Updated: Jan 29, 2020
One of the most sacred things other than a powerlifter’s weight belt is his or her gym bag and its contents. Everyone has specific things in their bag like headphones, running sneakers, sweats, workout diaries/journals… the list goes on. Here’s what’s in my bag:
My belt was probably the first piece of powerlifting gear that I bought. These belts are designed to help keep your spine straight during lifts, but the main purpose is to use the belt as a "wall" for your abs and lower back when you brace with your breathing before a big lift. After reading a ton of good reviews, I bought a Pioneer belt (also known as GeneralLeatherCraft.com). You can buy a stock belt or create a custom belt all the way down to the thread color. In competition, you must follow the requirements like belt thickness, width, etc. Some federations provide a list of approved equipment/brands. The blue suede belt is my current belt and the other belt will be my next custom one. Many companies make lifting belts. If you want a great belt that'll last a very long time, buy yourself a Pioneer Belt. Yeah it may be a little pricey, but they're worth every penny!
Wherever I workout, I must have my shoes. I wear Powerlifting 4's by Adidas. I use these over regular sneakers, because they’re comfortable and have a raised and stiff heel which is perfect for squatting. When you’re holding 400-lbs, you don’t want your heel collapsing as you push harder. I did buy these shoes hoping they’d match my belt and they do! I also wear shoes without an elevated heel too. You want shoes like Chuck Taylors that'll put you as close to the floor as possible when performing deadlifts since your drive will come from the heels.
I use a pair of Rogue Fitness 24” wrist wraps for training then Pioneer Enforcer wrist wraps when I compete. When you're bench pressing or squatting heavy, stabilizing and protecting your wrist is a must!
Knee Wraps & Sleeves
Most people think knee wraps and sleeves are the same, but they are completely different. When I want to protect and keep my knees warm during squats, I’ll put my Rogue knee sleeves on. When I just want to lift heavier, I typically go with my lighter white knee wraps. When I compete or I'm attempting a new 1 repetition max, I put my Pioneer Enforcer knee wraps on. You actually wrap these very tight around your knees and not just cover the knee. Knee wraps help you generate power coming out of the bottom of the squat which is where most people fail during heavier squats. This translates to being able to squat more weight.
Socks, Shorts, T-Shirt
I always have shorts, socks and a t-shirt. The shorts and shirt must be athletic and give me space to move around. I’m not too picky about my workout socks for bench pressing or squatting though. For deadlifting, I do need a pair of deadlift socks which are just knee highs. If you’re doing deadlifts properly, the bar should come right up the shin. Sometimes the knurling (rough pattern) on the bar can pull the skin right off your shins and make you bleed so the socks help prevent that.
Chalk & Baby Powder
If I’m working out in my own gym, I use chalk specifically for deadlifts which helps me grip the bar better. During competition, chalk is also used on my upper back to help keep the bar in place when doing squats and to prevent sliding on the bench when bench pressing. Baby powder does the complete opposite. I use it to help the bar slide up my lifting singlet without ripping the material when deadlifting. The downside of chalk and powder is it's a pain in the butt to clean up and some gyms don’t allow either of them.
Sometimes I need to refer back to this book when I'm unsure about how I'm lifting. If you need help with something, you’re better off finding the answer instead of trying something you’re unsure of and injuring yourself. The Powerlifting book by Dan Austin and Bryan Mann is a great book for both beginner and elite lifters. If you want to just get strong and not compete, this book is still recommended! Keep in mind that the book is geared around squatting, bench press and deadlifting.
If you’ve seen me lift heavy, you’ve probably seen me sniffing something out of a blue bottle before attempting a lift. I don’t use it often, but when I do I usually move whatever weight I’m attempting to lift. Skull Smash gives you a quick adrenaline rush or hypes you up with a sudden burst of energy. Some NFL players use it, athletes and an EMT will use ammonia inhalant to wake up patients who have passed out. This stuff is NOT for children so make sure you keep it out of their reach, if you buy some!
Water and Supplements
We all know why water is needed so I won’t even touch the subject. I do recommend buying a decent water jug or bottle that’ll last. Gallon Gear makes BPA-free 1-gal or ½-gal jugs. You can even buy cool sleeves for the jugs too. For supplements, I have a wide-range of things that I use. I use all MAN Sports supplements since their products are made well, and I believe they have the best flavors in the industry! Whenever I pack my gym bag to workout, I always have their BCAA's and Blockbuster (pre-workout). If you decide to give MAN Sports a try, use my discount code "GETSTRONG" (all caps) to get yourself 10% off your order. They've got the best stuff in the game!