Category Archives: Gear Reviews

Jump Ropes, Belts, Bags, Sleeves, Supplements

Invest Fitness Plate Carrier Review

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I have to admit, my experience with plate carriers is (was) somewhat limited as this is the first one I’ve ever owned. Over the years, I’ve used different kinds of weighted vests for workouts, but never a real plate carrier. In my defense, it never really became a popular thing until they did “Murph” at the 2015 CrossFit Games. Who really needs a plate carrier instead of a weight vest anyways? Isn’t it technically the same thing?

Well…yes and no.

To say that weight vests and plate carriers are the same thing is like saying oranges and apples are the same thing.  The latter are both fruits, they’re both round, but when you eat them, they taste much different. The same things can be said about plate carriers v.s. weighted vests; except I don’t recommend trying to eat either of them.

All of the weighted vests I’ve used in the past have been bulky, cumbersome, didn’t fit well, got too hot, were uncomfortable after some time, or all of the above. Sure, most the ones I used don’t typically cost as much as a plate carrier does either, so I guess you get what you pay for. Plate carriers were designed for practical use, and other than looking really tacticool, they’re meant to be equipped in the most realest of scenarios, the ones where people live and die. When so much is on the line, you’re going to want something comfortable, and that you can move around pretty well in.

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There are no options for sizing, but there are plenty of adjustments on the Invest carrier. The cummerbund is elastic,  totally removable, and is accompanied by two buckles that are adjustable. If you feel like the carrier is too high or low, the shoulder straps are two adjustable buckles that are covered with some nice removable pads. I don’t foresee being comfortable doing “Murph” in this carrier, or any carrier or weight vest for that matter. Its just part of the workout I guess, but for the most part, I found the Invest carrier pretty breathable. Inside the vest, there are ventilated and padded sections that keep you as comfortable as you possibly could be wearing a plate carrier. Since it is a real world plate carrier, the sides have two pouches for side armor, but in the future I would like to see these removed for a little more ventilation. Also, some more color options would be nice! Maybe ACU or OD Green?

The plates that come inside of the Invest Fitness carrier aren’t designed to stop bullets, but they’re the same 11×10″ sized ones  you’d typically find in a normal plate carrier. Normal weight vests have weight cartridges in various locations on the vest or bunched up in one spot, whereas the Invest Fitness carrier has just two plates that are pretty evenly balanced across your frame on the back and on the front. Each plate weighs  8.75lbs and the vest weighs 2.5lbs, totaling out at 20lbs for the male’s variant.

Most movements with the Invest plate carrier are fairly comfortable to do, as much as they can be while wearing a weight vest. Strapped down, the vest doesn’t bobble too much when you run, but in the future I would like to see an internal lockdown system to hold the plates in place better. When it came to doing gymnastics movements, wearing the Invest carrier didn’t hinder any of my movements; there’s a lot of range of movement for your arms to be dynamic. The only movement I really struggled with was bar muscle-ups, because of the inability to “wrap” yourself around the bar; you really have to pull close to your hips. Surprisingly, I could also do a few kipping handstand push-ups before gravity kicked in and the carrier clocked me in the chin.

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Now the real reason I never bothered with a plate carrier in the past was because they’re fairly expensive, and typically don’t come with the plates included or shipping. Invest Fitness sells theirs altogether with carrier and plates for either $170/14lb or $180/20lb, with free shipping and a t-shirt! If you’re looking for a plate carrier, there is not even remotely close to this price point. Sure you can get a cheaper weight vest, but then you wouldn’t be reading this review either.

I’ve since gotten the 5.11 Tactec plate carrier, which is what they use in the CrossFit Games and probably is the standard (I had to compare to something). It’s definitely a little nicer, mainly because it’s smaller, but fully loaded from Rogue plus tax and shipping costs $280…and it doesn’t perform $100 better than the Invest Fitness one does. The Invest Fitness plate carriers are high performing and definitely the best value of all the plate carriers available. Unless you’re a Games athlete (in which case, you have a 5.11 already), I highly recommend Invest Fitness.

Get you Invest Fitness plate carrier here.

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Vulcan Strength Gymnastics Grips Review

If you head to Amazon and search “CrossFit Grips”, you’ll be bombarded with a TON of brands that are usually just all the same ones with different branding on them. The problem about the sport of fitness growing is that everyone wants a piece of pie and it just over saturates the market. Another problem is that it confuses the shopper and leaves you with a sub-par item.

Vulcan Strength’s supplier for gymnastics grips is a company that specializes in gymnastics equipment, Bailie. Their grips are also made in the United States, so you can rest assured they’re not a cheap import rebrand and they’ve been used in serious gymnastics competitions (read: Olympics). Vulcan is a company I’ve worked with for a long time and if there’s anything I know about them, it’s that they don’t stock junk.

Right out of the box, you’re going to notice that the leather on these grips is extremely stiff while thickness is pretty much on par with any other gymnastics grips. The break in process is not for the faint of heart, the edges of the grips are pretty sharp initially and it takes a few workouts for that to go away. Instructions per Vulcan’s website say that you should roll the grips around before you use them, which I did and made the grips much more pliable.

Another difference between the Vulcan grips is that they taper in the middle of the grip, which is actually pretty nice as it sheds some of the bulkiness away of having grips on, though I think the top of the grip could be slightly narrower. I still would not use these grips for any kind of barbell movement because they’re just a bit stiff. Fortunately it’s really easy to just take them off and flip them over when you head to the barbell. The velcro strap isn’t too out of the ordinary and has enough to go over a set of wrist wraps.

Once you get past the strenuous break-in process, the Vulcan grips provide some of the best holding power to be found on any set of grips. Put a light dusting of chalk on your hands and these things keep you locked down to the bar, coated, bare steel or even wood gymnastics rings. I usually have issues with too much leather bunching up in the middle of my palm with grips for ring muscle ups, but since these taper, that isn’t an issue I’ve had with the Vulcan grips.

The best thing about the Vulcan grips is that they’re also one of the best deals when it comes to grips. You don’t have to sacrifice performance for price because a pair of grips will only set you back a cool $20 shipped; which is pretty much in line with the junk you’re going to find on Amazon. They’re a bitch and a half to break in, but the performance for the price is unbeatable and based on that alone, I recommend the Vulcan grips.

Get your Vulcan Gymnastics Grips here!

Blonyx HMB+ Creatine Review

(I’m no “nutritionist”, scientist, or engineer, hell I can barely stick to a diet. Don’t expect much technical stuff out of me on this subject matter.)

You don’t see me do very many reviews on supplements because well, I think when it comes supplements, everyone’s experiences will be YMMV  (your mileage may vary). Honestly, I should be a pro on the subject by now, I’ve been supplementing ever since I was a budding kid in high school not knowing that I was actually allergic to whey. Around 2010 is when I really got into taking supplements other than protein; things like pre-workout, nitric oxide, even so called fat burners. The one thing that I never got into was creatine monohydrate. Hell, I even tried kre-alkalyn, just never the real deal. It wasn’t until sometime after I started CrossFit, that I decided I needed to bulk up, and creatine was the way to do it. There’s nothing like your first creatine cycle, I went from a measly 160 to a pretty muscular 170lb, but most of all, I couldn’t believe how much it helped me last throughout my workouts. Since then, I’ve been a believer in creatine being the most effective supplement you can take, even more so than protein!

(I’m not going to go over the benefits of creatine, you can find that here.)

I’ve tried a ton of different brands and I’m not sure if it’s just the law of diminishing returns or not, but sometimes I see results and sometimes I don’t. Like I said, there’s nothing like your first creatine cycle, so maybe that’s what I’m basing things off of. More recently I’d been using a generic brand I found off of Amazon, once again not really seeing a ton of difference in my performance. To me, creatine was creatine anyways. That is, until I was contacted by Blonyx to check out their HMB+ Creatine, a brand and product that I had known of for a long time, but their higher than normal price tags always put me off.  Blonyx products are more expensive for a reason, for which you can find here, but also in my case, because they work.

(ugly 215 pr and 225 attempt, pre-Blonyx)

Starting a creatine cycle in the holiday season was probably not the best time, due to all the parties and food, but I started mine right after my birthday with the 30-day supply lasting me all the way up into mid-January. Prior to the cycle, I weighed 170lbs, which is the lightest and leanest that I’ve been in a few years. Also, I had been off my creatine cycle for about a month, so the timing was perfect. I followed the directions to a T, 2 scoops a day, even on non training days but I didn’t do any kind of loading, and I usually always take my creatine with some kind of carb. My numbers at the start of the test were a 280 clean, 255 jerk, 385 backsquat, 325 frontsquat and 215 snatch (really ugly); the powerlifts had been higher before, but the oly movements were lifetime PR’s.

(225 post Blonyx)

By the time I was done with the Blonyx creatine and after the holiday season, I had gotten to a solid 175lb. I’m not quite sure how much of that was fat and how much of that was muscle. My training remained pretty similar to what I was doing before I started the cycle; I’ve been following Competitor’s Training for about half a year now. Honestly, I didn’t notice my metcon endurance change too much, but when it’s cold, I tend to suck more. My strength however, took a major turn for the better. When it came time to test 1RM’s for the oly lifts in late January/early February, I came up with some milestone PR’s! My snatch went up to the milestone of 225 and it was much cleaner than my ugly 215. I ended up cleaning 300lbs, though pretty ugly, but I was able to easily clean 285 now. Most surprisingly of all, I hit 405 on my backsquat for a lifetime PR that was way easier than any of my previous 400lb lifts that I hit at a heavier bodyweight. Those gains are definitely worth $60, so Blonyx, you’ve made a believer out of me.

(405 post Blonyx.)

Honestly, I can’t tell you if the gains were from the Blonyx HMB+ Creatine or just because of the training cycle I was on, but all last year, my numbers plateaued and I hadn’t PR’d in ages. Could be a placebo effect, but probably not, though YMMV. If I had to say there was something bad about Blonyx’s creatine, it’s that it smells like BO. There’s no taste to it, it’s not the grittiest creatine but it’s definitely not micronized, but man, the smell is really off-putting if you get it onto your hands or just take a whiff of it; purely superficial but that’s really it.

You might think it’s $60 price tag for roughly 60 servings is expensive, like I did, but spending $15 on 2lbs of junk that doesn’t even work is literally like throwing money in the trash. Even worse, you’ll spend all that time trying to finish the product, but time is something you’ll never get back. You’re better off spending your money, time, and energy on stuff that’s proven.

Get your Blonyx HMB+ Creatine here!

(Special thanks to Blonyx for providing me the product and getting me to a 225 snatch, 300 clean and 405 back squat!!!)

 

 

2017 CrossFit Training Shorts Buyer’s Guide

The response from my 2015 and 2016 shorts buyers guide has been amazing. The shorts in both of those guides are still top choices and many of them are still currently being produced. All the shorts in this guide are ones that I’ve gathered since making the last video, and I’m sure I’ll have another guide out by the end of the year. These are all the best shorts that I currently have in my rotation!

For reference: I’m 5’8′, 175lb, size 32 waist typically in jeans! I mainly wear a size medium in my shorts.

Links to purchase all the shorts in this video:

2POOD
http://www.2poodstore.com/lifestyle-shorts-velocity/
http://www.2poodstore.com/revolution-v-4-0-soft/

Reebok
http://www.store.crossfit.com/reebok-crossfit-super-nasty-speed-ii-board-short/AZ1771.html
http://www.store.crossfit.com/reebok-crossfit-austin-2-short/AC1339.html

Push Apparel
http://amzn.to/2mwZrPd

Myles Apparel
https://mylesapparel.com/collections/shorts

Vuori
http://www.vuoriclothing.com/shop/categories/shorts/?paginate_by=200

Redline Gear
http://www.red-line-gear.com/

Rhone
https://www.rhone.com

Flexion Gear
https://flexiongear.com/collections/all

Victory Grips Review

The quest to find the best gymnastics grips might be over! Though I liked the Bear Komplex grips, I was never 100% satisfied with them. My awesome followers put me on to the Victory Grips, and so far I love them. Like most grips, they’re not perfect, but so far they’re the best performing as far as grip and comfort go. Durability has yet to be seen, but I doubt these are going to have any issue there. If you have issues with normal grips, check out the Victory Grips.