Everybody lifts, but you could tell the serious lifters from the ones who are not so serious. It’s one of those things that are hard to explain, but easy to point out. Today I will go over the 10 things that ever serious lifter should have in his/her gym bag. I have most of these things in my gym bag at all times and it has made a huge difference in my life as far as lifting goes. Here is the list:
1) LOG BOOK/PHONE LOG TO TRACK PROGRESS
You don’t have to buy a log, but you want to have a system where you keep track of your records. At the end of the day you have to get stronger if you want to see any changes in your body, it also makes working out fun because you are constantly striving to better your PR’S (personal record).
2) FOAM ROLLER/RUMBLE ROLLER
This piece of equipment is essential for speeding up recovery on your off days, but you also want to get in the gym 10 minutes early and foam roll your whole body to get it ready for the workout. As I get older I try to do more and more foam rolling. Once you can’t feel anything from the regular foam roller then you could try the rumble roller in the picture below.
3) LACROSSE BALL
Lacrosse ball work is very important just like the foam roller, you want to use it on your off days on your whole body to speed up the recovery and for overall joint health. I also like to get in the gym 10 minutes earlier and do some lacrosse ball work along with the rumble roller. It will hurt, but your joints will thank you.
4) RESISTANCE BANDS
Resistance bands are great for active recovery on your off days, they could also come in handy for working sets in your workout near the end. I also like to get in the gym 10 minutes earlier and do some band work to warm up my upper body for pressing and pulling days.
Bands before workouts: Band pull-apart, band dislocations, rotator cuff work and band scarecrows. For lower body days I like to use the band for Terminal knee extensions to warm up the knees and x monster walks.
Bands during workouts: Band pushdowns, band resisted push-ups, band overhead triceps extensions.
Bands on off days for active recovery: Band pushdowns, Band pull-aparts, Band face pulls, band scarecrows, TKE’s
5) LIFTING STRAPS
Many people say that lifting straps are a crutch and that you shouldn’t rely on anything, but I don’t see a point in not working out my back to it’s fullest potential and lifting less weight so that I could work my grip strength a bit more. You have to look at the big picture, back vs grip. They are both extremely important, but let’s say if you could rack pull 315×5 without straps, but could do 405×5 with straps, you would be a fool to not use the straps. Don’t use your straps on your warm up sets to get some grip work in and then once it gets too hard to grip then you could throw on the straps. You could also throw in some grip work like Farmers walks at the end of the workout. Straps could also save your elbows because if you grip bars all of the time it could be stressful to them, but if you use the straps for your heavy sets then it won’t be as stressful because your hands will get some assistance. If you have strong hands and can do your working sets without the straps, then they aren’t mandatory.
6) LIFTING CHALK
Chalk is an essential tool for every lifter and it can also help save your life. Sometimes when I bench press without chalk, the bar feels very slippery and if it falls on my face then it’s over. With the chalk you are able to get a more solid grip and it also increases your lifts too. You can’t go wrong with certain things. Most public gyms don’t want you training with chalk because it could dirty the floors, but if I ever open my own gym then one of the rules will be that you MUST train with chalk.
7) HUGE WATER BOTTLE
I could go on for days about the importance of water and it’s a whole other article in itself, but just make sure that you always have a big bottle of water with you in the gym. You just can’t go wrong with certain things.
8) SHAKE OR MEAL FOR AFTER WORKOUT (AIM FOR BOTH)
Shakes are great for after workouts because they are easy to digest and the protein shakes get absorbed faster than hard food after a workout. I usually drink a shake right after a workout and then have a meal about an hour later when I get home.
I saved the best for last and I couldn’t end this article without mentioning music, I love my music too much to leave this one out of the list. I can’t listen to the radio or Justin Bieber when I am trying to hit new PR’s. I need to be focused and cut out all distractions. Music prevents people from talking to me because it makes me look busier and more in the zone too so that helps. I personally like to have small earbuds that have very loud bass because that gets me even more in the zone, but that’s just me.
There you have it, this was the list of things every serious lifter should have in their gym bags, if I forgot anything then let me know in the comments.