Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The open is over for most of us, now what?

How did the CrossFit Open go for you? 

For a majority of us, we can look back and see where our strengths and weakness were exposed.  In only 5 workouts the field was whittled down from an international field to the regional competitions. 

Was it the skill work, like the toes to bar or double unders?  How was the volume of work on 16.4?  Or a true lung burner like thrusters and burpees? 

These workouts were meant to challenge everyone from the new CrossFitter, to the most experienced games athlete.  And they did.  Just ask the athletes at any CrossFit box, like John Matheus of CrossFit Cariari.  They have the luck of working out in Costa Rica in the great weather!

Well, again, the open is done.  So, we all go back to our regular classes and continue our fitness path.  You many not want to be an open athlete, or possibly you do.  That is completely a personal decision and goal.

No matter what your goals, you can always improve on the movements that tripped you up in the Open.  A barbell with bumpers, pull up bar, and jump rope will allow you to work on most of the movements that we endured this last Open season. 

Having that very basic equipment at home allows you the flexibility to work on your skills, on your schedule.  I personally love going into the gym, and the class style workouts and the camaraderie that forms in the box.  But, I can't always work on specifics at the gym.  The classes are pretty full, and WOD of the day.  Being able to work on muscle ups or double unders at home on my own time certainly has benefits.  I am probably not going to go as intense on my own (just me, and I know it) but I can certainly improve the skills without killing myself (I will save that for the WOD).
focused on the skills, lift and

A small investment in your home, and lead to great benefits next time the open comes around.

We would love to hear your thoughts.

the Hammerhead Strength Equipment Team

Friday, April 8, 2016

Thoughts on Single Use Equipment

"CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movements performed at a high intensity." 

Most people who are into CrossFit or Functional fitness are very familiar with this statement.  The functional movements are generally associated with functional, multi use equipment.  Think of the barbell.  How many movements can you think of when you add a pile of bumpers?  Dead lift, squat, presses, cleans, snatches....  the list goes on and on.  Same can be said for kettlebells, medicine balls, the pull up bar, and multiple other pieces of equipment found in a typical CrossFit / Functional Fitness gym.  Get a few basic pieces of equipment in your garage or basement, and you can do a majority of the benchmark WODs, and follow almost any programing system. 

Now, here at Hammerhead Strength Equipment have always had a basic philosophy when outfitting a garage gym or CrossFit Box.  Avoid spending your money on anything that can't be used in at least 5 different ways.  (see some of our previous blogs, or give us a call to discuss, and you will see we are pretty consistent on this point)  Now this is only a recommendation.  We know that everyone programs their workouts and trains differently.  And the pieces and types of equipment below are great training tools. 


We all know that rowing is a great "whole body" workout.  Doing sprint intervals, a long steady row, or some combination of the two will give you aerobic benefits, and will help build lower and upper body strength.  Incorporating a rowing component into a WOD (see Jackie or Fight Gone Bad), and it can be down right brutal (55 cal row after 55 dead lifts and 55 wall balls, how did your legs feel?).

I will never say that they are not a good fitness investment.  The only problem comes when you want to incorporate them into a WOD for a CrossFit Class.  How many people do you have in class?  Do you have enough rowers?  At almost $1000 a pop, you may be limited in the number you have in your gym.  Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester (who's 10 anniversary of CF Rochester is coming up) has taken all of those 10 years to acquire enough rowers to accommodate a full class of athletes.  He has used, new, Model D, Model E, PM3, PM4, PM5, and everything in between. 

Glute Ham Developer

The GHD is another great tool.  Building core strength is a basic philosophy of CrossFit.  These are also great for rehab work when an athlete strains their back, or just want a little extra work.  I know many trainers use them for their personal training clients. 

GHDs have the same basic problems as do rowers.  They are a single use piece of equipment, that
takes up valuable floor space when not in use.  Again, I would not tell a trainer not to buy one, but think about how you will use it and how often. 

There are other pieces of ancillary equipment that we could discuss, but it would be more of the same (monkey bars, peg boards...).  Single use training tools can be great additions to a gym, if they align with your training goals.  (heading to Ninja Warrior, by all means have a rock wall and peg boards, and a warped wall!). 

Think about the value of the equipment.  For the same price as one rower, you can outfit a home gym with enough equipment to get great, varied workouts.  For the gym owner, think about additional bumpers, barbells and kettle bells.  How many people can you train for the same amount of money?

We are always happy to work with anyone who is thinking about equipment purchases.  We will never tell you what to buy, or what not to buy.  We just want to help you get the most for your hard earned cash.

Feel free to contact us any time.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Best Equipment for Your Garage Gym

We've got Three Great Equipment pieces in mind that can turn any Garage or Basement into the perfect home gym.  And the magic about these pieces is their low cost and superior scalability.  That means that no matter your strength or conditioning level, these pieces can adapt to your current fitness level and will continue to challenge you as your fitness improves.

Whether you are just thinking about making your home your gym or even if you are ready to pull the trigger, you'll want to have a read through what we think are going to be dollar for dollar the best investment you can make.

To start things off, we've just gotta admit that we've all been there...  We know that adopting some sort of fitness program is important to our health, but then we get sucked into one of those infomercials and before you know it we just dumped a month's salary on a piece of equipment that might very well be gracing the craigslist pages this time next year.

What seems like a fantastic investment on day one quickly loses it's luster and we're no better off a few months down the road.  There are a few ways to combat that.

For one, you could join a gym that runs class style programs with a coach right at your side to keep you motivated and fast friends that encourage you to keep going day after day, week after week.  If fact, it's not ever a bad idea to give something like that a go.  If you're completely new to fitness, there are definite advantages to having a strength coach get you in the know with proper range of motion, scaling and healthy eating.

If you've already gone that route and are looking to bring some of that right in your own home, then a garage gym setup might be just the thing.  These Three Garage Gym Equipment Pieces that we'll point out for sure won't break the bank and they'll have so many different uses, you'll stay interested.

Gymnastics Rings - If it were up to us, there would be a set of gymnastics rings in every able bodied athlete's home.  Gym Rings are infinitely scalable and bring a host of exercises for the beginner, intermediate and advanced athlete alike.  There's no need for 10 years of gymnastics training under your belt to put gymnastics rings to use.  Even a beginner can get them out of the box, hung up and into use the first day no problem.  And that's because they are so versatile and so scalable that you can target different muscle groups every day of the week.

  1. Supported Position - the most basic exercise that every athlete should be practicing at least once a week is the supported position.  With rings hanging just above your waist, grab a ring in either hand and hoist yourself up into a position with your arms straight at your sides.  Keep your hands down at your sides with your palms facing your legs.  Now hold that position for as many sets as it takes to get you to 60 seconds in that position.  Take breaks as often as you need but keep track of the time you're in that supported position and move on when you reach 60 seconds.
  2. Ring Rows - The unassisted pull up seems to be on every beginner's to-do list and with good reason.  It's a fantastic skill to own and if you just aren't there yet, ring rows are the perfect exercise to build on that pulling strength.  One of the secrets to mastering that chin up, chest to bar pull up or even bar muscle up is to bring a lot of variation to your training when it comes to pulling.  And ring rows are one of those great accessory exercises.  Ideally, you'll want to hang the rings just above waist height and grab the rings while lowering your body beneath them.  Anchor your feet against a wall or a stack of weight plates so that as you lower and return to the starting position, the angle of your body will remain constant.  To increase difficulty, lower the rings or raise your feet.  To make it easier, move your feet closer to the rings or raise the height of the gymnastics rings.
  3. Gymnastic Ring Push Ups - Coming in at one of the most popular and most effective strength training exercises that most any athlete can do with gymnastics rings is the push up.  The inherent instability in the gymnastic ring works your chest, arms and shoulders unlike the standard plank push up.  The Setup:  Hang the rings so that that are about two inches from the floor.  Get into a good plank position with your body line straight.  Grab both rings and lower your body all the while keeping that good body position.  Return to the starting position and repeat.

The Kettlebell - The second most important piece in any home gym is the kettlebell.  We just can't say enough good about this amazingly elementary but extraordinarily effective piece of gym equipment.  It's about as simple as it gets.  A steel ball with a handle but we won't be the first to tell you that it packs an amazing punch when it comes to transforming your body into an athletic machine.

  1. Movement Areas - The kettlebell can travel to tree points on your body - the hip, the shoulder and over head.  And any level athlete can take advantage of all the exercises a kettlebell brings to the garage gym.  We recommend three different sized kettlebells to keep the widest variety of exercises open to you.  The lightest kettlebell would be used for overhead movements.  The med range weight kettlebell is for all those movements that center around the shoulder area.  The heavy kettlebell is for those movements all around your central core area.
  2. The Kettlebell Swing - never to be overdone, the kettlebell swing is not only the most popular of the kettlebell exercises, it's also one of the most effective at toning and strengthening your body.  And since the overall skill required to swing correctly is moderate, most anyone can do it the right way right out of the box.  And the swing can be short - to the neck level, head high - level with the eyes, or even over head.
  3. The Kettlebell Press - Great for working the shoulders, moving the kettlebell from the ground to overhead is a great way to challenge not only your shoulders but also your lungs.  Just be sure that as you move the weight off the floor or back to the starting position that you do not bend at the hips.  Instead, move your butt down toward the floor while keeping your chest high.  Lowering your whole body is the best way to avoid back injury.
  4. The Overhead Squat - Now that you've got the hang of moving that kettlebell over your head keep it there when starting this next movement.  With the kettlebell overhead and central to the spine, keep the overhead arm vertical while lowering your body into a squat position.  Return to standing, using the opposing arm for balance off to the side.

The Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar - We're never about single use equipment unless it is stellar.  Many see the pull up bar as having only a single use, but we like it for a host of other reasons.  For starters it makes a perfect mounting station for gymnastics rings so if nothing else, it's a great way to get your rings hanging up in no time.  But more than that, we love the pull up bar when it's used to smash your core with exercises like knees to elbows or toes to bar.  The idea on these two exercises is to lift your lower body off the floor while hanging on to the pull up bar.

Ready to build that Garage Gym or Basement Workout Room?  Come see us at Hammerhead Strength Equipment.