Get strong with these 3 pieces of gym equipment.

training gear

When it comes to getting strong, taking control of your life, and becoming a someone who doesn’t take no crap from nobody… it’s all about the gear.

Actually, no.

But once you’re off the couch and into the gym, you’ve made fitness part of your lifestyle. You’re happier and healthier than ever before. It’s time to up your game and the right gear will make all the difference.

Actually, no. Again. Sorry! (Am I Canadian, or what?)

There’s no substitute for hard work and sound programming. That said, you can go to the opposite extreme. Anti-gear bias can be carried too far. Gear has its place.

Exactly what is that place? That’s the subject of this blog post.

As you start to take notice of all the fitness gear that people are wearing and using, stop randomly surfing the web in search of miracle fitness solutions.

They don’t exist. Gym gear won’t ever replace hard work. 

 

The questions you’re asking may include:

  • “I saw that really strong dude wearing a belt. To get as strong and jacked as he is, do I need one?
  • “Man, that Tony Gentilcore has a crazy strong deadlift. He uses chalk. Should I get chalk too?”
  • “Should I use those straps I see that chick using?”

Here are three must-haves and three nice-to-haves when it comes to gear.

We begin with the must-haves. 

 

1. A Good Pair of Training Shoes 

 

These might be the most important things you purchase.

Consider this. The shoes you wear (along with your socks) are the only contact you have with the ground.

A good pair of training shoes can:

– decrease your injury risk
– improve your results
– decrease frustration
– make you look really freaking cool.

While a pair of running shoes (sneakers or gym shoes to my ‘Murican friends) may work if you’re casually going to the gym, they are not ideal if you wanting to push your strength.

Running shoes are meant to cushion your feet for hundreds of miles of constant impact. They dissipate the force going into the ground, creating less force back into your feet and eventually through the weight.

The force you’re applying to the ground to push a weight up will either be minimized or nonexistent.

During a recent workout  a friend stopped his squats at a certain weight because he no longer felt comfortable.

Once he kicked off his Nike Free’s, he moved that barbell like it was a toothpick!

In reality, you could forego shoes and just train in your socks/barefoot, but since a lot of gyms that won’t allow you to go barefoot or sock foot, a good training shoe is your best bet.

So, what should you look for in a well-rounded training shoe?

1) It should have a relatively flat, stable bottom. No high heel shoes here.

2) The sides should be relatively rigid. Your feet shouldn’t be sliding out the sides.

3) It should have a dense sole that will allow you to squat, deadlift and move well.  Soles made of foam are good for running, but not much else.

Reebok Nanos, Nike Metcons, and New Balance makes a good all-purpose gym training shoes.

2. Foam Roller 

 

Most gyms now have foam rollers. But if your gym is still stuck in the stone age, you’ll need to pick one of these up.

If you have shoulder pain while pressing overhead or even doing the bench press, this foam-rolling can be one of your go-to exercises.

If you find you have knee pain in the squat, an effective dose of foam rolling will allow your knees to be pain free.

But they can’t fix your broken squat mechanics. You gotta either do that work yourself, or hire yourself a trainer who can fix it. (APPLY HERE FOR TRAINING IN CALGARY).

Too much of a good thing is always too much. Nowadays, you’ll see guys wasting 30 minutes rolling around on these oversized dog toys thinking it is improving their mobility. In reality, they are just wasting valuable training time.

As the man Tony Gentilcore said so eloquently:

“Always “broken” and have injuries? Put down the foam roller and make your body more resilient by lifting weights. Strength is corrective.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Use a foam roller strategically and effectively. Attack two key areas that are greatly improved through foam rolling:

  • Thoracic extension
  • Ankle dorsiflexion

Thoracic extension improves everything in your life. From decreasing shoulder pain, to better rows and looking wildly sexy by getting rid of the douchebag shoulder syndrome. It can also improve the quality of your front,  back squat, and deadlift.

Use the following mobility combo to improve your T-Spine and keep it that way.

Start with T Spine Extension on top of the roller

A lack of ankle dorsiflexion can be seen in a few common issues: Lower back pain, knee pain, and even into things like plantar fasciitis.

The last one is a stretch, but I’ve seen all three of these improved from increased ankle range of motion. Not only that, but once your ankles are cleaned up, your back squat and front squat magically go deeper, without as much hip pain either.

This is the one-two punch to attack your ankles and leave them supple and bendy.

First, we foam roll the back of your calves:

 

Next, you’ll stretch out the back of your calves:

Do those and you’re going to greatly improve your overall mobility, AND say a lot of time.

3. A Training Journal

 

This is one of my favourite things in my gym bag.

Go beyond writing down your sets and reps. Note how your workout FELT to learn more about what is going on in your body.

The sets and reps don’t tell you how your knees felt on your third set. They don’t tell you how fast the bar felt. Writing down those extra little notes will get you that little extra 5%. And when you’re fighting to get stronger, that 5% means everything.

Training journals should be for more than sets and reps. These only cost a dollar, or 3 dollars max if you want to get fancy. If you’re serious about strength, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a training journal.

Bonus Gear Ideas

These are nice to have, but definitely not essential.

1. A weightlifting belt.

Some swear by them, others think it’s a waste of time because “a solid core is all you need!”

My take? If you’re a beginner/early intermediate, you DON’T need a belt, especially for doing things like bicep curls.

If you’re starting to crush some 400lb deadlifts, it’s not a bad idea to learn how to use it and have a little additional bracing for your core (not your back).

Belts have also been shown to gain a few extra lbs in your lifts AS AN INTERMEDIATE. Check out the article by Greg Nuckols here.

Keep This in mind though: a belt will NEVER save your back if you are rounding it.

2. Weightlifting Shoes.

For a beginner/early intermediate, your 200 dollars would be better spent on coaching. Buy a a few in-person sessions with your local trainer, or a month with an online trainer.

They also easily hide your mobility problems you might have in your hips, ankles, and thoracic spine. I’ll refer you back to the foam roller.

THE ONLY reason why I would suggest getting weightlifting shoes is if you plan on doing olympic weightlifting, or you’re pursuing powerlifting.

If that’s the case, grab yourself a pair and get ready to set some giant PR’s in them.

3. Straps.

Straps are unnecessary for beginners for this reason alone: When you are looking to get stronger, one of the key things is getting those meat hooks you call hands stronger.

Improving your grip strength improves everything from deadlifts to rows.

 

You will never see a 3 plate bench presser or a 400lb+ deadlifter with puny forearms.

My suggestion, is if you need better grip in the short term, use chalk instead. You get improved grip, but still develop your forearm strength.

The Takeaway

Take the guess work out of what gear you need.

Good shoes, a foam roller, and a training journal will help you as a beginner make faster and better progress than the guys you train with. Now it’s time to get in there  and earn your results!