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Weight Lifting Equipment

Finger Wraps
A noncontroversial option in the lifting game is the wearing of gloves. Weight-lifting gloves, which typically cost around $10, have padded palms and cut-off fingers for ventilation and dexterity. Gloves are good if you look at calluses with disdain, and they can come in handy during certain abusive exercises like chin-ups and lat pull downs.

When Deidre started lifting 10 years ago, she used gloves until she realized that her feel for the weight improved without them. What does "feel for the weight" mean? Many experienced lifters feel that the greater the contact they have with the bar, the easier it is to lift the weight. Try both and see for yourself.

Like Deidre, Jonathan and Joe go gloveless. A kayaker whose hands are usually callused and cracked from gripping a paddle hours a day in salt water, Joe finds that the calluses he's built from lifting help fortify his mitts while paddling.

If you decide to don gloves, try to find a pair that have a grippy texture on the palms, and make sure they fit your hands snugly without restricting your movement.

Instead of gloves, some folks prefer pads, which are small, flat, neoprene squares that are held in your palms like mini-potholders. Not only do they offer the same comfort and improved grip as gloves, but you also won't have to worry about sweaty-palm syndrome. The downside is that because you have to carry them around, they tend to disappear like socks in a dryer. Jonathan has collected enough pads from his gym's lost and found to tile Madison Square Garden.

Straps are another common piece of paraphernalia you'll see in the gym. Made of sturdy, nonstretch material, straps are worn around your wrists and then wrapped around the bar that you plan to lift. The purpose of straps is to ease the burden on the gripping muscles in your hands and forearms that often fatigue before the larger working muscles.

Take exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and/or cable rows. These exercises all involve movements that tax large muscles and hence require you to lift a fair bit of weight. While overusing straps can prevent those hand and forearm muscles from becoming stronger, they are useful when a weak grip inhibits you from completing the exercise, a common occurrence if you're lifting a lot of weight.

As you may have gathered by now, we're not big proponents of gadgets that will make your exercises easier. Still, after you spend enough time at the gym, you'll see tremendously strong people who lift with a weight belt, wrist and knee straps, and gloves. What's up with that?

People who lift a lot and often have developed their own habits – good and bad – over many years of experimentation. However, when you start out, it's important to establish good habits, to lift with sound technique and with as little interference as possible – just you, the weight, knowledge, and plenty of desire.

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Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.

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