What is a Squat Suit?

Synthia L. Rose

A squat suit is a tight, fitted leotard-like suit that supports a person’s muscles and skeletal frame to reduce injuries while weightlifting and participating in sports. Instead of stopping above the thigh, most squat suits extended a bit farther than a leotard to cover the top of the quadriceps. Bodybuilders and power lifters, especially those who have recurring injuries and need binding support, typically use them.

A leotard-like outfit, the squat suit is designed to prevent injuries while lifting heavy weights.
A leotard-like outfit, the squat suit is designed to prevent injuries while lifting heavy weights.

Most squat suits are made of polyester, spandex or a synthetic material known as Kevlar®. They can also come in canvas or denim. Beyond material content, there are other features that distinguish one squat suit from another. Some have adjustable Velcro® straps. Others have bands that gird the buttocks.

A few manufacturers offer multiple leg styles, such as flared and tapered. Rules of most weightlifting competitions specify whether it is legal to compete with squat suits and, if so, what variety. Novice users typically start with a squat suit made of one layer of material, also known as a single-ply suit. Veterans graduate to using multi-layer suits, receiving added support from the thickness.

Lifting without a squat suit is known in bodybuilding communities as “lifting raw.” Many bodybuilding purists shun the use of any aids; others, however, feel squat suits can help lifters gain an edge over the competition. Using a squat suit offers several advantages and a few disadvantages. Disadvantages include bruising and cuts due to the tightness of the suit as well as the need for assistance in pulling it on. Advantages include protection against injuries, comfort, and increased lifting ability.

When it comes to injuries, some athletes suffer old ones and recurring ones. Squat suits, according to users, can mitigate both. Muscle injuries in the back, torso and gluteus maximus can receive the most support from a squat suit. Hips aches can also be soothed by wearing a suit. While the suit does not sheath legs, some power lifters claim to draw additional leg support from the garment.

In terms of comfort, the suit itself isn’t comfortable, according to many lifters; it can, however, make lifting excess weight more comfortable. A squat suit can also make lifting heavy weights easier. Power lifters often assert that they can lift up to 100 pounds (45 kg) more weight while wearing a suit than when lifting in regular gym clothes. They also claim to lift with more agility and less strain. The tightness of the suit allegedly helps the lifter propel more forcefully from the crouching squat position, enabling the weight to be thrust upward with ease.

When buying squat suits, many weightlifters look for one that fits closely enough to feel like a second skin but not so tight that it restricts movement. Overly tight suits can result in groin pain. Experts advise that a squat suit does not have to fit like a girdle to provide proper support. Buyers typically try on a squat suit and execute bends and lifts to test whether it will work for them before owning it.

Many weightlifters shave their bodies, specifically the chest and back, so that the suit can be pulled on more easily during the buying phase and during regular usage. Custom-made squat suits fit best. To break in suits bought off the rack, however, many bodybuilders sleep in them.

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