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New Training Equipment & Gear For 2017

New Fitness Gear 2017

This is one of my ‘just in case you missed it’ articles where I highlight a handful of the more notable new training releases of the past couple months. If you’ve recently stumbled across a new strength training product that you found especially interesting and useful for a garage gym and it’s not listed here, feel free to share it in the comments. Enjoy!

NOBULL Lifters – Men’s WL Shoes

NOBULL Men's Lifters - Premium Olympic WL Shoes

Do you think Adipowers and Romaleos are pricey at $199 a pair? Would you still own a pair if they were $299? I ask this because $299 is exactly what it costs to own a pair of the new NOBULL Lifters, but are they worth the extra bill?

I actually don’t know yet, but I do know that they have a lot going for them. Each pair is handmade by skilled cordwainers with high-quality, top grain leather. They have an 18.5 mm stacked leather heel (individually cut layers that are waxed, buffed, finished, and bonded), a leather metatarsal strap for a secure, locked-in fit, and even a molded, removable sock liner. Of course they also happen to be about the classiest looking training shoes on the market, and they’ll definitely turn some heads.


The fact that these WL shoes are made one pair at a time by hand does a lot to explain the higher price. Still though, I think that the majority of us are going to want to see a few reviews come in before actually pulling the trigger on three-bill WL shoes. Handmade and stylish is great and all, but comfort and performance on the platform is still what ultimately matters.

The Rogue Curl Bar

The new Rogue Curl Bar - or EZ Bar

Every once in a while Rogue Fitness releases a product that is so instantly popular that it not only sells out immediately, but it also continues to sell out week after week as new batches are released for purchase. The new Rogue Curl Bar turned out to be one of these products. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.

The curl bar is actually a very versatile piece of equipment. Think about it – it’s a relatively affordable bar that can completely train two out of your four extremities. Biceps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, and even the upper back can be thoroughly trained with the “EZ” bar. Small wonder that just about all gyms; be it commercial or home-based; have at least one loadable curl bar.

The new Rogue EZ Curl Bar

The Rogue Curl Bar has real bushings and knurling.

So what makes Rogue’s curl bar more desirable than the rest? Easy – it’s a real bar. Rather than being hollow tube steel with bolted on sleeves and a flaky, decorative chrome finish, the Rogue Curl Bar is solid steel bar with real ‘Ohio Bar’ knurling, bronze bushings, snap rings, and finishes that won’t flake off. In addition to that, the shaft diameter is a familiar 28.5 mm, the weight of the Rogue Curl Bar is an easy to work with 30-pounds, and even the sleeves have more loadable length than most box-store curl bars.

When it comes down to it the Rogue Curl Bar is just a bad ass curl bar, and if I am ever able to actually place an order for one, I’ll give it a thorough review.

Rogue Arm Blaster

Rogue Arm Blaster for isolating biceps during curls

Released alongside the new Rogue Curl Bar, the Rogue Arm Blaster is an accessory for training your primary vanity muscles; your guns. The Arm Blaster’s job is to keep the arms tight and fixed against the body during bicep curls. This promotes good form while isolating the biceps.

This device isn’t a new idea, but as per usual Rogue has improved upon an old school product and given us a couple buying options. You can choose from etched anodized aluminum or powder coated aluminum, and you also have a choice of either leather or nylon straps.

Do you need an Arm Blaster? Probably not – unless you aspire to having the arms of an action figure. $56

American Barbell Cerakote Training Bars

American Barbell Cerakote Training Bar(s)

American Barbell is getting CraZy with the colored Cerakote barbells. First the Mammoth Power Bar was released in Black Graphite, then the dual-marked California Bar in Black Graphite or Prison Pink, and now the Cerakote Training Bar comes in no less than 7 different colors (six colors for 20 kg bars, one for 15 kg).

Under the new Cerakote finish, the American Barbell Cerakote Training Bar is the same as it ever was in terms of specifications. The 28 mm shaft is 190k PSI alloy steel, the chrome finished sleeves rotate on a pair of composite bushings, and the mild knurling has single IWF hash marks. Literally all that’s changed is the finish and the price.

Six Cerakote color choices for the AB Olympic Training Bar

As of right now, the six 20 kg bar color options are Black Graphite, Desert Sand, Bazooka Green, USMC Red, Navy Blue, and Titanium. The 15 kg Training Bar is… you guessed it; pink. All varieties are $295. I’ve already reviewed one of American Barbell’s Cerakote-finished bars, so if you want to get an idea of what to expect in terms of the feel and grip, check out that review here.

Captain America Shield Bumper Plates

Captain America Shield Bumper Plates by Onnit

I don’t know about you, but when I first saw these Captain America Shield plates by Onnit I was just blown away. No bumper plate has ever grabbed my attention like these. How unique. How flashy. How patriotic!

As cool as these Captain America plates are, they really strike me as more of a novelty product than a functional bumper plate. They are 467 mm in diameter which is almost 2 cm larger than all other bumper plates (making them incompatible with your existing plates). Their extreme narrowness and loose inserts already make them susceptible to warping, but mix and match these with real bumpers for the snatch, deadlift, or clean and you’ll destroy them that much faster. The worst thing is that despite all the shortcomings, they still cost as much as full competition discs.

R Echo Trainer 2.0 Captain A
 45-lb pair price $115 $245 $289
 45-lb width  64 mm 51 mm  29.5 mm
 45-pound diameter  450 mm 450 mm 467 mm
 210-pound set price  $271 $588 $711.85


So while I would never recommend buying these unless all of your lifts are performed in the rack (bench, squat, press, etc), these plates still seemed unique and snazzy enough to warrant sharing in this article. I can also imagine a big enough Marvel fan having at least one pair of these to show off. Plus who knows, maybe version 2 of these will be made to IWF specifications.

BandBell Shorty Bar

The new Bandbell Shorty Bar

The most iconic lift in the world of Strongman training and competition just got a much needed boost! The One-Arm Dumbbell Press, a favorite among great strongmen of the past like Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson, worked the shoulders, triceps and upper-back, not to mention muscles of the sides, mid-section and lower back. Training this wobbly beast was limited to doing just the lift itself without providing any help to the stabilizing muscles needed to control the pressing movement.

Enter the BandBell Shorty Bar. This little kinetic dynamo provides the Oscillating Kinetic Energy needed to activate and power up the stabilizers so the primary movers can launch with confidence! Add to that its unique Rotating Handle, allowing extra control and leverage, and you’ve got a dynamic dumbbell new to the world of Strongman and strength training.


As you can see in the video, the Shorty Bar is a lot bigger than it looks like in the image. It’s a beast! $129

Rep Straight-Handled Hex Dumbbells

Rep Fitness Straight-Handled Rubber Hex Dumbbells

It’s about time somebody put out a set of rubber hex dumbbells with a fully knurled, straight handle instead of the typical “ergonomic” handles with only a partial knurl. Yes, Rogue has their Urethane Dumbbells which also features a straight, fully knurled handle, but they are commercial-grade dumbbells and they cost about three times what these new Rep Hex Dumbbells cost. Not exactly ideal for a garage gym setting.

Rep’s new Rubber Hex Dumbbells are available in five pound increments from 5 to 125 pounds. Standard dumbbell sets are available for purchase (5-50, 5-100, 105-125, etc) and so are pairs; though pairs have not been available for months due to high demand. Handle diameter is 28 mm for units up to 15-pounds, then it becomes 34 mm on units 20-pounds and up. The heads are supposedly welded which means you shouldn’t end up with them spinning off like they do with cheap hex units (CAP, for instance), and they have a lifetime warranty for home use.

Obviously buying full dumbbell sets for a home or garage gym isn’t usually the best use of funds when you consider what even a good pair of adjustable dumbbells can be had for, but there are a few dumbbell pairs so commonly used that it’s nice to have those pairs around as normal, fixed dumbbells for easy access. Of course there are also some folks who just prefer only having fixed dumbbells, and these Rep dumbbells seem like a great, new option.

They’re not new, but…

Vulcan Alpha Bumper Plates are now in stock

I’ve been advised that Vulcan Alpha Bumpers are finally in stock and available to order (website still shows pre-order notice, but that should be gone within the week). No more pre-ordering, no more month+ delays. If you’ve been holding out for them, now’s the time.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Bryce March 11, 2017, 2:18 pm

    Hi Rick!
    The NoBull Iifters are not wood. The heel is stacked weather. These are a very interesting premium product. It’s totally cool that you’re not interested in premium products but it’s very worthy of inclusion.

  • Jake March 11, 2017, 3:04 pm

    Not trying to justify these plates in any way, they’re absolutely ridiculous, and the sizing seems like it would be a real problem, but they ARE urethane plates. The 45s are actually slightly cheaper than what you would pay for American Barbell’s urethane plates. So, there’s that.

    • jburgeson March 11, 2017, 4:03 pm

      Urethane was probably only used for these plates because achieving that kind of color variation and detail on rubber would have been a nightmare, if not impossible without just painting them. Urethane is ideal for this kind of product because it can basically be printed on and it will never fade or flake, I don’t think it was chosen for any performance or durability reasons.

  • Tony March 11, 2017, 7:55 pm

    I noticed you mention the straight knurled handles of the Rogue Hex Dumbells as an advantage. What do you like about a straight bar version over the erg handles that you see on most other hex dumbells?


    • jburgeson March 12, 2017, 11:24 am

      I guess it’s really more of a preference. A consistent shaft diameter just feels better to me, especially when it’s knurled like a real bar rather than the on-and-off again knurl pattern of the ergo handles. I didn’t really mean for it to sound like straight handles had a quantifiable advantage, I just think they feel better. Would I replace ergo handled dumbbells if there was nothing else wrong with them? Definitely not.

  • Tony March 11, 2017, 8:06 pm

    Also, the No Bull lifters are gorgeous. I’d want to be pretty damn strong though to rock such nice lifting shoes.

  • Bruce May 29, 2017, 1:27 am

    What are your thoughts on the Rogue EZ curl bar versus the stainless steel one by American Barbell? https://americanbarbell.com/products/american-barbell-ss-ez-curl-gym-bar
    Both are currently sold out.

    • jburgeson May 29, 2017, 12:01 pm

      I think both are great bars, and neither would ever need to be replaced. Obviously the Rogue Curl is sold for a much more reasonable price. The American Barbell is basically 50% more cash than Rogue’s, and $100 is hard to ignore. You are getting stainless for that extra $100, but it is a curl bar after all. Some will pay for that premium, others will not. Both have the same loadable sleeves length, both have real bushings, and I guess technically the Rogue is easier to do math with being that the weight is a nice round number (versus 31 lbs. of the AB.)

      End of the day, finish aside, I think it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other because both of these companies produce great bars, and both of these are literally miles ahead of those box-store curl bars (CAP, Troy, Marcy, etc) in terms of overall feel, performance, and durability.

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