Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's In Your Bag?

The Gym Bag. A smelly, musty and significant part of the gym scene. A useful tool in developing a sound body and mind. It is our toolkit, necessary in recovery and repair. With literally hundreds of thousands of products on the market, we need to sift through the unnecessary and figure out what works for us.

These are the essentials.

1. First and Foremost, Water. Without it, performance diminishes significantly. I shouldn't have to go anymore into it.

2. A correctly sized jump rope. This is crucial for a decent warm up. It trains cardiovascular/respitory endurance and hand eye coordination. Make sure when you're finished you wrap it neatly, because a tangled jump rope can totally throw off your game.

3. A tennis ball, lacrosse ball or foam roller. I'll go more into self massage in a later post, but rolling out your tight spots and knots can significantly improve your range of motion and recovery time. Use it to roll out quads, lats, calfs etc.

4. Chalk. When you're lifting heavy shit, you gotta have a good grip. 'Nuff said. Just don't be the guy that prances around with a cloud of chalk behind him.

5. Proper footwear. Olympic Lifting? Pack some oly shoes. Running? Bring the vibrams. Basic metabolic condtioning? Standard athletic shoes will do. This one is pretty much personal preferance.

6. Post workout food. More often than not, this will be a blend of protein and carbs. The longer the workout, typically the more carbs you'll need. More strength based will require a more protein-centric meal. Keep it simple. Don't bring a microwavable meal to the gym. Cold chicken breasts and a ziploc with some blueberries is good. Chocolate milk is also a great post workout meal.

7. Stopwatch. Especially if most of the workouts require some sort of timing. This can go for strength too. Rest cycles are often 2-3 minutes. Wristwatches work well, and I am a huge fan of the G-Shock series from Casio, but any old watch will do.

8.Athletic tape. When you're busting out a sub 15 Angie (100 pullups, 100 squats, 100 pushups, 100 situps) your hands are literally going to fall apart. A quality athletic tape can help out your grip and provide a barrier between your open sores and the bar.

9. Journal. Record everything you do. Tracking progress is essential in becoming a better athlete.

10. A calculator. Highly recommended for strength days when you need to calculate your one rep max on the fly. Im old school, I bring my abacus, but a simple dollar store calculator will do.

11. Socks. I don't know how many times I had to work out barefoot, not by choice, but because I wore sandals to the gym and completely forgot that socks existed. It's nice to throw an old pair in the bag just in case.

12. Extra shorts. Hell, a whole extra outfit. Again, Just in case.

13. Ipod. Motivation is tough to come by when working out by yourself. I always work out on a different level when Styx is playing in my ear. FInd your songs and crank the tunage.

That is the basic gym bag. It allows for some customization. Advanced or more specialized athletes may need other things like wrist wraps, cleats or boxing gloves, but again, its all personal.

Notice, I didn't mention a few things that we always see in gyms. I didn't say them because they shouldn't be allowed.

1. Gloves: A phsycological crutch. Be a man or woman and develop some calluses so you can slap the shit out of someone when they say your hands are too rough.

2. Books: If you can read while working out you have a serious issue.

3. Protein, Shakers, supplements of any kind: I don't want to be distracted by the sound of a shaking bottle or you gagging on a handful of pills. Save it for home, better yet, stick to fish oil and amino acids. That's it.

A well packed gym bag is a tool chest for the elite athletes and everyday gym goers. Knowing what you have on hand can allow for a more efficient workout. So get packing and hit the weights, buttercup!

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