CrossFit is one of the most popular fitness trends. It combines a wide range of physical activities like explosive plyometrics, bodyweight exercises, strength training, endurance exercises, speed training, and gymnastics. By combining all these exercises, CrossFit workouts will challenge you to improve your stamina, physical fitness, accuracy, coordination, balance, speed and flexibility. While CrossFit is mentally and physically rewarding, it’s also quite demanding. And that’s why you need to be properly equipped so that you can comfortably handle the different workouts. Whether you will be doing squats, lifting weights or running, here are the essentials that you will need for your CrossFit workouts.
CrossFit is a physically-demanding fitness routine, which focuses on full-body training. Each CrossFit exercise that you do, comes with a unique set of demands. For instance, you will need flexibility for running, support for weightlifting, sturdiness for your gymnastic sessions as well as overall balance. The truth is, no single pair of shoes can meet all the demands of your CrossFit training. Therefore, the compromises you will make, will depend on the training or exercise that you want to undertake. But regardless of how you intend to structure your training program, your training sneakers should at least meet the following requirements.
- Shoe drop: Shoe drop refers to the difference between the height of the toe and the height of the heel. This feature affects how your foot strikes the ground. Most running shoes come with a high heel drop of approximately 8 mm, designed to propel your foot forward. CrossFit shoes, on the other hand, feature a low heel drop of around 4mm. If you are lifting weights in the gym, then you should go for a pair of shoes that have a lower heel drop. A lower heel drop helps to distribute your body weight more evenly, thus giving you the stability you need to lift heavier weights.
- Hard sole: If you’ve ever worn running shoes, you might have noticed that they are equipped with a flexible sole, designed to facilitate better and unrestricted movement of the foot. However, such shoes might not be ideal for CrossFit. If your workout of the day involves weightlifting, then you should opt for a pair that has a hard sole. CrossFit shoes that have a firmer sole will provide better support while ensuring you are in a stable position when doing your lifts.
- Lightweight: As highlighted earlier, CrossFit workouts will put significant strain on your body. Therefore, you should avoid heavy, bulky shoes, since they will drag you down and force you to spend more energy than you should. Instead, you should make sure your training sneakers are lightweight enough, to provide easy and fast transition from one exercise to the next. But as much as you have to choose a lightweight pair of CrossFit shoes, you should not sacrifice durability and support.
- Breathability: When you are working out, your feet will definitely produce extra heat. And that’s why you need to go for a pair that has optimal breathability. If your shoes have poor ventilation, their interior might become slippery, due to the build-up of sweat. And when that happens, you will end up with blisters, which will prevent you from performing at your best.
- Lateral Support: Whether you are weightlifting or running, your shoes should provide adequate lateral support. Ample lateral support can make a significant difference in your performance. It will help you to push harder, thus helping you to meet your work out goals. On the other hand, if your feet keep sliding from one side to the other due to inadequate lateral support, you might end up with injuries.
As much as there are no footwear restrictions when doing Crosfit, wearing the right pair of shoes will keep your feet comfortable and well supported, while preventing or minimizing the risk of injuries. Proper CrossFit shoes will also help you to perform at higher levels than you would if you were wearing an ordinary pair of training sneakers.
If you walk into any gym, you will find almost everyone performing exercises that involve the wrists. As much as the wrists can withstand a great deal of stress, they are not immune to injuries. As a CrossFit enthusiast, you need to come up with measures that can help to minimize wrist injuries. And this is where wrist wraps come in. Wrist wraps will stabilize your wrists and enable you to perform heavier lifts, provide support and stability for high volume movements and help you to recover faster from injuries.
There are 2 types of wrist wraps; elastic straps and cloth straps. Cloth wraps are designed for high-rep workouts. They are also adjustable. You simply need to tighten or loosen them, depending on the support you need. However, it’s important to note that you should not make them too tight, since they might limit your mobility and reduce your range of motion during your workouts. Elastic wraps, on the other hand, are designed for bodyweight exercises. If your workout of the day involves plenty of heavy lifting, then you should opt for elastic wrist wraps. Whichever option you choose, don’t tie the wraps too low. Wrist wraps are designed to provide stability and support to your wrist joints. If you tie them below your wrist joints, then they are essentially a bracelet that provides no support. Therefore, make sure they cover the entire wrist joint for maximum support.
Knee injuries are common in the fitness industry. Therefore, if your CrossFit workout involves heavy, regular lifting, then it’s advisable to invest in a quality set of knee sleeves. Some people tend to assume that knee sleeves and knee braces are the same thing. However, as much as both are worn in the knees, they serve two different purposes. Knee sleeves provide support to your knees, thus helping to prevent injuries. On the other hand, knee braces are supports that you wear if you have an injured or a painful knee. Apart from support, knee sleeves also offer compression, which increases blood flow to your legs, reduces inflammation and minimizes pain. They also keep your joints warm and well lubricated, which translates to reduced soreness and increased performance.
If you are experiencing discomfort or pain in your knees, you first need to identify the root of that problem, before rushing to purchase knee sleeves. As much as knee sleeves are an effective support mechanism for your knees, they will not solve your problem magically. Also, if you are new to weightlifting, you might not need knee sleeves, since there isn’t much pressure exerted on your knees to necessitate their use. Furthermore, not every CrossFit exercise will require knee sleeves. Your training level, intensity and the exercise you are performing, will determine whether you will need knee sleeves or not.
A weightlifting belt is also an important part of your CrossFit gear. It mainly serves two main purposes. First, it will minimize the amount of pressure and tension exerted on your lower back, especially when you are lifting weights in an upright position. It also prevents the spine from bending too much, either forward, backward or sideways. Therefore, when you are lifting weights, the belt will force to use your legs more, as opposed to over-relying on your back. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a weight belt can also increase your intra-abdominal pressure during strenuous weightlifting. Intra-abdominal pressure prevents your spine from failing under heavy weight, which helps you to lift heavier weights for a longer period.
Weightlifting belts are most effective when you are performing heavy lifts. If you have just started out in weight lifting, then you should not use these belts, since they might limit your muscle growth. Also, it’s not advisable to wear weight belts when you are performing core strengthening exercises like trunk rotations, crunches and plans. Also, never use a weight belt when performing an exercise that involves lying on your back or sitting vertically.
The athletic tape is a multipurpose sports tape, designed to prevent injuries, provide relief from current injuries, and speed up rehabilitation. It might also enhance your training performance. There are different types of athletic types. They include the rigid tape, under tape, felt tape, elastic tape, kinesio tape, and cohesive bandages, among others. Regardless of the CrossFit workout, you are performing, you can use the athletic tape to solidify your shoulders, stabilize your knees, open up your elbows, support your knees, support injured or weak muscles, prevent muscle overuse and improve muscle concentration. The position of the tape will depend on the muscle that you intend to target. When applying the tape, make sure it’s not too tight, since it can cut off blood circulation. Also, you should only apply the sports tape to healthy skin only. Avoid applying it on skin with lotion, wrinkled areas or any area of the skin that has unnatural texture.
Whether you are doing CrossFit workouts to lose weight, improve balance and agility, improve physical strength or improve aerobic fitness, it’s important to track and monitor your progress. Tracking your performance and fitness progress will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, keep you motivated, help you to avoid injuries, enable you to be more efficient in your workouts, and most importantly, keep you focused on your goals.