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  • Writer's pictureMarc Lalonde

Do you really need all that weightlifting swag?

That's a lot of stuff. Do you need all that swag? That depends on YOU

Getting started in the gym can be intimidating.

There are a lot of people who seem to know what they are doing. They’re going hard at it. It seems they all know what they are doing.

And you might feel like you don’t. That’s OK.

Lots of people feel that way.

You look around and you see the gym-goers (depending on how big your gym is) carrying around wrist straps, knee wraps, huge backpacks, weightlifting gloves and massive water bottles.

You say to yourself ‘Is that something I also need?’

The answer, of course, is ‘yes and no.’

The industry of fitness accessories has cultivated an aesthetic where people carry stuff around with them to help them in their workout.

Now, how much it helps is really to up to the exerciser.

A big water bottle can be replicated by a water fountain. Most folks are also not lifting enough weight to require wrist straps or knee wraps, so those are also not necessarily something you absolutely need in the gym.

In fact, those things are only necessary if you decide they are.

That said, a towel, and dedicated gym clothes should be something everybody has with them at all times.

On to the less important pieces of equipment.

For instance, weightlifting gloves can help you grip dumbbells more easily, this is true, but you are robbing your body of a valuable aspect of strength – which is grip strength. I don't make the choice to wear gloves, but if gloves help you actually get in the gym and lift, they're worth it.

Whether or not you need any of these pieces of equipment is a result of what makes you most comfortable.

Some people love – almost inordinately so -- weightlifting gloves.

Not me, however. I’m proud of my calluses. I earned them.

Wrist straps can be very helpful when deadlifting enormous amounts of weight, but again, most newbies aren’t quite there yet, so get them or don’t get them. It probably won’t matter much.

Knee wraps can be of some benefit, especially for older exercisers. I use them regularly to stabilize my knees on heavy leg days.

On the other hand, I’ve had three catastrophic knee or leg injuries, so for me the wraps have enormous value both physically and mentally. For me, they work. For others, that might not be the case.

As far as massive backpacks go – and this is a very, very real dynamic, as while my gym bans the carrying of over-the-shoulder gym bags, knapsacks are technically OK. These backpacks, however, are often the size of a mid-size sedan and are left haphazardly around the gym. I hate them, but again, you do you.

To my mind, you're better off to get a lock, put it on your locker and everyone’s happier.

In the end, however, use what makes you happy. If you have to wear a full Batman costume when you’re in the gym in order to feel good to lift, I say do it.

Carry your backpack, wear your straps and wrap those knees. It only matters if it matters to you. The longer you spend in the gym making yourself better, the more you’ll understand what you need and what you don’t need.

Oh, and bring your towel.


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