Sport360°’s Alex Rea has teamed up with the guys at Desert Barbell to embark on a six-week powerlifting challenge, working alongside industry experts ahead of his first ever competition – Powermeet 5.0. In week three, he gets to grips with using new equipment from knee sleeves to weightlifting belts.
Hands up if you thought powerlifting was simply a case of walking up to the barbell – utilising good form, of course – and moving it in a straight path?
This author is currently typing with one hand…
Yes, aside from the biomechanical element as discussed in last week’s column, there is another essential part of powerlifting which I didn’t really take into consideration before embarking on this challenge – the equipment.
Indeed, have you ever wondered why the guy in the squat rack is sporting sleeves over his knees, or cast an odd glance at a lifter wearing a rather thick-heeled pair of trainers which sound like tap-dancing shoes across the gym floor?
Admittedly, I initially thought all that gear was completely unnecessary and coming from the school of ‘bro lifters’ figured it was an amusing show from people trying to give off an ‘athlete’ vibe.
But it’s only when you delve deeper into powerlifting do you discover their function. Now I’m left scrolling through desertbarbell.co to construct my Christmas wish list.
Fortunately, DB co-founder Patrik Hedqvist has loaned me some of the necessary equipment and it’s taken a little adjustment in training to see how it all should come together.
Powermeet 5.0 is a ‘classic’ competition which essentially means athletes are only allowed to use approved lifting belts, singlet (don’t laugh at the pictures), wrist wraps, knee sleeves, special footwear and chalk.
We’ll break down what’s required for the three individual lifts.
For the squat, I’m using a weightlifting belt with a lever buckle, Nike Romaleos 2 powerlifting shoes, and knee sleeves, all of which are basically new for this challenge.
The belt needs to be pretty tight so it does initially dig into your hip bone, leaving a bit of bruising for the first few uses, but it has helped immensely with stabilising my spine, and crucially by allowing me to contract my stomach against it for maximal support.
The shoe, with its raised heel, enables a deeper squat while keeping the body upright, and the advantage of the knee sleeves I’ve found is more mental than anything as it gives extra support to a joint that can feel pretty susceptible to injury when put under pressure.
For bench, I’ve actually began using the belt for this as well, purely because I find it improves the quality of my brace and breathing. The shoes have stayed on too, as the high-heel assists with my arch, while wraps obviously support my wrists.
Finally, with the deadlift, flat-soled shoes like Chuck Taylor All-Stars have allowed my feet to be as close to the ground as possible, thereby reducing the bar’s total range of motion, and improving my foot stability.
The belt, worn slightly higher up for this movement, has made it possible to harden my trunk and give me a correct lumbar position at the start of the rep, while chalk keeps my the skin on my hands and the bar from slipping.
That last point is no joke by the way, my hands have been torn apart by the countless reps throughout this process.
It’s been an education getting to grips with all these accessories but at least I look like a powerlifter… hopefully I can move weight like one, too.
COACH CORNER WITH PATRIK HEDQVIST (@borjetheswede)
Training with focus on barbell sports can be very simple, you only need a bar and some weights but there are also a few things that can come in handy to improve your chances to successful lifting. Let’s start from the bottom:
The choice of shoes depends on your squat technique. A traditional weightlifting shoe, with elevated heel, is made for lifting and is often a good choice. But for wide standing style a flat shoe is often more comfortable. All major brands sell good lifting shoes nowadays so it´s mostly about finding the model that fits your feet and feel stable.
This can be tricky. Knee sleeves are NOT an absolute must. But, they often bring a sense of security and comfort around the knee joint. The modern sleeves are made of 6 mm neoprene and are very durable. A tip is to not buy too tight a fit. The compression is important but since it’s just neoprene the elastic recoil is very limited and to struggle with getting the sleeves on is just counter-productive.
After good shoes the most important item is a quality belt. There are several models on the market, but leather is absolutely the way to go. Velcro ones are cheaper, but not appropriate for serious lifting. On the leather belts you have the choice between pronged belts or lever belts. It all comes down to feeling here. I personally like the prong ones because it makes it easier to adjust and more “organic”. However, there is no denying the level of tightness a lever belt can provide.
The latest member of the Red Bull family is 20-year-old Adel ‘Big Bird’ Anouche, the UAE’s rising star in the world of eSports. For the first in a series of exclusive articles with Sport360 the Street Fighter player talks about how keeping fit benefits his gaming.
As an eSports player it’s beneficial to stay fit and healthy because a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. When you’re out there playing in these big tournaments you’re going to have a long day of playing video games so you need to be in the right place mentally to ensure you can endure the whole day. Basically every eSports game you play, especially competitive games, can give you mental exhaustion as there’s so much riding on the outcome.
I do some form of exercise every day as it releases endorphins, which make me feel good and I find I’m able to concentrate for longer. I do cardio activity usually twenty minutes a day and maybe some weight lifting too. When I don’t exercise I find myself getting tired a lot quicker and I need more sleep because I’ve got less energy.
eSports has evolved so much over the past ten years; it’s a big business now. Video gamers used to be seen as fat and lazy people who needed a hobby but back then competitive gaming wasn’t that popular. People didn’t play in tournaments for hundreds of thousands of dollars and there wasn’t a load of travelling involved. It was more just people playing in their bedroom against friends or maybe online, but it wasn’t a job.
I actually do wrist exercises as well because there’s a lot of strain on them from holding the controller for so many hours a day. I’d say even when I’m playing with friends we don’t play for less than three or four hours at a time, so that’s a lot of fast, repetitive, movements in your fingers and hands to have to get used to. Plus there’s a whole season throughout the year so it’s a lot of game time. We play in major tournaments to gain points to qualify for the final tournament in December, which has a prize fund of $250,000. Only 32 players get to the finals, it’s a serious game we’re in now so it’s great that brands like Red Bull are getting behind it and taking it seriously.
When Afro-Fit queen Gbemi Giwa – also known as Dubai Fit Foodie – partnered up with DCA girl Ewa Golan for a 30-day dance-fit challenge during Ramadan, women all over the UAE were able to get a taste of a fitness treat that was infused with a strong body positive message.
From Latin to African, the all-female classes offer myriad dance styles to keep things fresh and allow girls to experiment with different types of movements.
The Afro-Fit classes are led by Gbemi, whereas Ewa’s classes are themed after a mainstream pop artist such as Beyonce or Britney Spears, where she teaches the choreography to one of their songs.
Gbemi’s powerful, infectious energy and Ewa’s subtle sensual grace adds a nice contrast to the hour-long class, which focuses on mastering techniques and nailing the choreography that gets you burning calories and eliminates the drudgery associated with a regular exercise routine.
“Afro-Fit, as the name suggests, is a fitness routine inspired by African dance and is an extreme form of cardio. It involves high-energy movements that focus on lean muscle development, flexibility and coordination,” Gbemi explained.
#ClassVibes LOVE you girls! So blessed to be able to create a space where we can all let loose and just have fun! So many cool dance things are happening in the coming months! First up, @moto_dancers_afrobeats are hosting their annual AFRO Workshops/ Battle and deets are up in my stories for early bird tickets! Check out @moto_dancers_afrobeats for all updates! #AfricaToTheWorld . . . . . . . . . #Dubaifitfoodie #dancelife #dubaidance #afrobeat #kpakujemu #justdance#mydubai #nigerian #chopdaily #shakushaku #NWE #instafit #dancecardio #afrobeat #NigerianDance # #noexcuses #fitnessmodel #NWE #fitnessmotivation #dedication #niggazwithenjaillement #dubaifitness#afroworkout #afrodance #pilolo #mydubai @chopdaily #oneafrica @niggazwithenjaillement @afrobea @w.a.h.a.l.a_
“My classes are very special because it’s a space I have created to just leave everything at the door and move without judgment. The whole point of Afro-Fit is to get comfortable with your body and just get it to move. It engages all your muscles, so you leave class feeling sore but completely recharged and renewed,” she further added.
While Gbemi is all about free movement, Ewa’s classes are all about getting in touch with your feminine side and swaying to the beats of songs that gives you the extra boost of confidence.
“My classes are super fun and a safe space where you can be yourself and explore your body through movements. It’s all about feeling good and free by literally shaking off all the stress. I out a lot of thought in selecting the songs and I make sure that the songs carry an empowering message for the girls. I really believe that the songs we listen to have an impact on how we think and therefore, I want my classes to help make the women feel beautiful and inspired in class.”
The Ramadan dance fit challenge was supposed to be a one-off event, but after the response it garnered and its massive popularity, the dancing divas decided to extend their partnership and create more monthly dance-fitness programs.
When your best friend and you LOVE the song so much, you just can't stop dancing to it!! • Favourite summer song vibez with @danceralexandraklein to "Voglio ballare con te" from @babykmusic • With a little staycation thanks to @gbemigiwa ❤️ and @mediaonehotel🐒 🇦🇪 . . I'm teaching my last class tomorrow Sunday @7pm before travelling so don't miss it and let's dance 💃🏼 @fitandbeat 🇮🇹 Ho voglia di andare più forte Non ci basterà questa notte Voglio vedere le luci dell'alba cambiare colore Voglio ballare con te, soltanto con te Non chiedo la luna, ma un ballo con te Lasciamoci tutto alle spalle io e te Fino a che nasce il sole Spengo tutto per due ore Che mi scordo anche il mio nome Bevo birra col limone Senza ghiaccio per favore Andiamo non so dove Diplomiamoci in hangover Scottiamoci la pelle e poi cambiamoci colore Prendiamoci le stelle che il resto non ci serve Almeno fino a settembre . . . #italia #voglioballareconte #DCAgirl #mydubai #dancefitdxb #partnerincrime #italy🇮🇹 #girlsgonesporty #summer #weekend #girlswhorun #beatyesterday #weekendvibes #fitnessgirl #fitnesswomen #fitnessaddict #fitnesslover #dancedubai #workouttime #dance #workoutmotivation #dubaidance #fitspo #fitfluential #motivation #fitnessgoals #fitlife #fitfam #fitnessmotivation
“I found Gbemi through Instagram, I saw one of her dancing videos and instantly I knew I wanted to partner up with her. We met and instantly clicked, and did our 30-day dance-fit challenge, which was a major hit amongst women and from there on, we decided to launch monthly dance programmes,” said Ewa.
“We want to build a community of women through dancing, and help women lead a healthier life by helping them reach their fitness goals and provide an outlet for them to dance and relieve stress,” Ewa added.
The main ethos behind Ewa and Gbemi’s dance-fit programmes is to accept our bodies for what they are and aim to be healthy by dancing,
While fitness and health may often be used as a ploy to glorify and glamourise a certain body type, Gbemi and Ewa’s class comes as a breath of fresh air which encourages women to not just be more accepting of other body types, but first and foremost appreciate their own as well.