We all want to make as much progress as possible in the gym. If you take the time out of your day to train you want to make sure every session is effective as you work towards your goals. 
 
I have meant to write this blog for a while now as I think people can be unsure of what they do or don’t need to help their training in the gym. 
 
I really believe these five things below can help you squeeze that little bit more out of your training so you can see better results in both the short and long term. 
 
1. Yoga/Pilates bands 
 
Warming up properly before training is defiantly something people seem to forget about. When you think how hard you can push your body in a gym session it’s pretty ridiculous to not warm up properly first. 
 
Bands can be a great addition to your warmup routine. Bands are really cheap and are something I use for all my workouts and in particular upper body sessions. Band external and internal rotations, band pull aparts and facepulls are great to warm up the shoulders and keep them injury free long term. Then for lower body workouts some banded glute bridges, side clams or monster walks will get those glutes firing properly. 
 
Bands are cheap, take up very little space in your bag and are so useful. You can even throw in some banded exercises like lateral raises, facepulls and bicep curls for something different if the gym is busy or you are hitting up a home/hotel workout. 
2. Lifting straps 
 
Once you get to a certain level of training grip strength can really hold you back. Movements like deadlifts, heavy rows, RDLS and shrugs can be loaded that much more heavily when you use lifting straps. This will allow you to really lift to your potential and you can watch your numbers soar as a result. 
 
At the end of the day, you want your limiting factor to be strength in the target muscle groups and not your grip strength. Also, you will find that your activation can be that much greater in the target muscle groups when using straps. 
 
I like the classic single strap lifting strap that threads through a loop which you wind around the bar or dumbbell. Don’t see straps as cheating because even with straps if a weight is too heavy for you it isn’t going up. 
 
My personal choice are bear grips. 
3. Lifting belt 
 
Like the lifting strap a belt can really allow you take your training to another level. I do however believe it’s important to be able to lift good numbers without a belt but for those heavy working sets a belt can be a great aid. 
 
The lifting belt will give you that little bit more support through your whole core and allow you to create more intra-abdominal pressure. As you breathe in before a rep the idea is to brace your core and then push into the belt which helps create more support through your core and is almost like having a thicker set of abs and stronger lower back. However just like lifting straps the belt won’t do the lifting for you but will just give you that bit more support and confidence to push yourself harder. 
 
My personal recommendation is a belt that is the same width the whole way around and has a traditional belt buckle (I personally use a scorpion belt and its helped me hit some pretty solid pbs). 
4. Proper training shoes 
 
When I say proper training shoes, I basically mean either lifting shoes or a good flat soled hard heeled trainer. Having a good training shoe is very important especially for lower body training. A standard running shoe will have an elevated arch and a soft heel. This is not ideal when you are doing movements like squats, deadlifts or lunges. Your foot won’t be as stable and for exercises like deadlifts the last thing you want is to have a shoe that has a thick wedge. This pushes your centre of mass forward onto your toes and can hinder your ability to load your hamstrings and glutes. 
 
Lifting shoes can be great for squats as they have a hard base, are very secure and the elevated heel will allow more depth and range at the ankle. Although, these shoes can be expensive they will last you for years. I personally have lifting shoes for squats and then a good flat soled under armour trainer for the rest of my exercises. I have had my Adidas weightliting shoes for years and have worn very well. 
5. Training log book or app 
 
The last thing that I would advise you have in your gym bag could be argued to be the most important. The ability to log and record your sessions and weights should never been underestimated. Whether you want to go old school with a note pad and pen or record on your phone, you will not regret recording more of your training. 
 
The ability to reflect and review your training will help you get much stronger compared to winging it every session. All my clients have access to their own coaching app via a provider I use called True Coach. Using this app they can record their numbers, review what they did last week, drop in training videos, and track their overall progress. No logging of workouts is going to lead to some pretty stagnant and ineffective training in the long run. 
I hope you found this blog useful. For any follow up questions on the above or to enquire about coaching get in touch with via THIS LINK
Tagged as: Training
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