Whats In My Gym Bag? 10 Essentials for the Perfect Workout
What’s In My Gym Bag? 10 Essentials For The Perfect Workout
By: Evan Whitemyer
Owning proper equipment and gear is extremely important for athletes looking to perform at a high level, and it will help you be prepared for any test that you may see in training. This is not a packing list for the gym bag of a Crossfitter, but instead a list of what I keep in my bag that I believe prepares me for every workout.
- Shoes: Training, Lifting, and Running
Having the correct shoes is one of the most important parts of training. I own cross-training shoes, lifting shoes, and running shoes. I use running shoes when I am doing a track workout or a WOD (workout of the day) with a lot of running, training shoes for any traditional CrossFit Metcon (metabolic conditioning), and lifting shoes for squatting and any Olympic lifting I do. For cross-training, I wear the
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave. They are flexible enough that I can use them to run and do Metcons, while also stable enough for me to lift heavy and move well.
For lifting shoes, I wear the Reebok Legacy Lifter. They’ve been specially developed with weightlifting phenom CJ Cummings, are used by Olympians such as Sonny Webster, and are the choice lifter for athletes at the CrossFit Games. A lifting shoe with a raised heel gives you more ankle mobility and foot stability, meaning that your squats can be deeper and more stable.
Lastly, I think that it is important to own a pair of running shoes. While running shoes are not great for squatting or heavy weight training, they are great for workouts with a lot of running or agility drills. Compared to a lifting or training shoe, running shoes provide more support on the arch of our feet, allowing us to use our entire foot while running, not just the midfoot and forefoot. I have been wearing Saucony running shoes since I started running competitively in the 7th grade and they are consistently my favorite pair of shoes. They last for a long time and have done wonders for my long-term foot health.
Weightlifting belts are beneficial for anyone doing heavy lifting. They help decrease stress on the spine to prevent injury, allowing you to maximize core stability on lifts such as the deadlift or squat. I have tried leather and nylon belts, and I have felt that nylon belts work much better for my Olympic lifts. I currently use the Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt, which was developed with the help of 3-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser. The belt is durable, fits perfectly, and looks amazing.
Like a weightlifting belt, wrist wraps are beneficial for anyone doing heavy lifting. They provide joint support, which helps stabilize the wrist during any overhead/pressing movement. I prefer to use wraps when I do heavy pressing movements such as bench press, thrusters, push jerks, or overhead squats. I have been using the Rogue Wrist Wraps – White Series for about six months now and I love them. These have helped me with stability on my Olympic lifts and bench press, movements that I really enjoy doing in training.
Wrist straps aren’t a must-have for athletes, but I really enjoy using mine. NFQ is a veteran-owned apparel company that also makes lifting accessories. I use their Black NFQ Lifting Straps very frequently, for example on heavy deadlifts for high repetitions or accessory work where I want to save my grip a little bit. Many athletes use straps for long barbell complexes in order to save their grip. The quality is amazing, and they have helped to take my strength training to the next level.
I used to struggle with ripped hands quite often, and that all changed when I started using grips. I don’t usually use grips when I am doing barbell workouts, but instead use them on gymnastics movements such as muscle-ups, toes-to-bar, and pull-ups. While I still use chalk frequently in the gym, I have recently started using the Bear Komplex Carbon Fiber Grips. My hands have not ripped as much as they used to, and I am able to perform much larger sets of pull-ups and toes-to-bar.
More beneficial for recovery and movement prep rather than actual training, lacrosse balls are one of my favorite mobility tools that I believe are essential for any gym bag. I struggle a lot with shoulder mobility, and taking a lacrosse ball and rolling out my rotator cuffs before and after a workout has really helped. They are amazing for finding small points on the body that a regular muscle roller may not be able to hit, such as areas on the feet, calves, or back.
For a crossfitter, having a reliable jump rope is important since we do double-unders frequently in workouts. I use the Rogue SR-3 Bushing Speed Rope for workouts and it has helped me with double-unders a lot. My favorite option for a jump rope is a speed rope such as the SR-3 because I like how light it is and how the bearings on the side of the handles allow the rope to move much faster than traditional jump ropes.
This item is not as important for athletes to have, but I believe that it is a priority for a coach to have a training book whenever he/she is in the gym. Over the past few years I have accumulated a massive collection of training programs from fitness regimens including bodybuilding, CrossFit, and Powerlifting. I also have a large amount of goal setting workbooks, packets from seminars that I have attended, accessory work programs, diet templates, and much more. As a coach I think it’s important to constantly discover and read new material. Sometimes when an athlete has a question about certain movements to pair together, how his/her diet should look, or what rep scheme he/she should be using in his/her own training program, I can simply open up my binder and show him/her all sorts of information on the topic so that he/she can make a well-informed decision about his/her fitness and health.
Compression around major joints such as the knee can help increase blood flow and provide stability during lifts that have a large amount of knee flexion. I use my knee sleeves for squatting, lunges and any Olympic lifting I do. My knee sleeve of choice is the Rehband Rx Knee Sleeve in 5mm. I prefer the 5mm option over the 7mm and 3mm options because it is thick enough that I can use it effectively on heavy squats, but thin enough so that I can wear them during a WOD without sacrificing any comfort due to the level of compression.
Having water is more important for a workout than any other piece of equipment you have. Without easy access to water our joints will not be as lubricated and our body temperature can fluctuate: a recipe for disaster while training. In the gym I use the Rogue Blender Bottle. I have both the 20oz and 28oz bottle, as I like to use the smaller option for pre-workout and protein shakes, and the larger bottle for water. For athletes that are serious about nutrition, having a tool such as the Gostak Blender Bottle is great because there is room for protein powder, pre-workout, vitamins, and any other supplements you may be taking.