With Fitness advancing at such a rapid rate, it seems as though every day unveils a new and unique tool to help us through our journey. Some are the best thing since sliced bread. And some are absolutely useless. But it’s a matter of opinion, right?
Well, we both have tried & tested our fair share of gym gadgets and we can now confidently strut into the gym with our bags filled with tools we trust and rely on.
We have highlighted some of our essentials below. Everything that we use on a regular basis. Because we can pound our bodies all we want, but sometimes we just need a little extra something to get us to the finish line.
Without a doubt, free weights will always elicit the most response from your body. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are the only way to train your body. There are other methods out there that can push you in new ways and it’s certainly nice to switch it up every now and then (variety people – it’s the spice of life).
One of those methods is adding resistance bands to your training. They present a variable that free weights don’t. You could add a resistance band to your squats, your bench press, do push ups with them … let your mind run wild. They’ll add tension to your lifts where you never felt it before.
Aside from adding them into your training, I use resistance bands to warm up. Doing stretches to activate the shoulders, the chest and my hips.
My choice is Freeto Resistance Bands.These guys come in all levels of resistance. From 15lb all the way up to 165lb (one day I will be using that, just you wait). Add these to your arsenal and you’ll open up a whole new world!
I’ll be totally honest with all of you, I did not really start squatting seriously until I was 27. I always lifted in college, but it was all about the “aesthetically pleasing” muscles back then. Some chest, some shoulders, sprinkle in some abs and at least 3 arm days a week. Those polos needed to be tight around the arms.
Fast forward to 30 year old me and I’m not one to say I regret, but I definitely regret not getting under the squat rack much before then. My knees wish I did too. Today, I definitely take adequate precautions to make sure my joints are primed and ready to handle the grunt work of an intense leg day.
One of those precautions is to ensure my knees are secure when commencing compounds movements such as squats. Rock Tape Knee Caps are the best in the game from my own personal opinion. For those that need just a little extra knee support get involved and your knee joints will thank you.
If you haven’t embraced the powers of foam rolling, I implore you to embrace it immediately. As we get older, our body needs a little more TLC to get going. We’re not as able to just jump into a workout and hit the ground running as we once were.
Even for the younger lifters, taking the 10 to 15 minutes to warm up now, could have endless benefits down the road.
So regardless of age, foam rolling could and should be an integral part of your weekly routine. Some of the benefits include
~ Increased blood flow to your muscles which in turn helps deliver oxygen
~ Helps relieve muscle tension
~ Increased range of motion
~ Decreased recovery time
If there is only one thing you take away from this article, then please let it be this one.
I swear by very few things, and this rub is one of them. Getting sore after an intense workout. Having some muscle aches from repetitive beatings in the gym. They are all unavoidable.
For all the aches and soreness that come from your training regimen, this rub works wonders. You’ll find some instant relief that few other things can provide.
This is my go to shoe for leg day and/or deadlifts. And if you know, I love my leg day & deadlift days. It’s a very functional shoe and allows you to perform normal movements without much restrictions.
For squats, it allows you to get deep in the hole without much movement. Keeps you stable on walking lunges. For deadlifts, it gives you a nice stable, flat surface where you can really explode from.
An Olympic bar pad was the first ever gym accessory I bought myself and it has remained the best $12 I have ever spent. As I started to move heavier weight around in the gym for exercises such as squats, glute bridges, walking lunges, and good mornings the bare bar became more and more uncomfortable on my neck and hips. I even began to get small bruises on the bones (I’m a delicate flower – what can I say). The addition of the bar pad has definitely made working out more comfortable for me AND fun fact – Dan has even been known to borrow the pad from time to time for his glute bridges.
So, while the olympic bar pad was the cheapest accessory I bought myself for the gym, my versa grips were probably the most expensive at about $60 – BUT I will tell you they were absolutely worth every penny.
Anyone who knows me knows that for the longest time I shied away from deadlifts. I completely ignored the key lift for the entire first year I spent in the gym working out regardless of how many times people told me it was one of the cornerstones of weightlifting. I didn’t understand the hip hinge aspect, I was totally hunched over, I was afraid of the weight as it slipped out of my hands – the list just goes on and on and on… until I was introduced to Versa Grips. YOU CAN MOVE A FREAKING CAR WITH THESE THINGS!
Versa Grips are basically lift assisting wrist straps that help with grip strength as you train. The bar no longer slipped through my small hands as I deadlifted which allowed me to perfect my form and ultimately move a lot more weight. Thanks to Versa Grips I’m now a deadlifting queen!
I got a pair of Bear Grips as a present (amongst other things) from Dan for our first Valentine’s Day together (Romantic – I know!) and I’ve used them on a weekly basis ever since.
I always used to complain that seated rows and landmine rows were absolutely killing my hands. I didn’t want to be “that” girl in the gym lifting with a pair of gloves on, so I would try to fix the issue by wrapping the metal handles in paper towels. Well, not only did it not work but it didn’t really provide me with any cushion and my knuckles would be in so much pain by the end of my workout.
What’s so great about Bear Grips is not only do they help prevent blisters and calluses but they provide cushion for my joints and a silicone surface that grips and holds on to any metal attachment (though not as intensely as the Versa Grips) in the gym so it doesn’t slide out of your hands.
Alright, now here’s a tool that actually overlaps with Dan’s list – but for different reasons. While Dan likes to use resistance bands to add difficulty to his lifting (which I sometimes do as well), I like to use resistance bands to help me with difficult lifts (Are you starting to sense a theme here with my tools? Haha). While Dan uses resistance bands to add tension to squats, bench presses, etc.. I use them to help me when doing all different variations of pull-ups, which I normally wouldn’t be able to do on my own.
If you’ve read my post reviewing the Swoob, then you already know it’s my all-time favorite sports bra to wear in the gym. What’s so awesome about the Swoob is that is has a handy-dandy pocket in the front for you to stash anything from a key.. to a stick of chapstick.. to even your iPhone or iPod. It’s my go-to when I’m lifting just about anything that requires me to use a muscle from the waist up.
I tend to get very uncomfortable using an arm band when I lift because as my muscles pump I have to continually adjust the Velcro making the armband fit. With the Swoob, I just stick my iPhone in my sports bra and go about my business.
It’s also really easy to take my iPhone in and out of for all the times Dan wants me to take pictures or videos of him in the gym – No unplugging my headphones, taking my iPhone out of my armband, taking a picture, putting my phone back in my armband, re-plugging my headphones, and adjusting the Velcro, etc.. etc.. etc.. (so annoying!). Oh – and as an added bonus – the company has really awesome values!