Among the most essential gear for functional fitness, you may need a jump rope, functional fitness or weightlifting shoes, resistance bands, a belt, knee sleeves, lifting straps, wrist straps, and grips. Apart from that, other fitness necessities such as shakers, bottles, tapes, markers, supplements, etc. come in handy as well.
Functional Fitness: General Description
The most significant reason why functional fitness is adored by so many athletes worldwide is its versatility. It develops all possible motor skills at once rather than fixating only on particular qualities.
For example, an athlete who regularly does traditional gym workouts is likely to have a strong and handsome body but at the same time, often overlooks speed, endurance, and flexibility. A regular runner may be fast and have good stamina but usually doesn’t brag about a catchy athletic physique.
Nevertheless, functional fitness targets all qualities: strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Additionally, such workouts include really functional moves, meaning that you can benefit from them even in your daily activities.
Everybody who has tried fitness training will prove that these workouts are frankly challenging and strenuous. Obviously, it is one of the most high-intensive sports, and your body will definitely change under such a powerful influence.
Functional fitness workouts are built in such a way that you don’t have to care about pumping your muscles and burning fat separately. Usually, strength exercises are performed for high reps or at the fastest pace. Such a mode boosts both muscle growth and definition.
Nevertheless, I recommend being really careful while doing fitness training. It is highly competitive and you can often get carried away, overstrain, and even injure yourself. Always listen to your body and ideally reach out to an experienced coach.
Usually, functional fitness workouts don’t require a lot of equipment. Once you have comfortable sportswear, you can start off right away. After some time, you may need resistance bands, balls, a barbell, plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. to make your training even more challenging and variable. But basically, functional fitness training is easy to perform with minimal equipment so lots of athletes find this type the best for home or vacation workouts.
As functional fitness workouts are so intensive, they can’t last long. Usually, athletes perform a whole advanced session in an hour. Those who are new to such a mode should start with 20-30 minutes (including the warm-up) and increase the time gradually. Therefore, athletes who are tight on time may find functional fitness a perfect solution to provide their bodies with enough load in the shortest possible session.
Functional Fitness Gear Essentials
Fitness Shoes – Nike Metcon 7 AMP
Good shoes are nearly the first thing that you should put into your fitness bag. I always say that comfort begins at the bottom so make sure your feet are satisfied throughout the whole session.
For functional fitness, the best choice is a pair of lightweight breathable sneakers. I like Nike Metcon 7 AMP for their first-class comfort. They are easy to adjust and reach the desired tightness whether you have a wide or a narrow foot. Also, these functional fitness shoes have a velcro at the top so untying laces have no chance to break your focus in the middle of a WOD.
Another benefit is the elaborate sole. It works equally well on various surfaces, including ropes so you can step up the speed of your climbs significantly. Moreover, the overall construction is also quite sturdy. Mesh shoes may seem fragile at first but Nike Metcon may surprise you with durability. They are meant to cope with harsh intensive loads and keep a decent form.
All in all, I really recommend investing your time and money into picking a pair of good functional fitness shoes to make your sessions both effective and enjoyable.
Weightlifting Belt – WBCM Leather Weightlifting Belt
Perhaps, most people think about a weightlifting belt first when they are asked about sports gear. Obviously, it is one of the most popular functional fitness must haves on the market.
You may not need a belt from the very first day of training. Still, when you start going heavy on your squats, deadlifts, cleans, etc. you may want to have some extra support in your back area, and a belt copes with that by increasing the intra-abdominal pressure.
Besides, it helps you follow the proper technique and mechanics by giving a better sense of space and moves. All in all, it makes you comfortable and confident while pushing yourself to maximum reps.
As for my recommendation, the WARM BODY COLD MIND leather belt is in the lead. First, it is made of leather so you won’t find it falling apart after a few months. Second, it gives more support than the nylon belts that many athletes choose for functional fitness.
Though leather belts are often said to be sturdy, uncomfortable, and more suitable for extreme weight rather than dynamic work, the WBCM option is fairly flexible and mobile due to the changing width and moderate thickness. Thus, it suits functional fitness loads well, especially if you often go heavy on your lifts. Have a look at the WARM BODY COLD MIND lifting belt if you are searching for strong, yet, flexible support for your back.
Jump Rope – WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope
One of the most basic fitness gear essentials is a jump rope. It is a perfect tool for both your home and gym workouts – it is frankly affordable, easy to use, and can be quite challenging.
I like the WOD Nation speed jump rope as it is comfortable to work with and includes several pleasant bonuses. First of all, the brand designs the gear specifically for functional fitness and knows what athletes really need in this sport. Therefore, the steel cable gives an ideal swing to last through high reps and doubles, recovering after bad jumps easily.
On top of that, when you buy WOD Nation, you get two cables at once so the rope may turn out to be almost everlasting.
Another practical upside is the adjustable length. You don’t have to guess the size or suffer with an uncomfortable jump rope – you can just buy and make it perfect for you.
As for pleasant benefits, WOD Nation puts their product in a fancy fitness bag to store and carry the jump rope around. It is especially convenient if you hate digging into your training bag in the middle of the session.
And the last pleasant bonus is the color range. If you are in love with bright gear and it can make you do a few more reps, go for it!
Resistance Bands – Rogue Echo Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are also one of the most versatile functional fitness gym bag essentials. They come in handy for both beginner and advanced training and can be used in so many different ways.
For example, you can take them for a vacation or use them for home workouts as they are light and compact. You can also do either body-weight exercises or squats, bench presses, and deadlifts more challenging in this way. Additionally, they are great if you can’t do pull-ups on your own yet.
I love resistance bands for mobility and flexibility work as well. You can find so many interesting and effective drills to step up these skills both at home and in the gym. Just try performing a short mobility complex and stretching with resistance bands for a few sessions and you will get why most athletes love them so much.
I usually use the Rogue resistance bands for my workouts. For me, they are the most convenient to use. You can choose among several weight options and buy them all at once or one by one if you want to test the waters first. They also come in pairs so you can use them for literally all possible exercises whether they need two bands or only one.
Knee Sleeves – Rogue Knee Sleeve
Knee sleeves are loved by many athletes. They comfort your joints and can even add a few pounds to your working weights. They don’t make much sense for beginners, though. I recommend using them when you start lifting a heavier bar and only for the hardest sets.
Knee sleeves are also useful if you had any knee issues in the past but want to get back to training smoothly without any discomfort. But always ask your doctor whether you can lift weights and what loads to use.
I recommend the Rogue knee sleeves if you are into functional fitness. What I like most is that they are not too bulky. They will not distract you or hinder the barbell movement but they still provide enough support. Obviously, they will not give you as much elastic power as some thick powerlifting options. Yet, they will definitely take some load away from your knees and reduce the risk of injury while pushing yourself through a high-rep set.
Also, sleeves can improve your technique by giving a better sense of space and mechanics. If you are stuck with the same results because your body fails the technique of the last reps, check out the Rogue knee sleeves.
Wrist Wraps – WBCM Wrist Wraps
Wrist wraps are another accessory that you can often see on athletes’ hands. In functional fitness, they are especially popular for weight loads. They can turn out to be a real lifesaver for your wrists while dynamic exercises and high reps are wearing them out.
Wrist wraps basically fix your joints in place and make them more stable. The problem is that this part of our body is quite fragile so supporting it for risky sets is always a good idea. Apart from that, wrist wraps can improve the technique and mechanics in functional fitness moves.
My favorite choice is the WARM BODY COLD MIND wrist wraps. I especially like their closure system – an anchor that regulates the compression precisely and keeps everything in place firmly so that you won’t lose a wrap in the middle of the longest set.
I also like that they are made of cotton which is breathable and comfortable on the skin. If you train in hot conditions or sweat a lot, which is a common case in functional fitness, these wraps will take care of your wrist comfort on the highest level.
Lifting Straps – WBCM Lasso Lifting Straps
Lifting straps are one of the most beneficial accessories for functional fitness training. They help to finish a set when your body is ready to push the limits but your forearms and wrists are screwing everything up. Also, they are the biggest enemy of a slipping barbell.
The grip is a very game-changing factor in functional fitness which includes a lot of high reps. Thus, many athletes reach out for lifting straps, making their life easier and workouts more effective. Usually, functional fitness athletes use them for snatches, deadlifts, and cleans but all pulling exercises can be performed in this way.
There are several types of straps on the market but I find the lasso one the best for functional fitness training. They are versatile enough and comfortable on the wrists.
I particularly like the WARM BODY COLD MIND lifting straps. They are really sturdy and can handle extreme loads easily. When you are working with a heavy barbell for high reps, it is important to feel safe and confident, and WBCM gives that feeling so you don’t have to worry about tearing a strap in the middle of the snatch.
Another benefit is the padding. It comforts your skin so it doesn’t burn after a long set. I also find the length convenient. If you like heavy deadlifts and need the firmest fixation, try to cover a barbell with a strap a few times.
Grips – RIMSports Weight Lifting Grips
Grips are somehow similar to lifting straps, gloves, and even wrist wraps but have some peculiarities as well.
Basically, they are also meant to prevent a slipping barbell and make your grip stronger. Nevertheless, they can’t be used for such dynamic exercises as snatches or cleans. Instead, athletes put them on for deadlifts, pull-ups, overhead presses, dumbbell exercises, training machines, etc.
They also protect your palms from harsh barbell knurling and support your wrists. As you can see, grips are quite multi-purpose accessories but they won’t work for all exercises. On top of that, the price is usually on the higher end, compared to most straps or gloves, so always analyze your needs before making a purchase.
As for my recommendation, I like the RIMSports lifting grips. They literately give you a ‘sticky’ grip so you can forget about a slipping bar. They are also comfortable on the wrists and support them pretty well.
As for the drawbacks, the price is not that affordable. But if you really value comfort and are ready to splash out on it, the RIMSports lifting grips will serve you long.
Weightlifting Shoes – Reebok Legacy Lifter II
UPDATE! Here's a new model - Reebok Legacy Lifter III that can become a true discovery for those who are fans of the Legacy Lifter model, or their Lifters II are already out.
Despite the model has lots in common with the Legacy Lifter II, it has a novelty - the pump technology which can be useful for enlarging the volume of the tongue. This feature can benefit athletes with narrow feet by bringing better support and security, so the shoes hug the feet wholly.
Weightlifting shoes are nearly the first gear that I recommend if you are serious about Olympic moves. Many athletes love these exercises and do a lot of them. In this case, having a non-slipping sole and a stable heel makes a big difference.
A pair of good weightlifting shoes may cost quite a lot, compared to other equipment, but it is a wise investment for athletes who are fond of snatches and cleans. Such shoes are designed specifically for Olympic lifts so they are stable enough and give you a better grip on the platform.
Also, they all have a raised heel which makes the ankle more mobile. It means that you can squat deeper even if you lack joint mobility.
For Olympic lifts, I usually recommend the Reebok Legacy Lifter II weightlifting shoes. They have a 22-mm heel which is quite high to make your snatches, cleans, and squats as comfortable as possible. Also, they are made of sturdy material for long durability but at the same time, they have some mesh pads to let your feet breathe.
Apart from all those on my list, there are even more functional fitness necessities. You may also need a bottle and/or a shaker, regardless of your level or type of training. Many athletes keep markers in their bags, wear wrist bands, and cover their thumbs with tape. It all depends on your personal preferences and needs.
If you are building a home gym for functional fitness, you may also want to purchase balls, a pull-up bar, plyo boxes, a regular barbell with plates, kettlebells, dumbbells, etc.
As for supplements, the most basic choices are protein, vitamins, amino acids, BCAAs, minerals, CBDMD, and various snacks. You should also analyze your lifestyle and training to pick the most workable supplement.
Tips for Choosing Quality Gear for Functional Fitness
Analyze Your Needs
The first step to take is to analyze your level, training, and personal needs. Start with basic gear that makes any workout effective and comfortable and then choose some advanced accessories that bring the biggest value to your training.
For example, you may need weightlifting shoes first if you love snatches and cleans but you won’t really benefit from them if you do only body-weight exercises. Also, you may not need grips if you don’t like heavy deadlifts and prefer the versatility and flexibility that lifting straps can give.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to splash out on all equipment at once – think through your needs and expectations and then make a wise investment.
Ask Other Athletes
If you know some more experienced functional fitness athletes, don’t hesitate to ask them for help. Apart from recommending particular products, they can show them to you and even give you something to try. In this way, you can really understand whether you need and want to have that gear in your bag.
Buy Reliable Brands
After analyzing your needs and having a chat with your fellows, it’s time to make a purchase! If you want to get the highest quality and durability, you better choose time-tested and reliable brands. Sometimes, they may be a bit pricier but you almost always get what you pay for.
On the other hand, good quality doesn’t mean an uncomfortable price tag. There are many amateur-friendly brands that make affordable accessories for everyone and are proved by many athletes. Just look through comments and reviews and ask other athletes from the gym!
What should I wear to my first fitness class?
For your first functional fitness class, make sure to wear comfortable clothes. Grab a pair of snug sneakers, shorts or leggings, and a T-shirt or a crop top. A lot of athletes prefer a close fit but first of all, your outfit must be comfortable for you: breathable and easy to move in.
Why do functional fitness athletes wear short shorts?
Short shorts are comfortable for dynamic functional fitness workouts because they don’t limit your moves and are not hot to train in.
Why do functional fitness athlets wear high socks?
High socks protect your shins from harsh barbell knurling. It comes in handy when functional fitness athletes do snatches, cleans, or deadlifts.
So What Should You Put in Your Bag?
All in all, always analyze your training needs and personal peculiarities while choosing the best functional fitness gear. Usually, in the beginning, you may need some basic products such as fitness shoes, a jump rope, resistance bands, a bottle, and so on. As you become more experienced, you are likely to need weightlifting shoes, straps, knee sleeves, a belt, etc. Check out my list to find a lot of advice!
What gear do you use for functional fitness workouts? Share in the comment section!
I'm Tanya, and I love lifting weights. 6 years ago, I picked up Olympic weightlifting and fitness. Weightlifting is a unique sport because it's just you against the bar. There are no teammates to help you out; it's all on you.
I'm also passionate about helping other women achieve their fitness goals. That's why I started my blog and write some products reviews. I want to show other women that they can do anything they set their mind to!