10 Best Gym Bag Essentials for Beginners (2021) | Home Gym Edition

Hi, my name is Bozhidar, and today, I’m going to cover my top 10 best gym bag accessories that I normally carry inside my gym bag.

Or at least the ones I used to care before I built my home gym which I currently train in. 

Don’t worry all the essential items I’m going to show you next work the same for both a home gym as well as a commercial one.

From personal experience, I have to say that all 10 items are going to help you get faster and better results on a fairly regular basis in the gym.

So I highly recommend you to stick with me till the very end in order to see exactly what you need to have and why.

Let’s begin.

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What Are The 10 Best Gym Bag Essentials for Beginners You Need To Have

What Are The 10 Best Gym Bag Essentials for Beginners You Need To Have

Before I begin I want to let you know that I’m not going to cover them in any particular order.

Instead, I’ll start with some of the more expensive ones and move down the list.

Here we go.

1. Nice Pair of Workout Shoes

So let’s just get right into it and start with the first gym back essential – workout shoes.

The purpose of a good weightlifting shoe is to provide you a strong and stable base to push off of.

Now what I’ve done in the past, which is really not a good idea is I just used my regular cross-trainers.

But cross trainers are not made for this type of training. 

They’re made to run on trails and do other things so they’re really kind of spongy and when you’re doing things like squatting, for example, you don’t want to be introducing a lot of instability because in the long-term you’re going to injure yourself.

So what I prefer is a flat heel shoe.

Here are my favorite ones I use regularly.

Nike Metcons – Best Flat Heel Workout Shoes for Regular and Home Gym 

Click here to check their latest price on Amazon

So we have the Nike Metcon as the number 1 choice but that’s my preference.

You could go for an elevated heel as well. 

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, what I did in the past, it just used regular Chuck Taylors.

They were also good enough for probably half the price

But the materials aren’t made exactly for working out and your feet become sweaty in time.

What both these types of shoes are going to do for you is you will have a flat heel rather than a design that has a lot of different purposes.

But when I use a flat heel, I’m getting a strong, stable base to dissipate that weight.

That base is going to sit much more flat than a shoe that has not so flat heels.

Even if both types of shoes sat flat when you compare the one next to the other, there’s not as much surface area and you have gaps with the non-flat heel models.

Instead with these 2 models above you’ve got a harder heel to push into so you’re kind of dissipating that weight, giving yourself a good platform to kind of produce power and lift.

It doesn’t matter which generation you use, though some of the older Metcons, aren’t really this stylish.

But many people like an elevated shoe because it puts some people into a better posture for lifting, so you could get something like the Adidas Powerlift 4 if your hip and lower body flexibility is limited.

Adidas Powerlift 4 – Best Workout Shoes for Limited Ankle and Hip Flexibility (Help With Posture)

Click here to check Adidas Powerlift’s latest price on Amazon

They are good introductory-level kind of elevated shoes that are perfect for people that want to have higher heels but don’t lack the needed stability.

And if you wanted to upgrade from here, most people are just going to go to Adidas Adipower.

Adidas Adipower – Best High Heel Workout Shoes for Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, and Strength Training

Check their latest price on Amazon

Now Adipower is kind of like Powerlift 4 just on a whole another level, but if you like that preference, go for it and try them out.

I just don’t love them because if I need to go to the bathroom or do something else between sets, I don’t want to do that funny walk because of the high heels. 

It just looks a little weird and it’s uncomfortable and I’m already doing enough stuff and trying to be quick in the gym so it’s not my preference.

But if it is your preference and that’s how you’re comfortable squatting, the Adidas Adipower is a great option as well.

2. A Good Weightlifting Belt

Next on my list is the weightlifting belt.

I don’t think the importance of a good weightlifting belt can be overstated.

And I based this on experience.

Why do you need a weightlifting belt?

When I was lifting and I would say I was lifting for years and years, I never used a belt.

And then one day I was deadlifting and I was doing 405 and I got to almost my knees and I suddenly felt a pop in my back.

After that for months, I couldn’t do anything without feeling pain. If I got to like 20 degrees on my back, it would just take me out.

I couldn’t put my socks on. I couldn’t get in and out of bed, everything kind of hurt.

So you only get one back, right? It’s probably worth it.

How does a weightlifting belt work and why you need to use one

So what a weightlifting belt does is it increases internal abdominal pressure [1], which basically means as you put the belt on and you tighten your core, take a deep breath, and you kind of push out against the belt it’s going to stabilize and reduce stress on your spine [2].

You can also use it for lots of exercises.

I use mine for deadlifting and squat, some people will use it for overhead press and benching.

It has a lot of uses, but for example, when it comes to squats, it is my worst exercise.

I know it’s my worst exercise because I don’t have a lot of confidence with it when I place a lot of weight.

So by putting my weightlifting belt on, it helps me a lot when I get to those higher percentages.

We are talking about my 90% plus of my one rep max.

If you can do 10, 12 reps of a certain weight, you don’t need your belt, but when it gets those higher ranges, it’s okay to use it.

So if I get to a weight in squat, let’s say 350, 360 lbs, where I know I can do it, but I don’t have that confidence if I put the belt on, I can rep that out like nothing.

If I put 360 pounds on the bar and I go down without the belt, I start worrying about my back, I start thinking about other things.

And once I get in my head, as I said, it’s over.

So it’s a good confidence booster as well.

It’s kind of like you have somebody holding you at night.

How to pick a good weightlifting belt? (What to look for)

When it comes to weightlifting belts, there are a lot of styles and types, but what you want to get is one that is consistently the same thickness or the same width front to back.

You don’t want the ones that taper one way or the other.

And that’s again because as you’re adding this pressure to stabilize your core to prevent injuries [3] and you want that pressure to transfer equally.

The ProFitness Weightlifting Belt – Best Weightlifting Belt for Squat, Deadlift, and Back Support

Click here to check its latest price on Amazon

The ProFitness Weightlifting Belt is the best belt I’ve used so far.

This is a 4-inch belt that works great.

What I like about this specific belt is you can adjust it as you see fit. It allows me to adjust it for how I’m feeling and how much pressure I want to have.

The only problem with a belt like this for me personally is with very heavy squats.  

Because of my confidence issues I sometimes over-tighten it and I want to do three reps for example. I’ll get those first two reps and I’m going to be like “I can’t breathe” because I over-tighten it.

But if know exactly where to tighten it you won’t have these issues at all.

After all, I still have and use this belt and all of my friends have this belt.

For me, the ProFitness weightlifting belt is amazing, especially for the price and what it does for you. 

You can read up, you can watch videos to see if you are going to like it as well, but for most people, it’s going to be fine.

3. Thick Pair of Knee Sleeves

Next up, we have knee sleeves.

It’s good to know that knee sleeves are another good injury prevention measure.[4]

How knee sleeves work and why do you need them?

Basically, by compressing your knee, they’re going to improve blood flow and keep your knees warmer.

They can help in your lifts a little bit if you have ones that you’ve sized down on size.

For example, if your knee sleeves are a little bit smaller and a little bit thicker they could work, but in general, they’re not going to add 50 pounds to your squat.

But they can help just like a weight belt in your confidence and proper form.

So for me personally, I like to use my knee sleeves when I get to those higher rep ranges.

It is another thing where I feel like I’m not worried so much about my knees or my back and it helps me out.

They’re not knee wraps where they’re going to really add some elasticity to that lower range to help you come out of the bottom of that squat.

How to pick the best knee sleeves for working out?

For most people, I would suggest getting a 7mm thick knee sleeve.

Now there are 3 millimeter and 5-millimeter knee sleeves but you should go with the 7 mm if possible.

To be honest, 3 mm is really not doing much for you and 5 mm can work pretty well, depending on what you need but for me, I can get through everything I need to do at 7 mm of thickness. (click here to check my current 7mm knee sleeves)

If you’re sizing down a size and you want to use these for other things, they might be a little tight.

Rehband Knee Sleeves – Best Knee Sleeves for Working Out

Click here to check their latest price

Even if you can get cheap knee sleeves for about $20 or less the top 2 brands I personally use and recommend are the Rehband Knee Sleeves or the Stoic Knee Sleeves.

Those are both great but these are way more expensive.

We talk about an average price of about 2 or 3 times as much per sleeve as the cheaper ones.

They’re usually sold individually, but you’re going to get a heck of better quality in the material, in the stitching and they’re going to last a lot longer.

Typically they’re going to contour to your body better and it’s just overall like anything in life.

You pay for what you get.

These will last a lot longer for sure.

4. A Nice Set Of Resistance Bands

Next, we have resistance bands, which you can use for resistance work, obviously like bench press or for assistance work (Example video) like pull-ups but I actually use my most of the time for warmups.

Years ago, I hurt my shoulder benching because like most people I didn’t want to warm up and I learned that lesson the hard way so now I’ll do a lot of warmup stuff because it really helps [5] with the bands.

So for a really affordable price, you can buy some natural, latex bands like mine.

Bodylastics Bands Set  – Best Resistance Bands for Warming Up, Workout out, and Home Gym

Click here to check their latest price

These are the ones I personally currently use and recommend you check out.

Resistance bands are a really good investment, again, as a safety factor, but also to build up muscle. [6]

Along those same lines, you could have additional shorter hip bands like the Sports Research Mini Loop Bands, which are really great for glute activation, as long as you’re manly enough to use them.

And of course, in a home gym, who’s going to judge you?

But really they’re good for your hip adduction and abduction

They’re great for helping stabilize yourself in the squat and kind of building those muscles and things that we often neglect because we’re so busy with those other big compound lifts.

5. A Nice Set Of Strong Weightlighting Straps

Next, on my list, we have straps, which are really not that hard to put on once you figure it out.

And you’re going to use these for when your grip fails before the muscle you’re trying to work, does.

So for me, that exercise is barbell shrugs.

When I get into the last set I can’t hold the bar that well. I kind of run out of strength and my grip is failing before my actual traps are.

And that can happen for almost every exercise in which you need to hold a lot of weight for a long time.

But lucky for you, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on these.

You just want to find a good solid pair like the Gymreapers Lifting Wrist Straps.

Gymreapers Lifting Wrist Straps – Best Weightlifting Straps for Small and Big Wrists

Click here to check them out

They are not expensive, are quite strong and work great with different types of training.

If you want more comfort feel free to go with ones that have a thicker insert like the RIMSports Wrist Straps.

So if I were to do 365 pounds on a barbell shrug, my straps won’t really cut into my wrist if I wear the thicker insert ones.

But if you are not going to use such big weights you won’t have any issues with the Gymreapers.

But again, straps are not something you’re gonna spend a ton of money on and you’re just going to use them like I said, for when that grip is failing before the muscle.

6. Slingshot for Bench Press

The next gym bag essential for beginners you should try is the bench press slingshot.

Example of how a slingshot looks in action

How does a bench press slingshot work?

So basically what a slingshot does is it keeps your elbows in place when you’re benching.

Otherwise, for many people, it’s natural to flare our elbows out because it’s easier to press from that position but you’re putting a ton of stress on your shoulders.

Anybody who’s benched for a long enough time has a shoulder story that’s going to go along with that.

So what I now do is after you do your main set, I’ll put my slingshot on and I might do sets of three or sets of five at the same weight I just failed out at.

So it’s going to allow me to keep working those muscles without as much stress on those joints.

Because of the elasticity, you are also going to be able to push about 10 to 15% more weight depending on the person.

So another thing a slingshot can do is it can help you get used to those heavyweights.

Let’s say you’re stuck and you want to hit 315 lbs, but you can’t do it.

Lifting can be as much mental as it is physical so when you pull that 315 up the bench for the first time you start getting in your own head, you’re not going to push it off your chest.

Wearing a slingshot will allow you to work a little bit in a higher range than what you’re used to so when you get back to the 315, you have already felt 315, 325, you felt 335 so pushing  315 is going to be way easy.

Just don’t count it as a PR.

It is an assisted lift.

Mark Bell Slingshot – Best Slingshot for Bench Pressing

Click here to check its latest price on Amazon

If you are interested in buying a well-made and affordable slingshot I highly recommend you to check the Mark Bell Slingshot.

It’s the one I currently own and use and so far I’m really happy with how it works.

7. Speed Rope / Jump Rope

For the next gym bag accessory, I always carry a speed rope or jump rope.

Those small but effective workout equipment are great when you’re doing double unders or other things to work on your agility and explosiveness.

They also work great for cardio and endurance as well.

You can also use them for warming up before a workout.

If you are interested in which jump rope is good I highly recommend you to check this one.

DEGOL Skipping Rope – Best Jump Rope for Cardio, Weight Loss, Double Unders, and Warming Up

Click here to check it out on Amazon

I really like this jump rope and it’s currently my favorite one.

It’s very inexpensive and very really well made so feel free to take a look if you want to.

As you can imagine, you can do a lot with a jump rope.

8. A Dip Belt

The next gym bag essential I carry sometimes is my dip belt.

Now I use this for progressive overload, which is great for pull-ups, dips, and other things.

Whether I’m doing overloaded dips with a plate or two, or whether I’m doing pull-ups, using a good dip belt is a good way to kind of challenge your body to progressively overload and become stronger.

For a dip belt, you can go for many different models but the one I own and use is the DMoose dip belt.

Click here to check the latest price

It’s just something that’s easy enough to just keep in my bag when I go to the gym and I’m going to do pull-ups, chin-ups, or dips and need something I can use to attach weights to.

9. Some Sort of Chalk

Before you bring some make sure your commercial gym allows it. 

But if you are going to use it in your own home gym you won’t have any issues. Well if you don’t mind cleaning it.

I really like to use chalk when possible because it really helps my hands to stay dry and gives me a better and stronger grip.

But if you are going to wear gloves forget about chalk. Both things don’t work together.

If you are looking for non-messy chalk that still works like the normal one I highly recommend you to go with the Liquid Grip chalk.

Click here to check it out

Even if it’s more expensive than the regular dust-like chalk it’s really compact and it doesn’t make any mess. So no more cleaning and headaches with your local gym’s staff.

10. Protein Shake

What a better way to finish your workout with a delicious drink made with milk and your favorite flavored protein powder.

When I used to go to my local gym I always carried a stainless steel shaker bottle that contained my already prepared protein powder with the combination of milk.

My shaker bottle is almost the same

When it comes to shaker bottles I highly recommend you to pay a few extra bucks and get yourself a stainless steel bottle like mine because they are extremely durable, don’t stick, are easier to clean, and keep the drink colder for a little longer.

When it comes to protein powder the one I currently use is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard.

ON’s Gold Standard – Best Protein Powder for Muscle Building, Weight Loss, and Meal Replacement

Click here to check its latest price on Amazon

I really like this protein powder because it has a good price per dose, offers a decent amount of protein per 100 grams and it’s tasty.

And there aren’t any bad ingredients you have to worry about.

So feel free to check it out if you are looking for a decent protein powder.

Conclusion

So there you have.

These 10 things are all the essential stuff I bring in my gym bag when I go to train.

Don’t forget that you won’t need to carry everything at once because we all have different needs and goals but owning these 10 items is a great start.

And the best part is that once you have them you can use them additionally in your home gym as well.

I hope you guys enjoyed this article. Please leave a comment below and let me know if I have missed something.

Also, feel free to check my other highly related articles if you want to learn more:

See you in the next one,

– Bozhidar

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