Carefully-chosen accessories for the gym can help you get the most out of each workout. And while some people may dismiss accessories as being gimmicks, the right accessories will help you to expand your workout, develop athletic abilities, or prevent injuries (or all of the above!). In this overview, we’ll help you find the best workout accessories.
If you’ve been training for any length of time, you know that it’s important to add some variation to your workout routine. Doing so can help build muscles you don’t normally use, and it’s also helpful for breaking plateaus in weight loss. While taking a break from your usual workout routine and trying something new is great, adding in accessories is another way to take your fitness to a new level.
What Are the Benefits of Using Accessories in Your Workout?
You may not absolutely have to add accessories to your routine (especially if you already have a home gym), but doing so has plenty of benefits.
They Let You Ease Into New Exercises
This may not be true of every exercise accessory, but many of them make it easier to safely try something new. Take resistance bands for example. These bands certainly have benefits for even experienced lifters — they increase muscle recruitment by requiring you to stabilize the band. However, resistance bands are an excellent tool for someone new to strength training. Bands tend to be less expensive than dumbbells or barbells, and they can be less intimidating for newer users. If you find you like using the bands (and work on doing several exercises with them), you’ll likely have an easier time walking into a gym.
They Let You Work Out Anywhere
Plenty of people want to be able to work out when traveling for work or other reasons. But when your travel doesn’t take you near a gym (or if the gym available is a bare-bones version with an exercise bike and not much else), you may not know where to start.
Luckily, lots of accessories are extremely portable and can easily be taken on travel. For instance, cordless jump ropes are incredibly small and take up barely any space in a suitcase. They’re simple to use, and you don’t even have to leave your hotel room to use them.
Exercise bands are another example of a highly portable accessory. Dumbbells and barbells don’t travel well, but bands can be folded and packed in suitcases or duffel bags. With bands, you can get in a challenging resistance workoutjust about anywhere.
Swiss balls (also called exercise balls) are also highly portable, provided you have a way to remove stoppers, deflate, and inflate the ball. A deflated ball takes up very little space, and it can be re-inflated in only a few minutes when you arrive at your destination.
They Can Help Prevent Injury
Accessories run the gamut from pricey gadgets like Bluetooth headphones to bare essentials like water bottles. But whether you use a power tower at home or go to a gym every day, the right accessories can serve an important purpose — preventing injuries.
The exact type of injury-preventing accessories you need will depend on your workout of choice. Long-distance runners sometimes choose compression socks to lessen their chances of stress fractures. Heavy lifters sometimes choose wrist wraps when doing pushing movements like a bench press. These wraps support the wrist and reduce your risk of a wrist injury.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1xmHQqtnbA (informational video on wrist wraps)
Athletes across all workout disciplines can benefit from using a foam roller. This inexpensive tool helps alleviate muscle soreness, but it also improves circulation, helps you get the most out of your stretching routine, and helps prevent injuries. By using a foam roller after each workout (or at least after most workouts), you’ll be able to recover faster and support overall health.
They Keep Things Interesting
Accessories can breathe new life into your workout routine, and they can also help you stay focused. For instance, if you want to track heart rate and total steps, a Fitbit or similar fitness trackermight be worth the investment. If you want to tune out the world so you can better focus on your workout, the right pair of headphones can help you do that.
Some accessories can help you avoid the pitfalls of doing something day in and day out, and they can add new challenges. Finding crunches too easy? Do them on a Swiss ball. Are bodyweight squats boring? Try practicing them on a Bosu ball. If you typically use cable machines for lateral raises and tricep pulldowns, try doing those same exercises with resistance bands. And if you’re having trouble thinking of creative ways to use your accessories, don’t worry — plenty of manufacturers include suggested exercises you can do.
What Accessories Should You Choose?
If you’ve already invested in a home gym, you may be very hesitant to spend even more money on accessories. But the good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot or purchase countless accessories for the gym in order to make a noticeable difference in your workout.
Of course, before you go adding more accessories, make sure you have the basics:
- A water bottle — This makes it easier to stay hydrated throughout your workout.
- A shaker bottle — Use one of these if you need tomix pre-workout or protein shakes.
- A decent pair of workout shoes — Most types of training shoes will work fine. For squats and deadlifts, many lifters prefer shoes with very thin soles.
- The right workout clothes — You don’t need anything too fancy. Comfortable clothes that don’t restrict movement are enough.
- A gym bag — If you go to a commercial gym, a bag makes it much easier to transport all the gear you need.
The more specialized accessories you choose will depend on your workout focus. If you prefer a more cardio-focused workout, you’ll probably look at different accessories than someone more focused on lifting would use.
Do your best to choose something that furthers your performance orprevents injury in your chosen sport. If you’re a lifter, consider lifting gloves, wrist wraps, or specialized lifting shoes. If you’re a runner, supportive insoles or lightweight running shoes can improve your performance, or a fitness tracker can keep track of your mileage.
What Are Some Precautions You Should Take?
Just as you need to take precautions to keep yourself safe when exercising, you also need to be careful when using accessories.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is to not let an accessory give you a false sense of security. For example, a good pair of lifting gloves can increase your grip strength, which then allows you to lift more weight. But you need to be careful with the amount of weight you lift — upping the amount dramatically (especially if you don’t focus on form) can quickly lead to injury.
Product Reviews: Five Great Workout Accessories
If you’ve been into fitness for any length of time, you know that a good foam roller is a must-have. A foam roller allows you to easily relieve muscle tension and improve circulation for a fraction of the cost of a sports massage. In particular, foam rollers come in handy if you do any kind of intense cardiovascular exercise. Distance runners and cyclists, for example, may find that their quads easily become sore. A foam roller can help alleviate soreness and help them recover faster from grueling workouts.
This high-quality option is a multi-density roller, meaning that the core is harder than the outside. This design feature gives you the best of both worlds — you get the effectiveness of an extra-dense roller without the bruising or soreness. And there’s no need to worry if you’ve never used a foam roller — this one comes with free instructional videos to help you get started.
- The little bit of give in the foam makes it more comfortable to use than some other options
- It comes with a one-year warranty
- Textured surface helps you massage sore muscles and knots
- Instructional videos help even beginners learn to use it
- Over time, the foam may become unglued from the plastic center
- This is shorter than some foam rollers, so it may not be good for all users
You already know that jumping rope is excellent cardio. However, if you’re like many people, you struggle with tripping over the rope or tangling it. And if you only have a small space to exercise, it can be difficult to jump rope at all. This portable jump rope alternative is ideal to use if you need to add in short bursts of cardio throughout the day (like when you’re working), but you can also use them for more extended cardio sessions.
This cordless jump rope is made up of two ergonomic handles. Each one is attached to a short length of rope with a ball at the end. You hold them just like you’d hold the handles of a regular jump rope, but there’s no risk of tripping. The small size makes it easy to carry, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Lightweight, space-saving design makes it a good choice to take to the office or on a trip
- It eleiminates the frustration of tripping over a traditional jump rope
- Ergonomic handles are easy to hold and non-slip
- Relatively light attached balls mimic the feel of an actual jump rope
- Some people find it to be too lightweight
- If you’re trying to improve coordination, you might prefer a traditional jump rope
Swiss balls are some of the most versatile workout accessories around. Even sitting on it at the office can help you build up core strength. You can use a Swiss ball (also called an exercise ball or a yoga ball) to do crunches, hip raises, and more. And since the ball requires your core to do some stabilization work, it turns every exercise you do into a core exercise. This ball can also be used at any fitness level — you can start by sitting on it to crunches, and as your core strength increases, you can prop your feet up on it while doing planks, etc.
You can select this ball in a variety of sizes, and it comes with a quick pump for easy setup. This one also comes with replacement stoppers and stopper removers, which is a relative rarity. This lets you easily deflate the ball, which makes transporting it much easier. Plus, it’s also burst-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about it ripping.
- It comes with a stopper remover, extra stoppers, and a pump, so it can be easily inflated and deflated
- It stays inflated even during rigorous workouts
- Given its quality, it’s very affordable
- It comes in many different colors
- This ball isn’t always true to the advertised size
- The pump that comes with it is somewhat inexpensive and prone to breakage
If lifting is your preferred workout, you already know that gloves and wrist wraps can help prevent injuries and make it easier to hit a new PR. Versa Gripps are a unique combination of both gloves and wraps. There’s a thick strap that wraps around your wrist, and there’s also a rubber grip pad that extends into the palm.
For a pulling exercise like a deadlift, the grip pad strengthens your grip while still giving you a decent connection to the weight. For pushing exercises like bench presses, tightening the wrist wrap portion gives you wrist support while the flexible grip pad enhances your grip. And unlike lifting gloves, you don’t need to fully remove your Versa Gripps for exercises where you don’t need them– it’s easy to push the rubber grip pad aside and lift as you normally would.
- Wrist-wrapping feature helps protect you against wrist strain and injury
- Unique rubberized grip pad strengthens your grip without compromising your ability to feel the weight
- Flexible design makes it easy to push aside the grip when you aren’t using it
- Ergonomic support reduces your risk of nerve damage
- Compared to some similar products, they’re a bit expensive
- Depending on the user’s hand size, the grip pad may be a bit small
Resistance bands can be a great supplement to your workout. And if you can’t get to the gym, you can use them alone to get in a thorough workout, too. With this set, you get a 10-pound, 20-pound, 30-pound, 40-pound, and 50-pound band. You can even use all bands at once for a total resistance of 150 pounds.
Exercise bands are great for performing variations of standard lifts. For example, instead of doing a dumbbell bicep curl, you can stand on a band and curl the handles upward. But this complete set also comes with accessories designed to let you perform even more exercises. These bands come with door attachments (which are great for tricep pulldowns) and ankle cuffs (great for donkey kicks or hip abduction exercises), so you can use them for a wide range of exercises. And best of all, they are remarkably affordable.
- Included attachments make it easy to exercise every muscle group
- You can use bands individually or stack them for resistance of 10 pounds to 150 pounds
- Anti-slip handles make your workout easier
- A carry bag makes them easy to take with you to the gym or store at home
- In some cases, the door anchor starts to unravel quickly
- Band resistance is not always exactly what it says
We don’t think you can really go wrong with any of the workout accessories on this list, but we think the best ones are the Versa Gripps. These one-of-a-kind accessories can help you get the most out of your strength workouts, and they combine the benefits of gloves and wrist wraps. They’re great for both hitting PRs and preventing injuries, too.