For any CrossFitter there’s a basic list of stuff to get to make your life easier.

If you’re traveling to other gyms or just want to be prepared,  it’s important to know what the essentials are and what the most useless things in the world are that fill a bag up and provide you with nothing of actual worth.

An entire industry has grown in support of the “functional fitness” world In the past few years. There are countless companies out there that have sprung up to provide you with all manner of stuff.

Some of it useful, some of it designed for people with more money than sense. Some of this gear is the darling of Kickstarter projects, whilst others languish in the dumb ideas bin of doom.

In my opinion the better you get at CrossFit and the longer you do it, the more stuff you tend to accumulate. Even the impoverished student who starts CrossFit in his first year with a pair of beaten up Chuck Taylor’s will end up with shoes and shorts for more than one CrossFit WOD.
Some of it becomes part of your pre workout preparation ritual every single time you step into the gym whilst other items hardly ever see the light of day, even though someone else highly recommended it and now it’s cluttering up your life.

This is just a personal list of stuff I think one should get but its formed from years of experience and what follows is in order of importance.
Inside my kit bag:

  • T-shirt and shorts
  • Shoes – lifters and nanos
  • Hand guards
  • Wrist wraps
  • Jump rope
  • Thick suede belt
  • Lacrosse ball
  • Tape
  • Towel
  • Change of t-shirt, underpants, hair grooming stuff and socks
  • Band Aids

If I was a lady I’d probably have some obvious extra things in there too to keep me fresh, beautiful and sexy strong.

Let’s delve into this further….

The list below is typical of what someone might have in a workout bag, with my comments on it.

CrossFit clothing
You can’t workout naked in most gyms and just wearing underpants will probably lose you some friends but on the plus side you will probably get you quite a few more Instagram followers.

I’ve ripped 3 pairs of shorts and 2 pairs of long pants, from seam to seam, back to front from doing nothing more than squatting.
The last time was hilarious, embarrassing and annoying as I’d just spent good money on supposedly “top” brands, Nike and Adidas.
Both had zero ‘stretch’ in any of the essential areas and I’m now convinced that the pants I bought had absolutely nothing to do with working out and that they were made purely for fashion (bad fashion) not for function.

Really annoying.

The only other option available to me at that time was gymnastics style long pants which were tight…almost compression clothing tight and especially so around the business area which attracted the wrong kind of attention.

This won’t happen nowadays as there are plenty of good looking functionally designed options out there from Reebok to Hylete.
Get some clothes that won’t rip when you squat, will move when you move and don’t need their own special space age washing liquid.

CrossFit Shoes
Get some. They’ll help.
There is plenty of choice – Reebok, Inov8 and Nike all have options.
End of story.

Wrist wraps
Learn the movements first then get some wrist support. You’ll appreciate it once you have it and you’ll moan when you don’t.

Hand guards
At some point you’ll probably tear your softy hands. It’s a right of passage in CrossFit.

It’s because you’re not used to gripping or lifting anything more challenging than a iPhone so don’t be surprised when it happens.
Once you get used to them, which doesn’t take long, you’ll be thankful.

I’m always surprised to see top CrossFit athletes posting pictures on their Instagram accounts of their torn up hands from pullups or toes to bar. Surely if your hands are torn up, you can’t hold a barbell properly for a few days. These athletes are also sponsored by companies that make hand guards yet they still decide not to wear them. Perhaps it’s a “feel the bar” thing… I dunno. I like to be able to feel anything after a workout and you can’t do that with bloody torn hands.

Get some hand guards and you’ll live happily ever after as long as you wash them regularly to avoid a smell from hell.
These days you can even get hand guard wrist wrap combos which solve 2 problems in one.

Jump Rope
I learnt everything I know about jump rope using a $5 rope.
I used the rope for 5 years of boxing.

I got my first set of 100 unbroken double unders with that rope and it only broke when I lent it to someone else who was less than graceful.
These days a “good” rope will cost you $30+. They’re absolutely not essential but having your own rope set to your ideal length will make you happy.

When I was a kid and someone forgot to bring their gym clothes, they had to use the ‘school set’ or ‘club set’ of clothes,
These were either lost and found or some oversized, hideous, disease ridden things that made you cry I never left my gym kit at home…ever.
A good gym will have ropes that anyone can use but your own rope is like your own pair of shorts.
Eventually you’ll probably get one but don’t delude yourself into thinking the $45 rope will instantly make you a jump rope master!

Lifters
Get a pair of these only after you’ve been using regular CrossFit shoes for a a few months.

A good coach will tell you when to get them. 

You can’t run in them, jump rope is not ideal in them either. They’re extra unwanted weight for many movements BUT they will help with most barbell / squat movements -apart from deadlifts which they potentially hinder.

A good pair of lifting shoes will last too. It’s a good investment.

Belt-Tape-Gloves
These are ok to have I guess.
After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

However if you end up spending 15 minutes putting all of this crap on before a workout (like me) surely it detracts from the fact that CrossFit is supposed to prepare you for anything?

I’d only really wear gloves to climb a rope for reps and hand guards will do the job just as well.
You probably only really use a belt for heavy single reps, unless you have an injury to protect.
Tape is like crack. Once you start using it, you’ll want more and more, especially if it’s pink.

Compression clothing
Keeps your twig and berries in place, so really useful….

The extra 1% of performance it may or may not give you is something 99% of CrossFitters simply will never, ever see.
I have worn compression clothing in cold weather to workout and appreciated it.

Now I live in Southern California I’ll pass on the tights and other ninja clothing until my skills and strength merit it.
From my experience if a high level athlete tells you to buy compression clothing it’s because they are being sponsored by the company.

I once went to a boutique workout clothing store in London that sold overpriced yoga clothing to people who liked spending money.
Their “hottest” selling item was a type of compression clothing with coffee grains impregnated into the clothing, to stimulate blood circulation and fat loss.
I face palmed my way to the exit.

This is the same as wearing Spanx to make you look thinner.
As long as you keep them on, all your dreams come true!

Foam Rollers/Lacrosse ball
You don’t need any of these because the gym probably has them.
Useful for home use I guess, but we all have enough clutter in our lives don’t we?

Heart Rate Monitor/FitBit or other thing that tells you how many calories you’ve burned in a day
If you’re analyzing a heart rate for a study on pacing and efficiency of movement on a workout, to optimize your performance, you can wear that heart rate monitor all day.

For 99% of the CrossFit world tho using a heart rate monitor will only tell you what you already know…your heart is beating faster or slower.
I know of several athletes that use heart rate monitors to analyze their fitness levels but if your doing a workout like Fran or Grace and going faster, with good form, you don’t need a monitor to tell you that you’re fitter. That’s why we use a stopwatch.

There are several workout places -spinning studios, circuit training facilities etc that love the idea of telling you how many calories you burn in one of their workouts but know this – a fitter individual will burn less calories than an unfit individual doing the same workout, with the same weight etc. We scale difficulty and intensity up and down in CrossFit to accommodate fitness levels so telling me how many calories I burnt in an Orange Theroty or Full Psycle class is less meaningful than you might think.

Deadlift socks
These stop you scraping your shins up into a bloody mess.
Guess what…you don’t have to have the bar that close all the time.
Close is good.
Blood is too close.

Rope climbing socks
These stop you ripping your legs up into a bloody mess from rope climbs.
In competition wearing these might be a good call but guess what…If you climb a rope the right way you won’t ever get friction burns.

Back squat/ Barbell pad
There’s this pad that I saw someone use recently – basically pipe insulation.
It softened the feel of the bar on this persons back.

WTF??!

There’s this thing called the trapezius muscle. Every human has the muscle.
It’s where the bar sits when you have it on your back.
If the bar is on your neck or elsewhere on your spine, guess what?
It’s in the wrong place.
Don’t reinforce bad technique.

Do it right and you won’t need pipe insulation or any other contraption like the manta ray (if you do t know what this bad boy is look it up)
You will NEVER see any Olympic lifter using these things.
It’s like wearing a crash helmet in the shower to stop your hair getting wet.
Face palm.

Pre workout shake/mix
If you’ve bought into this crap, nothing I will say will convince you otherwise but for the record here is my opinion.
Pre-workout supplements contain at least one or more of the following:

Caffeine
Sugar
Creatine

They really don’t help you perform significantly better.

They might wake you up, but a cup of espresso is cheaper and doesn’t make everything in a 30ft radius around you stink of ‘tropical fruit’ when you’re shaking it up.

It’s annoying that there is such a reliance on this stuff and it comes from the folks who swear by bodybuilding style workouts in a regular globogym. CrossFit is not bodybuilding. You’re not going to be in the gym for 3 hours doing chest and triceps and never squatting low enough.
In my opinion they do not work to improve your performance in any measurable way. If you can show me someone doing nothing more than drinking some preworkout crap and shaving off 45 seconds from their Fran time, I will kiss your face.

There may well be a placebo effect in making you think you’re doing better because of the shit you drank 10 minutes ago and the company you bought it from will convince you to buy more with a picture of some muscular dude with lightening bolts coming out of his armpits but it’s really a massive 8 figure money making machine.

Guess what?! There’s a cheap easy option available which is actually more powerful that any NitroMegaTurboBuzz preworkout crap I’ve ever seen in 20+ years of working in the Fitness Industry.

What is it?

Mix a tablespoon of granulated coffee into a cup of any soda.
Caffeine + Sugar & Carbonation = Boom

This formula was developed in San Quentin prison because the inmates couldn’t afford a preworkout.

Cheap, effective and a can of soda will provide enough of this blend of madness for about 6 people.
Go ahead try it!

Then don’t try it ever again.

You’re better off sniffing ammonia salts or getting slapped on the ass by your buddy/girlfriend/boyfriend/coach to fire you up.
I once saw someone down a large, smelly pre-workout shake 5 mins before doing a workout.
She projectile vomited the entire filthy concoction all over the gym floor 6 minutes into the 9 minute workout. It was something I wish I’d filmed and I often play the mental movie over in my head.
Funny but not cool if you were the poor sap who mopped that vile puke up…I cleaned it up and I’ll never do it again!

Band Aids and medical supplies
I carry a few of these around and knowing I have them is nice.
A decent gym will have a supply of these so they are not necessarily but it’s always nice to have your own as backup.

 

WOD well my friends and may you all accumulate more crap than you know what to do with…