Any decent strength and conditioning coach knows that to make athletes better, all you need is a rack, a bar, and some weights. However, with the passage of time, it never hurts to slowly add to your toolbox. With that being said, here are the smaller pieces of equipment I feel have added the most value to my strength and conditioning program.

EZ Loader Chain Straps

When leading a workout with 10-25 athletes, setting up your accommodating resistance can become complicated. Quick transitions need to be made to adjust to height differences between athletes (I prefer to have my athletes train in groups of people with similar strength levels regardless of height, with the heights of the chains much easier to change compared with the weight on the bar.) EZ loaders also save time by eliminating the process of explaining how to set up a feeder chain. Anything that can allow my athletes to get a quality session in with me talking less is worth it. Another benefit is how quickly the rings slide off a bar, making them efficient for use in drop sets.


In applying the dynamic effort method to athletics, I find the effect created by bands to be much more transferable to an explosive hitting speed on the field. This makes having varying sets of bands integral for a program that uses a conjugate system. (And if you aren't using a conjugate system with your athletes, what the heck are you doing?)

I also make use of bands for speed work—sprinting, backpedaling, or accelerating against them in some manner to improve the power output.

Ab Wheel

I wasn't a huge proponent of the Ab Wheel until I was coached by Clint Darden, who credited this movement for some of his monster pulls. It is an extremely affordable piece of equipment that by far offers the most bang for your buck. The Ab Wheel creates a dynamic version of a plank and is an important tool in teaching athletes how to brace their abdominals while moving. It also serves as an excellent corrective for athletes with anterior pelvic tilt who need to learn to tuck the pelvis under and activate their abs.


Not only are these fun to refer to (my athletes get excited when I yell out "grab the grenades!") but also they allow us to perform exercises in various planes of movement, especially when hooked up to a set of chains. What can sometimes be a boring grip, the triceps or chest work to finish a training session becomes a fun, fresh new challenge by simply adding in this implement.

If you have a little in the budget to add some spice to your gym, consider these options, and go with what will result in the most valuable contribution to your program.

Jordan Guilford is a sports performance coach and a competitive powerlifter and strongman based out of Toronto, Ontario. He spent four years as a fitness instructor with the Canadian Armed Forces and is currently Fitness Director of Canadian Ice Academy, an elite training center for hockey players and figure skaters. He also owns Vej Athletics training and performance. You can contact Jordan via email at jordan@vejathletics.ca.