We do everything possible to guarantee a good day in the gym. We have our music, our intra-workout drink, even the right clothes to keep the mind and body fully engaged and the workout kicking. The right gear is good for that, too, and I’m not talking your basic “sweat wicking” blah blah blah. Integrating any of the following items where appropriate can be the difference between a good workout and a painful, half-assed, every-rep-sucks workout. What’s your New Year’s resolution this year? To keep being awesome, of course. There’s no better holiday gift for that someone special—meaning yourself—than a quality workout hack that has you ringing in the New Year as strong and pain-free as you’ve ever been.
Versa Gripps PRO
Where to buy: versagripps.com
Strength should dictate your lift, not a crumby grip. When I started lifting seriously, I bought long straps and some Freddy Krueger-esque hooks to boost my grip game. After a few weeks of feeling like a mess, I ordered some Versa Gripps. Years later they are still a gym-bag staple. The patented technology assists with pushing and pulling exercises, and the nature of the design saves your hands from calluses, even when doing long sets of pull-ups, even kipping pull-ups, that used to tear my hands to hell. The wrist support is smartly funnel shaped to distribute weight evenly throughout the base of your hand. With a slew of colors and prints, you can even match them to your favorite sneakers. Or am I the only one who does that?
Where to buy: gotape.com
Price: $15 for 20 pre-cut strips
By now you’ve seen tape in every color of the rainbow on every bodypart you can imagine, but what the hell is it? My testing shows kinesiology tape (k-tape) to be helpful on several fronts, specifically taking up slack where support, circulation, or muscle balance is lacking, but not all tapes are created equal. Go Tape comes in cotton (everyday use) and synthetic, for the athlete who plans to move with purpose and sweat vigorously (that’s you). What contributes to this tape’s superiority is the adhesive. The tape stays on for days, comfortably, without losing adhesion but also without turning crusty or feeling stretched out. The website is full of useful information and clear instructions on how to tape different bodyparts. The pre-cut version makes life easy, and everything should be easy but the workout.
Where to buy: gasp.nu
Don’t spend your money on anything more expensive than these wrist-supporting wraps. Unisex, elastic, adjustable, and long lasting, the wraps only come in one size to take away all the guesswork of what to order. These will be especially helpful if you’ve suffered a wrist injury or have naturally small wrists that can’t keep up with your beastly lifts, especially if you’re working on getting into a good rack position. I’ve used these for barbell and dumbbell bench presses and overhead Olympic lifts when managing heavier weight. These can certainly be key in making it through those shaky last few reps.
Where to buy: topoathletic.com
The Halsa in an award-winning training and lifting shoe that comes in two different color combos (for both men and women). The shoe was designed for strength, speed, and power work—basically everything but distance running. (Which means it’s perfect for the Iron Man reader.) It’s a durable and flexible, yet stable shoe with a zero millimeter drop—a known squat-rack hack for keeping weight back on the heels. The wide toe box allows for toe spread, and the anti-slip laterals of the shoe will keep you from hitting the deck when doing side planks. I like this lightweight brand and the minimalist, smart design enhanced by the pops of color. Express yo’ self.
HumanX Foam Core Belt
Where to buy: humanxgear.com
Consider your goals. Training for a show or training for the Olympics? This particular foam belt is geared more to a bodybuilder than a powerlifter, with supportive Velcro that will eventually give if you push it too far by building too much abdominal pressure (think: 405-pound squat). The performance boost is moderate, but the stability increase is substantial, helping you power through with a reduced chance of injury. Of course it’s up to you to make sure you’ve done proper core work and that your form is technically correct. The five-inch foam belt with three-inch stabilizing strap comes in either all black or black foam with a pink strap. IM