Nothing rocks more than hitting your gym-flow and crushing a workout. But reaching beast mode can hinge on your gym bag armory — headphones, gum, protein, undies, and all. Here are our gym bag essentials you’ll need to crush a workout and still leave smelling fresh and feeling nourished.
Gym Bag Essentials to Shop Now
For years we’ve diligently searched to find the ultimate gym duffel. Aer continues coming out on top with the Gym Duffel 2. This bag has a compartment for everything, including shoes, clean clothes, water bottles, keys and wallet, a laptop, plus an organization pocket for protein bars, energy gels, pre-workout powders, and headphones. The fact that everything has its place keeps the bag from smelling like ass and keeps you on the move. The polyester exterior has a water-resistant coating so, by all means, get it sweaty. Heck, have two gym duffels: One for running days and the other for lifting. Pick from our roundup of the best ones here.
Kick your ass into high-gear with a clean boost of energy from Ascent. Key word: Clean. This pre-workout also delivers extra hydration and preps your muscles for the torture ahead (bring it on!). Using caffeine naturally sourced from concentrated coffee fruit extract, Ascent Pre Workout is eye-opening while still having no artificial gunk and zero grams of sugar. Stop buying sketchy substitutes. The only question is: Raspberry Lemonade or Watermelon?
Saxx knows you want to keep the peekaboos at a minimum and has created a semi-compression, long-leg workout underwear perfect for the gym. If you’re hitting the bench before or during office hours, you’ll need a sweat-specific pair of briefs to change into. Anti-odor king Kinetic is built with stretch micromesh fabric, enabling these briefs to dry quickly and be uber-supportive. Especially great for guys with thicker thighs or who want more coverage.
Do not, I repeat, do not work out in a room full of people without a solid antiperspirant. Otherwise, you deserve a weight to the toe. We dig the Art of Sport (AOS) “Challenge” stick because it’s made for performance (just ask James Harden and Kobe), with motion-activated odor and sweat protection. Also cool: The stick won’t stain your clothes (you know we love our murdered-out gym apparel), is made without parabens or PABA, and smells earthy with musky sandalwood, fir needles, and basil.
If you learn anything today, it’s that you should chew gum while working out. Research proves it speeds up your heart rate, which gets blood flowing and makes your body happier during exercise while also helping you stay focused longer. We like gum on long runs because it also staves off dry mouth. Freaked out about swallowing it? Try Ice Breakers Sours instead, which dissolve.
When Gatorade partnered with the Seattle startup Volt, they successfully began one of (if not the) most efficient, intelligent, and successful workout apps on the market. And there are a TON of workout apps. For $10 a month, Volt walks you through each workout with a safe yet challenging approach that even pro athletes have been drawn to. Volt analyzes your personal data to build bespoke workouts and can even tailor the recommended loading, exercises, and circuits based on your desired sport or fitness goal. The interface and programming make this the kind of program you won’t throw in the towel on after the first few weeks.
Absolutely nothing kills your stride on run-day like earbuds slipping out. The only headphones we trust on endurance or interval runs are the ones with headbands. It helps if they’re wireless and have a 16-hour battery life, easily connect to Bluetooth, rock JBL Charged Sound for bolder drops, and are lined with a grip material and cushioned ear pads. Plus if they look badass, well, we can outrun any jabroni. These Under Armour wireless headphones with The Rock’s “Blood. Sweat. Respect.” slogan more than do the job. So why not just wear a ratty cotton t-shirt and max out your gym budget on cool headphones?
There’s a reason the best lifters at your gym wear Converse. In fact, Chuck Taylors have somehow become the unofficial footwear of weightlifting, and that’s because the soles are flat, neutral, and have hardly any padding. Professional weight lifters use these, or even go barefoot (not recommended at your neighborhood Equinox), to allow more power transfer and stability through the floor. Join the tribe of strong men and wear Chuck Taylors. Grabbing beers after? Keep ’em laced.
Real athletes know, if you want a hardcore, workout-specific tracker, you gotta go Garmin. Lucky for us recreational athletes, Garmin has also come out with sleek new “athleisure” models that blend the fashion of a timepiece with the capabilities of an activity tracker. Their Vivomove HR is the pinnacle of this hybridization, with precision watch hands and a discreet display screen at the bottom, tracking not only heart rate and steps, but all-day stress levels, relaxation timing, VO2 max and fitness age, calories, and intensity minutes. This way you’ll be capturing data instead of mirror selfies. (Please leave your phone in your locker.)
Clean up, you filthy animal. Nobody likes the guy who leaves sweat dripping off the machines like a slug trail. Grab a towel that is 100-percent super-absorbent terry loop cotton like the gym-specific line from Leus. And hell, why not go bold with a print. That way nobody can steal yours. After the workout, if you haven’t used the towel to sanitize machines, use it as a quick-dry for your hair and body.
For most people, the hardest part of getting your “summer body” isn’t going to the gym. It’s the food you eat. Make sure you’re not nutritionally starved by taking a daily superfood shot right after your pump. This ayurvedic superfood supplement from Hanah is made from 30 wild-harvested botanicals in a base of Keralan mountain honey, artisanal ghee, and sesame oil for optimal absorption. Some of its active ingredients are turmeric, ashwagandha, Amalaki (the newest and coolest superfood), and shatavari. Translation: Get ready to feel energetic and strong all day.
Wash that stank off with a quick and efficient full-body wipe from Fur. The brand’s large cloths are first and foremost biodegradable while also saturated with essential waters and Fur Oil to soften your skin while removing dirt and bacteria. Yes, you can use it on your “sensitive areas.” Zero phthalates, parabens, silicones, and artificial colors or fragrance go into these refreshing wipes, and you won’t feel like you’re covered in goop or fragrance.
You did it. You kicked ass at your workout, PR’d, or at least made it to the gym. Now give your dogs some care in a pair of recovery shoes. Hoka One One put its cushioned long-distance running shoe foam into an anatomically-friendly recovery flip flop. You’ll realize how much you need these the second your feet slip under the straps. Wear in the health club shower and on your way home.
You’re driving home and you’re starving. A Big Mac and McFlurry sound tasty, but no, you will not succumb to temptation. Whip out a Perfect Bar, made with 12 grams of whole food protein and 20 organic superfoods. With a substantial 320 calories per bar, you’ll get enough oomf to satiate you until chicken and veggies, while satisfying your body’s craving for something fatty and sweet. The new Salted Caramel flavor is like eating a candy bar. Perfect bars are also, well, perfect for the guy who can’t buy peanut butter because he’ll eat the whole jar. (Raises hand.)
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