Gym Bag Essentials

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Nov 13,2023|10 min| 1492

Top Gym Bag Essentials for Every Fitness Enthusiast

What to keep in your gym bag for the best workouts

When it comes to entering the gym and getting into a grueling workout, there is nothing worse than forgetting what you need to complete your workouts in the most optimal way. Whether you are a powerlifter, an Olympic weightlifter, or a bodybuilder, you do not want to get caught without your gym bag essentials like workout clothes, shoes, a weightlifting belt, and other necessary items. There are plenty of different items, including lockers, that you should absolutely have in your gym bag at all times, so what are they?

We have broken down a list of exactly what you need to keep in your gym bag to make sure the workouts do not stop.

Weightlifting Belt

The first item on the list of gym bag essentials is a weightlifting belt. Weightlifting belts found in the gym bags of many bodybuilders, powerlifters, and weightlifters. You will usually find that they are made of leather, but can also be made of other materials, such as nylon. 

A weightlifting belt goes around the abdomen rather than the waist, like a typical belt would. What a weightlifting belt is designed to do is assist in the bracing of the abdomen, as well as supporting the back, essentially forcing you to lift more with your legs, rather than your back which can help to reduce the risk of injuries

The reason weightlifting belts are gym bag essentials is because they are allowed in many powerlifting and weightlifting meets, so there is no harm in throwing one on during training and getting used to the feel. Especially when you are lifting heavy, it cannot hurt to throw a weightlifting belt on for your deadlift PR, or when you are trying to hit a 1 rep on your squat

Elbow Sleeves and Knee Sleeves

Pictured: Chloe Butler Squatting in Knee Sleeves

Moving onto the next items on our list of gym bag essentials, come elbow and knee sleeves. These items are essential for protecting your joints during some of your most important lifts. Starting with elbow sleeves, they are exactly how they sound, sleeves that go over your elbows and provide compression, further cushioning your joints on heavy movements that usually involve pushing, such as the bench press during your chest day, or overhead press during your shoulder day. For those who prefer low-impact workouts like yoga, elbow and knee sleeves may not be necessary, but they are still important to consider for those who incorporate strength training into their fitness routine.

When it comes to knee sleeves, they are just like elbow sleeves that go over your knees. These lifting accessories are great for exercises such as squats or hack squats, and even the leg press, as they provide the extra support to your knees to reduce risk of injury. 

Both elbow and knee sleeves are allowed in competition, so there is no harm in training with them on and getting used to the feeling.

Wrist Wraps and Straps 

Next on the list of gym bag essentials are two items that are similar, but provide support for different areas, and you really should have both in your bag at all times. Wrist wraps and straps, are of those pieces of gym equipment to keep in your bag that can really work for your overall benefit when it comes to lifting big. They wrap tightly around your wrists and hands, providing stability and reducing sweat and blisters from chalk for movements such as the bench press or overhead press.

Wrist straps on the other hand are designed to help with your grip and are often used for pulling exercises. They are looped onto your wrist, and go across the palm of your hand, and then wrap around the barbell, dumbbell, or machine that you are utilizing. Lifting straps offer relief for your palms from the tension caused by gripping the bar during heavy lifts. Lifting straps do sometimes boost your numbers on lifts such as the deadlift and barbell row, or just about anything that requires forearm and grip strength.

One pro of lifting straps is that they assist greatly in incorporating progressive overload into your regimens. This is because you are able to lift more weight than you normally would, so your body is able to get used to heavier weights, but you sacrifice the ability to increase grip strength. 

Wrist wraps are typically allowed in strength competitions, so there is no harm in training with them on. However, straps are not allowed in competition, so it is important to not become dependent on them. Instead, train with them in moderation to get your body used to heavy weight, but do not let them make your grip strength deteriorate. 

Resistance Band

Pictured: Chloe Butler doing banded deadlifts

A good resistance band is absolutely a gym bag essential, along with a gym towel, and that is for a multitude of reasons. One reason is for the aid in warming up, as a resistance band can be used to stretch out, warm up the muscles, and get blood flowing throughout the body, preparing you for a day of heavy lifting. Additionally, a massage tool like the Hyperice Hypersphere Go is a must-have for targeting specific muscles and aiding in recovery from germs. It is recommended to have different bags for different modalities, such as a home gym bag, as well as antibacterial microfiber towels, like the ones included in the pack from Quick-Dry Towels, to avoid carrying unnecessary items in one bag.

Another thing that resistance bands are good for is adding resistance to your lifts. Look into exercises such as banded squats, deadlifts, or bench press, it adds different tension to the movements and can help you break through plateaus. 

Shaker Bottle

A shaker bottle is absolutely essential to your gym bag, and that is for its versatility. You can use it as a regular old water bottle, reusable water bottle, or something to mix up your pre-workout, protein powder, or other supplements that can fuel your workouts and help you recover after training. A shaker bottle is designed specifically to grind up your supplements and make sure that you are not getting a mouthful of chalky or lumpy liquids.

Weighted Vest

A weighted vest, or a plate carrier, is a versatile tool that can be added to bodyweight exercises, such as pull-ups, to increase resistance. You can also use a weighted vest during cardio to burn more calories, helping you achieve that weight loss much faster.

Your Phone

Yes that is right, the last item on our list of gym bag essentials is your phone and headphones, and no not because we want you to listen to music or text in between sets. Instead, your phone is a great way to track your workouts and see how exercises are done, especially with the help of a fitness tracker. If you have questions on how to do something, the answers are right at your fingertips, and when it comes to seeing how far you’ve come, it’s all right there on your phone or keychain, including a fitness tracker and heart rate monitor if you choose to use one.

Your phone is also a tool to find new programs. To find the most popular and proven lifting programs, including ULUL and PPL, check out the free Boostcamp App. You can find tons of science-based workout routines for bodybuilding and powerlifting made by renowned evidence-based coaches. Boostcamp also lets you create your own custom routines and log your progress.

Gym Bag Essentials Wrap Up

Overall, there are plenty of different things that you should have in your gym bag at all times. From items that support you during your workouts, to helping you track your progress and find new programs.

What’s in your gym bag? Let us know!


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