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Top 5 Pieces of Strength Equipment you Can’t live Without

Picture this scenario: You have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to build yourself a home gym. Of course, a few thousand dollars in normal circumstances cannot outfit a complete commercial quality gym selection of equipment, but most definitely can purchase the bare essentials for a good workout. So let’s say this few thousand dollars can net you a total of FIVE pieces of strength equipment, what do you choose? Strength Militia staff did a private polling of over 1000 strength enthusiasts and asked them this exact question, with no restriction on price, but you could only choose your top 5 pieces. Below are the TOP FIVE responses we received from our poll. Enjoy!

1) Power Rack: This was an obvious no-brainer for most since the traditional power rack is capable of offering a wide variety of exercises in a single unit. And, depending on your choice of power rack, many of the ones available today come with band attachments, dip bars, pull up bars, and the like. But, what good is a power rack without one of the most important accessories to the rack, the barbell, which leads us to selection #2.

2) The Barbell: There are varying types of barbells to purchase but one thing remains the same with all, the barbell is a very useful piece of equipment. Paired with a nice power rack, the barbell is highly important for mainstay exercises like the squat (front, back, overhead, etc.), bench press (flat, incline, decline, etc.), floor press, standing press, deadlift rack pulls, and more. Outside of the rack, the barbell is great for various exercises like deadlifts (sumo, conventional, etc.), bent over row, Olympic weightlifting and other accessory lifts. But, what good is a 45lb barbell without more weight creating added resistance; hello selection #3!!

3) Bumper Plates: The problem with conventional steel plates is they don’t rebound well when dropped from above the shoulder, or even from six inches from the ground for that matter. This is why when polled, most chose to have a nice set of bumper plates as one of their necessary pieces of equipment. Not only are bumper plates fine to use in everyday strength training, they are also one of the most important items used when training in Olympic weightlifting.

4) Bench: What good is a power rack, barbell, and bumper plates if you don’t have a bench to bench press with? Not only that, a good bench can be used in other ways like step ups, box squats, jump box,hip bridges, bench dips, and other various accessory exercises. In the poll, people did not specify what type of bench they wanted, flat or adjustable, but lets just say for the sake of variety the adjustable one since it allows for more exercises than the purely flat bench.

5) Dumbells: I know what you are all thinking, why do we need a set of dumbells if we have a perfectly good barbell and bumper plates? The short and obvious answer is, because they said so. When we were outfitting my old gym we purchased a set of rubber hex dumbells (10lbs-100lbs) for a little over $1000. This to me was an invaluable purchase since dumbells add that many more exercises to your regimen, making your workouts much more successful.

Whatever equipment you find invaluable, whatever wets your whistle, as long as you can get the workout you desire it is the perfect choice, for you. Some of the notable runner ups for this poll were powerlifting chains, bands, Olympic rings, and lifting belts. Please comment below with your top five strength equipment choices. Thanks for reading!

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Who’s Who with Torey Throop

On Tuesday, February 25th, two days before the 2014 CrossFit Games Open stars, I had a chance to sit down with up-and-coming CrossFit athlete Torey Throop.  I’ve had the pleasure of training next to him for the last year.  No one’s got more heart than this guy.  Keep you eye on him in 2014.  Here’s what I found:

SM: Who are you, where are you from, and where do you train?

TT: Torey Throop, from Alma, Michigan, Vestaburg originally, train at CrossFit Deviate.

SM: Where is CrossFit Deviate?

TT: Rochester, MI

SM: How long have you been CrossFitting?

TT: Uh…About 19 months?

SM: That’s pretty short?

TT: Just under two years, yep.

SM: Did you participate in any sports or weightlifting before CrossFit?

TT: Played College Basketball and Golf.  Played football, baseball, and basketball in high school

SM: Does your snatch improve your golf swing?

TT: Shoulder mobility

(Laughs)

TT: Definitely.  And explosive hips!

SM: Makes sense.  Any sponsors?

TT: Uh…Just my buddy Brad helping me out with some Fox gear, so that’s pretty rad.  But I’m open to options at this point

SM: Why is Miranda Oldroyd so much buffer than you are?

(laughs)

TT: Because she’s been doing CrossFit longer…That’s why.  She’s a beast

SM:  She’s a stud.

(laughs)

SM: Favorite benchmark workout?

TT: Hmmm…I would have to say…(pondering)…UGH…

SM: So many to choose from.

TT: There is…Uh…Helen’s not bad.

SM: Oooohhh

TT: I like it.  It’s a good CrossFit workout.  It’s just classic CrossFit.

SM: What’s Helen again?  That’s uh…Running, kettle bell swings, and pullups?

TT: Running, kettle bells and pullups, yep.

SM: What about for 2013…Any achievements, or particularly special PR’s?

TT: This last year?

SM: Yep

TT: Um…pretty psyched to get my Fran time under 2:18.  That was cool.

SM: Brutal

TT: Clean and Jerked 315, uh…Snatched 250…So mainly my strength numbers went way up.  Squatted over 400, deadlift is getting close to 500.

SM: Those are all Big Boy numbers

TT: Trying to get up there.  Chasing guys that are getting better, so it’s hard

SM: So it’s safe to say you’re pretty strong going into the 2014 season.

TT: Yep.

SM: Why is Rich Froning so tan?

TT: Man…they don’t get much snow in Tennessee

SM: He must have a tanning bed at Mayhem.

TT: He does.  He cheats.  He gets waxed too I think

(Laughs)

SM: Who does your programming?  Do you have a coach?

TT: UM…I started by myself in the garage.  I’d always just do benchmark workouts like every day, and hero workouts.  But now everything is more…not structured, but…I still make it up every day as I go.  I gotta give a lot of credit for strength to Rehif and…You know…I wouldn’t be where I am without him.  A lot of my knowledge comes from him.

SM: Who’s Rehif?

TT: Rehif Murray, one of the part owners of CrossFit Deviate.  He does the programming for the gym.  It’s good stuff.

SM: I can vouch for that.

TT:  And uh…Galloway and Coach Mike (CrossFit Deviate Olympic Lifting Coaches).  My oly was pitiful when I started CrossFit.  I’d have to give them the credit for my Oly form.

SM: It helps to have good coaches.

TT: Oh yea…I mean…I can’t imagine seeing better coaches anywhere, but I know there are a lot of good ones out there.

SM: Hip Hop, or Rock/Punk in the gym?

TT: Rock/Punk definitely.

SM: Running or rowing?

TT: Hmmm…Rowing.

SM: Ooooh…spicey

TT: Yea…yup.  They’re both bad.  They both suck.

SM: Last, but not least…how many burpees did you get in 12.1?

TT: Dude…I don’t remember fully…I think it was 133.  I never did the actual workout.  I did it on my own.  I did it last year before the open…a week before…I think I got 133.

SM:  Where would that score have ranked?

TT: Uh…It was somewhere in the top 20 I think.

SM:  Damn.  That’s crazy.  Well thanks buddy and good luck this year.

TT: It was a pleasure.

You can follow Torey Throop here:

526939_727530027273519_1036120086_n 581769_604858742884628_1534710074_n 1208793_727528820606973_491230320_n 1375975_727529677273554_1957144662_n 1477809_10151670652146525_642475276_n 1545169_527887523976718_1146496135_n

 

Seven Points to Getting Stronger – A Basic Road Map

So you’ve been cutting work and bailing on your responsibilities to hit the gym three times a day for the last handful of months.  You’re training partner knows more about you than your own family.  You’ve even shaved your chest and fake tanned, but the problem is you’re still benching 135 and can’t dead lift your body weight.  What’s the deal?  Your girl is gonna be pissed when she finds out you’ve been ditching her every night to lift, and you still can’t squat 225.

Below are 7 points to consider on your way to deltoid domination.

1) GOALS – Rich FroningKendrick FarrisOh…So you want to be the next Rich Froning or Kendrick Ferris ?  Good for you.  So do I.  But let’s be realistic.  What do you want to clean & jerk in three, six, even twelve months?  WRITE IT DOWN!  What’s the saying? You’re 110% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down or something like that? I don’t know but it WORKS.  Give yourself something to focus on.  Look at it every day.  Think about it when you walk into the gym.  Make the goals tough yet achievable.  Don’t sell yourself short.  I often find that people are much stronger than they believe they are.  Own the mental game, or it will own you.  Goals…It does a body good.

2) PROGRAMMING – You’re not a planner are you?  I saw you at the gym looking like the new kid at school.  Do you know what you’re doing today?  More importantly, what are you doing the rest of the week, next week, next month?  See where I’m going with this? If you don’t have a plan, how do expect to hit your goal of a 225 bench?  If you don’t know how to program or what to do to reach your swoll goal, find someone that knows what they’re doing to program for you.  Look up Wendler, Smolov, or Hatch and follow those programs.  They are well-known and proven strength programs you can use to get stronger, and they are readily available on the internet for free.  Guess what? Your four sets of 8-12 reps ain’t gonna get you a 225 bench press.

3) WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – Did I shoulder press 175 or 185 last week? Hmmm…Well I forgot my pre-workout so I’ll just do 175. SOFT. HTFU and start writing EVERYTHING down.  It’s called accountability.  Write down your weights, reps, how they felt, if they were good or shitty reps, if the moon was waxing or waning…I don’t give a shit. Write down the color hair of the girl you were creepily staring at if that helps.  For example, you might lift the same weight this week as you did last week, but this week your reps and form we’re solid.  That’s a gain.  Be happy about it.  I bet you wouldn’t have recognized that before your started writing everything down.  This also gives you a point of reference – If you did a max set of 15 pullups this week, no doubt you can do that many again next week.  And when you try again, you have a benchmark to shoot for…16 reps.  What’s that?  You did 17?  Check you out.
4) YOUR FORM IS AWFULAwful DeadliftHoly shit, put that bar down before you permanently change the genetics in your back so your future children aren’t affected.  You sure as hell aren’t going to deadlift twice your body weight with that noodle spine.  Check your ego at the door and lift within your means.  Lift with the best form possible, and watch your numbers increase.  Don’t know how to perform a specific movement or lift?  Find someone that does.  Shit, pay a qualified trainer $25 to take you through the movements and show you proper technique.  $25 is a lot less than the cost of a knee replacement.  How about this – Put yourself through an On-Ramp program at your local CrossFit gym.  In two weeks you’ll learn well enough how to back squat, front squat, overhead squat, deadlift, press, push press, push jerk, split jerk, clean and snatch.  You don’t know what half that is? That’s because you’ve been spending too much time on the Smith machine.  And remember – you have to constantly refine your form just as much as you do your golf swing.  FOUR!
Golf Swing

5) REST– Bro, take it easy.  That’s right; a rest day might actually HELP you.  After all, your muscles have been working overtime every day for the past few weeks.   Listen to your body.  Are you tired?  Are you stupid sore?  I have a solution for you – Take the day off.  Two days off?  Sure, if you’ve been hitting it hard.  Don’t stress about it.  A couple days is not going to derail your training.  Some of my best PR’s have come after traveling for a week or two and not lifting a finger the entire time.  Intensity gets results…Crazy right?

6) YOUR DIET SUCKS – Donuts Look, I’m not a dietician, so I’m not going to beat the proverbial diet horse.  It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to tell you to put down the pizza, ditch the donuts, and skip the soda .  Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – Eat something…ANYTHING.  Your car will run like shit with bad gas, and won’t run at all if the tank is empty.  Eat a lot, and eat WELL. There are a million different beliefs on diet, what’s healthy and why, when to eat, where to get carbs, etc.  Find something that works for you and use it as a framework.  It’s going to take some time, trial and error, and adjusting to really dial in your diet. But do me a favor…Try to pick ingredients with some redeeming value, please?

7) PUT OUT THE VIBE – This has nothing to do with directly getting strong, but I think it’s just as important.  You gotta find that headspace where you believe you can rip Hulk Hogan’s bandana off before he crushes you like a soda can.  Figure out what gets you pumped.  Sitting in the gym listening to Adele feeling sorry for yourself ain’t gonna get your adrenaline racing.  Grab some buddies, turn on some Pantera, and get to work.  Yell at each other, high five, scream, chest bump…I don’t care what you do, just build some momentum, have fun, and get strong. BRO SESH!
Bro Sesh