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In a time where time is money, we all know the value of efficiency in every action we take. The gym is no different in terms of our drive to be sure that our efforts are feeding directly into our goals. The loads we place upon our bodies day in and out, such as the bags we carry to and from work, have a direct impact on our fascial lines and the resulting tension that our bodies carry. For this reason, we want to strip down to just the essentials when we get into the realms of extra-curriculars.
In a day and age that is so saturated with options, decision fatigue is a constant source of overwhelm. Just sifting through all of the options of supplements, tools, and accessories can be a task in its own right. And so, we’ve tried to do the heavy lifting (or in this case, sifting) for you, and pare things down to the 5 absolute must-haves in your gym bag.
Every good workout demands proper fuel for performance. The PerfectAmino PowerMeal is designed specifically to be that: top-quality protein coupled with low-glycemic carbohydrates helps your body access energy as quickly as possible, while simultaneously introducing the long-lasting energy of MCT oil that will keep you satiated and fueled for hours. With just 180 calories and zero added sugars, this vitamin- and mineral-rich meal replacement is the perfect fuel pre- or post-workout for maximum protein synthesis and energy replenishment. An on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t have to come at the cost of quality fuel, and the PowerMeal is proof.
Exercise has greatly varying effects on the body depending on any number of variables involved, such as how high you push your heart rate and for how long. Training intelligently would thus include using heart rate data to inform your training. There is merit to each type of heart rate training; for example, maintaining a relatively low heart rate will pace a longer workout, whereas pushing a higher heart rate can support increased stamina.
Heart rate monitors allow you to monitor heart rate at rest or during activity, as well as recovery, which is how quickly your heart rate decreases after intense activity. Your heart rate’s ability to recover gives insight into your overall state of fitness.
Heart rate monitors come in two styles: a classic chest strap - which uses an electrical pulse to read the heart rate - or a monitor that uses optical technology instead (think FitBit, Apple Watch, and other wrist-based activity trackers.)
Chest straps read the small electrical signal that your body creates to make your heart restrict while optical technology sends light into the skin and reads the light that comes back. Electrical technology tends to be more accurate. Arm- or wrist-based measurements have a greater margin of error because this part of the body can swing rapidly during activity and result in greater data noise.
Regardless, a HRM will help you make the most of your training time by allowing you to vary the input to your system and develop a wider baseline of endurance, stamina, and insight into your training capacity.
Here we have a comparison of popular brands and their respective pro’s and con’s.
Speaking of efficiency, the importance of proper warm-up and movement preparation cannot be overestimated. Often thought of as more of a nuisance than a real exercise strategy, the warm-up is a critical component of making the most of your time in the gym.
One of our favorite tools for muscle activation pre-workout is the resistance band, but not just any thin rubber band you can find in a gym’s catch-all accessory box. We’re talking about heavy-duty hip circles like the ones you can find here. The higher-resistance bands will simultaneously activate smaller and major muscle groups. This primes the mind and muscles for the workout to come. Whether you are doing a heavy leg day or cardio, a resistance band will get the lower body firing, especially for those of us that spend long days seated and need a bit of assistance in countering those repetitive loads on the lower body.
Recovery is one of the most under-utilized tools for enhancing performance, mobility, and overall health. Trigger point therapy can be used both as a pre-workout tool or more intensively on those equally-important rest and recovery days. Movement prep gets the mind-body connection in place before adding more load and complexity. Additionally, it will increase blood flow and activate muscles for a once again, more efficient workout.
So much of our day is spent in the same positions continuously (seated, standing, or maybe walking, if we’re lucky) that there are chronic tension patterns that inevitably develop as a result of time. We can literally take the power back into our own hands to re-pattern our fascia and musculature with simple tools like SMR (self myofascial release.) Tools like trigger point foam rollers and balls will easily fit into your gym bag and make your workout that much better with not much extra time allotted. We like this kit from Trigger Point Therapy that comes with all of the foundational tools as well as easy-to-follow instructions.
For the final piece of the equation, Halo Sport is the first headset that stimulates the part of your brain responsible for muscle movement. The premise of this technology is the acceleration of training gains in power, endurance, and even skill. By improving the brain’s neuroplasticity via stimulation of the motor cortex, the body’s natural fine-tuning process occurs more rapidly, resulting, in the words of Halo, in better results from each and every repetition. If you want to geek out more on the science of how this actually happens, head over here to the Halo site where there’s a plethora of info on what this is all about.
In short, though, this is a wave of the future that we have a chance to tap into right now, and we’re excited at the prospects!
And that’s a wrap on the 5 must-haves for our gym bag. Each piece promotes a balanced body and mind, all while making the most of limited time.
What do you think?
Did we miss anything?
Have you tried any of the above?
Let us know in the comments!
If there is anything society has come to realize over the last century, it is that women are just as powerful, smart, ambitious, and capable as men. And while society as a whole is still catching up as far as true equality, the facts are evident when you look at some of the most incredible and influential people today.
When it comes to fitness, however, men and women are not the same. The natural, physiological differences necessitate unique approaches to achieve optimal results. While the fundamental science behind attaining a shredded, lean physique is basically the same for both sexes, the exact steps and application require careful consideration.
One thing I've learned is that injuries can be great teachers. There are so many lessons to be learned from the injuries we experience. They force us to slow down and evaluate our bodies on a deeper level. Like many, I'm guilty of sometimes taking my healthy days for granted. When we pick up an injury, we're suddenly motivated to learn everything we can about that specific injury. We're also dedicated to the necessary rehab it will take to overcome the injury and strengthen our weak areas.
As with many injuries, I've learned there are no "quick fixes" for my stubborn Achilles. Over the years, I've also learned there are no "get fit quickly" schemes.