December 10th, 2018
gym bag essentials

10 Gym Bag Essentials for Weightlifters

Gym bag essentials? When I first started my fitness journey, the only items I felt I truly needed at the gym were a pair of workout gloves, a towel, headphones, my phone for some tunes (and selfies of course), and some water. To be honest, I don’t even remember carrying an actual gym bag when I went in to workout those first few months.

Those were the days my husband and I would ‘split up’ when we walked through the doors and I spent 20-30 minutes doing circuit training with light dumbbells followed by 20-30 minutes on a piece of stationary cardio equipment.

See, at the time I was under the impression that the more cardio I did, the more fat I would lose. However, after 4-5 months of sticking to that type of routine and reaching a plateau in my progress, I knew it was time for a change. I was getting bored with the routine and I began to lose hope of achieving the type of body I was after.

Related: Why Weightlifting Is More Important For Cardio Than Fat Loss

I already knew that I enjoyed lifting much more than climbing the stairs to nowhere or gliding on the elliptical machine, so I decided I would do some more research into programs that centered around lifting. I went to sites like, I watched YouTube videos, and I scoured Pinterest for ideas.

Ultimately though, I was lead to my coach who was a strong advocate of heavy strength and resistance training, minimal cardio, and eating more for performance purposes. At that point in my journey, I was ready for a change so I took a leap of faith and haven’t looked back since. It’s been almost three years since that leap and I’m more in love with lifting than ever.

Gym Bag Essentials

gym bag jump rope
So, as my training has evolved over the course of three years, so has my list of ‘must haves’ for the gym! For the longest time, my husband and I carried a big duffle bag to the gym and while it worked OK in the sense that it held everything we needed it to, it definitely wasn’t very functional.

Between towels, two sets of headphones, two sets of workout gloves, 1 set of lifting ‘straps’, gum and candy for my husband, deodorants, rubber bands, shoes, bands, wallets, phones, supplements, and a lifting belt… our duffle bag was a HUGE frustrating mess. It took us at least 5 minutes to sort everything out at the gym and more often than not, one of us would end up with a mysterious lost glove (kinda like how the washing machine and dryer hide your socks).

1. The Right Gym Bag

FitMark Gym Bag
If I was going to be serious about progressing and getting stronger in my lifts, I knew I had to invest in some new gear. First on my list was a new gym bag.

Goodbye big duffle bag that made finding anything nearly impossible and hello back pack with TONS of pockets for everything we need to tuck away! I decided to go with a FitMark bag “Class Backpack” simply because I loved how functional their bags are. Quality is also top notch!

2. Gym Gloves

Versa Gripps Gym Gloves
No more missing gloves for my husband and I! Top front pocket has both sets of our gloves AND my lifting Versa Gripps ‘straps’. I actually very rarely use my regular gloves anymore. I found that I was going through a new pair every 6-8 months, so I invested in something that could withstand a bit more usage. I’ve been using them for all of my heavy work as well as my lighter accessory work. I LOVE them!

3. Jump Rope

One of the side pockets on the backpack has my jump rope!

For at least 6 months now, I have been using this as my go to warm up of choice. I usually spend 5-10 minutes jumping before I train just to get the body moving and get the blood flowing. Occasionally, if I’m feeling adventurous I will also use the jump rope for HIIT cardio. I will vary the jumps I’m doing (hop, high knees, double unders, wide step, etc.), do 20-30 seconds work/all out effort, and 1-1:30 minutes rest in between.

I like using the jump rope for cardio because I find it’s low enough impact on my body, but still gets my heart rate up!

4. Weightlifting Shoes

Gym bag shoes
In the bottom ‘pocket’ of the back pack, I keep my AdiPower’s weightlifting shoes. Initially, I didn’t think I needed another pair of shoes to workout in, but I can’t begin to tell you what a huge difference these have made in my squats. I feel so much more stable, my weight is better distributed to target the right muscles, and overall I just feel much more support (which results in a better lift)!

Also, because I’m now squatting 2-3 times per week, these are almost getting more use than my regular tennis shoes! Great investment for the serious lifter!

5. Supplements

Of course, when you are a mommy running around town everyday, you must keep your workout window a bit more broad. Sometimes I’m able to lift in the morning, but sometimes things come up and I don’t get to train until the evening which means my supplements/pre workout needs to be with me at all times!

Let’s get to the inside of the backpack and more essentials!

6. Gym Towel

gym towel and exercise bands
#1 towels are a MUST at the gym. Nothing worse than putting your skin against a bench of piece of equipment people have been sweating all over! Luckily, our gym has paper towels and sanitizer everywhere so we usually do a wipe down with that and then lay the towel down!

7. Exercise Bands

I keep a variety of bands right in the top inside pocket which I use for warming up, activating muscles (mainly glutes), as well as for a final burnout if I’m feeling up to it. Bands are a great way to get the body prepared for lifting. I keep at least 3-4 in my bag at all times!

8. Headphones

weightlifting belt and headphones
As soon as I set foot in the gym, my headphones are on, I have Pandora going, and the outside world disappears! I’m here to train, so I’m in the zone.

9. Weightlifting Belt

My Inzer lever belt is a fairly new must have for me. Now that I’m lifting so much heavier than I ever have been, it’s important to have proper support on my big lifts (squats, deadlifts, over head press, etc.). I cannot live without it now!

10. Pre and Post Workout Snacks

And last but CERTAINLY not least… anyone who lifts knows that eating to support your goals is crucial! You will never catch me anywhere without something to eat.

Like I mentioned before, because I’m running around being a mommy most of the day, sometimes I just can’t get an actual meal in so having a few snacks is a must! I tend to go with protein/snack bars just because they are so easy to transport, tasty, and great for on the go! I also need my wallet, small bottles of lotion, hand sanitizer, and my husbands gum usually ends up somewhere at the bottom!

I’m not sure what my gym bag will look like 6 months from now, but for now this is absolutely everything I need to ensure I’m training properly, effectively, and optimally!

Corina Nielsen

Corina is a wife and mother of two residing in sunny, Southern California. She is a self employed graphic designer and newborn photographer, but has always had a passion for cooking and all things food related. At the age of 35, Corina also fell in love with fitness. She soon decided to combine all of her passions and began her own blog where she shares details about her own fitness journey, recipes, tips, and workout routines. Corina is an advocate for women's overall health/well being and promotes looking at the bigger picture when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition. Follow here on Instagram - @corinanielsen

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