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The Quick and Dirty on Gear: Shoes, Chalk, + WODIES



Does this bag look familiar?

Gear is useful. Gear is cool. But more often than not, you probably don't need all that damn gear.

Do you know Mr. CrossFit Gear?

Mr. CrossFit Gear checks Rogue Fitness daily. He comes into the gym with a 20# bag full of 2 jump ropes (one for double unders and one for singles), hand wraps, wrist wraps, 6 pairs of shoes (two different crossfit nanos depending on his outfit, olympic lifting shoes, running shoes, flip flops, and another pair of nanos for good luck), knee sleeves, protein powder, a weight lifting belt, and two shirts just in case he wants to wear a fresh one after throwing his original shirt on the floor 3 minutes into the WOD. At the start of class, Mr. CrossFit Gear heads over to the chalk bucket and covers himself from head to toe. He repeats this 10-15 more times before class is finished. He even chalked up before performing his warm-up PVC Passthroughs.

Enough satire for now. All gear is created for a reason but like anything it can be misused. So let's talk line-by-line about what gear is worth using.

Shoes

My biggest concern with most crossfit shoes is that they become a crutch and hide poor mobility. I think the name of the game here is variety. Some days go barefoot. Other days try a flat shoe like converse or vans if you have them. Pull out your Reebok nanos or Nike metcons once in awhile. But when the time comes for performance (heavy sets of back squats), grab the lifters and go to work. If you only have one pair, I recommend relatively flat shoes (like converse) to develop ankle mobility.

In terms of running, be especially mindful of elevated heels and shoes with a lot of padding. If you are getting shin splints regularly or battle plantar fasciitis, take a look at your shoes. Typical "running shoes" promote a heel strike, which can lead to injury. By adopting a more minimalist shoe (inov-8s, vivobarefoot, etc.) you will be forced to adopt a springy, mid-foot strike. This will force the arch to strengthen and improve ankle mobility. Just make sure to make the transition to minimalist shoes gradually to reduce the risk of injury in the first few months.

Chalk

Is today a playing day, training day, or testing day? Ripping your hands is not cool. Chalk can become a crutch for poor grip strength. In life outside the gym, you won't have access to chalk. So building up your grip strength to hang on the bar without chalk is ideal. That way, when you do need to use chalk (like in competition or testing environment), you'll really feel the performance boost. 

Jump Ropes

 Speed ropes are great. But for most the standard ropes we have at Trebel will get you better at single/double unders faster than a speed rope will. That's because 1) they are heavier and 2) they are a tad bit slower so you have to really dial in your timing. The same principle that applies to chalk applies here: train in the more difficult environment to develop strength and technique first, then go for the performance enhancers in a testing environment if you want to.

Weightlifting Belts

 If you are lifting 400 pounds, grab that belt...

But for the most of us, just like chalk and speed ropes, belts can become a crunch. In my opinion, the most important skill we teach at our school of fitness is the ability to brace your spine under load. I strongly believe we should all be able to properly engage the core without the need for a belt. Once you get near 1RM loads, grab the belt to insure safety. For 99% of what we do in the gym, you should be able to keep a stable midline without any equipment. This skill will keep you injury free and prevent back pain. 

 This is just my observation but the folks that routinely use belts in the gym when lifting tend to be worse at maintaining midline stability, whereas those who never use belts are much more proficient at keeping a tight core. And their backs thank them for it, too.

Hand Wraps

 You ripped your hands on the bar? Try not using chalk... 'nuff said.

In Summary

 I really don't hate gear and encourage folks to use it. I use it myself but I always question why I want to use it in the first place. I encourage you to ask the same question.

 Is it to hide a mobility issue? Is it a crutch for not having the adequate strength or technique to perform a particular movement? If so, you might want to consider leaving the gear aside and focusing on fixing the root cause, not treating the symptom.

 As a general rule, less is more. Strive to perform well with minimal equipment. Do you want to be #fitforlife or #fitforlifeifihavemyolyshoesandchalkandspeedropeandlululemonpants?

 I don't know about you but I'm gonna head over to Rogue Fitness for some shopping now...

 Group Class Programming for Monday, April 24th, 2017:

1. Snatch 2-2-2-2-2

2. Life:
Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
12 seated dumbbell Press (15/10#)
10 Ring Rows *pause 3 seconds at RR2 every rep

Fitness:
Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
12 Press (65/45#)
10 Piked Ring Rows *pause 3 seconds at pRR2 every rep

Performance:
Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
12 Press (95/65#)
10 Strict Pull-ups *touch front of neck to bar on every rep
*return barbells/dumbbells back to the floor (do not drop) for all reps for all workout categories."

 

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