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!
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If you search for “energy supplement” on amazon, you get over 4,000 results.
How can any reasonable human sift through all that and find the ones that work? Or which ones are bogus?
I did a deep dive into the truth about “increasing your energy” in another article. It gives you a framework for understanding how real energy supplements work and why.
But here I want to do something different.
I want to get practical and tactical with 10 proven ways to boost energy production in your cellular energy factories –– your mitochondria.
We’ll start with the lifestyle and dietary ways to boost your mitochondria and then look at a few powerful supplements.
Let’s start with the cheapest...
Your average health food store has an entire section devoted to “energy.”
The products on the shelf, with their fancy logos and specially designed packaging, make grandiose claims about what they will do for your “energy levels.”
But the truth?
Most of them are stimulants in disguise, artificially jacking you up to give you the sensation of energy.
But in the end, they do more harm than good. They increase cortisol, cause dehydration, and deplete you.
Because almost none of them do anything on the biological level that supports your real energy system: your mitochondria and metabolism.
That’s why in this article I want to show you what to look for with any new supplement.... and why.
It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” according to Andy Williams. Or should it be the most wonderFULL time of the year? I’m referring to the last 6 weeks of the year which is fraught with one nutritional landmine after another.
Let’s face it, things like pumpkin pie, stovetop stuffing, eggnog, pumpkin-spiced lattes, peanut brittle, homemade fudge, and divinity only make their appearance during this brief window so we might as well gorge ourselves with as much as we can, right?
No wonder the average American gains 2 to 5 pounds (or more) over the holidays. You’d think we were part bear by eating all…the…things before going into several months of hibernation. Unfortunately, this is a major reason people gradually gain weight over the course of years and decades. Gaining weight is easy while losing it is another story.