Want To Make Serious Progress? If So, Fill Your Gym Bag WithThe Right Strength Training Equipment!
When new lifters start out on their journey to become the best, they always try to be superman and go at it all alone. They discourage help from anyone else and they want all the glory for themselves. Well, I hate to break it to you but that is a fantasy. You are going to need help. Either from a person or strength training equipment.
This superman attitude is very self destructive and is more dangerous than standing armies to your progress. It comes from a sense of overconfidence that borders heroism and madness.
The movies often portray the protagonist kicking ass and taking names. In reality it is a little less glamorous than that. More often than not you are going to struggle a lot and you will eventually need help.
Fortunately we have done the heavy lifting (no pun intended) for you and have come up with the essentials that every gym bag must have.
Let’s dive right in!
The Truth About Strength Training Equipment
Let’s be honest, strength training equipment is not some magic bullet. Wearing the right shoes, or lifting belt, will not make you lift enormous weights overnight.
Nothing will make that happen. Not even steroids!
Gym Equipment And Making Gains
Aside from the strength training equipment in your gym bag, the actual gym equipment that your facility has also makes a huge difference.
Real gyms have different exercise equipment than commercial gyms have. I have already talked about the difference between a “real” gym and a “fake” gym in my back decompression article.
The different type of strength training equipment that real gym have are things like sleds, tires, atlas stones, mono-lifts, lifting platforms, reverse hypers, GHDs and large amounts of chalk.
Gym equipment like this is too big to take with you (except chalk). So if your gym doesn’t have this stuff, cancel your membership and find a new gym.
Or you can also build your own home gym. This article from the backlight will help you build a home gym.
Now with that said, let’s get on to your workout equipment.
Personal Strength Training Equipment Essentials
Picking the right equipment doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as you read the previous two sections you already know that you can’t buy your results.
So how much equipment do I need and how much do I need to spend?
My advice to you varies.
If you are a beginner, then you should buy cheap strength training equipment. Beginners should also try to do as much as possible with as little equipment as possible. Read my beginner workout plans article for more info.
Advanced lifters should buy more expensive exercise equipment and will often need to use equipment more frequently than beginners. Due mostly to the need for a new stimulus.
Below I have selected the most practical exercise equipment you will need to make a lifetime of gains.
Let’s start with the one piece of equipment you need to take all of the others with you: your gym bag.
This one should be no surprise. One of the most essential pieces of strength training equipment is a gym bag.
When you show up you need something to carry all of your stuff with you. Otherwise you’ll be that weird guy who walks around carrying things.
Unless one of those things is a weighted vest, skip it and instead invest in a gym bag.
Below is a cheaper gym bag perfect for someone on a budget.
This one is for those of you who are more stylish.
Now here are some of the more high quality gym bags.
Hylete has some great high quality bags that are perfect for the serious athlete.
The bag by 6-pack fitness helps to hold prepared meals if you are on a strict diet and need to improvise.
For those of you who want not only a gym bag but also want a durable all around bag for outdoor activities, then 5.11 tactical is your bag.
If there is one piece of equipment that I recommend spending a lot of money on it is workout shoes. In past articles I have discussed how the feet are the base of support for the entire body and how to select the proper shoes.
Simply put, if the feet are thrown out of alignment, then the rest of the body goes right with it.
When you select shoes you must select the best quality for you chosen sport.
Below are my chosen workout shoes for general fitness:
Here are the best selection of weightlifting shoes:
After lifting heavy things for a while you are going to get very stiff. There is nothing wrong with this, it is perfectly normal.
If you don’t address the stiffness, your range of motion will suffer and you will eventually get hurt.
So mobility tools are a vital part of your strength training equipment.
Here’s the basics:
Mini Foam Rollers
I was going to place these in the last section, but bands are such a unique piece of strength training equipment they deserve their own category.
Bands are similar to the human body, they contract and expand. This makes them a great addition to your strength training sessions.
One of the best ways to use bands for strength training is by using accommodating resistance. This is done by placing bands on the ends of the barbell and lifting as fast as possible to build explosive strength.
For more information, be sure to check out this article by Kevin Cann.
Also bands are a great addition to you mobility toolkit. They mainly work best for stretching and for joint capsule mobilization. To learn more about this be sure to check out my hip mobilizer course.
Here are some bands I recommend:
If you are using them for mobility, then you probably need only one of each type, but for strength training you will need a pair of each.
Straps, Wraps And Sleeves
If you plan on lifting heavy, then you are going to need some support one way or another. These basic pieces of equipment will add some significant poundages to your totals.
Straps help with grip problems, especially useful with deadlifts and shrugs.
Here’s how to use them:
Here’s an affordable pair:
Wrist wraps help to provide wrist support for various upper body motions. You will find them particularly useful when doing curls, triceps and heavy bench pressing.
Here’s how to use them:
Here’s an affordable pair:
Sleeves can be worn on either your knees and/or elbows. These help to help these joints warm and provide compression. So you can lift more weight with less risk for injury.
The best pair I found are by Mark Bell’s Slingshot brand. The best part is they come in a pair while most others you need to buy individually.
Knee wraps help to provide super compression to the knee. This is particularly useful in squats and will add quite a bit of weight to your lift.
Some guys have reported as much as 50+ pounds to their total, while others have reported 100+ pounds.
Before using these, make sure you know how to squat and that your form is solid.
Here’s a great set of wraps:
Most gyms will have you covered with conditioning equipment (treadmills, concept rowers, etc.) but you should bring your own jump rope.
Most jump ropes that are provided by your gym just flat out suck. They are either old and outdated, or they are overused and worn out.
Plus, if you want to workout at home or outside, you will always have YOUR jump rope with you.
You have several options for buying your jump rope.
The cheaper option will help you improve your conditioning and give you a pretty good workout. It is perfect for beginners, but it is not good for the more advanced exercises.
Here’s the cheaper option:
If double-unders are your thing, then you need a speed rope.
These ropes are designed to spin faster and help you learn double, triple and even quadruple unders.
Here’s a good and affordable speed rope:
Final Pieces Of Strength Training Equipment
Here are the final items that you should definitely consider putting in your gym bag.
These are great for warming up the gluteus medius and for strengthening your hip joint. Use them during your warm ups and on your “off” days for conditioning you hips.
The better option is to get the hip circle by slingshot. This is a super strong mini band that really fixes and strengthens your hips for top level performance.
How could I not forget this one? Chalk is a vital piece of strength training equipment. Without chalk, your hands will slip off the bar and you will drop the weight.
This is especially true if your gym has bars with little to no knurling on it.
If your gym doesn’t allow chalk, sneak it in. Or find a new gym.
Stock up! You can never get enough chalk.
This should be in any serious bench presser’s gym bag.
The sling shot helps to add serious weight to your bench press is more than your one rep max. This allows you to make faster progress and build confidence under the bar.
There are several sizes, beginners should stick with the reactive or original slingshot. Advanced lifters should use the full boar and/or the mad dog slingshot.
The last piece of equipment I recommend is the most important. A Notebook.
How many lifters do you see who do not have a notebook that make serious gains? I’m guessing not a whole lot.
You absolutely need a notebook to make gains. If you are not tracking your progress, how will you know where you are going and where you have been before.
You don’t need to order a notebook online either, you can just purchase one in your local neighborhood store for around 2-3 (US) dollars.
Be sure to get one and keep track of your progress.
I hope this article was useful to you and I hope you learned some interesting things about different pieces of strength training equipment.
I only wrote about the pieces of equipment that I personally use myself, but of course feel free to do you own research.
There is so much strength training equipment out there you could spend a lifetime looking through it all.
But when all else fails, just remember to always have the essentials. You already know what those are and I have done the work of selecting for you which ones will get the job done. Now all you have to do is get them.
So what are you waiting for? Get to it and start breaking records!