Sunday, November 17, 2013


Among new trainees there is a notion that there exists some sort of bench marks that determine when a trainee is ready to employ a technique, machine, or piece of training equipment.  The idea is that there are things that are “basic” and things that are “advanced”, and you stick with the former when you are a beginner and use the latter when you have more experience.  Attempting to deviate from this path is a recipe for disaster.

Probably something like this

Bollocks.  This notion is held by those who are not big or strong, and are well on their way to ensuring that they will never reach either of those end goals.  There is no benefit in refraining from using a useful tool when there is an opportunity to benefit from its use.  There are no bonus points to be had from being “super raw” or “hardcore” or whatever, the only thing that matters is reaching the goal, and those that do whatever it takes to get there will reach it, while those who create imaginary limitations will not.

One of the most constantly observed instances of these self-imposed limitations comes from the discussing of training gear such as belts, wraps, and straps.  Trainees overthink these instruments so much.  If a beginner uses these things, it’s a crutch, and it’s all about avoiding weaknesses and someone making your weak points even weaker, but at the same time these people will say it’s ok for a very strong person to make use of this gear because they’ve “earned it”.  The connection is never drawn that they are observing a strong person implementing the very gear they claim makes people weaker, nor is the conclusion drawn that perhaps the use of this gear will aid in becoming bigger and stronger as well.

"Straps, belt, chains and touch and go?  Better go beltless, mixed grip and chalk with a deadstop each rep"

Training without these tools in the start of one’s training career is simply a matter of convention, not intentional programming of progression.  One does not start training with just the bar and a rack because that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but because that is the easiest and simplest way to begin training.  As such, it is not the case that one must stick with the bare necessities until they reach some imaginary milestone in their training that indicates they are ready for the “next level”, but instead should implement tools that aid in progression whenever and wherever it is needed.  It would be akin to wanting to work on your car, but instead of using modern tools, you feel it’s necessary to start the project with bone tools and rocks like your ancestors did, and only start using better tools once you’ve maxed out the capabilities of your primitive toolbox.

Although I imagine this is what tech support thinks I look like whenever I call them

Those that speak out against the usage of support gear talk to some imaginary scenario of needing to be strong without relying on the equipment.  They want to be ready to be strong at a moment’s notice, and speak to how they won’t “have their belt and straps in the real world.”  I ask these people, do you do zero warm-ups when you train?  When you walk into the gym, do you load up the weight on the bar to your working set right away, or do you do mobility drills and foam rolling and yoga and voodoo before you even touch a bar?  Do you think you’ll get this same chance “in the real world”?

Strong is strong.  Someone who is strong with a belt, straps and wraps is strong without them too, but they’re also ensuring that they can continue to get strong through their training.  In the end, one needs to remember that training is training, and no one cares how you train, only what the results are.  If you are preventing yourself from achieving those results because you don’t think you’re ready for it, you’re probably right.  


  1. good article, and especially the point about not using straps or a belt until you are "strong enough" is one I've always regarded as being pretty stupid and baseless.

    practical question though: i'm a raw lifter, and not that strong, but now have access to a powerlifting gym that has every kind of specialty bar, chains, and bands that you would find at EliteFTS. Do you know any good guides on how to use that stuff or any recommendations?

    1. I would just play around with what you have and see how you like it. When something stalls in your training, try some of the new equipment, or start working it into your assistance work. Experimentation will be key. Check out the elitefts exercise index to get some ideas as well.