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Gym Bag Basics: 11 Items You Need in the Gym
The truth is, your gym bag basics don’t need to be basic at all.
Sure, you want them to be simple and easy to pack, carry, store, use, etc.
However, basic in terms of quality or utility is not at all what you should be thinking about.
Think big, as in getting big, and utilizing the best of the best in your gym bag.
Your gym bag basics all have a purpose — these are tools.
With accessories, specific clothing, and grooming gear, you’ll be in and out of the gym effortlessly.
Put the focus back on the actual workout and leave the technical stuff to us (we’re here to do the hard thinking for you).
Having some (or all) of the items on our list will ensure your gym days are the most optimal of all.
P.S. I am not including a gym lock in this list, although it is essentially a gym bag basics item because that is pretty much a given!
Now, let’s get to it!
Gym Bag Basics: Daily
Having a water bottle as one of your gym bag basics is mandatory.
Your water bottle will optimize your workouts by keeping you hydrated, but also by allowing you to avoid constant trips to the water fountain.
When you are consistently going to the water fountain to get a drink, you are taking large amounts of time away from training, especially if you are waiting behind someone else to get that quick sip of water.
Do yourself a favor — keep a water bottle handy, full, and ready to keep you hydrated!
Towels are important to have ready daily in your gym bag basics for two main reasons: to keep clean during your workout and to get clean after.
So, basically, what I’m recommending here is to have two types of towels — a hand/smaller towel and a full-size bath towel.
Sure, the bath towel is optional, as not everyone chooses to shower at their gym (some gyms don’t have showers, either).
However, if you normally pack a gym bag, I’d say a hand towel is necessary.
Why, you ask?
Well, that towel will allow you to both protect your head while sitting/laying on any machines or equipment, and it’ll also be useful when you need to wipe your sweat.
Trust me, some gyms are incredibly dirty and you can get sick, break out in hives or rashes, and develop acne from having no barrier between your skin and the workout equipment.
So, avoid as much of that as possible by having a towel!
That’s right, today’s lesson for your gym bag basics: don’t forget to bring a towel :)
Let’s not even start the conversation about how terrible it is to forget your headphones.
Nowadays, with technology where it is, most of us have a pair of Bluetooth headphones ready to go.
However, if you forget those, or they are dead, it’s also nice to have standard headphones nestled with the rest of your gym bag basics to always be ready to kill in the gym!
Put on your favorite tunes and get ready to lift some heavy ass weight!
- Senso Bluetooth Headphones
- Mpow Flame Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones
- Audiophile Elite Earbuds
- Mpow Bluetooth Foldable Headphones
In my opinion, gym gloves deserve to be one of your daily gym bag basics because they not only help with your grip on a variety of lifts, but they’ll protect your hands, too.
For certain people, having callouses and hands that are clearly put to hard work isn’t exactly the look they’re going for.
Hell, for some people, they need to have “presentable” hands.
So, the extra protection you receive from gym gloves will be beneficial in both utility and aesthetic aspects.
A pair of gloves are like the one gym accessory that is super convenient to always have and they never get in the way or make your workouts difficult to do — so consider them gym bag basics approved!
- Dark Iron Fitness Leather Gym Gloves (Alternate Link)
- Fit Active Fabric Gym Gloves
- Trideer Fabric Weightlifting Gloves
A spare set of clothes is super nice to have whether you shower at the gym or not.
Sure, maybe you’ll need to wait to shower when you get home, but you can still throw on something clean and not sweaty.
Having a basic tee or tank is crucial, along with another pair of shorts, sweats, or actual pants.
If you do have the time and luxury of showering, then you can obviously bring a more substantial pair of spare clothes.
However, for the sake of ease and a more fitness-oriented approach, I am recommending your spare clothes be another (clean) set of gym wear.
There’s no feeling worse than having sweaty clothes and then sitting in your car on that drive back home — it’s actually bad for your skin as well.
Skip all those hassles and keep a set of clothes ready to go in your gym bag basics.
- Dark Iron Fitness Tank Top
- Champion Mesh Shorts w/ Pockets
- Under Armour Short Sleeve Tech Shirt
- David Archy 3 Pack Fast Dry Performance Boxer Briefs
- Men’s: Nike Performance Socks (6 Pack)
- Women’s: Adidas Superlite Socks (6 Pack)
Gym Bag Basics: On Occasion
Exercise Specific Shoes
One problem that people run into in the gym is “having the wrong shoes.”
I’ve heard it said many times and usually disregard it as fact, but sometimes it could be an actual problem.
For example, I wouldn’t recommend you run in squat shoes, just as I wouldn’t recommend you squat in runners.
Although, you can basically do anything in any shoes.
The real reason to have exercise specific shoes is to optimize your training and perform your movements as safe as possible.
If you’re in the market to purchase different shoes to bring along to the gym in your gym bag basics, then, by all means, do so.
They are definitely a great tool to have on occasion — particularly for squat days, deadlift days, and running days.
- Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High Top
- Asics GEL Venture 5 Running Shoes
- Nordic Lifting Powerlifting Shoes
- Adidas Adipower Weightlifting Shoes
You won’t always need a weightlifting belt.
But, when you are doing classic compound movements: squats, deadlifts, even bench press, it’ll be useful to have a belt.
Keeping your core tight, your form strict, and your exercises safe will lead to overall progression.
Progressive overload is far easier to reach and strive for, safely, with the use of a weightlifting belt.
You won’t have to lug a belt around every time you go to the gym, but a belt should be a staple in your gym bag basics.
For example, our weightlifting belt can be rolled up nice and conveniently to be stored on one side of your gym bag.
Those looking to perform some massive lifts in the gym should think about getting a belt, for sure!
- Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weightlifting Belt (Alternate Link)
- Fire Team Fit Fabric Belt
- Harbinger Foam Core Weightlifting Belt
Another great gym bag basics item to have is a pair of lifting straps.
As with a weightlifting belt and specific shoes, you won’t always need these, but they come in handy quite often.
Whether you are going for a PR, a one rep max or you just want to secure your grip better, lifting straps can assist with the job.
There are many options out there and most won’t cost you too much money.
In my opinion, lifting straps are a really small investment that packs a lot of value and utility.
The next time you go to deadlift and can’t keep your grip, consider picking up some lifting straps.
Sure, chalk is great, but most gyms ban it and we all know how messy it can get.
Lifting straps, on the other hand, are never an inconvenience.
- Dark Iron Fitness Suede Leather Lifting Straps (Alternate Link)
- Anvil Fitness Fabric Lifting Straps
- Grip Power Pads Neoprene Lifting Straps
Gym Bag Basics: Luxuries
Another item that can be a part of the gym bag basics list is more of a luxury: a fitness tracker.
Why a luxury?
Well, they are useful, can track and hold a lot of information, but aren’t necessary.
If you want the most detailed information regarding your training and workout, then yeah, use one.
Take it even further, you can simply track your workout times by using the clock in the gym.
So, though I do believe a fitness tracker is a luxury, it is without a doubt useful.
Another luxury would be having your protein as a tool in your gym bag basics.
Your protein, whether a powder or meal, is a luxury to have immediately after the gym.
It can be annoying to pack food or an extra bottle of protein, but it is also beneficial.
There are mixed reviews about the optimal “eating windows”, but I look at it more as time management.
If you are busy and need to head to work after the gym, you don’t want to spend time making shakes or meals after the gym.
Have them already prepared and ready to go!
You can even consider a few protein bars in your gym bag as part of your essentials.
However, make sure you clean your bag often and keep tabs on the quality of edible items you leave in there.
You don’t want to end up eating a protein bar that’s a year old, melted, sitting with gym socks the whole time.
Protein: a tool for growth that can be a luxury gym bag basics staple!
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein
- MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder
- Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein
- ONE Protein Bar (12 Pack)
Grooming Tools and Other Toiletries
Having a Dopp kit or toiletries back is definitely a gym bag basics luxury.
You wouldn’t necessarily be using these grooming tools every time you are at the gym.
Unless, of course, you go to the gym every morning and have time to shower, shave, brush your teeth, etc.
But, most people don’t have that time, nor patience to factor these luxuries into their gym routine.
However, having grooming tools as a gym bag basics is truly helpful.
Everyone out there who is ready to get things done will make time to do their grooming, too.
A kit with tweezers, a toothbrush, comb, shower gels, deodorant, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, etc. will go a long way.
If you can actually use toiletries in the gym, then they are a luxury that belongs in your gym bag basics.
- Utopia Grooming Kit
- Men’s Convenience Kit
- Women’s Convenience Kit
- Vikings Blade Safety Razor + Blades
- Philips Norelco OneBlade Hybrid Trimmer and Shaver
- DUDE Face Wipes (3 Pack)
Final Thoughts on Gym Bag Basics
The Daily Shuffle
The great thing about this list is that not all of the items are “daily” items.
So, that means you can do a daily shuffle with what is and isn’t in your bag.
Don’t get too caught up on having everything all of the time.
Instead, focus on having what you need for that day; that workout.
You can continually shuffle your gym bag basics — these 11 items are simply cornerstones to success.
Trial and Error
Not all of these items I’ve listed will be the best for everyone.
I’d suggest by practicing packing your bag and seeing what works in the gym for you.
It is all trial and error.
You like some things, hate others.
Some items get used constantly, while others hardly ever get taken out.
If you are someone who never showers at the gym, save space by forgoing the bath towel.
Obviously, trial and error will get you as close as possible to the perfect gym bag basics.
Tailor to Your Goals
Lastly, make sure your gym bag basics are tailored to your goals!
If you are attempting to get stronger legs, constantly doing squats, then maybe you want to have your weightlifting belt or barbell pad.
For those focusing on cardio, you may find that packing a specific pair of running shoes and a sweat towel will be extremely useful.
The beauty of your gym bag basics is that they reflect the way you train.
Always focus on your goals, what you need to achieve those goals, and pack accordingly.
Do you have everything on this list?
What are your favorite gym bag basics? Let us know below!
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