What are the best gym accessories for natural bodybuilding?

The Best Bodybuilding Accessories To Bring To The Gym !

Today, we’re looking at the best bodybuilding accessories to bring to the gym for natural bodybuilding, and why they should be in your gym bag.

We will cover both the best and the most popular gym bodybuilding accessories, so you can get a better overview of what you need, what’s just hype, and what sort of costs they come with. Obviously, our focus is on what gets you the best results, at the best price. 

We’re only going to focus on stuff that’s worth having – our gym bodybuilding accessories checklist is here to help you train better, and we’re going to cover all the most important kit, as well as outlining what you should avoid and why.

By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need and know what to bring to the gym, – you’ll be ready to walk into the gym prepared for anything.

Table of Contents

Natural Bodybuilding Accessories: What To bring To The Gym? (to build muscle)

Foam Roller

A foam roller is a simple mobility and warm-up tool that you can use to decompress your spine, massage your muscles, and improve blood flow before a workout. It’s a good item to own, and you can bring that bodybuilding accessory to the gym if your gym doesn’t own one.

It’s not an exciting purchase, but is it essential?

It’s definitely worth keeping in your house, even if you don’t bring it to the gym with you. Definitely not a gym bag essential, but a good bonus, and it can help with recovery between sessions.

a foam roller to massage muscles

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

The main benefit of a foam roller is getting into hard-to-reach places and massaging muscles. It can help decompress your spine, the pops and clicks that help get more movement into the spine (especially the top half!).

This is also a great way to get more force into your muscles from gravity, using your whole bodyweight.

Who should use it?

Serious natural bodybuilders who take recovery and mobility seriously, and want to maximise strength and size gains in the long run!

The way you take care of your muscles and joints is going to decide if and when you get injured. For example, regular quad rolling and mobility can help reduce knee pain – especially common in bodybuilders who have trouble with squats, for example.

Getting into shape – and staying in shape – means more than just cutting body fat. It’s about building sustainable training for years to come. A foam roller can be part of your recovery and mobility, and help that happen.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

We like to keep it simple with a foam roller because it’s not really complicated: you need it to be firm enough to massage your muscles, strong enough to support your body, and cheap enough to fit your budget.

3 simple steps: firmness, strong design, and a good price. You can find some great examples of this in our ‘recommended buys’ section.

Verdict and our scores

Overall: a sold 7.5/10

Importance ranking: 7

Usefulness: 8

Value for money: 8

Benefits to training: 8

Versatility: 7

Final Thoughts 

Foam rollers are good, and any good natural bodybuilder probably has one lying around their home. We all need to use them a bit more often – recovery is key.

You should probably buy a foam roller, but there aren’t any must-have features on the market. We typically avoid foam as it will not provide the firmness you need, and is a bit too forgiving on the muscles.

You don’t always need to bring it to the gym and take it with you for your workout, but it’s good to have options when you need them. Self massage – which you can also do with massage balls – is just a great way to start addressing the aches, pains, and soreness that come with pushing your body every day.

Recommended buys

Our favourite combo of firmness, strength, and value is the RumbleRoller Basic Foam Roller. It’s relatively sturdy, the foam is resilient and high-density, and the cost is pretty good.

Honestly, we also like to see a recognizable and reputable name in the entry level prices!

the rumble roller foam roller for bodybuilding

If you have even a little more money in your foam roller budget, you could get and bring to the gym with you the Elvire Foam Roller Bundle – a simple kit with a hard foam roller, soft foam roller, a small super-firm back roller (lovingly known as a ‘peanut’), and a massage ball and stand.

the elvire foam roller bundle for bodybuilders

It’s a lot of extra value for a great price, so we would definitely expand into that bundle if you have the cash and want to get the whole set.

Lifting Straps

Lifting straps are for lifting heavy weights without worrying about your grip strength. Straps let you hold onto the bar without chalk, and they can make heavy lifting workouts easier – especially for deadlifts, heavy rack pulls or block pulls, shrugs, bent over rows, and more.

A lot of guys hate straps – they think you shouldn’t wear them because you’ll have weak grip. This isn’t entirely true, it’s all about how you use straps.

lifting straps around a barbell

I like keeping lifting straps in my gym bag, because I can put them on when my grip is failing. In the rest of the workout, I keep them off, and I don’t have to worry about it.

Most people don’t need to worry about grip strength when using straps – just don’t use them for everything. If you’re using straps for curls, you’re probably going to suffer later on!

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

Straps let you hold heavy weights even if your grip is fatigued, or you’re doing something super heavy like barbell shrugs or rack pulls. These exercises could be limited by grip, but lifting straps lets you lift basically an infinite amount of weight – if you have the leg, back, and hip strength.

Guys who have lifting straps as a gym accessory (like me) can use them when they need them. They are also priceless if you ever tear a callus in your hand, and you want to avoid further damage without skipping a workout.

Straps are super versatile and a very useful tool to bring to the gym as long as you know when to use them (heavy lifting, injured hands, and “supra-maximal exercises”) and when not to (warm-up sets, rows, curls, and pull ups).

Who should use it?

I honestly think everyone should own straps even if they don’t use them often. It’s the classic “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” gym bodybuilding accessory.

Natural bodybuilders should own a pair, for sure. They’re super handy to have around. Get it?

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

There are basically 2 types of straps on the market, depending on your needs:

  1. Expensive straps that you buy once, and they’ll serve you for a lifetime
  2. Cheap lifting straps that are probably going to break at a bad time, but cost very little

I used to be in the first camp: buy cheap, buy twice (like with my earphones). However, I think I spent $$$ over the course of 5 years on straps, even if it was only $15 at a time. Now I go for “more expensive” lifting straps because I take my lifting seriously, and the results are huge.

I’ve started using leather lifting straps and found they’re a lot better: more durable, less slippery under sweat, and they outperform cotton wrist straps easily. If you can afford the investment, good leather or nylon straps are worth the one-time spend.

Verdict and our scores

Overall: 9.25

Importance ranking: 8

Usefulness: 9

Value for money: 9

Benefits to training: 10

Versatility: 9

Final Thoughts

Avoid cheap cotton or nylon straps, unless you’re just keeping them for emergencies. Avoid sharp external stitching (you’ll grind up your skin), and make sure you’re getting cheap straps very cheap or get the absolute best quality on the market.

Don’t get stuck in the grey zone in the middle, or you’ll end up spending a ton on straps. Straps should be $10 or $30+, because you want entry level or lifelong artisan quality. Trust me.

Recommended buys

For cheap straps, it doesn’t really matter what you buy – you want something that does the job and keeps as much of your cash in-pocket as possible. That means something like the ironbull cotton straps or the gymreapers nylon lifting straps.

ironbull and gymreapers lifting straps

The Ironbulls are cheaper and softer, while the gymreapers are more durable, but may be a little sharp against the skin.

If you’re looking for something more serious and long-lasting, then you can get a high-quality leather strap. Olympic Weightlifting straps or Strongman straps are typically the way to go since they’re built for the most work with the heavy weights these sports use.

For the US, you should consider the Cerberus Strength Figure 8 Straps. For the UK, it has to be the Stash Leather Weightlifting Straps (‘tow straps’).

cerberus strength figure 8 straps and stash lifting straps

Dip Belts: Heavy-Weight Pull Ups and Dips

A dip belt is a great way to add more weight to your dips and pull ups, suspending a plate from your body to add resistance and build more muscle and strength. These are great exercises for natural bodybuilders, already, and dip belts only make them more powerful.

Dip belts are especially useful as you get stronger and find that bodyweight just isn’t enough anymore. They prevent the awkward dumbbell loading that some trainees attempt, and – crucially – they keep the weight balanced in a natural way.

a dip belt for bodybuilding and dips

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

The main benefit of a dip belt is being able to do harder bodyweight exercises and improve your total muscular loading.

What’s so valuable about a dip belt is that dips and pull ups are already incredibly powerful bodybuilding exercises. They develop the chest, shoulders, and triceps – or the back and biceps – really well.

Because these are heavy, full-range exercises, you get a ton of loading on the muscles and a stretch at the bottom. Stretch-mediated loading like this is far more powerful for growth, especially for a natural bodybuilder.

Being able to load extra weight makes a dip belt a fantastic choice to bring with you to the gym for anyone who wants to get bigger and stronger. Bodyweight exercises need to scale and progress, just like any other exercises, and that’s much easier with a dip belt!

Who should use it?

Anyone can and should use a dip belt for dips and pull ups. You can even use it for other bodyweight exercises like (light) belt squats.

Obviously, you should only buy a dip belt if you’re able to perform sets of 12+ reps with strict dips, chin ups, and pull ups. Otherwise, you need to lock down the basics first.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

Dip belts aren’t complicated, and you don’t need many features. All you need is:

  • Durability: strong stitching and a strong chain/D-links
  • Good sizing and adjustability
  • Appropriate chain length

There aren’t a ton of ‘new’ features. Get the basics right at a good price, and you’re basically there.

Verdict and our scores

Our verdict is simple, but our scores might surprise you. A dip belt is a good choice if you’re strong enough to use it right now for better growth and strength.

It’s niche: if you’re strong enough to do 5×12 dips or pull ups, it’s a game changer. If you’re not at those numbers yet, then you have very little use for a dip belt.

This doesn’t mean it’s useless: it just makes the dip belt an investment in the future for weaker or heavier people. It will be useful, you just need to keep progressing until you can use it regularly.

Also, a lot of gyms already have communal dip belts, which can make it a redundant expense. If your gym already has one, hold off for now, unless you have a pull up bar at home or go to multiple gyms. 

It’s a great item to keep in your home, car, gym bag, and to bring to the gym with you. Just make sure you can actually use it to its full extent before you commit to buying one.

Overall: 9

Importance ranking: 7

Usefulness: 9

Value for money: 9

Benefits to training: 10

Versatility: 8

Final Thoughts

We love dip belts, and it’s very rare they break. You have to lift huge weights, often, for tons of reps. This makes durability your number 1 priority, and we want to avoid anything that has weak ‘moving parts’ – the chain, the D-link, or the stitching.

A wider strap can also be more comfortable, so if you can get one at the same price and without compromising durability, it’s probably better.

Remember: a dip belt is better than a weighted vest because it’s cheaper, more versatile, and you can use much heavier weights!

Recommended buys

There are 3 items on the market that we really like for the value, the quality, and the performance. 

First, we like the GymReapers dip belt with chain – it’s wide, it’s durable, and the Velcro is a lot better than most people think. It’s sturdy and super adjustable for comfort and a good fit – which really matters for heavy dips and pulls.

gymreapers dip belt for natural bodybuilding

Second, Dark Iron Fitness offers a great, narrower option at a low price. It uses a high durability strap, which is actually a huge benefit since there are no ‘weak links’. The adjustable waist strap is great, and this product is rated for a big 270lbs.

dark iron fitness dip belt for bodybuilders

The Iron Bull Strength advanced dip belt is basically the combination of the previous two items: a wide, comfortable, durable dip belt with a strong strap attachment. It comes in a ton of sizes, so you’ve got options up to 2XL – in bodybuilder sizes!

the iron bull strength dip belt for bodybuilders

These are all good choices, depending on need, but we probably prefer GymReapers for most people. It’s good value, good quality, and we are won over by the OD Green, which looks great.

Weightlifting Belts (for Lifting Heavy Weights)

A weightlifting belt is a performance boosting bodybuilding accessory to help increase the activation of your core and back muscles. It’s used for heavy lifting like the deadlift and squats.

Despite what you might see at your local gym, it’s not designed for curls and bench press. A lot of guys (in particular) love to bring their weight lifting belt to the gym to wear it and exaggerate their V-taper, but that’s just a fashion statement. We don’t approve.

weightlifter bodybuilder wearing a lifting belt bodybuilding accessory

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

Weightlifting belts help you lift heavier weights with better form. They improve core and back muscle activation, may improve growth in these muscles, and lifting big weights typically also boosts growth.

Lifting more weight, for more reps, and improving your output in these big compound lifts is key to getting more results in less time.

A weightlifting belt can also be a mild safety benefit – a more active core and back helps reduce the risk of spine and lower back injury. Obviously, you shouldn’t just be depending on a belt for that – you need to actually develop and use your core, too.

Who should use it?

Anyone who wants to lift big weights, which is every natural bodybuilder I’ve ever met!

Weightlifting belts are good to bring to the gym for adding more weight to your big lifts, and it’s great for maintaining core activation throughout. With more weight on your squat and deadlift, and better core development from these exercises, it’s a good addition.

Most beginner natural bodybuilders could benefit from a belt, but it’s definitely more important as you get stronger. The benefits are clearer for intermediates, when you’re squatting and deadlifting 4 plates or more (as an average 80kg+ man), or the female equivalent (2plate+ squat and 3plate+ deadlift).

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

First, you want to make sure your belt is built to last. Nothing is worse than a lifting belt popping off mid-squat because the levers are weak, or the build quality is bad.

Every item you buy needs good durability: you’re going to be using it for years in the future. Buy a product that can handle you for the next 3-5 years, ideally. Good stitching, durable moving parts, and more.

Look for solid design and materials around moving parts, in particular, as they’re the areas most vulnerable to damage and wear. As ever, stitching, connectors, and levers.

Second, you need to make sure the belt design suits your needs – and there are a few types of lifting belts you want to consider:

Velcro belts are often the butt of jokes, but they’re actually great – you have maximum control over tightness with each rep and you don’t have to change belt positions or punch new holes in a Velcro belt. The better belts are strong and stable – like the Schiek.

Prong belts are the ‘standard’ for most gym goers, this is a belt that uses one or two prongs to secure the belt buckle. It’s a reliable and effective method, but does sometimes lead to damage on the prong, if you’re getting a smaller single-prong. Good all-rounder if you’re not sure what to look for. Eleiko do a good example of this – perfect for squatting.

Lever belts are more expensive but more hardy – the lever gives you excellent leverage for a tight belt. This is also typically combined with a big, thick powerlifting belt – which can be good or bad depending on how you squat, and is typically better for ‘low bar’ squats. You also can’t front squat properly in this, which might be relevant if you like that variation.

Finally, you need to consider the material and design. Material stiffness, belt thickness, and belt width all affect the experience. Excessively thick, wide, or stiff belts can be restrictive in some exercises – but they do offer more support.

Typically, you’ll want to go “mid-range” for all of these factors. A tapered belt is a good choice to improve mobility without compromising support too much, but softer wide belts like the Velcro styles) can also be a great compromise.

These are all acceptable choices, just look at how you move and your favourite variations of exercises, and how much width and stiffness you want from a belt. 

Verdict and our scores

Weightlifting belts are some of the most common and earliest purchases for gymrats and serious bodybuilders alike because they’re effective. They’re relatively cheap and help you lift more weight – what’s not to love?

You probably don’t need one as a beginner, but they’re an excellent investment as an intermediate lifter. You want to maximise how much you can lift well), for as many reps as possible, with good form.

Belts help you do that, and they reward you with more core and back growth. A great choice to bring this bodybuilding accessory to the gym.

Overall: 8

Importance ranking: 7

Usefulness: 9

Value for money: 7.5

Benefits to training: 8

Versatility: 7

Final Thoughts

Belts are a great choice later in your journey, but don’t rush to squat 100kg in a belt. It’s not essential, and you don’t need to worry too much if you’re doing proper core work and practicing good technique. 

It’s a way to boost your numbers on key lifts, but it’s definitely not ‘make or break’ – not a natural bodybuilding essential. 

Recommended buys

There are a few stand-outs on the market that provide the best quality within their category. They’re just like other products on the market, but slightly better.

One of the best Velcro belts on the market is the E26 lifting belt. It’s adjustable, non-restrictive, and super sable. I’ve used a lot of belts and this one was surprisingly good for a brand I’d never used before. The Schiek Velcro belts are also very good. 

E26 velcro lifting belt for bodybuilders

If you’re in the UK, try the Modifit Barbell Velcro belt

For a prong belt, most competitors are similar, honestly. The Eleiko prong belt is a good 1-prong belt with a lifespan of around 2-3 years. The Ironbull quick release belt is a great mid-level choice, and the SteelSweat belt has a great premium design with a strong single prong.

ironbull weightlifting and bodybuilding lifting prong belt with steelsweat prong belt

Finally, the options for a lever belt are growing every year, but our current favourites are simple:

For economy, get the IronBull Strength belt. It’s as cheap as you can realistically get a good lever belt. If you want the absolute best on the market, buy an SBD 13mm lever belt – they’re expensive, but they’ll basically never break. SBD are just great quality every time.

sbd lifting lever belt for bodybuilding

Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves are compressive cuffs you put around your knees to keep them warm and provide a little elastic resistance. The compression and warmth keep your knees happy – especially if you’re a heavy lifter and want to push the weights.

Because they’re comfortable and you see them from elite lifters, you’re going to see them all over. They’re good choices to bring to the gym for anyone who wants to push their lower body exercises, especially the heavy compounds like squats, split squats, lunges, and step ups.

They’re not as important if your leg workouts are more machine-oriented, but they provide an excellent choice for almost all heavy lifters. They’re perfect for chasing big free weights, but are also great for other uses like sport training.

knee sleeves worn by a bodybuilder

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

There are 3 real benefits to knee sleeve that you should think about:

  1. Bounce: better elastic energy storage during the change of direction at the bottom of a squat
  2. Comfort: warmth and compression keep your knees happy, and help them warm up faster during workouts. You can’t skip warm-up sets, but they’ll be more effective.
  3. Compression: most people ignore it , but compression helps counter the compressive forces that push the soft tissues of the knees outwards. Great for longevity!

These are worthwhile if you want a massive squat, but not essential. They fill a great role and they’re effective, but they might not be a purchase you care about, if you’re only worried about size and don’t care about the weights you use to get there.

Natural Flex might be a bodybuilding site, but we also care about the strength and performance that we can get along the way. We admit it: lifting heavy weights is just cool.

Who should use it?

Anyone who wants to not only look great, but lift big weights in the squat, for example. If you’re chasing big weights, this is some of the comfort and performance support you want, in order to maximise your returns and keep your knees healthy, happy, and comfortable.

You can also use thinner knee wraps for this purpose: they’re like sleeves but they’re more supportive. This can produce more compression and elastic support, which has made them popular with huge bodybuilders to help lift more weight – especially at the top of hack squats and leg presses. 

Sleeves are more comfortable but less supportive, while wraps are more supportive, but also more restrictive and typically need unwrapping and re-wrapping after every set.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

Knee sleeves should be as thick as is comfortable, but typically you want a 7mm knee sleeve. 9mm (triple ply) sleeves are a little too supportive for most people and can restrict movement, while 5mm is almost uselessly thin.

If you want more support, buy knee wraps – they’re all the benefits of a thicker sleeve but they come off between reps so you’re not starving your knees of blood – or ROM!

Verdict and our scores

Knee sleeves are a bit niche – they’re a great choice to bring them with you at the gym if you just want to put a ton of weight on your leg lifts, but they’re definitely not necessary. You can get enormous and never use them, guys did it for years.

Look at guys like Tom Platz, however, the best legs ever, and you’ll see he’s using knee wraps. They’re light, but knee sleeves are just a more convenient version of that.

Full Disclosure: we have a weightlifter on staff, and he uses knee sleeves because his knees are old and creaky. The older you are, the more value you’re going to get from them, trust me.

Overall: 7

Importance ranking: 6

Usefulness: 8

Value for money: 7 

Benefits to training: 7

Versatility: 6

Final Thoughts

Knee sleeves are one of the items on this list with the most ‘swing’: they’re either great for your goals, or mostly irrelevant. We like them, but they’re definitely not essential to bring to the gym with you, and should be lower on your priority list than other items – like lifting shoes, a belt, or others.

Recommended buys

If you’re buying knee sleeves, then you want to go for something like the Stoic knee sleeves, SBD knee sleeves, or the HookGrip weightlifting knee sleeves.

stoic knee sleeves for bodybuilders
sbd knee sleeves for natural bodybuilders
hookgrip knee sleeves for bodybuilding

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a type of big elastic band that you can use for warm-ups, changing the difficulty of exercises, or helping with stretching or rehab. They’re available both individually and in sets, and there are a bunch of different designs.

Because of the versatility and options on the market, they’re typically not discussed properly. So, we’re here to give you the run-down on what is what.

There are 3 types of resistance bands we’re going to discuss and distinguish:

  1. Real resistance bands – just a big elastic band with high-density elastic and a ‘closed loop’
  2. Thin ‘resistance bands’ – physio bands, but by another name. Often no loop, just a single piece.
  3. Tube bands – basically a long piece of elastic tubing with a handle on either side.

The best bands are real resistance bands and they look like this: 

4 real resistance bands

These are the best for versatility, training benefits, and more. We’ll discuss just how and why they’re so powerful next…

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

Resistance bands have a huge range of benefits, and they’re typically things you can’t get elsewhere – at least without spending a ton of money. Let’s look at each of them quickly, so we don’t get stuck for 50,000 words romanticising pieces of rubber.

  1. Warm-ups: resistance bands are perfect for stretching (like shoulder dislocates), warm-ups (overspeeding for shoulder or elbow health), and distracted stretching.
  2. Accessory exercises: keeping healthy with band face pulls or band-distracted single leg dumbbell deadlifts is great for patching up weaknesses.
  3. Changing difficulty: you can make pull ups easier, or you can make leg presses much harder at the ‘end’ to boost muscle-targeting. And there are tons of other options.
  4. Speed work: if you want to build strength and power, elastic resistance is perfect for banded squats, banded bench press, and more.
  5. Accessory exercises: you can do a ton with bands, like banded push ups, banded dumbbell bench, and tons more. Band face pulls are a great example: if you don’t have bands, you need a whole cable machine, which isn’t fitting in your gym bag!

These are huge for the cost of a single band, or even a set of bands. Bands are perfect for value and versatility – and can be used with calisthenics, home workouts, and more. 

Who should use it?

Anyone and everyone; you should use resistance bands somewhere in your workout, stretching, and/or mobility routine.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

You want high-density, durable elastic and the right kind of resistance bands. The other types aren’t worth your money unless you’ve got a very specific sports application – like rotational core exercises with resistance tubes

Sets that save you money are also great, since having more bands is typically worth the cost. Band sets offer different resistances, which is great because you typically want more resistance for (e.g.) customising your leg press than you’d use for stretching.

So that means: durability, training options, and resistance range.

Verdict and our scores

Resistance bands aren’t necessary, but this is a list of bodybuilding accessories – so you expect that. They’re some of the absolute best spends on the market if you want better results, with their wide variety of genuinely beneficial applications in all areas of fitness.

Whatever your goals, your challenges, or your current focus, to bring resistance bands to the gym with you is a great way to expand your training options or just get more from your favourite exercises.

  • Overall: 10
  • Importance ranking: 9
  • Usefulness: 10
  • Value for money: 10
  • Benefits to training: 10
  • Versatility: 10

Final Thoughts 

Resistance bands are great – a personal favourite for expanding training options for like $30-50 (depending on what you get). They’re some of the best options for options, and that makes me a big fan.

Whatever you’re doing with them, make sure you get good bands, and a variety if possible. Avoid the pretenders, and make sure you get real resistance bands. The others just don’t have the value of true resistance bands.

Recommended Buys

Any resistance band set will provide you with some value. It’s not a complex item, but the right choices are the best sets, and the best quality of band – to ensure proper function and a nice, long, valuable product lifespan.

A simple set like the Eackrola resistance band set will do you fine for just about any purpose. The range is from 20lbs top end resistance, up to 165lbs. This is perfect for pull-ups, for elastic resistance on squats, bench ,and deadlifts, and mobility or accessory exercises.

eackrola resistance band set for bodybuilders

It’s a simple set, but that’s all you need to get proper value from your resistance band set. Simple, effective, and economical (with good reviews, to boot).

Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps are supportive equipment for your wrists that provides compression, warmth, and support in end ranges. You can think of wrist wraps as belts or knee sleeves for your wrists.

They provide basic support that most natural bodybuilders use in exercises like the bench press (as well as incline bench and decline bench) and overhead press. By providing support, they mildly restrict you from undesirable positions in the wrist – such as cocked back or over-curled.

With these benefits, wrist wraps are a niche but productive option for general gym-goers, natural bodybuilders, and athletes who put pressure on the wrist. For example, weightlifters and throwers will use wrist wraps – which goes to show they’re effective for higher-rep training!

wrist wraps for better bench-press

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

The main benefit of a wrist wrap is the compression and warmth it provides. This can be a great benefit on higher rep work and heavy weights, where fatigue on the wrist can be a negative influence and contribute to technical breakdown over time.

With the use of wrist wraps, you can boost your strength and stability here. It’s not cheating – you don’t get any help from these exercises – but you do have one less thing to worry about.

The stiffness in the wrist created by the wrist wraps can also be a great way to maintain good positions. In the bench press, for example, this helps keep the load on the shoulders and chest, and prevents too much “revving” of the wrist, which can be harmful.

The restriction around the wrist also contributes to this, as the material will bunch up behind the wrist and prevent excessive wrist extension.

Wrist wraps are mildly supportive, but comprehensively useful if you’re trying to bench and press regularly – which you probably should for appropriate shoulder, chest, and tricep development – some of the most important muscles for natural bodybuilders to develop (and show off) serious size. 

Who should use it?

Wrist wraps are for big pressers. 

Most people don’t need wrist wraps for their weights, and this makes them a great purchase for intermediate or advanced lifters – any average sized man benching 140kg+ (3plates), or average sized woman benching 80kg+. 

Before this, it’s unlikely you’ll require wrist support. If you’ve got the budget, bringing wrist wraps to the gym is a good choice still, but it’s definitely lower on the bodybuilding accessories priority list. 

If you’re working on your pressing or the muscles associated with it (e.g. a chest or tricep development block), then this is a great choice. This is even easier because they’re cheaper than other types of support – around 1/3 the price of knee sleeves or a belt.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

Wrist wraps are super simple – but there are still a few things to look for. As with other items on this list, you should focus on getting the best durability and quality, since this is the basis for the lifespan of the product. This is universally important. 

You also need to get the right size and proper fastening style. Most use Velcro strips, but you will also require the right length. On top of that, you want to make sure the material is comfortable on the wrist, durable, and isn’t too slick with sweat.

There’s a balance: more absorptive materials get smelly faster but don’t move around on the wrist as much. A mixture of cotton and synthetic fibres might be the best way to go – with a lot of great brands using a blend.

Verdict and our scores

Wrist wraps are not as important to bring to the gym as other bodybuilding accessories, but they are also cheaper. This makes it a great choice on value for money, so they are still pretty good. They offer less value than (for example) straps or a belt, but they ask less investment – which is pretty fair.

We don’t always like wrist wraps, but they’re more and more important to bring to the gym with you as you start benching big weights. If you’re going for that big press, they’re a good choice.

Overall: 7

Importance ranking: 5

Usefulness: 6.5

Value for money: 8

Benefits to training: 7

Versatility: 6

Final Thoughts

Wrist wraps are polarising so be sure to check if they fit your goals. It’s a cheap expense, so it’s a problem to buy, even if you only use them a few times a year during big pressing blocks. 

You’ll definitely get your money’s worth, but we see a lot of younger guys (especially) that use wraps but simply don’t need them. Keep it lower on your bodybuilding accessories priority list until you’re benching a lot!

Recommended buys

There are 2 products we like for this category: 

  1. Bear Grips wrist wraps (thinner, 12-inch wraps)
  2. Iron bull premium 18-inch wraps

Thinner wrist wraps are fine for general use, while thicker wraps are used in bench specialists for powerlifting You don’t need 18” wraps, unless you have tried the shorter 12” and feel like they’re too thin.

bear grips wrist wraps and iron bull 18 inch wraps for bodybuilders

These are both good products on the key metrics of durability and quality, with strong neoprene and fabrics, and that makes them good investments. You’d have to put heavy use through these wraps before they start wearing, tearing, or breaking.

iron bull strength wrist wraps for bodybuilders

Gym Tape

Tape is a lifting accessory that is most popular among Olympic weightlifters but can be used by anyone. Tape is most often used for securing the hook grip in weightlifters, protecting the thumb from tearing, and improving grip on the bar when sweaty.

For natural bodybuilders, it can play this role (e.g. if you hook grip your deadlift) but also has other uses:

  • Patching up your shins if they bleed during deadlifts
  • Covering torn calluses so you can keep training on rows (e.g.) 
  • Reducing the impact of sweat on the hands in humid gyms
  • Taping your stuff back together (we’re not joking – it’s versatile stuff)

The thing about tape for bodybuilders is simple: you probably only ever need to buy one box. Ever. 

Weightlifters go through this stuff super fast, but you don’t need as much – it’s more of an emergency lifesaver than an everyday use. This means you’re going to pay like $15-20 for years of tape.

gym tape for bodybuilders

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

Tape is for just about any use you can imagine sticky, anti-sweat, grippy material can be used for. It’s primarily there to protect your skin, but it can be used for all kinds of miscellaneous tasks.

Whatever is bleeding, tape it. If it’s contacting a rough, knurled barbell or dumbbell, tape it. If your bar is scraping your neck during overhead press, tape it. It can also help some equipment – like squat stands – last longer and reduces knurling-damage on barbells.

Tape is just good to have and bring to the gym with you – it’s like a skin-friendly version of duct tape. If it needs to not bleed, not move, or improve grip then just throw tape on it. 

Who should use it?

Anyone can and should use tape. As above, it’s ridiculously versatile and cheap when you consider how long 4 rolls could last a bodybuilder.

It might not be one you’ve thought about, but it’s worth buying if you ever tear your skin and want to keep lifting, to keep a plaster or band-aid on during a workout, to cover up jewellery, and more.

It only takes one torn callus to think “I wish I had a way to avoid this that cost me pennies per use”. That’s the power of tape. 

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

I’m not going to fluff this section: tape needs to be strong, stretchy, adhesive, and cheap

It’s not a complex item and there’s not much to revolutionise the world of athletic zinc oxide tape. The weightlifting world already has the tape game sorted out – just pick a high-quality product at a decent price, and you’ll be off to a great start.

Verdict and our scores

Tape is tape, but it’s also an amazing one to have in your bag. One roll of tape is going to last ages, cost nothing, and be super useful once a month, I promise you.

Tape is versatile and cheap, and that is just about all you ever need to know. You can also use it to tape more weights to your dumbbells if you’re big like that…

  • Overall: 8
  • Importance ranking: 6
  • Usefulness: 8
  • Value for money: 9
  • Benefits to training: 6
  • Versatility: 9

Final Thoughts

Tape is great to bring to the gym – but not glamorous. It can be a huge help to you every so often, but the key value is in the economy of it, and the long lasting use. You might only ever buy one box of tape, and that’s always a great investment. 

You might never notice you’ve got a roll of tape in your gym bag – but it could also be a fantastic way to save yourself from bloody hands/shins, faulty kit, or some other unforeseen emergency. It only takes one emergency use to be grateful you bought it.

Recommended buys

For those in the United States, we typically recommend the lyft-rx thumb tape as a good all-rounder for value, texture, durability, and stretch. It provides a great experience and the hardiness stands up really well to all competition.

lyft-rx thumb tape for bodybuilders

If you’re in the United Kingdom, try Stash weightlifting tape: an effective, affordable option, especially in bundles at around £3-4 per roll.

stash weightlifting and bodybuilding tape

Chalk (or Liquid Chalk)

Chalk is a powder (made from magnesium and calcium) that is used to keep the hands dry and improve grip during workouts. Liquid chalk is similar, but it’s in a liquid solvent, which makes it a little cleaner but can dry the hands more aggressively.

Both forms are effective in improving grip and reducing sweaty hands during workouts. These are typically used in grip-intensive exercises like deadlifts, heavy barbell rows, shrugs, and body weight exercises – like the pull up or chin up.

hands full of dried liquid chalk

Benefits: What is it for? Why might you use it?

The main benefit is that you don’t have to worry about slippery hands or weak grip as much. Unlike straps, chalk and liquid chalk won’t simply help you lift the weight – the increased friction against the bar is useful but it’s only mildly assistive. 

This is a great choice to bring to the gym if you have appropriate grip strength but the bar is slipping out of your palms. It’s common among athletes to use chalk, and it’s an accepted part of gym culture, with the main exception of corporate ‘big box’ gyms – because they don’t like cleaning up the floor. Despite the fact that’s just part of the job.

Basically, gyms that ban chalk are cringe. Liquid chalk is usually less-banned so probably safer if you don’t know your gym’s policy. It’s also way more convenient than natural chalk, which is likely to spill out or get all over the place and your clothes.

(Liquid chalk bottles can and will leak, so make sure you keep it in a sandwich bag inside your gym bag. Never too safe.)

Who should use it?

Chalk or liquid chalk should be owned by everyone whose gym doesn’t provide it for them. It’s a simple way to make sure you’re not missing lifts due to sweaty hands – which always sucks.

It’s galling to miss any lift on grip, and both natural and liquid chalk are great for this. It’s also another way to remove the grip excuse, though not as good as straps.

If you’re not allowed to use chalk, however, go straps. You can always add more direct grip work to make sure you’re not missing weaknesses. Everyone whose gym allows chalk should own it, even if they don’t use it every workout.

Buying criteria: what should you look for?

You want to avoid alcohol solvents – that’s the most important buying rule. Both natural chalk and liquid chalk are completely effective, but alcohol solvents for liquid chalk can rapidly dry the hands out and cause more tears or skin issues.

The best natural chalk is gymnastic chalk, typically, while rock climbers chalk is also very good. If you can get it in a ball or dedicated bag, that’s a great bonus. It’s just better to reduce the spill of chalk everywhere.

Verdict and our scores

Chalk is more of a necessity than an accessory, which is why we wanted to discuss it – you need to bring it to the gym with you if you’re serious about lifting. You will sweat, and it will limit your workout at some point, but it’s important to try and control that. 

Chalk and liquid chalk let you train effectively whatever the weather conditions, with less risk of missing important reps for stupid reasons. Having it in your gym bag just gives you insurance against clammy hands, humid gyms, or disgusting tropical weather.

Both powder and liquid chalk are good options, and we think they’re a must-have for any serious bodybuilder. Just don’t use them for overhead press, you weirdo.

Overall: 9

Importance ranking: 10

Usefulness: 10

Value for money: 9

Benefits to training: 10

Versatility: 7

Final Thoughts

Chalk is a huge quality of life improvement for your gym or home gym based workouts, but also any calisthenics or bodyweight training you might want to use. 

It’s an all-round winner, with enormous training value, low cost, good containers, and plenty of noticeable benefits on a day to day basis.

This is probably our highest rated bodybuilding accessory because it takes out so much inconvenience, and improves your workouts so much, for such a small price. Bringing it to the gym with you is a must!

Recommended buys

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter too much. As long as you follow the buying guidance, you’re off to a good start. 

Friction labs chalk is excellent in quality, with great sizing options. This makes it our favourite because chalk is basically just chalk but the packaging options and size variety makes it easy to get what you need, in the amount you need, without wasting your cash.

If you want a chalk ball, friction labs also offer those at a good price, and it’s definitely one of the best ways to (neatly) apply chalk to your hands – instead of the floor.

friction labs alcohol free liquid chalk for bodybuilding

For liquid chalk, we typically recommend 2 kinds: a full bottle of chalk, such as Friction labs secret stuff alcohol free. 

But we also like smaller, back-up liquid chalks which are suspended on carabiners and come in 2-packs.

Whatever suits, just make sure you bring your chalk to the gym, and try not to leave it at home when you’ve got high-rep deadlifts or pull ups!

Honourable Mentions

Honourable mentions go out to items that we can’t really recommend or discuss, but which are either useful or essential to bring to the gym with you, but don’t make the cut for one reason or another. There are typically 2 categories: things that we have nothing to say about (like a gym towel) or picks that are a bit niche (like the Slingshot)

Here’s our quick list of other gym accessories for bodybuilding, and our overview…

Gym towel: you need one, and you need to wash it regularly. Buy a pack of 3 and rotate them, stinky.

Water bottle: it doesn’t need to be fancy – but try and get BPA-free or similar. More water = better.

Shaker cup: I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but a post-workout protein (and carb) shake is a great way to build more muscle. Again, it doesn’t matter what kind you get.

Headphones: nobody wants to listen to the gym’s terrible music. I’m so bored of Drake.

Clip Collars: a great choice if your gym’s clips suck, these can provide extra security and safety while you lift. They depend on your gym being terrible, so probably aren’t that important. 

Skipping rope: speed rope is a great form of cardio, especially in smaller gyms or in your apartment home, but they all work. For bodybuilders, they are all the same. 

Cable machine cuffs: these are a good way to change cable machine exercises – like cable flyes – but they’re primarily used by advanced bodybuilders. Not a necessity until you really need to zone in on specific weaknesses/muscles. Beginners need to get bigger and stronger, before fixating on details.

Slingshot bench band: it’s a cool way to overload your triceps or bench a silly amount of weight, but it’s not really for everyone. Very advanced and niche. Very fun, though. 

Hip circle: a good choice for adjusting exercises and improving knee-hip control, but definitely not essential to bring with you to the gym. Popular with the instagram fitness community for clam shells and other glute training. Again, a good piece of kit, but definitely not important for beginners. Very niche.

Gym Bag Bodybuilding Accessories Checklist! (By Priority)

So what should you focus on, as a natural bodybuilder looking to get the most from your accessories and bodybuilding equipment? 

In our expert opinion, the things you should probably bring to the gym and focus on – in the general order of importance and value – are: 

  1. Liquid chalk – you might need it on your first workout, depending on the gym
  2. A foam roller – recovery is important, start sooner rather than later.
  3. Resistance bands – they’re the best 30 bucks I’ve ever spent.
  4. Lifting straps – better to have them and not need them than vice versa.
  5. A dip belt — you’ll need it someday, and it’s a great investment.
  6. Tape – it’s pretty much a one-time purchase for bodybuilders and easy to use.
  7. Knee sleeves – good for keeping your knees warm and comfy during leg training.
  8. Wrist wraps – if you’re big pressing, it’s time to support those wrists.
  9. Lifting belt – not as important as people think. Great for heavy squats and deadlifts. 
  10. Cable machine cuffs – great for advanced bodybuilding, but not an urgent purchase.
  11. Hip circle – a great way to do more glute work and keep the hips and knees healthy.
  12. Slingshot – it’s ridiculously fun, but probably not that important for bodybuilding.

This is the rough order we’d put the importance of these purchases in. Obviously, these change depending on your goals. If you’re into power building then you’ll want a lifting belt and wrist wraps more. If you just want a PHAT butt, then the hip circle is probably higher up your priority list.

However, we’re pretty happy with this order, as it’s what we’d do if we were beginner or intermediate bodybuilders again, trying to get the best value for our money.

If you’re in the market, this is the basic order you want to go in, as you’re going to need the high-priority items more often and more urgently, while the later stuff is completely optional. You might never need or want a slingshot, but you’re not getting very far without chalk (e.g.).

Best Bodybuilding Accessories FAQ

With the amount of stuff on the market, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of questions out there. Here are a few of the most common ones, and what we think you need to know about them…

What gym accessories do I need to bring to the gym?

You need chalk or liquid chalk and lifting straps. These are the most important purchases early on as a way of ensuring consistent training, dealing with poor quality bars, and making sure you never miss reps for stupid reasons.

Resistance bands are also amazing, and you can get access to them very cheaply. They offer a wide range of benefits, from arm ups to finishers to improving other exercises (e.g. the close grip bench press or the leg press). 

lifting straps and chalk gym accessories for a better grip

Finally, you can look at supportive equipment: a lifting belt, knee sleeves or knee wraps, and wrist wraps. These are definitely not essentials but they do support good lifting and they are popular among top level bodybuilders for that benefit.

What are the best natural bodybuilding gym accessories ?

The best bodybuilding accessories are usually small, simple things that help with the quality and consistency of training – like liquid chalk, lifting straps, or resistance bands.

Other accessories might be more popular, but many – like wrist wraps – are completely optional. Other options can be really valuable for some experienced lifters, but not the average beginner, such as the Slingshot bench band or wrist/ankle cuffs for a cable machine. These are great items, but cable flyers aren’t that important for anyone who can’t bench bodyweight or perform a dip!

resistance bands and chalk are good lifting accessories

Where to buy bodybuilding accessories?

Amazon is a great place to look for all-purpose gym accessories, but specific items – like lever belts or bespoke items – should be bought from specialists. For example, we don’t like most lifting straps, and use a specialist in the UK, but we also use amazon for all kinds of everyday items, which is why we’ve listed them here.

Bodybuilding equipment and accessories should be bought on a case-by-case basis if they’re niche and important. If they’re neither of these, default to Amazon or a local 3rd party seller of sports goods.

Can you succeed in bodybuilding without equipment?

No – if by succeed you mean be competitive. Bodybuilding doesn’t always require a gym, but calisthenics alone are not going to provide the mass and full-body development you need to get into competitive shape – even in natural bodybuilding.

The equipment in gyms makes the elite level “physique sculpting” of bodybuilding possible. Without some equipment, key muscle groups are going to remain underdeveloped as you either (1) can’t target them, or (2) can’t load them progressively to build more muscle mass!

The legs are a great example: calisthenics trainees have good upper bodies, but relatively small lower bodies. This isn’t going to cut it in bodybuilding, where the legs, hips, and lower back are all just as important as the conventional show muscles of the arms, shoulders, and torso.

You can get by without equipment sometimes, but you need at least some way to progress your exercises in challenge over time. This is why weights and bands are typically used: more loading, without just adding more reps on top and getting skinny.

What are the best bodybuilding accessories for home? 

The best bodybuilding gym accessories for home are undoubtedly a set of resistance bands and a foam roller. If you can get a pull-up bar and gymnastic rings in your home, that’s even better.

These allow you to perform so many of the best recovery and body-care processes that make bodybuilding possible. Foam rolling is a good way to help begin warm ups, and combining it with dynamic stretching at home is a key part of recovery that most beginners in natural bodybuilding might miss.

Resistance bands basically do everything: they can be used for mobility, strength, core control exercises, rehabilitation, injury prevention, and more. They just revolutionise home training if you’re smart with them, and can add a ridiculous amount of value to your rest days, or when you can’t get into the gym.

pull up bar at home is a great idea

Obviously, the best gym equipment for your home is a squat rack, bar, plates, dumbbells, and a cable machine – because home gyms are great.

Which gym accessories to buy?

The best bodybuilding accessory essentials to buy right now are:

  • A bottle of liquid chalk
  • A set of resistance bands
  • A solid, cheap foam roller
  • Lifting straps in case you tear something

If you’ve got all of these, you can be successful as a bodybuilder, and you’re prepared for all kinds of training. These are the absolute basics to bring to the gym for a few dollars, offering some of the best value for the money.

Everything after this is a bit niche – they require a certain level of strength (like a dip belt), specific goals (like a lifting belt), or they just aren’t essential (like wrist wraps). This doesn’t make them less valuable, but it does mean you need to ask if any other accessories are worth the cash and suit your current experience, needs, and goals.

Final Word

The best accessories for natural bodybuilding aren’t always the most popular, the most flashy, or even the most expensive. They’re the items that improve your training, make it more consistent, and do it all at a good price.

We’ve highlighted some of our favourite picks, what we love about them, and why we think they’re the best place to spend money on bodybuilding. If you have any other recommendations, drop them in the comments or email us – we’re always reviewing our articles and there’s a good chance we’ll update the article if there’s more great stuff out there.

For now, consider these items and what they can do for you – and have great workouts! You can get your fix of Natural Flex with other great articles on our blog. Go check it out!