7 Gym Bag Necessities

A pre-packed grab-and-go gym bag will make a world of difference in a busy professional’s life. Although there are days when I forget that extra pair of running socks and my sweaty toes desperately cry out for help, I strive to prevent these common gym bag mishaps by pre-packing, restocking, and referring to this checklist of my top 7 gym bag necessities:


A set of 3 resistance bands (light, medium, and heavy) are inexpensive, and they provide (yes, you guessed it!) added resistance to any strength-based exercise forcing your muscles to contract harder and grow stronger. Resistance bands are light and portable, but they pack a powerful punch. Not only will added resistance activate your muscles preparing them for larger compound movements such as squats and deadlifts, but added resistance will create the perfect environment for your muscles to strengthen and grow.


If you enjoy dancing along to Beyoncé in between sets at the squat rack, invest in an armband to hold your phone or iPod. No need to worry about your iPhone 6 crashing to the floor after dropping out of your pocket while getting comfortable in downward facing dog.


Prepping a shake or restocking your supply of bars before your trip to the gym will not only help you maximize your gains post-workout, but a light protein-packed snack will satisfy you until your next meal. Choose shakes or bars that offer at least 20 g of high quality protein per scoop as well as a few grams of fast-digesting carbs.


Lifting gloves enhance your ability to hold weight while improving grip strength. So whether you bench press 15 lbs. or 300 lbs., lifting gloves will become your new best friend!


All gyms have water fountains; take advantage of the purified fresh icy cold water. Unless you’re running a marathon or working out for longer than an hour and a half at a time, skip the sugary sports drinks that are high in carbs and contain artificial flavoring, and choose a refreshing glass of water. If you are looking for an added kick of flavor, incorporate fruit or spices into your water. Fill an ice cube tray with berries and create your own flavored ice cubes! Add mint leaves and sliced cucumbers to a gallon of refrigerated water. Remember to drink at least 8 oz. of water before a workout and 16-24 oz. of water after a workout.


Once I began logging my workouts, I never looked back to the days where I entered the gym “notebook-less.” A journal provides you with an opportunity to reflect on your weekly and monthly exercises, sets, reps, and volume of weight. Putting your workouts in writing holds you more accountable for your body as well!


Timing at the gym is critical. Take 60 seconds to rest between heavy sets, 90 seconds between exercises with tons of reps. A watch is right there on your arm and it keeps you on point. Time your circuits, set a stopwatch for your minute plank, or consult your watch for rest breaks.

Check out more of Ashley’s fitness and nutrition tips on her blog, Fit & Focused U.

My Top 7 Gym Bag Necessities

By Ashley Nickelsen, BurnThis Ambassador & Fitness Blogger