There’s a well known saying that states: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. With this in mind, now consider the state of your gym bag and all of the items it consists of. Are you an individual that uses their gym bag as a portable rubbish bin, with everything from used shakers and banana skins, to dirty socks and damp towels? Alternatively, do you sit at the opposite end of the spectrum with everything you need and more to successfully get yourself through a gym session?

From my previous knowledge and being based around gyms and other sporting environments for several years, I would like to suggest that there is no happy medium when it comes to the contents of individual’s gym bag; it’s either one extreme or the other. So where do you fall in all this? From a personal viewpoint, I would like to think that I’m placed in the latter category.

The contents of a person’s gym bag might seem a trivial topic of conversation to many of you, but if you consider it alongside your training goals and aspirations, it can take on a greater importance. Everything from clothing, gym accessories, music and supplements can become part of these contents, all of which can serve to enhance your performance capabilities from both a psychological and physical point of view.

This article considers five essential items which we believe should feature within your gym bag, regardless of whether you consider yourself a serious gym goer or like to use the gym as more of a means to unwind and relax. Remember, these suggested items are by no means a definitive list and you may find yourself adding to them in order to meet your own unique training needs and requirements.

So, in no particular order, here are five items that should be included in your gym bag…

Five Items That Should Be In Your Gym Bag
1. A Pre-Workout Snack

In this day and age, few of us are fortunate enough to have time on our hands. For the majority, a hectic lifestyle often means that your gym sessions are squeezed in and around your working, family and social life.

The daily grind can often get the better of you, affecting your eating patterns and overall nutrition. This can result in you turning up to the gym with little or nothing to power an effective workout. The simple way to avoid this is to always ensure you have a pre-workout snack in your gym bag, allowing you to consume it approximately 30-60 minutes prior to your training session.

This item can range from a dedicated pre-workout supplement to a simple energising snack like a banana. Previous research supports this idea, suggesting that pre-workout supplements have the ability to enhance exercise volume during resistance workouts amongst other things (Ratamass et al, 2007).

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  • Bsn N.o Xplode 2.0Bsn N.o Xplode 2.0
  • Gaspari Nutrition Superpump MaxGaspari Nutrition Superpump Max
  • Myprotein Pulse V4Myprotein Pulse V4
  • Mri Black PowderMri Black Powder
  • Nutrex Research Hemo-rage Black Ultra ConcentrateNutrex Research Hemo-rage Black Ultra Concentrate
  • Grenade 50 CalibreGrenade 50 Calibre
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  • Bsn Hyper FxBsn Hyper Fx
2. An MP3 Player

For those of you that use the gym and exercise to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life for an hour to two a day, the addition of an MP3 player and a set of headphones can further strengthen this relationship. Quite simply, listening to music allows you to shut off the rest of the world and focus on the task in hand.

Szabo et al. (1999) hypothesised that music can actually act as a positive distracter, whereby your perception of work rate, fatigue levels and physical discomfort are all altered and minimised.

Obviously, only you can control what you listen to, but it might be worth considering the following statement when organising a gym playlist: “Faster music, enabled exercise to be performed at a greater work rate and with a greater physiological effect and more positive subjective responses, than did slower music” (Waterhouse et al. 2009).

If you need more convincing, make sure you read our article on The Effects Of Music During A Workout.

  • Sony Nwze575b Noise Cancelling Mp3-player 16gb – BlackSony Nwze575b Noise Cancelling Mp3-player 16gb - Black
  • Apple Ipod Nano16gb SlateApple Ipod Nano16gb Slate
  • Apple Ipod Shuffle 2gb – SilverApple Ipod Shuffle 2gb - Silver
  • Sony Nwzb172 2gb Walkman Mp3 Player With Usb – BlackSony Nwzb172 2gb Walkman Mp3 Player With Usb - Black
  • Samsung Yp-f3 4gb Sports Clipper Mp3 Player – BlueSamsung Yp-f3 4gb Sports Clipper Mp3 Player - Blue
  • Philips Gogear Vibe 4gb Mp3 Player – Red – Sa3vbe04rn/02Philips Gogear Vibe 4gb Mp3 Player - Red - Sa3vbe04rn/02
3. Gym Gloves

For those of you that undertake any form of resistance training, gym gloves should definitely not be overlooked or omitted when it comes to packing your gym bag.

Let us take a step back from the gym and consider their wider benefits: firstly, gym gloves will prevent your hands from becoming both overly sore and rough. Although you might not appreciate this benefit directly, your partner and loved ones will thank you in the long run. Let’s be honest, no one likes the look or feel of calluses covering the palms of your hands, and as a style-conscious FashionBeans man, I know you take as much pride in your grooming as you do your clothing.

From an exercise viewpoint, gym gloves also offer further benefits. They allow for a better contact and grip between yourself and the gym equipment, whether this is a pulling, pushing or hanging action. Ultimately, this might result in you being able to work for longer without readjusting your grip, and enable you to shift that little bit more resistance than usual.

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  • Myprotein Myprotein Pro Training GlovesMyprotein Myprotein Pro Training Gloves
4. Post-Workout Snack

We’ve already had the pre-workout snack feature on this top five list, so it’s only right to include the post-workout equivalent. As stated above, a hectic lifestyle can mean that you don’t always get the opportunity to sit down and consume a fulfilling and nutritious meal immediately following a gym session.

On cessation of a workout, the following sixty minutes can be considered critical and has been identified as an optimal time to replenish your muscle glycogen stores through post-workout nutrition. It is for this reason that this time frame is often referred to as the ‘golden hour’ or ‘window of opportunity’. Zawadzki et al. (1992) concluded that a combination of both protein and carbohydrates produced fuller muscle glycogen replenishment during a four hour post-workout period.

Again, this snack can range from specific post-workout supplements to anything containing a healthy mix of protein and carbohydrates. For more detailed information, check out our article on optimal post-workout nutrition.

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5. Towel and Clothing Change

So you’ve had your pre-workout snack and entered the gym wearing your gym gloves and listening to your mp3 player. Following an incredible session, you’ve headed to the changing room where you’ve immediately consumed a post-workout snack. What’s left?

Well, from a personal viewpoint, there’s no better feeling than jumping straight into a shower after a long, strenuous gym session in which you’ve built up a real sweat.

Consider this part of the overall gym experience and further utilise this time to relax before you once again head back into the stresses and strains of everyday life. Not only will you feel cleansed from a psychological point of view, but the water, whether you opt for hot or cold, might assist with your overall muscular recovery.

With all this in mind, last but by no means least, the final items that should always make your gym bag are that of a towel and a suitable change of clothing. Again, being the stylish man you are, I’ve no doubt you will already be carrying the perfect sports luxe-inspired outfit to change into after.

The Gym Bag

This wouldn’t be a FashionBeans article without a selection of our favourite gym bags currently on the market. If yours could do with an upgrade, why not opt for one of the hard-wearing, stylish bags below:

  • Herschel Ravine HoldallHerschel Ravine Holdall
  • He By Mango Cotton Canvas Duffle BagHe By Mango Cotton Canvas Duffle Bag
  • Mens Two-tone Duffel Bag LargeMens Two-tone Duffel Bag Large
  • Herschel Sutton Mid 16l BagHerschel Sutton Mid 16l Bag
  • Fred Perry Grey Barrel BagFred Perry Grey Barrel Bag
  • Nike Heritage Club BagNike Heritage Club Bag
  • Kin By John Lewis Canvas Gym Holdall NavyKin By John Lewis Canvas Gym Holdall Navy
  • Jansport 80l Holdall BlackJansport 80l Holdall Black
  • Adidas Originalsadicolor Team BagAdidas Originalsadicolor Team Bag
  • Pete Casual Weekend Holdall BagPete Casual Weekend Holdall Bag
  • Ted Baker HoldallTed Baker Holdall
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Leather-trimmed Canvas Holdall BagMarc By Marc Jacobs Leather-trimmed Canvas Holdall Bag
Final Word

This here marks the end of our gym bag essentials article; highlighting five items that should be considered as essential and always feature amongst the contents of your gym bag. As previously mentioned, these items are simply a starting point as opposed to a definitive list. Dependent upon your personal preference, circumstances and overall training and performance needs, this list is likely to develop.

If there are any further items which you personally consider essential to your gym bag contents then why not share below in the comments section with the other readers.

Before signing off, let us end the article with the same bold statement that commenced it: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. There’s no time like the present, so if your gym bag and, more importantly, its contents have seen better days, why not show it the tender loving care it deserves whilst at the same time reaping the potential rewards on offer.