I always wanted to do a post on this since the contents of each person’s gym bag is probably just as unique as the person themselves and could in fact tell you quite a bit about them!
For example, personally, I HATE cardio (everyone who knows me knows that cardio and I do not mix, I rather spend two hours lifting weights than 10 minutes running on the treadmill ) I also hate classes e.g Spin, TRX , Zumba etc. My workout is normally 5% cardio (just to warm up) and 95% weights . As a result, I probably have a bit more equipment than the average female or person for that matter, but every single one serves a very specific purpose and I will go into further detail on each one below. Each of these are very affordably priced , maybe it’s my asian genes but I always look for the best deals and you and you can trust me when I say these are the best “bang for your buck” ,links below each item of where to purchase:
Gloves – Pretty much EVERYONE owns a pair of gloves for the gym, gloves are the most basic gym item that everyone goes out to buy when starting the gym other than sneakers. I actually have 3 pairs of gloves on my gym bag , an old pair, my current pair and a new pair I haven’t worn yet….no idea why I keep all 3 in my bag but anyways….gloves are important, especially when you lift weights, as they protect your hands from the rough surfaces of barbells and dumbbells and allow you to have a better grip on certain machines. If you don’t wear gloves but you lift weights , you are likely to develop corns on your palms , very unflattering. However , if you wear gloves but all you really do in the gym is run on the treadmill for half hour or do a Zumba class, please do NOT wear gloves, you are not fooling anyone…
I bought my gloves on Amazon, here is the link for my current and new ones:
Lifting Straps – These are EXTREMELY important for me when I am lifting “heavy” , they give great support to your wrists and allow you to put more effort and focus into the muscle that you are training rather than in your forearm to lift the weight. The great thing about these as well, is that, the grip that is wrapped around the barbell\dumbbell really helps you have a firm hold on the weight. I normally use these on back day when doing Barbell Deadlifts (above 115lbs) Barbell Rows (above 95lbs) and one armed Dumbbell Rows (above 45lbs) and shrugs (over 95lbs). It’s important to remember to only use these lifting straps when you feel like your wrist or forearm is under alot of pressure otherwise you can learn to become too dependent on them and your wrist can actually become weaker. I have seen girls lift heavy without straps at all in the gym, kudos to them! I definitely don’t think I can do the same (and I’ve tried) , I also have a recurring tendinitis in my forearm so the straps definitely help me out with this issue.
I bought my straps at a store locally, but you can also get them on Amazon here:
Ankle strap – This nifty little piece of equipment is great for leg day!! It is compulsory for cable Donkey Kicks or Kickbacks , cable Hamstring Curls and cable Hip Abduction . All of these exercises are great for your quads, hamstrings and glutes , the good thing about these three exercises are that they really isolate the muscles between your hips and knees and you can feel the muscles working with every rep. The gym sometimes has a “communal” ankle strap that everyone can use, but I recommend you get your own, for hygiene reasons and all =\ . I got mine on Amazon (surprise!!) and I highly recommend it, it’s got great padding and the velcro to secure the strap is very strong , you can check out the link here:
Wrist straps – These are different to lifting straps in that their main purpose is to support your wrist during any type of movement involving your arms. Wrist straps are not padded , but they do keep your wrist in a “solid” and stiff position to help prevent injury , especially if you generally have weak wrists or are prone to injuries . I bought mine locally but they are available on Amazon as well here:
Lifting Belt – Again, like lifting gloves, I use my lifting belt when I am going heavy on back or leg day . Lifting belts are essential for someone like me who has had previous back injuries and as a result, recurring back pain. Lifting belts help to support your lower spine and help maintain proper form when doing exercises like Deadlifts and Squats. The lifting belt is secured tightly around your waist and kind of feels like a corset, please do not mix this up with a waist trainer (I think waist trainers are crap but that’s just my opinion) . Not only do lifting belts help support your back , which in itself is a huge benefit , because believe me, back injuries are the freaking worst, but you also feel like a total badass when wearing one, I generally tend to wear mine once my Deadlifts go above 115lbs or my Squats go above 95lbs . I bought mine on Amazon here:
Ankle Weights – I love these, mine are 5lb weights but they do come in a variety of different weights, I use these on every single leg day and even on ab day! There is no rocket science behind the benefits of using these, they add weight to your legs and hence make the movement that you are doing more difficult than it would normally be since it adds an element of resistance . Even with just 5lb weights you can feel a substantial difference between doing a particular with and without ankle weights. These are also great for a number of exercises that focus on the glutes such as Donkey Kicks, Fire Hydrants , Leg Raises , one legged Hip Thrusts and lateral Leg Raises . Generally, on leg day I keep my ankle weights on for all my exercises including walking lunges, step ups , side squats calf raises etc. as I find they do make my muscles work harder . Naturally everyone assumes that you only use ankle weights on leg day but you can actually use these for a very effective ab workout! The best exercises I have tried and found very effective using ankle weights for an ab workout are Leg Lifts, Leg Lifts with an added pulse up at the top of the movement, hanging Leg Raises and Russian Twists, believe me, try your ab workout with ankle weights on and you will feel a major difference! I bought mine locally but you can find them on Amazon here:
Barbell Squat Pad – I don’t know how I survived before getting one of these, there are communal ones in the gym , but GROSS, I highly recommend you get your own! These are a MUST have for some of my favorite exercises in the gym, and by favorite I mean most effective , I actually hate doing them because they hurt so much which means they obviously work, namely Squats, Walking Lunges and Barbell Hip Thrusts . My barbell squat pad is one of my most prized possessions, it provides padding for your neck when doing squats and lunges and for your pelvis when doing hip thrusts (trust me , you need these in order to do barbell his thrusts, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) . I tend to start using the squat pad once my squats go above 65lbs, my walking lunges above 40lbs and my hip thrusts , I only do hip thrusts starting from 95lbs so I use it all the time for this. Another good exercise that I use this item for is Good Mornings , which really works your hamstrings , if you haven’t tried this one yet, do it! I bought mine locally but you can also get on Amazon here:
Exercise\Yoga Mat – I only recently got one of these , Ok, to be specific , I actually had a new one for a while but refused to use it because I did not have a bag to transport it in. I really did not want to have to walk with it rolled up under my arm every time I go to the gym. However, I recently got a bag and I am so happy that I did, I no longer have to worry about hygiene issues when using the mats in the gym! It’s pretty obvious what these mats are for , any exercise or activity (like stretching) that involves any part of your body being on the floor you would need a mat. Just get one, you won’t regret it. I won’t bother to put a link for a Yoga mat here since those are extremely easy to find . I ordered my bag on Amazon here:
IPOD – Let’s put it this way, without my IPOD, that 10 minutes of cardio that I do to warm up, will seem like a LIFETIME of PAIN and SADNESS. My music keeps me sane and focused during my workout, honestly, it really gets me pumped and excited to actually be productive and get shit done in the gym! I have a special “Gym” mix on my IPOD , but I do like to switch it up sometimes depending on my mood and that can be anything from Dancehall to Soca to Pop to Latin to Dance, the list goes on…..
Lastly, my Gym Bag itself.
For me, a gym bag needs to be 3 things:
- Big enough to hold everything that I need
- Aesthetically pleasing (in my case pink and black since all my gym equipment and clothes are some combo of pink\black\grey\white)
I’ve had my current gym bag for two years now and I LOVE it, it holds everything I need for the gym including my clothes , sneakers, ipod , toiletries and all my equipment listed above.
Aside from the fact that it holds all my belongings comfortably , there is a whole separate compartment for my sneakers, that is both ventilated and keeps your shoes away from everything else in your bag. I purchased mine on Amazon and it was an extremely affordable price as well, which was a major plus, it also comes in a large variety of colors, see link below for reference:
Hopefully , I have inspired someone to try at least one of these pieces of equipment next time I go to the gym or even better actually purchase one for their own use, I use every single one and do not regret it. My motto for fitness is “Look Like a Beauty , Train Like a Beast” , just like my Coffee mug says below =)