You are friends with a serious powerlifter, but the gym he/she goes to is anything but serious. This can be because where he/she lives has no powerlifting gyms, or because he/she travels during the week and is training out of the hotel’s fitness center, or because he/she works days and can train only late at night, which requires him/her to go to one of those 24/7 fitness places where there is “no yelling, no chalk or pretty much no anything you would require for serious training.”
With that as the context, here are the TOP FIVE gifts for the serious powerlifter, trapped in a corporate gym.
True story: my friend Rob was training at a cookie-cutter gym before he began to train with the other powerlifters at Monster Garage Gym. Rob had his Tupperware container of chalk out, and it was sitting on an empty bench. He chalked his hands and proceeded to bench with one of those corporate gym bars that have no bite to them and bend like crazy with even just 500 pounds on the bench. Anyway, “the gym guy,” you know, the guy in the short-sleeved polo shirt that has the corporate gym’s name embroidered on the chest, comes over and tells Rob, “Sir, there is no gym chalk allowed in the facility.” Straight-faced, Rob confidently says, “Yes, I know, but this is magnesium carbonate.” To which the polo-wearing gent says, “Well, in that case, okay. But make sure you only use that magnesium carbonate, as we don’t allow gym chalk.”
Not every corporate gym desk jockey is going to be this obtuse, and those slick bars that have no knurling require chalked hands. That said, given these dynamics, gift number one for the powerlifter trapped in a corporate gym is: liquid chalk. This stuff comes in a little plastic bottle, it is easy to bring into the gym in a gym bag, and it is small enough to stow in a pocket, to be discreetly applied when needed without creating that ploom of chalk dust or the little chalk pieces created when you’re using a block of chalk….er, um, magnesium carbonate. It is easy to wipe off the barbell when done, and what those corporate gym owners don’t know won’t hurt them.
The chances of finding any accommodating resistance in a corporate facility is pretty much zero. Having said that, if you go into the facility with a gym bag containing two sets of micro bands and two sets of mini bands, the chances of having access to accommodating resistance is 100%, as the accommodating resistance is with you at all times. As the corporate gym setting is, well, corporate, hooking up light or average bands can be a red flag. Thus, it’ll alert and send your way the aforementioned polo shirt guy, and that can quickly end your workout with bands before it even got started. That said, micro bands and mini bands have a far more innocuous look to them. You can mix and match these bands for more or less resistance. You can even double them for some movements. Combining them all at once can provide a significant amount of accommodating resistance to work with, and it’ll do so in a way that brings far less attention to you than if you were to use the thicker and more “threatening”-looking light or average bands for your training, all the while serving the same purpose.
If you are limited to the corporate gym world, you are most likely surrounded by machines. So, at minimum, you want to get the most you can from them. That means when training back, use wrist straps so that you can engage the lats, rather than utilizing your grip and thus engaging your biceps first. This limits the sheer amount of weight you can use, thus compromising the amount of muscular damage you can bring to this big muscle group. In my quarter of a century of powerlifting and moving weight, I have used tons of different wrist straps. I was training at the elitefts compound while visiting there after watching some of my powerlifting team compete at the Arnold one year, and I had forgotten my wrist straps at Monster Garage Gym. I saw Matt from elitefts there, and he gave me a pair of these exact straps. I have never looked back. They are actually a set of straps sewn onto a larger set of straps, with an additional layer of rubber grip sewn onto them as well. The rubber really lets them grip a smooth cable handle and provides for a sure grip on one of those cheesy corporate no-grip barbells. The strap itself is longer, so it’ll go more times around the handle, and for ultra-heavy rack pulls, nothing comes close to them. This is the longest lasting pair I have ever had, and after several years, they are still in great shape. When and if these ever reach their end point, I will simply fill their void with the exact same pair.
They can’t use chalk at this place. But the liquid chalk has no accommodating resistance. And with the bands, there is zero chance they are going to have any bench boards anywhere in the facility. Thus, the fourth gift you should get your powerlifting friend who is trapped in a corporate gym is the elitefts Red Shoulder Saver. At my gym, Monster Garage Gym, we have all of the accommodating resistance tools, we supply the chalk and ammonia, and we have every size bench board….but we also have a couple of the EliteFTS shoulder savers. These are great when you are training alone and have nobody to hold a board. My favorite of our Red and Black Shoulder Savers is the Red, as it comes out to about a 1½ board and is perfect for RAW benching as well as close grip bench work for tricep development and lockout. And it fits right in your gym bag with your other essential items.
All of the above items will fit nicely in gift number five, the elitefts Black/Red Crescent Duffel Bag. You will walk into the corporate gym you are trapped in, with all of your essentials—liquid chalk, resistance bands, orange rubber wrist straps, and red shoulder saver—all concealed-carried and ready to be used. As you know, the elitefts logo is a universal symbol for strength, power, muscle, and a commitment to training. On the off chance there is another powerlifter also trapped in this same unfortunate corporate setting as you, the bag’s elitefts emblem will be a beacon, a signal to him or her as to who you are and how you train. Perhaps from there, you will end up with a kindred powerlifting spirit, and that person, too, can conceal-carry his or her own elitefts essentials in his or her bag and double up on the probability of making the best out of the training surroundings available.
Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas!