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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.