CrossFit is a tough fitness regimen that will make you stronger and faster. It can be intimidating to step into a class or competition for the first time. You can relieve some anxiety by being prepared for any situation in the box (that’s the fancy name for a CrossFit gym).
Here’s the ultimate list of the gym bag essentials and everything you need for your CrossFit experience.
- 1 1. Stiff Soled Shoes
- 2 2. Shorts (or Tights) You Can Move In
- 3 3. Knee Socks
- 4 4. Knee Sleeves
- 5 5. Weight Belt
- 6 6. Wrist Wraps and Straps
- 7 7. Gymnastic Grips (or Gloves)
- 8 8. Chalk
- 9 9. Nubs
- 10 10. Headband
- 11 11. Athletic Tape
- 12 12. Barbell Pad (Or Towel)
- 13 13. Jump Rope
- 14 14. Water
- 15 15. Kleenex
- 16 16. First Aid Kit
- 17 17. Hand Salve (or WOD Welder)
- 18 18. Chafe Protection
- 19 19. Pre-Workout Drink
- 20 20. Post Workout
- 21 21. Mat
- 22 22. Foam Roller
- 23 23. Lacrosse Ball
- 24 24. Voodoo Floss
- 25 25. Notebook (WOD Book)
- 26 Final Words
- 27 Over to you
1. Stiff Soled Shoes
Shoes that are soft, rubbery, or have thick heels won’t give you the solid support you need when lifting heavy weights. You’ll want to be able to feel the ground, which will help you keep your balance. Spring for a pair of weight lifter shoes or a pair of CrossFit specific kicks.
2. Shorts (or Tights) You Can Move In
You do a lot of different, dynamic movements in CrossFit. A WOD (workout of the day) can include anything from box jumps to rope climbing to weighted squats to sprints. You can wear shorts or compression tights, just make sure they fit properly so they won’t snag on weights or get in the way of your movement.
3. Knee Socks
You’ll be jumping on high wooden boxes and lifting heavy weights in many CrossFit workouts. Knee socks will protect your shins from cuts or bruises when you inevitably miss a jump or drop a barbell. For added benefit, consider compression socks that will stimulate blood flow during the workout. You can keep them on afterwards to speed up recovery.
There are plenty of brands to choose from, and you don’t have to limit yourself just to CrossFit specific knee socks.
4. Knee Sleeves
If your knees need a little extra support, you’ll want knee sleeves, especially when you’re lifting heavy weights when squatting. They provide compression that helps your knee stay in place, so you can focus on getting your lift form just right. If you’re already experiencing knee pain, these will provide warmth and protection while minimizing pain, so you can finish your workout.
5. Weight Belt
As you progress in your workouts, you may find it harder to keep proper form when lifting heavy weights. To help you breathe properly and avoid injury, consider a weight belt. The belt is meant to feel tight around your abdomen, so you can feel yourself breathing out against it, forcing you to use the correct muscles when you lift.
Update: I forgot to include the belt straight from the horse’s mouth (Matthew Frazer) the one and only – The Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt.
6. Wrist Wraps and Straps
Wrist wraps and straps will keep your wrists stable as you conquer the overhead press. If your wrists feel weak, these will support your wrists, keeping you from injuring yourself or failing to lift your goal weight. You won’t need them for easier lifts, but these can be the difference between a PR and a “maybe next time.”
Three words: Nordic, Rogue, Harbinger.
You can check our review here: Best Weightlifting Wrist Wraps For Power Stability & Grip Strength.
7. Gymnastic Grips (or Gloves)
Constantly grabbing barbells and (possibly) holding onto the pullup bar for dear life will damage your hands and hurt your grip. Even if you’re comfortable with developing calluses (which you should be if you’re committing to CrossFit), gloves or grips will help you when you’re sweating and desperate for a tight grip.
In most cases your gym will either allow or ban using weightlifting chalk, and for obvious reasons-the box rules with all the chalk memes and finally the chalk etiquette. The CrossFit boxes that do allow it, will have plenty in their chalk buckets at your disposal, so you won’t need to bring one with you (and avoid the scenario where the chalk just burst open into your gym bag- not cool).
But sometimes it just happens- the buckets are empty, no coach around to fill them up, and you are about to do some heavy deadlifts or farmer carries. Having chalk in your bag and always being prepared could save you the headaches. However, if you decide to bring one with you, make sure that the chalk is properly secured (preferably in a zip lock bag) and won’t spill inside your inner bag.
The chalk will give you the extra tackiness you need to hold on tightly to any bar you’re trying to conquer. You only need a small amount for your fingers and the top of your palms. Plus, you’ll get to feel like an Olympian every time you use it.
Any gymnastic chalk would do the job for a firm grip and to prevent the barbell slipping from your fingers, such as GSC Gym Chalk for example. But I’ve you’re looking for a CrossFit brand – Rogue Gym Chalk.
You can even get creative and go with this Refillable Chalk Ball (which is about the size of a baseball).
You may find yourself doing a hook grip at CrossFit. It is primarily used for the snatch and clean, which requires speed and coordination for a successful lift. While it is an effective grip, it can wreak havoc on your thumbs. Nubs are designed to protect your thumbs and can be used with chalk and gymnastic grips.
For a big thumb up and finger protection I recommend- Nubs thumb sleeves for the hook grip from JerkFit. JerkFit also offers a combo kit which comes with: WODies (Workout Gloves), Nubs and a WODies sack.
Nothing can be more annoying than constantly brushing your hair out of your face while trying to crush a workout. A quality headband will keep your hair out of the way, whether you are a man or woman. Wider headbands will also keep the sweat out of your eyes if you find that the top of our head sweats profusely.
What are the best CrossFit headbands for men and women?
11. Athletic Tape
If you’d rather not invest in all of the different gear that can support your hands, knees, shins, or ankles, athletic tape can do the job. It can be worn for several days in a row and easily removed if you find it bothersome. Tape stimulates blood flow by lifting the tissue, which will also speed recovery if you have a nagging ache that just won’t go away.
All time winner (and official licensee of CrossFit) is the Goat Tape. It offers superb decompression and stickiness, mostly used for wrist, thumb and finger taping.
Alternative pick would be the RockTape – Kinesiology Tape for Athletes, which is more appropriate and widely used for sports injuries such as ankle and hamstring sprain, or muscle and joint pain.
12. Barbell Pad (Or Towel)
Few CrossFitters are fans of using barbell pads, and usually they will say something as – “Just get over it, and embrace the pain”. The reason the barbell pad is in our gym bag essentials list is that, for some folks (including me) it’s rather a necessity. As you progress in CrossFit, you will do squats with the barbell and add extremely heavyweights.
Many people find the bar to be more uncomfortable (especially beginners) on their back and neck than actually lifting the weight.
If you happen to be one of those, I highly highly encourage you to bring a barbell pad to pop on the bar for your sets and to prevent bruises and ease pain.
Good quality barbell pad for CrossFit?
In case you don’t feel quite comfortable using one, you can just put a towel around your neck.
13. Jump Rope
Not all jump ropes are made equal. Bringing a jump rope that is the correct length for your height will make your workout more efficient. Most gyms will have jump ropes available, but having the correct length will make your double unders the envy of your fellow Cross Fitters.
Editor’s pick: Rx Custom Jump Ropes, they come with various colors and wait for it – adjustable weights and lengths. Depending on your current fitness level, you can choose faster (lighter) rope if you’re more advanced CrossFitter, or if you’re just starting out good rule of thumb is to go with heavier jump rope.
Budget pick: Speed Jump Rope from Survival and Cross, which is go-to warm up rope for MMA as well. Keep in mind this is a super lightweight jump rope and meant for extremely fast cardio training.
Your box should have a water fountain or coolers, but you don’t want to have constantly stop to run for water. A big part of CrossFit is friendly competition between your fellow cross fitters and yourself. Bring a big water bottle so you’ll stay hydrated, avoid cramps, and beat that one guy who always has to stop and run to the water fountain after sprints.
Hundreds of different water bottles are available nowadays, just make sure the one you pick is made from stainless steel which holds up in any conditions. If you are looking for top quality bottles- Yeti Rambler Stainless Steel or Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Water bottle are some of the best that you can buy on the market.
In case you prefer plastic over steel, try to find a water bottle made from highly resistant plastic material, leak proof, and BPA and phthalate free. Our budget pick would be Nalgene Tritan 32oz Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle.
Lastly, if you want that CrossFit label all over your flask, you can head over to the official CrossFit store and check their water bottle collection.
You might not be feeling sick, but you never know when you might have a nose-related emergency. If you’re doing a lot of burpees and pushups, you might find that your nose is running quite a bit. If you accidentally cut yourself or hit yourself in the nose, a Kleenex will save the day and let you keep pushing.
You can get Kleenex in your local store or any well-known retail store such as Target, Walmart, or Amazon.
16. First Aid Kit
Should the Kleenex not be enough to help you after an injury, grab the small first aid kit you keep in your gym bag. Band-Aids, Neosporin, cold packs, and antibacterial gel or wipes can be the difference between an aborted workout and a successful session.
There are various pre-packaged first aid kits you can buy, but they often come with items you’ll probably never use, and you’d be better off stocking and putting together your own kit.
Just make sure to include the must-have essentials.
17. Hand Salve (or WOD Welder)
Your hands will get rough and callused from weight lifting at CrossFit. You can help protect yourself from painful tears with a special hand salve designed to keep your hands and calluses hydrated. You can also use a pumice stone or a callus shaver to keep your calluses small, making them harder to rip during a tough workout or competition.
WOD Welder Hand Care Treatment Cream and WOD Callus Repair Salve are specifically designed for athletes, to heal rips shreds burn and tears, for CrossFit callus removal and complete hand care. They also have the WOD Welder Kit packed with hand salve, hand cream lotion and volcanic pumice stone.
While WOD Welder is a great product to have in your CrossFit gym bag, one good alternative and more budget friendly item would be “hands down” the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Hand Salve.
18. Chafe Protection
It’s common to chafe in your thighs, back, and even butt after a tough CrossFit workout. It is caused by a combination of sweat, your skin rubbing against your clothes, or poor form. Using anti-chafe stick or a balm before a workout will keep you from getting this painful red rash.
19. Pre-Workout Drink
Drinking a pre-workout drink can enhance your performance. Caffeine can give you a boost and can even help burn more calories during your workout. Some pre-workout powders will include L-Citrulline that will help you push harder for longer.
If you aren’t huge fan of using PWOs you can check the article we published about DIY homemade pre-workout here: Natural Alternatives to Pre-workout Supplements.
For the PWO fans, I would recommend the Pulse All-Natural Pre-Workout Supplement from Legion Athletics.
20. Post Workout
Consuming protein right after a tough strength session will help you rebuild muscle faster. You’ll also need carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen you burned in the workout. You can also find shakes or powders that include vitamins and minerals that will speed up recovery.
CrossFit workouts can be brutal, and as one of the toughest high-intensity functional fitness programs, it will claim its price if you don’t have a proper nutrition plan at place. That said, when it comes to post workout nutrition, a good general recommendation is to aim for 3:1 carbs to protein ratio, and for the younger audience even 4:1.
Immediately post workout (within 20 minutes), I prefer snacks rich in carbohydrates and proteins, usually I’ll do a mix of quest bar, energy bar or peanut butter cookies and a protein powder.
For a protein powder, I like to stick with JYM Supplement Science PRO JYM, which has a blend of both casein (slow dissolving) and whey (fast dissolving) protein. I eat a lot of proteins, and one item you’ll always find excessively in my satchel is the protein bar.
Your box might provide yoga mats for pushups, ab work, and stretching after the workout. If not, you might want to bring your own, so you can guarantee you get a mat you like. Plus, you can keep it clean and not worry about other people sweating on it.
Best mats for CrossFit?
Usually the ones that are non-slip, have no odor and are made out of high-density cushion. I tried Jade Harmony and Lululemon, but I found both to be a bit slippery, so I ended up with Manduka PRO and so far, I have no complaints.
22. Foam Roller
Recovery is just as important as your performance in CrossFit. Foam rollers provide myofascial release for sore muscles. This means it will keep your muscles loose and will prevent pain and injury. You should foam roll after every session.
You can use a tennis ball or baseball as an alternative, for your neck, lower back, glutes and calves. They are inexpensive kit, also small which helps you save storage space in your gym bag.
Which leads me to the next item in our must-haves CrossFit list.
Enter – Lacrosse Ball.
23. Lacrosse Ball
If you have a particularly tight area in your body, it’s important to take care of any nagging spot immediately. Tight muscles will keep you from using proper form when lifting and will eventually lead to injury. A lacrosse ball is the right size to target specific areas that need extra attention when stretching and foam rolling.
Do I really need a Lacrosse Ball when doing CrossFit?
If you want to increase your mobility and get rid of the shoulder, neck, or back pain after a long upper body session, or just open your hips and reduce the muscle soreness and stiffness, then YES! I highly recommend stacking lacrosse ball into your bag.
Which one should I get?
24. Voodoo Floss
These straps can be used to break up tightness in your muscles and provide relief after an intense session. Wrap the strap around your muscle very tightly and then go through a full range of motion with the strap on. This will also increase blood flow and decrease recovery time.
Our pick: Wide Voodoo Floss from MobilityWOD, or Floss Bands for Muscle Compression from WODFitters, both are out of high quality rubber that will help you improve your flexibility and athletic movement.
25. Notebook (WOD Book)
One of the main goals of CrossFit is to progress in your fitness. You should be getting stronger and faster. Bring a notebook to every workout so you can keep track of your weights and reps. This is a satisfying way to track your PR’s and set new goals, or perhaps your Fran time.
You can use any fitness logbook or sport journal, or you can go to the next level and grab a CrossFit WOD book of your choice.
Personally, I use a simple notebook I got from Target.
But if you really want to track your progress into details and stay organized, there are several options specifically available for CrossFit, such as the Rogue WODbook or perhaps the Ultimate Cross Training Tracking Journal from TYWOD.
Now you’re ready for anything that might happen at CrossFit. Going in with the proper gear will help you feel more confident and motivated for your workout. Remember that any exercise can be tailored for your fitness level. All you need to do is try your best, stay safe and crush your goals.
Over to you
Join the conversation below and let us know what is your favorite item from the list? Are you a modern man or a woman or a traditional one? What are some of your must-haves CrossFit gym bag essentials?