While many of you might not have access to gym equipment due the coronavirus, it might not hurt to be prepared when retrieving your lost gains. Muscle memory works faster than one might think — but you’d need to be well-prepared for when the gyms reopen.
The Best Gym Equipment
Let’s start with a more controversial item. For top lifters and bodybuilders alike, lifting straps are an indispensable item of gym equipment when chasing greater gains. But this is a double-edged blade, however, as those with weaker forearms won’t necessarily stimulate their lagging body part with the assistance.
In my experience, lifting straps are definitely a net benefit to my program. As a powerlifter and bodybuilder, this gym equipment have enabled me to lift weights for reps that I could only dream of a few years ago. They’re best used for reps on the deadlift, row, shrug–and can also be used for pull-ups, hanging leg raises, and anything else you can come up with.
2. Wrist Wraps
These are a wonderful piece of gym equipment to any lifter’s arsenal. Although most might reap its fullest from pressing movements — especially with heavier weights– they can also be used for back squats. Those suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel, and other similar maladies can also use them to make the gym a more pain-free experience.
I’ve had my pair of wrist wraps for several years, and I would not be able to train as vigorously as I do without them. Heavy presses and squats would be one helluva lot harder without this gym equipment.
3. Knee Wraps
With a lot of these things on this list, knee wraps are just another controversial addition as gym equipment. Some would consider its use in the squat, depending on the particular discipline one might practice, to be cheating. Knee wraps provide stability and an extra 10-20% to one’s total lift.
I, personally, use them because of an injury I sustained to my right knee when I was a child. Granted, this gym equipment adds ample support, but may subtract from maximal athletic performance as they artificially enhance knee flexion within the movement.
4. Elbow Wraps
Again, another polarizing gym equipment addition to this list, but, this time, elbow wraps are only specific to pressing–bench pressing, in particular. They can provide extra assistance for those struggling with joint issues.
I find that elbow wraps add a little more stability and rebound in the bottom third of the bench. Overall, I believe that elbow wraps add no more than 5-10% to one’s total maximum.
This one is truly an irreplaceable mainstay to anyone’s gym ammunition. For lower body dominant compound movements, such as the deadlift or the squat, a hardy belt can brace the core with phenomenal stability, as well as allowing the lifter to manage far greater loads.
The belt, apart from its role in injury prevention, has enabled me to tussle with enormous weights. Further, it can help lifters of all disciplines reach their goals quicker than they would imagine. Having said that, however, I do see a lot of overuse of this gym equipment: for example, gym bros curling or overhead pressing half a plate a side with the belt out of the squat rack.
Although I would advocate for lifters to train barefoot where possible, lifting shoes slightly raise the heel–which can help with correcting subpar form, particularly when lifters fail to drive properly through their heels on the deadlift or squat. Driving through the heels can induce a greater activation of the muscle groups necessary for these compound lifts.
One anti-gym deterrent I have heard in the past is for white collar workers wanting to avoid callousing their hands by using this gym equipment. If you have sat behind a computer for the past decade, gripping iron knurling on a bar can rip up your hands, making the gym experience unpleasant.
You should strive to earn those callouses as they will toughen your constitution and make you into a better lifter, fast. I used gloves when I was a teenager as the knurling hurt my virgin palms. After a few months, the knurling tore through my synthetic leather gym gloves and I developed thick callouses anyway.
8. Water Bottle
Goes without saying that hydration is of paramount importance in the gym. Several gruesome injuries have been reported to occur when the lifter is not properly hydrated. One of my kooky beliefs is that getting sick directly correlates with being dehydrated. If I ever feel like I’m coming down with a cold, drinking vitamin-C-infused water in abundance quickly reverses those symptoms.
9. Pre Workout
This isn’t for fainthearted amateurs. Pre-workout powder, taken in moderation, can jolt you with quick energy and focus before a workout, taking you to stratospheric heights at the gym. If you’re new, I’d recommend necking a black coffee beforehand instead of these supplements.
REMEMBER: caffeine and stimulants are not an energy substitute in the gym. Proper nutrition should fuel your workout and not supplements. Wooziness, dizziness, or faintness should be addressed seriously and not plastered over by stimulants. Underperformance, at best, and, injury, at worst, can occur if you’re not properly nourished. Caffeine sensitive lifters may wish to forgo pre-workout consumption altogether.
10. Protein Powder
In 2020, protein powders are derived from a variety of sources–animal, dairy, plant, etc,. Most lifters may not need these expensive powders as they already consume sufficient protein. However, protein powders are supplements; and that’s what they’re there for: to supplement.
It sounds very obvious, but protein powders should really be for those who struggle to meet their daily caloric intake. Most gym bros pop bottles with their whey, but ingest plenty of the macronutrient. Ideally, a lifter should strive to consume a gram of protein per pound of lean body mass a day.
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