So You Want To Be A Powerlifter? You Need This Gear.

One of the biggest points of confusion about powerlifting is what you actually need to do it. For some reason people assume you need every toy, piece of equipment and top of the line stuff in order to just lift some weights.

Not true.

BUT there is some stuff that is required for competition. As such, I’ll be splitting this guide into; competition essentials, competition good to have but not essential, and, training equipment that’s nice but not comp legal.

I’ll also give some recommended places to get it all. One point to remember tho – I’m writing this with regards to IPF approved / sanctioned gear. For other federations, check their rule books, but for the most part, the same will apply.

COMPETITION ESSENTIALS
There’s only a few items you NEED to enter a competition;

  • shoes with a rubber sole (any shoes will do, technically)
  • a t-shirt to be worn on all lifts, but for men only may be removed for deadlift – it must not be a stretch / compression fit item like a base layer or under armor
  • knee high socks to be worn during the deadlift to protect the bar from your skin and blood should your shins start bleeding
  • a singlet

…and technically as a guy you should have a pair of y-fronts too, not boxers, under your singlet in comp.I’ll deal with the “IPF approved” part of the equation shortly.

COMPETITION “NICE TO HAVE” BUT NOT ESSENTIAL
As a raw beginner, the training you do will be FAR more important than the gear you’re wearing. You don’t want a €20 squat in €200 squat shoes. But, there are bits and pieces that’ll will be of benefit in training, and competition should you choose to stick around and want to maximise your advantage;

  • wrist wraps up to 1m in length can be worn on all lifts to protect the wrists (particularly useful in squats and bench press)
  • knee sleeves up to 30cm in length may be worn in all disciplines to provide warmth and support to the knees, some people will pull on REALLY tight sleeves to try and get some additional bounce out of the bottom of a squat
  • real “weightlifting shoes” made by Adidas, Nike and others have a solid sole and raised heel to make getting into position for squats easier, and ensuring no power is lost thru a soft squidgy sole
  • a powerlifting belt of thick leather and either a lever buckle or prong closure may be worn , max width 10cm, max thickness 13mm. It will help you to keep position on squat and deadlift, and allow you to use your leg and back strength to the max of its capacity – some argue that it’s also safer, I’m ambivalent
  • some guys / girls will wear wrestling shoes / deadlift boots if pulling sumo (wide stance) for better grip, you can also wear what are called “deadlift slippers” if pulling conventional – they’re basically a pair of pool shoes like you mighta worn as a kid
Everything mentioned so far is cool to use in training. BUT there are certain pieces of equipment that are not competition legal, but can still be useful in training.
John Haack in Nike weightlifting shoes and an SBD singlet, belt, wrist wraps and knee sleeves

John Haack in Nike weightlifting shoes and an SBD singlet, belt, wrist wraps and knee sleeves

GEAR THAT’S NOT COMP LEGAL, BUT STILL USEFUL
Remember, the function of equipment in training is to help you lift more weight on the platform on the day – as such, you should not become overly reliant on it to the detriment of your competition performance.
  • wrist straps are handy to have in your bag – they’re a thick piece of cotton webbing that attaches you to the bar. They’re great to have for rowing / pulling and for when your grip is fatigued, BUT should not be used to compensate for a week grip in deadlift
  • elbow sleeves (similar to knee sleeves) slide over your elbow joint to provide heat and support to the area and are particularly helpful if you’ve been doing a lot of squatting or bench pressing as this can cause some grief to the elbows

From a clothing and apparel standpoint, that’s about it really – there’s plenty of other tools like Mark Bell’s slingshot, bands, chains and other stuff powerlifters use. But for now they’re outside the scope of this article.It is worth getting some liquid chalk to help your grip (assuming your gym doesn’t provide the real stuff – but if you can use a block of chalk, use that)

WHERE TO GET EVERYTHING
Like every other aspect of life you’ve two options – buy cheap and buy again, or buy once and buy right. If you’re just getting started, pick whatever best suits your budget. It’ll all be good for 2-3 years at least anyway. Certain things like shoes SHOULD last a lifetime if you take care of them.

Shoes
Adidas: http://www.adidasspecialtysports.ie/weightlifting
Nike: http://store.nike.com/ie/en_gb/pd/romaleos-2-weightlifting-shoe/pid-11231527/pgid-10976763
Lots of shoes: http://www.d8fitness.com/store/foot-wear/

Wrist wraps / knee sleeves / elbow sleeves / singlet / long socks
SBD Ireland: http://sbdireland.com/shop/
Strength Shop: https://www.strengthshop.ie/shop-by-sport/powerlifting/ipf-approved-kit.html

Wrist straps
…I just got mine in Argos. You’ll get em on Strength Shop as well

PS:
“IPF Approved” is a thing where the equipment has been certified for use in IPF sanctioned competitions. The IPF is the main federation in powerlifting and to ensure no jiggery pokery approves certain manufacturers for competition use (…it also includes a hefty fee)

For IrishPF regional and national competitions, along with international comps, your equipment must be “IPF approved”.

For open comps, novice comps and gym meets, it need only meet the IPF specifications which can be found in the IPF technical rules here: www.powerlifting-ipf.com/fileadmin/ipf/data/rules/technical-rules/english/IPF_Technical_Rules_Book_2016__1_.pdf

But you may as well just IPF approved gear since you’ll need it eventually – you’ll know its IPF approved because it’ll say it on whatever website you buy (with the exceptions of shoes, socks and t-shirts, there’s no approval process for those)

PPS:
I’ll be updating this with an updated guide to the OTHER kind of powerlifting equipment later this week, but for now you can check out the 2011 version on MY FIRST EVER WEBSITE!!!! right here… https://jameshanleyie.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/powerlifting-equipment-a-beginners-guide/

TL;DR – there’s some stuff you need, some stuff that’s nice and some stuff that helps in training – it’s all here for you to buy, and I didn’t make a dime off it 🙁

** as always, if you’ve any further Qs, need our help, or want to talk about anything – just pop us a message thru our contact box here: http://revolutionfitness.ie/contact **

James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.