A back-to-basics guide to gym essentials

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There are several basic training items that you should possess if you are really serious about making gains in the gym. Many people overlook the most basic items, which in the long run can hinder your progress in the gym. Here are my top five items (not in order) that are essential for successful training:-

Training Diary
This is probably one of the most important items in your gym bag. This is your training bible, it should have a session-by-session account of your training. If you are the kind of person who just goes in the gym and attempts to remember your weights from the last session then you will never reach your goals. In order to progress you have to increase the resistance or the repetitions (depending on what you are training for) by small increments to keep the body responding (muscle growth). Therefore if you keep a training diarythen you can record your weights and aim to increase the weights by small increments rather than relying on guesswork.

The use of a training diary will enable you to push yourself to the limit every session thus reap the great benefits. It will also work wonders for your motivation because you will be able to see what you used to lift when you first started and compare it to what you lift now. Furthermore you will be able to see what type of training your body responds to the best. For example, when wanting to put on muscle mass some people respond to high reps (8-12). For others low reps (6-8) are more effective.

Training Gloves
Weight training gloves are a very important item. As you train hard your palms sweat. This can cause the bar to slip around in your grip. Not exactly what you want. First of all is the shear annoyance factor, because you want to concentrate on your technique and the actual exercise you are doing, without having to think am I going to able to hold onto the bar/barbell until the end of the whole set. You’ll have to put the weight down and re-adjust your grip, reducing the intensity of your workout and therefore causing a large negative effect on your progress.

The use of good gloves also provides extra grip, which provides extra confidence for added strength and intensity. One good reason for using gloves is the prevention of unsightly calluses that aren’t very attractive for you or partner.

Belt
This item is often overlooked or often overused. A training belt is used to help prevent injury to your lower back and is only needed during certain exercises that will place stress on the lower back. I am sure you have seen the famous gym users who just wear a belt all the time in the gym, day in day out whether they are training chest, back or arms. This can be detrimental to your back strength and actually increase your risk of injury.

Because your lower back or abdominals no longer have to work to maintain correct posture, your back muscles will become weaker and more susceptible to injury. Just use the belt whenever you are placing compression on the spine (e.g. squats, shoulder press). Between sets take the belt off and walk around until it is time for your next set.

Water Bottle
Whether you are doing a CV session or a weights session you should always have a water bottle. Ideally you should have a drink containing electrolytes (salts lost from the body through sweating), carbohydrates (at 6-8%) and amino acids as found in Viper. If you do not have this available though, then any weak carbohydrate drink is better than nothing at all.

Wrist Straps
These are for the more advanced trainers, but they are still a great piece of kit. Wrist straps are great when training your back because your forearm muscles tire much faster than your back muscles. When you are using heavy weights your grip can fail before your back has been trained to failure, thus your back never really gets a good workout.

Therefore you will come on leaps and bounds if you use wrist straps in your back routine. However I would also recommend that you do some specific forearm work to help them cope with heavy back sessions.

How many of these items do you have in your kit bag then? One, two, three items or none at all? All the items listed above are not very expensive to buy, but will make a vast difference to the intensity of your training. They may seem like very basic items but they will allow you to push yourself to the maximum each session.

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