Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 16, 2018
One of the more interesting debates in the weight lifting world has yet to be talked about on this blog, and I figured it is time to get some love to the eternal struggle that is “Wrapped vs. Raw.” Now this might be the first time you are hearing about it because this is not a common thing at Parsons Training. While the primary philosophy is to effectively build stronger bodies, eventually that building is going to hit a plateau. It happens to a lot of people, myself included where I seem to have a problem with losing weight and running (but that is a whole other argument). So when you hit a peak, you start doing exercises to help with the plateau busting, allowing you to regain the accomplishments of making gains which can be intoxicating. Now you can be an individual that prefers to make a level of accomplishment and decide to stay there, or you may start wanting more. You might get into the olympic style weightlifting or might start doing more power lifting to get stronger. Eventually you might run into some limitations for your body, such as trying to do an overhead press with a weight amount that bothers your wrists or doing a back squat that you have trouble springing out of. So you have two things that you can do when you run into these situations….continue to work on those problem areas naturally, or start using some helpful weight lifting aides.
We have all seen those videos where there is some guy about to bench press six hundred pounds or something, and during these videos you see the guy wearing an odd vest that makes his arms hang in front of him in an odd way. If you saw the corresponding videos before the lift, a lot of these guys need help getting this stuff on. A lot of this stuff can basically be called elastic compression, which can be as simple as knee wraps and as complex as the aforementioned full torso. Depending on the brand and the elasticity, these can be an affordable addition to your weight lifting regimen. A pair of wrist wraps and elbow sleeves can set you back 40 bucks. Weightlifting slingshots might be a little more but if you are looking for an edge to your bench press, the 30-40 dollar price tag might be worth it. Calves, knees and even wraps you can put on your thighs come in various sizes and colors, and will aid you in the process of plateau busting if you are willing to pay the price. And this technology works, mainly for the fact these wraps give you the extra support you really need. For me, every now and then my wrists are dying, and I need a little pick me up for some support. Typically I will borrow some wrist wraps and and do the overhead presses or the clean and jerks. I try not to rely on them but they do help me maintain, mainly because provide an extra support for my wrists and keeps them from bending at odd angles that will start bothering me. While my wrist might still be sore and tender when I get them off, doing this wrap aided me in the workout and allowed me to not skip a beat.
In the weightlifting world, there is a lot of side picking on the subject. https://barbend.com/raw-vs-equipped-powerlifting/Since there are so many weightlifting federations to choose from, saying you are wrapped is not the correct verbiage, but to be exact they use the term “equipped.” Before I even did research on this, I didn’t even realize just how extensive this world is. You have single and multi-play wrap singlets and lifting equipment, and the various weightlifting federations have specific rules on what you can and cannot use. Read the article in the link up above, for it gives some good insight into the equipped side of weight lifting. Here is another cool thing, while the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) is considered the king of the powerlifting world, there are another 50 federations to choose from!!
Now don’t get me wrong, this stuff works. In the world of weightlifting, they have had to distinguish the difference between raw and wrapped mainly because of the added elasticity the wraps gives its user. https://www.powerliftingwatch.com/records/raw/worldWhen you look at the records across the board, you will see a difference when it comes to the weights being lifted by the “raw” competitors and the “wrapped” competitors. Unless you are Andrzej Stanaszek—who is the back squat king of the world at 123 pounds (55 kilos) and has a huge advantage to the fact that he is a dwarf—the wrapped lifters always have an advantage. In some cases, almost 100 pounds advantage. The general estimate that is given is wrapped competitors at minimum can best their personal best by 15%. With the improved elasticity that this technology gives you, why is everyone not doing this? There are two simple answers.
The first one is they can be uncomfortable as hell. While using a wrap on your knee or your elbow will not create too many problems, eventually you might start looking into the world of the wrapped body suits or the aforementioned bench press vests. This equipment is meant to be tight and uncomfortable, so you first have to break the suit in when you first get it and then have to deal with it in a competition setting. It is not uncommon for people to pass out after a major lift in these suits, mainly because they can restrict your breathing. And if you get easily claustrophobic in tight clothing, then this equipment is definitely not for you. This where your lifting can get expensive, for single-ply equipment might set you back 50 clams, some of the higher end multi-ply can start at 200 bucks or more. So get that credit card ready.
The other downside is simple—wraps can become a crutch. There is a huge reason why you never see too many guys use wraps on a regular basis. While it may be good for coming back from an injury or pushing the limit with a personal best, wraps can actually hinder your development. If you wear wraps on your wrists and knees every day for months, what is going to happen when you try to do said lifts without the wraps? Now you might not be doing for competitive sake and just doing it for personal, so that is certainly a counterargument. But if you are legitimately looking to compete and get strong, wraps are best used when A) pushing a personal best or B) aiding while recovering from an injury. Now there will be some gym types out there who state using wraps all the time is fine, but think about the development of your body. If you wrap your knees all the time, will they be able to hold up when you don’t use them? It is a tricky middle ground on the subject, because the addiction of gains is an intoxicating one, and eventually you will start doing whatever you need to really kickstart your fitness. If wraps can get you that extra 20 pounds, then most people will become addicted to that. Now I am not saying wraps are a bad thing. If you are an older weight lifter they might be helpful and as mentioned before for they serve a valuable purpose. The key is to not rely on them.
When we are talking about stability within the muscle joints, you need to develop those evenly and over a course of time. If you wrap one arm and not the other, the moment the wrap comes, that instability might rear its ugly head and cause an issue. If using wraps is your thing, then so be it. It is a personal choice. Just be careful when you transition from wraps to raw. Rebuild from a lower weight and work your way back up. Either way, just build at a pace that will not overload your body.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
Steve shares his journey once a week here on our blog. We hope that you find a spark of inspiration from reading his blog.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.