Recently several athletes have approached me with questions about CrossFit gear. Anyone that's been doing CrossFit for more than a few weeks has inevitably collected a small treasure trove of gear, assorted charms, and snake oils to aid them in their journey to fitness. I dove into my own gym bag to give athletes an inside look (pun intended) into the tools I carry to ensure whiteboard domination.
1. The Bag
First things first. Every athlete needs a good bag. Options are varied. I suggest a bag that’s durable, large enough to fit all your gear, and has several pockets/compartments. Nothing is more embarrassing than fumbling through the rat’s nest you call a gym bag prior to a workout as you scramble to find your jump rope, tape, etc. while everyone stares at you. Do yourself a favor, Get organized.
King Kong Apparel makes a sweet bag that sports water resistant cordura, a separate compartment for spare shoes, and more pouches and hidden pockets than you can shake a stick at. I have one and love it.
2. The Shoes
Showing up to the gym with the wrong set of shoes is like showing up to a drag race in a rickshaw. Ineffective, and hilarious. The best type of shoes for CrossFit typically have a minimal drop from the heel to forefoot, a wide toebox, tough exterior, molding on the bottom for rope climbs, and are lightweight. The minimal heel to forefoot drop and wide toebox help accommodate appropriate foot positioning and posture for weightlifting, air squats, etc. The flagship shoes for CrossFit are the Nike Metcon, The Reebok Nano 5.0, and the INOV8 f-light 195. I have worn all three at different times in my life, and loved them all.
3. The Jump Rope
Jump ropes are like underwear. You should have your own set, and you shouldn't complain if you're not comfortable in loaners. Double unders are one of the more frustrating skills to learn. It’s more frustrating if you don't have your own rope. Most gyms have ropes for athletes to use, but don't expect that gourmet shit. Invest in your own rope.
Rogue fitness sells several brands that range anywhere from 12-30 bucks. I personally own a rope ordered from: http://www.rxsmartgear.com. They have a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They also have a very helpful guide that breaks down which rope is best for you.
4. The Lifters
A good set of olympic lifting shoes are worth their weight in gold. Once you make the jump from casual athlete to beast in training, lifters should be at the top of your list of things to get. Olympic lifting shoes are designed to provide a stable platform for your feet in order to move heavier loads more efficiently. The difference they make while lifting weight (squats, deadlifts, snatch, clean, etc.) is remarkable. I’ve never heard an athlete lament the purchase. Reebok, adidas and INOV8 all make excellent lifting shoes.
5. The Weightlifting Belt
Weightlifting belts are a staple of any good weightlifters/powerlifters bag o’ goodies. Belts help protect your lower back during heavy lifts and increase performance. Buyer beware though, weightlifting belts also have a few cons. If over used, weightlifting belts can cause poor motor patterns and a weak lower back. Like with anything, use in moderation. You can buy a weightlifting belt at any local sporting goods store or order one from: http://www.roguefitness.com. Most belts are either nylon or leather. I prefer nylon.
6. The Mobility Tools
I harp on mobility often. Having the right tools is key to keeping your mobility game strong and staying supple like a jungle cat. I recommend a kit consisting of a lacrosse ball, foam roller,and a medium tension band. The mobiilty WOD website has some high end mobility tools that are great, but a novice athlete can get away with some more “spartiate” gear from rouge fitness.
6. The Knee Sleeves
I'm not sure that knee sleeves actually do anything. I just know I feel dope and do dope things when I wear them. They do offer more stabilization for the joint when worn. If you have a history of knee issues, previous surgeries, etc. I absolutely recommend you purchase a pair. If you’re just some regular dude, you might as well get a set too. Once you see some stud “on the road to regionals” throw them on, you won't be able to resist getting a set. I’m guilty myself. I will admit, they keep my knees nice and warm on the days I plan to back squat heavy weight. Which is every day. Once again, rogue fitness is an excellent site to pick up a set.
7. The Wrist Wraps
Once again, I’m not sure these actually do anything. A lot of athletes have wrist pain associated with handstand work, overhead presses, and the front rack position. A lot of that discomfort is caused by mobility/flexibility issues. Wrist wraps can help add additional support and decrease discomfort during workouts. They’ll also keep sweat off your hands, which is a very real issue during workouts that require you to maintain a tight grip on something...which is basically every CrossFit workout. Bottom line; I feel cool when I wear these things. I imagine everyone else does too. So buy a set.
8. The Tape
You’re going to need some athletic tape. Your hands are going to tear, your thumbs will be rubbed raw, and you’ll blister up in places previously thought not subject to friction. A little tape will go a long way to triaging your boo-boos before, during, and after workouts.
My favorite tape comes from http://www.goattape.com. They put a bunch of wacky stuff on their tape and claim it’s “stickier.” But let’s be real, I only get it because I think it makes me seem more legit somehow. Any athletic tape from your local store/pharmacy will do.
9. The Supplements
Without going down the supplement rabbit hole, I’ll touch briefly on what I carry. I always carry pre-workout and protein in my gym bag. Pre-workout is bad for you. I don't care what anyone says. Nothing that effects my heart rate and makes my face tingle could possibly be good for you. But when I take it, I feel radical. Beer isn't good for you either, but I can't tolerate some social outings without it. So I drink it on occasion. Pre-workout is no different.
Protein on the other hand is good for you. A few scoops post workout will do wonders for your recovery if you aren't able to get your hands on a well balanced meal. I suggest whey protein that does not have sugar or artificial sweeteners. Progenex and SFH are both excellent options. Sunwarrior also makes a vegan protein that pretty awesome.
Score dank sups here:
To recap: There are a few items out there that have a very tangible effect on your performance. Once you know you’ll be doing this CrossFit stuff for a while, it behooves you to make an investment in a few items to improve your workout experience. Cheers.