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fat gripz

10 Gym Bag Essentials

  Torture Tools and Recovery Resources

“What the hell is that?”

I sat down at the gym as the kid, probably 16, checked out my bag. He’s a high school football player, working another coach, and he couldn’t unfix his eyes from my bag. He also had a weird sideways grin on his face.

I pulled out the Rumble Roller, a medieval looking knobby foam roller. His eyes widened in terror, he started to sweat, and his bottom lip was trembling.

Okay, I exaggerate. But only slightly.  “Yes, that’s a foam roller,” I said. He was hooked and asked what else do I had in the bag.

At that moment, I knew I needed to write this post. If a 16 year old wanted to know what my gym bag essentials were, then the 10,000+ monthly readers here would benefit, too.

gym bag, Gym Bag Essentials

After all, your gym bag is more than a place to hide your shaker until the smell of rotten whey solids becomes unbearable.

Your gym bag is a place to store training aids that can turn a bad day into an awesome one. Best yet, these items let me carry around a satchel, which is way better than a bag of man-purse.

Gym Bag Essentials, Photo credit: http://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/722410/It/

Sadly, lots of training tools are marketed as the “next big thing.” (Google Foam roller and you get 2.2 million options). 99% of the time, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

So, to start things off, I’m going to explain why each item is in my bag.

I’ll tell you how it gets me bigger, leaner, and stronger.

I’ll explain how it reduces pain and muscle adhesions. Best yet, these items let me carry around a satchel, which is way better than a man-purse.

Lifting Journal

C’mon, you know this would be there, right? If you’re not tracking your training is some form, you won’t make progress.

Lifting is about progressive overload and constantly pushing, grinding, and making improvement. Either pick up a cheap notebook, track on your phone, or use an app like Trainerize, which I use with all my online clients.

iPod Shuffle

A lot of people train using their phone for music.

I can’t. Phone= Work.

I can’t train for five minutes without a text message from a client, ping notification for a Facebook comment, or twitter messaging popping-up. I’m sure you’re the same way.

Distractions zap focus, and building a stronger, bigger, leaner body needs all your attention when you’re hitting the gym. That’s where the shuffle comes in: no distractions, just music.

Here’s What I’m Currently listening too:

  • Party Up by DMX
  • 0-100 by Drake
  • Blowin Money Fast by Rick Ross
  • Can’t be Touched by Roy Jones Jr.
  • Lose Yourself by Eminem
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Nike Frees 4.0 OR Chuck Taylors

Your footwear is important to your training success, you can’t just show up in Crocs (please, never) and expect to tear it up in the gym. Footwear matters. Big time.

If you’re just lifting and hitting mobility work, Chuck Taylors are your best, most versatile bet. The solid sole and support provides a great base for your lifts and minimizes “power leaks,” making you stronger.

Oh, and they make you look like a badass. And you can’t put a price on that before hoisting some heavy deadlifts.

chucks, Gym Bag Essentials

If you’re jumping, cutting, and sprinting (which you should a few times per week), I opt for the Nike Free 4.0. The 4.0 is the best bet because compared to other Nike Free shoes, they have much better support. Shoes that are too flimsy “minimalist,” don’t have enough lateral support. Hello, ankle sprains.

Jump Rope

I’m not a huge fan of treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals. I’d rather swing kettle bells, sprint outside, or jump rope. I wrote why the Jump Rope is the best conditioning tool you’re not using here, so be sure to check that out. Also, try jumping rope for three minutes straight and tell me it’s not a workout, especially with the interchangeable ropes from Crossrope. For a real killer, try the Titan, it’s like jumping with a support cable from the Golden Gate bridge. Okay, maybe not that intense, but it’s a beast.

crossrope, Gym Bag Essentials

I use Crossropes, as they allow interchangable handles and weights, while being nearly unbreakable. Yes, they cost a bit more, but you pay for quality. Get them here.

Related Reading: Why the Jump Rope is the Best Conditioning Tool You’re Not Using

Pro Red Mini-Band

I use this for stretching out my shoulders, band pull aparts, making exercises a little more difficult. Look this band around your back for added resistance for push-ups, or use it at the end of  squat rack for triceps push-down burn outs if all the cable machines are taken. Also great for glute activation like X- band walks, as shown by Tony Gentilcore.

Plus, they work like a wicked slingshot. Here’s the one I use and travel with from Elitefts.

miniband, Gym Bag Essentials

The “Stick”

The stick is a great tool for soft tissue work and takes up less space than your average foam roller. I bring this when I’m on the road so when I get back, my body doesn’t feel like it was tucked in a  barrel and thrown down Niagara Falls. The Stick rolls knots out of muscle, providing myofascial release and trigger point therapy and is way less intense than foam rollers. Foam rolling triggers a pain response that de-sensitives tissues, so dialing back the intensity can be a good thing.

stick, Gym Bag Essentials
The almighty torture stick

Get the travel stick I use here.

Rumble Roller

The medaevil torture device of all foam rollers, this device will work out even your toughest muscular adhesions. I wouldn’t jump onto the black, knobby roller right away unless you’ve been rolling for a long time and are fairly de-sensitived to regular high-density foam rollers. I prefer the big, black one (read that out-loud if you feel like being self-depricating) to really hammer my glutes and thoracic spine after a workout — rather than before.

I don’t always carry the rumble roller and the Stick, but if you want the rumble roller, pick it up here.

Fat Gripz

Fat Gripz are a cheaper option than buying fat grip barbells and dumbbells. Use this on sub-maximal lifts for gigger forearms, bigger biceps, greater shoulder stability, and increased rotator cuff activation through irradiation (squeezing the grips as hard as possible).

Win, win, win, win, right? Check out Fat Gripz here.

Lifting Belt

I don’t use a belt often, but when I do, I’m glad to have it. More than anything, a solid belt gives you a boost in confidence and a firm wall to push your stomach into, stabilizing the spine and giving more stability during heavy lifts. I don’t recommend you use a belt all the time, but you will see improvements in performance when used with your big lifts.

When it comes to belts, buy nice or buy twice.

belt, Gym Bag Essentials
My old mans’ belt. Blessed with Good Karma

I have an eliteFTS belt which you can get here, and my old man’s belt for special occasions.

Shaker and Onnit Hemp Force

Like you, I don’t always have time for a meal after training. In that case, it’s best you come prepared with a quick hit of protein to jump-start recovery to get bigger, stronger, and leaner. Just make sure to wash your shaker so your bag doesn’t smell like a rotting corpse tomorrow.

Sadly, I’ve developed an allergy to whey, and stick with hemp, rice, or egg protein these days. That said, even if you tolerate whey without gut irritation, it’s best to rotate through your protein sources to avoid allergies. Pick up Hemp Force Superfood Protein here. If you’re a stickler for whey, I recommend IsoPure.

hemp, Gym Bag Essentials
My go-to post-workout protein

There are tons of other cool little toys that we’d all love to play with but that’s my list of essentials I keep when training.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s in your bag? Join the discussion on Facebook.


Fat Gripz Review

Lifting Tempo, Fat Gripz Review

Fat Gripz are a fat, rubberized attachment for dumbbells and barbells to increase the diameter of the bar, thus mimicking the feel of a fat bar for a fraction of the price. This increase in diameter posts a significant challenge to the forearms and biceps as they must work much harder to grip, and stabilize the barbell or dumbbell being used. I have used my grips for the past 9 months and noticed a significantly stronger grip while also adding size to my forearms and helping me break the 500lb mark in my deadlift.

Fat Gripz Pros:

  • Fat Gripz take stress off of your body, specifically at the elbow, wrist, and shoulder joint. This occurs because the wider grip more evenly spreads the weight across the body. This is the biggest difference I have noticed, as my shoulder pain and wrist pain has dissipated significantly.


  • Fat Gripz increase muscle stimulation across the upper body. Don’t believe me? Make a fist and squeeze as hard as you can, your back, chest, arms, and shoulders will all be firing. The same thing happens when you challenge your grip with Fat Gripz.


  • Because of the increased muscle activation and grip challenge, muscle imbalances will be challenged and in time, eliminated. The body consistently fights to keep growth in proportion as much as it can. When a weak leak is evident, such as the grip, growth of other tissues can be impeded. Stagnant upper body growth? Hit your forearms with a high frequency for a few weeks. Jump starting your forearm training and grip strength will lead to growth in other areas.


  • Fat Gripz are a high quality rubber and very easy to use. Simply slip on the Fat Gripz on your dumbbells or barbells (open side facing you for pulls, away from you for pushes) and get to work. I have had mine for 9 months and they look brand new, minus chalk marks on them. They are durable, easy to clean with soap and water, and take 10 seconds to put on.

Fat Gripz Cons:

  • First and foremost, the workout that Fat Gripz gives you is shit. It’s your typical body part split with super high volume on your arms. You will get a superior pump using this workout, but most likely lack luster results and translation to increased strength in your compound, which is the key to muscle growth.
  • At first, Fat Gripz will make you incredibly sore in the forearms, which can limit your next few workouts. Start slow with usage, maybe 2-3 sets of one exercise the first week while slowly adding volume.
  • You will use less weight, at first at least. Especially in pulling exercises such as dumbbell rows, the weight you use will significantly decrease. This won’t last long, so suck it up and work through your frustrations.

Fat Gripz Review

Fat Gripz are a wonderful addition to any fitness enthusiasts’ workout. Fat Gripz provide a unique muscle stimulation that can only be matched by fat bars, but for a fraction of the price.  They can be found here at Elitefts.net. Fat Gripz will eliminate weak points, protect joints, increase muscle activation, and build a bone crushing grip. Stay away from the Fat Gripz workout and stick to compound exercises. I don’t use my Gripz when performing near maximum attempts, but include them on nearly all my assistance exercises. Fat Gripz can be an essential tool

Stay away from the Fat Gripz workout and stick to compound exercises. I don’t use my Gripz when performing near maximum attempts, but include them on nearly all my assistance exercises. Fat Gripz can be an essential tool to all athletes, but especially Mixed Martial Artists, Wrestlers, and other combative atheletes.

Fight through the initial ego struggle of using less weight and stay the course, it will pay dividends faster than you think! I highly recommend Fat Gripz for anyone looking to provide a unique challenge to their workouts with this durable, effective, and cost-effective alternative to fat bar training.

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