The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What You Need in Your Gym Bag

I know, I know, the title is bull shit. The truth is that you don't need anything in order to get in great shape, you can obtain a fantastic physique with the basics: a great diet and regular exercise. However, I feel the path to the absolute best physique possible supported by a healthy metabolism is obtained with the classic iron lifts. Squat, Bench, Deadlift, rows, overhead press.

The following is what I carry in my gym bag/take to the gym with me when I train...

Headphones

If you're like Ol'Yeargain, You need something to put in your ears while training. Either to get a daily dose of knowledge from podcasts, get pumped with some awesome tunes, or just block out the b.s the local trainers are spouting or the grunts and groans of my fellow gym attendees. I personally used the iPhone headphones for the majority of my lifting time. It was only recently that I upped my headphone game...


Bluetooth Headphones 

If you're a person who trains hard and find that the wire gets in the way or caught on the bar every once in a while, yanking the ear buds right out of your head, leaving you a new level of pissed off you would never have imagined, these are a necessity.


I personally love my Bluetooth headphones. I'll do a full review over them in the near future, but in short they were worth the investment.


Shoes

Some people can use whatever shoe they like to lift in and feel no adverse affects in either strength progress or joint health. For me, I've got long femurs, poor ankle mobility and a good shoe goes a long way.


Chuck Taylor's



My chucks were my first lifting shoe and are a great introduction to minimal sole lifting. When it comes to the deadlift, the closer to the ground your feet are, the better. That sense of being grounded allows you ample support when you're driving your feet into the ground while pulling the slack from the bar, whereas most tennis shoes have rubber and foam that throw you off balance. Some people feel great squatting in chucks, they have ease of reaching full depth with a flat shoe. Not so for Ol' Yeargain...


Squat Shoes

For the more serious and frequent gym visitor, a decent pair of squat/weightlifting shoes is quite useful, especially if you frequently squat or use the leg press. Because it's a specialty shoe it's not carried in most shoe stores, you'll need to order it online.


Squat shoes offer an elevated heel and a very sturdy sole that allows for optimal squatting: Secure base, full range of motion. Weightlifting shoes come in a wide range of prices, but the pair that I feel gets the most "bang for the buck" is the Adidas Powerlifts 2.0.


Cardio Shoes

Now, I've just told you to not squat in running shoes, so you definitely should not run in squatting shoes! Get yourself some shoes that are comfy for your cardio sessions so you can preserve your lifting shoes and get the most out of your cardio.


Other Stuff

Chain Belt 

The best way to get stronger at chins and dips is with applying progressive overload with this sucker. Some gyms you go to will have community chain/dip belts for you to use. However, as a traveling performer, I've regularly been to gyms that do not have chain belts and have been grateful to have brought my own.




Shaker Bottle

If you're like me, you like to have a scoop of Branch Chain Amino Acids when you work out. A shaker cup is made for these particular powder based mixed drinks. And although a water bottle will suffice, they generally don't have wide enough openings to accommodate the size of a scoop and you end up manufacturing a funnel with a napkin...not ideal.


Things I don't personally use but you may find useful


Lifting belt

There is extensive research that show the benefits of using a lifting belt when doing the big movers: Increased Performance, recruiting more muscle fibers, potential safety benefits. Lifting belts run for a range of prices, and quality definitely matters when it comes to effectiveness.




Wrist Wraps

Whenever you reach a certain level with your lifting capabilities, the joint's that are going to get a lot of heat with little to help them with is your poor ol' wrists. Pressing with a bare supporting the equivalent of your bodyweight over your head and face puts a lot of pressure on those joints, and if you're low bar squatting, you're more than likely using your arms to stabilize the bar on your back, giving your wrists even more aggravation. Wrist wraps give your hands more stabilization and give more area for the bar to rest on so it's not all being driven into the joint.




Wrist Straps

More than likely your back will be infinitely stronger than your grip. And depending on the length of your fingers, you may not have very good leverages for doing pulls with sufficient weight for rows or deadlifts. The way to continue progress is with the addition of wrist straps in your training.



Lifting Chalk

Chalk is a great way to improve your grip strength and putting it on the bar and the place where the bar touches your clothes is a great way to keep that bar sturdy on your back and hands so it's not slipping and sliding all over the place. It's rather inexpensive, it looks bad-ass, but it can be messy.



Liquid chalk

Liquid chalk works in the same manner as chalk, but for those of you who train at commercial gyms that don't want to get out the mop every time you visit, chalk isn't really an option. Liquid chalk is small, clean, easy to apply and a great alternative to the usually cloudy hand cocaine.


Let me know if you have used any of these items or if you think some other items should be added to this list.

Until next time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

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