We had a good topic of discussion today concerning why we do or wear certain things in training, specifically regarding lifting shoes, belts and even the deadlift grip. Understanding why you wear or do these things will help you to determine the appropriate time when to prepare these tools. The only way to truly know this is by experimenting. The issue becomes from experimenting though, with lifting shoes, belts and grip (switch in the deadlift), we come to realize these things can greatly assist in making the lift easier, which is all well and good but training is not about making things easier. Training is by definition a way to make things hard on your physiology, stressing the system so that your body adapts to a greater capacity. Wearing a belt for example can allow most people to lift more weight. We are not challenged as much in wearing a belt to stabilize ourselves and therefore the requirement of our own force production is less, in turn not generating as much of a stimulus on our midline and not strengthening our core as much. The sum of it is that lifting shoes, belts and grip are great in lifting, but it is important to know why you are using them. In this case, instead of helping a lift you may actually be hindering in the long run by not applying the tool appropriately.
Applying this idea is easy, it's about need and necessity. Use these tools when the task demands it. If lifting shoes are going to put you in a safer more effective position at the bottom of the squat, wear them. If the belt is used for heavier or max lifts, and you feel you will have better strength gains and maybe even positions at those heavier weights, put it on. If the deadlift is so heavy the bar is slipping our of your hands causing your back to round from an overhand grip, switch to switch. Know why to know when.
For example... here's Lisa deadlifting with an overhand grip. She realizes she does not need the switch grip yet, so she is going overhand to work her grip a little more for future strength gains.
5 x 3 Push Press
4 x 5 Deadlift