Nothing can ruin your workout quicker than discovering you have forgotten an essential piece of equipment or beauty product. Your workout’s been waylaid before you’ve even started.
Here is a list of “potentially essential” workout gear and equipment. Don’t worry if some of it is not appropriate for the type of exercise you do – many of the other items will be.
1. Workout Clothes
Make sure you dress for freedom of movement and that you can easily vent off some heat if you get too warm. Dress in layers, so you can strip off as you get warm. If you are going to be doing lots of jumpy high-impact type exercise, make sure your underwear holds you in place – boys and girls.
Your shoes match your workout – if you are going to lift some heavy weights, firm flat shoes are best. If you’re off to some high-impact cardio classes, wear shoes that boast lateral support and forefoot cushioning.
Read more: How to choose the right workout shoes
2. Jump Rope
For a great warm up, opt for a jump rope. Jumping rope can be done almost anywhere. It works the upper body, lower body, and core, and loosens the shoulders, arms and legs and increases your heart rate.
Jumping rope is an incredible workout all on its own. Alternatively, add jump rope to your workout if you want to inject a burst of cardio between sets of strength training to crank up the intensity of your workout. A jump rope is also a useful hamstring stretching tool.
Taking up virtually no space at all, a jump rope is an effective fitness tool and a worthy addition to your arsenal of equipment.
Read more: Complete jump rope workout guide
3. Music & Headphones
Music’s use as a workout tool can’t be underestimated. Again and again research confirms that you’ll workout harder and longer, feel less pain, and be more motivated listening to music while you exercise.1-3
So spend some time putting a playlist together to get the most out of your workout. And don’t forget your headphones.
4. (Filtered) Water Bottle
Stay hydrated during your workout. You might not feel thirsty or sweat much but you are definitely losing essential water when you work out. When choosing a water bottle make sure it’s BPA-free, keeps your water cool, is easy to carry, and if possible, filters your water. Plastic or metal bottles only please – avoid glass or open-topped containers!
5. Training Diary/ Fitness Journal
If you are serious about your training, you really should be recording the details of your workouts. What you record, depends on the type of workout you’re doing:
- Strength training: exercises, type of weights, the number of reps and sets, rest periods between sets.
- Cardio workouts: exercises, speeds, resistance, distances, times, training heart rate if recorded.
Keeping a training dairy in an invaluable tool, as it helps you to objectively assess whether your training is giving you the results you want and allows you to make changes to your workouts week by week for better results. You’ll need a pen too…
Read more: How to keep a fitness journal
6. Knee/ Elbow Sleeves
If you find your knees and/or elbows ache a little and take a while to warm up, consider wearing neoprene sleeves to help keep your joints feeling warm and slightly supported. Don’t use sleeves to mask an injury though – that’s just asking for trouble.
7. Post-Workout Snack
Once the hard work of training is done, it’s time to kick start your recovery with a post-workout snack. Ideally this should contain protein and carbohydrate in an easily digestible form such as a shake or bar.
The only excuse for skipping your post-training snack is if you are going to eat a substantial meal in the next 60-minutes or so but even then your post-training snack can ensure you start the recovery process immediately after exercise.
8. Lifting Gloves
Sweaty hands can make gripping weights a slippery affair, so it often pays to wear weight lifting gloves. If gloves aren’t your thing, give climbers’ chalk a go. Both options keep your hands dry but gloves have the added benefit of preventing calluses.
If you are a serious lifter, you may want to wear a weight lifting belt for your heaviest sets of squats, deadlifts and similarly back-challenging exercises. As a rule, your belt should only be worn for your top sets, but not for warm-ups or easy exercises, and never for cardio. Your belt should be worn so tightly that it’s a relief to take off between sets. If this isn’t the case, you aren’t using your belt correctly.
9. Mini first aid kit
It pays to be prepared for the unexpected, especially if you’re headed outdoors, and have a small first aid kit on hand for emergencies.
A few Band-Aids, a support bandage and other such items will mean you can look after yourself if a minor accident occurs. If nothing else, Band-Aids are useful for preventing and treating blisters – probably the most common workout boo boo.
- Waterhouse J, Hudson P, Edwards B. Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20(4):662-669.
- Crust L. Carry-over effects of music in an isometric muscular endurance task. Percept Mot Skills. 2004;98(3 Pt 1):985-991.
- Potteiger JA, Schroeder JM, Goff KL. Influence of music on ratings of perceived exertion during 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. Percept Mot Skills. 2000;91(3 Pt 1):848-854.
- Ivy JL. Glycogen resynthesis after exercise: Effect of carbohydrate intake. Int J Sports Med. 1998, 19:S142-S145.