2014 Strength Athlete Holiday Shopping Guide
Welcome, strength lovers. No matter your flavor of strength training - if you are serious about lifting (or know someone who is) you are sure to find something you love in this list. But have you been good this year?
Here are my picks of the most useful, most fun, and generally most awesome strength-related gifts for 2014:
Where to Get It: How Much Ya Bench
Description: I've only recently acquired this little beauty, but I already love it. This is a tool that gives you help where you need it most in the bench press - the bottom of the lift, when the bar is at your chest.
The Slingshot increases the volume of reps I can do with heavy weight. It promotes external rotation through the shoulder. It lends itself to perfect vertical forearm positioning. And it allows me to work the triceps (much needed) without killing the shoulders too much. I'm planning to experiment with the Slingshot a lot over the forthcoming months. Let me know if you want to see a full article on it in the future.
2. Reebok CrossFit Lite TR
Where to Get It: Reebok
Description: These are actually powerlifting shoes, designed by Mark Bell (In fact he designed the Slingshot too.) And yeah, I know, you've lifted in your old Chucks for years, and you're perfectly happy with them.
Well, I've been driving round in a nine-year-old hatchback for years and I'm perfectly happy with it too. But when I step into a Porsche, I feel the difference. So step into these and feel the difference. They grip to the ground like hell, which allows you to concentrate on performance. A bit like a Porsche.
3. Westside Barbell Premium Bands
Price: $16.95/pair to $49.95/pair
Where to Get It: Westside Barbell
Description: I couldn’t decide whether to put bands or chains on to this list, as their benefits are somewhat comparable - mainly developing application of maximum force throughout the entire range of motion. If you're interested in learning more, and you should be, Craig Marker has written a good article on benefits of bands and chains.
I decided on bands because they are a little cheaper, less noisy for Santa to creep around the house with, and offer additional benefits to chains such as teaching eccentric speed. I use bands to accelerate results (there's a physics joke there if you spotted it) with Olympic weightlifters, strongmen, powerlifters, CrossFitters, and many more - there's much to be had from these giant rubber bands.
4. Rogue HG Collars
Where to Get It: Rogue Fitness
Description: Will these make you stronger? Not directly. But they will help you to get your weights on and off faster, which will get your work done quicker, which means more work in less time (hmm, that sounds familiar), which means more gains.
And anyway, after a grip intensive workout, the last thing you want to be doing is messing about with old, stiff, spring collars.
5. Strength Wraps
Where to Get It: Strength Wraps
Description: I'm all for saving time and energy for where it matters. I'll work my warm ups so that I'm warm enough, but save as much energy as possible for my working sets, where it counts. And the same is true for any equipment I'm using.
Strength Wraps are wrist wraps which wrap multiple times around your wrist, and loosen or tighten with a simple twist. This means you can keep them on for the entire session, making them tight for your lifting, and looser in between sets so they don't cut off your circulation. And they come in superhero editions too. Winner.
6. Strength Matters Summit Tickets
Where to Get It: Strength Matters
Description: What do Dan John, Steve Maxwell, Perry Nickelston, Paul McIlroy, Mark Reifkind, Josh Hillis, Sean Greeley, James Fitzgerald, and Dave Whitley have in common? Apart from being world leaders in their fields, they are all speaking at the Strength Matters Summit in San Diego, in March 2015.
This is the (first) U.S. version of the Strength Matters U.K. summit I spoke at last month. Strength Matters (led by business mastermind James Breese) know how to put on a killer event - and you will learn more than you can handle. If you're serious about your strength, get off your a** and make sure you are there.
7. Earthquake Bar
Where to Get It: Rogue Fitness
Description: Disclaimer - This is the one thing on this list I don't have. But I want it. A lot. (Hint to anyone I love reading this. Remember, I love you very much.) One of my favorite bench press variations is benching with kettlebells hanging off the bar via bands. I'll use it as a warm up, as a speed day main exercise, and even as a prehab and rehab drill for high reps.
This bar takes the oscillating effect provided by this kettlebell and band variation to a whole new level – hence the name of the bar. Get fixed, stay injury free, and build strength with this bad boy.
Testing the Earthquake Bar at the 2013 Arnold Classic
8. Superhero Long Socks
Where to Get It: SuperHero Stuff
Description: A simple one, good for most budgets, and helps to fill out the stocking. Nothing raises a smile (or the bar) like these superhero socks. That's right, these socks are guaranteed to add kilos to your lifts and muscle to your body.
Basically, they will turn you into your favorite superhero. Okay, they won't, but they might help you to feel like one. Or perhaps that's just me. And I need all the help I can get.
If you like what you see, share this list with your friends and family, so they know what you like too. Hope you have a happy and healthy holiday!