Below are our top recommended equipment, supplements, books, tools and resources that we at Heroes of Fitness personally use.
We use everything listed or have something exactly like it (in which case we will point that out) and have seen great results from using all of the following. We’ve done a lot of research and testing on what the best tools and tricks are for success so you and our other clients don’t have to. We get asked A LOT what our favorite [fill in the blank] product is, so we put together this list as an easy reference for all of our favorite and recommended resources to point people to. We’ve listed different options where available.
You by no means need to go out and get all of the below (especially not all at once).
Just get what seems right for you right now. Dial your enthusiasm back a notch and really consider what you will actually implement in a step by step fashion – it’s more important to use just one or two items consistently and effectively rather than to get everything below and end up rarely using any of it.
And remember, be creative! You don’t need much to get the results you want, just use what you already have and most importantly, get started and stay consistent!
Is there something you’re still wondering about? Please feel free to email us with your question or recommendation!
THE HOF COMMUNITY
I’ve listed some of my favorite and top recommended equipment to get for your home. Everything below is what we have in our home gym and personally use on a regular basis. If you have access to a gym, awesome! Take advantage of that or whatever you can get your hands on. If you’re looking to get some equipment to have at home, below are my top picks:
Kettlebells — This is the #1 Tool that I recommend you buy to get fast results. You can start with only one, and it will help you build muscle AND burn fat, you can use it anywhere (keep it next to your computer), and you don’t need to use them for very long to get a complete workout. They are far superior to dumbbells in terms of versatility. They aren’t cheap, but they are literally a gym in your hand and will last forever. Dragon Door makes the best kettlebells, hands down, they are the only ones I use and own (the difference really comes into play when you start snatching and cleaning kettlebells). You will find more recommendations on which sizes/weights in our training programs, but as a general guide:
Pull-up Bar — There is so much you can do with a pull-up bar, and nothing makes you feel so accomplished and strong as being able to bust out a few perfect pull ups. They are a practical skill that everyone needs to at least be working towards. Don’t forget you can get creative with the pullup bar, for example go to any playground, or find rafters, overhangs or gyms that you have access to. Finding good places to do pull-ups is a lot of fun and helps to develop the right attitude towards movement and exercise in your life – it’s like physical graffiti. We have a TAPS (Tactical Athlete Pull-up System) free standing pull-up bar in our house, but it’s expensive, heavy, and takes up quite a bit of space but we like it for mounting other equipment. Dragon Door will be coming out with a better and more affordable one in a few months which we are really excited about. A much more cost-effective and space-saving solution is to get one that attaches to a door frame like this one from Iron Gym.
Jump rope — Small, cheap, old school, effective. You can do it anywhere, take it with you traveling, use it at home or outside, it gets your heart rate up instantly. If you think can’t learn how to jump rope, you’re wrong. Learning something new is good for you and once you master it you can tell your old, complainy self to stfu. Jumping rope is especially effective if you do it with timers for internal training (example: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) for 5-10 minutes. Here’s an adjustable one.
Ab Wheel — Small, cheap, and an incredibly understated way to kill your abs and develop some legitimate power in your midsection. Easy to travel with and do anywhere, it’s just a great tool to throw in the mix, especially considering how inexpensive it is.
Gymboss Interval Timer — Fantastic little tool for interval training, this timer is easy to set and change and works perfectly with doing kettlebell swings or jump rope for 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest for 10 minutes. There are also apps you can use, but this does exactly what you need it to. We’ve been using this little guy for years.
Yoga Mat — For stretching, yoga, and doing Turkish Get-Ups or other kneeling/ground work, it’s always useful to have a good mat around the house, especially if you have wood floors. Here’s another less expensive, thinner yoga mat. Or the Multi Mat from Onnit.
Captains of Crush Hand Gripper — These are not little “stress” grippers. These are a max-strength exercise in a compact package. Grip strength is a key indicator of overall strength and gauging athletic potential. It is particularly crucial for doing any sort of pull-up/bar work. You should be able to crush-grip more than you weigh. Kettlebells are fantastic for grip strength as well, but if you want to accelerate your grip strength gains, get one these guys and keep it at your desk. Working your grip strength along with mobility work will also help ward off carpal tunnel in your hands, which is critically important when you’re gaming/using a computer/mouse/smartphone all day.
Weighted Vest — Putting on a weighted vest makes any exercise more challenging. Great for adding to body weight training like pushups, pull-ups, squats, lunges. Get a 40lb adjustable vest so you can modify the weight. Some additional options, one from Onnit and from Valeo.
TRX Suspension Training or CrossCore 180 — A suspension training system is fantastic for core strength and stability and has a lot of versatility in the exercises you can do, including combining them with kettlebell exercises to get an awesome workout. They are also great because they are small (you can roll it up and toss it in your bag) and you can do them from a doorway or a pull-up bar. We’ve been using the TRX for years, although we are dying to get our hands on a CrossCore 180 Rotational system because it’s a little more challenging, versatile, and all about rotational training.
Barbells — Barbells are the classic strength training tool used by all of the world’s top athletes. You will generally see two types of barbells – Olympic and Standard. Olympic weights are made for dropping, hence they are rubberized and usually used on a platform. Standard weights are just the simple steel plates used in most gyms. If you have access to barbells and experience with lifting them, I highly recommend you work those into your training, especially deadlifts. We will mostly be sticking with kettlebells in the HOF programs, but we do encourage and love Standard barbell lifting (you’ll see us using them in our garage). I will add that as an advanced skill, eventually learning the Oly lifts is awesome for every serious athlete.
Dumbbells — We rarely use dumbbells because kettlebells are just more efficient and what we prefer to use. That said, dumbbells are everywhere and fundamentally they are just weight. Weight is good. You can usually find them going to at least the 40lb to 60lb range at almost any gym you go to (even in dinky hotel fitness centers, you can usually get your hands on some). You may even know a friend or family member who has some that they never use that you can snag. So if you already have access to dumbbells, even light ones like these, definitely use them. They are especially good for bench-based exercises and moves like pullovers — but I’ll always recommend that if you’re going to buy something for your personal use that you just get a few kettlebells over a dumbbell set any day.
Duraball Pro or other Stability Ball — You can certainly use a stability ball for exercise purposes – they are great for that – but the best reason to get one is to use the ball instead of a chair at your desk. Whether at your computer at work or home, this will dramatically help your posture and overall health especially if you can’t get a sit-to-stand desk. Nicole has one at the Dragon Door office that she has used for years and we both have one for our home office. We’ve used the same ones for at least 5 years now. We’ve been using the Duraball Pro brand because it is legitimately really tough and durable and will deflate instead of bursting if ever something bad happens. Nicole as a 5’8″ woman uses the 65 cm ball and myself as a 6’6″ man use the 75 cm ball.
Tip: Sit on the ball like you would a horse. When sitting on it your knees should be lower than your hips (thighs at about a 45 degree angle towards the floor) to prevent locking up your hip flexors and to be able to engage your core for posture. Initially treat sitting on the ball like you would treat a workout. This means maintaining good form and rest as needed from using it (go back to your previous chair for awhile).
SUPPLEMENTS & NUTRITION
First, I want to be clear: you DO NOT need to take a ton of supplements to be healthy and get the results you want. You should be getting MOST of what you need from the food you eat and supplements should be just that: they supplement a deficiency in your diet. You should also make sure to cycle on and off supplements so your body doesn’t either become dependent on them or adapt to them. That said, there are some supplements that give your body a huge boost mentally and physically and help you to hit your goals a hell of lot faster.
TrueNutrition or Onnit Hemp Force Protein Powder — Go get some protein powder. It’s versatile, convenient, and will make your life SO much easier, especially if you have any health or fitness goal whether it’s leaning down or bulking up. If you’re out shopping, find a Whey Isolate Protein Powder (like this Biochem Greens and Whey that we buy when we forget to order stuff online. It can be gotten easily at Whole Foods). If you are incredibly sensitive to dairy then definitely get Onnit’s Hemp Force — honestly, either way their protein powder is great and tastes good. We also love using TrueNutrition where you can do custom mixes and the quality/price is awesome (our custom mix is 80% whey protein isolate cold-filtration, 20% calcium caseinate, natural vanilla flavor).
Whether it’s breakfast because you wanted to sleep a little longer before work (you do eat breakfast, right?), a post-workout shake, or a snack for some protein (you need protein, okay?) while you’re sitting down to boot up a game, having protein powder on hand makes it easier to stay on track with your goals.
Athletic Greens or Vitamineral Green — This is the number #1 supplement I recommend you take because it covers so many bases, especially if you’re traveling or busy and weren’t able to eat many/any veggies that day. Have a stomach ache or indigestion? You probably need greens. Ate a burger and fries? Greens.
The nice thing about these greens powders is that they both already have probiotics in them so you don’t need to buy those in addition (AKA saving you more $$). You really don’t need to take any other vitamins when you take one of these greens powders, other than fish oil and D3 which are oil based and can’t be added to the powder. Athletic Greens is more complete nutritionally and gives you more of a noticeable energy boost than Vitamineral Green, however it is more expensive and I’m not a big fan of their very salesy marketing. That said, it is a phenomenal, high quality product and one that we’ve been loving of late, especially having it first thing in the morning. Either way get a greens powder so you don’t have to worry about taking a million vitamins and for when your diet needs a little help. We have used Healthforce’s Vitamineral Green for years, it has really high quality, organic ingredients but it does taste VERY earthy so we would either mix it with orange juice in the morning or add it into our smoothies. Athletic Greens tastes fine on its own.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids/Fish Oil (Krill Oil capsules, Carlson Fish Oil capsules or liquid) — Fish oil, and ultimately Omega-3 fatty acids, are vital for maintaining high levels of health. Especially good for any issues with inflammation, it’s good for your brain, your heart, your skin/hair, pretty much every part of your body. Practically everyone’s dietary fat ratio sucks, you need this to fix it. Obviously eating a lot of high quality fish like wild salmon or sardines are excellent ways to get your Omega-3s; but adding this and/or Ground Flaxseed to your smoothies (like we do) is another quick and easy way to boot it up.
Vitamin D3 — It’s incredibly common these days for people to have a Vitamin D deficiency, especially if you’re indoors for work all day and then if you love gaming… well you know. It improves your hormones, bones, blood pressure, skin, immune system and potentially your mood.
Alpha Brain — Sometimes your mental focus needs some help, especially if you’ve got an important meeting, a project you’re working on, or a big gaming competition. Onnit’s Alpha Brain is just plain awesome and it WORKS. Which is probably why it’s beloved by pro-gamers and pro-athletes alike (like and Duncan Keith of the goddamn Chicago Blackhawks *shakes fist*). It’s designed to enhance focus, memory, and mental drive. It can increase your reaction time, help you quickly analyze complex patterns all while helping your brain manage stress and keep you calm. It is also caffeine free. If you’re looking for an extra, stimulant-free, sustained energy boost (that also helps with cardiovascular endurance and recovery) check out their Shroom Tech Sport, which fun fact: Nicole & I used this while preparing for our Wedding Dance. Onnit has a budding pro-gaming and e-sports following as well.
Bulletproof Coffee — You may have heard of the strange phenomenon known as “Bulletproof Coffee” where people blend butter (in particular, grass-fed Kerrygold Butter) and coconut oil (or MCT oil) with coffee and drink it in the morning. Either way, this drink is tasty and helps keep sustained alertness with, most importantly, no crash. Our go-to is usually a double espresso, but when we need the sustained mental clarity or want something to sip more, we blend that shit up. Don’t like the taste of coffee? Try it with tea instead, like Yerba Mate or Matcha Chai.
Blender Bottle Shaker — Have one or two of these available to make a quick shake to have when you’re feeling lazy or when you have to go somewhere. At the very least, using one of these can help you to eat your goddamn breakfast. We have at least 5 of these in different sizes.
Magic Bullet or Vitamix — Whether you’re making bulletproof coffee or a protein shake smoothie, a blender is one of the most useful tools you can have in your kitchen. This is one area that I recommend you do not skimp on. Take it from me, I used to be a “Blendito” at a place called Blenders in the Grass™ and personally we’ve burned through 3 different blenders (motors burning out AND they were shitty at blending the things) before finally just paying for the high quality one (a Vitamix) 2 years ago. That has been SO worth it, one of the best investments we’ve made. If a Vitamix is out of your price range you can opt for another excellent blender, the Oster VERSA, or go for the less expensive personal blenders: the Magic Bullet or NutriBullet. I used the Magic Bullet for years (when I started out on my fitness journey, in fact) and it is excellent for one-serving shakes that you can take with you right away. If you want an actual blender that you can use for everything else, then get the Vitamix or the Oster, either way just get something that blends things. It’s the fastest, easiest way to add more vegetables, fruit, protein, etc. into your diet.
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle — You don’t drink enough water. 99% of people don’t drink enough water. Drinking more water has huge health benefits such as not dying and is particularly helpful for fat loss. In fact, most people struggle with their first workouts because they are grievously DEHYDRATED (and probably didn’t eat breakfast). Get a decent water bottle and bring it with you everywhere, in the car, have it sitting on your desk at all times. Feel free to add lemon to it for flavor taste sensation and to alkaline your body. This is the bottle that Nicole & I have both used for YEARS. They last forever and are BPA free. You can also get a bigger size for added convenience.
We are avid readers and cannot stress enough the importance of continuing education and to always continue to improve yourself. Reading is one of the best personal development and growth strategies hands down.
Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade — The best book out there on bodyweight progressions and training and proof that you don’t need any equipment to get incredibly strong and ripped. Coach Wade developed this program while learning from his ex-Navy Seal cell mate while in prison. The reviews of this best-seller speak for themselves.
How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek — This book is a hardcore guide to optimal health. It is honestly not for everyone, but if you’re serious about health and fitness it’s a must read and answers many questions. Many of the current trends in health and fitness have been riding Paul Chek’s coattails for years.
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf — A good introduction to the Paleo diet and the science surrounding it. I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about “paleo” foods right now for better or worse. Eating mostly paleo is a good rule of thumb, but you don’t have to follow it to a T unless that works best for you (maybe you have celiacs disease or a severe gluten allergy). Eating strict paleo will ramp up your fat loss results — no question — however, we also believe in enjoying life and having pizza/booze/dessert on fun occasions but not obsessing over eating one freaking piece of bread. Definitely read this book, but most importantly figure out what works for you and your goals.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — Resistance. The enemy of every pursuit in our lives. This book illuminates that the bigger the goal and the closer you are to achieving it, the bigger and more powerful the forces opposed to you/your goal will become, whether internal or external. Reading this book will help you conquer not only your fitness goal, but ANY goal or project in your life. I’m all about his attitudes on mental fortitude and his fiction novel, Gates of Fire, happens to be another favorite of mine for this very reason.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday — Chock-full of historical anecdotes and the wisdom and strategy of the stoics, this book is a MUST READ and an instant favorite. After reading this, you will learn that obstacles in life aren’t barring your way to success, they ARE the way.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg — Fascinating book that looks at habits and willpower across all areas of life, whether personally, in businesses, or movements in society it looks at how habits work and how you can change even the most entrenched and hopeless seeming ones. Definitely makes you feel motivated to tweak your own habits and improve your course in life.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck — Covers the topic of fixed versus growth mindsets and how they relate to your success in life, from education, to relationships, to business. Throughout a lot of my work in educational settings I’ve witnessed the difference first-hand between kids and adults with fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets and how it directly related to either their suffering or their success in challenging situations.
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