without them - even for the warm-up. I decided that this probably wasn't a good thing, so I'm doing my best to acclimatize to not using them, at least for my volume phase. This way I can make sure my knees are strong by themselves and then the knee sleeves will really be additional support to the joint. The same principle goes for other supportive equipment like belts. I figure it's best to do what you can without it. I always try to go as long as possible sticking to my program without using my belt, thereby building up my bracing abilities and core strength without the additional support. As far as shoes go, you'll see that some people opt for Olympic shoes, with varying degrees of heal height, others for a flat shoe. What you choose is all a matter of personal opinion. I would recommend to experiment and find what feels comfortable since everyone's body leverages are different. Experiment with squat width and test your depth. Healed shoes are great for getting a bit more depth out of your squat!
All-in-all, supplementary and supportive equipment isn't necessary but can help us achieve our lifts on the platform. It's great we have the choice, and, if used correctly, will help us to avoid injury and implement better technique.
I hope you found this little blog helpful!