Need last minute ideas for your Christmas list, or want to stock up on stocking fillers for your gym loving other half? Fear not – our junior trainer Tobi has given us a list of his top ten gym bag essentials. In no particular order, here they are:
- A Good gym towel - Nobody likes to lie on a bench or sit on a resistance kit with someone else’s sweat on it. Wiping that sweat off your forehead or the kit you are using will keep everything hygienic and stop you getting evil looks from the next gym user.
- Water bottle – Although most gyms have water stations, I think it’s essential every workout bag contains a water bottle. Research recommends that you drink 500ml of water 2 hours before exercise to promote hydration (Convertino et al. 1996). It also suggests that we should be drinking at regular intervals while we’re working out to replace the fluids lost through sweating.
- Gloves – If you’re into your resistance training then I highly recommend wearing gloves to prevent blisters and calluses forming on your hands. They may not be essential all the time, but heavy lifting can sometimes be painful for your palms, and the gloves should help.
- Watch (with stop watch function) – For those that take their training seriously, a watch is a good way to monitor your time when training. Trying to count seconds accurately in your head can be tricky and when counting seconds for rest periods, sometimes we may be give ourselves too much rest time (guilty).
- Phone with a circuit/HIIT counter – Some mobile apps are great for circuits/HIIT training. My top app to download is “Seconds”. There’s a free version to download and you can input your workout times, rest between sets and rest between intervals. The full version which costs £3.99 will save your previous circuits and timers. Well worth the purchase.
- A good playlist – Working out to music that you like can improve your performance. A study last year compared running to music that you prefer and music that you may not like (Cole & Maeda 2015). It found that participants ran further when listening to music that they had chosen. From personal experience, I know that I work harder when I am listening to songs that I like.
- Lifting straps – There’s nothing more frustrating than being limited by your grip. You know your legs could work harder but you can’t physically hold the bar. Lifting straps can be really helpful in getting through the last few reps.
- Liquid chalk – For the same reason above, but liquid chalk also helps with exercises like pull ups and chin ups or when you have sweaty palms. A must have if you tend to get a bit hot and sweaty during your workouts, which let’s face it, we all should be!
- Resistance bands – Sometimes you may need to use a bit of kit that somebody else is on, or have a particularly long rest period, or just want to keep moving between sets. Resistance bands are a great way to get some non-taxing work in, and are an essential part of a good mobility or stretching routine. A red band and a purple band should set you up well.
- Exercise Diary/Log Book – This goes without saying, without it how will you know if you are progressing in your lifts or improving in your run distances? Unless you have a photographic memory then I will be forever jealous. I never leave the house without mine as I need mine to tell me what I am training, what exercises I need to be doing and what weights I should be lifting.
- BONUS ITEM (if your bag is big enough!): Foam Roller – I recently invested in a foam roller and I must say it is one of the best purchases I have made. The benefits of foam rolling - or Self Myofascial Release - are widely known; reduced soreness after activity, improved recovery and muscle relaxation just to name a few. Spend 10-15 minutes after your workout rolling out any areas of soreness and knots.
So there you have it. I hope this blog has been helpful in giving you an idea of what to include in your own gym bag. What weird and wonderful things do you keep tucked away in your bag? Let me know in the comments section.