Essential Gym Bag Checklist For Lifters

The following classic article (published 1969) was written by Bill Starr. Bill used to coach high rank athletes like Ken Patera and George Hechter – Mr. Berg

“The advice contained here will certainly make contest less frustrating. One of the first things I learned when I came to York was how to pack my gym bag for a contest. I can already guess that a few have already turned the pages for some useful advice, for what, you may ask, could be simple than packing your belt, lifting suit, and shoes, Actually, I have only met a dozen lifters that do pack an adequate bag for a contest.

Bill March is the best know of personally. He and Smitty brought this point home to me the first couple of trips I made with them. Packing gym bag is simple if one takes a few minutes to plan ahead. But very few do. Most lifters wait until they arrive at their destination before they start looking for tape, rub, smelling salts, etc. As many times as not they can’t find a drug store and end up scrounging the needed items.

Did you ever get ready to walk on the platform for a critical lift, stop to tighten your shoe lace, and break the @”%& thing? Talk about messing up your mental concentration. Nothing can do it quicker and more thoroughly. Why not have another pair ready in your gym bag, just in case? Or let’s say you are lifting on a hot, humid day. After the press or bench press you are dripping, soaking wet with sweat and rub. It would be nice to have another T-shirt handy. Just pack three instead of one. Most of the York lifters carry three complete sets of lifting uniforms, from socks to brief, to shirts, to lifting suits. Its really quite amazing the psychological lift you can give yourself by putting on fresh uniforms. 

Especially if you get off to a bad start in the first lift. A change of clothing sometimes triggers a change in attitude on the platform. Our fellows always carry plenty of tape, a size for their thumbs and a size for their wrist, and also change that between each lift. The bag should be packed the night before the contest. For the first couple of times sit down and make out a list. After you have done this once or twice you can usually do it by memory, but a list is never out of order. The following is a list that I follow:

tape, both 1/2 inch and 2 inches, belt, extra pair of shoe strings, towel, lifting shoes, sweat suit, socks, 3 pair. T-shirts,3, posing briefs,3, lifting suits,3, wrist straps, ethyl chloride, salt tablets, rub, smelling salts, comb and knee bands. Some things I have listed not everyone will need and some things I did not include might be on your list. For example, the comb is purely for vanity – some don’t need it. Tom Hirtz never carried one till just a few months ago. If you are not troubled by cramps, don’t worry about the ethyl chloride or salt tablets. If you need to know the exact measurement on the bar be sure to carry a measuring tape. Some fellows prefer Ace bandages over tape or the BH knee Bands. Then make sure they are in your bag when you leave your house for the contest.

You should enter the warm-up room completely dependent upon yourself for all your needs. If you have cramp trouble, be prepared. Don’t expect to find someone with the needed ethyl chloride. If you think you will have a weight problem and you just might need a diuretic, take it along. Some lifters spend half their time at the contest looking for goodies that they are going to need. And invariably, they wait till the last minute to start their scavenger hunt. It is an easy rule to remember that it never hurts to take too much, you can always bring it home. But when you come up short, your are the one who is going to suffer.

Ideally it would be nice to have someone take care of all the particulars for us but this is not, and will never be the case in out sport. Weightlifting is a purely individual sport and once the lifter learns to depend completely on himself, then will he begin to mature on the platform.

Naturally, some things can not be packed when you leave the house. Things such as orange juice, honey, fruit, or whatever you use for subsistence at the contest. But again, some pre-planning will save many headaches on this score. Check around town after you get there and pick out a grocery store. Then you can pick up the needed items on the way to the contest without any hassle. Don’t wait until after weigh-in if you plan to eat before lifting.

You can spend a lot of time driving around looking for a place to eat, or for a spot to buy some juice.

When you go to a contest, your mental energy should be devoted 100% to lifting weights overhead. The fewer irritations that creep in the better. And few things can be more irritating than needing something and its not available. Take a few minutes the day before and be sure that you have everything you could possibly need.

As I said before, its easy to carry the extra back home. Assume that nothing will be taken care of unless you do it yourself. Then you can go to the contest, weigh-in, dress out, and relax until its time to start moving the bar. When the times comes for you to lift, you will be ready.”

Leave a comment