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 on a daily basis while I’m busting my butt at the gym! This post is brought to your by BODYARMOR.
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 ended up wasting 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 will need to protect yourself against injury. Compound exercises you should be doing include squats, deadlifts, bench, and leg presses, overhead press, dips, and various other free weight exercises.
Gym Bag Safety Essentials:
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. While injuries do happen, it’s best to protect yourself as much as possible.
Lifting Gloves: You don’t have to lift 100lb dumbells to feel the sting of the weight on your hands. Lifting weights every day 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 not only keep the pain at bay they also help you keep your grip, and no one wants to accidentally drop their weights in the gym. 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 great 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 have to wash mine regularly because they make my knees sweat like crazy. The sleeves are tight for compression purposes 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 decreases my range of motion.
Wrist Wraps: I have weak wrists. There I said it! Chances are if you’re new to lifting you do as well. Wrist wraps help keep your wrists stabilized during a lift which helps prevent fatigue and strain. Wrist wraps also help stop you from cheating on lifts which is helpful for knowing when you’re probably trying to lift more than you should. If you can’t get the full range of motion or you can’t maintain proper form you likely need to lower the amount of weight you’re using. I use wrist wraps for pretty much every exercise I do with my hands and free weights (machines no, but I don’t use machines 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. I prefer the watch version because it’s easy to wear (though it may lag and not be as accurate). I don’t pay as much attention to my heart rate anymore, but I do like to use the stopwatch function to measure my rest periods. I tend to be impatient in the gym but resting between sets is a must if you want optimal sets. 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 that using a watch is 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 show up 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 being able to look 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 making progress. If you go to the gym without a plan that needs to 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 set, 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 can heat up 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 band the better the workout. Trust me these are worth the investment.
Sports Drinks/Water: Staying hydrated is essential! As women, we need about three liters of water each day (before accounting for exercise). Water consumption counts in all forms (tea, coffee, fruits, and veggies) but most of us aren’t getting enough. In my gym bag, you’ll find BODYARMOR LYTE and BODYARMOR SportWater both of which just came out this year (2018). I also drink a Protein Shake during my workout, so I have a bottle for that as well.
I choose BODYARMOR LYTE because it’s 10% coconut water (which I love) and is low-calorie (40 calories per bottle) and low sugar (6 grams per bottle). I use this drink as an intra-workout carb source, and it also has some vital electrolytes (high in potassium, low in sodium) to help replenish what I lose through sweating.
I choose BODYARMOR SportWater because I drink a ton of water while I work out which can be bad because drinking too much too quickly can deplete electrolytes. Thankfully this water has electrolytes in it so I can kill two birds with one stone. The wide mouth bottle is perfect for the gym.
BODYARMOR Sports Drink contains natural flavors and sweeteners and no colors from artificial sources. It now comes in 15 flavors total, four of which are LYTE – Cherry Berry, Peach Mango, Blueberry Pomegranate and Orange Citrus.
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 basic 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 turn around and go back home to retrieve them.
Headphones/Earbuds: From listening to the TVs 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 I 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 that you can ask for a quick spot if you need to!
I’ll share some of the best science-based bodybuilding podcasts and my favorite audiobooks this week!
MP3 Player/Phone: 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 I make form videos to send her each day. When I use the camera on my phone, my music shuts off, and that kills 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 just have to get that knot rolled out before you leave the gym. I prefer to use a ball or roller before my body has time to cool down again. Rolling can also be a great way to warm up for certain 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 really 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 hair bands and headbands!
Gym Bag: Obviously 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’ll need. Making sure it’s super cute is optional but recommended! 😉
Wax: 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!