Category Archives: Gym Equipment

Bumper plates, rings, weight vests, wall balls…

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

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American Barbell Cerakote California Bar Review

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Over the years, I’ve used a plethora of barbells. Some have been “cheap” to mid-range, but lately I’ve been getting into more expensive top end barbells. You come to expect a certain quality from bars that are costing you over $500 and you never ever need to worry about them not being great in performance. Obviously this isn’t the case with lower end bars, but you learn to really appreciate the ones that are exceptional and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

The original American Barbell California Bar was one of the best deals in fitness, originally retailing for a mere $250. At that time though, I hadn’t had much experience with higher end barbells, but I still knew the California Bar was one of the best bars I’d ever used. I don’t usually hold on to bars much longer after I review them, but it’s two years later and I just recently unloaded my precious California bar. Only because I got the new, upgraded Cerakote California Bar, otherwise it would have been in my collection forever. Honestly, the new one is pretty much the same in performance as the old one, it just looks a hell of a lot more bad ass.

Build Quality/Materials:

I got to see magic in the making when I toured American Barbell’s facility in San Diego. Crates of sleeves, shafts, bushings just waiting to be assembled into fully functioning barbells, but the thing that impressed me the most were the people behind the barbells. I forgot his name, but the guy I talked to knew the ins and outs of everything and most importantly, actually gave a crap about what he was assembling.

American Barbell always has some of the most solid feeling barbells on the market. Every single one that I’ve used from them have been exceptional, rivaling the best in the business. When dropped, you don’t get the same kind of rattles you’d find on import bars and even some domestically made bars. There’s little to no play in the way the sleeve fits on the shaft and the end caps actually fit.

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Like I said, this is pretty much the same barbell overall, but there are some new enhancements to it, along with the coating. The shaft is still the 28mm diameter, 190k psi tensile strength one that you’ll find on just about every American Barbell bar. Unlike the earlier model, the updated has sleeves with a recessed weld to ensure plates sit flush with the shoulder and also looks awesome. Unlike the shaft, the sleeves remain hard chrome and will chip if you use metal plates. The California bar still comes with composite bushings, as with all of American Barbell’s bushing barbells, but they’re now quite thicker than before and more so than others on the market. Though light in depth, the knurling is perfectly cut with definite start and stop points with both IPF and IWF markings. Since it’s so fine, I had trouble spotting where the markings were without my glasses on!

The real star of the show here is what American Barbell decided they wanted to coating to be on their new barbells: Cerakote. For those of you not familiar, Cerakote is a ceramic coating usually applied to firearms as a protective finish. It’s chalky in feel and supposed to last 70 times longer than stainless steel or chrome, obviously this is not something that I’ve tested myself, but check out how Cerakote performs in this video. What I can tell you, is that in the month that I used the barbell as my go-to bar for everything, I never once wiped it down. When I finally took just a nylon bristle brush to it, there were no signs of surface rust and and the chalk completely came off without any difficulty.

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Performance: 

Even without the fancy make-up, the character of the California bar makes it a real winner. What other barbells in the mid-range usually fail in getting right is the oscillation of the bar, or whip. Not saying that they aren’t adequate for most usage, they just never feel as good as American Barbell’s bars. When the California Bar comes off your hips, it feels smooth and fluid, not jarring like other mid-range 190k psi bars. I don’t “bang the bar” but I try to make as solid contact as possible with every lift, still no bruises on my legs or hips.

Spin isn’t hyper speed like some of the cheaper bearing barbells, but it’s butter smooth and you’ll never have to worry about it hitching up on you. This is probably the most misconceived areas of a barbell so trust me when I say, spin doesn’t matter, as long as the shaft isn’t completely stuck. Even with it’s “slow” sleeves, I managed to set a new snatch PR at 225 (two wheels!) and clean to my maxes with relative ease. Something that I couldn’t do before with my more expensive bars like my Eleiko Training or AB SS competition bearing bar

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The real subjective area is the depth of the knurl. Pattern-wise, it’s the same as all of the other American Barbell bars, but feels even lighter due to the Cerakote finish. Those of you that have extremely sweaty hands or like shark tooth knurling might want to look the other way because the California Bar is on the light side. On the other hand, the Cerakote finish is chalky by nature and I have personally never had any kind of issue with grip, with or without chalking up for weightlifting singles or WOD’s alike.

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Value:

At $335, the Cerakote California Bar is priced in line with other brand’s, durable, multi-function barbells. The edge that it has is that it’s 28mm in diameter, so it will function much better in the way of weightlifting or even deadlifts. The price cements it firmly into the mid-range barbell line, but I think all of the features it comes with justifies the price tag. Most garage-gym folks aren’t going to buy a ton of barbells, and most importantly want one that’s going to survive the elements, so you’re better off buying something with a durable finish and a lifetime warranty.

All things considered, the American Barbell Cerakote California bar is probably my favorite barbell right now. Sure, it’s not my Uesaka, but it costs less than half of what that bar costs and to me, performs just as good. More mid-range barbells should be this good, but again then I’d be a hell of a lot more broke.

Get your American Barbell California Bar here!

**If you enjoyed this review, please use my links when shopping for your new barbell. It helps me out a ton in getting new equipment to review and doesn’t cost you a thing!**

Assault Air Bike & Xebex Fitness Air Bike Comparison

In this (lengthy) video, I go over the similarities and differences between the games standard Assault Air Bike vs the carbon copy Xebex Fitness Air Bike. You might be surprised by some things! Both are great training tools and it just comes down to what fits your agenda the best.

Note: The reason the Schwinn AD Pro wasn’t included, other than the fact that I don’t have one, is that it counts calories much different. Not that it’s a bad bike, it just doesn’t fit the CrossFit “standard”.

Check out my review on the Xebex Bike here 

Purchase a Xebex Fitness Air Bike here!

or

Purchase an Assault Air Bike here!

FringeSport Bomba Wood Gymnastics Rings Review

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Bomba Rings – Made in the USA

Muscle-ups are tough.

They’re the holy grail of CrossFit but once you get a taste, you can’t help but to want to do them more often.  Lots of things are require when it comes to getting your muscle-ups. At my gym, I have a standard progression of must “have” things to train in order for the athlete to get their muscle up. There’s a ton of questions during this phase, a lot of “What if…” this and that, but something that isn’t really spoken of is what you’re actually doing the movement on.  I know when I first got my muscle-up, it was on some really thin, slippery wood rings. When I finally got to try out nicer, beefier rings, my whole world changed; never again would I look at rings the same.

 

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Rogue v.s. Bomba

 

The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) standard ring size is 1.1″ OD, while this may prove better for female athletes with smaller hands, holding these with a false grip as a male hurts like a mother. Typical “CrossFit” ring size is 1.25″ OD, this what you’re going to see used in the CrossFit games, as the equipment is supplied by Rogue Fitness; more comfortable for bigger hands, tougher for smaller hands. If you don’t think that amount of size would make a difference, grab a 15kg bar compared to a 20kg bar. Huge difference, and that’s only 3-3.5mm.

So, what is the standard for how to size your rings? Whatever you can do muscle-ups on, comfortably.  Personally, I don’t have big hands, but I don’t have small hands either. That’s why FringeSport created their Bomba rings in a size that accessible to most people, 1.15″ OD. Falling right between FIG and CrossFit standards, the diameter of the Bomba rings is going to be perfect for most people; not to thin or thick. I’ve got all three sizes of rings loaded up at my gym, but the one I find myself going for the most are the Bomba rings.

 

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Difference looks slight, but feels substantial.

 

Texture is another big thing when it comes to a quality set of rings.  The rings I learned muscle-ups on were awful, shiny and slippery. Let’s not even get started on plastic rings that you’d never get a good grip on; you shouldn’t have to tape your rings up. If your grip is constantly slipping out of the rings, it not only makes your muscle-ups harder to do, it’s also a lot more dangerous. Before I even knew the difference, my coach at the time was telling me about how certain rings felt “softer”. Sounds like a crazy way to describe them, but it actually works when you get your hands on wood this smooth (lol). The artisans that make the Bomba rings use Baltic birch with a triple sanding process that makes the rings texturally perfect. Good ol’ American wood working. No rough edges or divots in the wood to tear up your hands, but “soft” enough to provide ample grip even without much chalk. I could do muscle-ups for days on the Bomba rings, if I could do muscle-ups for days that is.

Hanging your Bomba rings up comes with ease with the included straps. 15′ is plenty long to hang rings from just about anything, and feeding them through the cam buckle system is easy as could be. The straps are a beefy 1.5″ in width so you can count on them not failing on you any time soon. Not to mention the actual cam itself is hefty and is one solid piece of metal.

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Smooth, real smooth.

Will getting a quality set of rings help you get your muscle-ups? Possibly, it definitely couldn’t hurt your chances. Practice and consistency is really the only thing that will definitely get you them, so owning a pair of rings wouldn’t be such a bad idea either. Muscle-ups aren’t the only thing you can do on rings either. Pull-ups, dips, toes to ring, push-ups, rows, skin the cat and the list goes on! If you’re on the go, you can just pack up your rings and go to a park for a workout with such versatile pieces of equipment.

As Allen Iverson once said: “Practice”. That’s the only thing that’s going to really help you get muscle-ups, but you should be practicing on FringeSport’s Bomba rings.

Xebex Fitness Air Bike Review

**Xebex Fitness Air Bike & Assault Air Bike Comparison CLICK HERE**

Air bikes, they’re a love to hate kind of thing. If you’ve never ridden one,  the best way to explain the feeling of going full out for a minute or so, probably resembles something like getting kicked in the legs by a bunch of Muay Thai boxers for about as long. After the lactic acid starts building up, (and it will, fast) it will be soon be followed by a “F this machine.” and a strange desire to want to do this to yourself more often.

It just hurts so good.

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As a training tool, air bikes fit all types of purposes from anaerobic to recovery use. It’s no wonder why Dave Castro decided to start adding them into CrossFit™ workouts, all the way up to the Games level. Now, air bikes have been around for years, they’re definitely not a new thing according to my Schwinn™ Airdyne from the 70’s, but there just hasn’t been any that would take the abuse affiliates (no commercial warranty either) up until recently with the release of the Assault Air Bike a couple years ago. Since then, you would have thought a ton of companies would have tried to steal a piece of the market share by now, but there hasn’t been much change in this segment up until about a year ago now when GetRxd started selling the Xebex Fitness Air Bike. Xebex Fitness, who? Not a household name, so getting the word out there about this bike hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely a hidden gem.

I remember when Assault Air Bike got that reaction too.

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If you look at the two bikes side by side, you’re going to notice the differences way before you see the similarities, but there are actually more of the latter. The biggest change is the curved shape of the handle bars as opposed to the more straight ones on the Assault. I prefer this because I remember the Assault’s handles coming close to my knees when I pedaled. On top of that, the Xebex includes some thoughtful additions to the way that the bars link up to the rest of the unit in the way of a ball joint so that when the bars shift around side to side from hard pedaling, there won’t be as much stress at that area.  It sounds like something minor, but considering the abuse that the bike will see in the a busy affiliate, you’ll want as much durability as you can get. You also have the option to adjust the range of motion of the bars, mainly so you can dial in exactly to where the Assault is.

Build quality otherwise is excellent, not saying the Assault’s was bad in the first place because I can’t speak to that. The steel is very heavy gauge, it’s got reinforced pieces almost all around the bike; even the liveliest pedaling doesn’t really move the bike much at all.

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Another major difference between the two bikes is the monitor. Personally I wasn’t thrilled about the monitor found on the Assault, but it worked so it was never a big deal to me. I thought it could be laid out a little better and just look a bit more polished. As for the Xebex bike, size wise it’s almost double the width of the Assaults, but that leads to a more easy to read and better laid out display. I think the main reason people will continue to purchase the Assault bike over the Xebex is because they’re worried, I was too, about how the Xebex computes it’s calories and distance. GetRxd assures me that it uses the exact algorithm to measure as the Assault bike does. It’s been about a year since I’ve used an Assault bike, but to me it feels the same. It takes me about 45 seconds to gun out 15 calories, and that’s accurate cross referencing it to a friend with an Assault bike. While you won’t be able to use these for actual CrossFit™ events, you can still train for them without worrying about statistics not adding up the same.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that you can actually plug and play the Xebex’s monitor to the Assault Air Bike and vice versa.  According to this year’s CrossFit Open for workout 16.4, it states “Rower that counts calories, similar in type and calibration to a Concept 2”. This is extremely important because if CrossFit ever decides to use an air bike in the Open setting using these same stipulations, the Xebex Air Bike would most definitely be allowed to be used. In this case, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t purchase the Xebex bike over the Assault unless you really liked the handlebars or monitor.

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The finish on the Xebex bike is a shinier black compared to the matte powder coating you’ll find on the Assault.  This is something the Assault wins out on by far, to me. I personally hate anything of the shiny black flavor, especially something that’s going to see many hands. Where the Xebex loses there, it wins HUGE in the mobility department. One thing I absolutely detested about the Assault is the size of the wheels. You only had a teeny tiny sweet area to tip the Assault bike to move around, where on the Xebex bike you can tip it forward almost as much as you want. Do that on the Assault and the fan will drag into the ground, abruptly stopping any plans of you catching a tan outside while working on your fitness.

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Visibly, those are going to be the main things you’re going to notice between the two bikes. Now for the similarities: The frame, for the most part, looks exactly the same. Honestly, it almost looks like you could pull parts off the Assault bike and put them directly on to the Xebex, and vice versa. The most similar thing, and what matters the most is the performance of bike. From the way it pedals, all the way to the seat itself, the Xebex feels exactly the same, which leads to exactly the same pain. The emotional gamut ranges from “F***, F***, F***…” to visions of a nice leisurely ride through the park. The real devil here is that when you start to push harder, the air resistance increases; pretty much automatically scaling the workout for the individual. It’s like riding on a fixie, without the need to wear a flannel and a mustache. Pair this with just about any functional fitness movement or by itself, and you’re going to get a hell of a workout.

In my experience the Schwinn AD6 (haven’t tried the ADPro yet) does not feel anything like the Assault bike, but the Xebex through and through feels the same. One might even argue that it’s the same bike, re-branded. They’re both made in Taiwan, and from my experience with barbells, that happens more often than you’d realize.

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It’s been about a year since I had access to an air bike, but I when I did, I remember that it was pretty often. The versatility of the bike is perfect in both the garage gym or affiliate setting. Not many other things produce the same soul crushing feeling that going max effort on an air bike will. This is a piece that I regret not picking up sooner, but better late than never. The Xebex Air Bike retails for a little bit less than the Assault, at $850. If you contact GetRxd, you can get special affiliate deals and you possibly a lower price; if you’ve never shopped with them before, you’re in a for a hassle free experience. Of all the companies I’ve dealt with, GetRxd stands among the top of them as far as products and customer service go.

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If you’re looking to pick up bikes for the first time, the Xebex air bike will suffice anyone’s fitness needs. Low impact training, post WOD recovery, anaerobic training, it does it all. If you’re an affiliate or athlete wanting an Assault bike, but not wanting to pay the price of an Assault bike ($999), you can rest assured you’ll get the same exact performance out of the Xebex Air Bike; all while getting 5 Xebex bikes for just about the price of 4 Assault bikes. My problem now isn’t the workout the Xebex bike is going to give me, but figuring out how many more I have to buy because my athletes love using them so much.

You can get your Xebex Air Bike here!