Remember your first time at a Crossfit box? You got there a little early, you were leaning up against the wall, bracing yourself for what was about to happen, the unknown Crossfit workout full of complex-sounding movements like kipping pull ups, when in walked the regulars. Their ponytails were high and tight, they were wearing some sort of colorful Crossfit shoe, and strapped across their massive traps were heavy gym bags full of Crossfit gear essentials…and you had only brought a water bottle.
Hey, we were all there once. Thankfully, after many Crossfit workouts, we have perfected the list of essential Crossfit gear and are here to share it with our fellow Crossfit enthusiasts and newbies.
What’s in the Gym Bag?
Let’s take a quick look inside that mysterious gym bag and sort through the proper gear needed to help out that Crossfit performance:
- Wrist wraps
- Weight belt
- Knee sleeves
- Workout gloves
- Hand grips
- Athletic tape
- Olympic lifting shoes
- Jump ropes or speed ropes
- Foam rollers and massage ball
- Barbell pad
- First aid kit
- Bpa free water bottle…hey at least you already have that!
Extra Support with Wrist Wraps, Knee Sleeves, Weight Belt, etc.
You’ve seen the heavy hitters wind their wrists with wrist wraps or cinch their waist up tight with weight belts, knocking out some heavy weights or handstand push ups, and you may have wondered why. To put it simply: support.
Your everyday Crossfit workout requires a lot of back, core, knee, and wrist work so to maximize your Crossfit experience, it’s imperative to protect yourself from injury when moving heavy loads.
For those with weak wrists, wrist wraps are a game changer in olympic weightlifting. Movements such as front squats and thrusters put a great deal of pressure on the wrists and can be hypertensive when done repeatedly. Wrist wraps are going to tighten up the wrists, providing support while preventing injury during those heavy lifts.
When the lifting belt comes out, you know it’s time for business. Lifting belts are strapped on just before heavy squats or deadlifts to help brace yourself for heavy weights.
A weightlifting belt does more than just provide support for the lower back, it also helps in maintaining proper form. Heavy deadlifts tend to make you want to round rather than keep a flat back when executing the pull, the belt serves as a cue to keep the back in a straight line.
An essential piece of Crossfit gear is a good pair of knee sleeves. By adding compression, knee sleeves help prevent knee injury when you lift heavier weights. Sleeves come in handy for a Crossfit workout that calls for heavy squats and box jumps as they stabilize the knees.
Protect Those Hands with Hand Grips
You cannot walk into a Crossfit gym and not use your hands in a workout, that’s why it’s crucial to protect them with good, quality Crossfit gear. Crossfit has a few things up its sleeve when it comes to hand protection that also maximizes your workouts.
Gloves are great for functional fitness as they protect your palms from calluses during barbell work. Kipping pull ups, bar muscle ups, and even rope climbing all cause a great deal of friction allowing for tearing and burning of the palms.
Hand grips differ slightly from gloves as they do not cover the full hand, however that does not make them any less effective. Grips are a terrific alternative to chalk as they also prevent slippage when gripping metal bars but without the mess of white dust. Grips attach around the wrist, with an additional piece that extends to and loops around three fingers.
The advantage to grips is that the palm piece can be unlooped and tucked into the wrist wrap when doing crossfit movements using a jump rope.
Chalk comes in two forms, either block or liquid chalk. Chalk absorbs moisture and prevents slipping when gripping the bar. During rigorous workouts, when the air is thick and hot, sweaty palms can make the difference in a quality movement, be it pull ups or lifting heavy weights.
As effective as chalk is, it can be detrimental when used in excess. Too much chalk combined with sweat creates a paste-like substance; although nothing a quick hand wash cannot fix, the pasty concoction is counter-productive to chalk.
Block chalk is incredibly messy and known to bespeckle crossfit boxes worldwide with handprints of the mystical chalk monster. The liquid alternative to chalk is better serving of the sly, more elusive closet chalk monster, as it leaves almost no evidence.
Athletic tape is an excellent investment to keep in your gym bag as it is so versatile. Among the many uses for this tape is hand protection. Simply taping your hands prior to your Crossfit workout can prevent tearing and calluses that can typically be expected for a novice lifter.
Along with palm protection, tape can also provide support to weaker joints in need of compression and stability.
Olympic Lifting Shoes
Also referred to as oly shoes, lifting shoes are a specialty shoe that can be found in every Crossfit gym in the world.
This weightlifting shoe is designed with posture and stability in mind. Oly shoes typically have a stiff sole with a variety of lift in the heel. All have shoe laces but most also have a velcro strap that crosses over the laces to help tighten and secure your foot in the shoe.
LIfting shoes are ideal for squats as they force you to sit back in your heels. Those who have a tendency to rock forward can really benefit from a good pair of oly shoes.
Because of their hard soles, these shoes are not suitable for all Crossfit movements as they have no give. These shoes would not be suitable for workouts such as box jumps and double unders as the stiff sole would be uncomfortable.
However, some oly shoes were made specifically with Crossfit in mind and were fashioned as such. For the workout that requires quick transitions from barbell lifts to box jumps, there are shoes with quick release velcro or a dialock strap.
Lifters can be a bit pricey, however it is one piece of gear you do not want to go cheap on.
Trainers & Running Shoes
We’ve all walked into Crossfit and seen the dreaded word “run” etched across the whiteboard. Ugh. Because running in and of itself is painful, we don’t need to remind you that running in weightlifting shoes would be the modern day equivalent to midieval torture.
Most Crossfit workouts do not program long runs, rather a shorter, more frequent run is typically programmed. Because of this, you do not have to go all out on running shoes. However, your shoes do make a difference in the quality of your run.
Running even short distances frequently, in the wrong pair of runners, can lead to trouble down the road–for instance, shin splints or knee pain. We don’t have to tell you that painful knees pose a big problem for Crossfit, so it is crucial to choose a running shoe in which you are comfortable.
Trainers are beneficial to Crossfit simply because they are so adaptable to constantly varied functional fitness workouts.
Trainers typically have minimal heel drop and a flexible midsole. Because of this, some trainers can be worn for both lifting and other Crossfit movements like rope climbing or using a speed rope.
For a Crossfit workout most gyms will provide the equipment needed for the tasks, however it is beneficial to have some of your own that you do not share with others.
Things like jump ropes are height-specific and while many Crossfit gyms have a variety of them on hand, it is much easier to have your own so you know one your size is always available to you.
The ideal length of a jump rope should be your height plus an additional 3 feet so you get good clearance and don’t trip yourself. Trust us, your legs will thank you.
Having your own jump rope is perfect for practicing those double unders when you are not in the Crossfit gym. DUs are a very technical skill that requires lots of practice. With a jump rope of your own, you can track your progress as you work on them a little bit each day on your own time so when you show up to Crossfit, you are a rockstar with a rope!
Foam Roller and Massage Ball
Most Crossfit gyms have a foam roller and massage ball as these are essential to muscle recovery. In order to continue to perform your best at a Crossfit workout, you must prioritize recovery. Although these items can be found in Crossfit, it is beneficial to have your own foam roller so you can workout any stiffness or soreness outside of Crossfit.
You can also use a foam roller or massage ball during your warm up. Foam rolling helps loosen tight muscles and helps with things like shoulder mobility and overall fitness.
The summer heat can lead to quite a brutal workout; if you are working on your fitness at home or at a local Crossfit affiliate, a huge fan is an absolute necessity to keep you cool.
They say you can always tell a Crossfitter by our bumps and bruises. If you’re looking to prevent this badge of honor or you just want to go stealth mode, then perhaps barbell pads are right for you.
A barbell pad is a handy little tool, to have for Crossfit, that wraps around the middle of the barbell and cushions your body from the weight of the barbell. This is especially convenient when doing olympic lifts such as back squats, when the bar rubs across the neck, or during power cleans when the barbell is hoisted up across the collarbone.
A first aid kit is never a bad idea, especially in Crossfit with all of the hand tearing.
And don’t forget your water bottle! But we don’t have to remind you of that, you brought it to Crossfit on your first day (wink).
Krystal is a weightlifting enthusiast and new mother wading the waters of postpartum fitness. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband, baby girl, and two dogs. She is tired, she is hungry, and she really hates burpees.