The old saying “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” applies in almost anything in life. In the gym, this can mean the difference between that next level of improving your mobility, muscle activation for better strength and hypertrophy progress or the intensity you have been lacking in your program to that little bit of grip aid you needed to set that deadlift PR. Tackle any situation that may arise by prepping these simple tools in your gym bag.
Below are some of the most valuable items that I have discovered and utilized almost every time I get a workout in, if not at least use for a “change-up” or to get me through stick points in my training. I also compiled a list on Amazon where you can purchase all of these of products as well.
I hope you find a few items (if not all of them) to include in your own gym back. Let me know how they improve your experience!
1. Mini- band
These inexpensive, essentially giant rubber bands have amazing benfit, especially in the warmup department. Place these around the ankles or just below the knees for hip, glute and shoulder warmup. They come in a variety of sizes, start with the “light” band and progress from there.
2. Super Band
Maybe the most versatile tool in the gym. They come in a ton of sizes, and can be used not only as a warmup tool, but for accomadating resistance in major barbell movements, as well as speed training. Awesome tool for any goal.
3. Lacrosse Ball
This small-but-mighty ball may be the most under-rated tool in every bag. This can be used for ANYONE. Athlete? This is your best friend. Hit those trigger points all over the body (shoulder blades, feet, lats, glutes) and help get back on the field quicker and more effectively. Office worker? How about rolling those feet stuffed in tight dress shoes under the desk between meetings or those tight shoulders and lats from sitting slouched in a cheap office chair. Throw this guy in your gym bag, travel bag or office desk, just utilize it!
4. Fat Gripz
Need a little intensity boost in your workout? Enter Fat Gripz. Just pop them on the barbell or around the dumbbell handles to not only increase your difficulty, but is incredible in grip strength and can take tension off of the shoulders when pressing.
Give this Grip Intense workout a try on your next pressing day. Enjoy!
A1-DB W/Fat Gripz Low incline Press 6 reps
A2-TRX Row 8-10 reps
B1-BodyWeight Dips (down 2, Up 1) 8 reps
B2-Fat Gripz DB Farmers Walks 30 feet
B3- Db Lateral Raises AMRAP in 30 sec
C1-Fat Gripz DB Curl-to-Press 12-15 reps
C2-Cable or DB Fly 12-15 reps
C3-Bear Crawl 30 feet (or Pushups max reps)
These seem like a “no-brainer” but this is probably the most forgotten item on the list on the regular. If you have wireless headphones, CHARGE THEM, there is nothing worse than your Metallica suddenly cutting out as you are walking up to the bar for a huge squat. Not Good. Keep those bad boys charged up!
Secondly, keep a back up pair of wired headphones just in case and/or your USB charger for your wireless and try to get a plug in somewhere.
I added a couple of headphones on the list that I have worked into the rotation on both ends of the price scale.
6. Liquid Chalk
Most workout in a commercial gym that don’t allow chalk. Even if your gym allows it, storing chalk and not getting it all over your gym bag can be a chore. Enter liquid chalk. Keep a little tube in your bag, and don’t be without it for that day your would-be deadlift PR was right within your grasp. Don’t let this super cheap, easy to store tool “slip” out of reach .
7. Shaker Bottle-
Another simple but overlooked item. Use the shaker bottle so that you can not only keep yourself hydrated before, during and after your workout, but you have a multi-use cup for those extra protein shakes your going to be ingesting on your fitness journey!
8. Funnel/powder holder
I discovered this amazing product about 5 years ago and have used them daily ever since. Just drop a scoop of protein/BCAA/Pre-workout into these funnels and screw on the lid. When you are ready to go, just drop the bottom lid off and funnel the powder into your Shaker Cup and you are ready to roll. Simple yet amazing.
9. Lifting Straps
Now don’t get in the habit of using these every time you lift, but they can surely be a very valuable tool when going for a longer set or a maximum pull. If your grip strength is not your strong point A- See “FAT GRIPZ “ above and B. don’t sabotage your pulling progress by your limitation, throw these on and squeeze out those last couple reps, without losing hold.
10. Stopwatch/Gym Boss Timer
This “old skool” tool is a must have in the bag. To run effective programming, sets and rests should be timed, and why sacrifice something dropping your expensive smart phone (which you already packed your wireless headphones so your phone is out of the way), and just keep a stop watch near by or in your pocket to time out those rest periods. I promise it will make you honest. If you need to pre-program you work/rest intervals, then the Gym Boss is nice to have on you to set the intervals and go without having to manually start/stop each time.
Grab That Stopwatch and try this “Timed” density set on for size!
Instructions- Set timer for 5 min. Perform as many sets as you can in the time limit, resting as little as possible. Rest for 2-4 mins after the set. Increase the weight by 5-10% and REPEAT the 5 min. Shoot to beat your total number of reps from the previous set. Each week, add an extra minute, until your at two, 8-10min sets.
A1- Goblet Squat 8 reps
A2- DB Chest Press 6 reps
A3- TRX Row 8 reps
There you have it. I hope you have found something on this list that can be used to improve your workouts, make life easier, or bust through that next PR.
Actual picture of my gym bag (apple was a pleasant surprise, ate it right after this photo)
Whats in your gym bag? Let me know, I would love to hear what else is out there or should be included.