Everyone has their own gear for the gym they can’t be without. But is there anything you are missing to get the most out of your workouts? It is my passionate belief that with a few simple tools you can maximise your gym results. Simple things available to anyone, too. Let’s get stuck in with these gym essentials:
1. Training Diary
Getting better at the gym – training to grow, or to lose weight – is all about slow, constant improvement. So rather than guesswork and an “I-think-it-was-this-much-last-time” attitude, arm yourself with all the information you need to excel, especially if you’re up for tackling something like my chest routine. Every session, you should be aiming to improve in a tiny way – be it an extra rep, an extra set, or adding another 5lb to the bar. Explosive gains are nice, but there comes a time where you have to grind, and that’s where the diary comes in. I really truly recommend you use a pen and paper diary rather than your phone or an app. Your phone is a distraction when you’re lifting, keep it in the locker, to keep your rest between sets tight. There’ll be time for selfies when the work is done.
Talking of keeping your rest tight – the stopwatch is definitely one of my best gym essentials. Rest between sets is really crucial to having an intense workout to get the hypertrophy you’re after. Don’t zone out watching the news, don’t chat or jump on Facebook Messenger. Ideally, go old-school with a wrist watch and keep a strict watch on your one minute or two minute rests. You’ll be done quicker for a start, and you’ll be feeling the results. I honestly think most folks who don’t time themselves would be surprised if they found out how long they were really spending pausing before they pick the bar up again. As above, avoid keeping time on your phone. Plenty of smartwatches these days can keep you sorted, and connected.
3. Lifting Gloves
As an early lifter, I was super-proud of the callouses I developed on my hands from training. It was a novelty, showing how the smoothness of my youth was giving way to something tougher. But little did I realise my lifts would be going so much better if I grabbed a pair of weightlifting gloves and made them part of my gym essentials. It’s not universal – when it comes to pullups and deadlifts, I absolutely shed them to put some skin on the bar. But a good pair of gloves will last you years and help your grip strength for all kinds of free weight movements, especially when you’re swinging stuff around for the arms.
… because what are you, an animal? No really. Any gym worth it’s salt is going to give you a hard time if you show up without a towel to wipe down with. But even flouting this common hygienic courtesy, you’ll be wasting time if you have to go hunting for the sanitation wipes and stations to clean up with. But really, it doesn’t matter. Keep the intensity up, and bring your towel.
5. Water Bottle
Lastly, make sure you have access to some good old fashioned H2O. If you have the money to pitch in, by all means there are some intra-workout supplements which will give you a bit of gas. But having your own portable supply of water as you train is a must if you don’t want to go wandering for hydration. Losing time, dropping intensity. In competition prep I’ve never had to use intra-workout supplements, but the focus on water intake cannot be overstated. Help the planet by using your own re-usable water bottle, and you’ll be crushing your goals in no time.