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Game changing purchases of 2015

It’s a downfall of millions of Americans and sadly I’m not immune: we buy a lot of useless crap. Despite spending millions of dollars every year on yet another dust collecting object we occasionally strike gold. Compiled below is a list of purchases I made in 2015 that were real game changers when it came to my training, nutrition or self-improvement.  Click any of the pictures to go to that products amazon page, each purchase originating from this site helps me with Grad School!

Soundpeats Wireless headphones

My Fiancée found these QY7 wireless headphones for me after I complained incessantly about the cord being a distraction or fearing for my screen in my pocket as I deadlifted. Overall going cord-free has taken much of the stress out of my training that I didn’t even realize was there. The QY7 are around $20 and get a solid sound quality which is perfect for training headphones.

Lacrosse Ball

Foam rolling is getting a lot of attention recently and that’s because it’s an excellent method of stimulating myofascial release. If you’ve started down this rabbit hole then your collection is certainly not complete until you add a lacrosse ball to your arsenal. A lacrosse ball is perfect for digging into those small tight spots that a foam roller can’t reach and as an added bonus it’s insanely portable. Typically I leave the foam roller at home for nightly sessions and will use the lacrosse ball at the gym for all of my myofascial release needs.

Mummy Bands

Holy mobility are these things amazing. I started to use one this year when I decided I wanted to incorporate front squatting to my lifting program. I quickly found that my shoulders were not nearly mobile enough to assume the proper position. After a few sessions with a purple mummy band my shoulder mobility has improved by leaps and bounds. In addition to my shoulders I’ve started using these to reinforce better hip and knee mobility.

PVC Pipe

During some of those nightly foam rolling sessions I’ll want to do a series of overhead squats as a self-diagnostic test which is cheap and easy with my new favorite barbell substitute. Having a PVC pipe around the house reminds me to practice the complex movements I engage in with weightlifting but without the added stress of weight. It’s important to have a way to practice these complex movements without added load.

Reebok shorts

It may sound ridiculous but I don’t think I can squat in anything else. After a given amount of time of lifting weights your posterior becomes… Let’s say well rounded. These are the best athletic shorts I’ve found that stretch easily during a squat and quickly reform back to normal. I never feel like I’m going to split a seam and show everyone my dinosaur underwear. These have become my hands down favorite workout shorts.

Merrill shoes

If you want return to natural human running form or encourage full range of motion in the ankle during a squat then you probably have heard that flat shoes is the way to do this. Flat shoes force us to face our bad movement behaviors and correct them. This is why many people are working out in Chuck Taylor’s these days. Personally I like something a bit more athletic but without the nasty price tag that comes with the major brands.

The tipping point

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The tipping point” is an excellent look at economic epidemics and an analysis of how they spread. Gladwell uses interesting and engaging stories as examples to discuss the mechanisms that cause cultural and social epidemics, or fads. A great read, I honestly had trouble not immediately rereading it when I finished.

Beyond Bodybuilding

Paved Tsatsouline lays out more methods than I can count for effectively becoming “as strong as you look” (referencing bodybuilders who may not be able to perform certain lifts despite looking huge). The book is infused with Pavel’s Russian strength training influence and plenty of his singular humor. For people wanting to get serious in the game of strength training this is a necessary read.

Becoming a Supple Leopard

Kelly Starrett has made the long awaited owners manual for the human body, at least in regards to the musculoskeletal system, athletics and motion. This book is huge and still is insanely dense with information. Most likely you will probably use it more as an encyclopedia to be referenced when you experience a certain issue. However I do recommend trying to read it from start to finish to truly understand how Starrett layers function on top of performance.

Ready to run

Kelly Starrett did it again with “Ready to Run.” I recommend this book to everyone that complains about running issues whether they be hurt feet or blown out knees. The practices laid out in “Ready to Run” are simple to apply but will always take maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

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Lunch Boxes, the Weightlifter’s Man-Purse

You don’t think about how important a lunch box is until you go without one… because you lit it on fire… and got melted plastic all over your girlfriend’s glass table…

Sooo anyway! If you were the cool kid in grade school, chances are you had a sweet Scooby Doo, Batman or Star Wars lunch box. Sadly, that gimmicky shit isn’t going to work anymore if you want to become remain the coolest kid at the gym. (Not that you take a lunch box to the gym, that’d be ridiculous.) However you DO take one to work or school or whatever you do during the majority of the day, and that lunch box is directly affecting how cool you are and your gym cred. But what kind of options does the modern man have, exactly?

Option 1: Now if you’re working with kids and want to make them laugh, or solving mysteries with a stoner and his dog in a van, then this lunch box will be perfect for you. Of course, it’s a good thing you’re solving mysteries  – because this lunchbox isn’t going to hold enough food to maintain any sort of gains.

Option 2: Personally, I like a larger insulated lunch box that can hold the multitude of protein snacks and two lunches I take to work. I need to know that my lunch box will keep them cool, keep me looking cool, and won’t break my budget. After hours of exhaustive searching on Amazon, I came across the Birugear Durable Deluxe in a 13.5” x 10” x 10” size. Beyond this point if you wanted any larger you’d have to get a cooler, or a fridge. (Though I will admit that carrying a fridge around might be a great whole-body exercise.)

On a daily basis I load this lunch box up with three ice packs, a 32oz shaker cup, 2 yogurts, homemade nut & date bars, 1-2 plasticware containers of clean lunch food, a few protein snacks, and a 32oz water bottle. I still have room to spare after all that and the lunch box keeps everything perfectly cold over the course of the work day.  As a plus: the cell phone pocket perfectly fits a tin of Altoids for that post-lunch breath.

While there are more bodybuilding-specific lunch boxes -marked by an unreasonable number of compartments- available on the market, it’s hard to beat something as simple as the Birugear Durable Deluxe. Not to mention I’m left with more money for the important stuff, like protein powder…

-Matt