There’s a certain inventory you start to build up when you get into the gym routine.
Some things you’ll pick up because they’re “what you’re supposed to have” according to magazines and the like.
You’ll pick up on the importance of other things from personal experience and seeing what more seasoned lifters do.
Regardless of where and when you figure it out, you’ll learn that there are certain essentials for anyone hitting the weights and watching their diet.
They make life easier and more comfortable and help you get after it harder during every workout.
Whether you’re stocking up for yourself or searching for the perfect gift for a fitness-loving friend or loved one, this comprehensive list has it all.
Welcome to your cheat sheet of fitness gear for working out at the gym, working out at home, and perfecting your nutrition in the kitchen.
Table of Contents
10 Must-have products for exercising at home
If you’re just getting started and didn’t quite make it to the gym yet, you may consider these items below as a perfect gift for working out at home or on the go.
So, let’s get the ball rolling with an…
1. Ab roller
If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up with a love/hate relationship with this small but fierce little wheel.
I will say, it’s a great tool to keep you humble and in check about your actual core strength.
Anyone working on their fitness will be stoked to give or get one of these.
2. Pull-up bar
A pull-up bar will transform any door frame into an upper body gym. If your gym routine is primarily done at home, then this is an absolute must.
Pull-ups are an important part of getting a stronger upper body and tracking your overall fitness progression.
Use a pull-up bar to keep your home workouts on track and to show off how strong you are when friends and family visit. You know, whatever gets you pumped.
You might see push-up stands and think, “wait a minute, isn’t that what my hands are for?”
Well, yes and no.
Push-up stands help keep your hands and arms in the correct position throughout the movement. They also increase your range of motion.
That’s right – you can go deeper into that push-up! You can get the kind that is stationary or the kind that rotates.
Either way, you’ll be doing your back, biceps, and triceps a big, burning favor.
Grip strengtheners are a little exercise genie that you can use to magically improve your forearms and your ability to hold heavy weights for other exercises.
OK, so it’s not magic, it’s muscle, but still.
You can knock out some grip reps while watching TV or reading a book.
Even if you’re not lifting heavy weights now, trust me – you’ll be happy you worked on your grip strength when you go to lift a 225lb+ barbell.
5. Foam roller
The person who figured out foam rolling deserves some kind of award. If you haven’t gotten into this yet, then you’re missing out!
Foam rolling is like a full-body sports massage that you can do in your living room.
Actually, having a foam roller at home is especially great because of the privacy it provides.
It can feel a little awkward rolling around (and groaning when you hit a muscle knot) in front of dozens of people at the gym.
At home, you can hop on the roller and go to town!
Medicine ball is a fantastic tool for working out at home. If you live with a partner or friend and you want to do buddy workouts, then this is the perfect gift.
They’re easy to pass back and forth and lend themselves to all kinds of effective arm and core workouts.
Get a couple of different weights so that you move up or down in resistance depending on the movement.
Stability balls (a.k.a. “swiss balls”) are inflatable exercise balls that you can use for strength moves, balance moves and stretching.
There’s a reason you’ll find these in every single gym. They’re super versatile and take up very little space.
From small move workouts like pilates to killer balance-challenging pikes and hamstring curls, these oversized bouncy balls will come in handy.
Make sure that you get the right size for your height (or the height of the person you’re giving it too).
Everyone who works out should have at least one set of resistance bands. If you only buy one thing to have at home, resistance bands are a good way to go.
If you travel often, then they’re a must. They take up no room at all and are like a portable gym.
At home, you can get in a good workout with resistance bands alone.
You can also use them to warm up and turn on your mind-muscle connection before jumping into heavier lifts.
9. Yoga mat
A yoga mat is another must-have for your home. You can use it to stretch, do yoga, and to do home workouts.
You can also take it with you to yoga classes so you don’t have to pay for a rental mat. That alone will make your yoga mat pay for itself after about 5 classes.
If you plan to do yoga on your mat, then get one that’s on the thinner side. Thicker mats can make you wobbly for balancing postures.
If you’re planning on using it only for stretching and core work, then you can opt for a thicker one instead.
10. Weighted vest
This one is intense, but boy is it worth it!
Let me tell you, there’s no motivation to stay lean than to slap on a weighted vest and feel what it’s like to carry around an extra 30, 40 or 50 pounds. It’s eye-opening.
Weighted vests basically make everything a workout.
Just think about what it would be like carrying around 40 pounds while you clean your house or walk your dog.
That’s what a weighted vest can do.
Also, if you hate holding dumbbells in your hands or on your shoulders while doing moves like squats and lunges, then a weighted vest is a great alternative.
10 Must-have products for working out at the gym
Working out at the gym usually has its own challenges that you don’t encounter when exercising at home.
These items below will make it easier and more enjoyable to work out, not to mention more effective.
1. Gym bag
It’s simple, folks, you need a place to hold all your stuff when you go to the gym.
A great gym bag has enough space to fit clean clothes and shoes, toiletries, towels, and any equipment you may need to bring with you.
Ideally, you want to find a bag with waterproof compartments (or removable smaller bags) that can hold dirty or wet items away from, say, your toothbrush.
Handles and a shoulder strap are always a plus as well.
Queue up your gym playlist and crank those tunes! Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to their gym playlist.
Make sure you (or your whoever you’re getting a gift for) get to listen to your favorite tunes with a pair of good gym headphones.
Bluetooth phones are best because they don’t have cords that get in the way.
Earbuds with rubber or silicone covers are also preferable because they stay put better when you sweat.
3. Water bottle
You can never have enough water bottles! Hydration is key for muscle recovery and overall wellness.
There’s already too much plastic in the world, so switch to a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable ones.
In addition to doing your part for the planet, another benefit of having a water bottle is that it allows you to portion out your water intake for the day.
You’ll know exactly how much water you’ve had and how much you still need to sip.
The simple act of writing down what you’re going to do and what you’ve accomplished can be absolutely revolutionary.
A fitness planner lets you keep track of your workouts, including how much you lifted, how many reps you got, and how you felt.
When you see that information aggregated into a log over time, it gives you invaluable insights into your body and your fitness journey.
Get one with a food journal for the total package.
5. Gym gloves
I don’t care how light you’re lifting, you will get calluses on your hands at some point. You will also get sweaty hands that can make a weight slip right out of them.
Enter: gym gloves.
Gym gloves are fingerless gloves that absorb sweat and pad the parts of your hands that get the most pressure and friction when holding a weight while giving you a better grip.
You can also get multipurpose gloves with padding on the knuckles if you’re into kickboxing. Your hands will thank you.
6. Liquid chalk
Liquid chalk gives you the grip and dryness of chalk without the cloud of powder.
Chalk is a staple of lifting to protect your hands and help you get a better grip.
The liquid variety is less messy and just as effective as it’s powdery older cousin (aka regular chalk).
Unlike ankles, wrists aren’t designed to carry around and hoist up tens or even hundreds of pounds of pressure. That’s what wrist straps are made for.
They support and protect the wrists from extending too far.
Over-extending the wrist can injure your wrists and hands and possibly more if your weight slips as a result.
That makes wrist straps and wraps a gym essential and a sensible gift.
8. Knee sleeves
Anyone who has experienced a knee injury knows not to mess with them.
If you don’t treat your knees right, then you simply will not be able to lift to your maximum capacity.
Knee sleeves provide compression and support for knees when you’re doing heavy lifting. They help support healthy blood flow and can help prevent swelling.
You don’t need to wear knee sleeves during every workout, only when you’re doing major lifts with your legs.
Read enough instructions for weight lifting form and you’ll notice a common theme – keep a neutral spine.
Rounding and twisting your spine when you lift can cause major acute and/or chronic injury.
A weightlifting belt supports the most sensitive part of your back to help keep it aligned as you go through difficult lifts.
Having a belt on is also a great mental reminder to maintain proper posture.
Weightlifting shoes are specifically designed for stability and range of motion.
If you or someone you know is getting into weight lifting, then this would be a great piece of equipment to get early in the game.
Unlike other types of athletic shoes, weightlifting shoes have slightly higher heels which enable you to do things like squat lower.
They also have a foundation that’s made for stability when standing (as opposed to running, for example) so you can get a strong stance.
5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools
1. Food scale
You know what they say: “abs are made in the kitchen.”
Getting your portions right is a must. It’s really hard to eyeball portions with precision.
A food scale takes the guesswork out of your meal planning.
You’ll know exactly how many ounces of chicken and broccoli you’re putting on your plate.
A great set of meal prep containers is positively revolutionary. Meal prep is like a ritual for fitness enthusiasts.
You can make your food on the weekend, measure out your individual portions, and pack them up in your meal prep containers so you’re ready to go every day of the week.
It takes away so much stress to just be able to reach for that container of prepared healthy food.
When you’re getting your nutrition on point, a good blender is a staple.
You can whip up protein shakes and blend whole fruits and vegetables into smoothies for a quick nutrient boost.
Get a blender that’s easy to clean. Stale protein smoothie creates a very particular kind of funk that is… memorable.
Learn from my mistakes and get a blender that’s easy to rinse out right after you use it.
A subscription to some basic workout supplements would make an amazing gift.
Supplements are like the cherry on top of your fit lifestyle sundae.
They can help fill in nutritional gaps and give your body a little extra boost to get bigger and stronger.
Make sure you research what you need as an individual, but generally you can’t go wrong with a multivitamin and a protein supplement as a baseline.
This would go perfectly with your water bottle. Tap water can have some nasty chemicals in it, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy bottled water.
A good filtration system or filtration pitcher will do the trick. They even have some that will make your water alkaline!
What’s your pick?
These fitness essentials are a great gift to reward yourself for your progress or to encourage a friend or family member who is making their health a priority.
Which one would you like to give or get?