Top Exercise and Workout EquipmentBody Gear Guide

The Complete Guide to Workout Equipment and Gear

Regardless of your fitness goals and type of workout plan, chances are you’re going to need some equipment or at least a few pieces of gear. Choosing the right gear is just as important as picking the best workout plan, and this means that you will want to know exactly what you are looking for. In this guide you will find information on the various uses for the common types of exercise equipment, along with a few helpful tips on how to get the best results from your gear.

Spin Bikes

Indoor cycling or spin bikes as they are more commonly known were introduced to the public in the mid 1980’s. It is designed to provide you with the same experience and benefits associated with outdoor cycling, only you are pedaling on a stationary bike inside. While spin bikes were often associated with women and “spinning” classes, this exercise equipment machine is now gaining in popularity with men.

Spin cycles typically come with a comfortable seat and handlebars that are placed so your posture mimics that of a road bike. The pedals are designed to be similar in size to an outdoor bike, and since they are designed to turn the heavy flywheel your calf and thigh muscles get the same workout. You can even stand up on the pedals just like you would on a road bike when you need to get more speed or for improved leverage.

Spin cycles are a great way for you to get in your cardio exercise in the comfort of your home or at the gym. While this exercise equipment might not come with a lot of features, they are a safe way for you to burn some calories and get a good cardio workout in.

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Some of the advantages associated with incorporating a spin bike into your top workout equipment list include

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Rowing Machines

Over the years rowing machines lost much of their popularity, often being replaced by the latest technology and gear. This is changing, and now there is a renewed interest in workout plans that include exercises on a rowing machine. This piece of fitness equipment is designed to do exactly what its’ name implies, mimic the motion of rowing a small boat.

If you are wondering why rowing machines are making a sudden comeback, it is because they are easy to use, effective and affordable. The fact that these machines are simple to operate is a bonus for everyone, and since they are priced to fit most budgets they make a perfect addition to a home gym. Just like spin bikes, you can also find rowing machines at most gyms and even join a class for a small fee.

The reason rowing machines are so effective is due to their design. They mimic the exact motions of rowing on the water so you can get a good upper body workout. Rowing machines can also help you burn fat and calories, and are a good way to get some cardio in. This fitness equipment has also evolved over the years and now can come with several convenient features. Your budget will help you decide which features are necessary, and which ones are nice to have.

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Some of the new rowing machines features

Elliptical Machines

It is important to remember that treadmills and elliptical machines are not the same. Treadmills are often criticized for being too hard on the joints, especially in older adults, but this is rarely a problem with an elliptical machine. Many experienced trainers also believe that you can get a better cardio workout on an elliptical machine, and this is something that should be considered if you are still undecided between the two pieces of workout equipment.

Ellipticals are often described as a mix between a cross-country ski machine and stair climber, and are designed to provide you with a low impact full body workout. Ellipticals are great for strength training, rehab and weight loss, and are often used by athletes, body builders and others to get their cardio. If you are recovering from an injury an elliptical is a good way to start working out again.

Since you are moving your arms and legs simultaneously, your major muscle groups are getting a good workout. If you want to increase the intensity of the workout most elliptical machines will allow you to adjust the stride length. This allows you to incorporate more muscles into the workout, and has the added benefit of burning additional fat and calories. While you won’t be able to build muscle mass with an elliptical machine, it can provide you with an excellent cardio workout, help you lose weight, and tone and firm your body.

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Road and Mountain Bikes

Mountain and road bikes are both capable of providing you with an intense cardio workout and are great for improving stamina and endurance, but there are differences between the two. Road bikes are built for speed, while mountain bicycles are designed for trail riding. The right one for you will depend on where you want to do most of your riding, along with the results you are trying to achieve.

If you are a competition cyclist or improving speed, stamina and performance are your main goals you might want to consider a road bike. These lightweight bicycles are designed to provide you with a responsive ride on smooth pavement and typically come with aggressive forward leaning handlebars. This helps to make you more aerodynamic, which can shave seconds off of your speed. Road bikes are also a good choice if you are on an advanced workout plan that calls for plenty of hill climbing.

When you are ready to work on improving your endurance, while also getting in some cardio, a mountain bike might be the right choice for you. You also get the added advantage of being able to ride almost anywhere, unlike with a road bike where you’re limited to paved streets. Mountain bikes do come with a heavier frame, but this is necessary if you want it to be able to withstand rugged trail riding. You’ll also find that you are sitting in an upright position, and the added balance and control is a plus when you are biking along bumpy, uneven trails.

Both types of bikes can also come with added features that are designed to make them more comfortable to ride or more responsive, but they are usually found at a higher price.

Bike Trainers

The four main types of bike trainers are:

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One piece of exercise equipment that often gets overlooked until it is needed is a bike trainer. Also referred to as a turbo trainer, it is a piece of equipment that holds an outdoor bike stationary so you can ride it in place. It is most commonly used to help riders warm up before the start of a competition, but it can also be incorporated into your workout plan.

Many types of workout programs, especially those at the intermediate and advanced levels call for some type of cycling as part of the cardio routine. Sometimes the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor biking, and not everyone can afford to purchase a spin cycle or other comparable exercise machine. A bike trainer can be used to hold most types of bicycles firmly in place so you can still complete this part of your daily workout. Best of all a bike trainer is also a more affordable option.

There are also a few types of bike trainers to choose from so you can ensure that you get the most from your workout. One aspect to remember is that the price of bike trainers can vary due to durability and resistance range.

Wind bike trainers are the least expensive, but resistance is limited. Rollers are the most difficult to use, but they are preferred by professional cyclists. In most cases magnetic or fluid bike trainers will probably work best for you. They are relatively easy to set up, provide plenty of balance and allow for some resistance adjustments. This allows you to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout depending on your goals. Fluid and magnetic bike trainers are also priced to fit most budgets.

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Weight Lifting and Trail Running Shoes

One of the most annoying parts of any workout is when you have to stop and change your shoes, but if you want to get the best results and prevent injuries it is a necessary part of most fitness plans. This is especially true when it comes to switching from weight lifting to trail running. While one pair of athletic shoes might be able to get some people through their entire workout, this is rarely true when you go from squats and deadlifts to sprinting up rocky hills. Unless you are comfortable in a pair of minimalist lifting and running shoes, you are going to need two types of footwear.

The main reason you need two types of footwear is the sole. You want a firm stiff sole when you are weight lifting, and one that is flexible when you are running on trails. A little lift in the heel is often an advantage for lifting, especially during squats, and runners benefit from plenty of cushioning. There is also a difference in the amount of traction needed in the two types of workouts, and this is important for your safety. When you are weight lifting you want a little traction, but not enough to prevent you from doing lunges. When you are running over trails you will want a pair of shoes that come with plenty of traction so you can safely jog over slippery rocks and other slick spots.

Minimalist athletic shoes can be easily worn for running and weight lifting, but it is important to note that this footwear isn’t for everyone. The idea of the footwear is to make you feel like you are running barefoot, while still providing you with minimal protection. The shoes do typically come with a grippy sole that is more than capable of providing you with enough traction for wear indoors or outside. Since the shoes do not have any support or cushioning, they are not always comfortable for everyone to wear.

Work Boots

There are several aspects to consider when you are looking for a pair of work boots. The type of job you do, working conditions and safety requirements will all determine which type of work boots are right for you. Along with the necessary safety features, you will also want to consider the boots’ fit and comfort. The last thing you want is to stand around all day in a pair of uncomfortable work boots. When you are looking at safety features some of the ones you might want to consider will include:

It should also be noted that not all work boots come with a safety toe, but for some jobs it is a required featured. You can also find work boots that are water proof or insulated. Some are a combination of various features, and this will affect the price. If you are working in cold environments or around electrical hazards you will want to pay extra to ensure that you get the best work boots for your job.

Durability should also be an important consideration, especially if you work in rugged conditions. Some construction features that can help ensure that the work boots are a good value for you money will include,

  • Cement attachment (especially around the sole)
  • Goodyear welt outsole
  • Blake stitching

These are just a few aspects to look for to ensure that the work boots will last for more than a couple of days on the job.

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Yoga Mat

Since Yoga places equal focus on the mind and body it is important that you are comfortable during the workout routine. The best way to ensure your comfort on any surface regardless of the pose is with a Yoga mat, but you don’t want to choose the first one you see. Not all mats are actually designed for Yoga, and this can make a difference. Not only can this affect your ability to meditate, but also your safety.

Yoga mats can vary slightly in size so you can find the perfect one to fit your space. Some are designed to be slightly “squishy”, while others are firmer and provide more support. How much cushioning you want for your elbows and knees is a matter of personal preference, since only you know what makes you feel the most comfortable. You can also find Yoga mats made from a variety of materials so you can even pick one that is eco-friendly.

While the color and other aspects of the Yoga mat may be up to your personal preferences, the one factor that remains the same is it must have traction. Most Yoga instructors recommend traction on both sides, but it is vital to have it against the floor. The last thing you want is for the yoga mat to slide when you are holding a pose. If the traction is on both sides, you might find it easier to accomplish more difficult poses.

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There are a few other pieces of workout equipment that you might want to consider, depending on your exercise plan. One of the most important, and often least considered, are your workout clothes. While you don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money on high end exercise clothes, you do want your shirts, shorts or pants to be comfortable. Breathable fabrics are usually recommended, and you want your clothes to allow for plenty of movement without being too loose. You might also want to consider wearing clothes that can be easily layered, especially if your workouts often take you outside.

Another piece of exercise gear that is gaining in popularity, and can even be used in some advanced workout plans is a stability or balance ball. Designed to improve core strength and take your workouts to the next level, a stability ball can also help prevent injuries and be used as an aid if you are recovering from a preexisting condition.

If you are on a transformation workout plan or just want to increase the intensity a little, you might want to consider using resistance bands. This piece of fitness equipment is affordable, easy to use and extremely effective at toning and improving muscle strength. Resistance bands are also easily portable so you can work on toning your shoulders, arms and legs almost anywhere.

Boxes, jump ropes and weight sets are among some of the other pieces of equipment you might want to consider, but ultimately the machines and gear that you use will depend on your fitness goals and workout plan.

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