After years of hitting the gym, these are the 7 things that live in my gym bag and have helped to take training to the next level.
I’m not talking the basic girl things like deodorant, makeup remover, snacks or the super hardcore things like a weightlifting belt.
Remember the good old days before lockdown when you were able to grab your gym bag (or kit as it’s called in the UK) and head to the gym to do your workout? Sweating alongside other sweaty people or worse, having someone jump on the cardio machine right next to you just for a little low-key competition? Then grabbing a post-workout coffee+brunch with the gal pals while you catch up on the latest goss? Yeah, me either. All so distant, I’m starting to question whether or not it really even happened.
But my gym bag continues to remind me that it wasn’t all just a dream. I used to schlep all my gym things and carry it with me all over London but now it just sits at home, like the rest of the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still training at home and thankfully, I’m not that advanced where lockdown is having serious impact on my gains (I don’t lift thaaaaat heavy).
Of course, it’s been an adjustment; both physically and mentally – maybe even spiritually on some level but nevertheless, I’ve found a routine that works for me, my boyfriend, and our schedules.
Perhaps what’s helped is having some equipment already in my gym bag – making transitioning to home training a tiny bit easier with one less opportunity for an excuse to quit or fall out of routine.
Whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey (what’s a gym?) or starting to get a bit more serious about your training (give me all the PB’s), you’ll quickly find yourself wanting a few things along the way (can I get some chalk?).
Here’s my list of weightlifting gym bag must haves – and I’m not talking the basic girl things like deodorant, makeup remover, snacks or the super hardcore things like a weightlifting belt.
No, I’m talking somewhere in the middle of those two. Some basic, some not so basic and all serving the one purpose: progression.
Get your favourite high-energy playlist, turn up the volume and turn down the outside world. Invest in a good pair of headphones – make it bluetooth so you don’t have waste your session wishing you were a wizard that could untangle the wires.
I personally have two, a Bose QC35 over the ear and a cheap and cheerful, airpod style in-ear version. The over the ear or ‘fuck off’ headphones as I like to call it are great for…well…keepin’ the creeps away. Not so great when you have to do overhead or jumping movements. So depending on what I’m doing, I’ll switch to the airpod style version to allow for movement.
2. Hip Thrust Pad
I think this is more commonly known as a barbell pad or a squat pad but to be honest, I use it to help me perform my all-time favourite butt-building exercise: the hip thrust. If you don’t know what it is and you’re looking to grow that booty, then I suggest a quick google. #thethrustisamust
Get the pad because nobody needs bruises; everyone needs a booty.
Some people view using straps as cheating but actually it’s really good for helping you to progress – especially when your little grip starts to go. My advice, get some straps and don’t let you grip (or ego) stop you. I use the Versa Gripps and absolutely can’t train without them.
Protip: get the pro for extra stickiness & a colour that will make you want to train harder or at least makes you happy.
4. Lifting shoes
Weightlifting shoes are great if you’re focus is purely that – lifting weights. If you’re doing cardio or hiit type training, then I’d say get something a bit more versatile. However, if you’ve realised that the best way to progress is to focus on weights (welcome to the club) then get yourself some ‘lifters’ so you can make the most out of your hard work.
5. Liquid chalk
When your hands start to sweat and your grip starts to go, chalk will help and possibly even change your gym experience. A small amount goes a long way and dries super quickly meaning you’ll be able to hold on for longer with less slip.
Protip: get the liquid chalk. If nothing else, it makes you feel like a badass.
6. Booty Band
Real experts are probably against this one but if there’s a chance that it’ll help to grow my glutes, I’m in. I tend to use them to either activate at the start of the workout or burn them out at the end.
7. Fitness tracker
There’s so many on the market with an array of features from steps, heart rate, sleep, etc but honestly, it doesn’t need to be fancy. You can get a super simple fitbit or go for fancy schmancy wearable. Doesn’t matter. Use it as a tool to gauge your movements and track your progression over time.
I personally have tiny little wrists and only wanted to monitor my steps so I opted for a Fitbit Alta (all other models were enormous!). My boyfriend hates wearing things so he went for the Oura ring.
As a bonus, chuck in a can of Monster or coffee to kickstart things.
One last less-important item:
Tripod – recording yourself performing a movement can be a great tool for checking your form and exercise execution. At the very least, you can use it to look back at when you struggled hip thrusting at 20kg. Worst case, you can use it for endless selfies outside of the gym.
Share this to a pal if this was useful and happy lifting!