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If you've been performing any variation of the squat (with a full range of motion, of course), you probably noticed that the exercise itself will put some strain on whatever pants or shorts you're wearing. You may soon realize that your favorite pair of workout shorts are not designed for the repetitive stretching from squatting, especially if you’re squatting with a wide stance going as low as you can possibly go. Doing this consistently over time, you’ll be stronger, and your butt and legs will get larger, doing no favors for your beloved shorts.

Sooner or later you’ll end up with something like this:

PA120498[1]

I’ve encountered the problem with ripped shorts from squatting on more than one occasion, and since then I’ve been looking for the ultimate squat shorts that can tolerate the stress of a wide-stanced, below parallel squat (along with a narrower, ass-to-ankles squats).

Something that is stretchy, won’t rip, and looks good.

I’ve wore compression shorts before, but I’m not going to be wearing it by itself in a large public gym anytime soon.

I’ve tried Under Armour shorts as well. They’re stretchy, but you can see through the fabric if you look carefully.

I purchased board shorts in the past, and I remember the material being very stiff and not designed for any serious leg-spreading movements like the squat. However, I came across some “Flex” board shorts made by Better Bodies which have a stretchy piece of fabric in the crotch. The stretchy fabric in the crotch of these shorts seemed like it would be the solution to my problems, so I picked up a pair to test them out.

Flex Board Shorts

Here’s what they look like:

Front View

board-shorts (1)

Back View

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Close Up Of The Back

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Inside-Out View

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Side Slits

Slits in the side of the shorts to allow for greater freedom of movement.

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How These Board Shorts Hold Up In Real World Tests

I tested these shorts out with 3 squat variations: Front squat, high bar squat and low bar squat.

When I squat, I tend to go as low as my stance permits me to. This usually means an ass-to-uncut-grass squat.

Here they are below:

Front Squat

No problems.

High Bar Squat

Again, no problems.

Low Bar Squat

For a low bar squat, I use a very wide stance which can be very stressful on the shorts, especially at the crotch.

The back of the shorts are subject to a lot of stress as well, so I figured I'd go for an ass-view on the low bar squat, to capture any potential ripping of the shorts at the bottom of the movement. Fortunately for me and everyone else, this did not happen. These Flex board shorts held up pretty well.

board-shorts-squat

And the best part is, this squat was a 1 rep max!

The shorts were comfortable and did not restrict movement. The stretchy fabric at the crotch removes the risk of ripping your shorts at the bottom of the squat (at least, in the crotch).

Lastly, these shorts were not susceptible to squat wedgies.

Pro’s

Functional for squatting. Won’t rip in the crotch.

Con’s

They’re too damn long for my tastes. Personally, I would rather have shorter shorts for more freedom of movement, and to show off my quads. I’m not a men’s physique competitor, so I don’t need to hide my legs.

Also, even though there’s stretchy fabric in the crotch, the “ass” part of the shorts are not stretchy. Even though it didn’t rip in the back during my tests, I’m not sure how it would hold up in the future. Only time will tell.

Overall, I would recommend these shorts to anyone who wants to avoid the distraction and despair of ripping their shorts in the middle of a squat workout.

The first time I saw the Vibram Five Finger shoes, I thought they looked friggin’ weird as hell.

I mean, shoes that look like feet (or glove shoes) looks pretty damn strange.

But when you think about it, “toed shoes” like the Vibram FiveFingers resemble a human foot more than normal shoes do, so it should look less strange that it actually does.

vibram-fivefingers-weird

Wearing gloves on your hands compared to wearing mittens, doesn’t look very strange, but wearing toed shoes on your feet compared to wearing regular non-toed shoes doesn’t have the same effect.

They remind me of those shoes that ninjas wear (Jika-Tabi) which have a split toe design, separating the big toe from the rest of the other toes, like this:

jika-tabi-ninja-shoes

But the VFF takes it to a whole other level by separating all the toes.

I even thought the name was dumb. I mean, it’s 5 TOES we have on each foot, not 5 fingers! That’s like calling gloves Five Toe Gloves. Doesn’t make sense man!

Anyway, because they were marketed towards the barefoot running crowd, and I don’t run, I pretty much dismissed Vibram FiveFingers. That is, until I saw UFC heavyweight champ Cain Valesquez wear them while training during a fight promo video.

That’s when I thought,

“I should get some toed shoes to hit the heavy bag”.

It seemed to make perfect sense to wear barefoot shoes for something that’s normally done barefoot, such as martial arts training, namely kicking a bag or pads.

I used to do most of my martial arts training while barefoot, and the problem with a Thai style roundhouse kick (or swing kick or whatever you want to call it) is that the rotation on the pivoting foot from kick after kick usually leads to blisters and torn skin, especially when the calluses on the foot has not been built up.

Also, I have tried hitting my heavy bag while barefoot down in my basement home gym, and there’s something about my rubber mats that rubs off on the bottom of my feet making them all black. It’s difficult to clean off, and it leaves a mess on the bathtub.

The Vibram 5 Finger shoes looked to be the solution I was looking for the combined the feel of being barefoot during martial arts training, along with the protection it provided to the bottom of my feet in preventing blisters.

On top of that, the thickness of the soles are thin, so it would make for good deadlifting shoes as well.

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I decided to go with the Vibram FiveFinger KSO, because I didn’t need the aggressive tread on the bottom of the shoe like on some of the other models, and it looked as though the KSO model would work best for martial arts training.

vibram-fivefingers-KSO-review (1)

Vibram Five Fingers Sizing

I found the best deal online for these shoes, but the problem with buying shoes (or any other piece of clothing) is finding the right size. It’s especially difficult with Vibrams because their sizing are not the normal US sizing that I’m accustomed to.

I made the mistake the first time when ordering Vibrams by just going with their sizing guide.

Initially, I ordered a size that fit my feet lengthwise. However, I have wide, meaty, flat feet and the Vibrams I ordered were way too tight. It looked like my foot was bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, Vibrams do not make wide FiveFinger shoes for us wide-feet folks.

At this point I had to either return the shoes for a refund, or exchange for a different size.

Well, I went to the mall to try out another size of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO shoes, just to make sure they would fit properly.

This is something I should have done in the first place!

Turns out the “M42” size fits better width-wise, but it was a little long at the heel.

vibram-fivefingers-KSO-review (11)

Overall, it was a better fit than the M41’s I had ordered, so I opted for an exchange.

A perfect size for me would probably be a M41 or M41 ½ WIDE. But apparently Vibram does not make wide or half sized FiveFinger shoes.

Five Toe Socks

I’ve read that you’re supposed to wear the Vibram 5 Finger shoes barefoot. But I’ve also read that they’ll stink up pretty bad requiring you to wash them in the laundry on a regular basis.

Wearing Vibram FiveFinger shoes barefoot really never made sense to me, and it seems like a huge pain in the ass having to deal with smelly shoes and having to wash them all the time. So right from the beginning I ordered some toe socks (Five Finger socks?) to go along with these toed shoes.

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That way, most of the sweat will be absorbed by the socks, and I just have to wash the socks and not the shoes.

I purchased the toe socks from eBay. You can find them being sold from overseas for cheap...and often with free shipping!


6 Pairs Men's Pure Cotton Toe Low Cut Socks Breathable Sports  Five Finger Socks
6 Pairs Men's Pure Cotton Toe Low Cut Socks Breathable Sports Five Finger Socks
$13.29
End Date: Sunday Mar-26-2017 0:00:39 PDT
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Lot of 6 Pairs Mens Low-Cut Toe Socks
Lot of 6 Pairs Mens Low-Cut Toe Socks "Skin contact surface is 100% cotton"
$19.78
End Date: Sunday Mar-26-2017 2:43:51 PDT
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6 Pairs Lot Mens Low-Cut Toe Socks
6 Pairs Lot Mens Low-Cut Toe Socks "Skin contact surface is 100% cotton" M08-02
$19.78
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Mens Cotton Toe Five Finger Socks Solid Sports Breathable Low Cut Ankle Socks
Mens Cotton Toe Five Finger Socks Solid Sports Breathable Low Cut Ankle Socks
$1.91
End Date: Sunday Mar-26-2017 2:59:18 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $1.91

1 Pair Mens Cotton Five Finger Toe Casual Fashion Ankle Sports Low Cut Socks
1 Pair Mens Cotton Five Finger Toe Casual Fashion Ankle Sports Low Cut Socks
$1.87
End Date: Sunday Mar-26-2017 3:01:10 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $1.87

New Men Cotton Breathable Five Finger Toe Socks Men's Casual Sports Ankle Socks
New Men Cotton Breathable Five Finger Toe Socks Men's Casual Sports Ankle Socks
$0.99
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Buy It Now for only: $0.99

Injinji socks are sold on the Vibram website, and seem to be a higher quality and popular on Amazon. A bit pricey though.

Training With Five Finger Shoes

Vibram markets these shoes for barefoot running, often citing the benefits of running barefoot over the traditional running shoe.

Personally, I don’t do any running at all, so I can’t comment on how these minimalist toe shoes are for running.

I do use them for other forms of training, which I think they’re very well suited: martial arts training, and deadlifting. I’ve also included some notes on wearing VFF while jumping rope and squatting, because those are the other exercises I’ve tried while wearing these shoes.

Martial Arts Training

I wear Five Fingers primarily to hit the heavy bag.

I also have some experience training in Muay Thai Kickboxing (only the training, no fighting), so most of my techniques are based on the science of 8 limbs.

Even though these shoes are “grippy”, I have no problems pivoting on the ball of my foot during a swing kick. Also, because Vibrams are “grippy”, they don’t slip when I plant my foot on the ground and launch a punch or knee or some other strike.

I usually make contact with my shins on the heavy bag, but occasionally I’ll misjudge the distance I am from the bag and end up hitting it with my foot.

Even though there is a Velcro strap on top of the shoes, they don’t bother me at all when I land a kick to the bag with my foot. I suspect that some other models of the Vibram Five Fingers that have laces instead of Velcro would pose more problems, because the impact of the foot on the heavy bag could cause the laces do dig into the top of the foot.

Pivoting during kicks will wear down some of the rubber on the bottom of the shoe, but not much. As you can see from the pictures below, there’s some noticeable wear on the ball of the foot and big toe area:

vibram-fivefingers-KSO-review (2)

The weight of the Vibram Five Fingers are very light, so it almost feels like I’m kicking the bag without shoes. I’ve worn wrestling shoes for Muay Thai training before, and they end up feeling like a heavy boot after multiple rounds of kicks.

The top of the straps are showing noticeable wear-and-tear from my foot making impact on the bag. It’s mostly on the left side, which probably means that I have better aim with my right leg when it comes to making shin contact with the punching bag compared to my left leg.

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I haven’t used these for sparring or partner drills, but I think that the Velcro on top of the VFF KSO will scratch the skin off of your training partner. The Vibram Classics or the Vibram EL-X may be better when it comes to not scratching people with the Velcro hooks.

I’m surprised Vibram haven’t launched a full scale marketing campaign and specialty shoes targeting martial artists and wanna-be-tough-guys on how well their shoes work for martial arts training, especially with the increasing popular of mixed martial arts.

As far as grappling/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is concerned, I’m not sure how well these shoes work because I don’t do BJJ. But I've heard Eddie Bravo speak highly of Vibram Five Fingers and seen him demonstrate a few submissions in this video:

Jump Rope

Even though these are essentially barefoot shoes, they don’t feel or function 100% like being barefoot.

Case in point, skipping, or jumping rope.

I find that wearing the Vibrams FF while jumping rope, the rope ends up getting caught in between where my baby toe and...the ring finger toe...is. Usually when I jump rope with my bare feet, I don’t have this issue.

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I think the reason why this is happening is because while wearing the toed shoes, the toes are actually spread further apart than being barefoot. Meaning, the pinking toe is spread out wider, and there is a bigger gap in between toes, so the chances of a thin rope like the Rogue SR-1 skipping rope is more likely to be caught while skipping.

For jumping rope, I prefer my wrestling shoes simply because I don’t have to deal with the interruptions of a rope being caught in between my toes every so often.

Squat

I don’t normally squat with the VFF, but for this review, I decided to try it out.

Here I am low bar squatting 500 lb (no belt PR!) in Vibram FiveFingers KSO:

For the low bar squat, it feels great. Better than Chuck Taylors, but not as good as the Nike Romaleos 2.

I ran into problems when I tried high bar and front squatting with Vibram FF’s. I like to go rock bottom when it comes to high bar and front squats (hamstrings to calves if possible), and I could feel my heel come off the ground when I was in the hole.

Overall, for squatting purposes, I like Vibram Five Fingers better than the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes.

However, I prefer the elevated heel of a weightlifting shoe to help me get depth during the squat. Also, I find that I’m way more stable in weightlifting shoes than Vibrams FF when it comes to having a heavy barbell on my back during the squat.

Deadlift

Even a Huge Jacked Man deadlifts in Vibrams FiveFingers!


These are my favorite shoes for deadlifts, and I have set a few PR’s wearing these toed shoes. Here’s one of them:

I actually prefer these over those cheap Titan deadlifting slippers and wrestling shoes that I have. I think I have hit PRs wearing wrestling shoes, but that’s mostly because I don’t have as many toe socks compared to regular socks. VFF feel more stable during the deadlift for some reason. It could be because with the Five Fingers, the toes are spread apart instead of squished together inside of a slipper or shoe, allowing me to use to toes to help keep me balanced.

I’m almost inclined to say that they feel like you’re deadlifting barefoot, but I haven’t actually done this.

By the way, I don’t understand why some people lift weights barefoot. It’s dangerous! You’re handing heavy objects, and if they drop on your foot or toe accidentally, you might get injured. I remember one time someone at a gym I used to go to always trained barefoot. One day, while moving a 25 lb plate, it slipped out of his hands and dropped onto his foot. Ended up breaking his foot and was out of the gym for a few months.

Anyway, another reason why they work well for deadlifting due to the thickness of the soles.

The thickness of the Vibram KSO’s works out to be about 6mm (2mm EVA insole and ~4mm rubber sole), meaning you are essentially doing a 6mm (or around 0.24”) deficit deadlift wearing these shoes. Not taking into account any compression, it’s really nothing.

Some people deadlift (conventional) in the ever popular Chuck Taylor All Star shoes (which was originally a BASKETBALL SHOE), even when attempting a PR and/or in a powerlifting meet.

The thing is, with the deadlift, the close you are to the ground, the better. The Chucks have a sole thickness of about ¾”. If you think about it, deadlifting if Chucks is essentially doing a 0.75” deficit deadlift.

I can understand wearing shoes with a thick sole during training to create the effect of a slight deficit during deadlift without having to stand on anything but the ground, however, in competition or just going for a PR, it’s best to get all the advantage you can get, and a thin soled shoe is the best option.

You can read more about people deadlifting in shoes here.

Bottom Line

The Vibram Five Fingers KSO are great for martial arts training, particularly for striking, and they are my favorite shoes for the deadlift.

Low bar squats works well with the Vibram FF, but high bar and front squats require a shoe with an elevated heel in order to get depth without having the heel come off the floor (at least for me). Overall, I like them better than Chuck Taylors, but they're no match for Nike Romaleos 2 weightlifting shoe when it comes to squatting.

I don’t do any running, so I can’t personally comment on how these five toed minimalist shoes work for that activity. If you are interested in how VFF are for running, I suggest you check out the reviews here (which seem to be written by mostly runners).

If you’re going to order these toed shoes online, be sure to try them out in store first to determine the right size and not have to deal with the hassle of exchanging them like I did!

Vibram FiveFingers do look strange and you’ll probably get more weird stares and under-the-breath comments from people, but if you focus on the functionality, comfort and performance of the shoe rather than how they look, you’ll find that wearing Vibram FiveFingers for certain exercises and activities well worth the risk of ridicule.

To paraphrase Bruce Lee’s famous quote:

Don’t concentrate on the FiveFingers or you will miss all that heavenly glory.

bruce-lee-meme

I used to suffer from “golfer’s elbow” (I don’t play golf), probably from a combination low bar squats and bench presses with a convention grip.

golfers-elbow

This elbow pain made low bar squatting unpleasant, and it wasn’t exactly fun while performing other activities such as curls, chin ups, pull ups, overhead presses and bench presses. All of which are the primary exercises I perform most of the time!

To deal with the pain, I have tried ibuprofen, adjusting my hand/arm/elbow position during the squat and adjusting my grip width for the bench (this was before I used the reverse grip).

But after watching a video by Glenn Pendlay titled “tendonitis cure”, I decided to buy myself a rubber bicycle inner tube and try it out myself.

Here’s the video:

By the way, don’t you think he looks a little bit like Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Especially the Riker from Borg-overrun parallel universe in the episode “Parallels”:

parallel-universe-Riker

Anyway, getting back on topic, I bought a bicycle inner tube, cut it as instructed in the video above, wrapped up my elbow as tight as I could and started flexing and extending my arm.

bicycle-inner-tube

After I took it off, I felt no more pain…it worked!

I did this for a couple of weeks prior to my workouts, but there were a few issues with the rubber tubing solution.

The bicycle inner tube was it a pain in the ass to put it on by myself. It was pretty stiff, and the inner tube that I purchased was too short (it was on sale for a dollar, which is why I got it). Plus, it stunk like a rubber tire!

I made the decision to get the Rogue Voodoo Floss bands after experiencing how effective this “wrapping some rubber band around your elbow” is for eliminating elbow pain, and getting fed up with how difficult it was to wrap this short bicycle inner tube by myself.

At the time, I got the regular, black Voodoo Floss bands, but now they have a thicker version in red called the Voodoo X bands. They’re the same length and width as the original, but provide even more compression.

Rogue Voodoo Floss Bands

When I first opened up the package, I noticed a nice pleasant smell. Maybe my sense of smell is screwed up, but it smelled like bananas, or something fruity and edible. It did not smell like rubber to me.

It’s made in Srilanka out of natural latex rubber.

Here’s what it looks like in and out of the packaging:

 Voodoo Floss Band (1)

 Voodoo Floss Band (2)

 Voodoo Floss Band (3)

 Voodoo Floss Band (4)

They come in pairs, and are 7’ long, 2’ wide and can stretch to 150% it’s length. It says 17’ on the piece of paper that came with the bands, but according to my calculations, 150% of 7’ is 10’ 6”.

There’s also a 28’ long version of the Voodoo Floss bands for those who want to cut their own lengths.

Compared to the rubber bicycle inner tube, the Voodoo floss bands are much more stretchy and softer in texture which makes it a lot easier to put on.

How To Use It

I’ve only used this on my elbow joint, so I cannot speak about how it works for the knee, ankles and other parts of the body.

Here’s what I do in a nutshell: I put on the bands by myself, making sure to wrap it really tight, and flex and extend my elbow multiple times. After about 30 seconds to 1 minute, I take off the wraps.

Rogue-Voodoo-Floss-Bands

Here's a bigger picture of my elbow wrapped up:

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And here’s what it looks like when I take them off! The red marks are temporary.

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Below are some videos by Kelly Starrett demonstrating how to use the Voodoo Floss bands in more detail:

Elbows

Patella Femoral Pain

Shoulders

Ankles

How Do Voodoo Floss Bands Work?

Papa Shango Voodoo

So this is probably why it’s called “Voodoo”.

I couldn’t find anything solid that explains how the Voodoo Floss bands work, other than a bunch of bro-sciencey sounding stuff.

I’m sure in the future Science will explain how it works, but in the meantime, I’m satisfied that it just works.

When I am preparing to workout and my elbow tendonitis is acting up, I am not concerned with how the Rogue Voodoo Floss bands work. I only care that they work and take away the pain so I can exercise without the golfer’s elbow interrupting my workout.

Alternative Uses: Band Pull Aparts

I don’t experience elbow pain all the time, so I don’t wrap my elbows very often.

However, I do use it before just about every workout as part of my shoulder warmup. I perform band pull-aparts (which I don’t think I have recorded in my training logs) usually after I’m done torturing myself on the Rumble Roller.

come-at-me-bro

I find that performing band pull aparts using the Voodoo Floss bands, followed by some shoulder dislocations prior to low bar squatting has eliminated just about all shoulder pain I used to experience from low bar squats.

Conclusion

The Rogue Voodoo Floss bands is the most effective way that I have come across to take away any elbow pain almost instantly, at least temporarily.

I would say that it’s an essential tool in your toolbox (gym bag or home gym) not only as a something to get rid of nagging joint pain via compression, but also as a shoulder warm up tool through band aparts.

It’s a drug-free way to eliminate pain. I’m not sure if it’s a permanent fix, but it works better and faster than anything else I have tried.

If you’re suffering from elbow pain, but don’t want to fork out $24 for a pair of 7’ long, 2” wide rubber bands, then pick up an inner bike tire and try this method out for yourself.

You’ll probably encounter the same experience I have, that is getting rid of the elbow pain with the inner bike tire, and then getting frustrated with trying to put it on and getting annoyed by the rubbery smell that you’ll eventually reconsider buying the Rogue Voodoo Floss bands.

And don’t take my word for it.

Check out the reviews on Rogue Voodoo Floss bands for yourself and read what other people say about them.

I recently got an email from Jake from Gymboss.com asking if I would like to try out the GymBoss interval timer.

I’m a sucker for free stuff, especially if I know that “stuff” is good, so I said yes! I also told Jake that I would write a review of the Gymboss interval timer, and here it is!

You might think that this will be a glowingly positive review simply because I received this item for free and I’m just returning the favor.

FALSE.

I have owned and used an older version of the GymBoss which I purchased in 2008!

Proof below:

gymboss-receipt

The newer GymBoss interval timers are nearly the same as the old ones, but with a few additional features and a variety of colors and designs to choose from.

The older Gymboss is pictured below, on the left, and the newer on on the right:

IMAG0049

The old version only came in grey (from what I remember), but for the new one, I choose black, because black seems to match with just about anything. It also has a different feel to it. The outer casing feels like some sort of soft rubber. Not sure if this has any function, but it feels nice.

Here’s a closer look at what it looks like:

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I’m not sure why there’s the phone number printed on the bottom of the device. Maybe it’s for technical support or a number to call if I want to order more interval timers?? I don’t know.

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There’s also a REBOOT button (which is not featured on the older version). According to the instructions, it’s for a “malfunctioning or frozen timer”. Handy, but I’ve haven’t come across any issues that required a rebooting.

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It also came with a pamphlet with a few Tabata workouts, and an article on interval training:

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Features

Multiple Alarms & Alarm Durations

There are 2 different types of beeps (BH or beep high, and BL or beep low) along with a vibration alarm.

These can be used in combinations. For example BH or a high pitch beep combined with a vibration for the alarm at the end of the interval. This is good because in a noisy environment, you may not be able to hear the beep, but will feel the vibrations from the alarm.

You can also choose the alarm duration, from 1, 2, 5 or 9 seconds. Personally I use 5 seconds.

Tiny

The Gymboss interval timer is tiny. It measures 1 3/4” x 2 1/4”. Apparently it’s a size of something called a “pager”, whatever that is.

IMAG0055

Stopwatch

The stopwatch is a newer feature on the updated Gymboss that’s not included in the older version.

Clip

The Gymboss has a clip on the back, which is used to attach to your shorts, shirt, armband or whatever else. Personally, I do not do attach the timer to any parts of my clothing. I usually set it on the table, or clip it into the holes of my power rack.

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How To Set It Up

It’s pretty easy. You can follow the instructions written on the back of the Gymboss:

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Or read the “manual” that’s printed on a piece of paper (which was folded up and neatly tucked under the clip that’s on the back of the Gymboss):

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Or watch the video below:

How I Use It

Interval Timer

I mainly use this exercise timer whenever I hit the heavy bag or jump rope. I set the timer to 3 minutes on, and 1 minute off and let it run while I train.

Stop Watch

I also started using the newer Gymboss as a stopwatch to time my rest periods in between sets. Normally I rest for about 3 minutes in between sets before slapping on my belt and wrist wraps and getting under the bar.

Pomodoro Timer

Il_pomodoro[1]

The “Pomodoro technique” is a simple time management system where you use a timer as a tool, and you work on a task for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. After repeating this 4 times, you take a longer break.

It’s a pretty simple and effective technique for overcoming procrastination, getting on task and getting stuff done. Like studying, or writing this review that you’re reading now.

You can read more about the Pomodoro technique here.

The Gymboss interval timer is almost perfect for this. What I do is set the timer so that it is on for 25 minutes before the alarm goes off, and then it counts down for 5 minutes before the alarm goes off again. This is repeated 4 times. After 4 x 25 minutes of “work”, I manually time myself to take a 15-20 minute break before starting up again.

Although it’s not perfect, the Gymboss works a lot better than a kitchen timer!

Other Uses That I Haven’t Tried But Pretty Sure Will Work

  • Kitchen Timer
  • Tabata Intervals (20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times)
  • Various methods of HIIT (high intensity interval training)
  • Alarm to wake you up if you want to nap for X minutes

Stuff I Liked

I really liked that they had the instructions printed on the back of the device! This makes it even easier to operate, especially if, for whatever reason, you stop using the Gymboss and forget how to use it.

I also liked the option vibration feature as one of the alarms.

My hearing sucks, probably due to listening to Michael Jackson on full blast when I was a toddler and standing next to those huge-ass speakers at rave parties when I was at the tail end of my teenage years. I usually have trouble hearing high pitch noises, but thankfully this timer vibrates so I can feel it. Or at the very least, see that it’s moving on the table due to the vibrations.

So it’s nice that a self-diagnosed hearing impaired individual like myself can be alerted at the end of an interval.

Stuff I Wish This Thing Had

My main gripe is that I can’t save any intervals.

For example, as mentioned earlier, I like to work on the heavy bag or jump rope to the interval of 3 minutes on and 1 minute off.

I also use the Pomodoro technique, which is 25 minutes "on" followed by a 5 minute break, repeated 4 times before a longer break.

Every time I want to switch between the two, I have to manually change the timer to the desired intervals. This is a pain in the ass, but luckily now that I have two Gymboss interval timers, I’ll use one for my workouts, and another for work and whatever else.

Update: I recently found out that they have a new product called the “Gymboss Max” and “Gymboss MiniMax”, both of which have the feature to save multiple intervals in it’s memory, and also perform multiple, complex intervals.

Here’s a video showcasing the Gymboss Max:

I’m not sure if they still sell the Gymboss Max because it’s no longer available on their website (at least, that I could tell). It seems to be phased out and replaced by the Gymboss MiniMax.

Also, even though there’s a clip, I think it would have been nice to have a magnet on the back of the clip so I can stick it on my fridge or anything else that’s metal. I’ll probably end up gluing a magnet on by myself.

Conclusion

It’s a simple, durable interval timer that does the job it’s intended to do.

The Gymboss is priced at about $20, which some people might think is expensive for such a small device.

But think about it this way: I got my first GymBoss interval timer almost 5 years ago, and I’m still using it today. The smartphone that I got 5 years ago costs almost 5 times as much, and is now a piece of junk today which I would be surprised if I could sell for $5. $20 for an interval timer that’s used on a regular basis is not so expensive in the long run.

As for the new one, I get the feeling that I’ll be using this GymBoss for a long time. After all, I did use the older GymBoss interval timer since 2008.

I’ll probably use this one more often simply because it has the stopwatch feature that I can use to time my rest periods in between sets.

Anyway, check it out if you’re looking for a solid, standalone interval timer: GymBoss.com

MuscleTech Phase8 Review

March 14, 2013 — 6 Comments

Originally I bought MuscleTech Phase8 whey protein thinking that it was a protein powder, similar to that of Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% whey protein or Dymatize Elite.

Turns out, it’s not.

According to the “supplement facts”, it only contains a little over 60% protein per serving.

It also contains 7 grams of carbohydrates. Something that I wasn’t expecting because I ASSuMEd it was just a “regular” protein powder.

You know, the stuff that has a ~30 g serving size and a 24+ g of protein per serving with 1-3 g of carbs.

It was listed under the category “protein powder”, and all of the protein powder I had bought previously was the regular stuff I just described.

They say that it contains “only half the carbs and fat of the leading competitor”. I’m not sure who or what product they are referring to.

My mistake, and lesson learned: Read the label before buying Annoyed

It seems like it doesn’t fit into any category that I’m aware of. It contains too little carbohydrates to be classified as a meal replacement, post-workout powder or mass gainer. But it contains too much carbs to be a pure protein powder. Maybe there’s some new made-up category that popped up recently that I’m not aware of.

My plan was to take this later after I finish my existing tubs of protein, but since this stuff has more carbs than I expected (probably due to the maltodextrin, the 2nd ingredient listed after it’s protein blend), I’m going to drink MuscleTech Phase8 during my workout.

Anyway, I ended up purchasing 2 jugs of each flavor (strawberry, chocolate and vanilla) for a total of 6 jugs because of some buy 1 get 1 free deal. So now I have 27 lb of this MuscleTech Phase8 powder.

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What I thought was a little weird was that the weight of the protein was not the same for every flavor.

The strawberry is only 4.4 lb, vanilla is 4.5 lb, and milk chocolate is 4.6 lb.

I don’t know if this is the case with every manufacturer, but I thought it was odd.

Ingredients

According to the product description, it contains a protein blend which is listed as:

  • 1. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
  • 2. Whey Protein Isolate
  • 3. Whey Protein Concentrate
  • 4. Milk Protein Concentrate
  • 5. Calcium Caseinate
  • 6. Micellar Casein

Interestingly, the order of the type of protein listed on their product profile is not the same as the order in which they’re listed in the “ingredients” label:

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I wish they would show the quantities or some percentage of each type of protein instead of simply listing it out in a bracket under “protein blend”.

I also want to point out something that caught my eye:

Processed in a facility that also processes wheat, egg, fish and shellfish.

I checked to see if my other protein powders had this, and it did not.

I would be interested to see this facility that processes wheat, egg, fish and shellfish…along with MuscleTech Phase8 powder. Maybe there’s a MuscleTech wheat, egg, fish and shellfish product out there?

Sustained Release Protein

The claim in their marketing is “8-Hour Sustained-Release Protein Absorption”.

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I’m not sure how I can test this out for myself to see if it is true, but I would bet eating a steak and not chewing it thoroughly would provide me with a longer “Sustained-Release Protein Absorption” than an easily digestible protein powder that contains some “Digestive Enzyme Matrix” to help digest it.

Scoop & Serving Size

The scoop is much larger than I’m accustomed to seeing, but it makes sense because the serving size is much larger than average.

The serving size is a whopping 41 g, and it only contains 26 g of protein per serving. See the comparisons below (the MuscleTech scoop is on the right side).

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Mixability

It’s a very fine powder, something similar to that of baby powder. Because of this, MuscleTech Phase8 mixes well, but is a bit messier than other protein powders that I’ve used. It goes everywhere; sticks to my hand and fingers, sticks to the scoop, on the table, on the container and even in the air.

I didn’t bother mixing it in with my coffee, because I did not want to make a big mess and didn’t want the additional carbs first thing in the morning.

Taste

All the flavors are very sweet, and have a slight chemically taste.

Vanilla tasted best, chocolate had an artificial taste to it, and strawberry tasted like strawberry flavored medicine.

Strawberry

    • Smells nice
    • White powder turns pink when you combine it with liquid
    • Taste a bit like medicine
    • Looks like Pepto Bismal

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Chocolate

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Vanilla

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Overall

Because of the buy-1-get-1-free deal for the 4.4 - 4.6 lb tubs (which is no longer available), I suppose 27 lb of MuscleTech Phase8 for $157.11 was alright, even though it only contains about ~62% protein (that’s 16.7 lb of protein) by weight.

That’s still $9.41 per pound of protein if my math is correct.

Would I buy at full price? Nah.

I think the next time I buy protein, I’m just going to go with something cheaper with less carbs, like a 25 lb cube of whey protein from CanadaProtein.

I think if they eliminated the maltodextrin (which seems to me like a cheap filler ingredient…not sure why it’s in there) this would be a better product. But there may be some people out there who want the extra 7 g of carbohydrates coming partially from maltodextrin per serving.

Personally, if I wanted extra carbs, I would just eat a piece of fruit, add an extra scoop of rice to my post-workout meal or something like that.

It does have pretty high ratings from other people though (currently a rating of 9.5/10 from 195 reviews). Although from reading some of the reviews, it looks like MuscleTech themselves sent out free tubs to bb.com members to evaluate.

Personally, I give it a 3 out of 5.