What's In The Bag?!
I thought it would be fun to go through what I carry around in my gym bag with me at all times, so you guys have an idea of what sort of equipment that I use. To my friends, they know my gym bag as “The Zombie Apocalypse Bag” because they think that there is too much in it...they just don’t understand.
I wanna start this off by saying that the things that I use are merely a suggestion and can only supplement your training; not provide some magical superpowers to help you lift more weight or build more muscle.
With that being said, let’s get into it!
First things first, the most important part of your gym bag (in my opinion) is your shoes. These are the things between your body and the ground, they are what connects you to the earth when you have a heavy load in your hands or on your back.
I personally carry around 2 pairs of shoes with me in my gym bag. Let’s talk about my general training shoes: Nike Metcon 1’s. I’ve had these shoes for almost 4 years, and they have been my favorite training shoe of all time with a lot of versatility. They provide a good, flat sole with lots of grip for grinding out reps. They feature a “zero drop” heel meaning that your foot sits flat with no raising of the heel. They provide good support for most everything that I do as far as training as well as some nice stylish colorways. Here in the next year or so, I might think about getting another pair and retire my current ones. However, these are still in great shape and definitely have a lot more life left in them.
A note on that last sentence: I NEVER wear my gym shoes anywhere other than the gym. I have shoes that I wear to the gym where I change into my training shoes, and then I change back out of my training shoes before I leave the gym. This is especially helpful in the winter if you live somewhere where it snows, so you’re not that guy or gal that’s walking around the gym with wet shoes.
Overall, the Nike Metcon 1’s give me a lot of confidence in performing any sort of lift, or exercise and are a shoe that I definitely recommend. Here’s a link to the new version of the Metcon for your enjoyment.
Now for the second pair of shoes. I do have a pair of lifting shoes, and these are a fairly recent purchase for me. As I started getting more and more into strength training and really approaching training for myself and for my clients from an efficiency standpoint, I decided to get some squat shoes. I have the Reebok Legacy Lifter shoe as my squat shoe. Since I purchased these, I have fallen in love. It is now rare for me to every squat in my flat soled shoes since getting these, I do it every now and then to switch things up but it’s hard to beat the feel of these shoes when you got the bar on your back.
These shoes provide a lot of stability and a good heel. The sole is very sturdy and is made to be put under pressure. If you do a lot of squatting (which you should - unless you have a severe physical limitation that prevents you from doing so) you should invest in a pair of lifting shoes. This shoe provides a ¾” raised heel, which is around average for most lifting shoes and dual straps for added support. The one thing that I wish was a little better on these shoes is the traction. While the sole is very supportive and sturdy, if you ever find yourself squatting on a wood platform, they don’t grip very well. But overall that’s a minor thing, and generally, you can find somewhere to squat with a rubber surface. Here’s a link to the Reebok Legacy Lifter.
Now that the most important pieces of my bag are out of the way, let’s talk supportive equipment. 2 of the 3 items that I use for supportive equipment are relatively new to me but I am thoroughly enjoying them.
First: knee sleeves. Knee sleeves are something that I had never worn in my life but once I started getting into strength training and after my knee surgery I figured it couldn’t hurt to try them. So I found a pair on Amazon that were inexpensive and would at least give me an idea if I liked them or not. The pair I currently have is the Iron Bull Strength knee sleeves. They feature a 7mm thickness which is standard for knee sleeves as well as 6 different colorways to choose from. The purpose of knee sleeves in to give any actual energy into the lift but to increase more of the neurological feedback during the lift. They also help keep the knee warm which for me has helped a lot and allowed me to get through longer, more intense training sessions. Since using knee sleeves, I highly recommend getting yourself a pair if you do a lot of squatting (again, which you should ;) ) and also if you have any knee discomfort, they can help you feel more confident under the bar.
Second: wrist wraps. Again, something I didn’t use until I started to get into strength training, but something that I have grown to love, especially as of late. Wrist wraps help provide some support and stability through the wrist joint when performing any lift: squat, bench, overhead press, dumbbell work, etc. These have been a life-saver for me recently as I took a spill on my mountain bike and tweaked my wrist. These allowed me to get through all of my training without aggravating my wrist. They are also very helpful when you start to get really heavy with your bench.
The best part is, they are REALLY cheap and an easy way to get some support.
Third (and final): wrist straps. What’s the difference you ask? Wrist straps are a way of supporting your grip allowing you to pick up things you normally can’t hold on to. These are something I don’t use very often, but it is nice to have them handy. The time I like to use them the most is if I’m doing a lot of pull-ups because a lot of times, my grip will give our before my back and they allow me to move some of the focus from my grip, to the actual movement. Again, these are relatively inexpensive and sometimes nice to have just in case. I’m not sure the exact brand that I have, but here is a link to some good ones.
Lastly, the miscellaneous gear that I have in my bag.
Let’s start off with what I would say is my favorite miscellaneous piece or pieces of equipment: my Rogue resistance bands. I use these every day for shoulder warm ups and absolutely love them. If the gym I’m at has the ability to set these up for some banded squats, or bench then I will most certainly use them for that. For the most part, I use these as a warmup tool.
Foam roller and lacrosse balls. I grouped these two together because they essentially serve the same purpose. I typically don’t use my lacrosse balls all that often, but they are nice to have handy. I use my foam roller more often, but even then I don’t spend a lot of time on it. Most gyms will have a foam roller there, but I prefer to take my own so that way I never have to worry if someone else is using it or if you can’t find one laying around the gym.
Chalk. Chalk is something that I think anybody who is lifting heavy weights relative to themselves needs. A lot of gyms don’t allow chalk but even when I’m in those gyms, I use chalk, just not like an asshole. Chalk is a good tool to help decrease the sweatiness of your palms and allow you to grip the barbell better. It can be used for other things but that’s the main purpose of it. I keep mine in a Rubbermaid container and that keeps it from getting everywhere in my bag, plus it prevents it from getting everywhere in the gym when you pull it out. You can find chalk at most big sporting goods chain stores such as Dick’s.
Last but not least, my Rogue SR-3 speed rope. This is an underrated tool that everyone can get for cheap, carry around in their bag, and get a good conditioning workout anywhere. As most of you know, I’m not a fan of running or any sort of steady-state, endurance-type training. What I do enjoy is more of high-intensity conditioning and one of my favorites is jump rope because of its simplicity and the amount of muscle involved as well as the conditioning benefits. I bought this jump rope from Rogue about 2 years ago and use it all the time. Rogue has a few more expensive options that I’m sure are unparalleled, but for the price, this is a high-quality speed rope.
There you have it! That’s my gym bag and all of the stuff inside of it. Hope you found this enjoyable and if you have any suggestions of other quality training goods, shoot me a message on social, drop a comment or email me! I’d love to hear about some new accessories. Also, if you end up trying any of the above products, I’d love to hear how you enjoyed them!