BECOMING A METAL MILITIA WARRIOR
GEAR - FIT AND ADJUSTMENT
Some basic rules of gear are as follows:
- Have back-ups available. Don't lose an entire training cycle and meet time and expenses because a piece of gear ripped and was unusable. Always have at least two bench shirts, best if both are identical, or one could be tighter and one looser.
- Try to get settled with the gear you will use at least 8 weeks before the meet and don't change gear after that. Gear takes time to get used to and changing to another piece or brand or size may take too long to get used to the new gear and how it works. Of course, there are exceptions, but don't count on it. Changing gear before a meet is usually a bad idea.
- Make adjustments to your gear to fit properly. Rarely does something fit exactly. Sew new seams yourself or send it to a seamstress.
- Always have a sewing kit with you. Scissors, 100% nylon upholstery thread, needles, a stich removal tool.
SQUAT SUIT AND BRIEFS
How tight should a squat suit and briefs be? At least one of them should be very tight, tight enough that you cannot just pull them on yourself. As tight as you can stand them actually. It depends on how much weight you squat - more weight needs tighter gear and a bigger carry-over. A rule of thumb is if you can slide your hand or fingers down along your hips inside your briefs or suit, then you should tighten them up.
The tightness is most important across the hips. Tightness on the leg can help by not letting the briefs or suit rise up as you squat and locking it in place. But, sometimes too tight in the leg will not allow you to achieve optimum form and a knees out stance.
Straps can be loose for lighter weights to assist in getting depth. As the weight is increased, tighten up the straps more. Too tight straps will pull you forward. If you can keep your form or if you squat over 800 lbs then go ahead and tighten up your straps as tight as you can. You will have to practice various strap tightness for different amount of weights in order to figure out how to dial in your suit.
Single prong or double prong is just a personal preference. Lever belts allow for quicker tightening and releasing but not for easy adjustment. If you use a lever belt make sure to bring a screw driver with you in case of loosening or needing to change hole positions.
Knee wraps wear out. Some lifters buy three new pairs for each meet. Three pairs is a good idea so that you can prewrap them for each lift attempt. Knee wraps hurt and take getting used to. Ideally, the tighter the wrap the more stability and assistance you will get in the bottom of the squat.
Time how long it takes to wrap your knees. Try to wrap your own knees in training and teach someone how to wrap your knees for a meet. At, first increase the time you can stand in your knee wraps. You may have to stand all ready at a meet while a problem happens and you have to wait for your turn to squat while your legs start to go numb and lose colour. With practice you will have the confidence to go ahead and squat anyway and know that it will be fine if you have to.
There are several types of material and types of bench shirts, but basically they can be divided into two types: stretchy shirts and almost no stretch shirts. Each requires a different form and bar path to find the sweet spot and most support.
METAL MILITIA lifters first started out in canvas and denim bench shirts. The give and rebound came more from their body than from their shirt. In this way, the shirt had to be dialed in perfectly for their body and for the amount of weight lifted. Adjustments were made by pulling the shirt up for light weights and pulling the collar of the shirt down for heavier weights. Also, since the sleeves were tight, putting the shirt on palms down loosened the shirt while putting the shirt on with hands outstretched palms up served to tighten the shirt. Make sure the sleeves are long enough that they are very close to the elbow. If your sleeves are short by an inch or two above the elbow, you will not have the full support of the shirt.
Similar to the knee wraps. Make sure that you use the full length allowed in the federation that you will be lifting in. The purpose of the wrist wrap is to allow you to bend back your wrists while the wraps hold and support your wrists like a solid cast. The tighter and firmer the wrist wraps the more support. When you wrap don't just wrap in the same spot, wrap a bit higher right up to the bottom of your palm and wrap a bit lower.
The only purpose of a belt while benching is to hold your shirt in place and not let it rise up while you bench. Powerlifting belts are not good for this purpose for two reasons: one, they limit your abitlity to arch your lower back and two they don't work very well in holding your shirt down. Get yourself a belt especially for benching. This is a narrow belt and it can be a tool belt from a hardware store made of leather or a bench belt.
Many lifters use their squat suit for deadlifting but a better choice would be to have a special deadlift suit made. For sumo deadlifting use a suit with very short legs and strong adjustable straps that have spring in them. The support in a sumo deadlift suit works like a 'V' from the straps through the crotch. Long suit legs will make it impossible to get down to the bar with a wide stance without loosening up the suit straps. If you have to wear your squat suit, then try to roll up or jack up the legs as much as you can so you can really tighten the straps and still get down to the bar in the starting position. A good fit with a stretchy sumo suit will give you 100 bs of carry-over from raw.
For conventional deadlifting, the suit does not give as much carry-over, usually only about 20 lbs. The way the suits works in conventional is not the same as in sumo. Tight straps in conventional will work against you by first not letting you get down to the bar and second by not letting you lock out. Instead, the support from a conventional deadlift suit comes from a tight fit across the hips allowing you to sit and pivot. Sometimes, in a stretchy deadlift suit you can feel some back support as well. Deadlifting conventional in a suit requires a lot of adjustment to try to figure out how tight you need the suit in the hips with the belt on while still being able to get down to the bar and all this still only gives you about 20 lbs more than raw. This is why Andy Bolten said he may just lift raw next time.
Ah, here is the big question. Well not a question at all for METAL MILITIA lifters. Should you use the wedge high heel olympic shoes or flat soled shoes for squatting. Our answer is always flat soled shoes. Try to find shoes with some ankle support as well. Chuck Taylors are fun to lift in but they offer nothing in support. A better choice would be a tight fitting wrestling shoe or a powerlifting shoe with a flat sole. Old school squatters used to lift in construction boots which gave them good support.
For bench use any shoe that has a grippy sole.
For deadlift use anything that has an extremely thing sole. Ballet type or wrestling shoes with a sticky sole are good.
CHALK, BABY POWDER, STICKEM, NOSE TORQUE
Here are some tips: Chalk for your hands and for on your upper back for squatting, bring your own chalk to a meet in case they don't have any or run out or it is not as good as yours. Baby Powder on your legs for deadlifting. Stickem or chalk on your legs or inside of your knee wraps will keep them tighter. Nose torque or not, just a personal preference, for some people it gives the extra advantage of clearing your head or waking you up. Make sure to check what the rules are for your federation and when you put baby powder on, do it outside or in a designated area, it's really hard to clean it up. With sticky grip bench pads don't use chalk, it will make it more slippery and will mess up the bench for everyone else.