Here is a quick rundown of the gear and supplements that I recommend for new lifters. This is not going to be an in depth discussion of why each of these are important (that will come down the road). This is merely to put all of the information in one spot so you can check out the gear that you need.
Shoes are the first item that I will recommend to you. A good pair of lifting shoes provide a stable base and support for you to lift. There are a number of brands out there, but the most common around here is the Adidas Powerlift. These are fairly inexpensive and is a great value for lifting shoes. Nike, Reebok, and Innov-8 all make lifting shoes, and if price is the biggest factor for you then you will need to shop around and look at which brands are on sale. They tend to fluctuate quite a bit in price. These aren’t available locally, so you will need to order them online. Amazon has a pretty good return policy if they don’t fit, but the Adidas are pretty true to size.
A belt is going to help you to maintain a rigid neutral spine during your lifting. It helps to give you something to brace against as you are lifting heavier weight. This is definitely something that you will need add into your gear bag as your lifting progresses. Not all belts are the same. First, a belt needs to be uniform in width for the full length. A wider back and narrower front is not going to allow you to apply even pressure all the way around the belt. A three inch belt is a good size to be comfortable for all of the lifts. If you are one of the few people gifted with height or a long torso, then you can be fine with a wider 4″ belt. A single prong belt is going to be easier to buckle, and as you cinch this thing down pretty tight that will make more sense. A lever belt is a more secure fit, but the lever takes more to adjust if you belly circumference changes.
There are two types of cloth you can attach to your wrists. Wraps are additional support and help maintain a straight wrist during pressing and squats. Wrist straps are helpful during deadlifting as your grip begins to fail. Wraps are legal in most lifting competitions and are used fairly regularly. Straps are not legal in competition, and are generally used in accessory work such as rack pulls and volume deadlifting. I don’t recommend straps for deadlifting, but won’t get mad if you use them.
Knee sleeves add compression and warmth to you knee joints. If you have had a knee injury or if your joints are a little bit on the older side, knee sleeves can help keep the joint warm an moving well. They are not absolutely necessary, and do not replace proper form. If your form is good and you still have joint pain, then sleeves might help alleviate that pain. However, these are not knee wraps. Knee wraps are used in powerlifting and store energy to assist in the lift. Knee sleeves have no place in training, unless you are competitive lifter in an equipped division. If you fall into that category, this article is not for you.
This isn’t a specific gear recommendation, but more of a guideline on clothing. A cotton t shirt is going to help you keep the bar in position during a squat. Synthetic t shirts will be a little more slick and the bar may have a tendency to slide during the squat. Shorts need to be flexible to allow you to move. If you can’t get into a low squat position with your knees out, then those shorts will not work. Leggings fall into the same category. You should be able to squat and feel comfortable. Lastly, either leggings or tall thick socks are recommended for the deadlift. Unless you are a fan of having a bruise or scar on your shins.
This is going to be a short list as I really only recommend a few. There are supplements that I’m ok with, but don’t actually recommend. There are also a lot of supplements out there that I actively discourage. For the sake of this post, if I don’t list it then if falls in that latter category.
Creatine has been studied for decades and researchers are finding more benefits to using it as time goes on. There also isn’t really any drawback to using it. It’s cheap and effective. It basically gives you a little extra reserves for the last few reps of a set. A “preloading” phase isn’t necessary, and it should just be a 5 g dose every day. It’s safe for your kids up to your grandparents. Your body naturally produces it, and you also take it in from red meats and fish. Take it! Also, you need creatine monohydrate. Any other form of creatine is more expensive and generally less effective.
I don’t really consider this a supplement, it’s more of a food. We need to take in a lot of protein as lifters, and getting all of that protein in as whole food is difficult. Protein powder is a useful tool to help you get your protein up without eating a dozen chicken breasts throughout the day. Whey protein isolate is going to be better as it is a more pure form of protein, than a whey concentrate. Hydrosylate is even purer still, but it is on the more expensive side of the spectrum. Avoid any unnecessary ingredients additions. That basically means avoid any protein powder that has anything added to it but protein. Usually this will drive the cost up with no additional benefit.
I prefer Optimum Nutrition, but any quality protein powder will do. If you have questions about a protein powder, a quick google search will give you reviews and reports on whether or not that powder is a good quality and tastes good.
These are the guys that I’m ok with, but aren’t truly necessary.
BCAA’s – can help push muscle protein synthesis and help maintain muscle mass during weight loss. However, you should be getting enough through diet and protein supplementation.
Beta Alanine – If you like taking a pre workout, just switch to this one. Pre workout usually contains a lot of worthless ingredients. Beta Alanine along with Caffiene are all you really need out of it.
Caffiene – if you are ok with caffiene and can tolerate it. A little extra before your workout can help boost you through. It also doesn’t hurt if you can tell going in that you will be struggling.
That’s basically the recommendations. If it’s not listed here then, I don’t recommend it. Some of these deserve a little more in depth discussion, and that will be added in later or in a separate post. If you have any questions, then feel free to ask. I will continue to update this guide as new gear comes out!