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Bodybuilding Gym Bag Essentials: What’s In My Bag?

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Today I want to share some of my favorite bodybuilding tools (aka Bodybuilding Gym Bag Essentials).

While this isn’t an exclusive list, and there are still things I want to purchase for the gym, these are the things I use daily while I’m busting my butt at the gym!

This post is brought to you by BODYARMOR.

Bodybuilding Gym Bag Essentials What's In My Gym Bag

If you are serious about lifting heavy things, protecting your body, and getting the most out of every workout, you should consider packing your gym bag with the products that will get you there.

I’m not saying you need to go out and spend a wad of cash on the best of the best, but over time you can upgrade your gear as you see fit.

Your goals and preferences will dictate how much you spend on gym gear, but if you purchase quality products now, you won’t find yourself having to replace them as soon.

When I returned to the gym for the first time in November, I didn’t purchase everything I have now.

The cheap items I bought had to be replaced sooner than I would have liked, and I wasted money.

Bodybuilding Gym Bag Essentials: What’s In My Bag?

Let’s start with safety. If you plan to incorporate compound exercises into your workout program, you must protect yourself against injury.

Compound exercises you should be doing include squats, deadlifts, bench, and leg presses, overhead presses, dips, and various other free-weight exercises.

These bodybuilding gym bag essentials protect your body to keep you healthy and in the gym. As someone who has suffered a hamstring and shoulder injury, I can tell you it’s not fun.

Weight Lifting Safety Equipment:

While injuries happen, it’s best to protect yourself as much as possible.

Lifting Gloves:

 You don’t have to lift 100lb dumbbells to feel the sting of the weight on your hands.

Lifting weights daily will most likely lead to unwanted calluses and hand pain. I don’t mind the calluses as much as I do the pain.

A good pair of lifting gloves keeps the pain at bay but they also help you keep your grip, and no one wants to drop their weights in the gym accidentally.

If you have sweaty hands lifting gloves are a must. Don’t forget to wash your gloves weekly. Lifting gloves get stinky, gross, and covered in germs!

I purchased cheap gloves at first, and the stitching ripped within a few weeks, and that my friends, is why we don’t go cheap if we don’t have to!

Knee Sleeves:

 When I first started squatting, I felt it in my knees, which led me to purchase sleeves.

Bad form and inflammation from the stress of working out again after a long break was most likely the culprit of my knee pain but buying the sleeves was a significant investment. I used to wear them all the time, but now I only use them when I know I’m going to put a lot of stress on my knees.

The neoprene material helps reduce pain by warming up the joint. I must wash mine regularly because they make my knees sweat like crazy.

The sleeves are tight for compression and help with blood flow and recovery.

 I do not recommend knee sleeves for lying leg raises because they almost cut off my circulation and decreased my range of motion.

Wrist Wraps:

I have weak wrists. There I said it!

If you’re new to lifting, you do as well. Wrist wraps help stabilize your wrists during a lift which helps prevent fatigue and strain.

Wrist wraps also help stop you from cheating on lifts which helps you know when you’re probably trying to lift more than you should. If you can’t get the full range of motion or maintain proper form, you likely need to lower the weight you’re using.

I use wrist wraps for almost every exercise with my hands and free weights (machines, no, but I don’t use them often).

Heart Rate Monitor / Rest Timer (Watch):

If you’re new to working out or love numbers, you’ll want to keep a heart rate monitor in your bag.

My Polar watch is my go-to for my heart rate monitor and workout tracking.

Heart rate information is valuable to me when doing HIIT or other cardio, so I know when to push myself and take it easy.

I tend to be impatient in the gym but resting between sets is a must if you want optimal locations.

You have to give your body time to restore the ATP used during the previous set but keep your rest short enough that you don’t lose intensity.

Your ATP stores are restored after two to three minutes but your rest time will vary based on your program and goals.

If my rest times are over 30 seconds, I find using a watch necessary because I always like to jump the gun!

If numbers keep you motivated, you’ll likely wear the watch all day because seeing how active/inactive you are can push you to do more.

Gym Bag Training Essentials:


The bodybuilding gym bag essentials below are things you can’t do without in the gym.

If you go to the gym without your workout and accessory tools, your program success will suffer.

While these items are interchangeable and not required every day, I’ve found it’s best to keep everything in your gym bag so you never go to the gym without them.

Training Notebook:

 While you could always print your workouts, I think a training book is better because you can journal anything you notice about your exercises or questions you may have for your trainer.

I love looking back in my notebook to see how much weight I was lifting last month or three months ago.

Seeing your progress can be a great way to motivate yourself when you feel like you’re not progressing. If you go to the gym without a plan, that must stop TODAY!

You should always know what you will be doing before you work out. I write down which exercises I plan to complete, how many sets, how many reps, and even how much weight I will use.

Mini Bands:

If you plan to work those glutes, quads, and hamstrings, accessory work can be a great way to do that.

Mini bands can be used for hundreds of exercises and heat the exercises you should already be doing (like squats).

While many gyms have resistance bands, I haven’t been to any that keep mini bands on hand, and the smaller and thicker the bar, the better the workout.

Trust me; these are worth the investment.

Gym Bag Training Essentials Sports Drinks

Sports Drinks/Water:

Staying hydrated is essential!

As women, we need about three liters of water daily (before accounting for exercise).

Water consumption counts in all forms (tea, coffee, fruits, and veggies), but most of us aren’t getting enough.

Blender bottles are my favorite way to drink water; I even use them around my house. I have tried many water bottles, but they are the only ones that help me get enough water.

Occasionally I will forget it at home and have to buy bottled water.

Depending on my goals, I may also drink protein shakes during my workout, so I have a bottle.

Barbell Pad:

If you do hip thrusts, this pad is a lifesaver!

I used to use the pad for my squats and calf raises, but after doing more research, I don’t think using the pad was doing me any favors, and I was probably placing the bar too high on my neck (which can result in injury).

Some people use towels or yoga mats for their hip thrusts, but I like having a pad I can velcro in place.

Want to know how to Hip Thrust properly? Check this out.

Gym Bag Personalized Essentials:

I’ve listed these fundamental bodybuilding gym bag personalized essentials.

That means I NEED these things, but you may not.

If I find that I’ve left my music or earbuds, I will return home to retrieve them.

Relentless Audiobook: Bodybuilding Books


From listening to the TV while doing cardio or blasting your favorite beats, good-quality audio equipment can help boost an already solid workout.

I am obsessed with music and have specific songs for different exercises. I choose songs that I know will pump me up, get me angry, or help me slow down.

Pro Tip: Don’t let your music or podcasts make you anti-social!

Make friends in the gym and build a support squad to ask for a quick spot if you need to!

This week, I’ll share some of the best science-based bodybuilding podcasts and my favorite audiobooks!


I’m probably one of the only people at my gym that takes a phone and an iPod.

I work with an online trainer and make form videos to send her daily.

When I use the camera on my phone, my music shuts off, killing my momentum!

I recommend joining a music subscription service to make killer workout playlists!

Massage Ball:

 I have been known to carry a foam roller into my gym!

Sometimes you have to get that knot rolled out before you leave the gym. I prefer to use a ball or roller before my body cools down again.

Rolling can also be a great way to warm up for specific exercises.

Hair Bands:

If you have short hair or are a guy, this one may not apply to you, but it’s a must-have for me.

I can’t work out (like work out) with my hair down.

The back of my neck starts to sweat then I get hair in my face; it’s not fun. Some girls wear hats; I wear hairbands and headbands!

Gym Bag:

This stuff would be hard to transport without a gym bag.

When you buy your first bag, make sure it’s durable and large enough to carry everything you need.

Making sure it’s super cute is optional but recommended! 😉


Ha! You probably don’t need this, but since I put it in the photo, I wanted to address it. I have braces, so having wax at the gym is necessary when my mouth is killing me.

I hope you found my bodybuilding gym bag essentials list helpful.

Do you have any products you can’t live without in the gym?

If so, I’d love to hear about them, so be sure to comment below!

Goodwipes: A great way to freshen up after a hard workout!