One of the core powerlifting exercises, the squat forces you to support a hefty barbell across your shoulders, lower your hips into a deep squat position and then stand back up. Squats build bigger thighs and leg strength while also taxing the entire body, resulting in stronger bones, tendons and muscles. Squatting heavy weights can be so strenuous, powerlifters often resort to wearing a special uniform called a squat suit.
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A squat suit resembles a wrestler’s singlet and consists of only one piece. The squat suit has short legs that extend to the lower thighs and thin straps looping over the shoulders. The straps leave the arms and most of the upper chest completely uncovered and focus compression on the hips and lower body. Some squat suits use a latching system similar to Velcro to secure the shoulder straps, making it easier to achieve a snug fit.
Powerlifters wear squat suits to receive additional support when lifting extremely heavy weights. The suit acts to compress the body and keep the hips in proper alignment. Because of their uncomfortably tight fit, powerlifters only wear squat suits during the final days leading up to the competition. During the competition itself, using squat suit assists in moving maximum weight. Powerlifters estimate a squat suit can add upward of 50 lbs. to any lift. Suits can be so beneficial that weightlifting records designate whether the athlete performed the lift with a suit or raw, meaning without the aid of a suit.
Manufacturers construct squat suits from a variety of compression materials, all designed to deliver the tightest fit possible. Many suits feature double and triple-ply material with sturdy seams to craft an internal harness system for optimal support. Squat suits should be rigid and firm against the body.
Squat suits need to be extremely tight, even uncomfortably so. Wearing a squat suit will often lead to bruising around the hips and thighs. No bruising may actually mean the suit isn’t tight enough. Squat suits will affect your form. New squat suit users often unconsciously slow their rate of descent or start leaning forward rather than squatting down, hindering their lifts. Because of this required adjustment, get comfortable wearing your squat suit in training before donning it for competition.
Always check your squat suit for any rips, tears or structural flaws before lifting with it. The intense stress involved in squatting several hundred pounds can cause damaged squat suits to blow out, resulting in a sudden loss of support. Losing suit rigidity during a lift can throw you off balance or compromise mental focus, leading to injury.