Equipment you need to compete

Equipment you need to compete

The two most common reasons people who are interested in strength sports cite as to why they cannot actually compete are 1) because they are not strong enough and 2) because they can’t afford it. I have previously addressed why the former reason is invalid, but today I wanted to discuss the latter.

Many people assume that competing in powerlifting or strong(wo)man is incredibly expensive. Don’t get me wrong: it can be. However, you do not need the fanciest belts, sleeves and wraps in the world to step on the platform. Many people show up with the bare minimum, and outperform those who have all the bells and whistles. When I am travelling, I often don’t have my belt or shoes with me, and I can get by just fine. In fact, I squatted the most weight ever with no knee sleeves or wraps.
My gym bag

The normal contents of my gym bag

If you are interested in competing, at the bare minimum, you will need to pay a competition entrance fee (in the UK, this is typically between £15 and 25). In addition, if you are competing in powerlifting, you will also need to pay the relevant membership fee for your chosen federation (some let you pay for a daily membership, while others require an annual fee).
To compete in powerlifting, the only essential items you need are:
  • A singlet
  • A t-shirt (check the rules of your federation)
  • One pair of shoes (many people choose flat-soled shoes such as Converse, as you can squat, bench and deadlift in them)
  • One pair of knee-high socks (many people think wearing knee-high socks is simply about making a fashion statement, but it’s usually a requirement to prevent your shins from bleeding all over the bar during deadlifts)
Not just a fashion statement

Not just a fashion statement

In strong(wo)man competitions, you will usually be given a t-shirt, and you can wear regular gym clothes to compete. That is literally all you need to compete – I have even seen people do the majority of events in their socks!

Or, in my case, no shoes or socks!

Beyond this, believe it or not, everything is an optional add-on. In powerlifting, you can look at adding the following:
  • A belt (you will need to check the width/padding specifications of your chosen federation to ensure your belt complies)
  • Olympic lifting shoes (for squatting, and perhaps benching)
  • Wrist wraps (for squats and benching)
  • Knee sleeves (for squats)
  • Knee wraps (only some federations allow wraps)
  • Chalk
  • Nose tork (some people hate using this, so I’d recommend trying it before the day of your competition)
  • If you are competing in a geared federation, you will also need a bench shirt and squat and deadlift suits, however, most beginners will be competing “raw”
For strong(wo)man, you can add:
  • A belt (unlike in powerlifting, there are usually no restrictions on belts)
  • Wrist straps (often allowed during deadlift events, but not farmers walks or other grip events)
  • Knee sleeves
  • Elbow sleeves
  • Wrist wraps (for overhead events)
  • Shoes for outside/pulling events (e.g. hiking boots)
  • Chalk
  • Nose tork
  • Tacky and tape for atlas stone events
Obviously, the costs of the above items can vary greatly – particularly when it comes to lifting belts and shoes. But you should not assume that you cannot afford to compete simply because you do not have all the equipment, which is really only optional.
Have you ever thought about competing? If you compete, is there anything else you consider to be an essential item?
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