Building Your CrossFit Closet

So you’ve been doing CrossFit for a month or so now. If you’re on social media, you have probably been solicited to purchase all sorts of gear. I’m here to tell you, don’t worry, you don’t have to buy it all. In fact, you don’t have to buy any of it! All you need for CrossFit is athletic clothing, a good pair of solid soled shoes, and yourself! There are hundreds of different things you can buy, but what makes the most sense, and in what order? I like to think about it in terms of benefit versus effort. Where benefit is how much this specific gear will help develop me as an athlete, and effort is how much it will cost me. Over time, as your budget allows, there is some gear that you can invest in that will help you progress towards your goals.

The first thing I would recommend would be buying a pair of solid soled shoes. For all practical purposes, you will wear shoes in all CrossFit workouts, you will definitely get your money’s worth out of CrossFit shoes. Running shoes are great, but for just that. Running. In the sport of CrossFit, you will run, but typically not to distances where a soft soled running shoe is necessary. 99% of the time a hard soled, flat shoe will benefit you in the WOD. The downside to wearing running shoes in a CrossFit workout is that they do not give you the stability that you need. Under load or in jumping movements, they tend to give out. Flat, solid soled shoes will give you the proper support while doing all weight lifting movements, as well providing you stability while performing such movements as box jumps and wall balls. I’m not going to try to sell you on a specific brand of shoes, but some of the most popular CrossFit brands are Reebok Nano, Nike Metcon, or NoBull.
Typical price range – $80-130

The next thing to add to your closet would be a good speed rope. In a typical weekly CrossFit program you’ll see double unders programmed at least once, if not, multiple times. Jumping rope will help you build coordination, speed, and endurance. While most gyms will have ropes for you to use, having a rope cut specifically for you, will make WOD life easier for you! There are a number of different manufacturers of ropes. Look for one that has a 5-6″ handle and ball bearing rotating ends.
Typical price range – $15-50

For additional support and position assistance under heavy load, a weight lifting belt and Olympic lifting shoes should be your next purchase. Let me start by saying that neither of these are necessary for CrossFit workouts. I have yet to encounter a workout that specified any movement be done using either of these pieces of equipment. A weight lifting belt helps you create greater internal pressure, which will help keep your spine in its neutral position under heavy load. Lifting shoes will help correct your squat position, especially if you have poor ankle and hip mobility. The combination of these two pieces of equipment can help put you into a safer, more powerful position during the back squat, front squat, clean, snatch, and dead lift. My advice for using both of these, is do not turn them into a crutch! Unless you’re doing strict Olympic lifting training, make it a point to lift light, moderate, and moderately heavy loads in your normal shoes and without a belt! A general rule of thumb I use for myself is, if the load is less than 80% of my 1 rep max, I’m going to do it without Oly shoes and belt. That is, unless it is a large volume of repetitions, or happens to be programmed in the middle of a MetCon.
Typical price range: Belt – $50-150, Oly Shoes – $90-200

Of course there are dozens of other gadgets that you can add to your CrossFit closet: Knee sleeves, knee wraps, gymnastics grips, gloves, AbMat, weighted vest, the list goes on… Depending on the workout, your goals, and your current physical condition, these can also greatly help you out. If you have questions about these, or other equipment, feel free to reach out!

-Cliff Rudzki 
CFL1 – USAW Sports Performance Coach


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