It’s A Wrap!
Let me start by offering a little insight as to how this topic came about. A little while back someone had pointed out that squatting to proper depth, albeit is great, it also seems odd that many people don a brace, sleeves or wraps before executing one said lift. In a roundabout way calling the whole deal counterproductive. Our stance falls in line with ‘to each his own’, if of course you are squatting properly and have a fundamental understanding of why you are using them, not depending on them. Needless to say this banter of squatting with wraps and whatnot’s prompted some noteworthy exploration into the world of people who squat with wraps. Having never squatted with them myself I had to grind away some due diligence with the information highway, but also get in the heads of the very people who stand by the lifting gear.
Let’s talk about the science for a moment. Most often I refer to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research to wander through and find pertinent studies or proper citation. Two other informative spectrums I respect are the Polquin Group and Breaking Muscle. Low and behold the study I found in the journal was the very article cited by both Breaking Muscle and Polquin (who would have thunk it?).
So what’s the verdict? To wrap or not to wrap?
To properly answer that question you have to question yourself as to why you’re contemplating or actually using them in the first place. The science completely explains why it helps you lift more, and it isn’t specific to people with knee issues, it’s just what it is… science.
-It provides joint warmth and can benefit the knee by decreasing intra-joint friction and increasing the elasticity of the supportive joint structures.
-You have an increase in mechanical output due to the wraps themselves generating and storing the elastic energy, ultimately increasing peak power.
-The stored energy actually results in an alternative lift than without support by targeting different muscles throughout the lift.
-Without proper joint health you can subsequently compromise the knee – defeating the whole purpose.
So in staying true to what Barbell Republic stands for, it makes sense to us to use them when you reach a certain level of training. If you are new to compound weighted movements via barbell or even early in your tenure of training, then it behooves you and all your working parts to start at ground zero and work your way up. Banded resistance, chains, paused, targeted training on your deficiency for a specific part of a lift, all this fancy stuff should come when you reach a point in training that you cannot break through to your next level of awesomeness by grinding away with the repetition of the lift itself. We truly believe that you have no business wandering out into the world of assistance until you have a firm grasp on the movement itself and proper health of the supportive features, unless of course your goal is rehabbing, then accessory work is right in your wheelhouse. This is why Starting Strength or StrongLifts should remain a beginner’s staple, because it builds the foundation you need to reach heights that may lead you down the road to proper assistance.
Now don’t hear all this mammer jammer and think, “oh man… they totally disagree with the use of sleeves, wraps and anything alike!” cause that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In talking with the strongest squatter we have the pleasure of knowing (the almighty Big Jess/Jesse Anderson/Bearded Beauty with a 931 pound squat), he is a firm believer in the use of wraps and explains it quite similarly to where we stand – There is a time and a place, but never commit to them 100% of the time. During his on and off season there is a gradual buildup to the use of wraps from sleeves, and the sleeves only come after committed time to using nothing at all. Jesse has built the supportive behavior and concrete understanding of the lift to truly take advantage of that roughly 10% increase of peak power on the vertical portion of the lift.
Lifting heavy as possible is downright rad, but smart training gives us longevity in what we’re doing. Do not be afraid to pull back the weight and get back to the basics. Truth be told, that’s one of the best strategies to blow through old personal bests – remembering your roots!
Good read on squatting