Weight Training Gloves and other Accessories
Weight training gloves (and other accessories) aren't necessary for reaching your fitness goals, but each does serve a purpose and can prove to be very useful. In this article, I'll offer an overview of the benefits as well as the disadvantages of gloves, back support belts, wrist supports, straps, and weight training shoes.
Let me start off by saying that weight training gloves are my least favorite of the accessories I've used over the years. I realized early on that I had a much better grip when using my bare hands. This is the huge disadvantage of wearing gloves. The advantage of wearing weight training gloves, however, is that the amount of pain (especially from pulling-type exercises like back rows) when lifting heavy weights is considerably less. Another is that they help prevent calluses from developing on the palms of your hands.
Back support belts definitely serve a purpose when weight training. They help tighten up the mid section so that when performing compound movements, like squats for example, there is less pressure on the lower back, letting you focus more on pushing the weights successfully. For someone who has never experienced a back injury and/or is not tired or stressed on the day of training... then the belt, in my opinion, shouldn't be used.
It's a good idea to have one for days when you are a little tired or stressed out, but still want to train. Assuming, however, that, overall, you feel fine, the only other situation you'd use the belt is if you're lifting extremely heavy weights (similar to the case of a power-lifter). Otherwise, constant use of a back support belt will just weaken your lower back. This will make you more prone to injuring yourself later.
Wrist supports, similar to back supports belts, will weaken your wrists over time. Again, they could be useful if you've recently sustained a wrist injury or if you will be training with excessively heavy weights.
Straps (sometimes labeled 'wraps'), for those of you that don't know, are strips of strong fabric that literally wrap around your wrist and the weights, so that you don't have to grip the weights as tightly. They are commonly used when performing back exercises (where you're required to pull the weight towards you) and for exercises that demand you hold weights for increased lengths of time (like dumbbell lunges, for example).
Straps are good for trainees who like to lift heavy because they provide a type of super-lock grip on the weights where bare hands would otherwise give out. Two big disadvantages are that your natural hand grip will weaken significantly over time, and your forearms may decrease in size. I've become indifferent to the use of straps because I don't go very heavy anymore - and don't believe you have to, at least not to get muscular naturally.
Even if your goal is to get stronger without getting bigger, I suggest you don't use straps. Like I said, straps will weaken your grip over time, and a big part of being strong is having a good grip. Nevertheless, for those of you who are avid fans of straps, and like with weight training gloves and the other accessories, whether they'll prove to be beneficial or not really depends on each use case.
And finally, weight training shoes, commonly known as bodybuilding shoes, are becoming increasingly popular in gyms. I don't see why anyone that loves to train with weights wouldn't buy a pair. Many individuals in the gym, for example, currently wear basketball shoes, primarily for the look. Bodybuilding shoes actually have a similar appearance & style to basketball shoes, although their sole is much more flexible, which make them ideal for working the calves. Of all the weight training accessories, these are my favorite. Although not required in any fitness center, shoes, typically, are. So, seeing that you have to buy a pair, why not make them weight training shoes.