These Popular Exercise Items Are a Total Waste of Money

After a long day at the office, it can be tough to drive all the way back home, throw on your workout clothes, and head to the gym. While you might choose to opt for bodyweight workouts or HIIT that can be performed in the comfort of your own home, there’s still the lingering thought that maybe you’re missing out on some vital gym equipment to get the gains you’re looking for. There are some gym accessories that can really improve your endurance and help you achieve the healthiest version of yourself possible, and there are others that may seem like they’re helping a lot more than they really are. From the expensive water bottles down to the pricey gear, there are some things that you can really do without and still get an awesome workout. Skip these five gym accessories that are a complete waste of cash.

1. Gloves

woman working out with some dumbbells

You really don’t need gloves. | iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz

If you’ve ever walked over to the free weights at the gym and noticed tons of people wearing gloves to improve their grip, don’t feel too intimidated — while they might think that they’re helping their lifting technique by providing that extra hand protection, those gloves are totally unnecessary.

While gloves are great for protecting your hands and avoiding the build-up of calluses, you’ll be hindering your ability to build grip strength. If you’re used to lifting heavy weights with gloves, and then you can barely lift that same weight at all without the accessory, then it’s really not the sweaty hands that are to blame — it’s your grip strength that’s lacking. You’ll also be completely preventing the formation of calluses, and while this may seem like a good thing, this also means that as soon as your gloves are taken off, your hands have no chance of holding on to that bar or barbell for long. Creating a barrier between your hands and your weights seems like a better idea than it is, so do yourself (and your strength) a favor and skip the gloves.

2. Bar pads

Bar pads are unnecessary when lifting

Bar pads are unnecessary when lifting. | iStock.com

If you can’t stand the feeling of the bar from a barbell digging into your back as you squat, then we understand. Whether it’s just 15 pounds or 115 pounds, performing repeated leg exercises with a barbell on your back is not one of the most comfortable feelings. If you truly can’t stand the feeling of that heavy pressure on your back, then you may turn to using a barbell pad to assist you. Barbell pads are designed to provide cushioning on your upper back area, right where the barbell sits when you’re doing squats. If that little bit of extra comfort is what’s going to help you get through those reps, then we still advise you skip it, as these pads can do more harm than good.

According to StrongLifts, barbell pads prevent you from being able to position the bar correctly on your back. The cushioning will actually push the barbell up higher on to your back, which can cause serious strain on your upper back and give you less leverage during your squats. You’ll be able to get away with using a barbell pad if you’re squatting with light weights, but then you’re also preventing yourself from truly feeling the bar, which will become a bigger problem as you increase your weight. It’s best to tough it out and avoid spending money on these pads — your back will adapt to the feeling of the bar over time, and you’ll avoid injury.

3. Ankle weights

Woman Running

Ankle weights can hurt your legs when running. | iStock.com

Your run on the treadmill is getting easier and easier as the days go on, so you might think it’s a good idea to throw some ankle weights into the mix. Even if you’re just going for a light walk around your neighborhood and think that ankle weights are the perfect way to work those hamstrings, glutes, and quads, you could be doing more harm than good here. It’s true that increasing the workload during your exercise routine will burn more calories and build strength, but ankle weights are an unnecessary accessory that you shouldn’t waste your money on.

Ankle weights can strain the ankle joints and leg muscles tremendously, says Livestrong.com. Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a sports medicine specialist, explains that the problem with ankle weights lies in how exactly they build muscle in the legs. Ankle weights strengthen the quads without improving hamstring strength, so that unequal build of muscle can lead to strain and injury. If you’re looking to up the intensity of your leg exercises, then try raising the incline on the treadmill or running with periods of both high and low intensity — these will increase your heart rate and build leg strength better than ankle weights.

4. Compression clothes

Man wearing compression gear

There’s no need for compression clothes when weightlifting. | Amazon.com

Compression clothing has its time and place — if you’re participating in an event somewhere that involves dipping in and out of icy cold water, or it’s freezing cold outside during your run, then compression clothes can help keep your body heat close to you. They’re even great for wearing in the winter when the weather gets severe and you’re skiing all day. But if you’re just performing a workout in your home or at the gym, then compression gear isn’t worth the money.

Gretchen Reynolds for The New York Times explains that most people who wear compression clothing believe that it does help their performance, but this evidence is largely anecdotal and not based in any real facts. The school of thought behind compression clothing is that there’s an increase in blood circulation from the pressure, thus improving performance while also reducing fatigue in the limbs. Studies show that there isn’t actually much difference during performance from those who wear compression clothing, and there may not actually be much increase in blood flow at all. If you’re thinking about splurging on these expensive clothing items, you may want to think twice.

5. Pre-workout supplements

Pre-workout supplements on shelf

Pre-workout supplements may not work as well as you think. | iStock.com

Hear us out — many people love to drink their pre-workout supplement to give them that energy boost they need to complete their hardest workouts, but unless you’ve done a lot of research into what kind of supplement you’re taking, chances are it’s not actually doing that much for you. Many workout supplements are designed for you to take about 30 minutes prior to your exercise routine, and you’ll start to feel tingly, warm, and ready to move in that timeframe. That tingling sensation feels like your muscles are really activating and ready to do work, but in reality, that’s usually not what’s happening. It’s beta-alanine that gives you that tingling feeling, and depending on your workout shake, these traces of beta-alanine might be too small to make a difference in your muscle power.

Most of the time, pre-workout supplements boast quality ingredients that sound like they’ll yield impressive results, when in reality, these doses of the good stuff are too miniscule to matter. You will find that your pre-workout is likely packed with tons of caffeine that can actually prove to be dangerous, so you’ll want to watch for this. We say skip the pre-workout and have a cup of coffee beforehand instead.