When you start CrossFit,
you quickly discover there's a shit-load of kit you really, really need. From hand grips and foam rollers to knee sleeves and lacrosse balls, this is your definitive guide to what's a waste of money and what you simply cannot live without! A few years of buying everything on offer at CrossFit Regionals have enabled me to pare down the bare essentials for you.
Spolier alert...you may need it all! Mwahahahahah!
Sweat bands a la Rich Froning are only necessary if you get a sweaty head. Having to stop half way through a wod because are blinded by rivers of sweat will do nothing for your Fran time. If a sweaty forehead is not something you sufffer from, either you need to work harder or you need to take the sweat band off because no one thinks you look like Rich Froning.
If you train anywhere below freezing for some of the year, you need to avoid cold ears because they make you sad. Get a warm hat. If you work hard enough, you will be able to take it off sometime, unless you live in Canada. If you live in Canada, keep it on.
I keep a stash of them at the gym for clients who forget and in my bag so I always have one. Long hair in your face in a pain, esecially when it gets sweaty! Yuck! Tie it back!
Here are a few things to bear in mind. Men - your shorts come down when you do GHD situps - make sure they fit you. Women, leggings are see-through when you squat. Take a moment to think about underwear choices or wear shorts over your leggings. Dress in layers - it might be freezing when you arrive at the gym but you will soon warm up. You also need to be able to layer up again as you cool down. Don't wear lacy knickers on situp day, you'll get a chafed bum! If you have got your lacy knickers on for situp day, use extra padding, like a yoga mat for cushioning. Long socks and hotpants really only really work on the Californians but FYI, there is no sexism, ageism, racism, or any other ism in CrossFit, so if you are 65 year-old, pasty white Brit and you can rock a cropped top and booty shorts, then you go girl - or boy - we don't discriminate....who am I to judge? Long socks do come in incredibly useful on rope climb day to avoid rope burnt ankles. A knee sleeve works just as well in a pinch.
The fingerless type are just masquerading as your friend. In the initial stages of CrossFit, gripping onto the bar hurts like hell. Your hands burn and you think gloves will help but they won't. You need to condition your hands so you can hang on the bar for long periods. Gloves take away an element of connectedness that you have between you and the bar. Chalk helps reinforce that relationship. Gloves are like a gooseberry, getting in the way. If you train in a cold gym, CrossFit gloves might be useful on back squat day, to take the chill off the bar but again, they get in the way of a good grip. However, if you get on with gloves, by all means use them.
When you first start CrossFit, things like front squats, cleans, overhead squats and handstands put your wrists n positions they are not used to being in. Your wrists might hurt for a few weeks or months after starting CrossFit. Wrist wraps can help make you feel more supported and secure and ease the discomfort a little. My take on it is if your wrists hurt a bit, suck it up buttercup. However, if one hurts more than the other or they don't stop hurting when you go home, there is something kore afoot and you need to find out what that is - fyi, it's most likely to be tight forearms, triceps or lats. In this case, t's better to sort out your mobility than rely on wrist wraps. But again, if you like 'em, get 'em, just know you are a better. all-round athlete if you don't have tor rely on the for an empty bar muscle clean! If your awrists really hurt, sort out your mashed up forearm muscles, try tipping your wrists back a little more in an overhead position and use wrist wraps only when you go really heavy.
Well, if you like 'em, get 'em. They are useful to keep old knees warm. They might make you feel a little more stable in a squat but if your knees don't feel stable in a squat, I might suggest you have bigger problems than knee sleeves are going to solve. Get stronger glutes.....
Double Under Prep
Women, it's useful to keep a stack of panty liners on your gym bag for jumping, running, skipping - anything that makes you pee - we keep a double under box filled with panty liners in the gym for double under day, running day, box jump day... If you haven't had children, you might be wrinkling your nose right now - you might not. If you have had children, you know what I'm saying....
Get one. But you don't need to remortgage your home for one. You can spend £60 on a speed skipping rope, it isn't going to guarantee you get double unders in 10 minutes flat. Coach Russ, on the other hand, will promise to get you double unders in 10 minutes flat with a £5 rope.... If you want to spend a million pounds on a fancy rope (I'm about to 'invest' in one with the gym logo on.....then do it but you can get just as good results with a cheap one off Amazon. (You are looking for an adjustable speed rope with a metal cable.) You know it's the right length when you stand on the cable with both feet and the bottom of the handle comes to your armpits.
Where do I start? You can't do squats in running shoes. Running shoes are for running. They are too wobbly for dealdifts, squats, box jumps and thrusters. A CrossFit staple is Reebok Nanos. I prefer the earlier models of Reebok Nanos but recent manifestations seem to be popular. Try them out, see what you think. I also really love the Adidas crazy power TR shoe, which is really comfortable and very flat. No Bulls are another favourite - very beautiful and they make the Nanos feel a bit wobbly by comparison. You also have Nike Metcons, the biggest rival to the Nano. I did promise you a whole new world of shopping.....
If you are serious about CrossFit, these are a very worthwhile investment. They make a big difference to your Olympic Weightlifting - specifically in the catch - nice and solid with a little heel that makes a deep squat more comfortable. They give you some assistance too with squats. Nike Romaleos are your top of the range go-to. Reebok do a great lifter as do InoV8. If you want the prettiest lifters on the block, get some No Bulls. They are stupid money but stooooopid pretty. It is useful, as a CrossFitter who wants to be prepared for everything, to be able to squat and snatch and clean and jerk in shoes that aren't lifters as well so try not to rely on them.
Not many of these things make you a better CrossFitter. If you can't do CrossFit without these things - maybe it's time to ask why and look more closely at your weaknesses.
Zinc Oxide tape
A very useful thing to have - it isn't however something you should use all the time. If you find you are getting blisters on your thumbs from snatches, for example, tape will prevent that but so also will not gripping the bar so tight, which will have the added benefit of relaxing your arms in the snatch.
If your hands are ripped, a plaster followed by tape will patch you up to finish a comp. Otherwise, don't do pullups on ripped hands. (NB - don't put tape straight onto a rip - you won't be able to take the tape of without re-ripping! Use a plaster first then keep it in place with tape.) You can make some effective palm grips for pullups form tape but again, in my opinion, it's better to condition your hands to look like manual labourers so you can stay on the bar without these things. Some people's hands just rip a lot....do what works best for you.
A little word on taping bars. I hate it. I hate it because it's so good. It makes staying on the bar much, much easier. But listen guys, are we about taking the easy road in CrossFit? No, we are not, so let's improve our grip strength and do pullups without a taped bar.
Also useful can be some hand balm if you do rip - speeds up recovery by stopping the rip from drying out and cracking. If you're a proper CrossFitter and have a beard and tattoos, you'll know about the magical healing powers of bepanthen. Nappy cream. Works a charm on ripped hands. You might also have heard of this if you have children....
A lacrosse ball is essential. Get 2. Google what to do with them and use them every day. A foam roller (knobbly is good) is useful too. I recently discovered gua sha massage tools - the buffalo horn ones are much cheaper than the steel versions and work great for really getting rid of muscle knots - use with a massage oil, like coconut oil - I avoid the bruising by not going too mental with them - I think it's best.....Electric massage tools (!) look like they will get the job done but are a little disappointing - I haven't tried that £500 one, if it doesn't do what's promised, it's an expensive impulse buy. A rolling stick of some description is great for sorting out tight quads.
A weight vest
I don't keep mine in my gym bag, I keep it at the gym as it weighs 10kg. Useful. Not essential. Your gym probably has one you can borrow.
Contentious. I got one after I injured my back. It made rehab better - it enabled me to go back to basics on my squat and improve it massively. A weight belt is not for supporting your back - it will not stop you hurting your back. What it does is give you physical feedback - when you brace properly, you can feel the belt tighten all the way around you and when you let go of your brace, you don't feel the belt anymore. It enables you to remind yourself to stay braced - it does not do the bracing for you. Only really for use on lifts that are 85%+ of your 1rm.
Food and drink
A water bottle is essential. A shaker bottle is good if you have protein shakes. I make my own recovery drink that I take to the gym in my shaker bottle that has a place for the protein powder pre-mix. I also keep a few pouches of Ella's Kitchen fruit purees and a few Nakd bars as they are a great refined sugar-free source of instant carbs if I am feeling hungry or a bit dizzy. Get yourself a fancy 6-pack bag to keep your gym kit in and it also has spaces for food boxes and ice packs. There is no evidence to show that taking vitamins and supplements benefits you in any way at all and actual evidence to show that certain supplement may in fact contribute to cancer. So I've thrown away the ones I've been taking for the last month to see what they do. I was taking vitamin D, fish oil and and old lady tablet. They made no discernible difference anyway....Click here for article
So, there you go, you guys - 3-2-1 SHOP!
Totally paleo recovery drink recipe:
1 tbsp BCAA powder
1 tbsp creatine powder
1 tbsp collagen powder
1 tbsp vanilla powder
2 tbsp flax seed+probitics
5 tbsp whole egg powder
5 tbsp ground cricket powder
7 tbsp freeze dried ground strawberries