Equipment

Recommendations

Although you don’t need much “stuff” to work out properly, the right equipment does make a difference.

Fortunately, I’ve tried a TON of products over the years and I can save you money and frustration sorting through the junk.

Below you’ll find my recommendations for a wide variety of products that I’ve used and liked. Poor workout equipment can be quite frustrating, so I hope these recommendations help you avoid wasting time and money on low-quality products.

Before we get started, I want to give you a quick tip for saving money on your various health and fitness purchases: join Amazon’s Prime Program.

Amazon not only offers all products I recommend at incredibly low prices, most are also eligible for FREE 2-DAY SHIPPING thanks to Amazon’s Prime Program.

As a Prime member, you get…

  • Free two-day shipping on millions of items.
  • Unlimited instant streaming of 41,000 movies & TV episodes.
  • Over 350,000 Kindle titles to borrow for free.

I buy everything I can from Amazon and save a lot of time and money thanks to Prime.

amazon-prime

Workout Shoes

I worked out in running shoes for the longest time, and didn’t really think twice about it. I figured what shoes I trained in couldn’t really matter.

I was wrong.

A good lifting shoe is one that is light and has a thin, flat sole and adequate ankle and arch support, and it noticeably improves stability during exercises like Squats, Deadlifts, Standing Presses, as well as the Olympic Lifts.

I’ve tried quite a few types of lifting shoes, and here are the ones I’ve come to like most:

Adidas Adipower

Well designed, sturdy, durable, comfortable, good traction, and great looking.

There’s a reason why you see these all over Olympic weightlifting stages: they’re widely considered the gold standard of Olympic lifting shoes. Read More...

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Nike Romaleos II

Fit and performance you'd expect from Nike

The Nike Romaleos II fit and perform like you’d expect from Nike, top-notch. Read More...

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INOV-8 BARE-XF 210 SHOE

Designed for functional fitness and an authentic barefoot feel

For almost two years I lifted in the New Balance MX20 Minimus and loved it, but I’ve found something I like even more: the INOV-8 BARE XF 210.

This is hands down the most comfortable training shoe I’ve ever worn. It weighs almost nothing, fits snugly but not too tight, has a perfectly flat sole, and has great arch support.

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NEW BALANCE MX20V4 MINIMUS TRAINING SHOE

Light, versatile, high quality, comfortable, and not too expensive

The New Balance MX20v4 Minimus Training Shoe is light, versatile, high quality, comfortable, and not too expensive. I ended up liking them so much that I now wear them around everywhere.

 

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New Balance Women's Minimus WX20v3 Training Shoe

Light, versatile, high quality, comfortable, and not too expensive

The New Balance Women’s Minimus WX20v3 Training Shoe is  light, versatile, high quality, comfortable, and not too expensive. Read More...

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Adidas Powerlift 2.0 Weightlifting Shoe

Comfortable, light, and really stable

These shoes are just awesome for lifting. They’re comfortable, light, and really stable thanks to the wide base, contoured insole, rigid plastic weight distribution plate, and high-density midsole. They also just look cool. 🙂 Read More...

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Reebok Nano 4.0

An extremely well-rounded workout shoe

The Nano 4.0 is an extremely well-rounded workout shoe. It fits snugly, and its flat, rigid soles provide stability and traction. Read More...

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Workout Gloves

I rejected gloves for many years as unnecessary and, well, unmanly.

Eventually the wear and tear on my hands was just getting to be too much, so I gave in and picked up my first pair of gloves. They were complete junk–within three months, they were tearing at the seams and there were holes in the palms.

The second pair I bought was the Harbinger 130 Classic WristWrap Glove and I never looked back.

 

Harbinger 130 Classic WristWrap Glove

Comfortable and extremely durable

I rejected gloves for many years as unnecessary and, well, unmanly. Eventually the wear and tear on my hands was just getting to be too much, so I gave in and picked up my first pair of gloves. They were complete junk–within three months, they were tearing at the seams and there were holes in the palms.

These gloves are perfect. They’re comfortable and extremely durable–it took a year of daily abuse before I really started to see signs of wear in the palms, but there were no holes and no tearing. The wrist straps are a big plus as it adds quite a bit of wrist stability, which is great for heavy presses such as the Military Press, the Dumbbell Press, the Bench Press, and so forth.

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Harbinger Women's Pro Glove

Comfortable and don’t tear or wear easily

The Harbinger 149 Women’s Pro gloves are a great choice. Harbinger is known for quality products, these gloves are no exception. Women say they’re comfortable and don’t tear or wear easily, which is all you really want in a glove. Read More...

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Lifting Straps

Purists shun straps as blasphemous and while I don’t disagree with that mentality, they do have a use.

If you’re new to heavy weightlifting, your grip is going to hold you back on certain exercises like the Deadlift and Barbell Row. Straps can help you overcome this.

What I recommend is that you do as many sets as you can without straps, and once your grip is finally toast, strap for your final sets. This way you build your grip strength without compromising your lifts due to grip failure.

Don’t just buy any straps, however. Bad straps are more of a liability than a help.

Common problems are they can be overly tricky to wrap tightly, they can fail to hold their grip while you’re lifting, and they can seriously cut into your wrists.

Harbinger Big Grip "No-Slip" Pro Lifting Straps

Comfortable, durable, no-slip straps

These awesome straps have a padded wrist strap with a sturdy velcro clasp, so no awkward looping of the strap to get it to hold (this is the type that will shred your wrists), and they have two thin rubber tracks running down the inside of the strap, which grip the metal tightly.

 

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Dip Belt

Exercises like weighted dips and pull-ups are great additions to your routine, but they require a dip belt.

Harbinger Polypro Dip Belt

Affordable, durable, and holds up to two 45lb plates comfortably

The Harbinger Polypro Dip Belt is affordable, durable, and holds up to two 45lb plates comfortably. I have no complaints.

 

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Straps help you work around inadequate grip strength, but I recommend proactively working on your grip so you no longer need them.

 There are two inexpensive devices that I’ve found helpful for this.

 

GripMaster

Simple and strengthens grip

This device couldn’t get simpler: you just squeeze the crap out of it over and over, day after day, and your grip gets stronger.

I recommend starting with the medium tension (red), and once that’s easy, move up to the heavy (black).

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Iron Bull TGrips

Thick, squeezable grip, which builds finger and forearm strength

They lock over the barbell or dumbbell handle and give you a thick, squeezable grip, which in turns help you build finger and forearm strength. Read More...

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IronMind “Captains of Crush” Hand Exerciser

Great quality and affordable

The “Captains of Crush” hand exercisers are great products. They’ve been on the market for about 15 years now and are quite popular in bodybuilding, powerlifting, and strongman circles. If you want to build serious grip strength, you want a Captain of Crush. Read More...

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Setting up a home gym is a bit of an expense upfront, but it pays for itself within a couple of years (gym membership fees add up!). And that’s not factoring in the gas and time you save that you would spend driving to and from the gym.

Below are the products I recommend for setting up your home gym. They’re sturdy, comfortable, high-quality products that won’t disappoint.

If you want to follow one of my programs, such as Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger, you’ll want the following:

  • A power cage or multi-press rack
  • A pair of adjustable dumbbells
  • An Olympic barbell set
  • An adjustable bench
  • OPTIONAL: A recumbent bike, because I love it for HIIT cardio.)

Okay then, here we go.

 

Body-Solid Powerline Folding Utility Weight Bench

Commercial-quality, stable, sturdy, and comfortable

I’m kind of picky with benches–I hate rickety, rock-hard pieces of junk.

And that’s why I really like this bench. Like all of Body Solid’s home gym products, it’s basically a commercial-quality piece of equipment–stable, sturdy, and comfortable.

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York Fitness Bench

Commercial-quality, stable, sturdy, and comfortable

The Body Solid bench isn’t available on Amazon.co.uk, but here’s a good alternative (York has been in the weightlifting game for a long time and makes great products) Read More...

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Rogue R-3 Power Rack

Roomy, extremely solid, and very reasonably priced

A power rack is, in my opinion, the best choice for being able to squat, bench press, and military press safely.

multi-press rack is another option, but I prefer this because you have more room to maneuver while still being protected by the arms.

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Rogue S-1 Squat Stand

A 1,000 lb load capacity

You need either a power cage or multi-press to be able to properly perform your squats, bench presses, and military presses.

Rogue makes a really solid multi-press rack. It has a 1,000 lb load capacity and a lifetime warranty.

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Rogue Ohio Bar

High-quality and great price

Rogue makes some of the best home gym products out there, and I love this bar.

You get a high-quality Olympic barbell at an affordable price. You can’t beat it.

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Rogue Olympic Plates

Simple, classic, and tough enough for daily abuse

Nothing replicates the sound of old school steel plates being lifted in a gym.  Rogue Black Olympic Plates are simple, classic, and tough enough for daily abuse.

Black steel Olympic plates are still the gold standard for many serious weightlifters, and Rogue’s plates stand up against any and all competition.

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Rogue HG Bumper Plates

Durability and quality at a budget price

Rogue’s HG Bumpers deliver durability and quality at a budget price. Read More...

Cap Barbell Bar Collars

Easy to clip on and off and holds everything in place nicely

Good clips are one of those easily overlooked aspects of equipping a home gym. But the wrong clips can actually be quite annoying.

These are easy to clip on and off and hold everything in place nicely.

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Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells

Solid, well made, easy to use, and they look pretty cool as well

Adjustable dumbbells are amazing for home gyms, and these are an awesome product offered at an affordable price.

They’re solid and well made, easy to use (easier than the pins of the Powerblocks), and they look pretty cool as well. 🙂

If you’re building a home gym, buy these. You won’t regret it.

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Cap Kettlebell

Smooth, nice-sized grip, and cheap

Kettlebells are great for bodyweight training.

You can use them for shoulder and arm training, and can also hang them off a dip belt to add weight to your dips and pull-ups.

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Schwinn 220 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Quiet, easy to assemble, sturdy, and affordable

Schwinn knows how to make bicycles, so it’s no surprise that their exercise bikes are top notch.

My favorite type of cardio is cycling because it’s no-impact, it has helped me improve my leg strength, and it’s great for high-intensity interval training (treadmills aren’t so good for this because their speed limits are almost always below full exertion).

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V-Fit BST-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle

Quiet, easy to assemble, sturdy, and affordable

The Schwinn A20 isn’t available on Amazon.co.uk, but this is a great alternative. Read More...

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CAP Barbell Puzzle Mat

Cheap protection for floor and equipment

CAP Barbell makes great products, and their interlocking high-density foam mat squares are no exception. They’re sold in packs of 6, covering 24 square feet. Read More...

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66FIT Interlocking Mats

Cheap protection for floor and equipment

66FIT makes great products, and their high-density foam mat squares are no exception. Read More...

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Iron Bull Fractional Plates

Great for PRs and progressive overloading

When you’re a newbie, adding weight to the bar every week or two is easy. But things get tough as time goes on, and that’s where micro-plates come in.

They’re not just great for hitting PRs, they’re great for continuing to progressively overload your muscles to break through plateaus.

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Mega Bar

Compact and versatile with countless exercise options

A lot of home gym equipment takes up a lot of space for only one movement. Not the Mega Bar, a compact and versatile workout tool that’s designed to give you countless exercise options in the comfort of your home or office.

It fits over most door frames to be used as a pull-up bar, but in that position it can also be used for TRX-style resistance training. Take it off the door, and it transforms into an ab roller, or a bar that secures your removable weight plates.

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Rogue Olympic Plates

Simple, classic, and tough enough for daily abuse

Nothing replicates the sound of old school steel plates being lifted in a gym.  Rogue Black Olympic Plates are simple, classic, and tough enough for daily abuse.

Black steel Olympic plates are still the gold standard for many serious weightlifters, and Rogue’s plates stand up against any and all competition.

Read More...

Bodyweight Training

Next Section Electronics

Bodyweight workouts have big pluses:

  • You can do them at home, in your hotel room, at work, etc.

  • You save money on a gym membership and on expensive home gym equipment.

  • You save time that would normally be spent driving to the gym, waiting for equipment, etc.

  • You don’t have to deal with pervy guys staring you down (ladies), gymbros sizing you up (fellas), or worse.

There’s no doubt about it: bodyweight workouts are an affordable, effective way to get fit.  A good bodyweight routine will help you build muscle and strength and lose fat.

The following pieces of equipment are everything you’ll need to get the most out of your bodyweight workouts, and are integral to my Ultimate Bodyweight Workout Routine.

 

ZFOsports Adjustable Weighted Workout Vest

Comfortable, sturdy, and allows you to add up to 60 lbs to your body

A weighted workout vest allows you to get more “miles” out of your bodyweight workouts by allowing you to properly overload your muscles. Read More...

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Definity Push-Up Bars

Stable, sturdy, cheap, and comfortable for your hands

If you use a weighted vest for your bodyweight training, the bulk of it will restrict your push-up form.

To get around this, you can use kettlebells or use push-up bars, which allows you to fully lower yourself to the bottom of each rep.

Read More...

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Cap Kettlebell

Smooth, nice-sized grip, and cheap

Kettlebells are great for bodyweight training.

You can use them for shoulder and arm training, and can also hang them off a dip belt to add weight to your dips and pull-ups.

Read More...

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Weider Power Tower or Pull-Up Bar and Dip Station

Sturdy, high-quality, and affordable

A good bodyweight workout program includes pull-ups and dips, and a “Power Tower” kills both birds with one stone. It also allows you to do hanging and Captain’s Chair leg raises, which are great ab exercises. Read More...

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Ultimate Body Press Dip Station

Sturdy, large enough to allow you to weight your dips, and affordable

A dip station allows you to do dips, which are a great exercise for your chest and triceps and important part of a proper bodyweight training program, as well as bodyweight rows, an effective exercise for training your back and arms. Read More...

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Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

Easy to install, stable, and cheap

A pull-up is absolutely necessary for a proper bodyweight training routine, and the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is very easy to assemble and attach and remove from a doorway, it causes no damage to the door frame, and it feels very stable when used. Read More...

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Valeo Ab Wheel

Inexpensive, sturdy, and more stable than similar products

Some people hate the ab wheel, but I’ve always liked it. It works the entire core, and really hits the lower part of the abs, which can be tough to target. Read More...

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Body-Bands Workout Bands

Great for mobility exercises and bodyweight training

These bands are great for mobility exercises and bodyweight training, and are very affordable. This set comes with two bands: one that provides 50-120 lbs of resistance, and another that provides 40-80 lbs of resistance. Read More...

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Battle Rope

Simple, cheap, and great for bodyweight training

If you like to do bodyweight training, a battle rope is a useful addition to your home gym because it allows you to do a great version of a row exercise for your back. Read More...

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Valeo Weighted Workout Ball

Affordable and easy to use

Two of my favorite ab exercises are hanging and Captain’s Chair leg raises, and you can turn them into weighted exercises by snatching a medicine ball in between your feet. 

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Titin Force Shirt

Amazing for bodyweight training

While you can make progress with a good bodyweight training program, there comes a point where you’ll have to add weight to movements or hit a plateau. That’s where the TITIN Force Shirt can help.

It’s fitted with 14 all-over pockets to add 8 lb, but the really cool part is the dynamics of the design, making it feel like you’ve added 20 lbs. to your total body weight. As a result, your muscles will work harder even if you carry out the same routine.

This double-stitched, moisture-wicking compression shirt is also made of antimicrobial fibers, and the gel packs that slide into the strategically placed pockets can be warmed or cooled while staying pliable.

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In this section, I want to share with you my recommendations for various useful electronics that can assist you with your health and training.

 

SHURE SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones

Crisp highs and deep--but not overwhelming--lows with impressive comfort and sound isolation

It’s hard to beat the Shure SE215s in the $100-150 price range.

They’re solidly constructed and the sound is incredibly crisp: the lows are surprisingly strong but not overpowering or muddy, and the mids and highs are slightly muted but crisp. The sound isolation and fit are impressive, too, thanks partially to the several earbud options that allow you to maximize both comfort and seal.

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Jaybird BlueBuds X Earbuds

The BlueBuds X are wireless (Bluetooth) earbuds designed for active people. In this product review I discuss how they work, what I like, and what I don’t. Read More...

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Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

Activity tracker and sleep monitor, comfortable and sexy.

All in all I like the Shine. While it’s not as feature rich as some of its competitors and is more for getting a simple overview of your exercise and sleep habits, what it does do it does well and it’s definitely more attractive than some of the clunky bands and hip clip devices out there. Read More...

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Waterfi Jawbone UP24 Activity Tracker

Activity tracker and sleep monitor with an amazing app.

One of my favorite activity trackers. It comes with several unique features, works well and has the best app you will find. Read More...

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Miscellaneous

Keeping track of your body fat percentage is an important part of getting the most out of your training and dieting, as body weight alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

The problem, however, is that most inexpensive, easily available devices for measuring body fat are horribly inaccurate.

Hand-held electrical devices are notoriously unreliable, as are scales that “measure” body fat levels.

Taking measurements and entering them into an online body fat percentage calculator of some kind can give some wildly incorrectly results.

Most experts agree that hydrostatic testing, DEXA x-ray, and BodPod testing are the most accurate methods of testing body fat percentage. The downside, however, is the inconvenience and cost of these methods.

Therefore, I recommend that you get a good fat caliper like the AccuMeasure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester Kit.

AccuMeasure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester Kit

Quick, easy, and accurate measurements

Most experts agree that hydrostatic testing, DEXA x-ray, and BodPod testing are the most accurate methods of testing body fat percentage. The downside, however, is the inconvenience and cost of these methods.

Therefore, I recommend that you get a good fat caliper like the AccuMeasure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester Kit. When you learn how to test properly with this simple device, you will get very accurate measurements (within 1%).

Read More...

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Rehband Knee Sleeve

Comfortable and keeps ligaments warm

I’ve stayed away from knee wraps because research has shown they increase wear and tear in your knee joints, and recently I looked into knee sleeves and was pleasantly surprised.

Unlike knee wraps, knee sleeves don’t exert nearly as much compression as wraps while providing some joint support and heat retention (warmer tendons and ligaments can stretch easier), which has been shown to reduce knee joint pain and stiffness in people with knee osteoarthritis.

I don’t have any knee problems, but I’ve definitely noticed that my heavy squats and deadlifts have gotten a bit more comfortable since using the sleeves, mainly due to the knee tendons and ligaments staying warm in between sets and the light compression giving support while actually performing the exercises.

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