What’s in My Gym Bag?
One topic that comes up on a semi-regular basis with my clientele is the use of gym gear. I don’t mean gear as in steroids, but gear as in, wrist wraps, straps, belts, things like that. People want to know what they should purchase to maximize their results.
The first thing I always say, is that no gym gear is ever necessary. You can get amazing results with just your body; you don’t even need a gym when it really comes down to it. That being said, there are some things that I personally use on a regular basis that I feel are well worth the price, as they safely enhance my training.
Rather than suggest what everyone should be using, I’m just going to share exactly what’s in my gym bag, why I personally use it, and include a link if you feel like checking it out. Gym accessories aren’t for everyone, and most of my clients don’t use them, however I will say that if you are serious about weight lifting and getting stronger, you’ll probably want to use some of the items below.
For me, this interest in lifting gear started when I did about 8 months of powerlifting-type training last year. The equipment I used really helped me get stronger, and even though my goal isn’t purely a one-rep max anymore, I still use the equipment on a very regular basis. I’ve bought tons of stuff over the years, most of which is garbage, but the equipment below is what has made the cut. I’m a fan of anything that I can see immediate benefit from, and all of the following equipment provides that.
Note: some, not all, of the links are affiliate links, which means if you click through my site and buy the stuff, I get a small commission. This doesn’t affect my recommendation at all, but if you feel like supporting me at all, and you’re going to buy it anyway, why not use my link, you know?
Inzer Forever Belt, 10mm, Buckle
I absolutely love my weightlifting belt, and wish I had one years ago. You need to learn to use one properly, as you don’t simply throw it on and use it as a back brace. When used correctly as a tool for bracing your core, it can greatly improve the safety of your lifts, and help you move more weight.
Anytime I squat, deadlift, or overhead press few than 5 reps or so, so on the heavier end, I use the belt. Inzer makes amazing belts that a have a lifetime guarantee, and I prefer the buckle to the lever. A lever belt is much more convenient, and easy to adjust, but I’ve heard too many horror stories of the lever snapping at the bottom of a lift, so I use the buckle. Once you break this belt in, it will change how you lift forever.
Slingshot Knee Sleeves
I played competitive basketball year-round for 8 straight years, and am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do – a kick-heavy style of martial arts. Combine this with 6 or so years of serious weight lifting, and my knees hate me. Knee sleeves really help me keep my knees warm and pain-free.
They might add a tiny bit to your lifts, but I really use them for the security and joint warming effect. I don’t like wraps, as you can’t get a consistent wrap every single time. A tighter wrap may mean a bigger squat because of the pressure, but if you squat more with sleeves, you know that you actually got stronger, and it’s not just the gear.
Rehband and SBD also make great powerlifting knee sleeves; I just went with SlingShot because I’m a huge fan of Mark Bell and the whole Supertraining crew, and wanted to support them. These are basically exactly like Rehband sleeves, and cost a little less.
Adidas Powerlift Squat Shoes
With the exception of the belt, these are my favorite gym accessories. They have a slightly elevated heel, and very stiff bottoms that make it feel like you are glued to the floor. If you’d never worn squat shoes, elevate your heels on those little 5-pound plates next time you squat, and you’ll see how much easier it is to hit depth comfortably.
I prefer these to the Adipowers or Romaleos, as the heel is not quite as high, and I’ve heard that the higher heel can lead to some knee pain over time, something I don’t need more of. A lot of lifters have switch over to the Powerlifts, and they are a bit cheaper as well. If you feel better squatting in a flat heel, then you don’t need these, but for me it feels much, much better, so I use them.
For deadlifting, I usually wear my Converse shoes (not in picture), or pull in my socks. I don’t have any of those fancy deadlift slippers or wrestling shoes.
Versa Gripps Pro
I used to use straps all the time on my pulling days, so that I could continue to train my back once my grip fatigued. If my goal was to compete in powerlifting, I would absolutely try to bring my grip up significantly, but since my goal is physique oriented, I don’t want my back development to be limited by how much weight I can hold, especially when I’m 3 or 4 exercises into a back workout.
Regular straps work just fine, these are just much easier, although a bit pricier. Worth it to me, but you can also grab a pair of $10 straps from your local sporting goods store if you prefer.
Also, I do carry gym chalk, but most gyms I train at don’t allow it, so I just use the straps. If I had a gym that allowed chalk, that would my preference 90% of the time over straps. Just FYI.
Really good to lock your wrist in place on pressing movements; again, learn how to use them correctly, as many don’t. Right now I have some cheap Harbinger wraps since I lost my nice ones, but I suggest getting a good pair if you regularly bench press or overhead press with heavy weights. The support is good for your joints, and can protect your wrists as you get stronger.
Mobility and Recovery Kit
This is really just all the stuff I have on hand to use as needed. I don’t use them every session, but I generally like to have this stuff with me for soft tissue work when I actually make myself do it. My gym has a bunch of foam rollers, and I have one at home, but this is the extra stuff I find helpful.
Small Band (I have more of these somewhere)
Lacrosse Ball (buy this literally anywhere for $3-5 tops)
Drop a comment and let me know what your top three favorite gym accessories are, if you use any!