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We’re entering year two of the pandemic and I’m in the best shape of my life. As soon as I realized that this thing was for real, I started budgeting and building my home gym. The results have been great, both in terms of running performance, general fitness, and even aesthetics. I look good, I feel good, and I’m running well.
It’s hard to find unbiased information about fitness equipment these days. I find the majority of top-ranking blogs are bland and unhelpful. A lot of people just write articles arbitrarily and I suspect that they don’t even own the items they’re reviewing. I’m also tired of giving long-winded recommendations to my friends. I just want to send them the link to my blog. All of this is written from the perspective of someone who spends a lot of time inside, has a thin frame, and wants to run fast. Using any of this equipment is going to be helpful to you, regardless of what your fitness goals may be. Just keep in mind that my perspective will be skewed toward endurance sports.
Pull-Up Bar: MASSAPOW Pull-Up Bar
I wrote a dedicated blog post for this one. Reason being that my apartment has extremely wide doorways. I figured other people must have the same problem, and I didn’t want to leave people stuck returning items that didn’t work. This is going to fit every doorway, and it’s a solid piece of equipment. The benefits of a pull-up bar are numerous, having it in a doorway leads to frequent usage. This bodyweight workout builds arms, back, and shoulder muscles without needing to do endless sets of curls or other exercises. My increased back strength played a large part in my season opener half marathon of 1:28:5X. Even though I ran faster over the summer, the boosted back strength resulted in a naturally more-upright running position.
Slant Board: StrongTek Slant Board
If you’ve ever been to physical therapy, there’s a good chance that one of the first tests was related to ankle/calf flexibility. At my old job, a colleague had one of these slant boards at his desk, and I would use it from time to time to stretch out and do calf raises. I would always be sore the next day presumably because using the board allowed me to hit a more extreme range of motion and train parts of my leg that usually don’t get fully utilized while running or cycling.
As you can see, I use my board quite a lot. It’s right next to my desk and I couldn’t begin to estimate how many sets of calf raises I do per day. Not only do my calfs look great, but I’ve also noticed a slight increase in range of motion while running. The lower portion of my legs near my Achilles feels better and snappier. I’m still using this board on the least-steeply-angled notch.
The build quality is great. When purchasing fitness equipment, I usually avoid the cheapest option. The existing reviews of this board are nearly perfect, and I don’t have any complaints.
Ankle Weights: Sportneer Ankle Weights
These ankle weight belts can each hold up to thirteen pounds. They’re useful for runner-specific isolation exercises. I have a few workouts that I perform in a circuit to train different muscle groups closely related to running. If you’re not a runner, you’ll probably feel a bit silly strapping these on. While often overlooked, ankle weights are really useful for increasing both your raw power and efficiency of your stride. Think about the benefits of having lighter shoes–much of that benefit is because it takes a lot of extra energy to move relatively small amounts of weight at the end of your limb. Ankle weights take advantage of this and allow you to place a lot of strain on muscles that typically get nowhere near as taxed.
Another benefit is that you can leave the weights on while doing pull-ups for an extra 26lb of resistance on top of your body weight.