What Gear do I need for CrossFit?

CrossFitter’s historically march to a different beat. We train harder than most people who exercise and we do it in some of the weirdest clothing. But not all the stylistic choices are for show. Some things are actually functional, but most aren’t necessary.

In an attempt to bring some clarity to all the training accessories you could buy here is a list of equipment that you’ll often see people using that may be helpful but may not be necessary.

1. CrossFit Shoes

With the growth of CrossFit there are several shoe manufacturers that have developed shoes specifically for our style of training. There are some benefits to these shoes but nothing that warrants the added expense.

 Reebok CrossFit Nano

Reebok CrossFit Nano

 Nike Metcon

Nike Metcon

 Inov-8 F-lite 185

Inov-8 F-lite 185

What’s important in a training shoe is good solid sole, little height difference between the toe and heal, and limited cushion. These traits are helpful for feeling more grounded during heavy lifts and promote generally better positions in all training modalities. The shoes designed for CrossFit meet these priorities but so do other less expensive options.

 Adidas Samba

Adidas Samba

 Converse All Star (Chuck Taylors)

Converse All Star (Chuck Taylors)

2. Lifting Shoes

Weightlifting shoes reduce the required ankle range of motion to perform a squat with an upright torso. They also have very hard soles which help transfer power from your legs in the lift being performed. Professional weightlifters use these and there may come a time when you want to give your olympic lifts a little extra edge but they are not necessary. Four time CrossFit games champion Rich Froning has snatched 300+ lbs in some Reebok Nanos.

3. Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps exist to add support to your wrists when lifting heavy weight overhead. As a general rule most of us don’t have the capacity to lift heavy enough weight that we need them. If we use them on lighter weight we may actually be robbing our wrists of gaining some strength.

Compared to the rest of our body the wrist joint is pretty small and probably can’t support the same amount of weight as we can in a back squat. If you’re putting the same amount of weight you back squat over your head then by all means use some wrist wraps.

4. Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves differ from knee wraps. Wraps are used to help support very heavy squat loads much like the wrist wraps mentioned above. Knee Sleeves slide up the legs and go over the knee. They add a little compression/support but more than anything else they keep body heat in the joint. If you’re a little older or have ruined your knees over the years, keeping them a little warmer can make your squat a little less uncomfortable.

Though lately I see a trend of the “cool kids” using their knee sleeves as ankle guards so they don’t scrap up their shins when keeping the barbell close on a deadlift, clean or snatch. I think this looks silly but whatever.

5. Tall Socks

Back in the day (about 3 years ago) long socks were the CrossFit fashion. They have since fallen out of style (for some people. I still wear them) but they did more than just look cool. As stated above knee sleeves are the new long socks. Long socks were worn to protect your shins from the barbell and to some degree a missed box jump, and you can run and jump with them on. Good luck setting a good 400 meter time with some knee sleeves around your ankles.

6. Jump Rope

Double unders are staple in CrossFit training. For some people they are a nemesis and take years to master. They are a skill that takes time and practice, and the more time you can give to the task the faster you’ll improve. Part of the skill is learning the rhythm of the jump and rope swing. This rhythm will feel and sound a little different on each rope you use. Using the same rope all the time will help you be proficient at the double under.

Owning your own rope is helpful because you can’t ensure you’ll always get the same rope at the gym. True mastery of the double under would mean you can do them with whatever rope you’re given but learning is a lot easier if you take out that variable.

Now go move better.