This post will bring you 5 essential gym bag items for any strength athlete, looking to invest in themselves and push to the next level.
5. Knee Sleeves/ Wraps
Number 5 on the list is knee sleeves/wraps. The difference between the two is something we will discuss in a later post. But for now, the main purpose of both is to offer support and stability to the knee joint, aiding in the lift. Knee sleeves which are commonly made of thick neoprene are also good for keeping the heat in the joint. I began using knee sleeves about a year into serious training. I’d started to become more focused on strength and powerlifting and so as mentioned I wanted to take my training to the next level.
One piece of advice I would give anyone who buys knee sleeves is to wash them regularly and let them air out after every use! Otherwise, you’ll very soon become unpopular in the gym. A top of the range pair of knee sleeves will set you back around £60 but you can find cheaper ones for around £25-£30.
4. Wrist Wraps
Next on the list for gym bag essentials is wrist wraps. Wrist wraps come in varying lengths and stiffness, regardless their purpose is to again offer support and stability to the wrist when doing any kind of pushing movement. Making them a key piece of kit when going heavy on a bench or overhead pressing. Again, as with the knee sleeves, I started to use wrist wraps once I became more focused on strength work. I’ve also always had slight issues with my wrists and so found wraps gave me the support I really needed to begin pressing heavy. A top-end pair of wrist wraps cost about £20-£25 with a cheap pair being under £10.
3. Liquid Chalk
Chalk is vital when performing anything which requires grip. Chalk will counteract any moisture, i.e. sweat, causing the bar to slip in your hands. I personally use chalk for all my big lifts. On my hands to help my grip when I deadlift and bench press and, on the bar, when I low bar squat. I couldn’t imagine training without it ever. Standard chalk is not allowed in most commercial gyms so liquid chalk is the best alternative. It works just as well, if not better. Its also one of the best value for money items you can have in your bag, a 250ml bottle costs just over £5 and is extremely long-lasting.
2. Lever Belt
Probably the most expensive bit of kit you will buy for your gym bag. However, once you use it you’ll never look back. Lever belts are made from much thicker leather and offer much more support than standard gym belts. As the name suggests they also have a lever buckle opposed to the common prong buckle. This makes it easier to achieve the right firm fit needed, quickly before your lift and equally can be taken off just as quickly after your lift. The belt will offer vital core support when going heavy on squats and deadlifts, by offering something for you to brace against whilst lifting. I was bought my first lever belt for my 19th birthday and I couldn’t imagine ever squatting heavy without it.
Before this, I had been using just a cheap double prong belt but the stiffness and support that the lever belt offers are on another level. A good quality lever belt will be at least £60. Obviously as with any equipment if you want the best quality then you shouldn’t look to save on the price, however, this is the one where you really shouldn’t! A good belt will offer massive benefits to your training and last for a very long time! I am in fact still using and will continue to use, the same lever belt that I was bought over 2 years ago. So, don’t buy cheap for the sake of it. Invest!
Too often I see people in the gym not recording what they are doing. This is without a doubt the biggest mistake you can make at any level of training. No matter what the goal is or what level you are at as an athlete you should record everything you do in the gym if you want to progress. This also means you should be following a structured training plan. Ensuring you’re training everything with the correct volume and intensity.
So whether you trust yourself to write your own programs or you want to hire an online coach to keep you on course to achieving your goals, it is vital you record everything! This can be done old school with just pen and paper or fed straight back to your online coach via apps such as Trainerize. I would without a doubt look into to getting an online coach. Somebody who is subjective and holds you accountable to your training, nutrition and lifestyle.
That was my top 5 gym bag essentials for any strength athlete. What they are, how they could help you and how they helped me! As always don’t hesitate to message me with any questions regarding training, nutrition or online coaching.