Sometimes you need a little help with your workout. Whether you’re into weight training, running, or yoga, here are 8 helpful accessories that will make your fitness routines better.
1. A thin squat pad
When you’re squatting, if the bar feels uncomfortable, a squat pad will make a huge difference. A squat pad slips over the bar and provides some padding for your body. Using a thin squat pad provides just enough padding without being obnoxious.
Many people advise against using a squat pad for various reasons. For example, they say a pad will throw you off balance and leave you prone to injury. The general consensus in this camp is that you don’t need a pad if you position the bar correctly on your traps rather than your neck.
While the bar should be positioned on your traps for a back squat, some people still need some padding, especially as they get older. Regardless, pads are useful for front squats performed with a barbell and the bars made for resistance bands.
The key to using a squat pad properly is to get a thin pad. Bulky squat pads can noticeably change the bar’s center of gravity, but it won’t lessen the effectiveness of your squat.
2. Lifting/wrist straps
Wrist straps are another item people either love or hate. Those who oppose lifting straps say they weaken your grip. Truth be told, lifting straps can actually help you increase your grip strength.
Say you normally deadlift 200 pounds without straps and you could lift more, but you don’t have enough grip strength.
Now say that with straps, you might be able to lift 250 pounds. If you use straps for every workout, your grip strength won’t improve much. However, alternating between straps and no straps will improve your grip.
What you want to do is use the wrist straps to deadlift 250 pounds. During your next deadlifting session, go back to the highest weight you can deadlift without straps. Alternate like this several times and you’ll find that before long, you’ll be lifting heavier without straps.
The key to strengthening your grip while using straps is to never allow yourself to rely on the straps to lift the weight. Granted, the straps will inevitably do some of the work, but you don’t have to rely on them fully. Rely on as much of your own grip as possible.
3. A yoga block
Yoga blocks are some of the most useful fitness tools around. For yoga, blocks will help you with asanas when you’re not yet flexible enough. They’re also great for people with short arms who need the extra height.
Yoga blocks are also great for protecting your feet when working with bands. For instance, if you’re using flat bands with a bar and a footplate, place a yoga block between your feet for shoulder presses, squats, deadlifts, and bicep curls. If you drop the bar, the yoga block will absorb the impact instead of your feet.
4. Forearm and grip training tools
Forearm strength contributes to grip strength. When you strengthen your forearms, you also strengthen your grip, which will give you more power during your workouts.
Strong forearms and grip are practical in everyday life, too. For example, you can carry more grocery bags into the house at one time, and you’ll be able to lift and hold heavy items longer. These are all functional movements that you can improve with the right training.
There are countless forearm trainers out there. Choose the one that you feel works best for you.
5. A balance ball
Balance balls can be considered an entire workout, but they’re great for training your core in-between your standard workout. A balance ball will also help you improve your balance and muscle tone.
6. A door anchor
Door anchors are game-changers for resistance band workouts. A door anchor attaches to your door and provides anchor points for your resistance bands. Some products provide a single anchor point, while others span the full size of the door and have 10-20 different anchor points.
You’ll love having a door anchor if you don’t have much space to work out in your home. Door anchors are an affordable alternative to expensive benches that require special bands that only work with the bench.
7. Adjustable dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells can theoretically replace your entire rack of standard dumbbells. You just select the weight you want and start working out. However, some brands don’t feel like standard dumbbells.
For example, PowerBlocks are square and they feel different when you use them. The Bowflex Select Tech adjustable dumbbells aren’t as popular, but they feel more like standard dumbbells.
When you get adjustable dumbbells, don’t get rid of your standard dumbbells too fast. There are plenty of exercises you might want to use them for. For instance, if you’re using an accessory that straps a dumbbell to your feet for a leg workout, you need standard dumbbells.
Standard dumbbells are also easier to hold for squats and ideal when you don’t want to keep switching up the weight on your adjustable dumbbells between exercises.
8. A full-length mirror
There’s a reason gyms are lined with mirrors, and it’s not just to admire your physique. When you want feedback on your form, a full-length mirror won’t disappoint.
Just make sure you don’t look sideways in the mirror when deadlifting or squatting. You’ll ruin your form and can injure yourself.
Improve your fitness routine with our online strength training program
When your goal is to get lean and strong, you need a solid workout plan and a strong coach. That’s exactly what our online strength training program provides. We also offer programs to help you become a better runner, learn about optimal nutrition, and improve your overall fitness.
Whether you want to lose some fat, gain some muscle, improve your strength, or achieve better cardiovascular health, our programs can help. Contact us today for more information about how our programs can help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!