I started with an earlier Blog post about Equipment for a Gym Newbie - Part 1 (you can read the first post here). The first post covered shoes, a skipping rope, knee sleeves and calf protection. This post continues on that theme – now that you are getting a bit more serious what else do you need?
- Weightlifting Shoes
If you are serious about getting better in the weightlifting components of teh sport of fitness then weightlifting shoes are an excellent investment. Olympic lifting shoes have an elevated heel and a hard stable sole – both of which help to improve movement patterns and stability during lifts. Once you start wearing Olympic lifters during lifting sessions there will be no going back.
- Weightlifting Belt
Like lifting shoes, investing in a lifting belt is your next step. Getting stronger means lifting heavier weights. To do this you need a strong core. When attempting max lifts you will find most people wear a lifting belt. It is not essential but it gives that little bit extra midline support when you are pushing and lifting weights you have not lifted before. There are many types of belt – from the heavy duty leather belts to the slightly more comfortable and softer Velcro models. What belt you will chose is up to personal preference but most Crossfitters probably choose the Velcro style as it is a little more comfortable, is easily taken on and off and can be worn during WODs when required.
- Foam Roller
Having your own foam roller so you can roll out in front of the TV is an investment your body will thank you for. If you are getting more serious you will know mobility is important – both to improve our technique and help our recovery. Being injury free should be everyone’s goal and regular mobility and stretching work should not be avoided.
What about the other items I see people wearing….
The following items I wouldn't consider essential for everyone but may be helpful depending on whether you have specific issues.
4. Wrist Wraps
Wrist wraps are not essential for the day to day athlete but you may see more people wearing them during heavy snatch or overhead squat sessions. In both of these movements, there is a lot of weight and pressure going through the wrists and wrist wraps can help. Wrist wraps are also likely to be worn by people who have a history of wrist problems and when advised by their Medical Professional.
5. Gloves/Hand Protection
Tearing hands is a fact of life. There are many different types of glove and/or hand protection on the market to help with this. However, if you are a beginner, nothing will replace practice and improving technique. Beginner’s hands rip more than a seasoned athlete – due to technique and conditioning – a beginner’s movement patterns are just less efficient and harder on the hands and their hands are just not used to bar work.
I have tried every pair of gloves and wraps under the sun and the only brand that I like are the Natural Grip. I find most grips are too thick and I do not get any feel for the bar. I just do not have the patience to persevere and get used to them so I give up. The Natural Grip, however, are made of tape so are not as thick and I can still get a good feel for the bar. I will only wear these when I have very high volume of pullups or my hands are already a bit worn and are at risk of tearing. For me, nothing has replaced practice and better technique. Unfortunately I think tearing is a hard fact of life.
6. Elbow/Arm Sleeves
Elbow/arm sleeves can have a couple of purposes. Some people wear them for specific elbow/arm injuries. Other people wear them to protect their arms from grazes during movements like ring muscle-ups. These would only be required if you had a specific problem such as those mentioned.
By no means does this cover all of the various products out there that help training but you will find all of these items in my gym bag! Happy training!