Working out at home doesn't have to mean you are limited to boring DVDs and a treadmill. The following list of workout gear can help spice up your home workout routine and make exercise fun again.
1. The TRX Suspension Band
TRX (total body resistance exercise) training is a non-weight bearing form of exercise that uses two suspended bands combined with body weight movements to produce an intense, highly effective workout. It is basically improved calisthenics, involving equipment.
These bands are easy to store and transport, making them perfect for those individuals who are on the go. They can be used at home or in a hotel room. This gives them a great advantage over hand weights.
2. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are wide elastic bands of varying thicknesses that are used to tone and strengthen muscles. Resistance bands have several advantages over traditional free-weights. The most important benefit is they provide continuous tension on the muscles being trained, resulting in faster toning.
When working with weights, your muscle loses tension at various points during the movement. This is because free-weights depend on gravity to provide resistance, which is only available on a vertical plane (the direction of gravity). Because of their nature, they also force you to maintain proper form in order to keep your body properly balanced during moves.
Resistance bands (such as Mini-Bands) are much easier to store and transport than a bulky set of weights. You can simply fold them up and drop them into your purse, gym bag or brief case. They are also much less costly than free-weights and are a great way to introduce yourself to the world of strength training without spending a lot of money right off the bat.
The Valslide is a unique exercise tool that was invented by elite Hollywood personal trainer, Valerie Waters. These effective tools are oval shaped pads that fit on your feet or hands, and have a slippery surface that allows you to glide across carpet without any resistance. They work in the same way as a slide board, but requires much less space and are portable.
Because Valslides force you to keep your muscles contracted during movements, you get a much more in-depth workout when performing even basic exercises. For example, when using Valslides and performing lunges, you must keep your working leg contracted and stable at all times to keep your foot from sliding out from under you.
There are several body weight exercises that you can perform with the Valslide, such as lateral lunges, reverse lunges, mountain climbers and supine leg curls that are made much more difficult and effective by using these handy gadgets. The increased difficulty produces much faster results in the same amount of time.
4. Yoga Mat
Yoga mats are thin, rubbery mats that are designed to be slightly sticky in order to keep your hands and feet from sliding out from under you when performing various yoga poses. Originally, they were only around 1/8” thick. However, because more and more people are using them for all floor exercises, you can now find varying thicknesses.
It is important to have a mat between your body and the floor when performing any floor based exercise. It not only helps to protect your lower back, but also helps increase stability when performing moves such as mountain climbers.
5. Exercise Ball
Exercise balls are used in various exercises such as pilates, weight lifting and yoga. However, in order to perform stability ball exercises correctly, you must choose the right size for your height. A simple way to determine if a ball is right for you is to sit upright on it, with your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should now be level with, or slightly lower than, your pelvis.
Quality is also important when choosing a stability ball. Make sure your ball is constructed of thick vinyl to prevent it from bursting while you are sitting on it. Many injuries have occurred from individuals hitting the floor when their cheap stability ball burst. This is where it pays to purchase a name brand item from a company who has a good reputation.
Dumbbells are an invaluable tool in a home gym. Because there are literally hundreds of exercises you can perform with them, they give your body a complete workout without having to perform the same exercises over and over. They add extra resistance to body-weight exercises, which is a great way to blast through a plateau.
If space is an issue, there a several brands of weights that are adjustable and take up roughly 3 square feet of floor space.
7. Medicine Ball
A medicine ball is a weighted ball made of leather, vinyl, nylon and various other materials. They are useful in improving strength and coordination, as well as intensifying moves to further enhance calorie burn and muscle toning. Common medicine ball exercises include crunches, lunges and squats.
This is an absolute staple in any home gym. Jump-ropes are inexpensive, extremely portable and burn a ton of calories.
Jumping rope not only tones the muscles in your legs and arms, but it also strengthens the heart while burning a lot of calories in a short period of time. When done properly, rope jumping puts less stress on the joints than jogging and is just as effective. It is also a fun activity for children, so the whole family can get in shape together.
9. Smart Watch
A smart watch, such as the Samsung Gear Fit, has the ability to track your heart rate, activities and even has a music player so you can listen to your favorite tunes while working out (as long as it is synced with your phone). Its touch-screen display makes it easy to use.
Because of its sleek design, it is much easier to wear and use than a traditional pedometer or heart rate monitor, which makes it useful during intense workouts.
10. Foam Roller
Foam rolling was once only used by professionals to help athletes loosen the tension in their muscles. Now, you can buy your own foam roller and get the same results in your own home.
A foam roller is basically a cylindrical piece of hardened foam that is rolled over the muscles. This helps to loosen knots in the muscle and keep you more flexible. Think of it as a way to give yourself a deep-tissue massage.
There are a wide variety of rollers, varying in density and color. The firmer the roller, the more intense the 'massage' will be. For those who workout at home, or who do not perform intense weight lifting, a softer roller will suffice. For those who run long distances or lift heavy weights, a more dense roller will be more useful.
FitBit is a unique little gadget that not only tracks your activity levels, it also tracks your sleep cycles. As you know, proper sleep is pertinent to losing weight and keeping your body functioning at optimal levels.
FitBit is available as a wireless wrist band or clip-on device that connects to your smart phone and displays your fitness goals. You are able to track your activities such as steps taken, stairs climbed, and distance walked. You can also track your calorie intake for the day to see if you are on track with your diet, and can even track how many hours of quality sleep your are getting per night.
FitBit even offers a scale that tracks your weight loss and BMI over time. This is invaluable to help you keep on track and see if you are making progress.