Must Have Pieces for Your Home Gym or Gym Bag!
Number One...A Nice Barbell
Get a good barbell or find a gym that has descent barbells! Now while not everyone will be able to drag their own barbell around to every gym they go to it isn't entirely uncommon if you have one that you really, really like.
Find a descent priced barbell that will withstand up to 1000lbs, that have a descent bearing spin on the weight bearing portion and that have a good knurling that isn't super aggressive on the hands, but resists sliding around. Generally these types of barbells will run you about $300-500.
Trust me, they're worth it and you won't have to buy another barbell. Unless you're like me and have to have unconventional barbells that accommodate for every lifting scenario you can imagine.
You can always trust the Khabuki Strength Lab and Elite FTS to do a great job at providing quality barbells.
Number Two...Get a TRX strap
Now a TRX is probably the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment that you can carry around in your gym bag and still be able to do those ever so important rowing and pulling motions nearly anywhere.
We used to carry one of these in our kit while out on missions to who-knows-where in order to get a descent body weight resistance workout anywhere you could secure the TRX up in a high space.
You can literally do a full body workout on a TRX with minimal effort and set-up time, and it costs about $100 (or $150 for a really good one).
Number Three...An Ab Roller
An ab roller is a great piece of equipment that you can throw into your gym bag to get a fantastic core workout with very little space. You can do multiple variations of abdominal exercises with one $5 dollar roller that you can train your core in basically any gym or floor space.
The traditional method of extending out from the hips and shoulders simultaneously is a fantastic core exercise that involves bracing while moving horizontally that can truly torch your abdominals without having to perform thousands of situps and crunches. Well, worth your $5 expenditure.
Number Four...A Good Set of Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are great for any accommodating resistance exercise that will change the strength curve of nearly any exercise that you can attach a band.
You can use it for adding additional load to the bench press or squat to either increase the weight at the top of the lift or help ease pressure of the bottom for achy joints by attaching the bands at the top.
You can use them to assist with your pull-ups and dips to squeeze out a higher rep range when you're starting out training. Or you can attach them to a rack or dumbbell and use them to help add resistance on the way up.
Nearly any exercise you can think of you can add bands to in order to increase the load either plus or minus in your favor to change the intensity along the exercise.
You'll want to buy a set of two heavy bands, two intermediate bands and two light weight bands for the most versistility. A good set should cost you under $100 for the full set.
Number Five...A Knobby Roller and Lacrosse Ball
These two are quite important pieces of soft tissue release that will benefit your efforts in the gym greatly by enhancing your ability to move and release small knots and muscular tension.
If you're wanting to lift and continue to lift often, having these two pieces in your gym bag are essential and for less than $60 dollars you can get both.
While many gyms are starting to carry these, it's often beneficial to have your own that way you don't have to wait for that one essential roller. And having a lacrosse ball is just easy money to hit those hard to reach areas that a roller just can't get into (ie. the glutes and top of the IT band).
Number Six...A Shoulder Saver Pad
This little addition made it into my gear bag after attending the Learn to Lift Seminar at Elite FTS. It really helps control the range of the barbell and functions to lessen the impact of heavy benching on the shoulders while benching. Great for anyone who has shoulder problems or simply needs to modify the range of the lift (ie. as in block presses for lockout strength).
Number Seven...A Solid Lifting Belt
Get a solid powerlifting belt if you're going to lift heavy. Forget those panzy belts that are half a millimeter thin and ride up way to high in the back. Get a belt you can breathe into and feels solid. Now you can tackle those heavy squats and deadlifts with a bit more safety and keep the strain on the bar, not on your back.
Keep mindful to always use a belt when you need it, not for just pulling lighter weights to keep your core strong. If you're not lifting over 85% of your max weight, you may never even need a belt. Although it's useful if you have trouble with your back and sometimes you just need a little extra protection.
Number Eight...Get A Set of Wrist Wraps
Any lifter whose serious is going to get some wrist, elbow or knee wraps to protect their joints from overuse and heavier lifts. You wouldn't go out on a football field without any pads.
If you want to go heavy, you might as well protect yourself appropriately. Keep yourself and your joints happy so you can keep lifting for a long, long time to come.
There you have it folks, a collection of some of my favorite pieces of accessory gear that you can have in your gym bag or home gym.
Now let's go GSD!
Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.