I make a bold claim, I know. The only strength and conditioning tools you’ll ever need.
Need is the word of importance here.
You can certainly use more. And I sometimes do.
You certainly may need more for some lofty goals. But more often that not, you probably don’t.
So what follows is what I find myself working with to keep myself in shape and strong about 90% of the time. That other 10%? Well, it’s not really required (spoiler alert: kettlebells).
I wear gloves often because I workout in places not always meant to be “worked out” in: outdoors, basements, hotel hallways, stairwells. It’s good to protect your hands, but besides that, you actually open up a whole multitude of training possibilities when you can grip things safely.
So no, if your pride is at stake, it has nothing to do with “helping my grip,” or “cheating,” and has everything to do with expanding possibilities. Tree branch pull ups? Check. Crawling on weird surfaces that may or may not cut up your hands? Check. Being able to grab things for deadlifting, shouldering, or just hurling otherwise? You got that too!
My favorites are nothing fancy- things you can grab at any hardware store or Home Depot: Nitrile gloves, fitted pretty well, and ones that have some stick when it comes to wet surfaces (pull-ups in the rain are a real thing!).
2. Suspension device
The hardest thing to do when traveling or working in a place with no pull-up bar, is quite literally pulling. I could crawl, push-up, squat and do a whole multitude of “pushing” variations until I’m passed out in a corner, but what about my posterior? What about the pull? It’s a must— especially for the modern human, and even more essential for the combat athlete.
Suspension devices allow me to create a pulling aparratus in any environment. A way to pull up, horizontal row, and just about anything I can dream up. I even use it for isometric holds in non-pulling motions and movements.
My own version is home-made: some rope from REI (or Home Depot… can’t remember!), PVC custom cut to my specs, and a few knots, and I have the most portable and dynamic suspension device on the market.
If you just packed #’s 1 and 2 in your bag daily, you’d be able to workout anywhere. Maybe I should have called this the only two pieces of equipment you’ll ever need. So with that in mind… an honorable showing...
3. A Jump Rope
If you pair a jump rope between any calisthenic exercise you can think of, you have yourself the ultimate high intensity workout. You could just run, but I often am not in the mood for that.
There's a multitude of large claims out there about jumping rope as it relates to a whole host of benefits (calorie burn among them), but I really find it the most difficult thing to push some longer duration cardio, and really help build some agility. How many of you who workout ever specifically look at and train your agility? This is a really nice way to include it.
I hope you find this useful.
I also hope it challenges notions of how you think you must train, or what you think you need to train with.
Creativity, knowledge, intent. That’s all you need to achieve any result and body goal you seek.
In fact, you really need none of this, but sometimes we can only be so "Spartan" with our bodyweight, and a little spice never hurts.
If you enjoyed this, I encourage you to go and check out my Be Strong Training Package, and in 5 weeks, you'll learn the in's and out's of getting extremely strong from using just these tools (or none at all).