Saturday, November 30, 2013

Resistance Bands - Are They Just for Beginners?

Resistance Bands can sometimes have the stigma of being a 'beginners only' tool.  Because they aren't real weights, some can look down on them as not being useful to the serious strength student.  How can an oversized rubber band really do much, right?  Well, they are an extremely useful tool that might be a bit underutilized, especially in the Basement Gym.

It is true that there is no distinctly measurable amount of resistance in each band and chances are you're not going to boast to your buddies that you can strict shoulder press two Green Resistance Bands.  Seriously...don't do that :) [That would be quite impressive, though]

We've found resistance bands to be very useful in training.  They are nearly without equal when it comes to providing assistance and resistance with bodyweight pulling and pressing movements such as the Pull Up, the Muscle Up and the Dip.  Resistance?  Yep...we'll get to that.  But first...

We're putting together a series on the usefulness of the resistance band.  Think it's only for the beginner?  We'll change your mind.
A set of these are useful in every gym.
Resistance bands [or should we call them assistance bands?] are perfect for helping you move your body weight in both pulling and pressing movements.  For months I struggled with the Ring Muscle Up.  That transition point between the pull and the press is difficult to isolate and train and it is at that point that many fail.  We can train chest to bar pull ups and deep ring dips which are essential, but that moment, that small movement in which the exercise changes from a massive pull to a deep press is essential to master before you'll gain the Muscle Up.

But figuring out how to attach a resistance band to Gymnastics Rings such that it doesn't pull them together or get in the way of your grip is nearly impossible.

However, if you've got one of our Affiliate Rigs or Squat Racks then stretching the band in between the J-Cups with the Rings hanging overhead is perfect.  The band becomes a simple platform you can step on or kneel on to assist in any pulling or pressing movements.
Positioning a resistance band stretched between two J-Cups is perfect for assistance with the Muscle Up and more.
Position the band below the rings.


Positioning the Squat Rack under the Gymnastics Rings or even under a Pull Up Bar works great.  Change the amount of help you get by changing the band or adjusting the level of the band up or down.

From here, I can easily step on the red resistance band to help give me that little extra help with Ring Dips or if I keep in a tucked position to a squatted position on the floor, then I can pull from below the rings to above them to practice that transition point in the Ring Muscle Up.

Additionally, if I've got the Ring Dip fairly well mastered [10+ continuous reps] then I can use the resistance band to add resistance to the exercise in a few different ways.

With the Squat Rack in the same position, now I'll squat under the band and as I stand up, position the band across my shoulders so that it pulls me downward.  Now as I grab the rings and get into the Ring Dip Position, the resistance band is pulling me down as I press into the dip.

If I don't have a Squat Rack or Affiliate Rig  to hang the resistance band from I can tie a Lark's Head knot on the handle of a heavy Kettlebell then loop the band around my shoulder to provide the resistance.  I find that it is better to use a kettlebell that is heavy enough that it will stay on the ground as you are moving through the exercise.  Get one too light then it starts swinging around as you move and might throw you off.

And this is only the beginning of how useful they can be.  Subscribe to our blog for more tips and tricks to using your equipment to it's fullest.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gear Tips - Bumper Plate Storage Rack

Storing your bumpers into piles is what most everyone does.  Is there a better way?
Storing bumpers on moveable platforms is a win.
We got a call today from Matthew A. out at +CrossFit Momentum in Nyack, NY.  Matthew and team run a great gym out there that is seeing a bunch of success.

We're hearing a lot of that lately...  It's great to see small businesses doing well.  Especially in the fitness industry.

Matthew called in to ask us about our bumper storage dollies.  We think it's important to not only stock your gym with great equipment, but storing it and caring for it go a long way in keeping your facility running smoothly and your equipment lasting a long time.

Matthew told us that there were two things that really drew him to our product.

  • A Solid Plate Bottom
  • The Removable Center Pin
We went with the solid plate bottom to provide a more robust platform for the bumpers to sit on and the large surface also allowed us to increase our caster size.  Our industrial strength casters will support 500lbs each.  And with four of them per dolley, we're covered.

Our bumper storage racks take the idea to the next level.  Our center column is removable.  And that's super convenient.
Our dolley with the center pin removed.
The removable center pin was just the right thing to do.  Not only does it make the unit easy to ship, it makes the bumper dolley much more useable.

The idea is to keep the center pin in place when returning bumpers to the dolley.  The pin will keep them all lined up which prevents the stack from toppling.  But, when it comes time to take the bumpers off the dolley for use, pull the pin out.  With the pin out, the bumpers come off the dolley much faster without the need to 'feed' the bumper all the way up the pin before it can be removed.


We're a big fan of smart, effective storage solutions for equipment in the gym.  Not only does it keep your gear within easy reach when needed, it also helps your gym look great and well kept.  And with storage units like the Bumper Plate Storage Rack, each size or weight of bumper can have it's own place.  That makes it easy for folks to choose when loading their barbells and also encourages everyone to put everything back in it's place when they're done.

So, thanks to CrossFit Momentum for giving us a call and thanks for letting us know you liked what we're up to.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gear Tips - When It's Time to Expand

One of our clients, Mark P. of CrossFit MTZ in Mt. Zion, Illinois started with a modified 5-7 Athlete Package for his CrossFit® Affiliate not long ago.  In a very short time, he’s seen a bunch of success and is getting ready to expand his affiliate.  Mark wrote in the other day asking about pricing on the Concept 2 Rower.  He loves the rowers but wasn't convinced they were the next logical choice for expansion.

Like many other gyms that are expanding, he wanted to know what our thoughts were on what the next best equipment items were for his gym.  We get that question a lot so it only makes some sense to share our ideas on what we think are the next logical steps for expansion.

Many Affiliate Owners ask us about what equipment we think is the best choice to expand their gym.  See what we have to say.
A Fleet of Rowers in the Gym is eye catching and provides great benefit but when it is the right time to take the plunge?

The Concept 2 Rower is a stellar piece of US Made equipment that over delivers.  It holds a certain clout in the CrossFit® circle as an excellent tool and we certainly agree.  But, is the rower the next logical piece to expand your growing gym?  Granted, many of your athletes are improving dramatically and you want to find new ways to challenge them.


But, before you make the plunge into outfitting your gym with rowers, ask yourself how is my gym expanding?  Is it that you can no longer challenge your athletes with the amount and sizes of weight you have?  Do you not have enough heavy kettlebells or medicine balls?  Are you running out of bars and bumpers?  Normally, expansion comes by way of more clients.  And if your classes are beginning to overflow, you are probably running short of bars, bumpers, kettlebells, gymnastic rings and abmats.


Our suggestion, nearly 100% of the time, is to grow your gym with the essentials and hold off on the rowers until you've got your gym well-equipped to handle 10-12 athletes per class.  With your first purchase, you, like many others, may have opted to invest only in the basics and left Rowers off the list.  Perfect.  Burpees, Double Unders, Running and Tuck Jumps can go a long way in burning lungs and in saving you precious start up dollars.  And we're firm believers in our Golden Rule:



If you can't use a piece of equipment 5 ways, then don't start your gym with it.


Need help deciding on what is the best equipment to expand your Affiliate?  We can help.
For about the cost of a rower you can outfit one athlete with seven pieces of equipment.

Looking quickly at the numbers - for about the cost of a Rower you can equip one athlete with:



  • A Bar with Collars
  • A Medicine Ball
  • A Plyo Box
  • An Abmat
  • A Set of Gymnastics Rings
  • 190lbs of Hi Temp Bumpers
  • Two Kettlebells
In our opinion, this list just makes a ton of sense.  When you are equipped to handle 5 athletes and that 6th or 7th athlete walks in the door, a fleet of rowers doesn't do you as much good as all that gear above.  Even the super creative coach eventually has to resort to bodyweight exercises when running out of gear.  Get the essentials first so that when you do get more clients coming in, you can put a bar in their hands, have enough rings hanging and have enough kettlebells and medicine balls to keep them coming back for more.  Once you are outfitted for 10-12 athletes, start assembling your fleet.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gear Tips - Affiliate Rig - Assisted Pullups

One of the most popular uses for resistance bands is in use for assisted pull ups.  For many beginners, the extra help that the resistance band offers is the difference between a failed rep and stringing several pull ups in a row.

One common way to provide this assistance is by fastening the band to the Pull Up bar with the Lark's Head Knot [pictured right].  This type of 'knot' is very easily undone when the athlete is finished with the workout so no worries about taking it off when the workout is over.  And even though this is a very popular and common method for providing that necessary assistance, we've seen two not so favorable issues that tend to come about by using this method of attaching the band to the pull up bar:


The Lark's Head Knot is the old stand by for attaching resistance bands to pull up bars.  But we've got a better way.  Read on.
The old stand-by for attaching bands.
  1. The bottom loop of the band is too high up off the ground for the athlete to quickly or easily transition into the pullup. This requires additional time for the athlete to get their foot into the loop and can put them into an awkward position causing them to lose their balance.
  2. To help athletes get into position faster, bumpers or plyo boxes are sometimes used to give them a platform to stand on.  The added height does make it easier to get into the resistance band but we're not a huge fan of stacking anything under the rig where it can become a tripping hazard.

If you've got a stand alone pull up bar [we know someone that makes a great one, by the way :D], there isn't really another option.  Just take your time when transitioning or if you do add a plyo box or bumpers, try to keep them off to the side rather than right under the pull up bar.




For those with a Garage Rig or Affiliate Rig, there is one simple change in how the band is attached to the rig can make a difference.  Our quick fix involves the use of the J-Cups in the Squat Station.  By stretching the resistance band across two J-Cups [they can be installed on either the inside or outside the posts], we've now got a much more stable 'platform'.
  1. The athlete now has a much easier time getting into position.  No loops to try to get their feet into.  Standing on the band with one or both feet is easy to do and won't put them off balance.
  2. By raising/lowering the J-Cups, the amount of assistance that the band offers can be varied.  That means that one resistance band has a much larger range of assistance when used this way. When hung from the pull up bar overhead with a Lark's Knot, the amount of assistance is constant for each athlete.
  3. The band can very quickly be attached/detached from the J-Cups if necessary to keep the area under the rig clear.
  4. For this method to work the best, have your athletes grab the low pull up bar from the inside of the rig facing out.  The high bar on the Offset Pull Up bars stands 8" away from the poles.  Using the band while grabbing the high bar is not as efficient.
Subscribe to our blog for more gear tips and ideas to make your Garage Gym or Commercial Facility even more functional.

We shot a video too to give you an even better idea of how to use the resistance bands for assisted pull-ups on our Affiliate Rig.  Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for even more gear tips.  Thanks for watching!

         

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Flat Bench - Has It Lost It's Appeal?

For some, seeing a flat bench in a training facility is taboo.  But we think differently of this training tool
Has the Flat Bench lost it's appeal in the functional fitness gym?

Is what was once the cornerstone in fitness now becoming obsolete in the Functional Fitness arena?  Walk into any commercial [dare we say 'globo'] gym and you'll see more than a  few Flat Benches.  For some, the revolution away from the days of the seated Bicep Curl or the Dumbbell Fly has brought about an adversity to the tool that was used in those exercises.  Yes, the Flat Bench is in some places, becoming obscure.

But with the advent of more functional training, should we steer away or are there ways to use the flat bench that maybe we just hadn't thought of?  If we could re-invent it's usefulness, would it find it's way back into the gym?

We've got some ideas that will get you pulling out and dusting off that seldom used piece of equipment and have you trying to catch your breath in no time.

The Shoulder Press - Really?  Can't I just stand while performing strict presses?  Yes, you could.  But have you ever noticed you or your clients, flexing knees or hips and turning the ever useful strict press into a push press? or push jerk?  Or have you ever come up off your heels when trying to max the lift?  The seated shoulder press takes the lower body out of the equation immediately and forces the work into the right muscle group.

The L-Sit or Straddle L - Great for the core, the L-Sit [arms locked in a body supporting position with feet straight out in front] is often performed on parallelettes.  For beginners, keeping the feet parallel to the floor is too challenging as the 8"-12" height of parallelettes doesn't provide enough height off the floor.  Using the bench provides a higher platform and training this position with the feet not quite parallel is still beneficial.  As your skill and strength improve, lift the legs higher and higher.  *Note: try the Straddle L as a variation - hands are placed inside the legs rather than outside the hips.

Elevated Push Ups - It's true that there are plenty of things to elevate your feet with, but if you are using your bumpers for Back Squats or Deadlifts then the Flat Bench makes a great choice.  And elevated Push Ups are a great way to bring Death by Push Ups [1-2-3-4-5... increase reps every round and perform within one minute on a continuously running clock] to a whole new level.

Assisted/Scaled Dips - With the feet on the floor and facing away from the bench place your hands behind you on the flat bench.  Lower your body to the ground while keeping an "L" position.  To increase difficulty, elevate your feet on a stack of bumpers.  This exercise is a great precursor to static dips on a dip bar or ring dips.

Ring/Bar Rows - Elevate your feet on the flat bench to enhance the difficulty of the Ring Row or Bar Row.

As you can see, the flat bench is a great tool for the functional fitness gym and in a basement gym where the plyo box isn't as practical, the flat bench steps in as a great platform to elevate the feet or upper body to perform some great all around strength and core exercises.

Have a use for the Flat Bench you'd like to share?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gear Tips for the Affiliate - Kettlebells

Easily one of the smartest choices in outfitting your gym is the kettlebell.
Kettlebells are a very versatile training tool that you can incorporate many ways.

Kettlebells are one of our all time favorite pieces of equipment.  Why is that??  It's because they follow one of our golden rules...

If you can't use a piece of equipment five or more ways, then don't start your gym with it.

Sure, there are some great pieces out there, but dollar for dollar, the equipment that you can incorporate into your training in multiple ways is by far the best investment.

The kettlebell is truly 'king' when it comes to versatility.  Here's just a few of the exercises that you can perform with it:

  • Deadlifts
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Cleans
  • Thrusters
  • Snatches
  • Figure Eights
  • Halos
  • Overhead Squats
  • Goblet Squats
  • Windmills
  • Push Presses
  • Weighted Lunges
  • Weighted Squats
We've easily rattled off more than a dozen movements with just one piece of equipment and there are more.  And one of the distinct advantages of the kettlebell is that it opens up a much greater range of motion than say a barbell, for instance.  Try performing a Halo with a Barbell.  Wait...seriously, don't do that :D

The only challenge that comes with the kettlebell is knowing what size to buy and how many.  For the Garage Gym athlete, we wrote a blog on how to choose the best sized kettlebells for your strength level.  You can view that here.  For the gym owner we've got some different advice.

We were talking with a potential client out of Philadelphia, PA the other day and this was one of his top questions:

How many kettlebells and what sizes are the most important to start with?  That's a great question by the way and one that we get asked all the time.

Here's one formula that we've found to give the gym owner the widest variety of sizes and quantities without emptying the bank account.  The top prescribed weights for kettlebells are 35lb-55lb-70lb.  You've got to have those in the gym, no question.  If you are preparing for 5 athletes a class, we recommend 2 of each of these.  If preparing for 10 athletes, then get 4 of each.  Ok - that's the easy part.

What do you do with athletes that walk in the door that are not prepared for those prescribed weights?  We suggest giving them two lighter weight options.  We like this mix of kettlebells 15lb-25lb-35lb-45lb-55lb-70lb [shown above].  Getting two to four of the 'odd' sized kettlebells is the best mix.  Why two lighter weight options?

When you've prescribed 55lb/35lb kettlebell swings on the board, the advanced athletes grab the prescribed weight, the intermediate athletes grab 45lb/25lb kettlebells and the beginners can choose 35lb/15lb.  Is this a perfect formula? No...but for the vast majority of the time, it works well.  If one or two of your athletes are foreced into a heavier weight than they are comfortable with then you can always adjust the reps or the movement.

Opening a gym or expanding your current one?  Or have any specific questions you'd like to see us address? Send us a note = sales@HammerheadFitness.com

3-2-1-Go!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Opening a gym? Where do you get the most bang for your buck?

You have committed to opening a gym!  Congratulations!  Very exciting times, and very stressful times!

After you find a great place to train your athletes and sign the lease, comes the next big decision.  What am I going to put in the gym? 

Now, not to be to obvious, you are going to need gear to program workouts and train your athletes.  What to get?  How much of each?  This is not intended to be an affiliate outfitting / buying guide, but just a few highlights on our thoughts at Hammerhead Strength Equipment when outfitting a new box.  By the way, this also pertains to a home / garage gym!

We do not want to talk you into or out of any piece of equipment.  We are not trainers, we do not program WODs, and would never tell you how to train your athletes.  But, what we do is try and get you the most value for your hard earned dollars. 

Of course, you need to start with a pull-up rack, bars, bumpers, med balls, kettle bells, abmats, dumbbells, rings, a timer, plyoboxes  and mobility gear.  You can program endless WODs with this basic gear. 

But, what about the more specialized pieces of equipment.  Most notably rowers and GHDs.  These are great, exhausting, and challenging pieces of equipment. 
Awesome movements for a workout that will really get your athletes fit.  But, think about how many bumpers and bars or kettle bells can get for the price of one rower or GHD?  And, how many people are you expecting in your classes?  It can be challenging to program workouts for 10 people with only two rowers. 

There is a flip side to this discussion too.  If you are planning on taking on private training clients, then rowers and GHD are a GREAT tool.  You only need one for each private client.  As time and goes on, you can then slowly increase the numbers of each of these as you grow your athlete base.  Next thing you know, you have 15 rowers in your stable of equipment and can program with much more flexibility.

Again, we will NOT ever talk you out of a piece of equipment, as long as it is high quality and durable to stand up to the punishment of CrossFit and functional training (admit it, we have all dropped some piece of equipment at one time or another, well, not during Cindy).

We would love to hear your comments and perspective on getting the most bang for your buck.

thanks

Matt

Hammerhead Fitness
Victor, NY



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gymnastics Rings - A Perfect Supplement to Your Training

Our wood gymnastics rings are 100% US Made from the rings to the straps.  Shop here.
Gymnastic Rings training is fun, brings you great strength gains and is more varied than you might think.

One of the most simple yet challenging pieces of equipment is Gymnastics Rings.  Not only are they lightweight, portable and affordable, Gymnastics Rings alone can help you build amazing amounts of strength.  Who hasn't been inspired after watching an elite gymnastics rings routine from an olympian?  They make it look easy that's for sure.  But, armed with patience, diligence and know-how, you too can use them to accomplish some amazing skills.

Ring Dips are a great strength exercise with gymnastics rings, but there even more to see here.
Ring Dips are a great exercise and there is so much more.
We've been writing on a series about building the Home Gym and gymnastics rings were the first equipment item we featured.  If you already have a gym membership and are looking for a supplement for home, rings really are an ideal choice.

Many commercial gyms lack this one highly effect training tool so adding them at home will give you an entirely new element of training.  And, you can also stick them in your gym bag whenever you are traveling.

Having a separate Gymnastics Rings station at home is the best option.  Mounting them on a pull up bar is great for Ring Push Ups, Ring Rows, L-Sit Training, Ring Dips, Front Levers, Back Levers, etc but it does limit all that you can do with them.  With a separate mounting bracket you can significantly increase the height at which they are hung and can therefore open up even more exercises such as Muscle Ups, Inverted Curls, and Inverted Hangs with pulls to supported positions, and the Iron Cross to name a few.

Are you training with Gymnastic Rings?  They are a fantastic supplement to your training.
Are you training with Rings?
Training with Gymnastics Rings is really quite fun.  Many of the advanced movements can be broken down into progressions or simpler movements which the beginner can use as stepping stones until the enough strength is built to take on the complex movements.

And movements such as Back Levers, Front Levers, Iron Crosses, and advanced pulling routines are difficult to incorporate into a group class setting because of all the varying strength and skill levels of the athletes.  And training these skills to serious gains requires more commitment than 10-15 minutes a few times a week but on off days these skills are a fantastic supplement to the wide variety prescribed in the group classes.

We've seen some great learning material on these movements on several sites but one of the most comprehensive guides we've read to date has been published by Coach Christopher Sommer. - "Building the Gymnastic Body"

Our flat bottom gymnastic rings mount keeps your rings spaced and oriented perfectly in your Garage Gym.
Our flat bottom design prolongs the life of your ring straps.
Should you decide to add gymnastics rings to your home gym or if you already hang rings from your pullup bar or rafters, Hammerhead Strength Equipment has redesigned our ever popular gymnastics ring mount.  Our new design includes flat mounting pins keep the gymnastics rings straps fully flat while mounted. Keeping them flat greatly reduces the stress placed on the strap and allows them to be adjusted easily and quickly.

Our new ring mount makes a great addition to your Basement or Garage Gym and working with Gymnastics Rings on your off days is a perfect supplement to your training.

Our gymnastics ring hanger makes a great addition to your affiliate or garage gym
Our Gymnastics Ring hanger makes a great addition to your gym.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gear Tips for the Affiliate - Medicine Balls

Selecting the right sized Medicine Balls can make a huge difference in how much you spend to start your gym.
Color Coded Medicine Balls make size selection for your athletes easy and they look great too.
Ok - gotta say it, I've got a love/hate relationship going on with the Medicine Ball.  Along with the Thruster, Wall Balls are my least favorite exercise ever.  I get the functionality of it, I know it's purposeful...still hate it. L.O.T.S.  But, that's a good thing.  They are a great tool and we're all about carrying great stuff :D

A quick Hammerhead Gear Tip for all you current and upcoming Affiliate Owners out there in the way of selecting Medicine Balls.  This is one of those equipment items that, if not kept in check, can drain your wallets fast.  And it's not that they are a poor investment, quite the contrary...

The Medicine Ball is a fantastic tool that can challenge every athlete from the beginner to the competition level machine.  But your budget can get blown fast if you purchase too many of them and/or the wrong sizes.

Our two most popular equipment packages are the 5 Athlete per class and the 10 Athlete per class.  And just as the name suggests, our equipment selections in those packages prepare you for that many athletes walking through the door during any class. [And we've got a little overflow built in too]

If you made perfect selections on Medicine Balls and always had the same level and gender of athletes in every class you would never have any left in the corner when the buzzer went off.  Well, that's just impractical...we know we've got to get you prepared for different mixes of athletes every class so:

Here's our Gear Tips for the Affiliate Owner on the Medicine Ball:
  • Put the bulk of your budget into RX'd sizes - 14lb for Gals and 20lb for Gents.
  • Our formula on RX'd quantites - 2 of each for the 5 Athlete Pack and 4 of each for the 10 Athlete Pack.
  • Now for the alternate sizes...
  • As a starting affiliate or even as one that's been at it for a while, there is always an influx of varying level athletes that walk in your door.  Tip:  Be prepared to offer them up to two sizes below RX'd and quit there.  If the 2 size below as RX'd is still too challenging, adjust the rounds or rep scheme for that athlete.
  • For men:  If the 20lb Ball is too heavy for one of your beginner athletes, have them grab the 14lb or a 12lb.  
  • For Ladies:  If the 14lb Medicine Ball is a bit daunting for one of your intermediate level athletes, they should be able to grab a 12lb or a 10lb ball.
  • And here's a nice extra:  Dynamax has  a wide range of colors that are available on ANY size ball.  Adding some color to them makes them easy to I.D. when it's game time and we can probably match the colors of your gym too.
We recently outfitted BearCat CrossFit out in Palm Coast Florida with a bunch of gear including this style of color coded Dynamax Medicine Balls.  When we asked them to chime in about their experience, here's what they said:

"...we agree with having the med balls color coded especially with the newer athletes.  This saves so much time and effort if the athlete had to select a med ball from a “bin” of med balls, or if the med balls are not properly stowed with same weight category.  

The size selection of how many of each size to choose came with a lot of thought.  Lucky for us we knew the majority of the athletes who were coming to us from another box however we had to think of the potential future clients.  We had to consider our demographics as our area is a retirement community sprinkled with pockets of younger generation so this played into our selection.  We considered the male to female ratio (knew we had predominately female athletes) and the potential of females who would excel beyond the recreational athlete and need to WOD with 20 lbs to get ready for a competitions using 14 lbs. With the help from Hammerhead (Steve) who gave additional insight we finally landed on how many of each size, placed our initial order and it has worked well up to this date!" - Jody P. and Cathy M., BearCat CrossFit

Want to hear more tips on gear selection and why we recommend certain equipment combinations over others?  Subscribe to our blog.

Have a question or comment?  Write us.  We'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Basement Gym Series Part 2 - Plywood Wall and Abmat

Now for Part 2 in our Basement Gym series.... [did you miss part 1?  Click here]

Part of the inspiration for my basement gym comes from CrossFit R5 in Wayne, PA.  I've been to visit their sister gym CrossFit Mainline in Ardmore and both have a very clean and industrial, yet finished look.  What do you think?
Hammerhead Fitness specializes in outfitting gyms just like CrossFit Mainline in Ardmore, PA.  Need great equipment and great service?  See us.
Plywood on the rear wall and columns is both stylish and functional.

The plywood on the walls and on the support columns is a stellar idea.  When I think of what Wall Walks, Handstand practice and HSPU do to drywalled walls, the plywood is a perfect solution and it looks great.  And to add to the look, CrossFit MainLine took some silhouettes of their trainers in various exercise positions then painted in the outlines.  Brilliant.

So, the next addition to the Basement Gym is a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood that isn't quite as stylish as I want it to be yet, but we'll get to work fancy-ing it up in the coming weeks.  And with the plywood, I'm now able to work on Wall Walks, Handstands and Handstand Pushups which are an outstanding exercise for building shoulder strength.

I bought a book a few years ago titled "Building the Gymnastic Body" by Coach Summers.  It is an absolute gold mine filled with static holds, upper body pressing, multi plane pressing and other movements along with the proper progressions to build to some very advanced movements.  From L-Sits and Mannas to the Planche and Levers, this book is a really handy reference and guide.  By following this book I was able to build the strength a few years ago necessary to pull from the floor to a ring Muscle Up with hardly a kip.  And two great things about this book - minimal equipment is needed [parallelettes and gymnasics rings go a long way] and the workouts are quiet.  My wife and kiddos like that part - no dropping of weights in the basement at 5:30am :D

Along with the plywood, I'm opting to add an abmat to help with all the Handstand Pushups and Headstand practice that I'll put in over the winter.  The top of my head said 'thanks.'  Additionally, it will get plenty of use for several variations of sit ups.  As a side note, I heard some great advice from Greg Walsh, owner and head trainer at +Wolf Brigade Gym in Rochester, NY.  Greg and I were shooting some video [yep, more on that later] on different bodyweight exercises and while we were shooting the Abmat Situp, he told me how important it is to keep the Abmat behind you rather than underneath you.  When positioned under the hips [ie, you are nearly sitting on it], the abmat acts more as a fulcrum, providing assistance to the movement.  But, when placed visibly behind you as it is meant to be, the movement takes substantially more effort.  That was a great tip.  I definitely noticed a big difference.

So, now with a set of Gymnastics Rings, a plywood reinforced wall and an Abmat, I'm on my way to slowly building a great Basement Gym.

We've got a bunch more planned to build out the gym so stay tuned or better yet, subscribe  to our blog and get an email each time we publish.  Have a question on a product or want tips on how to install?  Just comment below and we'll get right back to you.

Now what are you doing?  Get out there and train!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Basement Gym Series Part 1 - Gymnastics Rings

The first flakes of winter showed their face this week here in wonderful Victor, NY and although I've moved all my equipment out of my Garage Gym a few months ago, I thought a great topic for discussion would be moving from the Garage to a basement gym.

For me, one of the most thrilling moments is when I can move all of my gear into our two car garage in the Spring.  There is nothing quite like working out with the garage door wide open where I can run outside for a lap around the development then back inside to the pull up bar, rings, etc.

I've always felt that having to move into my basement for the winter was a bit like hibernating, like giving up much of what I could accomplish because of restricted ceiling height and the reduced noise level I'm allowed to make.  Could I invest in upgrading my garage to make it more livable during the winter months? I certainly could, but at a hefty cost.  And even if I did, where would we park the cars?  So, for my living arrangements, it doesn't make sense to stay in the garage.  If this sounds like you then read on...

In the coming weeks, I'll be posting updates to the blog with pieces that I've added to the gym so be on the lookout for "Basement Gym Series" posts.  I'm looking forward to making the small space I have as functional as possible and I welcome any comments you have on ideas or things you've done.


The room I have to work with is small but I look forward to the challenge of making it super functional.  Measurements are a meager 12'x9' with a drywall ceiling at 7'8".  I did plan ahead a bit and have a cutout in the ceiling at 22"x46" where the ceiling height is 8'4".  That should help some with overhead movements and pull ups.

The first thing I've decided to install is one of our Gymnastic Ring Hangers and a set of our Wood Gymnastics Rings.  Ever since I began CrossFit® training, I've been intrigued with rings and love how versatile they are.  Now, you might think that in this limited height the Muscle Up is out of the question, but a few years ago I had the strength to complete a ring Muscle Up from kneeling with no kip.  I think it's time to work to that again.

The Gymnastics Ring Hanger is installed!
There are a ton of exercises that Gymnastics Rings bring to even a small basement gym like mine.  Even with three or four basic movements I can keep my workouts varied.
Gymnastics Rings are the first in my Basement Gym
  • Ring Pushups [with straps 15 feet long and the ceiling height at roughly 8 foot, the rings can be mounted in the perfect position - about 1 to 2 inches from the floor]
  • Ring Dips
  • Ring Rows
  • Knees to Elbows
  • Toes to Rings
  • L-Sits and other static holds
  • Front Levers/Back Levers
  • Straddle L
  • Note - some of the more difficult movements such as Levers and Straddle L's have many progressions that make the movements easier for the beginner by changing the leverage.
  • Resistance bands can also be used to assist in countering some body weight to make movements easier.
A small, restricted height basement area might put a damper on some equipment items like the Plyo Box or Climbing Rope but with some ingenuity, elbow grease and some inspiration, I can make a space that keeps me constantly varied yet challenged.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bumper Plates - The Best Way to Save Your Investment

When making an investment in equipment for your gym - whether it be a full fledged commercial facility or a garage gym, you want that investment to last.  And we do, too.  Replacement of damaged or broken equipment is never a planned expense for anyone.

And we're aware that training with intensity requires quality equipment.  There is a big difference between using a set of bumpers in your garage once a day to placing those same bumpers in a gym with 100+ athletes using them daily.


As a gym owner, you probably experienced a broken 10lb or 15lb bumper plate from time to time.  Many of these lightweight bumpers will meet an untimely fate if they are the only bumper on the bar when dropped.  But we've got a simple, easy to follow barbell loading chart that can put an end to the early demise of those lightweight bumper plates.

We wrote a while ago on bumper math...that's the time you get to scratch your head to think about what bumpers you need to get on the bar to get a certain weight.  We know it can be a mad scramble after the warmup for all your athletes to get bars out, bumpers, collars, etc, then get all loaded up with their weight of choice.  It's at this 'hectic' time when sometimes we load whatever is the quickest to get set up quickly.  But that can also mean that the bars are not loaded in a way that is most favorable to saving bumpers from an untimely death.  Believe me, we've been there.

I've been training with and talking to gym owners for years and one of the best I've seen at having a game plan together for saving lightweight bumpers is Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester.  CrossFit Rochester is the 156th CrossFit affiliate in the world so when it comes to having experience with what does and doesn't work, Joe knows.  It does take a little coaxing of your athletes, but Joe's method is a seriously easy, foolproof way to protect your investment.  He put it all into a barbell loading chart which, with his permission, we posted below.

"Failure of the lightweight bumpers occurs most often with bar weights of 95lbs or less."

When the whiteboard has prescribed weights of 95lbs and less, it's then that you've got to be the most careful.  The lighter weight bumpers don't stand up well when they are the only bumper on the bar sleeve.  But, this simple, printable loading chart [below] that makes it easy for your athletes to load their bars in a way that will protect the bumpers from failure.

Assuming that the commercial gym has three different bars for their clients - the 20kg [or 45lb] Men's Bar, the 15kg [or 35lb] Women's Bar, and the 15lb Training Bar, the loading diagram is easy to follow.  If you don't own Training Bars, they are well worth the investment.  That 15lb bar is easily the difference between keeping your bumper plate investment for years or spending $500 plus every year or so on replacing them.

There is a little prep work involved to make the barbell loading diagram the easiest to use.  We promise that it will take no longer than an hour.  Run out to the local hardware store and pick up one roll each of three different colors of electrical tape - red, blue and green.  With the tape, color code each bar where the bar shaft meets the sleeve.  I'd recommend doing that on both ends of the bar.  Training bars - blue, Ladies 15kg bars - green and Mens 20kg bars - red.  If you have multiple storage locations for bars, store each type in a separate area - that makes our barbell loading diagram even easier for your athletes to use.

As I mentioned, Joe Celso came up with a fool-proof barbell loading diagram that we've re-created below.  It details how to load barbells for total laden weights of 25lb - 95lb.  Weights above 95lb always involve multiple bumpers on each side of the bar sleeve so no worries there.  The lightweight bumper plates are at most risk when they are the only bumper on the bar.

We know that drops from shoulder height and above are unavoidable, but by following Barbell Building 101 below, the life of the 10lb and 15lb bumpers will increase dramatically.   Only in two instances are the 10lb and 15lb bumpers allowed as the only bumper on the bar sleeve - for 35# and 45# total weight.  In these instances we strongly recommend the use of Hi Temp Bumper Plates for commercial facilities.  Hi Temp Bumpers are thicker and more  resilient than many of their high density counterparts.  For the 25# barbell, use 5lb steel weight plates on the 15# training bar.

Feel free to print our Barbell Building Guide below, laminate it, and post it up around the gym.
Save your lightweight bumper plates from an untimely death!  Print out, laminate and put this chart up in your gym.
Hammerhead Strength Equipment is a strength equipment manufacturer outfitting Commercial Facilities and Garage Gyms alike throughout the US and beyond.  Starting a new gym or expanding your current facility?   We can help!  Reach out to us for more info here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How Many Hi Temp Bumpers to Start Your Gym With?

We've got some great pointers for you when it comes to selecting the right bumper plates for your gym.
Just how many bumper plates do you need to get your gym started?
Bumper Math....we all do it.  Some at 5 am, some at 5 pm and most somewhere in between.  But the new gym owner lives and breathes it.  Me personally, I'm a 5:30 am'er and at that time of day, I'm lucky enough to keep track of my rounds much less adding up how many Hi Temp bumper plates I need to get to 255lb on the bar.  But most gym owners have an uncanny ability to calculate bumper math.  It's like their Mom's & Dad's hung barbell loading charts over their cribs...cool.

Naturally, it's something as an equipment supplier we deal with every day.  We do recommend Hi Temp Bumper Plates in most cases as they are super reliable and one of the most forgiving.  But just how many bumpers does a starting gym need?

So here are a few scenarios for two Class Sizes - one at 6 Athletes [3 Women/3 Men] and one at 10 Athletes [5 Women/5 Men].  Now...we can't always predict who will walk through the door or how every workout is programmed but these suggestions will by and large get you through 90% of the time.

Here's a quick key to help you understand the chart quickly:
  • We assumed 3 different sized bars - training, 35# and 45# and color coded them
  • The top of the chart is a loading diagram from 55lb to 135lb using the bars
  • Once we are loaded to 135lb, then we can add up to 110lb in 10lb increments with a set of 5lb steel plates and 2 of each - 10lb/15lb/25lb and 45lb bumper
  • We asked a bunch of very successful gym owners including Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester in Rochester, NY and David Rice of +Crossfit Buffalo in Buffalo, NY what they suggest for max weight on a bar during a metcon.  They suggested 275lb - 315lb Deadlifts would be the max they would program.
For each of our Equipment Packages, we've included the basic recommendation for how many Hi Temp Bumpers to get with the option to upgrade.



15# Bar
35# Bar
45# Bar
10lb Bumper
15lb Bumper
25lb Bumper 
45lb Bumper
55lb
x


4



65lb
x


2
2


75lb

x

4



85lb

x



2

95lb


x


2

245lb

x

4
2
2
2
115lb


x
2

2

125lb


x

2
2

135lb*


x



2
*Once the bar is loaded at 135lb then with 2 of 10/15/25 and a pair of 5lb Steel Plates you can load an additional 10lb to 110lb
235lb


x
2
2
2
2
245lb

x

4
2
2
2
345lb


x
4
2
2
4
















W1-W3
55lb-245lb
x
x

12
6
6
6
M1-M3
95lb-235lb


x
6
6
6
6
M1-M3 Heavy
95lb-325lb


x
6
6
6
12

Total Bumper Order for 6 Athletes 3W /3M max 245lb
18
12
12
12
Total Bumper Order for 6 Athletes 3W/3M max 325lb
18
12
12
18








W1-W5
55lb-245lb
x
x

20
10
10
10
M1-M5
95lb-235lb


x
10
10
10
10
M1-M5 Heavy
95lb-325lb


x
10
10
10
20

Total Bumper Order for 10 Athletes 5W/5M max 245lb
30
20
20
20
Total Bumper Order for 10 Athletes 3W/3M max 325lb
30
20
20
30
Key
W1/M1
Woman/Man - Athlete #