WEIGHTLIFTING EQUIPMENT : THE ESSENTIALS Learn what weightlifting equipment is used and needed by U.S. Olympic & Team USA coach, Harvey Newton. Weightlifting exercises can be performed without special equipment. However, for optimal performance and maximizing potential, it helps to have certain items. A) A so-called "Olympic" standard barbell, as used in competition is helpful. The weights are a larger diameter than exercise weights, and the bar is longer and it spins smoothly. This spinning action is needed to properly snatch and clean. B) A platform is helpful for several reasons: 1) it provides a dedicated space for weightlifting training, 2) it provides solid footing, some protection from dropping weights, and 3) the 4 meter X 4 meter (training may be 8 feet square) design is what lifters encounter in competition. C) Weightlifting-specific footwear is vital to success. The slightly elevated heel allows for proper positioning in the squat position. The strap provides lateral support. Nearly all weightlifting shoes today are low-cut models, as having more of a boot appearance can inhibit ankle mobility, something needed in the squat position. D) Pulling straps are very important for supplemental exercises, such as pulling. There are several design patterns available, but only one right way to use them. Once secured to the wrist, a single wrap of the "tail" section of the strap around the bar is all that’s needed. Be sure you can easily release the straps and barbell in the case of a missed lift, and don't become overly dependent on straps... they are not allowed in competition. E) A weightlifting belt does not prevent injury. It may assist in providing support against which to push while straining with a lift, but it's primary purpose is to keep the lower back a bit warm during training and in competition. F) Pulling blocks are a vital part of any gym, providing the safest and most effective way to learn the competitive lifts. Additionally, they allow for optimal performance of countless partial movements.