ALL GEAR, NO IDEA! We have all seen them. The newcomers turn up to the gym in a brand new outfit, an immaculate pair of lifting gloves and a fluorescent coloured shaker full of pills/powder looking like a walking advertisement. The same people quite often end up quitting their journey after a few weeks or we see them turn up day in/day out remaining entirely the same, without gaining any strength or size. If you’re wondering what the best weight lifting and bodybuilding accessories are – here’s my list.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain accessories that are 100% crucial to increasing in strength and size, as-well as numerous “quality of life” pieces you can buy… but most of the time I dread to think the amount of money people waste on gym equipment that they don’t really need. This money could be spent on food or supplements, or videogames! I’d like to use this article to give my opinion on your “gym bag essentials”. Take it from me, in at last your first year of bodybuilding, you shouldn’t need anything that does not appear on this list.
Best Weight Lifting & Bodybuilding Accessories
Leather weightlifting/powerlifting belt
Some people can get on without using a belt. I like to always keep it on when performing the big compound lifts. Really the only times I will wear a belt are when squatting and deadlifting big numbers. The belt will help keep your core and back tight and warm, greatly reducing your risk of injury. I have also heard of some bodybuilders continually wearing their belt to “corset” their waist down! I’m not sure on the validity of that (or how comfortable it would be) but it is another use for this great bit of kit.
But Kristoff…. Why not chalk!? What about my grip strength!? The reason I advocate the use of straps as opposed to chalk is because personally… I couldn’t give a rats ass about grip strength. We are bodybuilders. The goal of each and every workout should be to stress the targeted muscle as much as possible. Using lifting straps enables me to go further on almost every single back movement. For the majority of people (even veterans) your grip strength is going to give out long before your back muscles do. Using straps allows you to take the back to complete failure and increase the “mind muscle” connection throughout your sets. Try doing a set of 20 chin-ups with and without straps. I guarantee your lats will feel much more sore after the set with straps as they can help to “pull with your elbows” instead of your arms and really target the muscle.
Flat soled shoes
I see many people in the gym training legs with big cushioned trainers, or basketball shoes. This is certainly not the most efficient way to be training with heavy poundage’s. The cushion will take a lot of force out of your pushes, meaning heavy sets will feel even heavier and you are losing the value of your workout. I always wear a flat soled shoe such as Converse or VANs when I work legs. For cardio, this is an exception as you should always wear the most ergonomic trainer to your foot and step type to protect your ankles and knees.
Large water bottle
Hydration is such an important factor when working out and for building muscle. If you are dehydrated by as little as 2% of your body weight, your work effort is cut by a 3rd … and we have all heard how are muscles are 70% water, so there is no excuse for remaining dehydrated throughout your workout! A tip from me is to use an old milk carton filled with water (you can get up to 3.5L ones here in the UK) and aim to finish it by the end of your workout. If this sounds like a lot of water to you, then hopefully you are now beginning to realise how much you need to be drinking when you are attempting to build muscle. Another benefit large water bottles offer, is that you can fill them up with BCAAs and consume them throughout the day. There is mixed evidence as to whether this is actually beneficial, but I recommend to give it a go and see if it works for you.
This is a debatable topic, as some people like to work-out in silence. I am of the opinion that a good pair of headphones will get you through the hardest days at the gym, particularly if you are motivated by music. I can also say with confidence that there is no way I would have made it through the last few contest preps (grueling 90 minute stairmaster sessions) without having a few series to watch on Netflix with my phone and my Bluetooth headphones. You can grab a cheap pair off Amazon (I paid no more than £20 for mine) and as they don’t have a cable, they don’t get in the way through the majority of your lifts.
Weight Lifting & Bodybuilding Accessories Conclusion
Occasionally you will be forced to try new thing. If your wrists/knees are sore you may wish to invest in some compression bands to wrap around them for example, so don’t take the above list of what I THINK are the best weight lifting and bodybuilding accessories as gospel, but it is a good place to start when you are thinking of investing in some new gear for the gym.
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Thanks for reading and happy lifting!