posted on July 1, 2020
Like many of us, I recently took a 2 month hiatus from training while much of the country was shut down. Of course, I could have found multiple ways to gain access to equipment, but I saw it as an opportunity to take the time to focus on other aspects of life that I wanted to address. Although the forced time off was great and helped me gain a new perspective, it has since been nice getting back into the swing of things over the last month or so. I set some goals and opened my mind to a new style of training focused on slowly building upon the foundation that I’ve previously established.
For the first 2-3 weeks I started by getting re acclimated to simply having weights in my hands and on my back again. I kept the intensity on my main lifts around 50-60%, and focused my accessory work around basic bodybuilding style movements. I also incorporated the use of supersets and circuits in order to reestablish a good level of conditioning before jumping back into higher intensity training. Now that I have gotten back on my feet, I feel as though I’m not too far off of where I was prior to quarantine. Except this time, I’m trying something new.
Recently, one of my training partners recommended that a few of us do a training block in gear. If you aren’t sure of what I’m referring to, it basically consists of the use of supportive equipment designed to help both protect the body and aid in lifting more weight than you normally could without using it. This can consist of supportive briefs or suits for the squat and deadlift, and a supportive shirt for the bench press. In addition to this, when used correctly, gear can help teach you a good deal regarding your form, as well as what you should be feeling throughout the movement.
A big misconception is that using gear only makes lifting the weight easier. Gear is like any other tool or piece of equipment. It has a specific purpose, and when used correctly it can help you to progress in certain aspects of your training program. When I explain to people what it’s like training with gear, I typically use the analogy of driving a race car vs. a daily driver. If you take your Honda Accord around a race track, it’s going to be fairly easy to handle, and you aren’t going to be reaching very high speeds. However, when you take a race car around a race track, you have to be very precise with your actions. The speeds are higher, and you may always be on the verge of out of control. Well, that’s how gear can be. You have to focus on controlling your body and controlling the weight. This process has the ability to have a great carryover to your raw training.
Incorporating the use of gear into my training has given me a greater understanding of my form, technique, body awareness, patients, and approach going into each lift. Concepts like this are a great way to build momentum going forward with your training. If you’ve been lifting for a good length of time, it can also help you to push through plateaus, all while gaining a greater appreciation for what makes lifting unique and fun. As with changing anything within your training program, start slow and focus on addressing only one variable at a time. If you try to change to many things at once, you will have a hard time understanding what’s working, what’s not, or what affect each thing is having on your body and on your progress. Remember that training and achieving your goals is not a track meet, but a marathon. Take your time, progress at your own pace, and focus on the things that you can control and build off of each day. And always remember to have fun in the process!