Knee wraps done tightly enough can definitely offer some assistance in a heavy lift. The added stability makes it easier to squat weight. Some bodybuilders will put them on only a minute or two before their heavy lifts because the wraps are so tight they can limit circulation. However, they do offer some support that can be beneficial for people who have suffered an injury or have chronic knee pain. Therefore, it is okay to use them when doing heavy squats. Just do not start using them until you are moving serious weight.
I like to train heavy, but I really see only competitive lifters using chalk. Can it benefit me as a bodybuilder? And, if so, on which lifts?
Chalk has the same basic advantage as straps: A better grip. Serious powerlifters use it all the time, but it does not offer the same benefit as the straps – it does not “lighten the load” in the same way, but it does make your grip less of a limiting factor. The difference is that the chalk’s main function is to simple to keep your hands dry. If you have ever had a serious deadlifting day, you know you can work up a mean sweat and the last thing you want is the barbell slipping from your hands at a crucial part of the lift. This can result in injury. If you are at a gym that allows chalk, use it. If not, then straps may be a better alternative. Best alternative? Wipe your hands dry and pull the weight raw.
Quad dominance doesn’t just hurt your aesthetics; it will have you limping to the sides too. A recent study published in Isokinetics and Exercise Science followed 82 college basketball and soccer players through one season. The athletes hamstrings and quadriceps strength was measured at the beginning of the season and all subsequent injuries were reported. At the end of the season, researchers found that non-contact leg injuries were significantly higher when the hamstring-to-quadriceps strength ratio becomes severely imbalanced, with the hamstrings being weaker than the quads. To balance out your leg training, add glute-ham raises, swiss ball leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts to your regime, and, as always, squat deep.