Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Monday, February 27, 2017
“That’s what this gym is, a journey into Hell,” says Louie Simmons in the first lines of the first trailer of “Westside Vs. The World.”
That appears to be the focus of the flick: the agony, anguish, and anxiety that are part and parcel of excelling at what many consider to be America’s greatest powerlifting gym. (“The Story Behind the Madness” is the film’s tagline.)
No discussion of powerlifting’s greats would be complete without mentioning Louie Simmons, the idiosyncratic founder of Westside Barbell, located in Columbus, Ohio. An avowed devotee of strength training and samurai codes of honor, Simmons is one of only five powerlifters to total Elite in five different weight classes, the oldest man to bench press 600 pounds (272.1kg), and the first man over 50 to squat 920 pounds (417.3kg) while weighing 242 pounds (109.8kg). And this is despite having broken his back twice and once been pronounced dead on an operating table in 1991.
A character like Simmons is not without controversy, and his comments regarding Olympic weightlifting training methodologies have earned him ire in some corners of the industry. But there’s no denying that his contributions to the sport have been immense.
Image via Westside vs the World Documentary on YouTube
“If you go to a meet and you see the Westside crew, you know that shit just got real,” one athlete says in the trailer. “Because their names are on all the records.”
The gym is indeed responsible for more than 140 world records, and the documentary promises to give an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the invite-only gym. The film’s website claims that,
Westside Barbell is essentially what would happen if the Hell’s Angels traded in their Harley Davidsons for squat racks and chalk. It is a collection of some of the strongest and scariest people to ever walk the earth. The atmosphere inside the cement block walls has been described as a prison yard weight pile.
Directed by retired jiu jitsu champion Carlos Carvalho and recreational powerlifter Michael Fahey, the film took three years to complete and features interviews with athletes like Ed Coan, Donnie Thompson, and Larry Pacifico. There’s currently no release date, but we’ll keep you updated with any news.
Featured image via Westside vs the World Documentary on YouTube
The post Watch the Trailer for “Westside Vs. The World,” the New Powerlifting Documentary With Louie Simmons appeared first on BarBend.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Friday, February 24, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017
There’s been a lot of hype and lead up to this year’s Reebok CrossFit® Games Open. From Dave Castro’s Instagram posts that hinted at full snatches and dumbbells, to the hype around the new CrossFit documentary, “Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness.”
Without further ado, Dave Castro announced the first workout for the Reebok CrossFit Games Open from Paris, France and it’s posted below.
The workout is a couplet performed in a ladder fashion – starting at 10 reps and finishing at 50 – with a 20-min time cap. The two movements are a dumbbell snatch and a burpee box jump and overs. The dumbbell snatch must be performed with alternating arms. Men are required to use 50 lb dumbbells, while women 35 lbs.
- 10 dumbbell snatch and 15 burpee box jump and overs
- 20 dumbbell snatches and 15 burpee box jump and overs
- 30 dumbbell snatches and 15 burpee box jump and overs
- 40 dumbbell snatches and 15 burpee box jump and overs
- 50 dumbbell snatches and 15 burpee box jump and overs
For 17.1 to count there are guidelines for the workout, which are shared below. As always, the athlete must start on a 3-2-1 countdown.
First, with the dummbell snatch the second hand must be off the snatch while performing reps, so there’s no assistance. Second, an athlete must be perpendicular to the box straddling a line for their burpee. Third, if you can’t perform a burpee box jump and over you can do a two-foot takeoff.
The first head to head battle between CrossFit athletes completing 17.1 is being streamed on games.crossfit.com and are Brent Frikowski and Patrick Vellner (3rd fittest man in the world). They’ll be competing in Montreal, Canada.
The other head to head battle will be between Kristin Holte, who finished twelfth in last year’s Games, and the 2013 CrossFit Games Champion Samantha Briggs, at Reebok CrossFit Louvre in Paris, France. This event is being held on the CrossFit Games Facebook page.
This year there’s a larger amount of registrants for the Open than any previous year. The first workout includes dumbbells, which is a first for the CrossFit community as a whole. It will be interesting to see the final results of the first 17.1 Open workout.
Feature image screenshot from CrossFit® YouTube channel.
The post The First Workout of the 17.1 CrossFit® Open Has Been Posted appeared first on BarBend.
Green Vibrance, from the Connecticut-based supplement company Vibrant Health, is one of the top 5 best selling greens powders on Bodybuilding.com. Made largely from pulverized plants, a lot of companies market greens powders as replacements for multivitamins and in some cases, replacements for fruits and vegetables themselves.
So, is Green Vibrance a solid supplement, or do its claims outmatch its benefits? I tried it out.
Green Vibrance Ingredients
Green Vibrance has dozens of ingredients, and what’s interesting is that it combines a lot of what other powders would rather specialize in. By that I mean most of the greens supplements I’ve tried focus on their antioxidants without providing a lot of vitamins and minerals, or they focus on probiotics without including digestive enzymes. (For the record, there’s nothing wrong with those approaches, so long as they don’t claim they’re doing anything else.)
Green Vibrance’s ingredients fall into ten categories: Cereal Grasses, Plant Based Micro-Nutrition, Antioxidant Life Preservers, Immune Support, Adaptogens, Skeletal Support, Fiber, Liver Support, Enzymes & Tonics, and Probiotics.
It covers more bases than most of its competitors: the wheat grass and barley grass, the spirulina and chlorella, over a dozen sources of antioxidants that range from tomato to mustard seed, six digestive enzymes, and a dozen strains of bacteria that provide over 25 billion probiotics per serving. That’s ten times what most greens powders contain, if they contain at all, and over three times more than what I would consider its closest competitor, Athletic Greens.
One scoop contains 40 calories, two grams of protein, seven grams of carbs, two grams of fiber, and half a gram of fat.
Green Vibrance Benefits
There is a very, very low bar when it comes to greens powders.
A lot of them only provide antioxidants and probiotics — which is fine, if that’s all they say they deliver. But many claim to be a good replacement for a serve of fruits or vegetables, despite providing next to no vitamins or minerals.
Green Vibrance got my attention for three reasons: it actually contains a lot of vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants and probiotics, their website provides evidence that backs up the product’s claims, and it doesn’t claim to do anything it doesn’t. (Like I said, there’s a low bar in this industry.)
The vitamin and mineral content is among the highest of any greens powder I’ve seen, besides Athletic Greens. One scoop has 250% of the RDI of vitamin D3, which is great, 80 percent of your vitamin C, 70 percent of your selenium, 60 percent of your vitamin K, and 40 percent of your Vitamin B12.
The packaging has a “full disclosure label” and “truth, trust, transparency,” and it actually delivers. It doesn’t say that it is the only supplement you’ll ever need, or it can substitute for real food. It tells you that it supports micronutrient requirements, improves digestion, contributes to immunity, and helps with circulation. Then it lists all its ingredients, how much of each ingredient is in a serving, and directs you to information that tells you why it’s useful and if it’s an effective dose. Again, this is insanely rare.
For example, if you check out their site, it explains that one of the reasons it contains 700mg of sunflower lecithin is because it delivers 160mg of phosphatidyl choline, and 35mg of that ingredient was shown in one study to support cognitive function.
It also explains why it uses the kind of overused term “detoxification” to describe the ingredients that have been shown to improve liver health. It’s a meaningless word that they should have avoided, but it’s forgivable because Green Vibrance does everything it can to back up its claims.
It doesn’t taste great. (Hey, you can’t win ‘em all.) It’s milder than a lot of greens powders, but it has an aftertaste that’s quite grassy and peppery. Like competitor Texas Superfood, it has a slightly spicy kick to it. It would probably go down easier if mixed with orange juice.
At 65 dollars for 60 servings ($1.08/serving) it’s shockingly cheap for the quality it delivers. The only greens powder I would consider to be better than Green Vibrance is Athletic Greens, which is a whopping $4.23 per serving.
Compare that with $35 for fifteen servings of Onnit’s Earth Grown Nutrients ($2.30/serving) $40 dollars for thirty servings of AI Sports Nutrition Red & Greens XT ($1.33/serving), $30 for thirty servings of PharmaFreak Greens Freak ($1/serving), $50 for ninety servings of Sun Warrior’s Supergreens ($0.55/serving) and $52 for a hundred serves Amazing Grass’s Green Superfood ($0.52/serving).
Green Vibrance is without a doubt a more honest, more nutrient-dense, higher quality product than any of those.
Rating Out of 5
It shouldn’t be unrealistic to want a supplement that tells you what it does and then backs up its claims, but most greens powders utterly fail to do just that. Greens Vibrance doesn’t overstate its claims, it backs up the ones it does make, and it’s fairly cheap. It could definitely taste better, but it gets full marks in ingredients, effectiveness, and price.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Are greens powders better in Texas? I tried the popular greens supplement from Texas Superfood Single Powder from Nuplexa, a product that strongly emphasizes the fact that the ground up, “vine-ripened” fruits and vegetables were “picked at the peak of nutritional perfection.” So, what’s in it?
There’s a pretty broad spectrum of ingredients here: thirty fruits, twenty-five vegetables, and eight “greens.” (Think wheatgrass and four kinds of algae.)
Standout ingredients include tart cherry, bilberry, rose hip, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, ginger, and aloe vera.
It also contains nine different digestive enzymes, including amylase and a few kinds of fungi, which are forms of bacteria. These have been shown to help break down food (our bodies produce amylase in our saliva and pancreas), but it’s worth pointing out that the product doesn’t go into much detail as to how much of each ingredient it contains and if it’s enough to have a significant effect.
The product is free from pesticides, gluten, soy, synthetic fillers, binders, artificial flavors and synthetic chemicals. Each scoop contains twenty calories and, according to the label, contains no fat, under a gram of protein, four grams of carbohydrates and 0.8 grams of fiber.
The drink tastes like açai berry, and I say that because açai berry tastes like blueberries rubbed in dirt. There’s also a vey strange, spicy aftertaste, presumably because it contains ginger and cayenne pepper which, to be fair, are both remarkably nutritious.
It’s not as offensive as a lot of greens powders, but the spiciness really is unsettling. In fairness to Texas Superfoods, however, it doesn’t actually recommend mixing it with water. It only suggests mixing it with juice, a smoothie, or the beverage of your choice, and I think it could go pretty well with juice. I can’t really give it a negative mark to the taste of a product that doesn’t want you to drink it straight. (After all, I wouldn’t spoon protein powder into my mouth either.)
At eighty dollars for thirty servings, it comes out to $2.66 per serving. That’s one of the most expensive greens supplements we’ve seen.
You can compare that to $127 for thirty servings of Athletic Greens ($4.23/serving), $40 dollars for thirty servings of AI Sports Nutrition Red & Greens XT ($1.33/serving), $35 for fifteen servings of Onnit’s Earth Grown Nutrients ($2.30/serving), $30 for thirty servings of PharmaFreak Greens Freak ($1/serving), $50 for ninety servings of Sun Warrior’s Supergreens ($0.55/serving) and $52 for a hundred serves Amazing Grass’s Green Superfood ($0.52/serving).
The product claims to support “physical energy and performance, quality sleep, mental focus and clarity, balanced weight, radiant skin and elevated mood” and to deliver “the vitamins, enzymes, and micronutrients contained in a healthful intake of raw fruits & vegetables – without the water, sugar, salt, or pulp.”
For all their faults, most greens powders don’t go as far as to say that they provide the same nutrition as a daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Texas Superfoods does, yet the actual vitamin and mineral information on the label is woefully incomplete for such a bold statement. It does deliver 100 percent of your daily intake of Vitamin A and C, but there’s no information about important minerals found in vegetables, like magnesium and potassium. It provides just five percent of the RDI of Iron and two percent of your calcium.
Even though there’s very little information about actual nutrition, it would almost be acceptable to say that it helps to support a healthful diet. It’s completely unacceptable and misleading to imply it can replace a “healthful intake” of fruits and vegetables, particularly given how scant any nutrition information is.
Now, most greens powders don’t actually provide a lot of vitamins and minerals and instead provide a lot of antioxidants and supplements for digestive health. Texas Superfood does contain a lot of digestive enzymes, which could be helpful for people who suffer from digestive problems. But I don’t know how much it contains of each ingredient, and there’s no information about how many antioxidants it provides compared to a serving of vegetables. It should say how effective the dose is, not just what the dose contains.
In their defense, Texas Superfood appears to try and defend the lack of information with the disclaimer.
As with any natural product, nutritional values and other characteristics may vary from batch to batch.
That’s fine, but I should have a rough idea as to how many vitamins and minerals I’m getting in a serving. Other greens powders do this. Texas Superfoods doesn’t.
Strangely, the company does provide a lot more information for its separate Superfruit supplement, which appears to have 100 percent of the RDI of Vitamin D, E, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and more. There’s no such information for their flagship product.
Rating Out of 5
All I want is a greens powder that tells me exactly why I should believe the claims it makes. Texas Superfood has more Vitamin A and C and more digestive enzymes than most of its competitors, but I need much more information about their nutrition if I’m going to believe that it can substitute for whole food.
As the we careen toward the CrossFit Open, which starts tomorrow in Montreal and Paris, CrossFit HQ has released one and a half hours of never before seen footage of athletes preparing for the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games… and it’s one of six behind the scenes documentaries that just became available.
It’s probably fair to say that most CrossFit Games documentaries are constructed so as to satisfy the hardcore fans of the sport while also highlighting the aspects that can help it appeal to strangers: the struggles, the personalities, the grit, the drama.
This footage won’t do that. It’s absolutely not for anyone who is unfamiliar with CrossFit athletes, but for diehard fans this footage is addictive. This film of the competition’s aftermath defines “nitty gritty,” as athletes talk about the extreme specifics of winning (or trying to) at the elite level: form minutiae, pacing, and the tiny alterations that they used to crawl as close as possible to first place. There’s also drama as the athletes learn that their final rankings have been changing throughout the day as the judges review the competition footage.
CrossFit’s YouTube channel summarized the content thusly:
Executive Producer Sevan Matossian gives us behind-the-scenes access to the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games. For the athletes who have dedicated their lives to training, the stacked competition leaves little margin for error. Watch as Matossian captures the most riveting, comical and saddening moments of the quest to find the Fittest on Earth. In Part 6, the competition concludes and it’s time to find out who is the Fittest on Earth. After a more-than-dominant weekend, Mat Fraser improves on last year’s second-place finish. The race between reigning champion Katrin Davidsdottir and 2015 second-place finisher Tia-Clair Toomey is closer than ever, but Davidsdottir retains her crown.
Sure, it’s a little unusual to only release part 6, but the idea appears to be promoting subscriptions to the CrossFit Journal: if you sign up, you get access to parts 1 through 5.
Here’s a preview of the first part, if your appetite needs whetting.
If you want to see more, you can head over to The CrossFit Journal.
Featured image via CrossFit® on YouTube
The post Watch 90 Minutes of Behind the Scenes Footage from the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games appeared first on BarBend.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Harbinger is a supportive strength company that makes a plethora of products for a wide range of strength athletes. Whether you’re a recreational lifter or someone who is a little more elite in stature, chances are Harbinger makes equipment that could suit your needs. In fact, a lot of strength athletes have used Harbinger equipment at least once in their lifting careers as their supportive equipment is in a lot of different gyms.
(Curious about the best lifting belt for you? Check out our full rundown of the best lifting belts here!)
One piece of equipment that Harbinger is most known for is their lifting belts. When we received the Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Belt I was pumped to see how it held up in the gym. This is a nylon and cloth based belt with an added foam core for comfort. I was interested to see if the foam core sacrificed the belt’s stability, so I used both strength and power movements in my tests.
The lifts I used to test this belt were the power clean, back squat, deadlift, and front squat.
This belt is a nylon and cloth base with an added foam core. In terms of stability I thought this belt held up pretty well for being a nylon and cloth base. These style belts aren’t typically known for increased stability due to the bendable nature of their material. This being said, there were aspects of this belt’s stability I liked and others that I disliked. I liked the additional inch this belt gives. Nylon belts are typically 4″ wide, so the extra width helped provide additional torso stability. This helped minimize lack of rigidness when maintaining certain postures.
I also liked the 3″ thick velcro strap. An issue some nylon and velcro belts can sometimes have is a small velcro strap, which then causes the top and bottom of the belt to bend with the torso. I felt that the extra belt width and strap width worked in a synergistic manner to support the torso. While these were great compliment to the belt I wasn’t a huge fan of the foam core. Personally, I like a belt that’s a little more rigid and I thought the foam core took away from the belt’s ability to truly support the torso. Also, the foam core wasn’t the best at absorbing sweat when lifting shirtless so it slid around on my torso a little bit, which can cause some instability.
When it came to the lifts themselves this belt performed pretty well for what it is. This style belt is often used for its ability to provide stability while remaining versatile. When it came to dynamic movements like the power clean this belt never limited my mobility or felt uncomfortable. That’s the main aspect the foam core has going for it. However, if you’re looking for a belt to support maximally loaded lifts, then this may not be the best choice.
This belt may lack in the area of stability, but it definitely doesn’t when it comes to comfort. Nylon based belts are often regarded as more comfortable than their leather counterparts. That remains the case with this belt and the added foam core was a nice touch. From the very first lift this belt felt comfortable and there was never a grace period where I had to break it in.
Another aspect I liked was how forgiving the foam core was on the skin. It was extremely comfortable on bare skin, which is good for those who want a versatile comfortable belt for functional fitness workouts or WODs. The top and bottom edges are rounded as well, so they’re soft and don’t dig into the ribs or torso in a painful manner. One issue I could foresee happening with this belt is the possibility of the foam wearing down with overuse. If this belt’s foam core becomes disfigured, then you could sacrifice some of its comfort.
The material used on this belt is a nylon and cloth base with the inside being a little softer than the exterior portion. This belt is composed with a plush tricot lining, which is supposed to trap heat and keep muscle warm throughout a lift. When compared to other nylon belts I’ve tried, I thought this one was on the softer side. The foam core has some give to it and you can squeeze the padding without leaving lasting imprints, which suggest the foam core is well-constructed. There’s a stainless steel loop that’s enclosed by a double stitched strap, so the strap feels sturdy and doesn’t move like in some nylon belts.
Anytime you purchase a nylon or cloth based belt durability should be considered. These are belts that may not last you a lifetime like some leather belts have the potential to do. In regards to this belt there weren’t any immediate durability issues, but I could see two future issues happening with excessive belt use.
First, velcro has a lifespan and will eventually lose some of it’s sturdiness due to strapping overuse. This specific belt has three inches of velcro, which is good and bad for two reasons. It’s good because you have extra velcro to work with if one section loses it’s initial stickiness. On the flip side, if one portion loses its ability to stick, then the extra 5″ width might collapse easier.
Second, the foam core may not last as long as a standard nylon belt. I liked how the foam felt, but I worry it will wear out easier than a standard nylon that has less depth to it’s shape. Also, I’d be curious to see how excessive sweating effects the way this belt hugs the body over an extended amount of time.
The price of this belt was pretty fair and starts at $21.99. This price is right inline with other nylon belts on the market, but is somewhat better. I like that this belt has an extra thick velcro strap and 5″ width, which makes me like the price for this belt even more. If you’re someone who’s a recreational lifter and wants comfort over rigidness, then this belt is a good fit. Keep in mind that it won’t last forever, but I think the price is fair for what the belt has to offer.
Rating 1-5 (5 being the highest)
To conclude my review on the Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Belt there were aspects I really liked, such as the extra inch thickness and 3″ velcro strap. I also enjoyed the comfort this belt had to offer, especially on bare skin. However, if you’re someone who’s looking for an extremely stable belt, then this may not be your best choice. In addition, this belt does have a lifespan, but a fair price point, so you can make the call on what you weigh heavier.
All in all I thought this belt was a good choice for lifters who value comfort over stability, but still want a belt to help support the torso.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Schiek is an American based supportive strength equipment company. They make equipment for both the serious strength athlete and the recreational lifter. Schiek is best known for their unique cone shape belt design, which is made to follow the natural curvature of the torso. While belts were their first product in this industry, they also make knee straps, gloves, and other supportive gear.
(Curious about the best lifting belt for you? Check out our full rundown of the best lifting belts here!)
When we received the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt I was pumped to put it to the test. This is one of Schiek’s more rigid belts and is designed specifically for powerlifters.
I tested this belt with power and strength movements, which included the deadlift, back squat, and front squat. Since this is a belt geared for the powerlifter, I didn’t utilize any Olympic style movements for this review.
Out of all the leather belts I’ve tried this was definitely on the more stable side. This belt is 9mm thick, which was thick enough to prevent any form of bending in the belt when the torso flexed or extended. Unlike most of the Schiek belts, this specific belt features the typical cylinder style you see with most lifting belts. Every part of the torso is hugged equally and there’s a double-prong stainless steel buckle for maximal abdomen security. This belt’s stability is great, but the thicker leather was a little tough on the skin. A newer lifter who isn’t performing extremely heavy loads may be turned off by this.
This belt was exceptionally great for back squats. The thick rigid leather was great for maintaining a solid posture whether I tried low or high-bar. I found that low-bar squats were great with this belt. Since there’s a little more forward lean in a low-bar squat, then a belt should help distribute force exerted on the back, and I thought this belt did that well. Keeping in mind this is a powerlifting oriented belt, I think this is a key feature with this belt’s stability.
Deadlifts also felt pretty good in this belt. Similar to the squats the rigid feeling was comforting when weight started to get heavy. There was never an issue with forward flexion, even if my shoulders began to round in heavy pulls. One potential issue I could see a strength athlete having with this belt is with its specificity. For someone who isn’t powerlifting frequently and needs a stable option, then this belt may not be the best choice. This aspect is important to keep in mind for those who need a stable belt for functional fitness workouts or WODs.
This belt was extremely stable, but not the most comfortable. After using countless belts and testing them I’ve learned that there’s a line that separates comfort and stability. Often times when you’re looking for stability you’ll have to sacrifice some comfort. This belt was one of the most stable belts I’ve used, but it wasn’t very comfortable or forgiving on the skin. It took about 4-5 lifts to start to feel a little better when it came to the edges digging into my torso.
For an elite powerlifter this won’t be an issue because tough leather is something this athlete is typically used to. Also, in some cases, a powerlifter prefers a stiffer belt because it ensures that it’s going to hold up during lifts. The buckle pinched a little bit, but that problem becomes non-existent once you spend a little time learning how to adjust it for your torso.
The leather Schiek uses for this belt is genuine suede, which is common material used with most leather belts. This type of leather is taken from the underside of hides and can come from a plethora of animals. It’s a combination of a softer finish and a tough exterior. Imagine a standard leather boot that has a little bit more of a softer finish. There’s heavy double stitching all the way around the belt. This provided the belt with a compact tight finish.
I really liked the materials Schiek used to make up the front of this belt. They use a thick stainless steel for the buckle and it’s double-pronged. There are six bolts that hold the front portion together, so it feels tight and compact.
This belt’s stability provided an immediate feeling of durability. The compact suede leather doesn’t feel as though it will fray easily, even around the edges like some leather belts can. I liked that there’s double stitching around the whole outside of the belt and buckle. Also, unlike some leather single-prong powerlifting belts, I liked that this belt has a double-prong buckle. The buckle itself is thick and stiff, so there it doesn’t feel as though the metal will bend easily. In addition, I liked the six bolts that hold the buckle together.
This belt starts at $69.95. Personally, I thought this was a solid price for this belt’s specificity. An athlete who’s buying this belt more than likely has an idea into why they’re purchasing it. This being said, I think the price is fair compared to similar belts of this purpose, which is stability and often powerlifting. On the other hand, if you’re a recreational lifter who needs a generic belt, then this price point could be a turnoff.
Ratings 1-5 (5 being the highest)
The Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt was a stable leather belt that held up well through multiple strength movements. This belt is designed for powerlifting and offers a durable double prong stainless steel buckle. If you’re looking for a rigid belt that is pretty affordable, then this belt is a good choice. For the lifter who needs comfort and versatility, they might prefer an option that provides a little more of both of these.
All in all if you’re a powerlifter or an athlete looking for a stable rigid leather belt, then this belt may be a good choice for you.
The post Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt Review appeared first on BarBend.
“If there’s ever a Mad Max apocalypse, I’m coming straight to the gym and I’m stealing your car. You’re the only real person who leaves his keys in the ignition and I know for a fact you’ll still be here.”
“Bro, end of the world and you’d steal my car?”
“You’d be alright man, just run away.”
“Where? To the middle of the moors? That’s like a 100 miles away.”
“Easy for you, Bland, I’ve seen you doing CrossFit on the sly.”
“You reckon I could?”
“Unknown and unknowable, baby” (said in jest)
And that was all it took. It used to be that I could only be goaded that easily after a few beers, but now it doesn’t even take that. Ten minutes later, I’d shook hands with Ricky T and made the bet that in 24 hours I could run a 100 miles. No running specific training, just the CrossFit and Strongman I’d been doing, and five days to prepare.
Apart from that the rules are incredibly simple: start at 7pm on Tuesday and finish at 7pm Wednesday. Stop as much as I like, but rest too long and the chance of me finishing the century before the clock runs out becomes very slim.
So if I’ve not been running what training have I been doing? Well, recently a lot of classes at CrossFit Kroy. It’s not that I’m a card carrying member of the functional fitness brigade or anything; I’m far from it. As a matter of fact only a couple of months ago I scoffed at anyone who had the audacity to take up gym space with thrusters and burpees for time.
Then it all changed. While competing at a strongman competition my training partner (the aforementioned Ricky T) ripped his bicep off the bone flipping a tire. With strongman off the cards for at least a year, he switched sides and signed up for a Functional Fitness competition, looking for something to fill that training void and give the sessions purpose.
Rather than leave him to suffer alone, I started working the movements too, occasionally at first, then more and more, now there’s rarely a day goes by I don’t get at least one WOD in and more often than not its two.
What’s more, I’m enjoying it. The varied nature of sessions has highlighted some major weaknesses, allowing me to work on and subsequently fix them. Resulting in my body no longer hurting when I get out of a car, my body fat is down and my conditioning has skyrocketed, all the while my strength hasn’t slipped an inch.
No one’s questioning that CrossFit® methodology works, but the real question is for all it’s obvious benefits: Does it really do what it promises and prepare you for the unknown and the unknowable?
And there is nothing more unknown to me than running 100 miles with no real training. It’s not that I’m a stranger to long distance running, and at 19 I would have jumped on this challenge, but a lot has changed in those seven years since. Back then I was a fully fledged running fanatic, preaching to anyone who would listen and running everywhere and everyday with a zeal, even going as far as to compete in a 42 mile ultra-marathon. It wasn’t to last though, thankfully I soon saw the light, it was deadlift shaped. Since entering my first strongman competition I can count the number of times I’ve run more than five miles on both hands with fingers to spare. I’ve also gained roughly 20 kilos of bodyweight, thanks to all those squats and presses.
To get into the Royal Marines, you first have to go through hell. The selection process is weeks and weeks of being purposefully tortured by sadistic officers, so they can slowly weed out the weak. I’ve been fascinated by this ordeal ever since I got the opportunity to train a group of hopefuls for it; now whenever one of my friends comes back from selection, I have the same question waiting for them: How did you get through it? The answer is invariably the same: Food. Their advice is to focus on the food, just get to the next meal, no matter what just get to the next meal, and then eat as much as you can.
It only seems right then that I base my own hellish endeavor around that same philosophy. Keeping things as simple as possible I’ve opted to run the same 4.2 mile route twenty four times, on the hour every hour (mimicking my box’s love of EMOMs). After each successful lap I’ll reward myself with a small meal, and straying from my normally clean diet, these meals will be filth.
They’ll be made up of the most high calorie and easily digestible food I can get my greedy hands on, namely cookies, flapjack, and white bread. This isn’t just to fuel my insatiable love of cookies but also to keep my body adequately fueled and prevent as much muscle wastage as possible. Each lap is going to cost me roughly 440 calories, over the 24 hours that’s more than 10,000 in total, on top of what I need day to day just to maintain my bodyweight.
The other big nutritional concern I have is avoiding cramping and the other nasty side effects you get from profusely sweating for hours on end. From what I’ve managed to glean from the running books I’ve read remedy is reassuringly old school, cheese sandwiches doused in salt and mustard.
Running laps might take away a little from the essence of the original challenge, but logistically it makes the whole thing manageable. Also it seems I’d greatly overestimated the distance from my gym to the middle of the moors, with the true distance being an awful lot closer to fifty miles than a hundred. (I wish I’d known that at the time of making the bet.)
All there is left to do now is run it. Wish me luck.
I’ll be full write up on here in a few days, in the meantime I’ll be updating my Instagram as I go.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
The post Why I’m Doing a 100-Mile Run (with No Distance Specific Training) appeared first on BarBend.
The Farmer’s Walk, a common strongman event, has grown in popularity amongst athletes, general fitness enthusiasts, and anyone wanting to get stronger. The benefits of farmer’s walks are numerous: improved grip strength, single leg balance and loading, abdominal activation, upper back and trap strength to name a few. Those things have been covered in articles in the past, so we will be focusing on the technical breakdown of how to properly execute the farmer’s walk. These coaching cues are geared toward the novice to intermediate crowd.
For all of the cues and tips listed below I will be using a traditional farmer’s walk handle (plate loaded at the ends, handles approximately 16” off the ground).
1. Stand between the handles with your feet approximately hip width apart, and just slightly behind the center of the handles. Adjustments can/should be made based on personal preference as well as equipment being used.
2. Grab the center to just slightly behind the center of the handles and squeeze as hard as possible. If you grab too far forward the front of the handles will pop up and you will feel like you are fighting against the weight the whole time (first photo). If you grab too far back the front end of the farmer’s handles will dig into the ground, most likely causing you to drop (second photo). For beginners I suggest a grip that keeps the handles parallel to the ground (third photo).
3. Grip type will be a personal preference as well. I personally like a “reverse hook grip” where i grab the handles normally but take my thumb and lock in over the top of my index finger (first photo). This will help create a strong connection at the point where your grip will be tested the most. You can also experiment with “over gripping” (sometimes called monkey grip) the handle, where you actually turn your wrists in so when you lift up the handles pull into your palms even more (second photo).
4. Once your grip is set take a breath into your stomach and lower back. Engage your lats by pulling your shoulders back to your hips and pull your hips down until you feel you have created the maximum amount of tension. If you are having trouble with this step try repeating a few times by setting your breath, lats, and hips, then releasing and repeating until you find the position most comfortable to you.
5. Drive your heels through the ground, squeeze your glutes and keep your shoulders back until you are standing tall then start walking. You may see an advanced athlete/trainee start to walk before they have fully stood up. I would advise against using that technique unless you are extremely comfortable doing it for a couple of reasons.
First, if the weight is heavy enough it will put more strain on your lower back (think deadlifting leaned out on your tiptoes). Second, the likelihood that the front of the handles will drop into the ground goes up dramatically.
Third, the weight can start to swing forward and back, making it harder to hold onto. Again not to say this technique can’t be mastered over time, but if you are new to farmer’s walk wait until you are more comfortable overall.
6. You may choose to start with a staggered stance (sprinter stance) if the weight is light enough, however with enough weight in hand you will most likely feel more comfortable with an even stance to start.
7. You are going to always step heel to toe, not up on the balls of your feet like a sprinter. The length of your stride after picking up the farmers should be approximately heel to toe, then as you progress down the course you can open up your stride (still striking in a heel to toe manner). Again yes if the weight is light enough and you are comfortable moving fast with that weight then start off with larger strides.
8. Try to think about your stride length like this:
Too small of steps – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Good Start – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Too large of steps – – – – – – – –
9. Again it’s important to note this suggestions are for the novice to intermediate trainee, with a lighter weight more advanced athletes may choose to take larger steps.
10. Best farmers walk start for novice to beginner trainees.
11. Overall body position while moving down the course is tall but with a slight lean to help propel yourself and the weight forward.
Turning with the Farmer’s Walk Handles
If you are in a contest or your training space is small enough where you have to turn with the handles here are a couple of tips to help.
1. Going into a left hand turn (approximately 5 feet before) take your left hand and turn it hard to the right. At the same time take your right hand and turn it slightly to the left to help “lock in” the weight. The reason this step is so important is to avoid momentum twisting the farmers in front of you causing it impede your steps or even drop the handles.
2. While you are doing that with your hands you footwork should be approximately 4-5 35-45 degrees steps. Taking too large of a turn slows you down due to the added distance, and too tight of a turn causes your footwork to slow down both adding more time.
3. While going into the turn you are going to want to slow down approximately 10-20% of your top end speed, but as soon as you are pointed straight back up the course you have to speed back up.
Example of how I incorporate farmers into my general strength training clients programs. Week 1 start with a light enough weight so you can complete all of the sets without dropping.
- Week 1: 4-6x100ft. 60-90sec. rest
- Week 2: 4-6x80ft. 60-90sec. rest (add a little weight from week 1)
- Week 3: 4-6x60ft. 60-90sec. rest (add a little weight from week 2)
- Week 4: 4-6x40ft. 60-90sec. rest (add a little weight from week 3)
- Week 5: 4x100ft. 90-120 sec. rest (add a little weight from week 1)
- Week 6: 4x80ft. 90-120 sec. rest (add a little weight from week 2)
- Week 7: 4x60ft. 90-120 sec. rest (add a little weight from week 3)
- Week 8: 4x40ft. 90-120 sec. rest (add a little weight from week 4)
- Week 9: 2-3x100ft. 2-3 min. rest (add a little weight from week 5)
- Week 10: 2-3x80ft. 2-3 min. rest (add a little weight from week 6)
- Week 11: 2-3x60ft. 2-3 min. rest (add a little weight from week 7)
- Week 12: 2-3x40ft. 2-3 min. rest (add a little weight from week 8)
Here is an example of one of the contest preps I have used with some of my athletes.
- Week 1: 16x50ft. @50% of max(or contest wt.), 30sec. rest
- Week 2: 14x50ft. @55% of max(or contest wt.), 30sec. rest
- Week 3: 12x50ft. @60% of max(or contest wt.), 30sec. Rest
- Week 4: 10x50ft. @65% of max(or contest wt.), 30sec. Rest
- Week 5: 8x50ft. @70% of max(or contest wt.), 45-60sec. Rest
- Week 6: 6x50ft. @75% of max(or contest wt.), 45-60sec. Rest
- Week 7: 5x50ft. @80% of max(or contest wt.), 90-120sec. Rest
- Week 8: 4x50ft. @85% of max(or contest wt.), 90-120sec. Rest
- Week 9: 3x50ft. @90% of max(or contest wt.), 2-3 min. Rest
- Week 10: 2x50ft. @95% of max(or contest wt.), 3-5min. Rest
- Week 11: 4x50ft. @65% of max(or contest wt.), 30-45sec. Rest
- Week 12: 1-2x50ft. @100% of max(or contest wt.), 3-5min. Rest
Hopefully these tips will help improve your farmers walk and help you see the benefit from incorporating this great exercise. Remember: your form may change slightly over time as you gain more experience and find out what works best for you.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Saturday, February 18, 2017
I started uploading lifting videos of in the summer of 2014. What started as a journal of personal records and training footage, slowly turned into more of a diary of what it meant to be a strength athlete.
Lift attempts that were trimmed and compiled to show only form, soon turned into longer full sessions with voiceovers. Then came along updates on how I’m feeling or preparing for a competition, which then snowballed into a community of over 125,000 Strong Strong Friends.
The first video from 2014 that I shared on my YouTube channel!
This Strong Strong community now tunes in for multiple reasons such as watching interviews of other strength athletes (Matt Vincent, Marisa Inda, Kevin Oak, to name a few), learning how to get their first pull-up, or even knowing how to make friends at the gym.
I’ve had hundreds of men and women tell me I got them into powerlifting. I’ve had a strongwoman national champion say she watched a video for tips on water cutting. Women all over the world have discovered that they’re not the only ones peeing their pants (stress incontinence) a bit while lifting. They’ve also learned there are special doctors and physical therapists who can remedy that situation. I’ve explained to first time competitors how to pack for their meet, or introduced them to some of the strongest men and women in the world. All because I made the decision to share my strength journey.
It’s not necessary to go off the deep end and quit your job to edit and upload YouTube videos, but I’m going to convince you why sharing your experience in the gym can make you and the world around you stronger.
You Should Document Your Progression
As cringeworthy as the”On This Day” flashback feature on your Facebook may be, reminding yourself of where you started is essential. Your form has improved. You’re repping out a previous 1-RM. You’re probably a different lifter. Take these reminders as a moment to truly appreciate your strength and how much you’ve progressed.
Lifters all come to a time where they never feel strong enough. The ‘I’m so weak’ mindset is just an internet meme away, so take a moment to truly appreciate how far you’ve come.
It’s important to note that you’re experience is valuable. A ton of people want to know why you’re deadlifting with a mixed grip. You know that answer. If you can teach one person, you just made the world stronger. Never forget the men/women out there who can only lift in their home gym, and don’t have access to a super strong gym buddy.
Lifting is huge on the internet. Explain things. Help people. The strongest guy knows exactly what you’re doing. Don’t document something you’ve learned to impress him. The rest of the world is waiting to know what you do.
There are women in the world who are still afraid of getting bulky. Many people want to take up as little space as possible, and physically shrink into a size that is supposed to photograph well. They’re not yet aware of what the strength world could mean for them. They haven’t been exposed to what it’s like to being and feeling physically capable. Don’t let them continue to live in the space where barbells are scary and that they have no place in our little section of the gym.
Regardless of what you look like, there is someone who can relate, or wants to relate with the happiness, physique, sheer ‘badassness’ of what you have. Show them what’s possible, then welcome them to join.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Feature image from @megsquats Instagram page.
There are a lot of smaller companies making greens powders, but I wanted to take a closer look at the more reputable brands, those at the top of the supplement food chain. I decided to compare two of the most popular greens supplements on the market: Athletic Greens and Onnit’s Earth Grown Nutrients All in One Daily Greens Mix.
Both of these manufacturers have stellar reputations in the fitness business, but I wanted to know which came out on top.
Onnit: There are around twenty-five ingredients split into five categories that are intended to alkalize, provide antioxidants, detox, improve digestion, and a fifth “Rainbow Blend” of fruits and vegetables that are meant to provide “numerous health benefits” and “delicious natural flavouring.” These ingredients include wheat grass, oat grass, algae, milk thistle, broccoli sprout, and Jerusalem artichoke, all of which are organic.
There is no information as to how many antioxidants it contains relative to a serving of fruits or vegetables and it doesn’t appear to contain probiotic bacteria, though it is a source of prebiotics, which act as food for probiotics.
Athletic Greens: With seventy-five ingredients, Athletic Greens contains a wider variety of greens than I’ve seen in any other greens powder. Standouts include spirulina, rhodiola rosea, and more than seven billion probiotic bacteria, which is more than many dedicated gut health supplements.
The ingredients list also helpfully explains that it contains the antioxidants of twelve servings of fruits and vegetables, and while that’s clearly a pretty rough number (we don’t know which fruits or vegetables), it’s much more helpful than many competitors that just want you to know that they have antioxidants and probiotics, but won’t say how many or what an effective dose is.
Winner: Athletic Greens
Onnit: Pleasantly bland, I tried the “lemon mint flavor” and it tastes a lot like a mixture of chamomile and green tea, with a very mild hint of lemon. It’s not too bitter and it’s better than most greens powders. If you like green tea, you’ll like this.
Athletic Greens: Greens powders are famously gross, and while Onnit’s is surprisingly easy to stomach, Athletic Greens is the only one that I’ve ever actually enjoyed. Vaguely tropical with hints of papaya, vanilla, and carrot, the wisest addition to the flavor is ginger, which does a great job of working with the bitterness of greens instead of trying to smother it with sweetness like a lot of powders. I actually like sipping this stuff.
Winner: Athletic Greens
Onnit: At 35 dollars for 15 servings, it comes in at $2.30 a serving.
Athletic Greens: Famously expensive, a bag of thirty servings is $127, which makes it $4.23 per serving. Even if you sign up for a monthly subscription, the price drops to $97 per bag, which is $3.23 per serving.
Onnit: This is a tough one, because both products are prone to exaggerated claims about their effectiveness. Onnit says it helps the body “detox” without explaining how or to what degree, and despite claiming to help someone reach their “daily green goal,” the actual nutrition label is pretty short. It only contains about 35 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 22 percent of your iron, 12 percent of your fiber, 6 percent of your calcium… that’s about all.
It doesn’t say anything about minerals like magnesium, which a lot of people get from leafy greens, and that’s important since it implies that it can supplement some of your green vegetable intake. It doesn’t say if it “alkalizes” as well as a serving of fruits or vegetables, it doesn’t say if it has more or less antioxidants than a cup of, well, anything.
Athletic Greens: The marketing is worse than Onnit. The bag actually claims that, “you never need to take another supplement again,” which is wildly irresponsible. That said, it has extremely detailed nutrition information, which is very rare for greens powders.
It explains how much it provides of your recommended daily intake for a slew of vitamins and minerals, including chromium, zinc citrate, biotin, and more. Since it isn’t afraid to tell you how much it contains, it probably has more probiotics and antioxidants than Onnit. (Most greens powders contain significantly less of these two ingredients than Athletic Greens.)
Winner: Athletic Greens
The Overall Winner: Athletic Greens
At the end of the day, Onnit gets props for being more honest in its marketing and for being cheaper, but Athletic Greens simply contains more nutrition. It has 7 billion probiotics, Onnit doesn’t appear to have any. Athletic Greens has the antioxidants of 12 serves of vegetables, Onnit might but it doesn’t say how many antioxidants or probiotics or whatever it contains.
We’re sticklers for supplements that actually provide evidence of their benefits, and while it was irresponsible for Athletic Greens to claim it can replace any and all nutritional supplements, it does a better job of providing evidence for its nutritional content and is a better, more complete supplement.
Friday, February 17, 2017
BarBend HQ has been on a quest to find the best lifting belt for every type of strength athlete. Our mission through multiple sweaty – often heavy – gym sessions was to provide you with direction when choosing the best lifting belt for your needs. The perfect belt for you will be tailored to your lifting style, goals, sport, budget, and comfort preferences.
After every gym session, we’re just like you. We’re strength athletes asking the question, what’s the best lifting belt? We’re continually building our belt arsenal and putting more products to the test. We’ve now reviewed and tested dozens of belts with our favorites listed below. We looked for the best lifting belts in five different categories, then provided a descriptive analyses behind why we chose each included in the lists below.
- Best Lifting Belt For Functional Fitness Workouts (and Our Favorite for CrossFit® Workouts): Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt
- Best Belt For Weightifting: Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt
- Best Belt For Squats: Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt
- Best Belt For Deadlifts: Rogue Ohio Leather Lifting Belt
- Best Value Lifting Belt For the Money: Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt
No matter your strength sport or strength level, this is your definitive guide to finding your perfect belt.
Why Lifting Belts?
A belt is a useful piece of equipment to keep in your supportive strength arsenal. Belts are primarily used to prevent injury and support the torso during heavier movements. The use of a belt can provide a strength athlete with extra support around the torso to increase a lift’s safety.
Every strength athlete can benefit from choosing a belt that’s catered specifically for their sport. A powerlifter and strongman athlete often want a cylinder styled belt, which is a belt that wraps around the torso equally.This type of athlete will typically want a stiffer, or more rigid belt for strength movements, as they’re often pressing, squatting, and deadlifting.
An Olympic lifter needs a belt that provides support, but also versatility. The typical Olympic belt usually comes contoured, so the posterior is thicker in width than the front of the belt. The stiffness and material of this athlete’s belt usually comes down to personal preference, as this athlete is performing power movements often.
The recreational and functional fitness athlete will often want a belt that provides support, comfort, and versatility. Since these athletes perform multiple movements during a single workout, then they need a belt that holds up well with power and strength exercises.
Different Types of Belt Designs
There are multiples types of belt designs, but from our tests and reviews every belt can technically fall into three major categories: cylinder, contoured, and cone. Each belt has different design attributes to benefit certain types of strength athlete.
This style belt is the same width at every part and covers the torso equally. Belts like the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt and the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt are perfect examples of this belt design. They are designed to support the back, abdomen, and sides evenly with the same amount of material. Powerlifters and strongman athletes typically sway towards these belts.
Nylon belts also come in this design and provide a little more versatility for the functional fitness athlete or recreational lifter. The Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt and the Rogue 4″ Nylon Belt are an equal width of 4″ all the way around, but have versatility, as they don’t contain rigid leather.
This belt is often favored by Olympic lifters and recreational athletes because it provides the posterior with extra width, but thins out towards the abdomen. The skinnier portion over the abdomen allows the torso to remain mobile while providing support. The Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt is the perfect example of this style belt and is actually the belt most associated with Olympic weightlifting.
Another belt that offers the same contoured make is the Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt. This belt has the contoured design, but has a softer internal lining. A standard, or more basic version of this belt is the Harbinger 4″ Padded Lifting Belt.
This design is possibly the most rarely seen. These belts are contoured on the sides, but offer a thicker posterior and anterior section. In theory, their design is supposed to follow the natural curvature of the torso. The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt utilized this type of belt design to create a versatile, yet supportive belt. A stiffer, or more rigid example of this belt would be the Schiek Model L2004 Leather Lifting Belt.
Multiple Types of Material
When it comes to belt material there are two main choices: leather and nylon. It may seem like there are more types of material, but for the most part every belt starts with a leather or nylon base.
The type of leather a belt uses will often correlate with how stiff or rigid it is. Leather belts will last longer than their nylon counterparts. Almost every leather belt is tanned and oiled, much like the Harbinger 4″ Classic Oiled Leather Lifting Belt. The way a belt is tanned and oiled can help you predict how high of a quality the belt is. Some belts contain a specific tanning method, like the vegetable tanning process the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt has.
In terms of leather stiffness, suede belts are often on the stiffer side, which is what the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt uses. There are also softer types of leather belts that bend and hug the waist, which are good for functional fitness styled workouts. An example of this belt would be the Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt.
This type of belt typically isn’t known for how stiff it is, but more so for the comfort and versatility it provides. The stiffness of this belt relies on whether the belt has added inserts or has extra width. The Harbinger Contoured FlexFit Lifting Belt has a 6″ width and added kidney pockets, which are made to provide the kidney areas of the torso more support. Another example of a belt that has added lumbar inserts is the Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt.
Some nylon belts don’t contain extra inserts, but have extra width for torso support. The Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Lifting Belt provides an extra inch of thickness with a soft comfortable feeling.
Best Belt For Functional Fitness Athletes (And Our Favorites for CrossFit® Athletes)
Our favorite belt for functional fitness, metcon, and CrossFit®-style WODs was the Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt. Belts that are great for functional fitness workouts need to possess two things and these are: stability and versatility.
To test a belt’s ability to perform well in WODs and metcon styled workouts, we utilize power and strength movements. Some of the lifts we utilized are the power clean, deadlift, front squat, back squat, and overhead press. These movements are put back to back and rely on time in some workouts.
We look for three different things when testing a belt’s ability to perform in a functional fitness setting. First and most importantly, the stability a belt provides. A belt is worn for its stability, so we watch how the torso is supported through the variety of movements chosen. Second, a belt’s versatility. We watch for mobility issues and times when a belt limits someone’s mobility. Third, comfort and ease of use. This point is essential for testing how quickly you can adjust a belt in-between sets and how it leaves your torso feeling after a workout.
The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt was our top choice for functional fitness workouts. This belt has a cone shaped design, so it hugs the body well and has added lumber inserts. In addition, there’s two velcro strips to provide a firm, stable hold. This belt was a little tougher to adjust quickly, but the stability and versatility greatly make up for this aspect.
The Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Belt is another belt that’s a good choice for WODs and metcons. This belt provides an extra inch of support and has a 3″ wide velcro strap, which provided a good amount of stability for the torso. The added foam core also makes the ease of this belt great for the newer lifter who’s just starting out with belt use.
The Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt is also a good choice for functional fitness workouts, along with WODs. This is a leather contoured belt that has an added foam pad on the posterior. Also, the inner portion of this belt is made with a softer cloth, so the leather doesn’t beat up the skin when quickly adjusting the belt in-between sets.
The final belt that’s great for functional fitness style workouts is the Rogue 5″ Nylon Belt. This belt also comes in a 4″ model, so it’s up to your personal preference when deciding what level of support you want. The nylon is consistent throughout the whole belt with no added inserts, which gives this belt a versatile and supportive feeling.
Best Belt For Weightlifting
The best belt for weightlifting purposes is the Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt. A belt that’s great for weightlifting provides posterior support and doesn’t limit mobility in any form of power based movements.
To test a belt’s ability to perform well for weightlifting we use a variety of movements, which include the front squat, power clean, power snatch, and overhead press. All of these movements are relevant to movements and lifts an Olympic lifter will be performing on a regular basis.
When using these movements to test a belt’s ability to be great for weightlifting we look for two things. The first aspect we look for is the belt’s ability to keep the torso stable in the catching and front rack position. A solid weightlifting belt will provide support and prevent the torso from excessively flexing and extending. The second aspect we look for is the belt’s ability to support range of motion and not limit it. A good weightlifting belt is often contoured to be made skinnier in the front, which allows a weightlifter more mobility when catching weight.
The Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt is our favorite belt for weightlifting due to it’s rigid, but versatile design. This belt is often associated with Olympic lifting platforms and is already used by a plethora of weightlifters. There’s a posterior pad that adds comfort and allows you to pull the belt tight. The front has a double-prong stainless steel buckle for abdomen support with an added flap to keep metal off the skin.
Another belt that’s great for weightlifting is the Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt. This belt is a simple nylon design and is made to hug the torso equally all the way around. The simple, light weight design with moderate support didn’t limit mobility. For this reason, this belt is a great fit for performing cleans and snatches without a bulky belt getting in the way.
The Harbinger 4″ Padded Core Lifting Belt is also a good fit for weightlifting. This belt has a similar design to the above Eleiko belt, but with a less rigid leather. The less stiff leather could be a good thing for lifters who want a versatile belt, but don’t want excessive rigidness. One thing to note, this belt doesn’t include a flap under the buckle like the Eleiko belt does.
The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt is another good choice for a weightlifting belt. There’s a cone shape design that makes this belt different than most weightlifting styled belts. This cone shape design makes the abdomen section a little thicker and that may be preferred by some lifters who frequently lose lifts due to a collapsing torso.
Best Belt For Squats
Our favorite belt for squats is the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt. A great squat belt will provide the torso with a strong rigid support and should prevent collapsing under heavy weight.
When we test a belt’s ability to perform well during squats we perform two different types of squats and these are the front and back squat. If the belt is designed for powerlifting specifically we’ll also low-bar squat to check a belt’s ability to resist forward lean and keep the torso’s rigid posture.
We look for three specific characteristics of a belt’s ability to hold up well during a squat workout. First, we look at a belt’s stiffness, or how rigid it feels on the torso. A good squat belt won’t flex or bend with any form of torso movement. Second, we check how the belt fits around the torso. Equal tension around the torso is typically better than a contoured design. Third, we check the buckle and durability. Heavy squats exert a lot of pressure into a belt, so checking a belt’s ability to withstand prolonged stress is important.
The Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt is our favorite belt for squats and is designed for powerlifting athletes. This belt is extremely rigid, offers a cylinder design, and doesn’t bend easily under pressure, which was great for low-bar squats. The buckle is a double-prong heavy stainless steel that’s double stitched, so it felt durable from the very first use.
The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is another belt that’s great for squats. This belt has a cylinder design and is thick to prevent easy bending of the torso. Rogue uses their signature vegetable tanning process that gives this belt’s leather a soft, comfortable feeling. Also, the buckle is heavy stainless steel and single-prong with eight bolts holding it tight.
The Schiek Model L2004 Lifting Belt is a great choice for squats that offers a different design. This belt has Schiek’s signature cone design and is constructed with multiple layers of thick leather. The sides are a little skinnier, but the thicker posterior and abdomen portions help make up for the lack of equal torso hug.
The final belt we like for squats is the Unbroken Designs Ahoy 6″ Leather Lifting Belt. This belt is a little unconventional for squats, as it has a 6″ posterior and contour design. While it’s not your typical cylinder shape, we like the extra width on the posterior and thought it provides ample support for resisting force coming out of the hole in a squat.
Best Belt For Deadlifts
Our favorite belt for deadlifts is the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt. A great deadlifting belt will provide the torso with a rigid base to brace into as force pulls the torso into flexion.
The best way to test a belt and it’s ability to perform great with deadlifting is to deadlift, so we did…a lot. Every strength athlete typically has some form of deadlift in their training, so we performed a majority of our lifts from a conventional style deadlift with some sumo pulling.
As we deadlift with multiple belts there are two key characteristics we pay close attention to. One, how did the belt feel as we brace the torso. A good deadlifting belt will promote torso stability from all angles as we actively brace into it, which then gives a lifter confidence and support. Two, does the belt promote stability and torso posture. Bracing is important, but so is a belt’s ability to maintain a rigid strong posture to prevent back injury or stress.
The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is the best belt for deadlifts. This belt is a thick leather that offers a cylinder design, but is also comfortable on the torso. Possibly the best aspect of this belt was how tight you could pull it, which made bracing into it a breeze. The unique vegetable tanning process Rogues uses creates a firm belt, but with a little flexibility so you can truly wrap the torso tightly.
A similar belt that’s great for deadlifts is the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt. This belt is designed for powerlifting and has a suede leather that comes in a rigid cylinder design. The stiffness of this belt was great. If you like a very rigid belt for deadlifting, then this belt is a good choice for you.
The Eleiko Weightlifting Belt is also a good deadlifting belt, which was a little surprising. This belt is designed for weightlifting, so we tested it with conventional deadlifts and clean pulls, or lifts an Olympic lifter does regularly. The leather is stiffer and provided the torso with the support needed to fight a rounding back, especially as you increase your speed in clean pulls.
The final belt that is good for deadlifting are the Rogue Fitness 5″ and 4″ Nylon Belts. This belt is a good choice for someone who’s performing deadlifts in a functional fitness style workout. It provides the torso with even support and has ample velcro to create a tight surface to brace into. Also, the stainless steel buckle was a nice touch when resetting and pulling the belt extremely tight in-between sets.
Best Belt For The Money
The best belt for your money is the Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt. A belt qualifies as good for the money when it serves its purpose well and shows signs of durability.
In order to test a belt’s impact on the wallet we look for three main belt characteristics. First, we compare prices of other belts on the market that have similar makes. Similarities come in the form of construction, design purpose, and special features. Second, we look for clues that indicate a belt’s durability. We considered things like double stitching, extra bolts, stainless steel buckles, and other aspects that suggest a durable make. Third, we hypothesize what type of athlete would invest in the belt. Recreational, sub-elite, and elite lifters are all speculated into our pricing judgement.
The Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt is the best belt for your money. This belt starts around $21.99 and has a similar design to other leather weightlifting belts, such as the Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt. There’s double stitching around the whole exterior and the leather is somewhat stiff for the price. Also, there’s a double prong stainless steel buckle that suggests the buckle won’t bend easily or break fast.
The Rogue 4″ and 5″ Nylon Weightlifting Belts are also good choices for your wallet. The 4″ starts at $18.99 and the 5″ at $19.99. These are standard nylon belts that provide equal amount of belt width to wrap around the torso. There’s a stainless steel buckle and decent amount of velcro that wraps the outside, so the velcro doesn’t feel as though it will wear out too quickly.
Another belt that’s good on a tight budget is the Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt. This belt starts at $16.99 and is probably one of the cheaper belts on the market. There’s a stainless steel buckle and a good amount of velcro for the price. Keep in mind that this is a standard nylon belt, so it’s not the thickest belt, but for versatility and the price this belt was a good choice on the cash pressed strength athlete.
There are so many belts on the market that a strength athlete might find themselves overwhelmed when looking for their perfect fit. If you breakdown your selection into multiple categories, then the process can become easier. For example, take the above sections and rank them into what’s most important to you.
Different types of strength athletes will have different needs and requirements. If you take the time to figure out what type of training you’re doing most, then you can help ease the belt selection process. We’re going to continue to add to our comprehensive list to constantly provide you with the best information when selecting your perfect belt.