As CrossFit® and functional training in general are experiencing a boom currently and thus attracting many triathletes, runners and other endurance and multisport athletes who want to try it out to see if it improves their race performance (it will!), this is a good time to consider what CrossFit®-type equipment is best for endurance athletes.
I run Hillseeker® CrossFit in Switzerland, where we train athletes to perform in the mountains. I have an extensive endurance sports background and use CrossFit and functional training extensively to prepare for life, play and performance in the Alps, deserts and other adventurous places.
If you’re an endurance athlete and have access to a CrossFit® gym, you’re hopefully in great hands when it comes to equipment (and hopefully instruction too!). If you would like to use CrossFit® as a supplement to your training and train at home, then here are some gear ideas for you.
First, please see this comprehensive article on home gym equipment.
Next, make sure the following make it on your wish list:
1. TRX Suspension Trainer: portable, great for biz trips and hotel room workouts, lots of cool workouts online, including endurance athlete workouts. You can target every weakness with a TRX. I have 6 of these that I regularly use with the endurance athletes at Hillseeker® CrossFit. Tip: Bring it to the track and incorporate it into or immediately following a speed session. It makes core training much more interesting than trying to knock out 100 sit-ups after a run session. You may want to check out the similar JungleGym as well.
2. Jump Rope: Simple, portable, great for metabolic conditioning (try 5 rounds of 90sec rope skipping + 10 burpees + 10 sit-ups for a great little workout). Check out this ultra speed cable rope or my new favorite, the SR-1S.
Once you get good at Double Unders, try OPT’s Flight Simulator WOD. It’s tough!
3. Bands & Pull-up Bar: for developing upper body strength as well as core strength. Use bands to scale the movement so that you can perform it with proper form while building strength. You can mount a pull-up bar on the wall or ceilling, use a portable system that you can hang from various things or go with a doorway option.
4. Slam Balls: Training with slam balls cover the full body. It also makes a great stress reliever. You can slam them and also use them for Russian Twists, Wall Balls and many other exercises. I find slam balls more versatile and durable than medicine balls.
5. Stroops Accelerator: foot work, agility, metabolic conditiong, the Accelerator is awesome. It kicks the ass of every endurance athlete I strap into it and they love it. I use these a lot for ski conditioning as well.
6. PlyoBox: weighted box step-ups, box jumps and more. You can accomplish a lot with a plyobox, or if you’ve got one handy, a nice big rock to jump up on! For endurance athletes, plyoboxes work well in combination with sandbags and kettlebells for workouts involving step-ups and climbing simulation. We use them a lot in our cycling focsed classes with bike sprints, weighted step-ups and a core movement like Knees-to-elbows on the pull-up bar.
Here’s my pal Coach Moritz showing us what true jumping prowess looks like:
7. Sandbag: Endless training opportunities with sandbags. Plus you can substitute them in for barbells in a lot of CrossFit WODs, which I think is even more functional. You can pick up a Rogue Tactical bag or read this guide on how to make you own
8. Kettlebell: you can build strength, power and explosivity with kettlebell training. Plus, it’s fun as hell to sling around a kettlebell. For triathletes and endurance athletes it’s particularly useful in building core strength, which will be your friend late in the Iroman bike leg or in an ultra marathon. We use kettlebell training extensively with one of my dual sport athletes of Ironman Triathlons and kart racing.
I also incorporate kettlebell training into swim workouts, CrossFit Endurance-style. One of my favorites, which I’m lucky enough to get to do with Lake Zurich as my pool, is 10 rounds: 100m swim sprints + 10 Kettlebell Swings + 5 Kettlebell Snatches ea arm + 4 Turkish Get-ups. I recommend starting light, in the 12kg/25lb range and then working your way up. My go-to kettlebell is the 53lb/24KG beauty in the photo above. It’s a Pro Grade Ader. There are other great options as well, including some interesting products from both Denmark and the U.S. My advice is to buy a good one. These are heavy devices and not easy to get rid of. My first few kettlebells have terrible handles and I regret buying them.
9. Weight vest or weighted ruck: I started my journey with weighted running in preparation for racing the Marathon des Sables, where runners must carry survivial gear and food for a week. Actually, I started with weighted running when I was 70lbs overweight back in the 90s and decided to sign up for an Ironman triathlon to lose weight!
Training with a weight vest adds intensity, adversity and resistance. You can use a weight vest for running, jumping and nearly all bodyweight exercises. I don’t recommend trying to swim with it, although I have!
MiR makes a great short vest, which I like better than the Taurus TKO I’m wearing in the photo below. The TKO is comfortable, but the length gets annoying on squats and it’s a pain to remove the weights to clean it. MiR also has a rockin’ Women’s Weight Vest. I’ve got some on order for Hillseeker® CrossFit now because our women are STRONG and getting stronger!
You could also go with a ruck/backpack and fill it with a sandbag or water weight. When I was training for an expedition on Aconcagua in the Andes, I used to do hill repeats (fast hiking) with a 70lb pack filled with water containers. I’d dump the water at the top of the climb and refill the containers from a stream at the bottom. This was great training for carrying loads up a mountain. The S.O.C 3-Day Pass Bag would work very well as a training ruck and would be useful for all other ruck needs as well. You could also consider one of the Goruck packs.
10. Foam Roller: You break it, you fix it. You’ve broken your body down with a combination CrossFit and endurance sport training program (although with smart programming, you should be TOO broken down). Now it’s time to heal it and build it back up. Get a foam roller, a Yoga mat, and tools for all-around Mobility work and get busy with some active recovery.
Any more and you’re looking at a home gym setup. If you’ve got space, get all of it! That’s what I did before eventually opening up my own gym.