Getting the Right CrossFit Equipment - dummies

Getting the Right CrossFit Equipment

By James T. Cains

The type of equipment you need for CrossFit training depends on the exercises you want to do in your Workouts of the Day (WODs). You can do CrossFit at home with little or no equipment, though the number of exercises you can do will be limited. In this article, you’ll find out the basics of what to wear, the equipment you need to do CrossFit at home, and when you need to go to the gym.

For an introduction to CrossFit, check out this CrossFit For Dummies video.

The basics: Clothes and shoes

Forget t-shirts, baggy shorts, sweats, and high-tops. CrossFitters need to dress lean to accommodate all the different workouts they do.

  • Clothes: As a CrossFit athlete, you probably don’t want to invest a lot of money in workout clothes. CrossFit training is hard work, and your clothes will take a beating and will be soaked with sweat at the end of each WOD. When outfitting yourself, think close-fitting or skin-tight, with plenty of flexibility. Baggy clothes can get caught up in equipment and can lead to wardrobe malfunctions if you’re not careful; you don’t want your shirt or shorts riding up when doing a handstand! Also, remember that your clothes offer protection for your skin; for example, spandex shorts that cover your thighs will protect against rope burns when rope climbing. And no pockets, because things (like your thumbs) can get caught in them.

  • Socks and gloves: Do you think high knee socks went out in the 1980s? Think again. CrossFitters understand their benefits: The extra padding offers crucial protection for your shins when doing box jumps and rope climbs. And don’t forget a pair of workout gloves or gymnastic grips to protect your hands from getting torn up when doing pull-ups or lifting weights.

  • Shoes: This is one area in which you may want to invest a little more. Typical running shoes can’t cut it, because their soles are too cushy. You need shoes that have flat soles and are built for pounding and sharp, quick moves. The Reebok Nano and the New Balance Minimus are popular cross-training shoes.

Equipment for CrossFit at home

Of course, you can begin CrossFit training at home with no equipment at all. Exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and running require only the necessary space in which to do them. But if you want to expand your WODs and add variety, consider these low-cost equipment options:

  • Pull-up/chin-up bar: This is considered a key piece of equipment for CrossFit, but the challenge is finding a place to put it. Many people put their pull-up bars in little-used doorways, like a closet. Make sure you get a sturdy bar that can support your weight and anchor it securely to the walls. Or you can just skip the D-I-Y and pay a little more for a ready-made pull-up bar that mounts to a wall.

  • Sandbags: You can create your own sandbags out of heavy-duty canvas (found in any hardware store), pea gravel, and a little sewing know-how.

  • Jump box: With a few 2x4s and a sheet of thick plywood, you can custom-make your own jump box. Just make sure to provide enough bracing inside the box so you don’t crash through the plywood when you jump on top of it.

  • Jump rope: Get an ultra speed jump rope, which you can find for $10 to $20 at any sporting goods store.

  • AbMat Abdominal Trainer: CrossFitters love the AbMat, because it supports your back while you work those upper and lower abdominals. You can find AbMats for as little as $25.

  • Kettlebells: These can provide a low-cost substitute for small free weights in exercises involving swings, presses, pulls, rows, and deadlifts. You can also use them to enhance a number of exercises, such as squats and push-ups. You can get a set of kettlebells for under $100 or buy them individually for under $50 each, depending on weight.

  • Resistance bands: These can be a low-cost alternative to weights and expensive fitness machines. With a little creativity, you can do bench presses, curls, triceps extensions, leg raises, rows — you name it. You can find sets of resistance bands (with different weight resistances) for under $100, or you can buy the bands individually for under $40, depending on the level of resistance.

When you need to go to a CrossFit gym

Sometimes, you may feel the need to go to a CrossFit gym or other facility to work out, possibly because you don’t have the equipment at home. Perhaps the equipment would be too expensive or it just isn’t feasible to have the equipment at home. Here are types of equipment for which you may need to go to a gym:

  • Free weights: A full set of weights can be costly and bulky to keep around the house.

  • Exercise machines: Rowing and stepping machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, and the like are expensive and take up a lot of room in the home.

  • Swimming pools: Let’s face it — not many people can have an Olympic-sized swimming pool in their backyard for swimming laps.

  • Ropes: Rope climbing is considered a core CrossFit exercise, but where are you going to find a 50-foot rope to climb?

  • Gymnastic rings: You may be able to hang gymnastic rings from your garage ceiling, but you’re out of luck if you don’t have a garage or another place to hang them.

You may find other reasons to go to a gym that don’t involve equipment. Perhaps you need the motivation that paying for a CrossFit class provides. Perhaps you enjoy the camaraderie and competitive aspect of working out with others. Whatever the reason, a CrossFit-affiliated gym can give you as good a workout as you can get at home.