There’s a reason why Crossfitters obsess over gear.
Even though you don't need very much to get a good workout in, there are a few quintessential items that will definitely aid and improve your odds at becoming a well-rounded CrossFit athlete.
If you’re an intermediate or RX athlete, don't be caught without these five essentials in your gym bag!:
The Gymnastics Grips
If you want to get good at gymnastics or if you simply enjoy having skin on your hands, gymnastics grips are going to be vital to your arsenal.
While preventing rips is possible, chances are as you increase volume and learn more complicated skills, keeping the skin on your hands intact will become more of a challenge.
Gloves can be bulky and get in the way of doing other exercises, so your best bet is to opt for gymnastics grips.
Thickness, grip, and form are probably the most important factors when looking for grips.
Thick grips are durable and more comfortable for your hands whereas thinner grips help you to feel the bar as you move.
The texture should be somewhat abrasive for the grippiest feel on the bar. Designs with finger holes help to keep your grips in place as you perform reps.
For those who have a little more experience, the fingerless grips offer whole-hand protection with a no-fuss design that lets you go from bar to barbell in just seconds.
The Mobility Kit
A good warm up is always important before exercising but as you begin to train harder, more prep is necessary to train safely.
How you warm up differs between athletes and depends on what’s programmed for the workout, but in terms of preparing your body for loading weights, and moving explosively, not much varies.
An effective mobility kit includes a foam roller which helps to release knots, and improve range of motion, flexibility, and lymphatic flow.
A lacrosse ball works in the same way but its size and shape allows for better access to all the nooks and crannies especially around your hips and shoulders.
Lastly, circular and/or resistance bands can be used to activate muscles and strengthen joints.
Packs with four or five of these items have become popular in the last few years, but if you stick to the essentials you can look for items separately.
Check out to the video below to see what CrossFit Games athlete Jacqueline Dahlstrom keeps in her gym bag!
The Lifting Belt
Lifting belts are designed to protect your midline when performing your heaviest lifts.
Typically, when we work with submaximal loads in squats, deadlifts, or overhead lifts, we’re unable to create and maintain enough intra-abdominal pressure necessary as our muscles push to complete the lift.
Belts support the abdomen, reduce stress on the lumbar and aid in preventing hyperextension. Though it's important to practice bracing if you want to be able to lift heavy without risking injury, a lifting belt can come in clutch especially if you're a little sore from your previous workouts.
Stiff belts offer the most support and are better at keeping you “sucked in” however velcro belts are more comfortable and can be adjusted quickly which is crucial in a WOD.
The Knee Sleeves
Sleeves offer warmth and compression for the knee joint and reduce discomfort as you train.
They provide support by increasing blood flow helping you to perform with more control and stability.
This increase in blood flow can also help to boost recovery and alleviate soreness following heavy weight or high-volume days.
Sleeves also make a great shin guard, protecting against burns in rope climbs.
Knee sleeves are commonly made of neoprene and are available in different sizes according to the circumference of your leg as well as different thicknesses.
The thicker the sleeve, the more support for your knees but also, more restrictions in range of motion.
Athletes without major knee problems will be comfortable using a 5-millimeter knee sleeve in their training sessions.
The Training Plan
This is easily the most important Gym essential there is! Your development as an athlete shouldn’t be left to chance.
Going to the box just to improvise isn’t going to what’s going to help you lift heavier, workout faster, or last longer.
If you want to see gains, you need to program your training ahead of time, or get the best coaches in the game to do it for you.
Follow a training program that aligns with your goals like improving your aerobic capacity, getting stronger, or entering the world of competition.
Stay consistent and deviate from it as little as possible.
If staying consistent is a problem, or you already follow a program but want some extra work to improve a skill, opt for something like The Athlete Academy, a program consisting of 2-3 sessions over 6-12 weeks that are meant to be added onto your regular training.
These courses will help you to learn or dominate a skill like swimming, strict pull ups, or Olympic lifting.
Think of it as remedial support after your regular workout. The great thing about this gym essential is that it makes working out efficient and saves you time in the long run.
CrossFit’s multidisciplinary nature is what keeps it interesting; however it also means that you need a variety of accessories.
Some items will be more vital than others depending on what your workouts consist of, your skill level, and how you move.
That said, it's not mandatory to spend a lot of money for the sake of getting results.
Great gear also isn't a guarantee that you'll suddenly become a Games level athlete, but it can make your own progression go smoother.
If you plan to have a long career in CrossFit, invest in durable equipment and take care of it so that it will last a lifetime.
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