I’m a minimalist when it comes to lifting. I limit myself to 7 movements; the Serious Six and one complementary movement for a weak point of my choosing.
But it’s not my limited selection of movements that people take note of. What raises eyebrows is deadlifting 700 lbs plus in…well, whatever I’m wearing that day. Chinos, bathrobes or Polo shirt, I don’t give a damn. I sure as hell ain’t spending 15 minutes getting dressed for lifting and I damn sure ain’t putting on belts unless I’m dieting and my ass crack is showing.
I shun lifting gear. Captain of Team No-Belt since day one. You know that. But not so long ago, I decided to go all in and ditch my squat shoes and knee sleeves as well. Good riddance, you stinking old bastards. I’d rather squat 50 pounds less than drag you along with me every damn time to squat. Very liberating, let me tell you.
So as far as training accessories goes, I’m only using chalk. Guess that counts as an accessory. Who knows, but if I don’t mention it someone’s going to put me on the spot and call me out and I wouldn’t like that, Heaven’s no! I’d rather watch health documentaries on Netflix than get caught red-handed by Reddit.
Anyway. Hope you enjoyed my little humblebrag. There’s more where that came from. But truth to be told, this equipment-minimalism is not part of some greater plan. It’s not a sacred rule or tradition that I must conform to in order to keep demon hordes at bay. It’s simply that I’d rather be comfortable than put 10-15 kg extra on bar. Because really, who gives a shit? Unless it helps me bench more, I don’t.
That said, I can’t lie. I’m a real prima donna when it comes to training gadgets and geek out on everything that makes getting stronger and leaner, more fun. You know, good headphones, trackers and nicely formatted Excel sheets with graphs and shit.
Good things like these are some of the items you’ll find on The Good Gains Gift Guide.
I don’t use knee sleeves and squat shoes. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Why though? Ankle flexibility for one; mine’s are great and until I ditched my squat shoes, I didn’t know it. Unless you’re the same, there’s plenty more benefits to be had and lotsa more pounds to be lifted with a good pair of squat shoes.
Strong Knee Sleeves
What’s with knee sleeves though? I started wearing them to ease my knee problems. Since I served as my own control group, it’s hard to say how much they actually helped, but I can tell you one thing. There’d be times were I could hardly stand in between sets when my pains were acting up. Days I had to walk sideways like a crab down the stairs to the car garage and then, grimacing in pain, hoist myself unto the car seat like a cripple.
All that went away immediately once I started wearing knee sleeves and I’ve never had these issues since. So one thing’s for damn sure; if your knees take a beating after squats, knee sleeves would be my first recommendation. 1
There’s three kinds of people. Those who don’t lift, those who use straps because they’re weak and those who use straps because they’re strong. I won my last competition pulling 310 kg with a torn callous and skin flaps hanging loose so guess which camp I’m in.
That’s called a rhetorical question, no need to answer. When the strength of your muscles surpass the integrity of your skin, straps are a must, especially if you’re using real bars. There’s only some many sets with an Eleiko bar you can do before calluses start flyin’. Don’t let ’em.
These will save your hands like nothing else and guess what? A saved hand is another set in the bag. Equals…? Gains, goddamn it, gains!
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up some chalk unless you’re training at Planet Fitness or some other disreputable place where fuckarounditis reigns supreme.
Of utmost importance when it comes to lifting is a good set of wireless in-ear headphones. These serve three fundamental functions integral to good lifting and therefore, good gaining.
- They give you an excuse to be anti-social and disengaged. If someone attempts to make conversation, perhaps they didn’t see your headphones or perhaps they are just being rude, just point at your ears and mouth ‘I can’t hear you.’ 2
- They make you smarter because their use is not restricted to the gym and since they’re so damn comfortable, you’ll wear them everywhere and listen to audio books and podcasts instead of the deafening silence of your lonesome abode or the Euro-trash techno your poor musical tastes have afforded you.
- Most importantly, good headphones makes you stop sulking, man the fuck up and rip that PR from the ground to Destroy the Weak or some other invigorating melody on the infamous NO BS playlist, the unofficial LG playlist that has been the sole courtesy of Leangains Patreon for ages.
Until now. Now the power can be your’s too. If you can harness its might, if you can only reach out and…seize it. With these, you can.
Jaybird X-3 are the finest headphones a lifter can wear under $100 and I’ll be getting another pair on Black Friday, that’s for damn sure. So should you. If you appreciate having death metal blasted into your brain at 9000 mph or whatever the hell they’re using to measure sound. While you’re at it, make sure to pick up an extra pair of nibs because that’s their only weak point. Or maybe I’ve just worn them out, who knows. They’re a steal either way and in terms of sound, the loudest I’ve tried and I’ve tried a ton. I’m half-dead so I’m always on the hunt for the strongest stuff and this is it.3
I had strong doubts about these, but they grew on me and they’re my goto-headphones for every day use, and surprisingly, a great stand-in for my Jaybirds. The sound is loud and crystal clear and contrary to expectations, they don’t fall out despite barely being felt. I can sit in these for hours while writing and forget I have them in. They’re great. Here’s a nice trick, put EQ on Late Night in settings for the music app in iOS if you want to override the volume limit.
If you’ve read The Leangains Method, you know the importance of a good scale. What ranks as good in this case is simply a digital scale that logs, syncs and makes graphs of days, weeks and body weights, because let’s face it; you could save a few bucks with your grandpas scale from WW2 and log each entry manually, sure.
…Except that’ll last for 6 days ‘till you realise what a pain in the ass it actually is and sooner or later you decide to not bother. Next thing you know, five years flies by and you’re cruising through Walmart on a fat-people-scooter looking for mega-packs of Doritos because you’re 655 pounds. And the only reason you know that is because the doctor told you.
What the hell are we even talking about, buddy? Get a good scale. A serious lifter needs it whether he’s cutting, bulking or maintaining, period. Here’s what I got:
Fitbit Aria 2
But that’s because I found it in the closet a few hours ago and what I’ve actually been using is this:
Withings/Nokia – Smart Body Scale
And as long as you pay no mind to the ludicrous body fat analyzer function, they’re both fine and easy to deal with.
Lastly, trackers. I’m not going to lie and pretend that these are staples of mine but I recently got a Fitbit Charge 3 and an Apple Watch Series 4 because I’m crazy.
About numbers. And in my case, I’m doing a tax-deductable study to see how different trackers stack up in order to draw my own conclusions about their accuracy and with all the fucking taxes I’m paying, projects like these are fun. And the watch is pretty nifty in itself so why not? Plus there’s some interesting and unexpected conclusions to draw from the data and the information is of value in my job as a trainer. I’ll publish a detailed comparison of how they stack up against each other on Patreon some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so if that might interest you, you know where to find it.
Here’s a preliminary TLDR based on what what I’ve gathered so far, Fitbit Charge 3 is the superior tracker for reasons not necessarily related to accuracy but rather comfort and consistency. Most impressive about the device is the ease of wear and damn near infinite battery life. I’ve worn mine for nearly a month now and charged it twice. These last two weeks I’ve been wearing it on my left and right ankle and hardly noticed it.
As a tracker, the Apple Watch 4 lacks the convenience of the Fitbit Charge 3 and even with the Nike Fuel band it’s not always comfortable wearing it for long stretches of time. Then again, it’s not a dedicated activity tracker, that’s just a nice bonus. Where it truly shines is waterminding. 😉
Y’all have a Happy Thanksgiving now.
P.S. Oh snap. Guess what I forgot? A George Foreman grill to feed those gain. But then again, you’re going to be feeding from here on out to Christmas so that can wait.
- Managing your expectations my second, because let’s face it, it’s usually our own doing that puts us there. In my case, I squatted AMRAPS every week for 15 years straight before my knees put an end to it.
- …And if the person insists on bothering you, laboriously take your earbuds out, but make sure to take your phone up and turn off whatever you’re listening to first and do it slowly . Thirty seconds later, you say yeah, what is it? And when the idiot points at a stray dumbbell in a corner nearby and asks if you’re using it, look at him with contempt and say no. Then put your earbuds in and watch him slink away with dumbbell in hand. Like a rat with a piece of cheese scurrying past a sleeping cat. That cat is you, my friend. But not if you stay at Planet Fitness.
- Also buying fancy schmancy Jabra Elite Active because word on the street is they’re amazing.