Little known fact .. the secret to never ending gains lies in the contents of your gym bag! OK maybe not, but a properly loaded gym bag, with all the essentials is going to help you fly through your workouts more effectively, stay in the zone and will help you work through some common issues. Today I’ll walk you through mine and we’ll go over some of the things you should make sure that you have in yours.
Now I do tend to carry my life around with me in my gym bag. Maybe a little over prepared, but it’s better than the opposite. Today I’ve broken down things if you categories and I wanna get started with the most important one:
These are the things designed to make a lifting a little bit more comfortable or perhaps easier and give you additional options for exercises. So lifting straps when ever you have to pull or hold a heavy weight for a long period of time, lifting straps ensure that your grip won’t be the weak link, and you can focus on the target muscles that you’re actually trying to hit, this would include almost any exercise for the back as well as deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, shrugs, etc.
Now I’m not advocating that you avoid training your grip altogether, but don’t do it at the expense of another muscle group. A product like Versa Gripps also does the same thing so that is simpler and easier to use.
Wrist wraps. These are intended to be cinched up nice and tight to support the wrist while it’s bearing an axial compressive load in the flexed position – big words ! – such as on a bench press or shoulder press, so if you feel a little discomfort or instability with the wrist, these will help.
Knee wraps are great for providing support for compound movements like squats or leg press, especially when going heavy. Don’t wrap it super tight, just nice and snug, so the knee still has to stabilize itself to some degree. These are far more effective than sleeves typically.
Ankle cuffs. Some gyms have these, but seriously, this is not an item you want to be sharing with tons of people – gross!! This wraps around your ankle and allows you to clip into a cable system, for things like kickbacks, hamstring curls, adductor and abductor work as well.
Belt. I’m not a big fan or an advocate of lifting belts, in most situations, but a quality belt does have its uses – especially for anyone who’s experienced a back issue previously. That being said, it’s really just a device that helps you to queue and control your breathing, and you can accomplish much of that without using the belt.
A dangerous category. We don’t want to be distracted, but we do want to have some creature comforts with us, such as a music player. I highly, highly recommend a music player other than your primary phone, like my old phone that has no cellular data service. I throw my working phone into the bottom of my bag and lose it for the duration of my workout. A separate music player will allow you to shift gears musically, during your workout, without being distracted by notifications or pop-ups on your primary phone.
Headphones. I recommend Bluetooth headphones so you don’t have to keep your music player in your pocket – and the lack of a cord also keeps a very common physical distraction out of the way. How many times have you caught a dumbbell on your headphone cord mid rep? Or is that just me? Happened all the time! I prefer the huge over-the-ear cans, simply because my gym plays really loud music, and the ear buds just cannot drown it out effectively.
Back up headphones. In case your Bluetooth set loses its charge mid workout, keep a back up pair of headphones to prevent you from having to listen to the gyms horrible music and to keep random people from thinking it’s OK to come up and talk to you.
Lastly, heart rate monitor. Fit bit etc. I don’t wear one of these, because what I’m lifting, I could care less how many calories I burn, but I know it’s a curiosity a lot of people like to work with, and I won’t stop you.
Now clearly you don’t need to pack your entire kitchen with you, but a few things will help keep you performing optimally.
Pre-workout. Now this is optional. I take one. I load up my bag first thing in the morning, so I throw a shaker cup with my pre-workout in there, and chug it on the way to the gym.
Intro workout fluids. Get a gallon jug, fill it up with 40 to 60 ounces of water, and throw in your intro workout supplement cocktail – maybe just some glutamine and creatine, BCAAs, perhaps some carbs, depending on what phase of your diet you’re in as well.
Post workout meal. I recommend taking this with you, so you don’t have to come home immediately after lifting, and you can start chowing down or chugging your shake immediately. If you need a microwave to warm something up and just get friendly with the gym staff, and if they don’t have one that’s available for public use, see if they will let you use the one they have available for employees.
Now please, for the love of God, don’t be that dude who carries his 5 pound tub of protein around his gym bag. Throw your two scoops or whatever in a dry shaker cup, take that, add water, and leave the big stuff at home.
And a few extra things. A couple of other little things that round out the goodies that I consider essential.
First, a towel. Seriously, do everyone else in your gym a giant favor, and always bring a towel with you. Wipe down your benches when you’re done, to prevent other people in the gym from wanting to throw up! Everyone’s there to work hard, and get a little dirty, but in that context, be as clean as you can be.
A log book. Bodybuilding is all about progressive overload so logging your sessions, in detail, is definitely a good habit to get into. I certainly prefer a pen and paper approach, rather than using an app, to allow me to track whatever additional variables that I think are appropriate.
Eye protection. For the tanning bed. A seasonal thing for me.
And most importantly:
Tape measure. This is obviously the most important thing in your bag. Kinda kidding, but really – this is to measure your post workout pump, and help you determine if it’s safe to call your workout over! If you’ve measured those guns before at 19 inches before, and now they’re only 18 1/2, clearly, get back into the gym, you’ve got more work to do!
Well, after reading what I carry around every day, hopefully you’ve either been convinced of how essential it is to carry a gym bag with you in the first place, or you’ve picked up a few ideas of things that you can add to yours.