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Lifting weights is an important cornerstone of any good workout plan. Find out what accessories can make your weight lifting sessions even better.
To build and preserve muscles you have to challenge them hard enough. The most popular way to achieve these goals to a good extent is by lifting weights, both external and body weight.
Your body weight and/or external weights like dumbbells, a barbell, weight plates, etc. can already offer a lot of the benefits of weight lifting.
Even so, with the right weight lifting accessories you can make certain exercises more effective, make exercises more comfortable, avoid accidents, etc.
Whether certain of these weight lifting accessories are a worthwhile investment ultimately depends on things like your training goals, personal situation, budget, and personal preference.
In any case, this list will give you an oversight of many of the different options and explain what the different accessories are used for.
1. Weight lifting straps
When doing certain heavy lifts like deadlifts, bent-over rows, and shrugs, it is possible that your grip muscles fatigue faster than the main muscles targetted.
This is generally not helpful for growing and strengthening the target muscles of the exercise as much as possible. One way to overcome this challenge is to use lifting straps.
These accessories are basically straps that you wrap around your wrists and typically a barbell. Lifting straps make it so your grip muscles have to work less hard. In turn, you can focus more on fatiguing the main muscles of the exercise.
Not everyone will need weight lifting straps but they can be a good addition to your gym accessory collection. Especially since they are so inexpensive.
2. Barbell collars
A loaded barbell is one of the most popular weight lifting equipment options. One thing to keep in mind is that when doing exercises like the barbell back squat the weight plates can move back and forth on the bar.
This can be uncomfortable in the best case, and cause accidents in the worst case.
Luckily there is a relatively simple solution to this problem. There are barbell collars, also known as clamps or clips, that are small round objects that can be clamped securely around the part of the barbell that holds weights.
Most gyms should have these already but sometimes too few. If you are putting together a home gym, barbell collars are basically a must if you plan to do barbell exercises.
To use this barbell accessory you simply load the bar with the desired weight and put the collars right next to these weights so that they can’t move back and forth.
A benefit of this weight lifting accessory is that it is relatively inexpensive. Especially compared to the discomfort and accidents barbell collars can help you avoid when using such an effective free weight option.
3. Liquid chalk
The power of your grip muscles is not the only thing that influences whether you can hold weights during a heavy lift. In some cases, sweaty hands can make it so the weight slowly but surely slips out of your hands during the exercise.
Similar to your grip muscles fatiguing, not being able to complete your target number of repetitions due to a reason like this will not be helpful for your weight lifting progress.
Liquid chalk is a weight lifting accessory that can help you avoid this issue. This is a mixture you put on your hands that makes it so your hands stay in position better during the exercises.
4. Weight lifting belt
Certain weight lifting exercises can be relatively heavy on body parts like the lower back. A weight lifting belt is a piece of equipment that is made to help avoid injuries during these exercises.
Weight lifting belts can also serve as a physical queue to tell you that you are not keeping your back straight. This can again reduce injury risk during certain exercises.
This weight lifting accessory is certainly not a must-have for everyone. It is also not helpful during all exercises.
Weight lifting belts are generally for more advanced lifters doing heavy lifts like deadlifts or back squats with really heavy weights. They can also help you keep your back straight during exercises like shoulder presses.
5. Barbell squat pad
One of the most popular and powerful weight lifting exercises is the barbell back squat. During this movement, you squat down and stand back up with a weighted barbell on your back.
One potential downside of this exercise is that some people find it painful to hold the bar on their back.
To resolve this issue there are these accessories called barbell squat pads. These are soft foam barbell attachments to be a cushion between the steel barbell and your body.
Besides that, barbell squat pads can be even more useful during the hip thrust exercise. This is a weight lifting exercise where you hold a barbell on your hips and lift it with the help of your glutes. In this exercise, the pad can protect your hips instead of your back.
If you plan to do either hip thrusts or squats regularly, a barbell squat pad is likely not an unnecessary luxury. Especially since this weight lifting accessory is so inexpensive.
One downside of these pads is that they generally do not last that long. You may need a replacement every once in a while.
6. Dip belt
Dips and pull-ups are both popular weight lifting exercises. In the first one, you hold your hands on horizontal bars and lower and lift yourself with the help of your tricep muscles.
During pull-ups you hang from a horizontal bar with your hands and raise and lower yourself with muscles like your latissimus dorsi.
The downside of both of these exercises for more advanced lifters is that the bodyweight version may not be challenging enough for a lot of muscle growth and strength progress. Because your hands are on the bar(s) they cannot hold any weight.
A dip belt is a weight lifting accessory that can help you avoid this issue. This is a belt with a chain you can attach weights to. In turn, you can do both dips and pull-ups weighted without holding weights in your hands.
If you decide to use a dip belt make sure it has enough capacity to hold the weights you intend to use.
7. Weight lifting gloves
One potential downside of lifting heavy weights is that some people find it uncomfortable on their hands. Especially during exercises like deadlifts, bent-over rows, pull-ups, etc.
By putting an extra layer between your hands and the weight or bar with weight lifting gloves, the exercise can become more comfortable.
Besides that, the anti-slip surface on the inside of weight lifting gloves can make it harder for the weights to slip out of your hands.
This weight lifting accessory is definitely not for everyone. Some people find it more uncomfortable than helpful. Others cannot imagine a workout without them.
8. Thick grips
Because of the previous weight lifting accessories, it may sound like you don’t want exercises to be challenging for your grip muscles. However, depending on your training goals this may actually be something you prefer.
There is a piece of grip strength workout equipment that is called a thick grip. The name of this accessory describes what it is, pads that you can wrap around handles or bars to make the grip wider.
This makes it so your forearm muscles have to work harder than usual when gripping the handles or bars. You can add these grips to a variety of exercises or only to your existing grip workout plan.
9. Weight lifting chains
There is something that can be unhelpful about most free weights for certain training goals in some exercises. The resistance your muscles experience can lower at the top of the movement, for example during bicep curls.
If you don’t like this or avoiding this would benefit your training goals, you have a few equipment options to choose from. One of these is steel lifting chains.
These are simply steel chains that you can attach to different types of weights. When you do this, as you lift the bar higher, more of the steel chain comes off the ground. This leads to more resistance at the top of the movement and more constant tension throughout the exercise.
Additionally, you can also wrap these steel chains around your body for exercises like weighted pull-ups and dips where you need your hands somewhere else. Steel chains will generally last a long time too.
One potential downside of steel chains is that they are relatively expensive. If you are on a budget, other weight lifting accessories and equipment options may be a better choice.
10. Arm blaster
Bicep exercises are a category of weight lifting movements that get a lot of attention. The main point of these bicep exercises is isolating your upper arm muscles, sometimes a few forearm muscles, as much as possible.
To make sure these are the muscles that move the weights you use, you want to keep your upper arms and body in the same position. This can be challenging at times, especially when doing these bicep curl exercises with heavy weights.
One of the bicep curl accessories that can help you avoid moving these other body parts is the arm blaster. An arm blaster is a pad of strong material that hangs down from your shoulders on which you can put your upper arms while doing bicep curls.
The arm blaster makes it so it becomes easier to not move your upper arms and isolate your bicep muscles. Another benefit of arm blasters is that they are relatively cheap compared to arm blaster alternatives.
One potential downside is that some people find arm blasters uncomfortable. It can also take a bit of trial and error to find the right height setting for you personally. Additionally, this weight lifting accessory has a relatively specific use.
11. Weight lifting drop pads
Weight lifting drop pads are thick foam pads made to drop your weights on. They are sized for loaded barbells but you can use them for equipment options like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, etc. too.
This weight lifting accessory is mainly something for individuals who plan to do exercises like Olympic lifts at home, want to protect their equipment, and make their workouts more silent.
Using weight lifting drop pads at the gym offers all these benefits too.
One potential downside of weight lifting drop pads is that they require a decent investment. That being said, if they save your equipment and floor these can accessories can pay themselves back.