CrossFit Gear Tips & Tricks
One of the questions we get asked most often is “what should I wear”. Shoes are a common focus for these questions but it can extend to anything. Sooooo I decided to write a comprehensive list of our recommendations for clothing and other gear because, let’s face it, as you get fitter the next thing you know your quads and booty are going to outgrow a lot of things.
There are lots of options for shoes. The essential characteristics of a CrossFit shoe are that it has a thin flat sole (less squish when squatting and deadlifting), durable upper (for rope climbs), and ideally soft enough to run in, but just barely.
Nobull Trainer: Flat, firm but pliable sole. Good all round shoe. Excels at durability (although some folks have had issues which Nobull has been good about addressing) but good for everything.
Nike Metcon: Flat, has a hard heel so it excels at lifting but is very poor for running.
Reebok Nano: The original CrossFit shoe. I think the Nano 9.0 is out now but they also re-released the Nano 2.0 recently because it was so popular.
Innov8 (various models): Lots of options with zero or little drop. Fairly minimal. Better for running than many of the other options. Good for folks with narrow feet.
What about lifters? Do I need shoes specifically for lifting. The short answer is “no”, most people don’t NEED a specific shoe for lifting. Also, changing shoes mid-workout is a pain in the butt. A solid all-around shoe should be the priority. If you have really tight/stiff ankles and have trouble getting into the bottom of a squat lifters can help with that, but realize it is a bandaid and these mechanical restrictions should be addressed. They can also be a good idea if you’ve started to spend time outside of class working on squats or olympic lifts.
Nike Romaleos: probably the single most popular weightlifting shoe of professional weightlifters. A bit on the heavy side but very solid.
Adidas: adidas makes several styles. All are good just pick one that you like that fits your needs. Lighter if you plan to be able to do some WOD’s with your lifters on. Heavier if you only plan to lift in them.
Inov8 Fastlift: There are a couple of versions of these. Inov8 makes a very lightweight lifter. Solid all around and a decent choice if you think you’d like to be able to do some WOD’s in them.
Nobull Lifters: The “bougiest” of the lifters. Old-school solid wood sole. THese are beautiful and you’ll get lots of ooo’s and aaaaah’s when you wear them. Probably exclusively for lifting though, unlikely you’ll want to WOD in them.
These brands offer lots of options not listed below. We haven’t tried everything so if you’re looking for more options just explore their websites and keep the essential characteristics we mention below in mind for whatever clothing item you’re shopping for.
Rhone (men only)
Ten Thousand (men only)
Fleo (Women’s booty shorts)
RPM (not just jump ropes)
Nobull (not just shoes)
Barbell Apparel (casual, jeans, etc) Several coaches (Sam & Gabi) are ambassadors so let us know if you want a discount.
Essentials: These should be light and breath well. Ideally they’ll stop above the knee so you don’t need to adjust every time you squat to avoid them getting caught on your knee. They need to be a durable material so the barbell doesn’t tear them up. You don’t want the pockets to stick out a bunch because your hand will get caught when doing box jumps and the like. Oh and don’t forget they need to allow the “big booty life”.
Lululemon T.H.E. Short: This is my favorite short for working out. Lightweight, good fit, comes in different lengths, and with or without liners. Lots of color options so you don’t have to wear the same black shorts every day. Durable material that stands up to the barbell running up and down your thighs.
Hylete Verge II: The fit on these shorts is wonderful. They have nice zippered pockets too so nothing to catch your hands on.
Anything comfy with room for the quads and booty will work here. You won’t be wearing them for long. Typically these will either come off before class starts, during/after the warmup, or at the latest, after any strength work we do early in the class. So, ideally something you can get off over your shoes so you don’t need to fuss with those too.
Lululemon Intent or Surge Joggers: These are my personal favorite, super soft and comfy. Look for the Luon fabric or Luxtreme.
Lululemon Great Wall Pant: Come in lined (double layered) or unlined. The lined ones are great in winter and unlined are great in summer.
Virus KL1 Active Recovery Pant: Loved by some. Choose with caution if you are blessed with especially strong quads.
Virus IconX Bioceramic Pant: Very similar to the KL1, but they are a jogger. Extremely comfortable, priced slightly under Lululemon.
Men’s Compression Tights:
Not an everyday thing for most guys but if you’re comfortable with it go for it. They can be great for recovery or for days when you’re just doing powerlifting or olympic lifting so you can stay warm without restricting movement. As a runner I’ve worn lots of tights and enjoy wearing them to make Gabi uncomfortable. Some essentials (also some pet peeves): a low waistband, high waisted tights just feel weird and look weirder. Or maybe I’m just weird, too soon to tell. Also, some brands put an extra piece of fabric in the crotch so it isn’t see through. This is annoying and uncomfortable. How about making your tights so they just aren’t see through! I’m talking to you lululemon! (sorry but it irks me that a brand that made their mark by making great womens tights can’t make a single decent men’s tight. They’re the worst offender of high waistbands and weird extra pieces of fabric…. them and Nike.
Virus Bioceramic: great tights, good fit, durable. Low waist, drawstring so they don’t fall down as you move more. No extra fabric in the crotch. Winning.
Let me know if anyone else finds a men’s tight worth mentioning.
Men’s & Womens T-Shirts & Tanks:
Typically anything that is a cotton/poly blend will be great or a tri-blend of cotton/poly/rayon. It’s typically best to stay away from full synthetic materials because they’re so slick that the barbell slips more on the shoulders. Also the synthetic materials stick to the body a lot when wet. 100% cotton also isn’t great, it’s just not soft/stretchy enough.
Next Level: This company is a wholesalers so you can’t buy direct from them, but when you buy shirts from other companies (pretty much anything with a design on it) you’ll look for this company’s name on the tag.
Belle & Canvas: This company is also a wholesalers so you can’t buy direct from them, but when you buy shirts from other companies (pretty much anything with a design on it) you’ll look for this company’s name on the tag.
Lululemon Speed Short: Comfortable waistband, short inseam and wide leg holes accommodate a crossfitter build. Durable
Fleo 3.25 contour : Confidence required. Soft. Contour waist ensures no awkward gapping in the back. Lots of fun prints & colors.
Lululemon Wunder Under Luxtreme: Slick, durable fabric that tolerates frequent barbell contact.
Lululemon Align: Soft allows for maximum movement. Caution: light colors show ALL SWEAT! Downside to soft fabric is that it pills with regular barbell contact, so avoid on olympic lifting days.
Lululemon Free to be Wild: Good lat accommodation. Fun patterns. Not a lot of support for the ladies who are more blessed. Durable.
Lululemon Energy: Slightly more coverage. Moderate support. Less lat accommodation. Durable.
NoBull. Durable. Basic colors. Runs small
Nike Pro – lasts 1million years guaranteed. Moderate support.
Essentials: keep the legs warm during transit to/from the gym as well as retain heat during warmups. Easy on-off is good for quick removal after warm-up. Durable material if you think you might like to lift in them.
Virus KL1 Recovery (unisex) Jogger style: Warm, but breatheable. Easy on and off due to ankle zips
These are just for fun. Wear whatever is comfortable but socks can be fun.
Stance: lots of fun designs and colors. Also specific styles for “training” and “running”.
I’ve tried to google good jump ropes for CrossFit many times and I’m always surprised how lacking the online recommendations are. A few things to keep in mind: Length is critical. It is ideal that you can adjust the rope to any length after purchase and continue to refine it over time. This is because as you get better you’ll be more comfortable with a shorter rope because your technique will be more consistent. Next important item is rope weight/thickness/material. Beginners will find ropes with more weight and resistance are easier because it will be easier to keep tension on the rope and to feel that tension while jumping. (i.e. the rope gives more feedback) So beginners should consider something slightly thicker and probably plastic coated (typically these will be thicker, heavier and give more wind resistance than their bare-cabled cousins, and also be less painful when the rope contacts your skin) As you refine your skills you’ll find that you’ll want a lighter and lighter rope because it will move faster and fatigue you less.
Good Beginner Ropes(also low cost b/c you won’t have it very long):
Rogue SR-3/SR-3S: great beginner rope. They’re only $15. Plastic coated cable. Long or short handle. I recommend you start with the SR-3 with the normal length handle. It will give you more adjustability on overall rope length as you learn; without needing to break out a screw driver. Handles are plastic which keeps the cost down but could break if you accidentally drop plates on them. Bushing in the handle is good but not as good as having bearings.
Rogue SR-1/SR-1S: same as the SR-3/SR-3S except it has bearings in the handle and the price goes up to $24. Still a good option for beginners and not too expensive.
There are tons of other beginner brands out there in the $10-$15 range. They’re all the same and in my opinion not worth the hassle to save a few bucks compared to the Rogue SR-3.
Ropes for intermediate/advanced users:
Advanced users should consider switching to a bare cable. More punishment when you make mistakes but less air resistance, more speed and lighter cables. Also, since you’ll probably have this rope for a long time it is worth considering aluminum handles for longevity and durability.
RPM Session: The bougiest of the bougie ropes. Lots of fun colors and you can customize. Stock ropes are $55 but custom ropes are $85. Aluminum handles. The smoothest, friction free rotation you will find and thin, light, bare steel ropes. And the bare steel ropes come in colors! You could start with this rope as a beginner if you wanted to because they sell coated cables as well so you would just change out the cable as you get better. This is what I use and I love it.
Rogue SR-2/SR-2S: Just light the SR-1/SR-1S except the handle is aluminum. A great option. Slightly less expensive at $42-$46 compared to the RPM Session.
Rx Smartgear: Nice ropes. Their handles are a little on the heavy side. They’re cables come is all sorts of custom lengths but you have to order them to length. Changing the length after purchase is very difficult. And experience has shown that the recommendations on their website generally result in too long of a rope. I don’t generally recommend these ropes although some people swear by them. Rotation is smooth and the handles are large. For folks with big hands these may be more comfortable or easier to hold.
Next Level Jump Ropes:
So you’re crushing double-unders and looking to get to the next level. Generally not worth considering these options until 50 unbroken is easy and you can generally do 100+ unbroken. These include heavy ropes for endurance and strength training as well as high precision ropes for extra speed. Or you just have $100+ to burn.
RPM Comp: Lighter weight and faster than the session. Also a little grippier on the handle. But $65-$80.
Rogue SR-343 Mach: Precision machined. Faster, lighter, more awesome.
RPM Scout (weighted rope): Good weighted rope option. It’s about twice as heavy as the normal RPM so still not really that heavy. A good option to challenge yourself in workouts but there are heavier ropes out there. We have two of these at the gym if you ever want to try one,.
Rogue Pro Jump Rope: Another good weighted rope option. Heavier than the RPM Scout.
EVO Jump Rope: Similar to the Rogue SR-343 in design/appearance.
Rogue Heavy Jump Rope: The heaviest of the heavy ropes. This thing is a tank.
Why do you want/need knee sleeves? You probably don’t need them. They’re good for keeping your knees warm during lifting sets with lots of rest. If your knees are slow to warm up they can also help speed that process up. They’re not really intended for knee support although they provide a little. Secondary uses is as a physical contact buffer on movements like burpees, pike HSPU and lunges.
Rehband: really the best and only option you need to consider. They offer 3mm, 5mm and 7mm thicknesses. 5mm tends to be best for CrossFit without being too restrictive. If you want more info or help selecting a thickness check this out. https://www.rehband.com/blog/pick-right-knee-sleeve-3mm-5mm-7mm/
EXO: very durable, priced per pair. They keep their tightness. Available in the same sizes as rehband.
If you have pain in your wrists during push-ups, handstand pushups, front squats, pressing, etc. it might be worth considering some wrist wraps.
Schiek 1100-WS: Very robust. These provide lots of support and are my go-to recommendation. They can be a bit bulky so if that bothers you maybe consider another option. Better in strength settings as opposed to metcons due to bulky and heat-trapping nature.
Rogue Wraps: Very lightweight. Not much support, but may be all you need, especially in a WOD setting. Easy to adjust too.Lots of brands (Schiek, Rocktape, etc.) offer similar options, pick based on appearance.
Rogue Wrist Wraps: Heavier duty than the Rogue Wraps. These offer a bit more support, are a bit bulkier and harder to adjust. Lots of brands (Schiek, Rocktape, etc.) offer similar options, pick based on appearance.
As your powerlifting and olympic lifting progresses you may find a benefit from a belt. There is lots of confusion about what this piece of equipment is for and how it should be used. What it is:… What it is not…. How it should be used…. Improper use…. Will all be covered in a separate blog post.
They can be cloth or leather and have velcro, belt buckle or a lever for tightening. They also come in single width or tapered versions. Single width is preferred. The taper somewhat defeats the purpose of the belt or at least diminished its effectiveness but if you have a small torso and the wider belts pinch your ribs or are incredibly uncomfortable the taper belt may be your only/best option.
Inzer Lever Belt: The original lever belt. These things are awesome and built to last. The lever makes it really easy to get it on and off. But it also makes it hard to adjust the fit since you need to remove two screws. Luckily you’re likely to be the only user so there shouldn’t be much adjustment necessary. Rogue and Schiek as well as a few other brands now make lever belts as well. It’s probably not worth looking past Inzer and Rogue. The bulky lever can also make unfavorable for olympic lifts (vs. powerlifts) because, depending on lever placement, it can make it difficult to maintain a straight bar path.
Schiek 2004, 2006, etc.: Cloth belts with velcro. Easy on-off. 1-way velcro makes it really easy to tighten quickly. Good for use during a WOD.
2-Pood: Nice cloth & velcro belts with lots of fun color options.
Do you constantly rip when doing high volume pull-ups, toes-to-bar, etc.?
WOD & Done: Disposable. Made of Rock Tape type material. Thin, which allows for good bar feel. Slightly wasteful given single use nature, but saves hand skin without compromising performance.
Natural Grips: Still disposable, but multiuse. Requires either tape or wrist wrap to secure to hand. Slightly less bar feel but more protection.
Rogue Grips – or other similar leather products: Require an extended break in period but very durable and comfortable once molding has been achieved. Less bar feel. Best of kipping pull ups and ttb. Intentional bunching of leather, which alleviates grip requirements makes MU turn over more challenging IMO.
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Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.
Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.
That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!
So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.
Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep!
- Optimize Your Environment
Do more of this:
- Make it dark
Our bodies’ sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!
- Turn down the thermostat
As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.
Don’t do that!:
- Checking email before bed
Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.
- Smart Consumption
Do more of this:
- Eat protein before bed.
To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.
Don’t do that!:
- Drink coffee after 12pm.
Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Develop a Routine:
Do more of this:
- Set a bedtime alarm.
We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.
Pro tip: If you have pet get them in a routine that helps you stay on track!
Don’t do that!:
- Wait until you’re tired.
Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.
- Use your physiology to unwind
Do more of this:
- Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system
Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.
- Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”
- Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”
We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.
Don’t do that!:
- Strenuous Exercise
Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.