Have you ever gotten to the gym and realized you forgot your iPod or your weight belt? How frustrating is that!!
The best way to keep organized and to ensure that you have everything you need for your workout every time you hit the gym is to keep everything in a gym bag. You don’t want it to become a cluttered garbage pit, but you certainly want everything you need in one place. Here is a list of the items we would consider essential for any gym bag.
- Training Log– an absolute must in my opinion. Keeping a log, whether it be in a notebook, a sheet of paper, a card, or even a phone app, is an invaluable tool in the gym. Use it to track your workouts and progress from week to week. However you set it up, be sure to include the date, each exercise, the number of sets and reps you did, as well as the weight used. It takes the guess work out of trying to remember what you did the previous workout, and gives you a clear focus for what you want to accomplish this workout. It may be one more rep, or adding 5 more pounds, but it gives you an in your face visual of what you did and what you want to do!
What’s in Your Gym Bag
- Dipping Chain/Belt– there are commercial versions you can buy, or make your own, like I did. The dipping belt is a way to add weight to exercises like dips and pull ups where you are able to handle your bodyweight and want to add more weight.
- iPod/mp3 Player– I put this on the list simply as an extra. For some people, myself included, using an mp3 player is a great way to block out any distractions in the gym and focus on your own workout. It doesn’t need to be turned up full blast so you are blowing out your eardrums, but loud enough to block out the surrounding noises in the gym. Plus load it with your own playlist and it can provide extra focus for whatever workout you do.
- Lifting Gloves– we don’t use them, but obviously they belong in your gym bag if you chose to use them
- Membership Card – you won’t make it past the front door without it!
**The following 3 tools should only be used for your heaviest work. On your lighter sets let your muscles bear the brunt of the weight and help strengthen overall areas. For example, not using straps for every set will help strengthen your grip. Using straps on your heaviest set only will enable you to squeak out another rep or two where your grip would otherwise fail first.
- Weight Belt– this is a tool, not a fashion accessory. You have probably seen people who wear their weight belt for an entire workout, but this is not the purpose of the belt. A weight belt should be used only during your heaviest sets to aid in supporting your core muscles.
- Lifting Straps– these are used to aid in holding on to the bar, or dumbbell, on exercises where your grip may give out before the working muscle group. Straps are great to use with back exercises such as rows (barbell, dumbbell, pulley), lat pull downs, shrugs (barbell and dumbbell) and dead lifts.
- Knee Wraps– some people will use these on their heaviest sets of squats and leg presses. It is not uncommon to see powerlifters and strongmen using knee wraps.