Should I allow my clients to use weightlifting aids?

A common question we get asked during a lot of our practical sessions, particularly in our Certificate IV in Fitness classes when we are coaching our one-on-one sessions is, ‘should we allow our clients to use weightlifting aids?’ – aids such as weightlifting belts, figure 8 straps or hooks. In my opinion it depends on your objective. If your clients long term goal is to be functionally strong for certain events e.g., weightlifting, and the competition demands that they are not to utilise these, then the answer long-term is that they’d need to build strength in these areas to compete. So we’d limit the use of these and use them on certain lifts with certain objectives in mind. After all, there’s no point in being able to deadlift 200kg with straps and not be able to do it when it counts for competition.

However, if a client is training to build general strength and size, we’d consider any aid that may help us as the trainer to assist our clients in achieving their goals. That’s our mission, to find the very best ways to assist our clients in achieving their health, fitness & wellbeing goals. We’d also bring their safety as a factor into play as well. If someone was attempting to strength train after an injury or being in an accident and they were trying to protect themselves, it may make sense to wear a belt as an example. While some trainers and coaches would be aiming to develop their core and transverse abdominis (TVA) activation to achieve this, which I 100% agree with, there may be a place for both.

Meaning that I’d often have my clients complete all of their warmup sets without the use of grips and belts, and then to protect my clients allow them to use the necessary aids for their working sets. This allows them to make progress while still concentrating on technique, allows them to achieve greater load or repetitions and therefore assists them to greater results. When clients become reliant on these aids, or they are training for sports or to develop specific functional strength, it may be time to rethink the use of these aids or limit them.

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