Tag Archives: cross training

Rogue Fitness Matt Chan Barbell (Boneyard Bar)

The Rogue Chan Bar – I finally got my hands on one of the most popular barbells that Rogue makes, that I haven’t reviewed yet. The bulk of the barbells Rogue puts out nowadays are just a variations of the Ohio bar with coating differences. For the most part, they all use the same 190k PSI tensile strength shaft, bronze bushings (though many are going composite), they’re 28.5mm in diameter, and they all have the same knurl pattern; though some might disagree on that last one. There are a few things remain the same with the Chan bar, but it also has the biggest differences from the Ohio, enough to make it my personal favorite Rogue “multi-use” barbell.

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Construction/Build Quality

Like all Rogue products, the Chan bar feels over-engineered. Almost no other equipment in the world have the polish that Rogue products do. As previously mentioned, the shaft is the typical Rogue 190k PSI tensile, 28.5mm diameter shaft forged right here in the US of A. With that, you get Rogue’s limited lifetime warranty against bending or breaking, which I honestly don’t think you’ll ever use; I’ve never heard of any of their bars bending. Hell, even my older Rogue bars that had imported shafts are all straight as arrows.

On the contrary to what the Rogue website says and what people think they know, the Chan bar has the same knurl pattern as all of Rogue’s 28.5mm barbells. To be fair, I think all of the other bars adopted the Chan bar’s knurling when they all switched over to the 190k PSI shafts. Personally, I think Rogue’s knurling is more on the medium side of things; it’s definitely not as deep and coarse like a power bar but it can for sure give you some hot spots on your hands. You don’t need a ton of chalk to get a sure grip and it’s still probably the most well rounded knurling I’ve used for everything you’d possibly want to use this bar for.

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The sleeves are typical Rogue sleeves, one inch shoulder with 16.5″ of loadable space. The surface of the sleeves have a very fine machining to help keep plates on, but I would still make sure to use clips when loading. Each sleeve has two cast bronze bushings, not sintered Oilite bushings, but ones that are made in house. Spin is smooth and there isn’t a ton of play when you try to move the sleeve side to side, giving you a nice solid thud when the bar is dropped.

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Performance

Because Rogue uses the same shaft in all of their multi-use barbells, if you’ve used one of them, you’ve used them all. Don’t take this as a bad thing though, Rogue barbells are the most reliably performing bars on the market. They don’t excel in one area, but they’re very good all around. If you just want to squat, bench or dead, you’ll probably want to look into a power bar. If you want to improve your oly, maybe check out their training bars. If you want to do all of those things, get an Ohio bar variant. The 190k PSI shaft has good enough whip to satisfy most weightlifters, without being overly dynamic for the slow lifts such as your press or squat. Spin, once again is smooth and more than fast enough for oly, but not over the top for presses. Some might hate that I use the term “CrossFit barbell”, but Rogue’s multi-use bars are the quintessential CrossFit barbells.

Practical features are what differentiates the Chan bar from it’s brothers. This bar has a smaller clean grip knurl area and passive center knurling. The purpose of cutting the clean grip knurling short is so that when you pull, your shins are free of any knurling, potentially saving you from racing stripes up your shins. It also makes for quicker setups, assuming you use the same width grip that Matt Chan uses; which most of us probably do. The only instance this was a little bit of a problem for me was for my deadlift grip, which is typically right at the start of the knurling. I’d take adjusting my grip a little bit over tearing my shins up any day though.

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Center knurling is a taboo subject in the CrossFit world, but when done correctly, I’d almost always want a bar that has it. The Chan bar has some of the best execution of center knurl that I’ve come across; it’s not even a quarter of the depth of the grip knurling, more like a light texturing to the middle of the bar. It’s light enough to not tear up your collar bone, but substantial enough to give you added stick to your chest or back when cleaning or squatting. Don’t be scared of center knurling folks, it can be a good thing.

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Value/Conclusion

The Chan bar only comes in one flavor at the moment, black zinc shaft with black zinc sleeves and retails for $295. At one point they had a satin chrome version that retailed for $350, but I’m not sure we’ll ever see that come back. Sure, you can get the Ohio bar for about $10 less, but personally I’d pay the difference for the thoughtful grip knurling and center knurling, not to mention the awesome end cap. You can get this bar for a real steal if you’re patient enough to keep checking out Rogue’s boneyard section. I picked up my Chan bar for $195+$15 shipping and tax leaving me at about roughly $230 out the door. You’d be hard pressed to find any defects (I couldn’t), but sometimes you might not end up with coating in some areas. As long as the shaft is zinc, I wouldn’t worry too much about the sleeves being bare steel. In that case, I think this is one of the best deals in barbells at the moment.

I wish I didn’t wait so long to get a Chan bar, it actually could have been my first barbell ever if I wasn’t scared of the center knurling. The adjustments to the knurling and addition of center knurl make it, in my opinion, the best of the Ohio bar clones and the best “CrossFit” bar that Rogue makes. Remember with any barbell you get from Rogue, you can’t go wrong.

Get your Rogue Matt Chan Bar here!

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King Kong Backpack II Review

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To say that I have an affinity for backpacks is an understatement. Personally, I have a stockpile of backpacks; some for style, some for utility, and some just for the hell of it.  Whether it’s for gym, work, or play, everyone needs a nice backpack. Now, I get that most people aren’t as crazy about backpacks as me, or aren’t willing to spend copious amounts of money of multiple bags.

So why can’t you have it all in one? Backpacks that are directed towards gym and play don’t quite have professional look for work. Backpacks that fit the bill for work are a little too fragile for gym and play. Backpacks that are for style don’t have the utility for gym, school or work. You can forget all that now, as the King Kong Backpack II looks to solve your backpack woes with a single bag that you can use for everything in your life.

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Call me vain, but appearance means a great deal to me. Look at cargo pants for example: they’ve got tons of utility, but you wouldn’t catch me dead in a pair of them. No offense to the folks in the world that still fall into the Gap, but it’s not 2001 anymore. Of course, they’re not without their specific purposes, but for the most part they’re a no go.Backpacks that have a gazillion pockets, giant logos, tons of tacticool webbing, or all of the above would be great for a ruck, but some people need a professional look for work. You do lose a little bit of functionality, but the minimalist style of the Backpack II is something you’ll be proud to show off whether it be to work, on the street or to the gym.

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Construction is made from a mil-spec 1000 denier nylon that screams high quality. The 1000D is the same you’ll find on their duffel bags and is water resistant, so not only does it look nice, it’s also very functional. The stitching throughout the bag is some of the most consistent that I’ve ever seen on a bag. While the King Kong logo is slightly larger than I’d like to see, it’s nicely embroidered and doesn’t take away from the clean look of the backpack.  You won’t be able to overlook the details of the Backpack II with it’s YKK zippers that have a nice rubberized King Kong logo on them and insanely heavy carbon steel buckle at the front of the bag. They could have put a plastic buckle there, but it definitely wouldn’t have polished off the look as much as the steel one does.

The interior is lined with a red nylon ripstop fabric for even more durability, but is also aesthetically beautiful. You’ll find this in every pocket, but I do wish the front pocket where you put your spare shoes was lined with something a little bit more dirt resistant, as I don’t want to ruin the look of my backpack with my dirty shoes.

The back of the bag is padded and covered with a breathable mesh just in case you wanted to be active with your backpack. Each shoulder strap is also nicely padded so if you have a lot of gear in your bag, the straps don’t dig into your shoulders or ever become uncomfortable. There is also a sternum strap for keeping the backpack locked down if you’re doing something where you’re required to move around.

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Though you might not get the same utility as a bag designed to take camping, the Backpack II still has plenty of functionality for your normal life. Every exterior pocket (two side, one front) is expandable and has nylon webbing so you can stuff big items like your shaker bottle in them, but also securely hold small items like your wallet and cell phone. Also on the top of the backpack there is a zippered pocket that you can hold your valuables in as well and also has organizational slots with a port that you can run your headphones through.

The main compartment has two access points: there’s a zipper that only opens up about 3/4 of the backpack if you just wanted to quickly stuff your things in, or a zipper towards the rear of the bag that fully opens it up so you can fully organize the 28L capacity for weekend trips. From accessing the top zipper you’ll be greeted with another zippered pocket inside at the top part of the bag, which for me serves as my jump rope storage. Not to mention a couple zippered webbed pockets on the front inside of the bag and a padded laptop sleeve on the rear of the bag that is also secured with a buckle. If this backpack doesn’t satiate your need for storage, then you probably need to look into their duffel bag.

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$145 dollars isn’t a little bit of money to spend, but the overall value of the backpack is still excellent. The King Kong Backpack II is something you’re going to be able to use for just about everything and you’re probably going to be using it all the time. King Kong Apparel has been around for quite some time and makes excellent quality gear, but if you’re really worried about how things will hold up, they also have a 25 year warranty against workmanship. I wouldn’t go throwing your backpack off a cliff, because it doesn’t cover abuse and normal wear and tear, but with the materials they use, I wouldn’t worry too much about standard wear.

You can always spend a lot more on a bag that does certain things better, but all in all, the King Kong Apparel Backpack II is one of the most stylish, functional bags you can get for the money.

$145.95 www.kingkongapparel.com

Reebok CrossFit Transition/Combine Review

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What are thooooose?!

I’ve seen a ton of wacky shoe designs, but nothing even comes close to the Reebok CrossFit Transition. It looks like a cross between an oly lifter, sneaker, and chukka boot. With looks only a mother could love, the Transitions are probably the most controversial shoe that Reebok has ever put out. Which is what made me most interested in the shoe; I had no idea what to expect from them because they’re so…different. It’s no surprise that people will be turned off by the looks of the shoe. A shame, because there are probably a ton of people that could use a shoe like the Reebok CrossFit Transitions.

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Looks:

I’m probably one of the very few people in the world that actually think the Transitions aren’t the most god awful looking shoe of all time. They’re not thaaaat bad in real life; granted, most people are only going to see them in their stock pictures. You’ll find no Kevlar infused upper here, just a standard synthetic upper with a thermal wraps resulting in a very flexible shoe, that doesn’t look like it would be. The “covert” colorway is just for the most part all (shiny) black with a little bit of camo inside the shoe. The medial strap is the only place you’ll find Kevlar on this shoe, though it doesn’t say anywhere that it uses it. Around the back you’ll find a pretty sizable TPU heel counter that extends to the sides of the shoes, but doesn’t clash with the design and looks quite good.

The outsole design from the side looks very similar to Reebok’s lifter shoes and is probably the only other hint besides the medial strap, to what the intended use of the Transitions is. At the bottom of the shoe you’ll find a diamond lug pattern never seen before on any Reebok shoe.

I’m not going to tell you these shoes look good, but they sure as hell look different.

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Fit:

I’ve learned nowadays to just stick with my normal size of 9.5 for most shoes and I’ll be good. Little did I know that these shoes are modeled more after Lifters and not Nano’s so my typical size fits me a little loose. It’s usable, but just keep in mind that these should be sized more like a Lifter (half size down).  Though they are a mid-cut shoe, they don’t really feel like a mid shoe but there is quite a bit of ankle support, not that you’d go play any pick-up games in the Transitions anyways. The insole is quite thick, but not enough so that I could say these are any more comfortable than any other trainer.

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Performance:

The day I got the Transitions, I still had no clue what their intended use was. CrossFit shoes always kind of have the same product descriptions so reading the specifications was pretty useless. The first thing I did with the shoes was take them on a run. As stated before, they’re a lot more flexible of a shoe than they look like and the run was surprisingly comfortable throughout.

All the movements that I’ve put the Transitions through have proved them a worthy CrossFit shoe, but even more so a competent WOD shoe. The wide platform is very stable for overhead movements and oly lifting, but the responsiveness of the shoe is also great for rebounding box jumps and double-unders. While Reebok left out the heel clip on the Nano 6.0’s, the Transitions retain it in the way of the TPU heel counter. Not only does it act as a buffer for handstand push-ups, it adds another dimension of lateral stability for your foot. Flexibility is probably the Transitions best suit since you can do all of the above and go on a fairly long run comfortably. Surprised? I was too.

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It wasn’t until I got back home that I got word what the intended purpose of this shoe was: a cross between a trainer and lifter. The Transitions have a heel height of .70″, which is the same as Reeboks lifters, but has a more standard EVA outsole for more versatility like a normal training shoe. With the omission of a TPU heel, the Transitions also get a slight weight reduction at 14oz. .Like with all Reebok lifters, it’s kind of hard feel the raised heel because of how gradual the drop is. Basically, if you had bad mobility, but you wanted a shoe that you could also WOD in, the Transitions would be your go-to.

Are they a replacement for a true oly shoe? No. Are they a replacement for Nano’s? No.

They’re a slightly worse off lifter, but a more stable trainer with a raised heel.

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Value:

Personally, I try not to wear oly shoes because I don’t want to get reliant on them. My mobility isn’t bad, but certain movements like overhead squats and pistols get the best of me because I have weaker hamstrings. Giving me a little extra to lean against helps me out a bit, but not having the hard heel still makes me have to work for it. This puts the Transitions in a weird spot value wise as most people have Nano’s and oly lifters, making them a “specialty” shoe. If you don’t have a pair of Lifters yet but don’t like the idea of not being able to comfortably run in them either, you would probably want to consider the Transitions. They’ll set you back only $119, which is cheaper than Nano 6.0’s but you can pick up a pair of Reebok Lifters for much cheaper than that.

I’d only recommend this if you were just a shoe whore, or you feel the same way that I do about oly lifters.

Pros:

  • Elevated heel and stable platform.
  • Good for just about everything WOD’s throw at you, including running.
  • You won’t have to change your shoes often.
  • Cheaper than Nano’s.

Cons:

  • Not as stable as oly lifters.
  • Nano’s are more comfortable for most WOD’s.
  • They cost more than oly Lifters.
  • Looks can be subjective.

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The fatal flaw about the Transitions is that they just don’t fit perfectly anywhere, but I almost guarantee anyone that tried them out would be a fan of the way they perform. Most people aren’t going to want to spend full price on a shoe that looks like this, given that they are pretty impressive performers. Hopefully, Reebok comes out with some colorways that are a little less bland or ups their marketing campaign on the Transitions. I don’t think the latter is happening anytime soon, as I do feel like these shoes are more of just a test that’s already being discontinued given the lack of publicity behind the Transitions. If you’re interested in them, chances are they’ll be on sale pretty soon, in which case I’d say go for it. Otherwise, if you’re content with switching between your Nano’s and Lifters, you can probably skip over the Reebok CrossFit Transitions.

Pure-Strength 20kg Barbell Review

Man, this review has been a looooong time coming.  I’ve had this thing for a while now, decided not use it and then after I opened my affiliate, decided that it would be best to just have it there as another WOD bar; it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the barbell or that I didn’t like it. In fact, it’s very similar to the Vulcan Standard, which I really liked.

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When you go through so many barbells, you can kind of get an idea of who’s actually behind making the bars (I could be wrong of course). So, when a different looking barbell comes up, it piques your interest; that’s exactly what attracted me to the Pure-Strength barbell. As stated before, the only bar that resembled the design was the Vulcan Standard, but a few things were off.  First, the Pure-Strength bar had dual markings; the Vulcan does now but didn’t at the time. Second, the Vulcan only came in bright zinc and still does.  Third, the tensile is slightly different, but that’s negligible. All a bunch of little things, but curiosity still go the best of me, so I bit. Anyways, let’s talk about the Pure-Strength bar…

The thing that caught my eye the most was the rounded edges that the sleeves have.  No other bars besides the Pure-Strength and Vulcan bar have these.  It actually gives the bright zinc sleeves both a very polished look, no pun intended. Both are still paired with an exposed bronze oil-lite bushing unlike the cast ones now found on Rogue’s bars. Spin isn’t the greatest, but it’s smooth and adequate for most lifters. There’s not a whole lot of play in the sleeves, so the bar makes a very pleasant “thud” when dropped with weights.

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The knurling on the Pure-Strength bar can be either it’s best or worst feature; users will either love or hate it’s light depth. Personally, I don’t mind light knurling and if I need a little more grip, I just chalk up. While the knurling is light in depth, it’s pattern is well cut and doesn’t feel choppy in your hands.  The start and stop points could be a little bit more refined though.  Like most bars nowadays, the knurl extends all the way to right before the sleeve attaches to the bar.  It isn’t just myself that is a fan of the knurl, this is one of the most sought after bars by members at my gym. Oddly enough, the 28.5mm diameter shaft feels slightly thicker than other bars that should have the same diameter (I thought the same of the Standard).

Like most popular bars on the market, the Pure-Strength barbell has a tensile strength of 190k psi. This is a multi purpose barbell that’s acceptable for all types lifting; excellent for functional fitness purposes. Don’t expect whip like a dedicated Oly bar, but it’s not awful either. It’ll suffice most heavier lifters and if you’re not going over 225lbs, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference here anyways.  It’s whip is right on par with other popular barbells with similar tensile strength and doesn’t really kick in until past the 200’s. If you need proof that this bar performs well, check out this video of ZA Anderson hitting #260 on “the big clean complex”.

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So in a sea of Rogue Fitness barbells, why would you want to go for the Pure-Strength barbell? Asides from quickly gaining a ton of popularity from being the gear supplier for a ton of high profile events (East Coast Championship), Pure-Strength actually produces really nice rigs and squat racks as well. Granted, it’s kind of iffy buying anything from anyone besides Rogue, as we’ve seen recently with Pendlay and Again Faster. Pure-Strength is still gathering steam and doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. Not to mention, the Pure-Strength bar will only set you back $270 shipped (to CA), as opposed to the $320 of it’s closest Rogue competitor, the Ohio bar (or the Vulcan Standard at $279).

If you wanted a solid alternative to Rogue, that has less aggressive knurling, you’ll probably want to check out the Pure-Strength barbell.

Grab your Pure-Strength barbell here!

 

 

Review: CrossRope Bolt Speed Rope

Speed ropes nowadays seem to be a dime a dozen. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and the market shows it with just a ton of clones. When I see new designs, it’s very intriguing to me since most of the palate swaps pretty much just all feel the same. For me, finding the perfect jump rope is going to be a never ending journey. I carry different jump ropes around that I like to swap between depending on how I feel that day because I just haven’t found “the one” yet.

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CrossRope has always stressed their modular jump rope systems; practice heavy, compete fast. The ability to change ropes on the fly is always good because if I’m not quite feeling up to par with my double unders that day, I can always just switch to a heavier rope. While that’s all great for someone that is already proficient with double-unders, it could be invaluable for someone that is still struggling to learn them.  Many beginners all too often make the mistake of getting suckered into buying a fast rope that doesn’t offer enough feel, leaving them struggling with their double-unders. The new CrossRope Bolt handles not only come with a nice super fast 1 oz. sprint cable, but also a 3 oz. speed cable to help fine tune your doubles. Now 2 oz. might not sound like a huge difference, but in the world of jump ropes, it feels like a 10 lbs.

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Unlike the previous CrossRope iterations, the Bolt cables also aren’t fixed to a single length so you can custom fit them to the users needs. Performance wise, the sprint cable is just as light and as fast as the best speed ropes on the market, and might be even too light for the handles that it’s on. So much so that sometimes it doesn’t have enough weight to carry around the ball that it inserts into around the bearing, causing a clicking noise. I wasn’t able to recreate this with the heavier rope, but thankfully, the rope still spins around you as fast as you can turn it due to the overall design of the handle. Speaking of which, these actually might be the smoothest and free spinning handles by themselves I’ve ever tried out (see video).  The handles themselves are made from a slick billet CNC’d aluminum that only weigh 2 oz. each, the difference  in weight between the two included cables! Each handle provides sure grip with knurled areas as well as cut areas making sure you even the sweatiest hands won’t have an issue holding on.

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Adapting to the Bolt system was easy as could be for me, but that’s not saying they’re without any issues. Like I mentioned before, the sprint cable has trouble carrying the ball it inserts into around the handle creating a clicking noise from it catching. While this never slowed me down, it is kind of annoying because  you not only hear the click, you feel it. If they could figure out a better way to secure the rope to the bearing, maybe even directly, this set would be just about perfect.

Still, at the listed price point of $59, the Bolt set comes in at a tremendous value because not only does it appeal to veteran jump ropers, it will work for people struggling to learn their rhythm as well. If you’re looking for an end all be all setup, or one that you can progress on, the CrossRope Bolt set might just be what you’re looking for. It provides excellent performance and user flexibility for a very strong price point.

Get your Bolt speed rope here!