There are SO MANY OPTIONS and SO MUCH GEAR marketed to fitness folx. How do you even know where to begin???
We shall help you. Here are the TOP 3 GEAR PURCHASES we recommend for newer lifters. (Side note: this also makes a great gift guide…)
(Another side note: we don’t receive any kickbacks from anything you see below. A couple of the companies sponsor our events, but we receive nothing in exchange for this post. We’re recommending these items because we genuinely like them.)
If you’re going to lift weights (or do any physical activity) you need the right shoes! Notice I did not say, “you need *these exact* shoes” or, “you need expensive shoes”… I said, “you need *the right* shoes.” There are lots of options, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money.
Getting the right shoes is important because you need to lift/move from a stable base that supports your activity. For running, you want something with a little more cushion because of the impact. For lifting, we want something flat and solid. This allows you to feel grounded and press evenly through the floor while lifting. It also helps to transfer force better (instead of losing that force in a mushy shoe sole). So for lifting, flatter and harder is better.
Great starter shoes for lifting:
- Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars (aka “Chucks”) – They’re a super common lifting shoe, you can find them all over the place, and they’re reasonably priced. Plus they come in all kinds of fun colors and styles! (Just make sure you get ones with nice flat soles.)
- NOBULL Trainer or Trainer+ – These shoes are made specifically for lifting and are super durable. They have a little more cushion to them (and a little more arch) than the Chucks, while still being very solid and great for lifting. You can also run in them (though I wouldn’t recommend farther than what’s in a typical CrossFit workout) and whatever else you want to do. (NOBULL also makes runners, which are amazing if you’re in the market for a non-lifting shoe.)
- Nike Metcon – Similar to the NOBULL shoes, these are designed for functional fitness. So they’re great for lifting and can also handle things like short-distance running, jump rope, box jumps, etc. They’ve been revamped a number of times over the years, and new colors come out all the time. So you can almost always find a great deal on an older “model” or colorway. (Check the Rouge website and Zappos.)
- Reebok Nano – Like the Metcons, these were designed for functional fitness. Also like the Metcons, you can find past models and colors at very reasonable prices. They get solid reviews from lifters and CrossFitters alike.
For a full look at belts, check out our “Do I Need A Belt?” post. For our purposes today – i.e. gear for getting started – we’ll stick to soft belts.
A soft belt is generally made of some combination of nylon and neoprene with a thick/wide velcro closure. We recommend a soft belt to start because it’ll be plenty of support for your needs, it’s versatile and flexible (literally and figuratively), and it’s significantly cheaper than a leather belt.
We use belts because they provide support for your back/trunk/core while performing heavier lifts. In general, we recommend getting a belt about 6-12 months into your lifting journey. Give yourself a couple months to get strong, build up your core, and learn to brace without a belt before investing in one. If you’re not sure if the time is right to get one, ask your coach or hit “reply” to this email and we’ll help you out 🙂
Great starter belts for lifting (these are all 4”-wide soft belts, which is what we recommend to start):
- Pioneer – both the **nylon** and the “hybrid” belts are awesome. They’re well-made, provide great support, and are reasonably priced.
- 2POOD – supportive, reasonably priced, and in a bunch of super fun colors and designs!
- You can see lots more belt options in our “Do I Need a Belt” post.
Wrist wraps support your wrists for bench press and overhead press. Some people (like me) also use them when doing heavy back squats. Like the belt, we recommend waiting a couple months before getting wrist wraps. Let your body build up some strength on its own before adding outside aid. But once you’re about 3-6 months in, wrist wraps will be super helpful!
You want to go with something that’s classified as “light” or “moderate” support. The “heavy” or “stiff” ones will be way too much for a beginner (and honestly too much for most intermediate lifters and smaller advanced lifters, too).
When you put on wrist wraps, they should be tight enough that you really want to take them off between sets. Not quite cutting off circulation, but almost. The wrap should be mostly on your forearm and a little bit onto the very base of your palm.
Great starter wrist wraps:
- Rogue – we recommend the stretchy ones (not the cotton ones)
- Cerberus – probably opt for one of the “less intense” options
- Nordic Lifting – sounds silly, but these are solid wraps (also available on Amazon)
If you look good, you feel good – right? There are so many choices in workout apparel, and we certainly can’t name them all. But trust us when we say you’ll amass a TON (possibly an actual literal ton) of workout apparel along your fitness journey. As you’re starting to build your collection, here are some things to look for:
- Comfort – you should be able to move comfortably and freely in clothes that aren’t restrictive. Pay particular attention to how tight something is around your waist, chest (across boobs/pecs and around lats), and shoulders.
- Durability – barbells have knurling, you’ll probably lay on the floor sometimes, and you’re going to be working hard! So get clothes that can keep up. Cotton and cotton/poly blends work well for tops, and there are lots of options for bottoms (though we recommend something with stretch).
- Flexibility – Bottoms should have plenty of stretch so you can comfortably squat and bend. Something with lycra, elastane, spandex, etc would be great.
- Passing the “Squat Test” – if you’re buying some kind of tights, leggings, or spandex make sure they pass the “squat test.” Put on the pants and squat down or bend over, then check to see if you can see right through to your bum. I mean, if you want to show off your cute undies, we’re here for it! But if not, this is *always* a good move before making a purchase.
- Supportive – Supportive sports bras make working out much more pleasant. Same goes for underwear. They should fit snugly, but not be restrictive. Remember that you’ll be standing, squatting, bending forward, laying down, and possibly jumping. So if there are things you don’t want bouncing around, some good undergarments will help.
DOUBLE-BONUS: We HIGHLY recommend a pair of knee-high socks for deadlift. If you’re deadlifting properly, the bar is going to drag right up your shins, and that can be pretty ouchy. Protect your shins (and keep your DNA off the bar) by wearing knee-high socks. There are loads to choose from, both from athletic brands and from novelty apparel places. Have fun with it!
And this is just the beginning! There are so many fun (and often helpful) things to buy and try for training. Ultimately, you’ll need to play around and see what works for you. The above is a great starting point. Honestly for many people, it might be all you need! (Except the apparel – you can never have too many leggings or too many shirts with gym puns, amirite?)
Need help or want advice on what to buy? We LOVE talking about gear! Just shoot us an email at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help 🙂