5 Things You Should Have In Your Gym Bag To Improve Results & Reduce Injuries

Right, I’ve been meaning to put together this list of things I always have in my kit bag for a while now. Many of these items can improve your training as well.
So here are 5 fitness items I urge you to get:
1. Lifting Straps
Lifting straps are used to literally strap your hands to the barbell. They are used in exercises where your grip strength is a limiting factor.
Such as deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows.
For example, on rack pulls without straps I can get to around 150kg but once I add the straps I can get to 300kg. If I were to never use the straps my back muscles would never get worked to their potential.
They are also great for those of you who find it hard to ‘feel’ your back muscles working because you tend to pull with your arm muscles (VERY common!)
Because your hands are basically ‘glued’ to the bar you can relax your grip slightly and therefore use the forearm and upper arm muscles much less.
You’ll get a pair for £10-15 max. Check them out here
2. Ankle Straps
I’ve only been using these myself for about 2 months as they are meant to be used for bum, thigh, and leg exercises. Exercises I rarely do…
However, I saw a bodybuilder using them for his shoulder training and decided to give them a try – and I’m SO glad I did!
Not only can I feel my shoulder muscles better (an area I really struggle with) while doing side raises, reverse flys, and chest flys but because I’m using them around my wrists (like the straps) I don’t have to tense my arm muscles.
Last year I had so much elbow pain that I could no longer lift 5kg on the bicep curl without pain.
Fast forward to now and I’m pain-free and able to do curls.
Which is great because my arm muscles were wasting away from not being to train them.
You’ll get a pair for £10. I have these ones here
3. A weightlifting belt
Weightlifting belts aren’t just reserved for those doing hardcore, heavyweights. Just about anyone can benefit from using one in the right situation.
A lifting belt is used to stabilise and support the lower back during exercise.
You use it to help brace your ab muscles, which adds more "core pressure" and makes lifting safer. I have clients use them, usually, in the final set. The one that’s going to be the heaviest and hardest.
You can get leather ones and ones made of strong materials. I don’t really think it matters too much. They’ll often set you back anywhere from £15 right up to over £100.
This one would suit most of you here
4. 0.25kg and 0.5kg plates
You might be wondering why you would ever need to buy your own weights when the gym is literally full of them…let me explain.
The lightest weight (for the bars) you’ll get in 99.9% of gyms is 1.25kg. Therefore if using a barbell the lowest weight increase you can do on an exercise is 2.5kg.
On the machines and cables, the weight blocks will often rise by 2-10kg depending on the brand and machine itself.
This can cause a problem. With smaller muscles, strength can be gained at a much slower rate and increases in strength are often much smaller.
So there will be times when you’ll want to lift a weight IN BETWEEN those jumps.
At the gym I used to pt at the cable machine was a nightmare. The lowest weight was 1.25kg and often too light and the next one was 3.75kg and often too heavy.
Nothing in between…
So, get a couple of your own that weight 0.25kg or 0.5kg and that problem is solved because you can make ‘micro’ jumps in the weight you use.
This will allow for some continuous progress.
Make sure you get the ones that fit Olympic barbells. The thickness of the bar is bigger than standard bars you might use at home.
Check them out here
5. Kwan Loong Oil
Like tiger balm but better. I love this stuff and use it for warming up and increasing the blood flow to the muscles I’m about to use.
It works very well on joints before training, especially knees and shoulders. I also find it’s great to rub onto the lower back.
The added warmth and blood helps you move better reducing the time it takes to warm up while reducing the risk of an injury.
It’s also great for other things like headaches.
A bottle will last you ages and set you back around £8 – Check it here
So there you go. 5 things I never go to the gym without…and I highly recommend you add these to your kit bag if you want to increase your results and reduce the risk of injury.
Phil Agostino
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