Learning the Equipped Squat

By Daniel Dalenberg

After over a decade of lifting and competing raw, I decided to lift in gear. While I didn’t have much experience in gear, I had been around enough of it to know that I was in for a tough road. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and knew that I wouldn’t just throw on a suit and squat 1000 lbs. If only it was that simple! Now, I am coming up on a year in and while I have a long way to go, I have learned a lot of lessons along the way.

Piece by Piece

This is pretty simple. Don’t start out with the entire gear setup all at once! Start with just briefs, get used to them and get them broken in. Then add suit bottoms, just the bottoms, don’t put the straps up yet. Finally, go all in with straps up and wraps. At each stage, spend some time there and learn how it feels. Get used to the additional pressure and tightness of the gear. If I had no time constraints, I would spend at least two weeks at each stage.

Variable Gear

Inzer makes this really easy. Lifters will debate on how extreme your gear should be when you are just getting started. Generally, my opinion would be that you should start with less aggressive gear and work your way up, but this is expensive to do.

The Ultra Pro Leviathan is an excellent option to get the best of both worlds. With the adjustable sides and Velcro straps, the LUP is appropriate for any level of experience. Leave the suit looser and tighten as you learn and improve technically. After two meets and a 940 squat, I still have a significant amount of room to tighten my LUP up. That’s a huge selling point of this suit. Since it is canvas, I expect that it will last a long time and I might not ever need another one, I can just tighten it as I get more proficient.

Depth Will Come

Squatting in gear is scary at first and it feels horrible. It also takes some pretty serious loads to actually get to depth. I definitely made this mistake and rather than going slow, I kept loading plates until I could get close to depth. Needless to say, there were some very ugly squats performed.

Start light! Don’t worry about depth at the very beginning. Learn the groove of the gear with weights that you can handle raw and slowly work your way up in weight and down in depth. The first couple weeks might feel like the bar only moved a couple inches and that is OK. As time goes on and your proficiency increases, work to get closer and closer to depth rather than rushing it.

Gear on Early

I’ve squatted 800 pounds in knee wraps, but I put on triple ply briefs at 405. I do this to give myself more time in the gear and get more work in. As I am still learning how to squat in gear, I put on my gear early in the session with light weights. The suit goes on and straps go up at about 600 pounds, over 300 pounds under my PR! Again, this is going to give me more sets and reps in full gear and more chances to learn. The more sessions I get in, the better I am at it.

Most Importantly

Be patient. Gear is hard. It takes a long time to learn and won’t be instant gratification. Take your time learning it and expect some sessions to go bad.

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Daniel Dalenberg

Dan Dalenberg is a pro level raw and equipped powerlifter with elite totals in the 220, 242 and 275 class. Best official raw meet lifts include an 804 squat, 507 bench press, 715 dead lift and 2006 total. Best equipped lifts include an 950 squat, 715 bench, 735 deadlift and 2400 total at 242. Dan has been training under Brian's guidance using the 10/20/Life methodology since late 2010.

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