GUIDE TO YOUR GYM BAG
You don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment to get fit and strong. In fact, in a lot of cases, unnecessary kit is nothing more than. That being said, there are several gym bag essentials that may help make your workouts even more productive.
Gym towels have many uses, from mopping up sweat to makeshift exercise mats for abs training. You can even use them to make thick bars for grip training. Most importantly, they provide a barrier between your body and the bench on which you are laying. Using a towel protects you from the germs and bacteria already on the bench, and also stops your own germs and bacteria from spreading. Make the gym a more hygienic place by always using a workout towel.
Chalk helps soak up sweat and prevent your grip from slipping. For pull-ups, deadlifts, rows, and curls, it's all-but-essential. You could wear weight training gloves, but then you'd miss out on the satisfaction of building the strong, callused hands that are badges of honor for hardcore lifters!
There is a big difference between wrist wraps and wrist straps. Wrist wraps help support your wrists when you lift heavy weights. Wrist straps are a grip aid for people with weak hands. Use the former and ditch the latter. Wrist wraps can help protect you from injury while wrist straps just make you weaker.
Neoprene or elasticated cotton knee sleeves provide your knees with support and keep them warm. As young knees turn into middle-aged and then old knees, you will appreciate the protective effect of knee sleeves, especially during heavy squats and leg presses. Even if you don’t have knee pain, wearing knee sleeves may prevent it.
Whatever workout you do at the gym, a timer is a must. You could use a timer app on your phone, but that's just an extra distraction you don't need. Leave your phone in your locker – gym time is YOU time; do not disturb.
You can use your timer for interval training, to time your rest between sets, for density training workouts, or for every minute on the minute (EMOM) sets.
Perfect for warming up, interval training, or quick bouts of cardio between sets or exercises, a jump rope is a gym bag essential. Most gyms have them, but they’ll probably be tangled and the wrong length. Your own, properly adjusted, tangle-free jump rope will be a joy to use.
Used properly, a lifting belt can protect you from injury while increasing how much weight you can lift. It's beyond the scope of this short article to tell you how to use a belt but, suffice it to say, you don't just buckle it up and forget about it. If you use a belt, make sure it takes pride of place in your gym bag. No item of equipment will have such a significant impact on your performance.
Music player and headphones
If you want to get great results from your workouts, you need to be able to tap into your inner strength and get “into the zone.” If you are distracted, you may find that you simply cannot create the right mindset for a productive workout.
Seal yourself away in your own personal training bubble by using an music player paired with headphones. The music will motivate you and wearing headphones is a good sign to other gym users that you are there to work and not to talk.
You could rely on the water fountain to stay on top of your hydration requirements, but that's a workout interruption waiting to happen. Rehydrate in peace by taking a water bottle to the gym. Buy a reusable stainless-steel bottle and fill it with filtered water from home. It's better for the environment and better for you than water in plastic bottles.
You can use resistance bands for stretching, to make exercises harder, or to make them easier. They take up next-to-no space, so there is no reason not to keep a few in your gym bag. You can also use them for things like band pull-aparts and shoulder external rotations so you can stay on top of your pre-hab and rehab between sets.