If you’ve ever skipped out on showering after a workout because you forgot your towel at home, it might be time to rethink the contents of your gym bag.
Having a list of gym bag essentials makes you prepared for your workout and creates a seamless transition from the gym to the rest of your day. Below is our list of gym bag essentials for guys so you can make sure you have everything you need to succeed before, during, and after your workout.
Whether you choose to go to the gym wearing your workout clothes or carry them in your bag, you need the proper apparel to do the job.
If you change into your workout clothes at the gym, make sure you have a pair of gym shorts and a training shirt. Wearing the proper clothes for a workout is critical for both comfort and performance.
Using a moisture-wicking training shirt can keep you cool and less sweaty. Moisture-wicking fabric is additionally helpful for guys with sensitive skin, as old cotton shirts can cause chafing, leading to uncomfortable itchiness.
If you’re the type to arrive at the gym fully kitted out and ready to go, you should have a change of clothes in your gym bag. A change of clothes includes clean socks, fresh undergarments, and whatever you want to wear on your way out of the gym. Changing your clothes after a workout, even if it’s just your socks, keeps you cleaner and healthier in the long run.
Putting on fresh socks can help to prevent athlete’s foot, a fungal infection that grows between sweaty toes. Ideally, you want to change your entire outfit so you aren’t walking around in smelly, sweat-stained clothing. So to keep yourself fresh, add a full change of clothes to your gym bag essentials.
Many gym bags have a shoe compartment to keep smelly or dirty shoes away from the rest of your stuff. The shoes you bring to the gym should be appropriate for your workout, whether you’re lifting weights or going for a run.
If you’re planning on showering at the gym, a pair of shower sandals is absolutely a gym bag essential. Stepping barefoot on gym shower floors can also expose you to athlete’s foot and a variety of other bacteria.
If you’re the kind of guy that runs hot and sweats a lot when working out, you can consider adding a small absorbent towel to your essentials. An absorbent towel will dry your sweat during your workout and cut back on time spent cleaning up.
A small towel is also good to have on hand for gyms that don’t supply their own wipe-down stations. It’s much more sanitary to wipe off your equipment after you use it, and you might even need to do some clean-up beforehand too. Not only is it more sanitary, but it’s proper gym etiquette to clean up your sweaty stations after you’re done with them.
If you have a set training plan, or if you’re recording your workout progress, make sure you have your logbook with you. This could be anything from a notebook to a printout sheet. There are also ways to track your workout digitally; you can use an app on your phone, or wear a fitness tracker.
Depending on what workouts you do, you might have specific fitness gear that you need to bring with you each time. If you’re a weight lifter, you may want to bring gloves, lifting straps, wrist wraps, or even a weight belt as part of your gym tools. These workout accessories help stabilize your body and can protect you from injury.
Showering is imperative after a rigorous workout, especially if you won’t be going straight home.
Not every gym will stock their own towels, so keep a towel in your bag if you plan on showering. Microfiber towels are a good bed because they have a shorter drying time than cotton towels, so you won’t have to worry about getting everything in your bag wet.
Just rinsing off in the shower won’t be enough, so make sure to keep a travel-sized body wash in your gym bag. A multi-purpose body wash that cleans your hair, face, and body will reduce your gym supplies and save you time.
Even if you don’t shower immediately after a workout, you’ll want to have deodorant. Having a powerful deodorant stick or even deodorizing wipes at hand will keep you smelling fresh.
If you’re traveling straight to work from the gym, consider bringing other hygiene essentials to use after showering. Shaving necessities, hair products, and oral healthcare items like a travel toothbrush can help you look and feel your best as you take on the rest of your day. Hair products like dry shampoo can also help save time so you can go about your day.
Showering after sweating can leave your skin feeling dried out. Consider adding a travel-sized body lotion to your gym bag, or even a hydrating sunscreen product that can protect your skin all day long.
Using a fitness tracker is a great way to record your workouts and how you perform. You can compare your sessions to keep track of your progress and goals. If you use a heart rate monitor or fitness watch, be sure to charge them up before you head to the gym.
Listening to music or podcasts during your workout can help you stay motivated during your workout. There is actually scientific evidence that listening to music during exercise can improve your workout.
Keep a pair of earbuds in your gym bag so you can listen to your workout playlist without bothering anybody else. Bluetooth headphones in particular are great for the gym so you don’t have to worry about getting caught up in wires.
Keep a small stash of healthy snacks in your gym bag to stave off hunger and help refuel your energy. Protein bars are convenient post-workout snacks that are easy to transport.
Any high-protein snack will help your body repair and build muscle so you can recover quicker from a hard workout. Protein bars provide a quick and easy way to satiate any hunger you may have after your gym session so you can stay alert and on task for the rest of the day.
Having a small tub of protein powder and a shaker bottle in your gym bag means you can mix your protein drinks directly at the gym. The company BlenderBottle offers a 22-ounce bottle with a twist-and-lock lid that won’t leak in your bag, so you can bring your protein drinks premade to the gym.
Other Gym Bag Must-Haves
It is absolutely critical to stay hydrated while you’re at the gym, so a reusable water bottle is a must. Many gyms now have water bottle refill stations, so you don’t have to carry around multiple disposable bottles.
If you’re working through some soreness, it’s good to keep a soothing muscle rub or pain-relieving cream in your gym bag. I like icy hot and tiger balm but whatever floats your boat. Just be aware that they smell like menthol so you’ll want them for after your workout – not during.
At the gym, you will be touching a lot of high-touch surfaces, from door handles to weights to buttons on cardio equipment. Hand sanitizer is a great product to carry with you to keep you from picking up any germs while you workout. Having your own hand sanitizer reduces the risk of getting sick, so you can keep working on your health.
You should also consider adding a washable laundry bag to your list of gym supplies. Using a separate bag to hold your dirty clothes will keep the rest of your essentials clean, and keep your gym bag from smelling.
Knowing exactly what you need to pack in your gym bag will cut down on time spent gathering everything you need before you head to the gym. More importantly, it means you’ll be ready to get ready for the rest of your day as soon as you finish your workout.
Having a precise plan for what you take with you to your workouts means you’ll be more inclined to properly execute your workout, shower, eat, and recover. The proper gym bag essentials will give you the tools you need to have your best sessions and recover faster so you can become stronger and healthier.
For more gym bag recommendations and other helpful workout tips, have a look at our other articles!