November 30, 2017
The short answer is NONE. There are no special shoes, belts, or straps that are going to magically boost your fitness. In fact, too much reliance on these pieces of equipment can quickly turn them into crutches. Nevertheless, there are a few things to consider if you want to maximize your efforts. Probably the most important is a good pair of shoes. Generally, as is CrossFit fashion, the WODs contain a mix of weightlifting, gymnastics, and calisthenics (things like jump rope and box jumps). A flat, stable shoe is going to be best suited for most of the movements in Crossfit. Believe it or not, you don’t have to go out and buy the latest and most expensive Reebok Nanos or Nike Metcons. Although these shoes have proven to be very durable, any flat shoe will work. In other words, stop wearing your running shoes. Shoes made for running generally have a thicker heel to help absorb impact. However, these shoes tend to throw off balance when performing movements that require a solid connection to the floor, such as deadlifts, squats, olympic lifts, box jumps, etc. The soft soles and construction of the shoes themselves also leave too much room for the foot to slide around and cause instability. You know how the coaches are always saying “drive through the heels?” Since the holiday season is upon us, there are several deals to be had on quality shoes, so my advice is to invest in a new pair of shoes with minimal cushion.
What about “lifters”? Or weightlifting shoes? Unless you spend the majority of your time olympic lifting, weightlifting shoes are not necessary. They are a great tool for the clean and jerk and snatch because of the stability they provide to the foot. Lifters serve a specific purpose and definitely are not necessary if you are doing mostly Crossfit WODs. However, if your interest lies with weightlifting, investing in a quality pair is a good idea.
The next most common things we see are weight belts and knee sleeves. A properly fitted weight belt will sit right on the waist. The main purpose for a weight belt is for bracing and stabilizing the core. Generally, one would wear a weight belt when going for max effort lifts. It is important to develop a strong core over time and proper bracing technique, so if you are using the weight belt to overcome a weak core then you should scale back and work on developing the strength needed to move heavy weight. Once you have a good foundation, then training with a weight belt can be beneficial, however it should never be relied upon like a security blanket. Learning how to brace against the belt is how you maximize its usefulness.
Knee sleeves are another piece of training equipment that can be very beneficial. Thickness of the sleeve varies, the use of which depends on what you are doing. For example, for regular Crossfit WODs a thinner sleeve will work just fine, as they will keep the knee joint warm, reducing stiffness. Thicker sleeves are best suited for heavy lifting as they also aid in stabilization of the knee. Again, the use of knee sleeves are strictly preferential for WODs. Properly warming up before a workout and utilizing good technique will go a long way in preventing injuries.
In a gym setting, there seems to be an abundance of equipment that leaves some wondering what is actually necessary for their fitness goals. Most likely as one becomes more experienced, the need for more will come about, but always feel free to ask a coach. Don’t feel obligated or peer pressured to deck yourself out in belts, sleeves and expensive shoes, as they aren’t necessary to the success of your Crossfit journey. I’ll leave you with a great quote from the world famous power lifting coach Louie Simmons. ”Don’t have $100 shoes and a 10 cent squat”