Top 10 Gym Bag Necessities

When gym is life, you know that your gym bag needs to hold all of the essentials to get you through a workout safely and efficiently! See how I said safely? Certain items in your gym bag help to prevent injury and that is on the top of my list! Here’s 10 items that live in my bag that I use on a weekly, if not daily basis! This post may contain affiliate links.

Resistance Bands – Three different kinds of resistance bands currently live in my bag, ones that have handles or attach to ankle straps, long resistance loop bands, and smaller circle loop resistance bands.

The resistance bands that have hooks to attach to handles or straps are probably the most known resistance band. There are two different kinds I have, Bforce Bands that have variable resistance levels that are included in one set (which is a little more expensive) or a set that is one resistance level per tube, but may come with varying levels; similar to these. You can easily attach these to handles, ankle straps, or a door to enhance your workout.

Long Resistance Loop Bands are used for assisted pull ups, lying hamstring curls, standing good mornings and many other exercises. I love this brand of resistance bands, X-Bands, because their resistance bands are great quality and they have really good customer service. You can also check them out on Instagram at @TheXbands

The circle loop bands are a smaller version of the long loop bands. There are many options of thickness/levels of resistance which are great for adding resistance to a glute or abductor workout, glute activation, or warming the body up. They are a little thinner than the hip circle bands, but great for HIIT workouts with higher repetitions.

Hip Circles – Fabric Heavy Duty Resistance Band – This is actually similar to the circle resistance loop band, but are heavier resistance, made of fabric, and sometimes contain a slip resistant liner. This is the exact one I have and it is a great addition to my bodyweight squats.

Sliders – You can easily use the expensive ‘fitness specific’ sliders, but I buy the cheap furniture movers and they work perfect! These are great for hamstring finishers, core work, and mountain climbers.

Lifting Gloves – TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or even Target has cheap ones, just make sure they fit well and are comfortable. These help with grip but also protect your hands from calluses.

Wrist Straps – Straps really help elevate your lifting workouts by giving you extra support to lift heavier weight, but if you do not life heavy, they aren’t needed.

Padded Bar Cover – This is an absolute must for me when it comes to squats and bar bridges! I do not like to get under a squat bar without a pad because I feel like the bar puts to much pressure on my lower neck or digs into my thighs when I do bridges. Thankfully they are cheap because they seem to walk away on me at the gym (a.k.a. I forget them on the rack and they disappear) Here is the one that is currently in my gym bag.

Antibacterial Wipes – I feel that the gym’s wipes and cleaning liquid is ok, but I feel like they don’t clean the benches well enough so I like to have these in my bag available for me at anytime.

Yoga Strap – For Stretching, I bought one at a barre studio here in Atlanta called The Barre Method, and I love this one because it has multiple loops to pull closer within your stretches. This one is very similar but a little slimmer than the one I have.

Knee Wraps – These fall into the same category as the wrist straps, and are really only needed if you are lifting heavy. These wraps help with squats and leg press exercises that you want to protect your knees under heavy weight. Always remember when you are lifting heavy, wrap up no matter what. You shouldn’t start wrapping your knees when you start to feel pain, but try to be proactive and use them for protection.

Weight Belt – This is also a preventative measure for when you are lifting heavy. There are different types of weight belts, Heavy lifting belts used for lifting, a fitness belt that use can add to give a little more support, but not as strong of support as a lifting belt, and then a sweat belt to help sweat and tone skin.

What items do you have in your gym bag that aren’t listed, but you feel are a MUST HAVE? Let me know your thoughts!

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Life of a Competitor – Show Day

The overall winner for Men’s Physique category and new WNBF Pro Card winner goes to competitor #7, Thomas Lazier Jr!! And the crowd goes wild, mainly just me,  but I can’t help it! We have been waiting all day for this news and me, being Thomas’ number one fan, I am ecstatic. But let’s go back to the beginning and let you know all that went down to prepare for this final moment at the INBF Southern Natural Classic in Macon, GA. 

Thomas has been competing for almost 5 years now, so this day of show thing comes almost second nature, but even after all the shows he has done, it is still full of prep, nerves, relaxation, and anticipation. For anyone who competes, they know that this day goes by fast, but it is the big finale of a long and grueling prep full of workouts, morning cardio, carb depletion, consumption of gallons and gallons of water, and saying no to a lot of different temptations that may get in the way of you and that Pro Card.

We started early in the morning, making sure he had everything in his bag, the coolers were packed, and I had all my camera and chargers ready. Let’s first off talk about his bag. Key items for his bag include:

  • Candy for right before going on stage, (do not forget the candy – happened at one show and I’ll never do it again)
  • Pre-workout – which we put in a small funnel container which makes it easy to travel with and you don’t need to bring the whole container
  • Resistance bands for his back stage pump (working his muscles so the blood goes to them and they swell or ‘pump’ to show case that ideal size)
  • Show Numbers – KEY! they won’t be able to identify you on stage without them
  • Board shorts
  • Coconut oil for his body shine – I put his fractionated coconut oil in a small bottle to spray on him which makes it easy and less mess
  • Peanut butter, rice cakes, and honey for a nice snack while he waits back stage

Next we have to make sure the meals were heated in the meal bag, I use a Fitmark bag which I love and use over and over and over, we usually bring his breakfast, two prepped meals for him and one for me, a cold gatorade for him for after the stage, a water for him and couple waters or teas for me, and we are good to go.

Usually, Thomas isn’t that hungry day of the show. I think it is a mixture of nerves, being water depleted, and trying to conserve every ounce of energy for the stage, but he usually tries to eat his first meal of the day right when he gets to the show venue so he had time to relax and let it digest before he has to start getting ready. His breakfast meal consists of Overnight Oats with cranberries and slivered almonds.

There are three key things to do when prepping to jump up on that stage the morning of the show.

  1. Tan or Oil up – In Thomas’ situation, he only uses a light spraying of coconut oil, but in other people’s situation they will do a spray or roll on tan.
  2. Consume your sugar/pre-workout – Thomas likes to eat gummies or Swedish fish and a scoop of pre-workout about 10-15 minutes before the show. I have seen some people drink red wine, or consume other types of quick digesting calories that will help aid in the vascularity and overall look of your muscles. When you deprive your body of those sugars/carbs, it gets excited when it finally gets them and your body uses them for good by making your veins pop and your muscle ‘pump’ larger.
  3. Pump – which is a weird word, but all it really means is go through some resistance band exercises, body weight exercises, or even some light weight exercises to move your blood to some key muscles. Thomas does a cycle of body weight and resistance band exercises and his body really reacts well with these.

Now after he is rubbed down with oil, had his candy, and starts to do his pump exercises, I run out to the audience and get ready to be the ‘photographer’. I usually hold a lot of hats during the day of the show: bag packer, food heater, oil rubber, candy patrol, photographer, cheerleader, and driver. But I love them all! Anything for him on his day.

It all depends on the type of show to know what kind of schedule or flow will be if the actual show. Today it will be two parts, a morning show – Pre-Judging – and an afternoon show – Presentation and Awards. In the morning half of the show, each class of competitors, in Thomas’ Men’s Physique Tall, will come out to center stage together and they will go through different phases of judging. Usually involves a lot of quarter turns and a few changes from one side of the stage to the other. In this class there are four gentleman, all of which will be judge on muscle size, muscle symmetry (how each side of the body is shaped compared to the other and is your upper body symmetrical to the size of your biceps and chest) and presentation (their T-walks – which come at the second half of the show). Once they go through about 50 quarter turns to look at front, side, back, and other side, they exit stage left and go back to their waiting rooms. Usually, if it is a large show, we will watch some of the other competitors, but this show was fairly small, so we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the second half of the show.

This is supposed to be a time for rest for Thomas, but I am ALWAYS the one who ends up passed out on the bed. I told you I hold a lot of hats, give me a break! But he does get some time to just sit and watch tv, eat a meal, drink a little bit of water, and re-group for what is next to come.

After heading back to the venue, we go through the same three step process on getting him ready for the awards ceremony. Oil, Candy, and Pump. Then I run back to the audience to get ready for show time! This time is a little different, they put a bigger effort in letting the competitors show off their hard work and present them to the audience with house music and a bio as they walk their “T-Walk” on stage. This is just a walk to get them from the back of the stage to stage left, center stage, stage right, and back to the back of the stage. Thomas has a specific posing routine he prepped for his show, and he always uses his kiss with both hands as his sign off.

When all of the competitors in his class finish their T-Walk they all come back onto center stage and go through a shorter round of side by side comparisons and then shuffle off stage. When all of the competitors in each of their classes finalize their T-Walks and comparisons it is awards time, the moment we have all been waiting for!

The Men’s Physique Short class came out and they presented their 1st through 4th place winners and then the Men’s Physique Tall class came out, which is Thomas’ class, and they presented the winners for that, and thankfully Thomas took the first place! Then both him and the other 1st place winner for the short class came back up on stage and did their side by side comparisons. This is the moment he worked so hard for, the moment we have been waiting all day for, and they announced the overall winner for Men’s Physique category and new WNBF Pro Card winner goes to competitor #7, Thomas Lazier Jr! Why this is so important, is because not only did he win 1st place bragging rights for this show, he also won overall for the entire Men’s Physique class, and BEST YET, he received his Pro-Card for the Pro Level of this league which means his next show will be a professional show for money earnings. God is Great I tell you! Thomas’ hard work and consistency truly paid off this show!

Since this league is an all natural league, anyone earning their pro card has to take a urinalysis to make sure they don’t have any illegal substances in their system. T said it felt like signing day, but really it is just signing off that you are an all Natural Competitor!

Now time to eat! Mostly all Thomas’ thinks about after a show is water and drinks, but today he had a margarita in mind. So we went to a local Mexican restaurant and he ordered the largest mango margarita they had! Cheers to you T!

Fasted Cardio Pick Me Up Post Workout Shake

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure below.

Every Saturday I try to get some sort of ‘fasted’ workout in. When I say ‘fasted’ I mean a workout that you do when you have not eaten hours before it, usually first thing in the morning since technically you are at a fasted state since you haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. This is beneficial for people, like myself, who have the goal of weight loss because it aids in fat burning during your workout. With a high calorie burning workout such as cardio, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or Cross-Training (like a track based workout with sprints and stairs) on an empty stomach, you are increasing your chances of burning off the excess stored fat in your system and using it as fuel to get you through your workout. I like to get cardio or cross-training in on Saturdays before I eat my meal to take advantage of this fasted state and also kick start the rest of my day so that I have a happy and productive day which will turn into a productive weekend that then turns into a productive week. Get the picture? It is a never ending cycle of setting yourself up for success!

Question for my readers:

Thanks for your info, now let’s get back to this shake. Getting a post workout shake is the best part of fasted cardio! Here is a quick three ingredient (four if you include ice cubes) post workout shake that I live by and incorporate into almost all of my active Saturdays.

1 scoop VMI Protolyte Protein (My favorite flavor in this shake is the Vanilla Cake Batter, but Chocolate Fudge Cookie would work for a ‘mocha’ flavor)

1 shot of prepared espresso – If you don’t have a fancy espresso machine, a stove top espresso maker will work just fine!

1 cup almond milk – preferably the 30 calorie, unsweetened vanilla version (saves on the calories and plus, the protein powder tastes sweet already) – but you can do the sweetened vanilla version to add more sweetness

1 cup of ice cubes

Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blender for 30 seconds to a minute depending on the power of your blender. You want to blend it completely so that the ice is not chunky and there are bubbles formed in the drink to make it like a frothy coffee drink.

The macros are even amazing: Calories: 131 Protein:26 Fat:3 Carbs:2

Now enjoy! Here you can see me post workout, fighting off my French Bulldog, King; he was dying to take a sip.

*If you purchase something through one of the links I may earn a small commission, but no worries, it doesn’t cost you a thing. If you would like more info on this, please visit my disclosure here.