CrossFit can be a seriously tough workout. The sport is famous for pushing athletes to the brink, sometimes to the extreme end of the spectrum—like, rhabdo extreme—but done properly and under the right guidance, it gets results. The best and brightest compete to be the “Fittest on Earth,” after all, so the ultimate goal is more than just to lifting heavy or quickly, it’s about becoming as fit as possible.
But those benefits aren’t just for those participating at the highest level of competition. Studies have shown that CrossFit can increase lean muscle mass, ramp up fat loss, and boost your motivation to work out. The positives don’t stop at your body, either. A major component of the sport is the group aspect which, when viewed from outside perspectives can look a bit cult-like, but actually serves as a positive community for many participants.
But you want to be able to hit the box properly, ready to take on any and everything the coaches might through at you—from box jumps, rope climbs, pullups, and heavy barbell movements, there’s a huge range of modalities offered in CrossFit. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned athlete, the right gear can take your workouts to the next level. Proper equipment can help you lift heavier, hold on longer, or sprint faster. And those precious seconds saved can put you higher on the whiteboard for the Workout of the Day.
We asked the experts about the gear that can give you an edge, and how to use it to get the results you’re looking for. Obviously workout gear is just a piece of the puzzle: hard work, consistency, and a willingness to go the extra mile will make all of the difference in a challenging sport like CrossFit. Here are some of the tools to help you conquer your next WOD.
TuffWraps Cotton Wrist Wraps
Wrist wraps help support your grip on heavy weights so you can hold them for longer. There is a dizzying array of wrist wraps available, but the one you want the most is one that gives you a bigger range of motion, according to Matthew LeBaron, certified CrossFit coach at Brick New York. “Range of motion is key when utilizing the wrist wraps. Say for a MetCon (metabolic conditioning), or trying to execute Olympic lifts. They will help with extension in the finish position of a snatch, jerk, or clean where we have more wrist movement.” For simple wraps, it’s hard to beat TuffWraps’ cotton variety. “They’re sturdy, well-designed, and at a great price point,” says LeBaron. He warns, though, to never use them as a crutch—your wrists should be getting stronger as your CrossFit journey continues.
Rehband Knee Sleeves
Knee supports can help prevent injury—and help you lift—by keeping your knees, and therefore your technique, tight. “There are a number of reasons to use knee supports,” says LeBaron. “You want a knee sleeve that’s going to allow for optimal joint compression, while still enabling range of motion, but also breathability.” Rehband’s variety of knee sleeves offers a perfect fit with plenty of breathability. “They have a patented design based on the anatomical contour of the leg,” LeBaron says. “They are also constructed for everyday use and don’t wear down or smell as bad as some more inexpensive brands.” Knee supports like these offer more stability and control when performing difficult lifts, and are a must-have if you’re looking to get serious about CrossFit.
Reebok Nano 9
When it comes to the best shoes for CrossFit, Chuck Taylors just won’t do. (Powerlifting, on the other hand? They’re perfect.) While the flat heel is great for basic lifts, they don’t offer the versatility or support you need to move laterally for, say, springs. “Anything in a workout where you might be doing more than just lifting is when you want something multifunctional,” says Scott Caulfield, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association. “If your workout is going to involve jumping on boxes, or shuffling, or doing any sort of agility, you want to have a shoe that can take on that—more of a cross-training shoe is something that you would look for.” Shoes like the newly-redesigned Reebok Nano 9 fits the bill perfectly, with a hard sole for a sturdy hold on the ground, a woven upper for comfort and breathability, a reinforced forefoot for running, and a minimal heel-to-toe drop for some slight elevation advantage when you’re lifting. Plus, they have all the ankle mobility you’ll need to move laterally—fast.
Valeo Performance Weight Belt
A weight belt can help you lift more weight than you thought possible—and do it safer. “The belt, when effectively used, communicates with your body to confirm proper positioning and increased protection,” says LeBaron. “This will help protect the lumbar from rounding in squats and deadlifts, as well as help prevent hyper-extension on overhead lifts.” Weight belts, he says, are all about comfort and fit, and none are more comfortable than the Valeo Performance Weight Belt. Made with a waterproof foam core and softly brushed linings for added comfort, you’ll be breaking PRs in no time.
Valeo Weighted Vest
If you’re more on the seasoned side of CrossFit athlete, you may be ready for a weighted vest. But only if you’re actually ready. “Weight vests should only be used by athletes who’ve shown proficiency of the mechanics in the movement they’ll be attempting,” says LeBaron. Once you know you’re ready, a weighted vest can increase your caloric burn during a CrossFit WOD and build muscle all over your body. “If you’re going to get one, plan to use it regularly to see results,” says LeBaron. Vests like the Valeo feature removable 1- or 2-pound weights so you can scale up or down as necessary. Adjustable enclosures keep it secure during sprints or lifts.
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