Last Minute Christmas/Holiday Gifts For the Lifter On Your List

By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, Starting Strength Staff, CSCS, HFS, USAW Club Coach

Well folks, it’s that time of year again and though this is a little late, I just want to do right by all my fellow strength and conditioning junkies out there and give the people shopping for them some gift ideas. You know, ones that don’t completely suck. For other gift ideas, check out last year’s posts here, herehere, and here.

First off, some books! I was hoping my book would be done and out by now, but after switching the original plan- an eBook– to a full fledged hard-copy, things got a lot more complicated. I’m still doing some revisions to the initial manuscript, although that has been on the backburner since it’s finals time. In any event, here are some books I think that would make any enthusiast happy to receive this holiday season:

1) Practical Programming 3rd Edition -20.95 +S/H

This book is already out for pre-sale and I honestly can’t wait for this to come out. I had a hand in some of the physiology and nutrition parts while Andy Baker and Matt Reynolds helped out with some of the programming parts. All in all, this book is going to be great and if you pre-order it (see link above), Rip will even sign your book!

2) Science and Practice of Strength training -$60.58

index1Probably one of the best texts written about the actual physiology of strength training, I consider this book to be an important staple in anyone who is serious about the iron game. If your physiology is a little soft, then you’ll want to read Brooks and Fahey’s Exercise Physiology first, however.

3 Muscletown USA 34.95

41xMznmwZLLThis is a really cool book about some of the history of weightlifting and the physical culture in America. Lots of cool stories in this one and definitely off the beaten path for most. Check out all the crazy stuff that went on back in the day at The York Barbell Club.

4 The Strongest Shall Survive -31.00

A classic from Bill Starr that, unfortunately, many have not read.

5) Reactive Training Systems Manual -39.95

Screen shot 2013-12-07 at 11.34.22 PMMike Tuchscherer shares his training philosophy with the masses in this great text. If you’ve ever wondered about auto-regulation, RPE, accumulation of fatigue, or are looking for the training template that’s going to take you to the next level, I think Mike has some of the best stuff out there. Since we’re talking about him…let’s all marvel at how strong this guy is:

What sort of holiday gift list would we have if we didn’t include some stocking stuffers?

American Weightlifting: The Documentary (film) – 19.95

This is a really cool documentary that Greg Everett has been working on the last few years. It’s actually really good and I’d give it two barbells up.

Quest Bars – 24.99 (box of 12)

imagesI’m not really dogmatic about what people shouldn’t eat food quality wise, provided they end up hitting the correct macros and calories day in and day out. That being said, it just tends to go a little smoother with a protein supplement (or two) on hand for when you’re in a pinch or in a rush. Outside of a quality whey protein supplement, I really like these Quest bars. They have 5 ingredients or less, no sugar alcohols, and the protein quality is very high. My current favorite flavor?  Chocolate Peanut Butter. Gainzzz.

Leather Wrist Wraps -22.99

I know I know, you all think I’ve lost my marbles and/or am super into bondage these days. Instead of explaining myself let me introduce exhibit A:

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Deadlift Slippers -11.50

If you’re planning on going to a meet, you’re going to need these because you can’t pull in socks at any meet worth doing. Similarly, maybe you’re sick of ruining socks because you don’t have anything covering them. Worse yet, maybe you’re pulling barefoot and getting your nasty feet and DNA all over the gym. C’mon y’all.

Slingshot – 50.00

With a website like, what did you expect other than something that will help you get your bench up? This “device” is a really nice way to add bench press volume that’s overloaded and that won’t beat up your shoulders or elbows. I really like my “standard” version.

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

slingshotNow what if you have someone on your list who’s literally got everything? They have the belt, a gym bag, lifting shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, bands, books, etc. What the hell do you get them (besides a massage)? Here are a few cool trinkets even I would enjoy:

Mini DL jack – 65.00


This cool little contraption allows you to load your deadlift bar without having to struggle to get each additional plate on or, more importantly, off , after you rip that big PR. WestCary Barbell is a really good place to do business with as well.

Eleiko Calibrated Collars – 139.99

eleiko-collars-h1Probably one of the most annoying things about gyms these days is the lack of quality clamps they have to keep the weights on the damn bar. The spring clamps are useless, as they slide off when the weights get heavy. The lockjaw style plastic clamps might be worse because over time they don’t even stay on the bar hardly. Enter the Eleiko calibrated clamps. These things not only are rugged and keep the plates on the bar, they are exactly 5kg, which means no more worrying about how much the clamps weigh when it comes time to set a PR (you were thinking about that right? RIGHT?)

HookGrip Posters- 20.00

What better way to decorate your man (or woman) cave or home gym than with some sweet posters? I salute Comrade Klokov every morning while I put down breakfast…it’s a motivational deal of sorts. I really dig this new Apti celebration poster.

Alright folks, there you have it. A handful of gifts for any serious strength and conditioning enthusiast. Happy Holidays to everyone. Look out for some posts from my European Tour coming up shortly 🙂






18 Days Out…

Keeping it rolling with some more gift ideas for the serious (or soon-to-be serious) trainee on you holiday list…

1) Best Belts Lifting Belt– 78.00-88.00

The Prime Cut belt

The Prime Cut belt

Belts have gotten a bad rap in recent times. Some (uninformed) people contend that lifting without a belt is somehow superior than to utilizing one of the oldest tools in a lifters’ arsenal. The fact of the matter is, a belt allows a lifter to actually contract their abs harder by giving them a surface to contract against Once this tactile cue is used by the lifter, his or her abdominal contraction without a belt is also increased since they now know how to really contract their abs. Additionally, for anyone who has ever dealt with a back issue, a belt is just a smart precaution and should be used for almost every set of every barbell exercise. The belt just offers that tactile cue for keeping tight, the abs engaged, and back from moving under load. There are many belts to choose from and you’ll want to get the right one for your recipient. Women will likely be better suited to a 3″ belt, general strength trainees will likely appreciate a 4″ single prong belt that’s 10mm thick, and the most competitive lifters will want the 13mm single prong belt that’s 4″ wide all the way around. Tapered belts aren’t too useful except in some Olympic lifting populations and some people prefer them for bench press only. If you’re in this for the long run or someone on your holiday list is, give them the gift of belt!

2) Deadlift Loading Ramps– 129.99

DEADZONE Ramps 3One of the biggest hassles when training is loading the deadlift with progressively more and more weight ( you are using more weight, right?) and having to partially lift the whole barbell and plates off the floor on one side to get another plate on the bar. This can be potentially stressful and injurious to the person doing the loading since it’s hard to get into a good position to do this. Enter the deadlift loading ramp. These cast aluminum ramps allow the lifter to roll the barbell and plates onto the ramp, load the additional plates without having to scoot them against the floor, and then roll the barbell and plates off. No muss, no fuss. Check out the video!


21 Days Out

More holiday gift ideas!

1) Band Pack – 75.00

Bands on bands on bands

Bands on bands on bands

Elite FTS periodically puts their bands on sale and the holiday season is one of those times! Popularized by Westside Barbell training, these bands are so versatile that you’d be remiss to not have a pair! If you’re a serious trainee then the bands can be used to add resistance (accommodating resistance) to help blast through weak points. Additionally, the bigger bands (strong and medium bands) can be used for reverse band squats, deadlifts, and bench presses to offer the unique ability to overload the exercises. One of the best uses for the bands does not utilize them in conjunction with a barbell, however. Instead, bands can be used to offer distraction forces for various joints during mobilization drills for the shoulder, hip, knee, etc. Bottom line, a set of bands is a worthwhile investment for almost all trainees except for the neophyte.

2) Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity by Mark Rippetoe- Kindle Edition 7.99

Now on Kindle!

Now on Kindle!

Any easy to read title, now on Kindle for less than ten doll hairs! Definitely worthy of a read. These conversations are both hilarious and informative. Check it out.


26 Days Out….

Have you started shopping yet? Here’s another pair of gifts that are game changers to any fitness-minded person.


1) Starting Strength : Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition– 9.99 -Kindle Edition- 29.99 (Paperback)

The first book that should be purchased, read, and studied by anyone who trains or trains others.

This is the standard that all training books are compared to. Inside you’ll find in depth analysis of the basic barbell exercises, the squat, deadlift, press, bench press, power clean and snatch, as well as various assistance exercises. These movements are described based on kinematics of the human skeleton, relevant anatomy, and biomechanics. In short, this is a no BS book that I still get pearls of every time I read it. If you or someone you know is even half interested in exercise or training, this book is a must-have.
2) Bluetooth Headphones– 79.99 +

Everybody likes to listen to their own jams when training, but sometimes those headphone wires get tangled or caught in various moving body segments. Enter Bluetooth headphones! No need to carry your phone/iPod on you while working out anymore. It can be pretty far away from you while you’re training and still get Bluetooth reception (although how far remains yet to be seen). These things are super handy when squatting and deadlifting where a MP3 player or headphone cords would definitely be in the way. Check these out!