What’s in that Gym Bag?
Welcome to the constantly varied world of CrossFit! From barbells to double unders, muscle ups to burpees, CrossFit is vast in its movements. CrossFit incorporates the best of gymnastics, weightlifting, and cardiovascular conditioning. Because of this, you are going to need a few key items in your gym bag. Here is a ranking of items that should be in CrossFit gym bag:
The Most Essential:
Water Bottle – Hydration is key to an athlete’s performance! Did you know that cold water is not as good for hydration as room temperature? The theory is that the cold water causes the blood vessels surrounding stomach to shrink, slowing absorbtion. Though, on the other hand, ice water does help keep core temperature lower.
One theory, upon which medical researchers have varying opinions regards whether drinking cold water is as good for you as drinking tepid water, particularly when you are exercising. Some doctors suggest that room temperature or body temperature water is better than cold water, because the body has to expend energy to heat cold water to body temperature, resulting in some water loss. On the other hand, some doctors say that after physical exertion, you should drink cold water since it will help cool the body more effectively than room temperature water.
Workout Journal – Whether it’s on your phone or in a notebook, your journal is key to your success.
- Keeping a journal accelerates learning. In case you haven’t noticed, CrossFit has its own language and a unique use of numbers. By taking the time to write down the skills and workouts, your brain will more quickly process the new information. Pretty soon you’ll feel very comfortable with all the jargon being thrown around which will allow you to focus more on the training and less on trying to recall what a snatch balance is.
- When you keep an accurate journal, you know which weights you’ve used. You can easily reference your 1 rep max front squat now by turning a few pages on your journal. You remember that you did the Helen workout with a 44# kettlebell last week. When you track all your weights you now have more accurate goals for the next time you lift. If the skill that day is to find a new 3 rep max overhead squat, and you know the weight the last time you did this lift, then you now have a new goal to shoot for. Instead of wasting time with unnecessary warm-up reps while trying to figure out at what weight you should use for your final set, you are now lifting with a purpose and a set number to beat from the get go.
- A journal gives us information to analyze. Say for instance your progress has stalled and you’re not sure why. Look back at the journal. Maybe there’s a pattern there, like avoiding the heavy lifting days or skipping out when there’s running. Additionally, if you track stuff like sleep and what you ate that day, this can also help in pinpointing the problem.
- Last, a journal tracks your progress. Look back through the pages of your journal to remind yourself of all the progress you’ve made during your commitment to CrossFit. You’d be surprised at how much you’ve improved, like going from band assisted pull-ups to 20 kipping pull-ups in a row. It’s fun to look back in a journal and see what you’ve accomplished.
Keep a journal. It will make you better.
Athletic Tape – Pull-ups, toes to bar, kettlebell swings, cheese grater barbells….CrossFit can certainly be tough on the hands. And you don’t want your hands looking like this:
That’s not cool. Take care of your hands and tape them up if there’s going to be a lot of pulling with them during the workout. Check out this video that explains how to take care of your hands: Taking Care of Your Hands.
Shoes – There is no definitive shoe (the Reebok Nano is hugely popular) but there is one reoccurring theme you will likely hear from athletes who have been doing CrossFit for some time….If you’re wearing typical running shoes… Stop wearing them!
It’s really quite simple, running shoes are designed for those who want to run on a road and CrossFit is certainly not about purely running on roads. Running shoes create instability, primarily laterally, in the ankles. Running in a straight line for miles is a linear activity and that’s when a well designed “Running” shoe makes sense. CrossFit is definitely not a linear activity! We zig, we zag, jump, sprint, crawl, climb and lift heavy stuff.
It’s true CrossFit involves lifting heavy weights often above your head. Weightlifting is a very specialized sport and requires specific shoes. It’s unlikely that you will be able to complete a WOD purely wearing your Oly shoes, thus you’re going to need a shoe that can do double duty.
Stylish shoes with huge cushy heels encourage athletes to put their weight forward, not back into their heels, and what do you always hear coaches yelling? “Weight in the heels!”. Most importantly you don’t need be doing Olympic lifts on a soft unstable base – think overhead squats while standing on your bed… dumb move right? I know the bed example may not be the best but the conclusion should be Squishy running shoes OUT, flat minimalist shoe IN.
The ideal CrossFit shoe is a minimalist shoe, light weight, strong construction and flat soled. Typically the thinner and flatter the sole the better. Again, check out the Reebok Nano.
Jump Rope – Having your own rope, fitted to your height, and in the style you like is nice. You don’t have to worry about the rope being too long or too short in the middle of a workout! Lots of us at FOCF happen to like Rx Jump Ropes.
Long Socks – Just like torn hands are nasty and painful, busted up shins from deadlifts, snatches, or clean, or burns from climbing the rope are gross as well. If you need proof, ask Tim to show you is rope burn, yikes! Pull up the socks and protect the legs. See, and you thought they just for looks!
Wrist Wraps – We do a lot of overhead work that can be pretty tough of the wrists. Wrist wraps can definitely help with your overhead lifts and even with some gymnastics movements like handstands. You should definitely try to go as long as you can without wearing your wraps, to safely stress the joint so it will naturally adapt and strengthen, but wrist wraps definitely have a role when doing max lifts. Rogue makes some great ones.
And….If You Have These, You’re Totally Serious About Your CrossFitting:
Weightlifting Shoes – You squat, snatch, and clean and jerk, multiple times a week, and your Nanos just aren’t cutting it anymore…you want a little bit more of a raised heel and a more stable foot foundation when going for that snatch PR. Weightlifting shoes are costly but are an investment and should last you several years.
Weightlifting Belt – When you start squatting over 1.5 to 2 times bodyweight on a regular basis, a weightlifting belt is useful. A cautionary note, it is not a silver bullet that allows you to totally, or even partially, relax your midline when you lift. If you cannot sustain intra-abdominal pressure without a belt when lifting, then a belt won’t help either. And, yes, thickness of belts is essential.
Knee Sleeves – When you bust these out, we know you’re serious. If nothing else, you’ll look the part of a top CrossFitter!