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When to use my CrossFit Gear by Coach Dave

The whiteboard talk just ended, you finish the warmup and are ready to get going on the WOD but all of a sudden you see a bunch of people run to their gym bags, kick off their sneakers, grab their weight belts, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and lifters, what is going on here?!? They look like they are ready to go into battle with everything on, but is your equipment being used properly? Are lifters necessary for deadlifts, push presses? What are knee sleeves actually helping with? Let us look at why and when we should be using our “gear”.

Weightlifting Shoes (Lifters):

What are they and why I should use them?

Lifters have been around for a long time, Olympic weightlifters and even powerlifters use them to aid them in moving weight. They have a raised heel (typically ¾”); have a flat sole and just enough traction on the bottom to stay under heavy loads.


  • Very stable surface

  • Assist in better ankle mobility


  • More quad heavy, with less focus on hamstring drive for squats

  • Become a crutch to mobility issues

When and when not to use:

Lifters can be worn for any of our Olympic lifts (C&J, Snatch), wear them when squatting to give more of a stable and stronger drive out of the bottom position. DO NOT use them for deadlifts, the raised heel changes your body angle, resulting in the wrong muscles being used.

Do not rely on lifters, they are there as an aid. Continue to focus on proper form, weight shifting back and proper ankle and hip mobility.

Knee Sleeves:

Don’t mistake knee sleeves for a knee brace. A knee brace provides support and protection for current injuries, whereas a knee sleeve gives prevention from future injuries.

Usually they are made from neoprene, which gives compression to fatigued joints and muscles and allowing an increase in blood flow.


  • Knee sleeves increase blood flow before and after workouts

  • Support the joint under heavier loads

  • Add warmth to your joints


  • Replaces proper warm up for lifting

  • Replaces proper recovery

  • Replaces good form and positioning

When to use them:

Technically knee sleeves may be worn at any time, they have many benefits of protecting and keeping the knee warm, however just like lifters, they are not a substitute for proper form and mobility.

A good rule of thumb whenever using “gear”: use them when you are at high percentages (80%+) of your lifts. This will allow you to be less dependent when working at lower percentages or even during the WOD. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your coaches on how they utilize their gear, we were once new to the game just like you.

Happy Lifting,

Coach Dave

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