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What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts?

What are some accessories that will help improve your workouts? This week our forum members give their two cents on useful gym accessories and the not so useful. Get the latest on gloves, boards, bands, straps, wraps, belts, and more right here!

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts?

The Question:

There are some people who workout with nothing but a regular tee-shirt, some gym shorts and their bare hands. Others find items which they feel will improve their workouts, such as gloves, boards, bench shirts, bands, straps, wraps, belts, etc.

What are some accessories that will help improve your workouts? Explain why these will improve your workout.

Which items do you feel serve little or no use? Explain why these are of little use.

Which are "necessity" items you take with you to each workout? Explain what they are for and how well they work.

Do you think one should take advantage of these items or do you think that it is better to workout without any accessories?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    New Prizes:
      1st place - $75 in store credit.
      2nd place - $50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - BurningHeart
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Introduction

We look to improve ourselves and our daily schedule everyway possible. As humans, this is how we evolved from the 3 foot, 80 lb. stature to what we are today. Evolution is why 20 years of age is not considered to be old, as it was thousands of years ago.

It only makes sense if we evolve every aspect of our lives, why not weightlifting? Surely we have not reached the 'pinnacle' of bodybuilding knowledge.

Simply lifting weights will not build your muscles as efficient as possible. Research was made, and it was found that proper diet and rest must be present for our muscles to grow. As the years went on, and more studying was done into bodybuilding, we learned that protein is the source of muscle building. Later came the discovery of creatine, individual amino acids, and more recently, nitric oxide.

Those previously mentioned supplements directly affect your body's muscle building capability, but what about accessories that indirectly affect your muscles?

That is what this article will discuss, supplements for your workouts. Do you have any roadblocks in your workouts? If so, it is likely there has been a 'fix' to this roadblock with an accessory. Plus there is always the chance that you will discover an accessory that improves your workouts, thus increasing your results.

Take a look at the following workout accessories, can you benefit from one of these?


Part 1
What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts? Explain Why These Will Improve Your Workout.

List Of All Workout Accessories:

Effect On Workouts
Accessory Improve Little/No use Necessity
Ab Straps X
Bench-Press Shirt X
Body Fat Testers X
Chalk X
Dipping Belt X
Gym Bag X
Hand Grippers X
Head Harness X
Heart Rate Monitors X
Knee Wraps X
Lifting Belts X
Lifting Gloves X
Lifting Straps X
Manta/Sting Ray X
Mat X
MP3 Player X
Personal Mixers X
Swiss Ball X
Towel X
Water Bottle X
Wrist Wraps X

Accessories That Improve Workouts:

    Ab Straps:

      Ab Straps function as a portable piece of equipment used to work the abdominals. A set consists of two separate straps that hang from a bar. You place your arms through the straps and hang from them. From there you bring your legs upwards towards your chest, working the abdominals.

        Advantages - Good for gyms that do not have an abdominal station. Also good for those people whose back may hurt during crunches or leg raises.

        Ab Straps

        Disadvantages - Not totally necessary as there are many ways to do abdominal work. Also must have a bar to hang the straps from.

        Personal Recommendation - Grizzly Ab Straps, Grizzly makes high quality and sturdy products, will last a long time.

    Chalk:

      Chalk is used for those lifters who need extra grip support. These lifters often consist of powerlifters because of the high amount of weight that is lifted. The chalk provides a rough surface on your hand, decreasing the slipperiness that sweat brings.

        Advantages - Great for lifting high weight, decreases the chance the bar will slip out of your grasp. Could prevent injuries.

        chalk

        Disadvantages - Chalk is messy, many gyms will not allow it. If you do use chalk, be prepared to bring a towel to wipe up excess chalk off the bar and weights.

        Personal Recommendation - Lifting Chalk

    Lifting Belt:

      Lifting belts are used for lower back support. They keep your lower back steady to prevent sudden, dangerous jerks when lifting heavy weights. Lifting belts are most used when squatting, however some lifters like to use one for every exercise.

        Advantages - Provides lower back support in order to prevent injuries.

        Disadvantages - Even though lifting belts are meant to keep your back steady, they can limit range of motion. Plus while lifting belts are useful, they should not be substituted for good form.

        Personal Recommendation - 6" Leather Lifting Belt

    belt

    Lifting Gloves:

      Gloves are used for two purposes, to provide better hand grip and lessen pain on the hands. Barbells, namely 'Olympic' style, have small grips on them. These small grips can sting your hands, especially deep into the workout. Gloves provide a nice cushion for your hands, preventing this stinging.

      Also if you've been lifting for a while, chances are you've encountered the time when a fold of skin on your hand will get mashed onto itself. This causes discomfort during a set, and can break your concentration. Furthermore this is what causes calluses on your hand. Gloves prevent the bar from mashing your skin.

        Advantages - Better hand grip, less pain, less calluses, better concentration.

        gloves

        Disadvantages - While gloves provide a better hand grip, they lessen grip strength.

        The difference is hand grip has to do with gripping the bar with your hands. If you do not have a good hand grip on something, it will be hard to pick up from the get-go. However grip strength has to do with the strength in your forearms that is responsible for grabbing the bar.

        Gloves

        Gloves, while providing a better hand grip, decreases your grip strength because it forces you to grab a larger surface. Think of it this way, what would be easier to lift... a thin 50 lb. barbell or a thick 50 lb. barbell?

        Personal Recommendation - Gloves - Gloves combined with wrist wraps

    Lifting Straps:

      Lifting straps are used to lessen the need for a strong grip when lifting. This is useful for when your grip may be the factor holding back your lifts. The straps tie from your wrists to the bar in order to take pressure off your hands and place it on your wrists instead.

      Advantages - Allows you to lift heavier weight without grip strength hindering it.

      straps

      Disadvantages - While it may be good to be able to lift more weight with straps, it actually may be a disadvantage. Needing to use straps for an exercise often means your grip strength needs improvement, and this grip strength will not increase if you use straps all the time.

      Personal Recommendation - Canvas Lifting Straps

        BONUS - These straps are free when placing an order from bodybuilding.com. Simply type "Free straps please" in the comment box.

    MP3 Player:

      If you workout at a public gym, often you will prefer music different than what they play. This is where an MP3 player comes in handy. Music is a great motivator, and having your own custom music can help you get those last few reps each set.

        Advantages - Being able to customize your own music, discourages people from bothering you.

        Disadvantages - Some don't care for the feel of headphones when lifting.

        Personal Recommendation - Mach Speed 512MB MP3 Player w/ Voice Recorder

    Personal Mixers:

      You aren't able to lug around a blender on the go, but you still need something to mix your protein shakes. This is where personal mixers come in handy. They are small blenders that run on batteries and mix your shakes as well as a blender.

      Mixer

        Advantages - Can take on the go, drinks come out better than shaking or stirring.

        Disadvantages - Requires batteries.

        Personal Recommendation - Personal Drink Mixer

    Wrist Wraps:

      Wrist wraps are used to keep your wrists steady and secured when lifting weight. They act similar in aiding the wrists as a lifting belt aids the back.

        Advantages - Helps keep your wrists in place, lessens wrist pain and decreases the chance of injury. Wrists are more comfortable, possibly allowing you to do more reps.

        Wrist Wraps

        Disadvantages - Limits your wrists' range of motion. Not ideal for such exercises that require this range of motion, pullups for example.

        Personal Recommendation - Deluxe Heavy Duty Wrist Supports


Part 2
Which Items Do You Feel Serve Little Or Bo Use? Explain Why These Are Of Little Use.

Bench-Press Shirt:

    Bench press shirts are tight suits worn to aid in bench pressing. They are designed to help the Pectoralis contract itself, allowing for more weight to be lifted.

      Not Recommended Because - Bodybuilders aren't and shouldn't be concerned with lifting extremely heavy weights. Not only does this increase the likelihood of injury, but heavy weight with only a couple of reps is ideal for strength, not size gains. As a bodybuilder you should be concerned with a moderate rep range, opposed to a low rep range for a powerlifter.

Body Fat Testers:

    Body fat testers range from electronic scales, to calipers, to measuring tape. They are used to estimate your current body fat to lean mass ratio.

      Not Recommended Because - The only accurate way to measure body fat is through hydraulic dunking, and even that is not 100% accurate. Skin calipers will give various readings depending on how much skin you grab hold to, and electronic scales are so inaccurate that they will give various readings in a 5 minute period.

      It is much better to look in the mirror for your body fat measurement. Do you look good without a shirt? If not, it's time to cut (too fat) or bulk (too skinny). It's as simple as that.

Head Harness:

    A head harness is used for training your neck. It fits onto your head, and comes with a chain to place weight on. From there you can do a variety of neck movements.

      Not Recommended Because - There are easier ways to train your neck. A head harness does not feel natural and can be complicated to move around in.

      I prefer the towel + plate method for training my neck. That is getting a plate, putting a towel over it, and placing that on different parts of your head for exercises. It's much easier and allows you to work all sides of your neck quickly.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Face Down Plate Neck Resistance.
Video: Windows Media - Real Player

Heart Rate Monitors:

    These electronic devices often strap to your wrists in order to take a pulse reading of your heart rate.

      Not Recommended Because - I believe measuring your heart rate is going to the extreme, even for cardio. Weightlifters do not need to measure their heart rates, as they will not be high for an extended period of time.

      Even for cardio, if you are moving around enough and eating the right foods, you will burn fat. A heart rate monitor only shows how hard your heart is working, something that is obvious anyway. Unless you have a heart problem, I see no reason to have one of these. Use the money to buy a tub of protein instead.

RELATED POLL
Do You Use A Heart Rate Monitor During Your Workouts?

Yes.
No.

Knee Wraps:

    Knee wraps are used to keep your knees stable during exercises that use your knees such as squats. They act in the same fashion as wrist wraps and lifting belts do.

      Not Recommended Because - Any exercise that uses your knees uses them for a reason, to bend. Take squats for example. Knee wraps limit the range of motion on your knees, causing you to bend less with your knees and more with your back. This is a big mistake when squatting. You are supposed to bend from the legs, not back. Bending the back when squatting is just asking for a herniated disc.

Manta/Sting Ray:

    The Manta/Sting Ray is a rubber pad used on barbells so the barbell doesn't dig into your skin. It fits between you and the barbell.

      Not Recommended Because - The pad does not feel normal on the barbell. With the pad you have less control of the barbell because you cannot feel the position of it on your back.

      I believe the Manta/Sting Ray is equivalent to lifting straps. Both help you lift the weight easier, but you are sacrificing something in turn. With lifting straps you are sacrificing any grip strength gains, and with the Manta/Sting Ray you are sacrificing getting used to a barbell on your back.

      If a barbell hurts when on your back, you should look into bulking up and working your Trapezius muscle.

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Mats:

    Mats come in different shapes, sizes, and textures. They are used to provide a soft surface for exercising on.

      Not Recommended Because - Unless you are doing Pilates or some other form of yoga, a mat isn't a must have. When lifting weight, a hard surface is always preferred to maintain balance. The only benefit it could have for weightlifting is to provide a place to stretch after a workout. Even then it is only a luxury.

Swiss Ball:

    The peak of mainstream 'fitness'. The Swiss Ball is used as a place to prop your feet up when doing pushups and other cardio-like exercises.

      Not Recommended Because - There is no difference between a Swiss Ball and a bench besides the fact you can bench press on a bench. Need to prop your feet up for pushups? Use the bench. Need a place to do curls on? Use the bench.

      If you go to a gym or have any type of equipment at home, you do not need a Swiss Ball at all.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Push-Ups With Feet Elevated.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


Part 3
Which Are "Necessity" Items You Take With You To Each Workout? Explain What They Are For And How Well They Work.

Dipping Belt:

    Dipping belts serve one purpose, adding weight to your body. However this one purpose can be used in various exercises. Exercises such as pullups, chin-ups, dips, and lat shrugs are just some of the uses of a dipping belt.

      A Necessity Because - There will be a time when your bodyweight is not enough weight anymore. There is no better way to add weight to your body than using one of these belts. They are sturdy and will be able to hold "as much as you can load up." - a trademark of Grizzly.

      Personal Recommendation - Leather Dipping Belt

belt

Gym Bag:

    The name explains itself. A bag for holding accessories to bring to the gym.

    bag

      A Necessity Because - Unless you want to look like a clumsy rookie walking into the gym, you want to put all your accessories into one bag to easily carry around.

      Personal Recommendation - Bodybuilding.com Gym Bag

        BONUS - You are able to get this gym bag free with a purchase of over $150 from Bodybuilding.com

Hand Grippers:

    These are used to strengthen your forearm muscles. Hand grippers come in various styles and resistances.

      A Necessity Because - Grip strength is one of the most important factors in determining your gains. It separates one from doing 5 pullups to one that can do 15. It separates one from doing 5 barbell shrugs to one that can do 15.

      gripper

      If you use lifting straps, you absolutely need hand grippers to build your forearm strength. They are great to use when watching a movie or after a workout.

      You'd be surprised how many of your lifts would go drastically up with stronger forearms. Hand grippers are a must have.

      Personal Recommendation - Heavy Grip

      From there you can choose many types of weight resistance, depending on your strength.

Towel:

    Another obvious description. A towel to wipe sweat off of yourself and the machines.

    towel

      A Necessity Because - As if being a clumsy rookie without a gym bag wasn't bad enough... don't be a nasty rookie that doesn't bring a towel to the gym. No one wants to use equipment with sweat all over it. A sweaty face can be a distraction when doing your reps anyway.

      Personal Recommendation - Bodybuilding.com Towel

Water Bottle:

    And at last, yet another obvious description. A bottle to store your refreshing, cold water in.

      A Necessity Because - Drinking water is absolutely required when working out, preventing dehydration and keeping your muscles working efficiently. This is especially true when using creatine or caffeine based supplements.

      bottle

      Having a water bottle is also handy because you don't have to keep running to the water fountain after every set. We all know what happens when making a trip to the fountain, someone always takes your equipment.

      Personal Recommendation - Bodybuilding.com Water Bottle

        BONUS - You are able to get this water bottle free with a purchase of over $75 from Bodybuilding.com


Part 4
Do You Think One Should Take Advantage Of These Items Or Do You Think That It Is Better To Workout Without Any Accessories?

If you are looking to increase the efficiency of your workouts, then look into getting some of these accessories.

Working out without any accessories is like saying you will live without electricity. You can do it, but why would you want to? Accessories are just like electricity, they make life more efficient.

First determine your budget; from there you will have a good idea where to start. I highly recommend buying the accessories I listed under "necessity" first. Once you have those, look through the accessories that "improve workouts". From there evaluate your goals, do you need ab straps or gloves more?

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Over time you'll collect a nice stash of accessories, things that you couldn't imagine being without now that you have them.

Evolve your workouts; don't be stuck in the Stone Age of weightlifting. There are better things out there now that are used to increase efficiency. We take supplements, we eat the right food, we sleep long, why leave accessories out?

References:

  1. www.bodybuilding.com/store/index.html (visit for more info on accessories)
  2. www.tigerdirect.com


2nd Place - RC26
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

There are some people who workout with nothing but a regular t-shirt, some gym shorts and their bare hands. Others find items which they feel will improve their workouts, such as gloves, boards, bench shirts, bands, straps, wraps, belts, etc.


Introduction

If you're looking for the most comprehensive guide regarding the fundamental workout accessories, then look no further. This article includes detailed explanations of all the workout equipment ranging from gloves to heart monitors, to ensure that you, the readers, can finally obtain the secrets to transforming your bodies. As an added bonus, product recommendations, and an in depth workout program have been incorporated into this editorial.


Improve
What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts? Explain Why These Will Improve Your Workout.

Lifting Gloves:

Lifting Straps:

Lifting Belts:

Dip Belts:

    Although not commonly used, dip belts are a great way for trainees to add weight to their own body, during exercises such as dips and pull-ups. The two types of dip belts are listed below.

    • Leather Dip Belts
    • Fabric Dip Belts

    Recommended Dip Belts:

belt

Wrist Wraps:

Knee Wraps:

    It's imperative to use knee wraps in exercises such as squats, especially if joint problems have been an issue in the past. However, those who have just begun weight training and haven't progressed to heavier poundages are not obligated to use knee wraps. Below is a list of the two types of knee wraps.

    Tommy Kono

    • Power Knee Wraps
    • Knee Bands

    Recommended Knee Wraps:


Little Or No Use
Which Items Do You Feel Serve Little Or No Use? Explain Why These Are Of Little Use.

Most accessories, if not all, play a vital role in bodybuilding, but there are a certain few that are not used, simply because their lack of benefits aren't worth the purchase.

Gravity Boots:

    This is probably the least used workout accessory ever created, and that won't be changing anytime soon.

Bar Pads:

    If I owned a gym, and set my own rules, I would ban bar pads in their entirety. I feel that they're a coward's way out, and those who don't agree should build stronger necks/traps before they begin squatting.


Necessity
Which Are "Necessity" Items You Take With You To Each Workout? Explain What They Are For And How Well They Work.

As I mentioned earlier, gloves, straps, belts and wrist/knee wraps are vital accessories that should be used in each workout. However, there are a few underrated accessories that I believe are also necessity items, and they are listed below.

  • Training Journal- allows you to track your daily workout progress.

  • Body Tape Measurers- allows you to measure the size of your muscles.

  • Body Fat Measurers- allows you to measure your body fat percentage.

  • Heart Rate Monitors- helps you target your high and low heart rate zones.

  • Blood Pressure Monitors- helps you monitor your blood pressure.

  • Weight Scales- ever wondered if you've lost those last couple of pounds? Well there's no better way to tell than with a weight scale.

  • Music Players- whether you're trying to avoid chatting at the gym, or you simply want to get pumped up, a music player assist you.

  • Towels- bringing a towel to the gym can provide you options to many more exercises, such as towel pull-ups.

  • Mats- to maximize the effectiveness of stretching, you'll need a mat. Other uses can be performing exercises such as crunches.

  • Lifting Chalk- unless you have gloves, you will need lifting chalk to improve your grip during heavy lifting.

  • Olympic Conversion Bars- ever wanted to train like a pro? Well purchasing an Olympic Conversion Bar can be a great start.

  • Exercise Balls- these can be a great addition to your workouts, as they expand the range of exercises performed.

  • Hanging Ab Straps- there's no better way than developing the lower abdominal muscles than with hanging ab straps.


The Workout

The Split:

  • Monday- Heavy Day - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs
  • Tuesday- Light Day - Back, Biceps, Legs
  • Wednesday- Rest Day
  • Thursday- Light Day - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs
  • Friday- Heavy Day - Back, Biceps, Legs
  • Saturday- Rest Day
  • Sunday- Rest Day

Monday - Heavy Day - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs

    Recommended Workout Accessories

    • Lifting Gloves
    • Mat

Body Part Exercise Sets* Reps
Upper Pecs Incline Barbell Bench Press 4 4-6
Pecs Flat Barbell Bench Press 4 4-6
Front, Middle Deltoids Barbell Shoulder Press 4 4-6
Rear Deltoid Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 4-6
Triceps Triceps Pushdowns 4 4-6
Triceps Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extensions 4 4-6
Upper Abs Crunches** 3 25

Tuesday - Light Day - Back, Biceps, Legs

    Recommended Workout Accessories

    • Lifting Gloves
    • Lifting Straps
    • Knee Wraps

Body Part Exercise Sets* Reps
Lats Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns 4 12-15
Lats Seated Cable Rows 4 12-15
Lower Back Hyperextensions** 4 15
Biceps Dumbbell Curls 4 12-15
Biceps Concentration Curls 4 12-15
Quadriceps Leg Extensions 4 12-15
Hamstrings Lying Leg Curls 4 12-15
Soleus Seated Calf Raises 4 12-15

Wednesday - Rest Day

Thursday - Light Day - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs

    Recommended Workout Accessories

    • Lifting Gloves
    • Hanging Ab Straps

Body Part Exercise Sets* Reps
Upper Pecs Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12-15
Pecs Flat Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12-15
Front, Middle Deltoids Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 12-15
Rear Deltoid Reverse Fly Machine 4 12-15
Triceps Reverse Triceps Pushdowns 4 12-15
Triceps Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 4 12-15
Lower Abs Hanging Leg Raises** 3 25

Friday - Heavy Day - Back, Biceps, Legs

    Recommended Workout Accessories

    • Lifting Gloves
    • Lifting Straps
    • Knee Wraps

Body Part Exercise Sets* Reps
Lats Barbell Rows 4 4-6
Lats T-Bar Rows 4 4-6
Lower Back Deadlifts 4 4-6
Biceps Barbell Curls 4 4-6
Biceps Preacher Curls 4 4-6
Quadriceps Squats 4 4-6
Hamstrings Standing Leg Curls 4 4-6
Gastrocnemius Standing Calf Raises 4 4-6

Saturday - Rest Day

Sunday - Rest Day

    *1st set is a warm-up set
    ** There is no warm-up set for crunches, hanging leg raises, and hyperextensions


Accessories Or Not?
Do You Think One Should Take Advantage Of These Items Or Do You Think That It Is Better To Workout Without Any Accessories?

One should definitely take advantage of these items, as they provide more efficient workouts, which ultimately leads to better results. There's no reason that one shouldn't train with accessories, as that will only limit their ability to reach their full potential. So for those of you who have yet to use workout accessories, you are only hurting your workouts, and in the long run, you might run the risk of severe injury.


Conclusion

It's quite obvious that integrating workout accessories into your training programs is very beneficial, so what are you waiting for? Get off the couch and go order your choice of accessory. Good luck!


3rd Place - Mtguy8787
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

With more and more people becoming interested in fitness, the demand for various workout accessories has exploded. Several decades ago, all known accessories could be fit into a small box. Now there are hundreds of various workout gizmos on the market, and more are created every day.

Advertising gives people the impression that using these special accessories will somehow yield great results with little effort on the part of the user. Unfortunately, some people fall into the trap of believing the smooth talking advertiser on TV.

There are seemingly endless numbers of worthless products on the market, and that number continues to grow. However, there are certain basic lifting accessories that can greatly improve ones workout.


Accessories That Can Improve One's Workout

Lifting Straps:

    Lifting straps are used when doing exercises such as deadlifts or shrugs. They are designed to place more of the load on your wrists, rather than your hands. This usually allows people to support significantly more weight.

    For this reason, lifting straps can be very beneficial when doing heavy deadlifts or shrugs. Oftentimes, ones grip will give out long before the targeted muscles do. This gives your hands a good workout, but does much less for the primary muscles. By using straps, you can lift more weight or perform more reps, which results in a much more productive set.

      Usefulness Rating: Good

Lifting Hooks:

    These serve the same purpose as straps, but are much more convenient. Many are built into gloves, which prevents the hassle of re-wrapping the straps for each set.

      Usefulness Rating: Excellent

Lifting Belts:

    Lifting belts provide extra support for the core area of the body, primarily the lower back. Lifting belts are a useful accessory while squatting or deadlifting very heavy weights. They are also useful as a safeguard for someone who may has had a back injury and still wishes to perform exercises like squats and deadlifts. Some people prefer not to use them.

    To develop core strength, lifting belts can be left off for all sets except the very heavy ones. Doing this will help to develop the muscles that tighten around, and support the spine. I also see many people wearing their belts when doing pull downs, curls, and bench press. Barring those with specific back problems & needs, this is useless. Not to mention, it looks plain silly.

      Usefulness Rating: Excellent

Training Log:

    A training log is important for keeping track of past workouts. Without it, you would have no idea if you were progressing or not. As progressive resistance is one of the most important aspects of training, a workout log is essential.

      Usefulness Rating: Excellent

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Lifting Gloves:

    Gloves can be useful to help maintain a good grip on a barbell or dumbbells. Bars, especially smooth ones, can get very slippery at times due to the sweat off the hands. Some people wear gloves to prevent callouses from forming on their palms. They are nice, but not essential.

      Usefulness Rating: Average

Knee Wraps:

    Knee wraps provide extra support for the knees. If you have knee problems or are recovering from an injury, these can be a lifesaver.

      Usefulness Rating: Excellent, if needed

Dip Belts:

    Most gyms provide these, but if you are a home gym user, this is a very useful accessory to get. A dip belt will allow you to perform dips, pull ups, chin ups, lat shrugs, and several other exercises with added resistance.

      Usefulness Rating: Excellent

Weight Vests:

    Weight vests are especially useful for increasing intensity during plyometric workouts. They can be used to add immovable weight to exercises in cases where a dip belt would not work. They are also useful for increasing the intensity of certain cardiovascular exercises and endurance workouts. They are not essential to any workout, however.

      Usefulness Rating: Average

Stability Balls:

    Many gyms provide these as well. These will not provide superior workouts for someone looking to build mass, and nothing else. However, they are useful for those looking to build functional strength or improve performance for athletics. Exercises such as pushups or crunches done on a stability ball will improve balance and function strength due to the instability.

      Usefulness Rating: Poor/Average

Manta Rays:

Manta Ray

    Manta Rays are used primarily during squats and fit over the top of the shoulder blades. They help to distribute the weight over a larger area, thus providing a more comfortable workout. In individuals whose body has not adjusted to heavy squats, they may help to prevent injuries. After some adaptation, they are usually not needed. Many advanced lifters prefer not to use them.

      Usefulness Rating: Good, for beginners

Heart Rate Monitors:

    A heart rate monitor is a useful tool for anyone doing cardiovascular training. It can be used with beginners to set a pace that will not be too hard, or too easy. It can also be used to maintain a certain level of intensity. Many people may unconsciously slow down after exercising for a while.

    Many monitors can be set to alert the user when the heart rate falls below a certain point. A heart rate monitor is also useful for people with heart problems who keep their rate below a certain level.

      Usefulness Rating: Good

Chalk:

    Gives extra traction without any support. Many lifters who do not like using gloves or belts use large amount of chalk. Chalk absorbs moisture with increases the friction between the skin and metal. Most often used among power lifters.

      Overall Usefulness Rating: Good

Head Harness:

    The neck is one of the most neglected muscles of the body. If there are no neck machines at your gym, it can be difficult to give your neck a good workout. Many people use self-manual-resistance, but a head harness is superior to this. It allows you to systematically increase the weight as you would with any other muscle group. It is much easier to use than other methods.

      Usefulness Rating: Good

Fat Calipers:

    Although they may be accurate only within 2-3%, the consistency is what matters. With practice, consistent results can be generated every time. Fat calipers are a very useful tool for charting your progress, and determining how much of your weight gain/loss is fat or muscle.

      Usefulness Rating: Good

Music Player & Earphones:

    Music can be great for getting you pumped up. For some, it can be a method of motivation. And lets face it, some of the music these fitness centers play are much better for falling asleep with than for working out to.

      Usefulness Rating: Personal Preference


Items Which Are Of Little Or No Use

Benching Shirts:

    Unless you are a competitive powerlifter, these are of little benefit and a waste of money. These shirts do add extra stability, and can help one to bench press more weight. However, this is not very helpful for the average bodybuilder. Just because something lends support and allows one to lift more weight does not mean it is more intense for the muscles. One can easily squat more weight with a smith machine due to the added support, but that does not make it a more intense lift.

Sweat Suits:

    As the name suggests, these insulate the body, which causes you to sweat more. Their only use would be to help an athlete sweat off more water weight for a upcoming weigh-in.

    Many people use these during fat burning workouts, believing that it will help to burn more fat. They will do nothing of the sort. Sweat suits only cause greater water loss; they cannot increase the caloric output of an exercise.


Necessity Items That I Use While Lifting

Lifting Hooks:

    I bring these whenever I do heavy shrugs. Without them, I can only do perhaps a third as many reps as compared to with them. These work wonderfully for me, as they allow me to focus on my traps rather than holding onto the bar.

Heavy Grippers:

    Holding dumbbells and barbells helps to build up a strong supporting grip. However, when it comes to crushing grip, I like to take a more direct approach. I bring one of these whenever I work out. At the end of each workout, I do 3-5 sets with each hand.

    They have worked great for me. If you want to build hand strength, use the grippers from Ironmind or Heavy Grips. Heavy Grips are available at the BB.com store.

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Dip Belts:


Accessories Or Not?
Take Advantage Of These Items Or Do You Think That It Is Better To Workout Without Any Accessories?

When it comes to lifting accessories, there are 3 categories of people. On one side we have people who come to each and every workout decked out with accessories to the point that people struggle to hold in their laughter. Lifting belt, gloves, knee straps, wrist straps, headband, sunglasses, shoe polish - ok now I'm exaggerating. (Although I did see someone once who would stop every few minutes to brush his brand new Nike sneakers off with a towel.)

On the other side we have hard core lifters who's entire bundle of accessories consists of a chalk bag. Other lifters, like myself, use lifting straps and belts sparingly.

I think that basic accessories are definitely useful, and should be used when the situation calls for them. When doing certain exercises like shrugs, a good pair of lifting hooks can make the set much more productive. However, thanks to advertising and gullible customers, there are hundreds of useless products on the market which will only benefit the company's bank account.

For belts, gloves, hooks, straps, and more, visit here for great prices.


3rd Place - NuclearArms
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

There are some people who workout with nothing but a regular tee-shirt, some gym shorts and their bare hands. Others find items which they feel will improve their workouts, such as gloves, boards, bench shirts, bands, straps, wraps, belts, etc.


Improve
What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts? Explain Why These Will Improve Your Workout.

There are a lot of great accessories that the weight trainer should consider. And many make great gift ideas, so you can pass that along to a loved one if they are wonder what to get you. Best to start with the products I've used or seen used and improve workouts.

Gloves:

    Got a girlfriend/wife, then wear gloves. Gloves save a lot of wear and tear on your hand and your significant other will certainly appreciate it. Calluses are fine when young or when needed/developed for work, but for most people there is no need for callused and rough hands. I go through two pair of lifting gloves a year. Also, do take some time to wash them every now and then.

Chalk:

    Lifting chalk is essential if don't use gloves. Chalk is a need on deadlifts and other power exercises where heavy iron is moved and a sure grip required. Chalk is also good for heavy squats to ensure the bar stays in place on your back. And, although I use gloves almost every training session, there are times I train without gloves to improve my grip and I use chalk for those sessions.

Lifting Straps:

    Lifting straps help you lift greater amounts of weight by increasing contact with the bar. Most lifters grip strength is less than their prime movers (back, delts) for most exercises. Eliminating this 'weak link" in the chain will promote better development. If your job requires great grip strength, you may get by without straps, however, that would not be the majority of us.

Wraps:

    There is a wide variety of wraps available for different body parts. The basic principle behind a wrap is to stabilize a body part and provide additional support and strength. Wraps are particularly beneficial after an injury when you try to regain previous strength but are limited by the injured body part. The most common wraps are for elbows, wrists, knees and ankles.

Lifting Belt:

    Another aid when using heavy weight, or if you want to look like Hulk Hogan getting into the ring. Lifting belts help stabilize the 'core' during the heavy lifts and can help prevent injury. Are they needed for every lift, no. You need to use discretion on when to use the lifting belt.

Dip Belt:

    Most good gyms have a dip belt available at the dip station. If your gym doesn't provide one, consider getting one. Used for both dips and chin/pull-ups, they allow you to progress in resistance for these great bodybuilding exercises.

Training Journal:

    An absolutely essential accessory to the dedicated weight trainer. You have to know what you did in the past to see how progress is being made. Take time to record what you did, it will pay benefits as you grow stronger.

Water Bottle/Shaker:

    Depends on your gym, but if there isn't a water fountain handy, a water bottle is essential to keeping your mouth and throat moist and body hydrated. It can also be used for during and post workout recovery drinks.

Elastic Bands:

    A good workout tool, particularly when you reach plateaus in a lift. It is a component/accessory I have used in the past, but I don't own any at this point. For the beginner lifting, bands are not really needed.

Swiss Balls:

    All the gyms have them now and they are great for quite a few exercises. Hell, I even bought one for home use. There are many abdominal exercises that make great use of the Swiss ball, but you shouldn't relegate them to only ab exercises. A lot of pressing exercises are complimented by doing them on the Swiss ball. And my word of warning is - don't try squatting on the damn thing.

Baby Plates:

    I don't have these but I have seen them used to great benefit. These 'baby plates' are the 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5 pound plates. They allow you to increase resistance on a lift in a range that enables greater repetition.

    They are particularly effective for arm exercises where it may be difficult to move to the next increment of 10 pounds (two 5 pound plates). They are also great for women to transition to heavier weights more gradually.


Little Or No Use
Which Items Do You Feel Serve Little Or No Use? Explain Why These Are Of Little Use.

Heart Rate Monitors:

    I see a lot of folks doing cardio using these. I think they are a bit of overkill when used on machines as a lot of cardio equipment now come with heart rate monitors. Additionally, you can get a good idea on how hard you are training and your heart rate by how you can carry on a conversation when training.

Calipers:

    Great for trainers to make an assessment of a client and keep records, however, I like the mirror test a lot better. Do I look better in the mirror this time compared to last time? Yes, the mirror test is subjective, but a lot easier to perform.

Hand Grip, Squeeze Things:

    An accessory that may be great for the bored college student, but I generally don't have the time for them.

Bar Pads:

    Don't see much need for them. Wear a thicker shirt or use a towel.

Stingray/Mantaray:

    These are two items used with squats that help stabilize the bar. I believe that these devices may be good if you are just beginning, but I've tried them and they just didn't feel right over top of my shoulder girdle muscles. I prefer to feel the bar when squatting (both front and rear) and had a harder time feeling and stabilizing the bar that with these accessories.

Ankle/Wrist Weight:

    Had them as a kid and would never use them again. Each provides a very unnatural feeling and is potentially injurious.

Lifting Shoes/Boots:

    Nice and flashy items for the gym, but I don't see them being that much of an advantage over the old Chuck Taylor, Converse trainers. Basic footwear is all that is needed in the gym, and if you really want to be careful, you can wear steel-toed boots if you are clumsy.

Kettlebells/Clubs:

    Nice to have items and good if you are into the strength sports, but it is hard to justify the cost for basic bodybuilding. Most movements can use dumbbells with similar results.

Bench Shirt/Squat Suit:

    Great for the powerlifter, not needed for the bodybuilder.


Necessity
Which Are "Necessity" Items You Take With You To Each Workout? Explain What They Are For And How Well They Work.

I think if you look into anyone's gym bag, you will find what they consider essential. I recommend you ask some of the folks at your gym. It may surprise you what they bring and why they bring them.

As for me, most everything I listed as accessories that are helpful can be found in my gym bag. I keep 2 pair of lifting gloves in my bag to allow one pair to dry out when sweaty. I also have a tub with lifting chalk in it for those workouts done without gloves.

I also have my lifting belt, elbow and knee wraps and lifting straps. I may not use them all for a workout, but they are used often. I don't need a dipping belt as the gyms I use have them available. I like using the wraps whether I am training that body part or not nowadays.

After some elbow injuries, I like having my elbows wrapped the entire training session to keep the joint heated and to provide some stability. And with the lifting belt, I only wear it on my heavy deadlift, squat and rows. I don't see a need to wear it at other times.

My training journal is always on top of my bag. It's a logical place for it as I often post my workout in my electronic journal here and it's the first thing I look at when in the gym. My workout for the day is based on what I did in the past. Whether or not I have a water bottle in my bag depends if I'm coming from home or going home after the workout.

The one accessory not listed that is essential is my MP3 player. It is my lifting partner. The MP3 player provides my motivation and acts as a big 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign when I'm in the gym. It is truly a great thing to have in the gym bag.


Accessories Or Not
Do You Think One Should Take Advantage Of These Items Or Do You Think That It Is Better To Workout Without Any Accessories?

Obvious answer to this question, I wouldn't have and take the accessories to the gym if I didn't believe in them. Do they really make the workout better - I have to say yes. Anything that makes you work better or harder is a good thing. Try a set of dumbbell curls on the Swiss ball and see what it feels like. You may like it and the effects it has. Try wearing some gloves and see if your mate notices the difference.

Change sometimes is a good thing. I trained a lot differently 20 year ago and didn't have many accessories back then as I do today. I wouldn't train without some of them today. You really can teach an old dog some new tricks at times.

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3rd Place - lionelxxl
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

There are some people who workout with nothing but a regular tee-shirt, some gym shorts and their bare hands. Others find items which they feel will improve their workouts, such as gloves, boards, bench shirts, bands, straps, wraps, belts, etc.

These items, whether they do work or just provide a psychological/mental boost, have found a place in most lifters' list of must bring items to the gym. Let us take a look at some of these accessories that people spend hard-earned money on and if they are legit and do aid in workouts like they are supposed to.


Improve
What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts? Explain Why These Will Improve Your Workout.

Lifting Straps:

strap

    These are often used to strengthen your grip when doing back exercises. This is because your back muscles are a substantially larger and stronger muscle group as compared to your forearm or bicep muscles that are involved in gripping.

    Therefore, the 'weak-link' in exercises like the deadlifts and pull-ups will most probably be your grip; you will find yourself losing grip of the bar in a set of deadlifts much earlier before you fatigue your back (specifically lower back, lumbar region). Lifting straps take this situation completely out of the equation and would enable you to focus on overloading/fatiguing your targeted muscles without worrying about grip.

Lifting Belt:

belt

    Lifting belts are worn around the waist to provide additional support to the lower back/lumbar region when doing exercises that place a lot of stress on it. Heavy sets of squats and deadlifts can be performed much more safely with a belt.

    These belts increase intra-abdominal pressure and help you maintain the right body posture while lifting to minimize any chance of injuries.

Wrist Wraps:

    Wrist wraps are strong elastic polyester/rubber band-like accessories that you use to wrap around your wrist for increased support during exercises like bench pressing or military press. These tough wraps provide a lot of stability in your wrist region to prevent them from straining or giving out during heavy lifting.

Knee Wraps:

knee

    Knee wraps work in a similar fashion to wrist wraps. They are made of similar material, only that the knee wraps would be of longer length usually. One more advantage of knee wraps in aiding a workout would be that since its wrapped around a joint (knee), they provide sort of a spring or rubber band like effect when stretched.

    There would be additional forces helping the lifter in say a set of squats. He will receive a slight 'boost' from the stretched elastic knee wraps which would want to return to their normal shape instead of being in a stretched one at the bottom portion of the squat.

Weightlifting Bands:

    Heavy duty bands are extremely beneficial in improving the sticking points/weak points or strengthening the strong points of your lifts.

    An example would be band deadlifts where you tie the bands on top of the power rack, all the way down to both ends of the bar. This means at the bottom of the lift (which is where most lifters have trouble at), the bands are in a stretched position and this makes it easier for the lifter to push off and initiate the lift without much trouble.

    It is when they reach the middle/top part of the lift where the effect of the band diminishes but that's where help is not usually needed as most lifters have no problems once they manage to get the bar up. This means that the lifter would be able to lift more than usual, and still put in work on working his weak points (with a little aid from the bands at the bottom) and the strong points (where the bands are out of the equation) with a much heavier weight.

    Bands can be used several other lifts like the squat and bench press, even for rotator cuff work or for pumping up with light weight and many repetitions.

Towel:

towel

    Towels are essential! Personal hygiene is reason enough to bring this piece of 'accessory'. But in terms of improving your workout, it helps in the comfort area. Not being sweaty and dripping wet before each set would help you focus that little bit more on the exercise at hand. It dries you down to provide better grip on certain exercise and may even prevent you from slipping off the bench in some!

Portable Music Player (MP3, Discman, Walkman):

    Music as an excellent refresher or 'pick-me-up' during a workout. The role it plays in psyching you up for a heavy set is immense! It helps you to get in the 'zone', blocks out distractions and brings the focus to ONLY you against the weight/bar and nothing else. A must-have in most lifters' arsenal. It blocks out unnecessary comments from fellow lifters too!


Little Or No Use
Which Items Do You Feel Serve Little Or No Use? Explain Why These Are Of Little Use.

Dip Belts:

    Dip belts are worn like lifting belts are, around the waist, except they can't be tightened. They are meant to be worn loosely. There will usually be a chain in the middle of the belt for you to attach weight plates to.

    This is so you will be able to add weight to exercises like dips, pullups and chin-ups. However, I feel this is an unnecessary piece of accessory as this addition of weight can easily be achieved by a normal bag pack (or a slightly heavy duty one if you want to add on a considerable amount of weight).

    The amount of weight a backpack can hold (depending on its size), is usually sufficient for MOST lifters in their lifting 'career'. Unless you are really hauling some heavy ass weights on the pullups and dips, I doubt you'd need a dip belt.

Hanging Ab Straps:

    In a nutshell, what this accessory does is to allow you to do hanging leg/ab raises, without worrying about gripping the bar and losing grip before your abs are fatigued. These are superfluous too in my opinion. I feel the grip issue of hanging leg raises can easily be solved by lifting straps.


Necessity
Which Are "Necessity" Items You Take With You To Each Workout? Explain What They Are For And How Well They Work.

The three main items I have in my bag at each lifting session would be lifting straps, belt and an mp3 player.

Lifting Straps:

    Though they may be people who argue about how your grip will suffer by using straps too often, I only have one aim in mind when lifting. That is to build muscle. I wouldn't give too much concern to how strong my grip is whatsoever. My aim is to fatigue the muscles I'm working ONLY. Anything else is secondary.

Lifting Belts:

    These are as much a psychological piece of accessory for me. The 'tightness' and 'safe feeling' I get from this belt prepares me for my heaviest sets and knowing that I'm safe (or at least safer than without a belt) helps me to push myself even harder. BUT in such exercises, one must always know their limits and when to stop.

MP3 Player:

    I could really do without the constant chatter and weird questions some people ask. I'm here to work and get my @ss out in as short a time as possible and these 'distractions' are not helping. Besides that, the psyching up part and preparing me mentally for each set is reason enough for having them.


Accessories Or Not?
Do You Think One Should Take Advantage Of These Items Or Do You Think That It Is Better To Workout Without Any Accessories?

It really depends on your motivation/purpose for lifting. If your main aim is to bodybuild, do fully utilize these accessories and their advantages are enormous. If you are training for a powerlifting meet or some strength competition, you could definitely do without, or at least not sue them as much, with some of these accessories especially the lifting straps and maybe the lifting belt. It also depends on whether the association you're competing with allows such use of these accessories.


Conclusion

The accessories listed above would no doubt help in your workouts. What you have to determine is whether you really need them and if they would help in your goal (be in bodybuilding/powerlifting etc). Thank you for reading!


What Are Some Accessories That Will Help Improve Your Workouts?

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prk93

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prk93

free straps please

Feb 21, 2013 5:23pm | report
 
BrotherJacob

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BrotherJacob

I still cannot find this "comment box" when placing and order? Is it still there?

Mar 4, 2013 6:39am | report
 
BrotherJacob

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BrotherJacob

I still cannot find this "comment box" when placing and order? Is it still there?

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