I am looking at some must haves that every guy must have on him to protect his wrist, knees, etc any other that may be useful for stretching. I need some guidance as I go to the gym regularly and do squats, bench, and rowing.


To be honest, for they type of exercise you are talking about, there are very few accessories you need. Good technique will protect you a lot more than any bit of equipment. To that end, always start with weights you can perform good technique with. Increase gradually, and you will be safe for some time to come.

Depending on the exercises you are doing, the following tools are useful:

  • Pen and paper to track your progress
  • Good technique
  • fractional plates (below 2.5 lb) when you can't sustain 5lb increases any more.
  • foam roller -- works the soft tissue and helps with muscle conditioning
  • Elastic bands to perform "shoulder dislocations" (useful for grip position on squats)
  • Chalk or an Eco-Ball to improve your grip on rows (deadlifts too)
  • Shoes with non-compressible soles (Chuck Taylor's and dress shoes work well if you don't want to buy weightlifting shoes)

Eventually, you may get to the point where you need additional help to get really heavy weights on squats. That threshold is different for everyone, but you want to hold off as long as you can so your core can get stronger. When that happens you will need a weightlifting belt. The belt is a tool to help get your maximum weight up, not a fashion statement for the gym. Only use it when you need it.

When shopping for a weightlifting belt look for:

  • solid construction
  • All one width all the way around
  • One row of holes to make it easier to remove

You may be wondering why I said a pen and paper was needed for safety. Tracking your workouts is more than recording the amount of weight you did. It's keeping notes on how things felt, or if there is something you need to work on. It helps you to not forget important details.

  • Thanks Berin. I am currently doing the 5 X 5 program and the reason I am asking is that my next few weeks I am going to take a slightly heavier weight than I am used to and hence this question. What about protecting your knees? Can you also point me to the links for foam roller? What do you mean by shoulder dislocations? It sounds a bit scary to me. Jul 23 '11 at 18:13
  • I added links for the foam roller and shoulder dislocations. For protecting your knees, it's all about proper technique. Start here: youtube.com/watch?v=kawBY5p29fQ for information about squats which is the one exercise most people are concerned with about their knees. Jul 23 '11 at 20:50
  • I'm not sure what you are planning on doing as far as heavier weights go, but I'm safely squatting 230 lb (~104kg) without any extra equipment. The important thing is never add more weight than you can perform the lift properly with. If your form is suffering with 135lb, take weight off until you can do it correctly. You can add weight and get stronger afterwards. Jul 23 '11 at 20:52
  • Thanks Berin. I took a look at the videos and they are very informative. It does look like Rip's advice is to go below the 90 for a squat. Jul 23 '11 at 21:48
  • Right. He has a book called "Starting Strength" which goes into great detail about proper form, and how to figure out if you are doing it right or not (as well as how to fix it). That is well worth the investment--whether you do his program or not. Jul 24 '11 at 1:10

I mostly agree with Berin, but I'm going to reorder and shorten his list:

  • Good technique - most important by far, no accessories will save you from injury if your form is bad
  • Pen and paper to keep a log of your lifting

The rest of the stuff isn't as necessary. You can do dislocations using a broomstick, and non-compressible soles won't be an issue until you're doing serious heavy lifting. Chalk may be useful if you're really pushing yourself with deadlifts and cleans.

  • +1 for technique, especially where use of a rowing machine is concerned. In fact bad technique can cause serious long term injury. Nov 8 '12 at 10:36

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