You know that to build muscle and lose fat, you gotta train hard, eat right, and recover fully. But having the right tools can make this process easier and faster.
But don’t whip out your credit card for just anything that goes on sale.
You don’t want to see the stitches popping out of your cheap weight lifting belt when you go for your first deadlift PR.
And if you pick the wrong pre-workout, you might look back 3 months later wondering “Did that tub of powder actually do anything?”
To help you navigate the fitness product jungle, here are out top recommended supplements, gear, equipment, and other tools.
To be honest, you don’t need supplements to make noob gains. However, we can’t deny that some supplements still improve your training performance, and can speed up your results too.
There are a lot of great products and brands out there, but these are our top picks.
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate is one of our top recommended whey protein powders because of its high protein content per serving, extreme deliciousness, and the fact that all Swolverine products are sourced from GMP-certified facilities. If you want to supplement your diet with some high quality protein powder, their whey protein isolate does not disappoint.
C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder
C4 Original Pre-Workout is a tried and true formulation made by Cellucor, one of the best-selling pre-workout brands in America. The CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine and caffeine blend will keep you energized for each session while also delaying muscle fatigue. And the creatine will improve performance and give you a little boost in muscle size.
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn: Creatine Phosphate
Creatine is one of the most heavily-researched supplements on the market because of its impressive benefits (so adding this to your nutrition plan is a “no-brainer”). Swolverine’s Kre-Alkalyn: Creatine Phosphate supplement is ph-corrected (buffered) creatine that has all the muscle-building and performance benefits of creatine monohydrate, but with most of the annoying side effects like cramping bloating and water retention.
Gear & Clothes
Wraps. Gloves. Belts. Slingshots. There are a lot of gear options to help you grind out a few more reps on each exercise. For a beginner, it’s OK to take a minimal approach. Here are our top gear picks for guys ready to make gains.
Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting Belt
The Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting Belt is one of our favorites in a number of categories from bodybuilding to Olympic weightlifting. This belt won’t stretch, tear, or break and should support pressure from squats and deadlifts up to 600 pounds.
Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoes
Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoes really provide a sturdy base during heavy lifts. The solid, raised heel gives you extra stability during squats and the forefoot is still flexible enough to aid in explosive barbell movements. Plus, they look pretty sick, am I right?
If you workout in a commercial gym, you’ll most likely have all the equipment you need to build muscle, right at your fingertips. But if you want to take your training on the road or build a modest home gym, here are some things you should consider.
CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set
This CAP Barbell 300-pound Olympic Set is great if you’re ready to start your own home gym with some real equipment you might find in a commercial club. Complete with a 7 foot bar, 300 pounds of cast iron plates, and clips, you’ve got enough weight to bust out bench press, squats, and deadlifts way past the noob phase.
Extreme Over the Door Pull-Up Bar
The Titan Fitness Extreme Over the Door Pull-Up Bar is a reliable chin-up and pull-up bar that you can attach to any standard size door frame. It has a ton of different grip areas to vary your movement, plus it has some nice rubber pads on the opposite side to prevent messing up your door frame.
Bowflex SelectTech D-Bell Adjustable Dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells are another staple for a home gym, plus a lot of “at-home” workouts require them. The Bowflex SelectTech D-Bell dumbbells are well-made, have nice grips, and go up to 52.5 pounds. It’s also very easy to switch weight quickly with their compact design.
Fitness Dreamer Resistance Bands
They’re not a very well-known brand, but the Resistance Bands by Fitness Dreamer are one of the best things I’ve added to my home gym. They come in a set of five bands of varying resistance, they last a very long time (think years), and the exercise options are pretty much endless. If you can’t get to the gym consistently, these bad boys will fill the gap in your gains.
Fitness Reality Bench
We put the Fitness Reality Bench at the top of our “best of” list for adjustable benches for its high weight capacity, 12 seating positions, and wheels on the back so it moves easy. Plus, it goes almost completely flat so you can wheel it into a closet and pretend that working out is a secret (we won’t tell).
DEGOL Jump Rope
Here’s another brand that doesn’t get enough notoriety, but the DEGOL Jump Rope is a good pick if you need a fast, comfortable, speed rope for conditioning or warming up. And tall guys don’t need to worry since it adjusts up to 9 feet.
Rogue Foam Roller
A way to relieve built-up muscle tension and improve recovery is by foam rolling post-workout. These Rogue Foam Rollers are super high quality, come in a variety of sizes, and have the right firmness to give you a deep tissue massage that’ll keep you making gains without the stress.
“What gets measured, gets managed.” Sure, working out and dieting are huge pieces of the body transformation puzzle, but if you don’t actually track and measure along the way, you won’t know how to keep building inches to your muscles or continue to drop fat. Here are some great tracking tools that’ll give you visibility to your progress.
Taylor Precision Products Glass Electronic Scale
One of the most important tracking tools in either your fat loss or weight gain journey is a bodyweight scale and the Taylor Precision Product Electronic Scale has all the standard features you’ll need, plus some bells and whistles.
Ozeri Food Scale
2 ounces of chicken breast. 300 grams of cheese. When you’re counting calories, you’re also counting your food. Most scales will do the job, but if you want a recommendation the Ozeri ZK14-S Food Scale is a great budget option to put on your counter so you know how much you’re putting in your mouth.
The most important driver of weight change is energy expenditure and when you’re manipulating your diet, you need to track your calories. MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular smartphone apps for calorie counting and I’ve been using this one for years. They have a paid version, but the free option is really all you need to get started.