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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At one point in my life, I used to go to the gym wearing home made muscle tees and basketball shorts.
Yep, I was that guy.
I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since then. I don’t really like wearing shirts when I work out, but I have to wear something to and from the gym because #freethenipple, even for me, isn’t always socially acceptable. In the rare instance that I do wear a shirt when I work out, it’s got to be comfy, but not too loose. I don’t want to be swimming in my shirt and I also don’t want the clothes to not show off my body (yes, guys care about this too). The clothes also have to be stylish and have to match (I wear a lot more black and grey now). All of these things factor in with me when purchasing any new gym wear. They’re not only my gym clothes, they’re also my work clothes after all. In a world where everyone and their moms have a clothing brand, Rhone Apparel aims to separate themselves apart from the bunch by offering premium quality, functional clothing, that looks as good outside of the gym as they perform in the gym. Time to step your gym-wear game up. Rhone Apparel offers anything from some of the best socks I’ve ever put on in my life, to gym shorts that have no shortage of pockets unlike another reputable premium brand, to a shirt that I could probably get into a club with, sweat in and be dry by the time the lights come back on.
Full disclosure: Rhone hooked me up with a full outfit to review. Many thanks!
The black V-neck. What should be a staple in any man’s wardrobe. The Sentry v-neck is basically the gym version of what I wore throughout the majority of my 20’s, except much nicer. I’m not a real smelly guy (at least I don’t think I am), but the Sentry include silver anti-microbial threads that prevent your clothes like smelling like you just pulled it out of the bottom of your dirty hamper (you should not do this even if you could). The design has a fancy looking horizontally lined pattern, and is tailored in all the right places to distinguish itself from the rest of the generic dry-fit looking shirts out there. The large is form fitting around my arms, theres a slight taper to the chest area, and the length sits right below my waist. The shirt feels light and is very breathable, never becomes uncomfortable or hot; definitely something I could keep on the whole WOD. The fabric drys up just as fast as you can start breaking a sweat again. A feature that you might not think about is in the neck opening; on the Sentry, the neck is nice and loose so it doesn’t feel like you’re getting choked out by your shirt.
All I really look for in a pair of shorts is lightweight material, some kind of decent stretch, and POCKETS. The Mako shorts, named after the shark, meet my requirements and more. The nylon/poly blend material barely feels like you have anything on, but is substantial enough so that it can take a beating from the toughest WOD’s and looks nice enough so that you could wear these babies out for Sunday funday. It’s slightly thicker than Lulu core shorts, more close to their Assert shorts. You’ve also got five, count them, FIVE, pockets that are actually useable for more than just a key, including rear and side zippered pockets. Fit on the shorts is excellent, plenty of room in the thighs and seat so they don’t become tights when you sit or squat. I wear a size 30″ inseam and when I stand, the shorts end at right in the middle of my knee caps. While I do wish they were an inch shorter, the 9″ inseam never feels too long or gets stuck behind my knees when I squat. Maybe a little side slit would make them feel shorter than they are. Don’t get it twisted, I really like my Lulu’s, and I will continue to wear them because they’re also very nice. The one thing I can’t get over is why in the hell they don’t have pockets on their shorts. A little waistband pocket for a single key is simply unacceptable. We’re guys, we have keys, a cellphone and a wallet to carry around. I need at least 3 pockets, but I can settle for two.
Quite possibly the most annoying thing that can happen to me is when my socks slip down and I end up walking on them. I don’t know how I used to deal with folding my long socks up so they could be “ankle” socks. The no-show socks from Rhone include the same anti-stink silver material, but the most thoughtful feature on the socks is the little grip pad at the achilles area. Theres a little silicon pad that keeps the socks from riding down. Genius!
Premium fitness apparel is still somewhat of an oxymoron to some people, you can see by the way people dress to the gym. When recommending brands like Rhone and Lululemon to people, it usually garners the same “That stuff is too expensive.” response. Yes, the stuff does cost more than your Target brand items, but they also don’t completely disintegrate after a few washes. That being said, the price tag on the Rhone Apparel items does put it out of reach for the average gym goer. $70 for gym shorts or a gym shirt, even to someone that lives inside the gym, is really expensive. Sixty bucks is usually where I draw the line for any single piece of apparel that isn’t shoes or jeans. Lucky for you, I’ve got an exclusive 10% off code, just make sure you subscribe to me on YouTube and then send me an e-mail via the “Let’s talk” tab above.
Code is: AMRAP10
If you’ve got an uncompromising standard for what you wear, especially in the gym, having an outfit of Rhone gear is a must. I still highly recommend you check them out because it’s just that nice, and sometimes it’s okay to spoil yourself. Invest in yourself, and definitely check out Rhone Apparel.
Visit any gym and you’ll probably find a few things there that bear the brand Harbinger. They’ve been in the fitness industry for years, and recently with the introduction of HumanX, targeting the functional fitness and weightlifting communities. Belts are one of the many things HumanX supplies and the CoreFlex belt is one of my favorite minimalistic weight belts. Belts throughout the years have been traditionally made with leather, since the material strong and pliable. However as of late, belts have transcended leather to the cheaper to produce, nylon. The Classic Oiled Leather Weightlifting belt is an ode to what our fathers and our fathers fathers were lifting in.
Everyone should have a good belt to lift with, it’s a good way to brace your core for those heavy lifts where you need a bit of feedback for your abs. The COLWB comes in only a natural saddle tan leather, sports the “Harbinger” logo on the back and some pretty sweet details like logo stamped rivets and a classic roller buckle clasp. The leather on my size medium belt was initially pretty stiff. My “fit”, without it being too loose, was initially pretty tight, but over time it’s broken in and fits very comfortably, 3 holes in. Since the COLWB uses an old school roller buckle, it’s not going to be as adjustable as the velcro on a nylon belt, but it definitely won’t pop off mid-lift either. I didn’t need a whole lot of support for my back, since I’m not the biggest athlete out there, so I opted for the 4″ version. I also dig that the belt is contoured in the front so that it doesn’t pinch my muffin top when I squat. The thickness of the belt is 5mm, which provides ample support for all unless you’re the most elite level weightlifter.
For pretty much all applications of weightlifting and powerlifting, I would recommend the COLWB. It’s sturdy enough for just about anything you can throw at it. For metcon’s, I would stick to using nylon belts mainly for the easier adjustments and that when you’re moving around that much, the edges could get uncomfortable digging into you. Wearing the COLWB shirtless is a little weird, but that’s to be expected since it’s a raw leather inside, although it should wear down and get softer over time. The look of the Classic Oiled Leather belt is awesome and you just feel cooler wearing something like this; sure you could probably get away with wearing a normal nylon belt, but you wouldn’t quite get the same style bonuses.
The Classic Oiled Leather Belt retails for $50 from HumanXGear.com, which isn’t much more than a nylon belt, and costs a whole lot less than other offerings of leather belts. If you’re looking to lift in what your daddy was lifting in, check out the COLWB from HumanX!