Packing an exercise bag can be taken for granted and overlooked very easily. You have your water bottle and good workout shoes and we think we are all good. Well there may be some items that are being left out that could help increase workout efficiency, decrease injury risk, and maximize strength gains. Next time you prepare to exercise and pack your gym bag, think about adding these items and enjoy the results:
Wrist Straps – Wrist straps can often be a personal preference of the lifter but for many of the explosive lifts and exercises we should be doing to increase muscle strength; wrist straps can be essential. Straps not only provide stability for your wrist and hands but also help control the weight during the course of the lift. This will keep us safe from injury and help you get the most out of each exercise. The last thing we want to have happen is our grip and wrist to force us to stop short of completing our full sets. The straps will take pressure off the wrist joint and allow focus to remain on the muscle group you are working out.
Weight Belt – Some gyms may provide these but it is important to get a correct fit, so having your own that you know provides the stability needed can give you peace of mind and is worth having in your home gym. Also many home lifters often let weight belts slip their mind causing injuries to occur. Similar to wrist straps, weight belts will help take pressure off joints and muscle groups that are not the focus of particular exercises you are doing but can become fatigued and effect your ability to complete sets or lift weight needed to make gains.
Towel – I know most of you are saying I bring a towel every time or I always have one on hand. While this may be true, some of us heading to our workouts may forget to bring a towel and also forget that towels can also provide additional benefits other than just wiping sweat. Having a towel placed down on the bench or anywhere your body will be fixed during an exercise can help maintain proper form and help stay safe. During a bench press lift, sweat can make the bench slippery and unsafe. Another great use is during squat exercises. If your home gym does not have barbell pads the towel can be placed around the bar to provide comfort during the exercise.
Lifting Chalk/Rosin – Some weight rooms and gyms may have rules against using chalk or rosin from a “not wanting to have to clean it up” point of view but using chalk or rosin during your workout can help avoid injury along with aiding when grip is important. So if it is allowed or you are exercising at home, make sure this is a staple in your bag. When moisture occurs during exercise, skin tears can happen much easier leaving us susceptible to infections. Drying your hands through rosin or chalk can benefit exercises such as deadlifts and hang cleans when your grip around the bar is extremely important not only to your safety but also the integrity of the lift.
Notebook – In today’s world filled with technology, this may be completed by most through their phones. Having a notebook handy to record information such as workout routines that you felt were either successful or a disaster so that you can repeat or avoid respectively can help create a fitness plan moving forward. Keeping a journal is also valuable so that you can make sure your exercise routine has variety and a certain muscle group is not becoming overly strained.