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Exercise Equipmenr and Fitness Equipment Buying Guide

Exercise Equipment and Fitness Equipment Buying Guide

Now get in shape without leaving the house! Learn the in's and out's to purchasing fitness equipment. There is little doubt that exercise and a sensible diet contribute to a healthy lifestyle and body. The only question these days, it seems, is when you're going to be able to find time to work out. Fortunately, there's a variety of equipment available for use inside your home, saving you from having to figure out what to do with the kids while you make the time-consuming trip to the gym. Home gyms and dumbbells allow you to tone muscles while elliptical machines and treadmills offer a cardiovascular workout. Other equipment, such as abdominal machines and stretching machines, allow for a more specific focus. Consider the following questions to learn more about the vast array of home exercise equipment available and how each item can fit into your busy life:

1) What strength-training equipment is now available?
2) What machines provide an excellent cardiovascular workout?
3) What abdominal machines are available?
4) What other types of fitness equipment are available?
5) Are there any special features you'd like your equipment to have?

Strength Training, Cardiovascular, Abdominals and Other Equipment
Once you've made the decision to begin an exercise regimen, you/ve got to stick with it if you want to see results. While an occasional workout is better than none, the only way to truly achieve physical fitness is through maintaining a regular routine. Try to set a realistic schedule and stay with it as consistently as possible. Also,make sure you know how to properly use your equipment. Not only is proper use necessary to achieve the maximum benefit, it's crucial to safety as well. Improperly used equipment, or working out on worn out, damaged machines, could result in anything from a mild muscle strain to a severe injury.

Strength-Training Equipment: If your goal is to increase your strength and muscle tone, an all-in-one home gym is a good place to start. These machines often utilize a cable and pulley system that allows you to achieve a total-body workout through a variety of exercises. They generally feature a weight stack with a pin that enables you to set the proper weight level for the exercise you’re performing. The more adjustments and settings these units have, the more exercises you’ll be able to do, helping you to create a more varied training program. If you don’t have room for a home gym or simply want to add variety to your routine, pick up some dumbbells and barbells. Dumbbells are designed for one-handed use, have round or hex-shaped ends and are available in a variety of different weights. Barbells are used in conjunction with weight plates to perform a number of different exercises. Standard Olympic bars weigh 45 lbs., though you can also find lighter ones.

  • Some home gyms feature multiple weight stacks so two people can work out simultaneously
  • Home gyms with “spotting” devices help keep you safe during your workout
  • Adjustable weight benches allow you to perform many different exercises with the help of dumbbells and barbells
  • Hex dumbbells are less likely to roll away when resting on the ground
  • Purchase multiple dumbbells and weight plates for maximum workout flexibility

Cardiovascular Equipment: There are a number of different machines that can be used to improve cardiovascular health, including elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines and stair steppers. Each one provides a slightly different workout, with treadmills, bikes and stair steppers emphasizing the lower body while elliptical and rowing machines provide more of a full-body workout. Always test equipment before purchasing, if possible. You want to make sure that it operates smoothly and, in the case of treadmills, has a solid, secure base. Make sure that you measure carefully to ensure that you have ample room to install the machine in your home. Prices vary greatly, depending on how many features a machine has and how technologically sophisticated it is. Though they may cost a little extra, machines with electronic displays that allow you to program a variety of different workouts may be worth the money. The chart below describes each type of machine and details some of the features to look for and benefits of use.

Machine Description Features and Benefits
Elliptical Features foot pedals that move in an elliptical, or ovular, motion as well as handles that allow you to work your upper body.
  • Provides a total-body workout
  • Tones muscle while improving cardiovascular health
  • Less likely to cause stress to joints
  • Pivoting, nonslip footpads fit around your shoes for greater security
  • Resistance and incline can be increased for a tougher workout
Stationary Bike A bike that’s designed to be ridden in place. Generally features only a single wheel in the front.
  • Movable arms help provide a total-body workout
  • Cushioned seats and pedal straps increase comfort and stability
  • Solid or enclosed front wheels help prevent little hands and fingers from accidentally getting injured
  • Design may be upright, recumbent or semi-recumbent
Rowing Simulates the experience of rowing, placing equal emphasis on working out the upper and lower body.
  • Machines that fold take up less space when stored
  • Low-impact workout helps minimize pressure on joints
Stair Stepper Features two steps designed to simulate the experience of walking up stairs.
  • When proper posture is maintained, doesn’t put strain on back
  • Independent steps provide a better workout for both legs
Treadmill Features a conveyor-style belt that rotates at varying speeds, providing a low-impact running workout indoors.
  • Various speeds allow for individually tailored workouts
  • Inclines and interval training increase the variety of workout options
  • “Continuous duty” rating is more important than “peak performance” when it comes to horsepower
  • Safety keys help prevent accidents


Abdominal Machines and Other Equipment: It seems like there may be more machines available for use on the abdominals than any other single muscle group. While many of these machines may make claims that they can rapidly improve your abs in a matter of days, you’re more likely to experience success if you incorporate them as an additional element in your workout routine rather than relying solely on them. Some have handles that you grip while rolling across the floor while others provide head and neck support to reduce strain and stress while performing crunches. In addition to ab machines, there are a number of other pieces of equipment that can be used to improve your fitness level. Yoga and Pilates kits, for example, may include a yoga mat, instructional video, foam block, soft strap and a bag to carry everything around in. For a higher-impact alternative, look for boxing gloves and bags. Boxing is a good way to build both strength and endurance. Speed bags and heavy bags offer different ways to work out, letting you choose what’s most comfortable for you. Workout balls offer another option, allowing you to stretch, strengthen muscles and work your abdominals.

  • Strengthening and toning abdominal muscles requires a total-body workout in addition to focused exercises
  • Use exercise mats for stretching and abdominal exercises as well as to provide a cushion beneath weight equipment
  • Stretching machines are ideal for warming up and cooling down, as they make it easier to stretch nearly every muscle
  • Medicine balls can be used to strengthen and tone muscles
  • Putting greens allow you to work on your short game even when it’s raining outside and are great for helping you relax

Features

Gloves and Lifting Straps: Available in different sizes, workout gloves are usually fingerless and provide padding that helps prevent blisters. Lifting straps are designed for use when lifting particularly heavy objects, so they’ll come in handy if you’re into heavy-duty weight training.

Wristbands and Headbands: When you’re in the middle of an intense workout, the last thing you want is for sweat to sting your eyes or to lose your grip on a barbell. Headbands and wristbands absorb sweat before it can get to either place, helping you stay focused on the task at hand.

Weight Belts: If you’re lifting weights, a weight belt can provide extra support for your back, helping you maintain proper form and posture to prevent injury.

Heart Monitors: One of the keys to achieving improved cardiovascular health is to reach your target heart rate during workouts. Heart monitors allow you to determine whether or not you have reached that rate, making it easy to increase or decrease the intensity of your workout accordingly.

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