A friend of mine who is a fitness junkie recommends against using any sort of performance-enhancing gear. If you frequent the popular gyms, I am sure you notice people using all sorts of accessories to help life weights—e.g., gloves to avoid chafing, wrist straps to help grip barbells, huge leather belts to supposedly support the back. My friend, a lean but strong guy, does not use any of those accessories.
His logic is sound: You are there to strengthen your body, not to show off how much you can carry. He scoffs at people who rely on gear and accessories. “Why use wrist straps?” he says. “If your grip is your weakest link, then strengthen your grip.” In a life-or-death worst-case scenario, you won’t have any time to look for wrist straps.
He is a firm believer on what he calls functional exercises—multi-joint exercises that mimic important body movements. He is fond of bench presses, dips, pull-ups, shoulder presses, squats, and deadlifts. In an emergency, he says, these are the exercises you need. You lift things. You carry things. You need pull-ups to scale a wall, or bench presses if something has you pinned down. In many exercises, he uses his own bodyweight instead of barbells and dumbells. He sneers at isolation exercises—“What good are tricep extensions in an emergency?” He also does running and swimming. The latter, he mentions, is extremely important. There is always the possibility of being on a capsized boat.
I have to say his logic makes sense.