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An Innermost Guide To The Ultimate Gym Bag Essentials

18th August 2022

18th August 2022

By Beth Shelper

First time going to the gym? Not sure what to take to the gym? Packing for an upcoming fitness retreat? Worried you’re missing out on some workout essentials? We understand. Look no further.

Avoid packing everything and the kitchen sink. When you’re going to the gym, you only need the essentials. Remember, you’ve only got that small dressing room locker. It’s not a two-week all-inclusive retreat (unfortunately).

Aside from the odd waiting-to-be-washed-up Innermost Protein Shaker and way too many empty snack packets, here’s the essentials you'll need to centre you as the envy of gym-goers everywhere. Grab yourself an Innermost Duffel Bag, and let's get started.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

  • A decent gym bag

A good, sturdy gym bag is the first port of call when perfecting your gym-locker contents. Make sure it's a good enough size to keep all of your essentials safely stowed, whilst not being too big to fit inside those little gym lockers. The Innermost Duffel Bag should be the perfect fit, and comes with a zipped main compartment and front pocket for valuables. 

  • Trainers

An absolute staple. Aside from being the most practical footwear, properly fitting and exercise-tailored trainers are the best way to avoid any injury. If you’re heading to the gym for a power cardio session, make sure your trainers are lightweight and padded. If you need some inspiration and advice when it comes to selecting the perfect running trainer, we’ve put together a nifty little guide featuring Our Five Top Tips To Selecting The Best Running Trainer For You.

If you’re scheduled in for some weightlifting – flat footed trainers are key. We personally opt for Converse or Vans style trainers, but that’s up to you.

  • Headphones

No one likes working out in silence. Whether you opt for a wireless or wired option, make sure you’ve got your headphones packed. Listening to a great playlist is a huge motivation when it comes to working out and is a great way to keep yourself engaged and focused.

Block out the world and get to work – your workout awaits.

  • Padlock and key

This is a big one. Public gyms often have shared locker rooms, and this means shared lockers and open space. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that in a shared space, there is a risk of your property being stolen, and often due to the nature of changing and locker rooms, CCTV is few and far between.

In this case, it’s important to keep your belongings safe. Bringing a personal padlock and key means that no other gym-goer will have the same padlock as you and ensures that you’re not relying on shared padlocks or lock combinations to keep your personal items away from anyone with alternative motives.

  • Towel

It’s about to get sweaty. Whether you bring a large towel for your post-workout shower, or a smaller, hand towel to wipe away the sweat from your brow following that hardcore cardio session, packing a towel is a hygiene essential.

These are also a great way to wipe down machines after a particularly sweaty workout, which is just common courtesy in the gym. But you know that.

  • Reusable water bottle

Save the planet and hydrate yourself at the same time. A water bottle is an absolute must for any workout, as not being able to hydrate yourself throughout exercise is a one-way ticket to dehydration: which means headaches, nausea and maybe even fainting.

Our Innermost Protein Shaker doubles up as a reusable water bottle. Hint hint.

  • A change of clothes

No one wants to walk around in sweaty clothes after a workout. If you’re working out before work, heading for a quick session before drinks on an evening, or have plans following your gym session, make sure you’ve packed a change of clothes to ensure you’re not caught out.

Even if you don’t have any plans after, make sure you have a change of clothes. No one wants to sit in sweaty, smelly clothes – it’s uncomfortable at the least.

  • Deodorant

This leads nicely on from our last point. It’s important to freshen up. No more explanation needed, we think.

  • Your mobile phone

Music source, safety device, set timer, access to fitness apps. All in one. You should always keep your mobile phone on you, and make sure it’s charged up as much as possible before you go.

For one, there’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and having no music to jam out to during your workout, but aside from that – from a safety standpoint, especially if you gym alone, it’s important to be able to get in contact with someone – for whatever reason.

  • Money

As above, you never know what might happen! Just as a general life tip, keeping money on you is always a good idea. You might just get tempted by that snack in the gym vending machine, forget your drink and need to grab one, or need to get an emergency taxi home.

A small amount of money is always a great item to keep handy in your gym bag.

  • Post-workout snack

Ah, the post-workout snack. Many a time, when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, the post-workout snack can just be enough to get you through that last set. A post-workout snack is also a good idea just to refuel following a particularly heavy session, as consuming the necessary nutrients and protein after exercise is key to progress and leading that all-important healthy lifestyle.

Need some snack inspo? Say no more…

So, we’ve worked out what to take to the gym. Those are the absolute workout essentials. But what about one extra? Oh, go on then…

  • Resistance bands

Resistance bands are a small and light workout addition to add into your gym bag. They can be incorporated into tons of workout techniques from squats and leg presses to bicep curls, there are lots great benefits of resistance bands, as they help improve the quality of your exercise, engage your muscles and help focus control… so if you haven’t tried them out yet, what are you waiting for?

Need Expert Advice?

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more