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Squatting in Wraps for Strongman


#1

I do not compete in powerlifting. For my heavier weights I do squat in wraps (recently even with front squats).
My question now is: Is there any downside to it that I am not seeing? Or what are the positive aspects of squatting in wraps anyway (besides obviously handling a little more weight).

For me the wraps actually help me with my form when I use heavy weights. I am not completely sure why though. But my squats feel a lot better with wraps and my form sometimes even looks better.
They also give me a confident boost and help mentally.

To clarify: I use cheap wraps that aren't wrapped that tight by competitive powerlifting standards. You might call them bad wraps, lightly wrapped. I am not sure how much they add to my squat. I recently squatted 150 kg in wraps after a long (kind of forced) break from heavy squats. Unfortunately I have no idea where my unwrapped squat stands.


#2

Breakingmuscle has a fun little article explaining how knee wraps can be harmful with a link to the study.

My opinion - if you aren't competing with wraps, don't train with wraps.


#3

what a ridiculous article. I didn't see any evidence that the knee joint was harmed when wraps were used. I'm not getting how that conclusion was reached. Aside from that, using only 10 subjects who have a vague familiarity with wraps, and putting them through 2 sessions, performing only singles. seems pretty insane if you're trying to extrapolate any useful information for training purposes.


#4

You're right, 10 people and only two sessions is vague. However they came to the conclusion that although you can lift more with the wraps, they "altered back squat technique in a way that is likely to alter the musculature targeted by the exercise and possibly compromise the integrity of the knee joint". They didn't say the wraps harmed the knee, just increased the chance of harm. It can be read about it in the abstract of the study.


#5

10 lifters who went through 6 lifts of 80% of their 1rm. 3 times with wraps, 3 times without wraps. Thats 60 lifts in all, 30 with wraps 30 without. Taking things out of context can make anything sound bad.


#6

yes. 10 lifters who barely know how to use wraps. Familiarity with wraps makes an enormous difference in how squats are performed. so the technique alteration aspect could simply be because of that. The trainees admittedly didn't train with wraps regularly. This could mean all kinds of things.

I didn't read the abstract of the study. The study may be better than the article. But 60 total lifts being analyzed is not alot, and again, we're talking about singles only. So it's hard to say that a trainee who's using wraps for, say, sets of 10 should expect to glean much from this study, because loading is so different.


#7

They were familiar with wraps but didn't use them regularly. Anyways getting back on to topic, what is your opinion on knee wraps for squatting? My opinion was if you don't compete with them, don't train with them. They may allow heavier weights but it's not you lifting the extra weight, its the wraps.


#8

I don't think there's an overarching rule that needs to be applied. In this particular example, I know Koestrizer competes in strongman, and there are plenty of events where knee wraps are allowed. And there are rarely straight up squatting events at lower level strongman shows. So if he is seeing the desired training effect from using the wraps, he's getting stronger, able to train frequently and with confidence, etc, then the wraps are probably a good idea.

I've seen guys with enormous, strong legs who train in wraps a lot, and I've seen guys with enormous, strong legs who never use wraps. Some guys who compete in wraps only start wearing them a few weeks out of competition, some train with them year-round. At the end of the day, I believe competent lifters are not putting their knees in harms way when they squat with wraps, so it really comes down to 'what do you want to do?'

I will disagree to an extent about 'it's not you lifting the weights it's the wraps'. I've heard the same thing said about a belt as well. It's simply not true. There are certainly muscles within the chain that have to work harder to squat 700 lbs wrapped than, say, 600 unwrapped. There is a benefit to the additional load for muscular development in my opinion. Belts don't lift weights, wraps don't lift weights. They are tools that, when used properly, allow you to move heavier loads.

If wraps were truly 'lifting the extra weight', there would be no reason for a lifter who competes wrapped to ever practice in them, right? As soon as they throw the wraps on, they should automatically add on the lbs, if that was the case.


#9

I always liked to do my heavy squats in wraps and my rep work in sleeves. Now, I wasn't performing a competition wrap; the goal was support rather than performance enhancement. I think wrapping for the purpose of moving more weight during a training lift doesn't have the greatest value, but that said there is occasionally a squat event in a show, and it'd be good to know how to use everything to your advantage.

And as for knee safety, I blew out my knee wearing sleeves rather than wraps. I suppose one could argue that it was all the time I spent with wraps that blew out my knee, but I also wonder if having my knees more tightly wrapped would've done anything.

Ultimately, in strongman, any advantage you are allowed, you want to be able to use. It's great to be stronger and better than everyone else, but if you can outsquat someone because you're better with wraps, you get to win the event.


#10

Personally don't see a reason for wraps in strongman unless you are training for a SQUAT event. The raw squat with wraps builds strength in....the raw squat with wraps. As for front squats, you can handle more weight because you've got something to bounce out of and resist on the descent which in turn makes the load on your back and core lesser, sort of. I think that goes both ways because you can also overload the upper back by taking leg strength out of the equation.

Remember, you don't get knee wraps and a belt when you're doing moving events, stones, and various medleys. I mean you do, but it's not what's making you win that event at all. Anyway...

There's more to strongman than moving the heaviest possible weight up and down. The avid use of wraps in strongman training is useless unless you've got years of training under your belt and you're at an advanced level. I don't like when people tell me what to do, especially when my numbers are going up (as yours are), but I do think you've got to remember how sacred raw strength is, and being able to perform when you've got NOTHING. That is what strongman is about. Conversely, it's also somehow about getting to use suits and straps and Mariusz-Poundstone hitching.


#11

This was my thought about why I would use wraps initially.

That is kind of what I am doing. I never squat for reps or even multiple sets at the same weight with wraps. I usually wear wraps if it comes down to near maximal intensity for very low reps in training. I really think is the biggest advantage with wraps for me is in the mental part. Like for example, I don't usually war my belt and my wrist wraps on OHP before I have reached my working weight, if I use it at all. Just because I feel more confident and think "I have something in the back pocket so the heavier weights won't be as hard to move". If that makes sense to you.

Please don't get me wrong here, you are more than twice the squatter I am but I am not too sure about this. I have often read the same thing about training with a belt (it will weaken your core etc.) but it never was true for me. If my belted lifts went up, my beltless lifts went up as well. With the squat in wraps it (at the moment) seems to be the same.
Not to be unclear here: I do not squat in wraps every squat session, I do it pretty irregularly, jsut whenever I feel the need to do it/ push my squat to the limit in low rep ranges. Plus I don't wrap my knees like a competitive powerlifter would. I do get support out of them but not a huge amount.

My weakness right now is clearly my maximum strength, so for me moving the heaviest weight has a pretty high priority. I do understand what you are saying though and this thought came to me as well.


Everyone: Thanks for all your answers and opinions! If you want to add to this, I am always happy to learn more and get inside into other peoples training!


#12

I think this fundamentally boils down to the 2 different ways one can squat in wraps.

Someone competing in powerlifting wraps the wraps with the explicit purpose of getting the most rebound out of the wraps. They have a handler pull them as tight as possible, straight leg limp out to the platform, hit a squat, and then have their handler rush to get the wraps off as soon as possible because it's cutting off bloodflow to the legs. This approach to wraps isn't going to have a great benefit to squats as far as strongman goes, because like @strongmanvinny2 said; all this is doing is building up your squat in wraps. The technique employed here isn't going to be replicated in strongman, nor is the "strength" going to carry over.

However, a light wrap, performed more with the purpose of stabilizing the knee than providing rebound, isn't going to be too negative. But, at the same time, most folks aren't really going to consider that squatting in wraps, as it's not really using wraps for their intended (for powerlifting) purpose.


#13

Ah yeah. I have a slight beef with the pervasive use of wraps among more novice lifters and I got a bit ahead of myself in my lengthy statement.

@Koestrizer To be fair, I was definitely only half right in what I said haha. I kinda veered off and went on a tangent applying one extreme scenario to a very broad picture. Clearly you know what you're doing, so don't confuse anything I said for some kind of hostility or something.

Interestingly enough, the belt vs knee wraps thing is something that should get talked about more. To me, a belt is a crutch, but it's a necessary one. I feel most of us are unable to lift heavily for long periods of time without one. Thus, it's effective to use it for longevity purposes. The fact we can use it to add marginal weights to our maxes is just icing on the cake. I mean, maybe the safety purposes is the icing on the cake, whatever floats your boat. Anyway, I try to use as little as I can and still remain healthy. Perhaps that notion is something to relate to and/or we all have different needs as far as support.


#14

@T3hPwnisher :

I think this describes my use of wraps better. In no way would a competitive powerlifter see my squats as "wrapped". But I do get a little rebound.

@strongmanvinny2 : I did not take your statement hostile at all! I wouldn't ask questions if I only wanted people to support what I am doing anyway.
Good point on the belt! It is definitely something I need to both push my performance and keep me safe.


#15

I generally don't lift with a belt or wraps, but I have a friend who uses wraps and he is very strong for his bodyweight. He claimed that the wraps helped provide his knee stability and added about 10lbs to his max. However, they have to be wrapped a specific way otherwise they are detrimental, as I was told.


#16

if I had a choice between using a belt or using knee wraps in the squat I would pick knee wraps at 60 to 65 1rm in strongman you are doing awkward movementsI actually used knee sleeveson my warm-up sets then added wraps on my heavier sets the only drawback was I think it may have given me a few vericous veins below my kneesmuch better in blown-out knee meniscus or ACL injury