Friday, September 9, 2016

Keep it Varied

Having a variety of styles of equipment in your home gym or box is valuable for many reasons.  Primarily for scaling workouts, or varying technique in the workouts.

     We all know the CrossFit standards.  Box jumps are 24" or 30" for the guys, and 20" or 14" for the ladies.  Kettlebells are 35lb and 55lb and 70lb.  I certainly do not need to go through the whole list.  If you work out in your garage, or own a box, my guess is that you are well versed on all of the Rx weights and movements.   

     Most athletes do not start out performing movements as Rx.  Unless they are a high level athlete when they walk through the door, it is unreasonable to think that they would go Rx.  Even high level athletes need to learn the standards.  Any good coach or experienced athlete will know when to scale the weight or movement to prevent injury, and to maximize the effectiveness of the workout.  It may not be beneficial to do Grace Rx if it takes 25 minutes (though you have to start some where).

     Now, in addition to the decision / need to scale or not to scale, it is great to change out equipment to vary your standard workouts.  Changing your grip, adding variable resistance, and many other techniques can add variety to your workouts.

Let's start with the Rx discussion.

Mini Plyo Box 16x20x24     Plyo boxes.  The 20x24x30 is the standard.  But look around next time a 30" box jump is programmed in a WOD.  What percentage of athletes will go Rx at 30"?  There will always be a few, but typically not the majority.  That got us thinking, is there possibly a more useful configuration of the box?  We have developed a 16x20x24 three sided box.  It still has the 20" and 24" standard heights, but also a 16" height for newer athletes, or ones who are building confidence to get to the 20" height.  Additionally, stackable boxes are a great alternative.  Start with a 12" box, and add 4" with each subsequent box.

     Kettlebells.  These may be too obvious to mention.  Most boxes have kettle bells from 20lb to 55lb in 5lb increments.  Then jump right to 70lb.  15lb is a big jump, even if they are proficient at the 55lb weight.  Adding a 60lb and / or 65lb bell will help your athletes transition to the higher weight.

         Pull Up Bars:  You will have athletes performing toes to bar, bar muscle ups, and of course kipping, strict, and jumping pull ups.  What height it proper?  Now, there is no "correct" answer here.  I have had a couple of conversations about Pull Up Rack bar height with quite a few box owners, like Daniel Davidson at CrossFit Mainline in Ardmore, PA.  Here is what it boils down to....  We typically recommend two basic heights.  (and with our offset bars standard, you really get four heights).  As a gym owner, you can set half of the bars to a height that works for you, and one for someone who is not quite as tall as you.  You will probably not want to put them in the lowest height (you may knock your head if you forget to duck) or at the max 9' height (unless you have a few 6'9" athletes).  But, here is what we recommend.  Put the bars at "reasonable" heights.  As the athlete base grows, you will of course get a wider range of heights needed.  It is very simple to change the height of the bars as your needs change.  Multiple heights can alleviate the need for bumpers or boxes to get your athletes on the bar.  Nobody wants to worry about tripping on a bumper during Fran.  There is enough to worry about.

Non Standard Exercises;

The use of resistance bands with barbell exercises have become more and more popular.  In the previous post on incorporating resistance bands in training we covered the concepts used to get the most out of our band training.  For fun, the first person to send me an e-mail at with "band" in the subject line with their shipping address and a quick note to say hello will get a free blue band.  Many people are using heavy chains on the ends of the barbell it change the resistance over the exercises range of motion.

Many of us have been watching American Ninja Warrior.  Grip strength is one of the main components of the competition.  Peg boards, Door Knobs mounted on the wall, and the salmon ladder are great variations on developing upper body pulling strength.

We would love to hear your alternative exercises, and non standard gear that gives you a change up in your workout.


Hammerhead Strength Equipment