Buying fitness gifts can be tricky.
Not because there’s a shortage of ideas—a quick internet search will unearth a slew of blog posts about the best gifts for fitness lovers.
The problem is the gift ideas in these articles are geared toward “less discerning” fitness folk, if you know what I mean: gaudy gym bags, cutesy water bottles, trendy yoga mats, fancy foam rollers, over-the-top hydration packs . . . the list goes on.
None of these gewgaws are for those who take training seriously, though.
The gym equipment in this article is different.
Instead of your typical bric-a-brac, you’ll find fitness gifts the gym rat in your life will actually appreciate.
Whether you’re a guy or gal who wants to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy; an intermediate or advanced weightlifter looking to take your physique to the next level; or an absolute beginner interested in learning the fundamentals of diet and strength training, I’ve got a book for you.
Here are a few of my most popular works:
Wrist wraps are a godsend for weightlifters because they support your wrists and help prevent injury while bench and overhead pressing and stabilize your wrists when low-bar back squatting, which can greatly reduce wrist and elbow discomfort.
These wraps from Rogue are heavy-duty, comfortable, and come in a range of colors and lengths.
Food scales are the perfect gift for anyone who takes meal prepping seriously. This one from Ozeri is sleek, simple, accurate, comes in various colors, and is ridiculously reliable—I’ve had mine for years and it’s still ticking.
Estimating your body fat percentage using caliper measurements is hit or miss, but the measurements themselves are quite useful: If your skin is getting thicker over time, you’re gaining fat. If it’s getting thinner, you’re losing fat. And that’s all you really need to know to measure your progress.
This caliper from Accu-Measure is endorsed by the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation as the premiere body fat caliper on the market, probably because it’s easy to use, accurate, and affordable.
Weightlifting straps tether a barbell, dumbbell, or machine handle to your hand, allowing you to train with heavy loads without your grip becoming the limiting factor.
These straps from Gymreapers are ideal: they’re comfortable, durable, and versatile, which is all you really want from a strap.
Jumping rope not only burns a ton of calories, it improves your hand-eye coordination and gives you nearly endless new challenges in the form of new jumps, faster or slower speeds, and so forth.
This jump rope from WOD Nation is all your need to get you cardio done at home using minimal space and equipment.
To prep meals effectively, you need containers that you can easily store and that are safe to use in the freezer, dishwasher, and microwave.
These meal prep containers from Freshware fit the bill perfectly, and even include two separate compartments for keeping your main and side dishes separate.
Liquid Grip’s liquid chalk is easy to apply and creates less of a mess than regular chalk, which is why it’s my chalk of choice.
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Between sets of heavy deadlifts, most people want to slump on a bench and take a breather.
Unless you go to a gym that has a “deadlift jack,” however, you may spend much of your rest period loading and unloading the barbell, which can be exhausting and take away from the energy you need for your next set.
This is where the Dead Wedge Deadlift Jack proves invaluable. It raises the plates an inch off the floor for easy loading and stops the bar from rolling around, making the whole process quicker, less fatiguing, and safer.
The Camelbak Eddy+ water bottle is free from any harmful chemicals, easy to carry, drink from, and clean, and comes in a range of colors to suit everyone’s tastes.
You work hard to build a body you can be proud of, so why not wear clothing that highlights it?
If you agree, then you’ll love Legion’s entire range of apparel. Will it help you hit new PRs? Probably not. Will it help you look good while doing so? Absolutely.
Supplements aren’t nearly as important as some people would have you believe.
That said, you should consider including a few choice supplements in your regimen because scientific research has proven they can help you lose fat, build muscle, boost workout performance, and enhance post-workout recovery.
Here are some of the most popular options:
These Draper’s Strength bands are durable and come in sets of three-to-six bands, so you can always find the right band for the job.
Having vice-like grip strength is more important than you might think. It boosts your athletic performance, helps you build Popeye-esque forearms, and is associated with living a longer, healthier life.
These BFR bands are perfect for the job, and are a great stocking stuffer for anyone looking to get swole.
Ab wheel rollouts are an effective and fun exercise for training your entire core. To do them, you need to invest in an ab wheel, and this one from Perfect Fitness is excellent.
It looks cool, the handles are comfortable, and it’s designed in such a way that you don’t need quite as much balance as with other similar rollers.
If you enjoy calisthenics workouts but need a way to make press-ups, pull-ups, and bodyweight squats more difficult, look no further than the RUNmax weighted vest.
It has pockets on the front and back to ensure the weight is evenly distributed, and comes with compartments for your phone and water bottle if you want to wear it while walking, hiking, or running.
Fractional plates allow you to progressively overload your muscles in small increments, which is what you have to do as you inch closer to your natural ceiling for muscle and strength gain.
I recommend the Ader Fitness fractional plates. They’re carefully machined out of high-grade steel, meticulously calibrated to within 0.1 to 1% of the advertised weight, and they look nice.
The Rogue Dip Belt is expensive compared to many other options, but it’s worth every penny because it can handle more weight than any other belt of its kind and it’s easily the most comfortable dip belt I’ve ever used.
These Stoic knee sleeves are highly supportive, comfortable, and built to last, which is everything you want from a knee sleeve.
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Rogue sandbags are fantastic pieces of equipment that come in a range of sizes to suit all strength levels (if you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter, 150 pounds is probably a good starting point).
Unlike most belts, which adjust in one-inch increments, the Pioneer Cut weightlifting belt has a unique prong buckle that allows you to adjust the belt in half-inch increments—a detail that means your belt always fits snuggly and offers the perfect amount of support.
The Xero HFS is a versatile shoe that you can use for various physical activities, including hiking and gym workouts.
Its main selling point, however, is that it’s an excellent minimalist running shoe because it’s lightweight enough to give you a barefoot feel but rugged enough to protect your feet when you’re on the road.
If you’re serious about pulling heavy weights, these shoes from SABO are nigh-on perfect footwear for deadlifting.
The soles are made of a non-compressible yet flexible material that maximizes force transfer into the floor and allows for plenty of sensory feedback, their wide toe box adds comfort, and the minimal stack height positions your body closer to the barbell, which reduces the range of motion and helps you lift more weight.
In the current political climate, sourcing these shoes can be challenging (SABO is a Russian company).
Nevertheless, you can get them in the US and across the world through stockists such as MAX Barbell, a US retailer specializing in powerlifting gear, including a wide range of SABO shoes.
They offer various sizes, colors, fast shipping, and excellent customer service, so if you’re interested in picking up a pair of SABO deadlift PRO shoes, check out maxbarbell.com.
No fitness gift guide would be complete without the inclusion of some wireless headphones.
Not only are these Jaybird Vista wireless headphones exceptionally light (6 grams per bud), they sound great, and they’re fully waterproof, crushproof, drop-proof, and sweatproof.
Weightlifting shoes are a boon for squat performance.
They have hard, noncompressible soles that give you a wide, rock-solid, and consistent base to push off during squats. They also have a slightly elevated heel (0.5-to-1 inch of elevation) that allows you to keep your chest upright while squatting deeply.
The Adidas Adipower III is the best in the game—well-designed, sturdy, durable, comfortable, good traction, and great looking.
Massage gun therapy is probably about as effective as getting a traditional massage for quickening recovery, improving mobility, and lowering stress levels. The advantage of massage guns is that they’re far more convenient and cost effective than hiring a massage therapist.
This massage gun from Bod and Brad is extremely powerful, allowing you to dig deep into your muscles and effectively relieve fatigue.
It’s also ergonomically designed, which makes it easier to access hard-to-reach muscle groups, and comes with a range of useful accessories, including seven different massage heads and a convenient carry case.
The Rucker 4.0 from GORUCK is the best ruck pack on the market.
It’s built like a tank, features extra handles to make it easier to use for a variety of exercises, and has extra lumbar support to increase comfort during long rucks.
Though I’m not entirely convinced about fitness trackers, the Apple Watch Series 9 is quite impressive.
It’s water-resistant, has built-in cellular connectivity and GPS so you can track runs and rides, monitors your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, has an 18-hour battery life, records your sleep habits, and more.
Style-wise, it’s a winner, too. The Apple Watch Series 9 is sleek and highly customizable, fitting in perfectly whether you’re working out or heading out.
Having a good set of adjustable dumbbells is one of the best investments you can make if you do strength training at home. The range of exercises you can do is huge, and they cost less and have a significantly smaller footprint than a complete set of dumbbells.
I recommend the PowerBlock Elite USA 90 Pound Adjustable Dumbbells because they’re extremely durable, feel more natural than many adjustable dumbbells on the market, and heavy enough to give you a great workout.
+ Scientific References
- Gentil, Paulo, et al. “Time under Tension and Blood Lactate Response during Four Different Resistance Training Methods.” Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, vol. 25, no. 5, 2006, pp. 339–344, https://doi.org/10.2114/jpa2.25.339. Accessed 2 Mar. 2020.
- Yasuda, Tomohiro, et al. “Effects of Blood Flow Restricted Low-Intensity Concentric or Eccentric Training on Muscle Size and Strength.” PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 12, 31 Dec. 2012, p. e52843, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052843.
- Fry, Christopher S., et al. “Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Stimulates MTORC1 Signaling and Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Men.” Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 108, no. 5, May 2010, pp. 1199–1209, https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01266.2009. Accessed 10 Apr. 2020.
- Raj, Sean D. “Bottled Water: How Safe Is It?” Water Environment Research, vol. 77, no. 7, Nov. 2005, pp. 3013–3018, https://doi.org/10.2175/106143005×73893. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
- Fan, Ying-Ying, et al. “Effects of Storage Temperature and Duration on Release of Antimony and Bisphenol a from Polyethylene Terephthalate Drinking Water Bottles of China.” Environmental Pollution, vol. 192, 1 Sept. 2014, pp. 113–120, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114002000?via%3Dihub, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2014.05.012. Accessed 26 May 2020.
- Chapa-Martínez, C.A., et al. “An Evaluation of the Migration of Antimony from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Plastic Used for Bottled Drinking Water.” Science of the Total Environment, vol. 565, Sept. 2016, pp. 511–518, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.184. Accessed 27 Sept. 2019.
- Bohannon, Richard W. “Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker for Older Adults.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol. 14, 1 Oct. 2019, pp. 1681–1691, https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S194543.