Take a look in your gym bag ? what's in it right now? If you don't put very much thought into what goes into your bag before every workout, chances are the answer is "not much." Perhaps it contains the clothes from your last workout and maybe your headphones, but is the rest just a bunch of empty space? Your bag has tonnes of pockets and storage spaces for a reason, and it can be a valuable asset in your efforts to improve your fitness. Rather than merely being an item you use to carry your spare clothes around, start to think of it as your workout toolbox.

Your gym bag should be your number one resource for anything you might need during your workout. Why is it to so important to pack your bag with the essentials? You'll find that it allows you to stay more focused on your workout. When you're in the middle of a series of tough reps, you should zero in on your form and your breathing. When you need to think about where to get a drink of water or to find a snack, though, you're not going to remain as focused on your fitness. To help get you started, check out this quick guide to all the things you can pack into your gym bag next time.

Your gym clothesgym bag essentials kit

Okay, this one is obvious, but it's still worth considering. Using your gym bag to bring your clothes is clearly its intended purpose, but how you do it can make a difference. Consider using a mesh drawstring bag to keep everything together inside the bag. This way, there's no need to shift clothes around and dig for lost items.

Everything goes into the bag which keeps things separate. If you want, you can even include a large zip-style plastic bag for stashing sweaty clothes after your session is over. Now is a good opportunity to add a towel or two as well.

Use one larger sized towel and one hand towel to provide yourself with variety.Use one for mopping your brow between sets while using the larger one to wipe down benches or to act as a barrier for your body. Once you've got these core items squared away, you can turn your attention to accessories and more.

Bring a basic set of toiletries

A self-contained toiletry kit is a lifesaver, especially when you're short on time. If you don't have a chance to head home to rinse off after your workout, hitting the gym's showers is the way to go ? but you'll need preparation. Keep travel size portions of your preferred shampoo, conditioner, and body-wash available.

You could purchase empty bottles and refill them at home to cut down on the cost as well. Don't forget a comb and a small mirror as well; you never know when they'll come in handy.

As part of your toiletries kit, include a comfortable pair of foam flip-flops. Wear these into your gym showers to avoid problems such as athlete's foot and other bacterial threats that might lurk on the floor. We'll discuss deodorant a little later, but those items should go into this kit as well to keep everything in one place.

gym bag essentials water snacks

Stay hydrated and pack a snack

Hydrating before you get to the gym is important, but you'll want to keep on drinking while you go through your sets, too. A flip-top water bottle or a design that encourages easy drinking with one hand will make getting your water fast and easy.

Do you prefer to sip on cool water rather than something at room temperature? Look for double-insulated or vacuum sealed bottles. Fill it with ice water before you leave home, toss it in your bag, and enjoy a frosty drink whenever you need a quick break.

Refuelling after your workout is important, too, so why wait to do it? You can pack some snacks into your bag as well. Fresh fruit, trail mixes, nuts, and specialty energy supplements will all do the trick. Stick them in a plastic bag or dedicate a safe, clean pocket inside your gym bag to hold your snacks.

Cut down on the offensive odours

It's a fact of life that when you work out, you can also work up a sweat ? and that means a smell, too. Keeping your gym bag from turning into a hazardous waste site means taking care to control odours and dampness inside the bag. For starters, always keep your preferred antiperspirant/deodorant stick in the bag with your toiletries.

Go one step further, though, and look for a deodorising spray ? there are many products purposefully formulated for just such a purpose. A quick spray of these products inside your bag can help to eliminate any lingering funkiness. While you're at it, you can also add a desiccant or moisture trapper to your bag. These help to pull foul odours and humidity out of the air inside the bag, trapping them in a container you can dispose of with ease.

Finding the right role for technology

gym bag essentials earbuds

While too much of a reliance on technology in the gym can create problems with your focus, some devices deserve to be in your gym bag for responsible use. Your phone, obviously, is a necessity ? not just because it's your connection to friends and family, but also because today phones have supplanted the old standalone MP3 players.

Bring it along with your earbuds so you can pump out the motivational tunes you need to help power through the toughest sets of the day. You might also want to bring a fitness tracker, such as a FitBit if you choose to wear one.

There's no reason to miss out on tracking your gains and progress, after all. Don't forget to toss a spare charger for your devices into the bag as well ? no one wants to get midway through their routine and run out of battery power.

Pack something for post-workout recovery

When you wrap up a strenuous session, you can often tell right away that you'll "feel the burn" come tomorrow morning. While you stretch out after finishing your routine, why not reach into your gym bag for a relaxing balm for your muscles? There are several workout recovery products you can use to help increase your comfort and reduce recovery times.

If not something to rub into your skin, what about a quick way to grab a massage? A foam roller in your gym bag gives you a quick way to work out the kinks and aches in your muscles. With all kinds of recovery products and post-workout items available, finding some supplements to ease your aches shouldn't be hard.

A first aid kit helps you and othersgym bag essentials recovery gel

The only pain you should feel in the gym is the burn from exertion as you blast calories and build muscle. Accidents do happen, though, and you might accidentally hurt yourself on some equipment or an unprotected sharp edge. It could happen to someone nearby, too, working out on another machine. In either scenario, having a portable first aid kit in your gym bag can make most gym accidents into more minor concerns.

Gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointments, and some other basic first aid supplies will all come in handy at some point in the life of your gym membership. Many kits are easy to purchase online or in stores, and you can simply leave them sealed up until you run into a situation that calls for first aid. Whether you're patching up yourself or a friend at the gym, you'll be glad for the ability to handle minor medical problems.

Build up your fitness toolbox and hit the gym

Is it time to buy a new gym bag too? It might be if you can't quite cram everything into your current bag. Once you start carrying a more complete kit to your gym sessions, though, you'll find it's hard to go back to the way things were before. When all the essentials are just a few feet away, you can stop when you need something and stay focused the remainder of the time. From quick snacks for a sudden shot of energy to post-workout balms to keep your muscles from aching too much, what might go into your kit?

This article was written for Sports Fitness, an online store packed with exercise kit and accessories perfect for your gym bag.