- 10 Best And Worst Cardio Machines
- 53 Best Bits of Home Gym Equipment To Invest In
- Best Home Gym Equipment: Weights
- Best Home Gym Equipment: Tech
- Best Home Gym Equipment: Kit
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- Best Home Gym Equipment: Machines
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- Best Home Gym Equipment: Recovery
- Best Low-Impact Exercise Equipment of 2020
- High Impact vs. Low Impact Exercise
- What is the difference between high impact, low impact, and no impact exercise?
- Why/when should you do High Impact Exercise?
- Why/when should you do Low Impact Exercise?
- What’s it like to shop at G&G Fitness Equipment?
- Best Home Exercise Equipment for Almost Everyone
- Weightlifting Equipment
- Bodyweight and Gymnastics Equipment
- Cardio Equipment
- Conditioning Equipment
10 Best And Worst Cardio Machines
Real talk: cardio isn’t very fun. Unless you’re one of those weirdo runners, most of us struggle to get through the 30 minutes we know we’re supposed to do.
The reality is, you can spend a lot less time and burn a lot more calories if you’re smart about which piece of equipment you use for your cardio training. So, instead of jumping on your usual elliptical machine, we’ve put together some better options for you.
These are our picks in order from best to worst pieces of cardio equipment based on effectiveness (most calories burned in the shortest amount of time, improved aerobic fitness); functionality (how well it crosses over to daily activities), and availability (likelihood of it being in your local gym).
- Effectiveness: A
- Functionality: A+
- Availability: A+
The OG is always the best bet. Unlike some of the other cardio equipment, the treadmill allows you to move the way your body is meant to move. And, it’s super easy to use —just press start and push the arrows to adjust the speed or grade! Even walking on an incline can be a bitch.
To get the most out of your time, unplug your headphones from the television, let go of the handles, and do some real work!
2. Stair Mill
- Effectiveness: A
- Functionality: A-
- Availability: A-
Every booty loves the stair mill. What could be more functional than walking up a never-ending flight of stairs? We suggest intervals for the best workout. Just try not to support too much of your upper body on the handles; you might feel like you’re still doing work, but your workout will be much less intense and you’ll burn fewer calories.
3. Rowing Machine
- Effectiveness: A+
- Functionality: B+
- Availability: B
Not every gym has a rowing machine, but we think this is one of the most effective ways to do cardio. It’s a full-body, big range-of-motion movement that can be hard as hell. Just 10 minutes of intervals on this bad boy will torch some major calories. But unless you’re a serious rower, it’s not necessarily a movement your body needs to be good at.
The biggest drawback to this machine is that poor technique can limit its effectiveness. Pulling that handle way above your head serves no other purpose than amusing onlookers.
- Effectiveness: A+
- Functionality: B
- Availability: B
If you’ve spent any time on an Airdyne bike, you know how shitty it can be. While this bike looks like it came straight from the ’80s and gets an F for appearance, we give it an A+ for the ass-kicking it delivers. The harder your pedal, the higher the wind resistance becomes.
We dare you to try intervals of pushing as hard as you can for 30 seconds and resting for 1 minute. Bonus points if you can keep your lunch from making a second appearance.
5. Spin Bike
- Effectiveness: A
- Functionality: B
- Availability: A
The spin bike has a little less oomph than the Airdyne, but it can be a really great choice for cardio. Do a long-distance session, some high-intensity intervals, or go to a spin class. New riders beware—sitting on the less-than-comfortable saddle for an extended period of time can lead to some awkward bruising the next morning.
6. Jacob’s Ladder
- Effectiveness: B+
- Functionality: B-
- Availability: C-
The most difficult part of getting a good workout on a Jacob’s ladder is feeling awkward on the machine. Once you get the pattern down, though, you can have yourself a fun, full-body workout. The downside to this never-ending ladder is that it’s not available in most commercial gyms.
- Effectiveness: B+
- Functionality: C
- Availability: D
Move over NordicTrack—there’s a new skier in town. The SkiErg, which kind of looks like a standing rowing machine, delivers one grueling upper-body workout. To get more of your lower body involved, try standing in a partial-squat position. If you can find a SkiErg, you can do some effective workouts that will get your heart rate up in no time.
However, the exercise has a really specific movement pattern that you’ll almost never do in real life—unless you’re training to make the roster for the 2018 Winter Olympics. We’ve heard there’s one spot left.
8. ARC Trainer
- Effectiveness: C
- Functionality: D
- Availability: B
We think the Arc Trainer a big ol’ pile of why. The machine makes your body move in an unnatural pattern and doesn’t fit tall or short people very well. If your knees are so bad that you can’t run or walk, then swim or bike.
- Effectiveness: D
- Functionality: F
- Availability: A
We’re putting the elliptical below the Arc trainer, because the Arc trainer offers more versatility. However, we have the same problems with the elliptical; it’s just unnatural and ineffective. Further, setting the resistance at a level any lower than a 10 is about as effective at burning calories as sitting on the couch.
The elliptical’s only plus side is that it’s a low-impact option. However, we think the bike or swimming are much more effective options if you’re limited by an injury.
10. Recumbent Bike
- Effectiveness: D
- Functionality: F
- Availability: B
With your upper body, torso, and even your butt at rest, the recumbent bike asks your body to do almost nothing but move your legs. If you’re looking for a chair to sit in while you read a book or catch up on your favorite Netflix episodes, this is your guy.
As staunch evidence-based haters, we think it’s only fair to share some of the information that helped us to make these decisions.
A study out of the Journal of American Medical Association compared several indoor exercise machines, (Airdyne, cross-country-skiing simulator, cycle ergometer, rowing ergometer, stair stepper, and treadmill), and found that walking or running on the treadmill had the highest rates of energy expenditure and aerobic demands compared to all other machines.
In fact, the researchers found energy expenditure to be 40 percent greater for treadmill walking and running compared with cycling. Furthermore, the treadmill and rowing ergometer were the only two pieces of equipment that elicited VO2-max values that met guidelines for enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness.
Supporting the previous findings, researchers out of Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland) conducted a similar study and found that that the treadmill, ski simulator, and rowing ergometer led to the greatest energy expenditure when compared to the cycle ergometer and health rider.
Get Your Cardio On
Now that you’re all educated, you can go out into the world and make some better cardio decisions! We encourage everyone to put our list to the test. Spend a week or so doing cardio on each of these machines and see which one you feel is the most effective. When you find that special someone, you’ll know it.
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Buying home gym equipment can seem like an investment, especially when there’s a myriad of gyms and classes out there that you could sign up to.
But, when the week rolls around again and it’s dark, you’re tired, the class you like is fully booked and the alternative one starts either too early or too late – the ability to break a sweat in your own home? Yeah, that sounds pretty priceless.
So, whether you’re getting sweaty in your living room or garage, smashing a HIIT, Pilates or or strength sesh – your home gym equipment makes it all possible. That and the coffee you just inhaled.
Okay, enough chat. Let’s build you an at home sweat-jungle. Scroll on!
53 Best Bits of Home Gym Equipment To Invest In
Broken down into tech, kit, exercise machines and recovery items, WH have you covered – bringing you nothing but the best to make the most of your home workouts.
Best Home Gym Equipment: Weights
JAXJOX Multi-Weight Kettlebell
This nifty space-saving multi-weight kettlebell works using a rotating weight-selection core that locks in and out of weighted plates. This means the kettle bell can add or drop weight in seconds, leaving you with six weight for the space for one.
Battery: Lasts up to 14 hours on a single charge
Jaxjox Multi Weight Kettlebell, £231.74
If you’re not wanting to splash out on a techy-kettlebell then these look smart and will do the job just fine, too.
Body Power 8kg Vinyl Coated Kettle Bell, £16.99
Strength Training Ball
Develop your balance, coordination and flexibility with this spherical gem.
Nike Strength Training Ball, £23.19, Tennisnuts.com
Create a Body Pump class, set to your own pace and feel the endorphins dlow.
Women’s Health 20kg Barbell Set, £34.99
Weighted Skipping Rope
They’re not just for the playground – trust us, you’ll raise your heart rate with this.
Outshock Skipping Rope, £12.99
Take your boxing even further and make every punch count.
Powergloves Weighted Workout Gloves, £8.50
Add these to your home gym equipment list for your weight training sessions.
Wellness Weights Dumbbells, £139
Work your legs that little bit harder. Your glutes will thank you for it.
Women’s Health Ankle Weights, £12.99
Full Weights Kit
No more fighting for the last one – pick the weights you want, when you want, with this full kit.
Body Power Rubber Hex Dumbells & Rack, £214.99
Comfortable to hold, there’s no excuse to leave them out of your circuit training anymore.
Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell 20lb, £44.99
Best Home Gym Equipment: Tech
Getting fit from home has quite literally never been easier thanks to the FIIT platform that has over 350+ classes able to be done from the comfort of your own living room. Our tip? Try and get onto the virtual class leaderboard – it’ll leave you on a smug endorphin high all day long.
FIIT TV, £20 per month, £45 per quarter, £120 per year
UE Wonderboom 2 Speaker
The UE Wonderboom 2 is dust-proof, drop-proof and can be dropped into water up to a meter deep for up to 30 minutes, which, for your home workouts – probably isn’t necessary. But, for blasting out tunes in your garage, garden or living room, it’s perfect Sweat on, people!
Battery: 13 hours
Sound: 360 degrees
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Waterproof Portable Speaker, £69.99
Phone Arm Band
Make your runs that bit easier, and keep your phone safe from the unpredictable British weather.
Nike Lean Arm Band, £18.00
A good workout deserves good headphones that are made for your ear, and will never fall out.
Snugs Custom-Fit Wireless Earphones, from £189.95
Sweatband meets music player – welcome to 2019.
Kitsound Bluetooth Sports Headband Headphones, £16.99
What’s a workout without your favourite songs spurring you on?
Beats Pill+ Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker, £149.99
Best Home Gym Equipment: Kit
These thick mats offer great grip for beginners and pros alike.
Women’s Health Yoga Mat, £19.99
This Women’s Health resistance band set is lightweight, portable and strong, and an all round great tool for general fitness.
Women’s Health Resistance Band Set, £14.99
This Women’s Health ball is perfect for mixing up your exercise routine, stretching and improving hand-eye coordination. Important.
Women’s Health Gym Ball, £12.99
Add to planks, push-ups and squats or use it in front of the computer to improve your posture.
Andrew James Workout Wobble Cushion, £10.99
Have fun hooping – it definitely counts as cardio.
The Ultimate Travel Hoop, from £31.95
Add the ladder to your HIIT training for the ultimate practice in control.
Amazon Basics Agility Ladder, £10.99
Use these small but powerful pads to work on your core, lower or upper body – or, if you’re feeling strong, all three.
CampTeck Gliding Discs, £5.29
Stick some ’80s music on and imagine you’re in Perfect.
Reebok Step, £69.99
Inversions made accessible with this helpful stool. Hello, headstands.
Feetup Headstand Yoga Stool Classic, £119
It looks bizarre, but the chute is equal to around 50lbs of resistance. Interested?
SKLZ Speed Chute, £32.99
Take the intensity up a notch with this bargain by Gym Master.
Gym Master Vibrating Board, £89.95
Ditch pricey classes and set up your own TRX haven in the comfort of your own home.
TRX Home 2 Suspension Trainer, £169.95
Get your stretch on with these fun and functional bands, at home or during your park workout.
Exercise Band, £3.99
Get a total body workout with the stepper that has so many functions you’ll never get bored.
Women’s Health 18 in 1 Aerobic Stepper, £49.99
Make like Gigi Hadid and start boxing your way to fitness.
Lonsdale Fitness Strike Bag, £51.99
Work on your strength, tone and burn fat with these small but powerful bands.
Powerbands Set MAX, £35.80
Who says gym bags can’t also be uber stylish? For more, read our guide to the best gym bags.
Grey Studio Bag, £140
Slip-free stretching, whether you’re a yogi or Pilates pro.
Sweaty Betty Pilates Socks, £12
Stainless steel, sustainable and chic? We’ll take two.
Stay Sixty Sustainable Sports Bottle, £35
If you want to carve abs with one piece of equipment, it’s this one.
Viavito Ab Exercise Wheel, £8.99
Pull Up Bar
Beat your pull-up PB in no time with this pull-up bar.
Domyos 900 Pull-Up Weight Training Bar, £39.99
When you’ve done an intense workout, you need the best lighting for your post-workout skincare routine.
Marilyn Hollywood Mirror, £299
Push Up Bars
Improve your stability and hit target areas effectively with a little raised help.
CampTeck Push Up Bars, £7.59
Create your own Clubbercise class from the comfort of your living room. Glow sticks optional.
Domyos Essential 100 Trampoline, £29.99
These old-school favourites can lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Opti Hand Grip, £7.99
Wearable posture coach
Stop slouching instantly with this clever bit of tech that promises to improve your posture whether you’re at the office or commuting.
Upright Go, £84.99
Best Home Gym Equipment: Machines
Grow your glutes with a little help. You’ll definitely feel the burn.
Squat Magic, £39.99
If you can’t face the winter drizzle, go for a long run indoors instead.
Life Fitness F3 Folding Treadmill, £2495
If you’re feeling like you want to step up your at-home exercise game to an actual virtual in-studio ride, then luxury exercise bike company, Peloton, could have the key. The bike gives you a virtual in-studio experience with live rides you can tap into and on-demand classes, 247/. 3am ride anyone?
Peloton Bike Basic Package, £1,990
This circular piece of home gym equipment promises to increase endurance and build core strength. The name doesn’t lie.
The Burn Machine, £85
Take your indoor cycling to the next level with a gym-worthy Wattbike.
Wattbike Atom, £1,599
Decathlon strikes again with this swing stepper you can use in front of the telly.
Domyos MS500 Stepper, £39.99
Forget the weights room, and bring the strength training home.
Kettler Axos Fitmaster Multigym, £349
Activate your muscle groups and stretch further with this amazing piece of home gym equipment.
AeroPilates Performer 4272, £299
Best Home Gym Equipment: Recovery
Foam Yoga Block
Sometimes, you just need a helping hand to execute your fave yoga pose correctly. That’s totally okay, it’s just where you’re at in your practice. Use this Sweaty Betty block to extend your reach and nail half moon pose. C’mon then!
Sweaty Betty Yoga Foam Block, £10
Get rid of aches and pains with this one. It hurt so good.
Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller, from £31.49
These might be small, but they will ease the ache when the inevitable DOMS kicks in.
Performance massage ball, £7.99
This block will be your best friend when it comes to those hard-to-get-into poses.
Women’s Health Yoga Block, £5.99
Because you’ll want to feel comfy and cool straight after.
Dsquared2 Icon Slogan Sweatshirt, £220
Personal Care Kit
Keep all your must-have products in one place and save yourself a load of time.
Secret Training STRIP Race Day Personal Care Kit, £37.50
Reset your energy with this calming aromatherapeutic oil.
Isla Apothecary Reset Ritual Pulse Point Therapy, £12
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Best Low-Impact Exercise Equipment of 2020
Though these machines aren’t typically thought of as low impact, if walking is your preferred workout, you can’t beat a good treadmill. While basic models may go no more than six miles per hour and include only a few incline choices, that’s all you need if walking is your goal.
For low-impact workouts, you probably don’t need more than a 2.0 continuous power motor. You can increase the intensity by upping the treadmill’s speed and incline but doing so might give your workout more impact than you want.
Today’s treadmills have features that can keep you cool, comfortable, and entertained. Here are a few worth considering:
- Fans: A fan built into the treadmill’s control panel blows directly on your face for more comfort while you walk.
- Speakers and USB Ports: Speakers pump up the volume more than your smartphone can, and USB ports let you watch your favorite shows or sync your phone while you exercise.
- Foldability: Treadmills take up serious floor space. Models that fold have a smaller footprint when not in use, and some slide underneath your bed. However, foldable models may not have the extra features or speeds of a traditional treadmill.
- Heart Rate Monitors: Heart rate monitors on the handles let you keep track of your workout intensity.
- Display: A basic display may only show your distance, speed, and time elapsed. A display with all the bells and whistles may also show steps, incline, and heart rate. A few high-end models have touchscreen displays for easier use.
- Preset Programs: If you like to change things up, pre-programmed workouts challenge your muscles in different ways. They are an excellent way to keep your muscles guessing.
Once reserved for gyms, ellipticals are now a common household exercise machine because they offer a low-impact, total-body workout. An elliptical’s flywheel is either at the front, back, or center of the machine. Front-drive ellipticals are compact, rear-drive machines are easy to maintain, and center-drive ellipticals have the best stability.
If you’re looking to shake things up, you might want a hybrid elliptical. It transforms from an elliptical to a recumbent bike. And a little versatility helps keep exercise interesting.
A few extras you might find on elliptical machines include:
- Variable Stride Length: If users of different heights will work out on the elliptical, a model with variable stride length will provide everyone with a better workout. Though a variable stride length adds to the cost of the machine, it will make it far more usable.
- Size: Measure your space before you decide on a model. Ellipticals with a compact front or center flywheel take up less space. There are foldable models, but they tend to have poor construction quality and lack extra features.
- Preset Programs: Like treadmills, some ellipticals come with preset workouts. The more programs that are included, the higher the price, but preset workouts will challenge your muscles and let you easily change up your routine.
- Speakers and USB Ports: Built-in speakers produce better sound than your smartphone. USB ports mean you’ll have a wide array of entertainment options while you work out.
- Heart Rate Monitors: Heart rate monitors are usually on the handlebars and let you keep track of your workout intensity.
Rowing machines provide a serious workout. They target the biceps, lats, and abs, not to mention the quads, glutes, and calves. It’s an intense total-body workout. Best of all, there’s little pressure on the knees and ankles, keeping it low impact.
Rowing machines are categorized by the type of resistance they offer: water, magnetic, air or flywheel, or hydraulic resistance. Of these four options, water and flywheel rowing machines deliver a workout that’s most similar to actually rowing.
Rowing machines are fairly basic, but you’ll still need to consider:
- Size and Foldability: There’s no getting around it: exercise machines take up a lot of space. If there’s a shortage of square footage in your home gym, a foldable rowing machine is probably right for you. However, keep in mind that fixed models have better durability.
- Design: Rowing machines with contoured seats and handlebars with rubberized grips are easier to use. Adjustable footrests with straps let multiple users of different heights comfortably row.
- Resistance Type: Magnetic resistance is smooth and quiet, making it a good choice for first-time rowers, while air and water resistance are ideal for training for a rowing competition. Hydraulic resistance doesn’t mimic outdoor rowing, but it does provide a substantial full-body workout. Rowing machines with adjustable resistance are best for multi-user families.
- Monitor/Console: Not all rowing machines have a monitor or console. However, those that do track stats like your speed, time, distance, strokes, and calories burned.
Recumbent Exercise Bikes
Recumbent exercise bikes take the pressure off your knees, ankles, and back. They’re also a great way to do some hands-free exercise, so you can read a book, your smartphone, or tablet while you work out.
With recumbent exercise bikes, consider these features:
- Seat: The seat can make all the difference in your comfort. Thick padding and good ventilation are the important factors, while adjustability will determine the versatility of the bike. The more adjustments the seat has, the more users can ride comfortably.
- Handles, Armrests, or Hand Pedals: Recumbent bikes often have handles or armrests next to the seat rather than in front. A few models have hand pedals for a full-body workout.
- Preset Programs: Hills, random, speed: the more programs, the higher the price but also the more options you have to keep boredom at bay.
- Heart Rate Monitors: Usually found on the handles, heart rate monitors help you track your workout intensity.
- Fans, Cup Holders, and Speakers: These convenient features won’t make you more fit, but they can certainly provide a more enjoyable ride.
- Display: An easy-to-read display is a must. You can often track speed, distance, time, revolutions per minute, calories burned, and your heart rate.
High Impact vs. Low Impact Exercise
What is the difference between high impact, low impact, and no impact exercise?
When done properly, both high and low impact types of exercise are excellent for helping you get your body into shape. In this case, “impact” refers to the action of one object coming into contact with the other—on the body. High impact workouts come into contact with the floor, equipment, etc. harder and more often. Low impact workouts come into contact with very little. There are also “no impact” activities, like swimming, that may not come into contact at all.
Exercise can be broken down into two main categories: high impact and low impact. Which one is better? Generally speaking, the question is not what will make you the fittest—in fact, a combination of both high and low impact movement is often best—but what is most appropriate for you. To determine the answer, let’s look at the differences between the two types of exercise:
High Impact: Faster Results, Harder on the Body
High impact workouts are defined as those that move both feet off the ground at the same time. Examples include cross training—such as jumping off plyo boxes or doing burpees—running, jumping jacks, or knee-highs. Popular high intensity training programs include CrossFit, Insanity, and P90X.
Low Impact: Slower Results, Easier on the Body
Low impact workouts are the ones that require you to leave at least one foot off the ground. Examples include cycling, cardio on the elliptical machine, hiking, yoga, Pilates, and dancing. Because there is less impact, these exercises tend to be gentler on the joints and muscles.
Why/when should you do High Impact Exercise?
You Want to Lose Weight Quickly — High impact activities inherently require more energy, and therefore calories, to be burned. Think of high impact as the most “bang for the buck” when it comes to exercise. You’ll be able to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, so it’s ideal for those aiming for fast weight loss.
You Want a Tougher Challenge —In general, high impact activities tend to be more intense, so they’re not for the faint of heart and often aren’t the best choice for beginners. However, if your goal is to condition your body to be in the best possible shape—and you aren’t afraid to push really hard to get there—then going high impact may help you get better results in a shorter time period.
You’re Training for Competition — Whether it is a boxing match, a marathon, or a fitness competition, high intensity exercises will help ready you for the big match-up. The fact is that these exercises are all-around more efficient, so they’re generally better for any application where there’s a deadline.
You want to Improve Bone Density — Studies show that, though it sounds counter-intuitive, high impact activity is good for your bones. In fact, scientists have found that regularly subjecting the bones to abrupt stress helps them grow and strengthen. If you’re older and not at risk of injury or simply want to boost your bone density, then signing up for some high impact exercises is a great idea.
You’re at a Low Risk for Injury — High impact exercise is generally harder on the body and is more likely to cause orthopedic injury. The harder, more consistent impact effectively puts more strain on the body’s joints, muscles, and tendons, so this type of exercise is generally not recommended for anyone who’s at a higher injury risk. This includes the elderly, pregnant women, and those with certain bone disorders.
Why/when should you do Low Impact Exercise?
You’re Injured and Recovering — If you’re trying to stay off of a particular joint or muscle that has been troublesome for you in the past, it’s best to keep things low impact. This is especially true if you have suffered from an orthopedic injury in the past or have undergone a joint replacement surgery. Keeping the impact low will help you recover faster so you can get back to high impact activity with time.
You prefer to Go Easy on the Joints — If you’ve ever come away from the treadmill or trail with sore joints, you may be putting too much stress on your body. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should cut out the high impact training altogether, but that you should pepper in more low impact exercises to give your joints a break.
To Improve Alignment and Balance — Often, low impact workouts focus more on strength, stretching, balance, and alignment than burning calories and building power. Low impact exercises, such as Pilates and yoga, can do wonders for improving your balance and alignment.
To Take a Break from Cardio — Just because it’s low impact doesn’t mean it’s easy. You can still get your heart rate up and enjoy big calorie burns without going high impact. Consider intense low impact exercises, like boxing with a trainer, rowing, or strength training. It’s not a bad idea to change things up from regular high impact cardio to intense low impact exercise every so often.
Your Best Bet? Ask a Professional
By and large, all physical activity is good physical activity, so long as it’s done properly and it doesn’t subject your body to needless stress. When designing your personal workout regimen, it’s always a good idea to speak with a professional, such as a coach, a trainer, or your physician. He or she will be able to advise you on which type of movement is best for you based on your unique fitness goals and your medical history. Remember that exercise is not a one-size-fits-all game, and individual consideration must be taken from one athlete to the next.
What’s it like to shop at G&G Fitness Equipment?
For more tips on achieving your fitness goals, we recommend these articles: Spring Into Fitnes: Renew Your Fitness Goals, Get Fit in the Gym, Lose Weight in the Kitchen, HIIT Training: From Fad to Fact, It’s Not About Getting Skinny, Top Ten Reasons to Try Indoor Rowing, How to Choose a Personal Trainer.
If you’re ready to take the next steps in your fitness journey, contact the experts at G&G Fitness Equipment today, use the chat feature on the bottom right of this window to connect live with a G&G expert, or stop into a G&G Fitness Equipment showroom and let us show you why we are the best specialty fitness equipment retailer in the northeast.
Albert Guardado Jr. is a retired boxer and current Product Support Supervisor for combat Brands. Albert oversees the product portfolio for all three branches of Combat Brands. He was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team (Atlanta, GA) and former member of USA Boxing’s Board of Directors. Albert is a three-time USA Boxing National Champion, as well as the 1992 National P.A.L. Champion. He also medaled in the 1993 World Championships, 1994 Goodwill Games and 1995 Pan-American Games. Albert continues to share his extensive boxing knowledge by coaching, blogging and assisting with tournament administration at events supported by Combat Brands.
Every one of us desires a great body composition with just the right proportions of fat, weight, and lean tissue. Toning can be a challenging endeavor even for seasoned exercise enthusiasts. However, with the right exercise program and equipment, you can effectively eliminate fat and enhance your muscle tissue, which is the essence of toning. The equipment you choose for resistance training should focus on building large muscles through multiple joint movements.
Here are the best exercise equipment for toning:
1. Rowing Exercise Machines
A rowing exercise machine engages your rhomboids (the muscles under your shoulder blades), posterior deltoids (the back shoulder), latissimus dorsi (lower side), and biceps (the front part of your arms). When working out, sit with your hips lying at a right angle with your torso – the torso should be totally erect. Place the feet on the provided platform for support and grab the straight bar ensuring your palms are facing down. Now, pull the scapulae towards you as you flex your elbows. As the bar comes inwards, pull the shoulder blades (scapulae) together, and when the shoulder blades are completely retracted, hold for a second. Bring the bar forward to straighten your arms and repeat the same movement severally.
2. Elliptical Machines
Elliptical machines are great platforms for burning calories, which is key to weight loss. They are weight-bearing and provide lower body and upper body movement combinations hence maximizing fat burning. You can perform this cardio five or six times a week, with sessions of 30 t0 40 minutes every day. The exercise intensity is not as critical as the duration. Go for intensity levels of about 70-75 percent of your maximum heart rate.
3. A Treadmill
Running is a great way to work out every muscle in your body. If you can afford it, getting a treadmill in your home gym will allow you to easily cover your three miles every day regardless of the outdoor weather conditions. Even though it’s nice to buy a top-tier equipment, you can still get some affordable treadmills on the market and enjoy the full body workout.
4. An Indoor Air Bike
There are several indoor exercise bikes on the market, but air bikes provide some unique features that make them great for toning. First, you’re the one who creates resistance, so the harder you pedal, the more the fan will push back. This is great since you can change resistance to suit your pace. Again, unlike traditional bikes, you’ll be pulling and pushing with your arms as you move, providing an upper body workout as well.
Weight loss and toning are the top priorities on everyone’s fitness wish list. To achieve that, you need to focus on a balanced diet and an intensive training program backed by great gym equipment. These exercise equipment will offer you great results for your toning program.
Best Home Exercise Equipment for Almost Everyone
So, you’re looking to get your sweat on at home? Good for you – you’ve made a great choice! Decades worth of scientific research shows, without a shred of doubt, that regular exercise is incredibly good for your health – both physical and mental. And here’s the thing: You don’t need to spend a dime to be able to reap those health benefits. Some open floor space and a good deal of motivation is all you need to do high quality workouts that’ll get you very fit and strong, and looking damn good too!
That said, investing wisely in good quality home exercise equipment will help you accelerate your physical development. Also, if you have goals that you want to reach, such as improving your performance in a certain sport, or building the strength needed to effectively perform a particular job, then specific equipment will be necessary.
Here at The Home Fit Freak, we know a thing or two about good quality home exercise equipment. That’s why we’ve put together this article on the best home exercise equipment to help almost anyone get to where they want to be in terms of their health and fitness.
We’ll get this out of the way immediately: In this specific article, when we talk about ‘weightlifting’ we’re not talking about Olympic Weightlifting, but rather ‘lifting weights’ more generally. This includes lifting free weights and using machines.
Weightlifting is not the only effective form of strength training, but it is definitely the most effective form. Strength training has received a lot attention in the scientific community in the last few decades. This is primarily because research has found that developing muscular strength through resistance training has a huge range of health benefits. For example, it’s been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer, improve bone density and strength, and increase overall aerobic capacity. Plus, you can’t achieve that great athletic body shape without building some muscle. For these reasons, good weightlifting equipment is worth its weight in gold.
Barbells, and the exercises we do with them (e.g., the back squat, deadlift), are by far the most versatile and effective weightlifting / strength training equipment humans have invented. The extensive range of exercises that can be completed with a barbell allows you to pack on muscle and develop a good deal of both general and specific strength.
Check out our extensive guide to best barbells and barbell sets currently available.
There are two types of barbell:
- Standard barbells
- Olympic Barbells
Everything you buy with and for your barbell will depend on which type you choose.
Despite their name, standard barbells are anything but standard. Depending on the manufacturer, standard bars can vary greatly in their length, diameter and weight. For this reason, they aren’t made for people that are really serious about lifting weights. They’re not used in competitions, and aren’t suitable for accurately assessing your strength progression.
Standard barbells are significantly cheaper and easier to maintain than Olympic barbells, and reasonable quality ones are generally more accessible.
If you’re just looking to add some muscle and / or strength building exercises to your workouts, or you want to do weighted cardio programs / exercises like bodypump or RIP, then a standard barbell will be more than adequate. York barbell offer good quality standard barbells and weight plates at a reasonable price – check them out on Amazon.
If you want to do more serious strength training, then look at getting a good quality Olympic barbell.
Olympic bars are in a whole other league when compared to standard barbells, and are necessary for serious weightlifting. If you’re looking to get into Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, or even serious CrossFit, then you’re going to need a good Olympic barbell.
They are used in competition, and are suitable for accurately assessing your strength progression, which is why Olympic barbells are made to strict specifications in terms of length, weight, diameter and tensile strength (depending on their specific purpose).
A full rundown of what makes up an Olympic bar is beyond the scope of this article, but is covered in our extensive guide: The Best Barbells, Barbell Sets, and Buyer’s Guide. The primary difference, however, between the two types of barbell is in the sleeve (the part of the bar that you load weight plates onto). Olympic barbells have a rotating sleeve, with a 2″ diameter, while standard barbells have a fixed sleeve with a ~1″ diameter. The Olympic bar’s rotating sleeve minimizes the rotational forces on your wrist, and allows you to lift significantly heavier loads.
While good Olympic barbells are significantly more expensive than standard barbells ($200 – $400 for a good all-purpose bar), they’re also much better quality and will last forever if you give them a bit of TLC. As mentioned above, if you’re planning to get into any of the lifting sports, or are just looking to get into more serious strength training, then an Olympic bar is well worth the money.
The Rogue Bar 2.0 from Rogue Fitness is an exceptional all-purpose barbell.
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If you want to utilize your barbell to best effect, then we also recommend picking up a power rack (also known as a power cage) or squat rack (also known as a squat stand). This is because a good rack will allow you to safely do all of the main compound lifts, namely the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press, without the need for a training partner to spot you. In fact, if you want to do any of these exercises with significant weight, at home, and with minimal risk of serious injury, then a rack is an absolute must.
Many racks also have pull up bars and other bodyweight attachments, meaning you can integrate the core calisthenics exercises (e.g., pull ups and dips) with traditional strength training in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Power racks are the more serious of the two main options. They’re comprised of four upright posts that create a square or rectangular working area in which to do your lifting. Holes run the length of each upright at 1″ – 3″ spacing (depending on the power rack) into which ‘safeties’ are attached between the front and back. There are various types of safeties, but the ‘pin & pipe’ variation are the most common, and it’s these that allow for safe lifting of heavy weights at home by preventing your barbell from crushing you if you’re unable to complete a repetition and rack your barbell.
If you have the cash and the room in your home gym, then definitely go with a good power rack. The Rogue R-3 Power Rack is hands down the best quality power rack for home use on the market. It’s also very expensive and needs to be bolted to the floor for stability. If you want a more affordable and versatile rack that doesn’t need to be bolted down, then check out Rep Fitness’ PR-3000 Power Rack.
If you’re short on space in your home gym, and / or you don’t want to part with too much of your hard-earned money, then a good squat rack might be a more suitable option.
Squat racks only have two uprights, meaning the working area is all of the open space in front of them. This reduces the total area required in your home gym (though technically the footprint is often fairly close to that of a power rack), but also reduces their stability. Like a power rack, the uprights have holes drilled or pressed into them into which various attachments are placed. The main squat rack attachments are J-cups (what you rack your barbell on), and safety spotter arms, which provide the fail safe if and when you need to bail on a heavy lift.
Like most power racks, many squat racks also have a pull up bar as standard, and accept other bodyweight attachments like dip bars. While many good squat racks can be bolted to the floor if you wish, most do not require it (unlike most power racks).
All-in-all, a good squat rack is an extremely useful and versatile strength training tool. What it sacrifices in stability, it makes up for in space-saving functionality and general affordability. If you’re looking to do good quality barbell training, but you’re not going to be really pushing the limits of your strength (and so won’t be bailing on lifts), then a good squat rack is a sound investment. Rogue’s SML-Series of squat racks are the best there is. Rep Fitness’ V2 Squat Rack with Pullup Bar is a solid, feature-packed alternative.
Want the full run down on racks? Best Power Racks Best Squat Racks and Stands
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Generally speaking, weightlifting machines refer to resistance training apparatuses that employ cables and pulleys to lift stacks of weights – also known as cable weight machines. Of course, there are other types, such as hydraulic and pneumatic weightlifting machines, as well as the ever controversial Smith Machine. We’re going to limit our recommendation to cable weight machines, as these are the most common, easily accessible, and most functional as far as home exercise equipment is concerned.
Easily the best machines for weightlifting at home are home gyms (also known as multi gyms). This is for a number of key reasons:
- They’re versatile: You can build muscle and strength throughout the entire body with this single piece of equipment.
- They’re very effective: By isolating muscles and muscle groups, home gyms can help build muscle and strength quickly.
- They’re space-efficient: Depending on the particular home gym, they can take up relatively little space.
The current market and cable weight technology is such that, no matter your needs or budget, there is almost certainly a good quality and affordable home gym available to you. We’ve previously looked at the 6 best home gyms, and provided a detailed run down of the best machines at varying price points – make sure you check out that article if you’re seriously considering picking up a multi gym.
Before we close out the weightlifting equipment section, we’ll address some common debate around lifting with free weights (e.g., a barbell) vs using machines. There are plenty of people in the strength training community who strongly advocate weightlifting with free weights only, and dismiss the use of machines as ineffective. It’s often suggested that free weights produce greater muscle activation because they require stabilization of the body, whereas machines don’t. Theoretically, the greater muscle activation leads to greater strength development. This argument, however, is not supported by scientific research.
Numerous studies (such as this one), have found little or no difference in strength development when training with machines vs free weight training. Moreover, the training principle known as specificity suggests that strength development is highly specific to the training methods used. Finally, if the goal of your strength training is to build muscle, rather than functional strength, then it matters not whether you use free weights or machines – both will increase the size of your muscles.
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Bodyweight and Gymnastics Equipment
Almost any endeavour in life worth completing requires hard work and inevitably comes with frustration, and training using your bodyweight is no exception. But, those who’ve done dedicated bodyweight (aka calisthenics) or gymnastics training know just how rewarding it can be. The capacity for human movement is truly extraordinary, and the potential for the human body to defy gravity borders on the phenomenal. The skills that can be learned through proper calisthenics and gymnastics training make navigating through everyday life easier. Plus, they look damn cool.
Even if you’re not looking to be able to do complex and visually appealing gymnastics manoeuvres, you can still make impressive gains in strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and overall health and fitness using just your bodyweight as the training stimulus.
And, the reality is that you need very little to get started, which makes bodyweight and gymnastics training perfect for the home exerciser. Indeed, minimal space and equipment is required to complete beginner through advanced bodyweight training routines. There are, however, key pieces of equipment that will maximize the effectiveness of this type of training. Most are inexpensive and won’t take up much room in your home gym. We go through them below, separating them into those that require a stable surface and those that utilize an unstable surface.
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Bodyweight training using a stable surface means that you or the piece of equipment you’re using is in contact with a solid, immovable surface (i.e., the ground). There’s nothing special or unique about this – it’s generally how things work in everyday life. It simply means that your muscles don’t have to do any work to stabilize your equipment before you can complete safe and functional exercises. The importance of this will become apparent when we discuss training with an unstable surface.
Pull ups and dips are two of the foundational exercises in bodyweight and gymnastics training and, in our opinion, these compound exercises are equal to the squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press in building functional strength and ability in the upper body. They’re also principle exercises in progressions to more advanced techniques such as muscle ups and planches. Generally speaking, pull up bars and dip bars are the most common pieces of equipment that utilize a stable surface, and if you’re at all serious about training at home, then you need access to both.
If possible, you’ll want to get yourself a wall- or ceiling-mounted pull up and / or dip bar. They’re the most stable and safe options, and will allow you to do advanced progressions and weighted exercises (e.g., using a dip belt). The Ceiling/Wall Pull Up Bar System and OneFitWonder Wall-Mount Dip Bar, both from Fringe Sport, are excellent options at great price points.
Want a more detailed rundown of the best pull up and dip bars? Best Pull Up Bars for Home Workouts Best Dip Bars for Home Workouts
If you have a decent amount of space in your home gym, and some extra cash to spend on your bodyweight training, then a power tower is a good, versatile piece of equipment.
At a minimum, power towers combine a pull up bar and dip bar into a single free-standing apparatus. Many towers also include vertical knee raise stations, push up platforms, and even plyometric boxes. The main advantage here, is obviously that the single piece of equipment will cover your bases as far as core bodyweight exercises are concerned. Overall, they’re great for developing strength and control through the core and upper body. Power towers also have some drawbacks.
Aside from taking up more space than most other equipment and being relatively expensive (especially for higher end models), a couple of the key pitfalls are:
- They can lack stability, and may wobble a bit during use. This will largely depend on the quality and weight of the power tower you go with.
- They’re often not suitable for advanced bodyweight techniques like muscle ups or front levers
If money isn’t an issue, and you just want an overall great power tower, then check out the Xmark XM-7617 Power Tower. If money is more of an issue, then the Bowflex Body Tower may be a better option for you.
Make sure to read through our article on the best power towers in 2018 for a complete rundown on the top options currently on the market.
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Bodyweight or gymnastics training on an unstable surface is exactly as it sounds – exercises are done on a surface or piece of equipment that is unstable and can move through one or more planes of movement. Balance boards, hemispheric balls (e.g., BOSU balls), and stability balls are all common examples of equipment that provide an unstable training surface.
It’s been suggested that training on unstable surfaces places greater stress on the neuromuscular system than training on stable surfaces, and can produce significant improvements in strength, power, balance, and core stability, as well as increase the strength of joints and reduce injuries in the lower body. Scientific research has found partial support for these claims. We’re not going to go into that research here, but you can find some great info in this study and this meta-analysis, as well as the articles linked earlier.
Aside from stability balls for core strengthening work and injury rehabilitation, we don’t see a huge mount of value in most instability training equipment. The exception to this is gymnastics rings.
Ring training is an incredibly effective form of calisthenics, especially for developing muscular strength, power, and endurance in the upper body and core. Moreover, dedicated training with a good set of gymnastics rings will help you develop considerable bodily control and coordination, as well as very impressive skills. Broadly, the benefits of grabbing a pair of gymnastics rings as a key piece of home exercise equipment can be organised into 3 categories:
- Effectiveness: Rings develop strength and muscle mass quickly. It’s also easy to make changes to the exercises you performa and ensure well-balanced development.
- Convenience: They’re perfect for home workouts, because they’re quick and easy to set-up in lots of different places. All you need is an overhead anchor, and a bit of room to move and you’re good to go.
- Awesomeness: The skills you can develop through ring training are pretty freaking awesome. It’ll take a good deal of dedication, discipline and hard work, but the pay off is huge.
There are a few different things to consider before picking up a pair of gymnastics rings, so have a read through our review of the 7 best gymnastics rings to help you make the best choice for you.
Generally speaking though, Rep Fitness’ wood rings are great quality and very affordable.
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A workout routine simply cannot be well-balanced without including at least some cardio. Cardio is the form of physical activity most strongly linked to positive health outcomes, and reduced risk of chronic disease. And it’s true, you certainly don’t need special equipment in order to incorporate good quality cardio into your workouts. Going for a jog outside, or playing a sport like soccer or basketball are excellent options.
There are, however, times and situations when these things aren’t practical or safe – such as when it’s very hot or cold outside, or after dark (in some parts of the country / world). In these instances, having a good cardio machine in your home gym is perfect. Therefore, no good article on great home exercise equipment is complete without a discussion on, and recommendations for, cardio equipment.
In our view, simple is best here – either a treadmill or an exercise bike is all that’s needed. Running and cycling are two of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise, and require little to no skill or training to complete. This means that pretty much anyone can gain the same benefits from these simple exercises. You could look into a machine that provides something a bit different, such as an elliptical or rowing machine, however these are usually significantly more expensive and take up more space than either a treadmill or exercise bike, and provide no additional benefit.
If you enjoy running, and don’t experience any serious problems in the the joints of your legs, hips or lower back, then a treadmill is a good option. The Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill is a good, low-cost folding treadmill that’s easy to set-up and use. Its a good choice if you’re just looking to add some uncomplicated walking or jogging into your home workouts.
If you’re looking for something more feature-packed, then check out the LifeSpan TR1200i Treadmill. It’s more expensive, but also better quality and more suitable for longer-duration, higher-intensity running.
Running is a high-impact exercise, and for some people it can take it’s toll on their joints, especially the knees and ankles. Cycling is an excellent low-impact alternative – if you suffer from joint problems, or just want to reduce the strain on your body then a good exercise bike is perfect. The most common type of exercise bike is the upright bike. There’s a huge amount of variation in upright exercise bikes; you can get a basic one that’s suitable for some standard exercise, or a top of the line bike that closely replicates the feeling of actual cycling.
The Schwinn 170 Upright Bike is the best option if you want a reasonably priced upright bike that’ll do it’s job without fuss.
The Concept2 Bike Erg is the best there is if you want a top-end stationary bike.
Our recent article, The Best Upright Exercise Bikes for Almost Anyone has a lot more detail and recommendations.
There are some less common alternative options in exercise bikes too. Air bikes are a great alternative for people who want to crank up the intensity by adding in some upper body work. They use air resistance and provide a cardio challenge like no other.
They’re known as “Satan’s Tricycle” for good reason – if you’re not used to them, then a few minutes on an air bike will have you questioning how you could ever think you were in any kind of shape to begin with. If you’re looking to explore this option further, we’ve previously reviewed The 6 Best Air Bikes.
Upright bikes, including air bikes, have a couple of key drawbacks: They can exacerbate back pain, place strain on the neck, and put pressure on the ischial tuberosities (known as the “sitting bones”). These problems can affect anyone, but tend to be the most concerning for seniors and older adults. Recumbent exercise bikes address these problems. They have a bucket seat and forward facing pedals, which allows for a more natural seated position, and are much kinder on the hips, back and neck. If you find upright bikes uncomfortable, consider a recumbent variation: The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is the top-of-the-line recumbent bike, and good option if want something that’s high quality with a ton of features.
At the other end of the recumbent bike range is the Fitness Reality R4000 Magnetic Tension Recumbent Bike. It’s simple, inexpensive and effective, and perfect if you want to do some comfortable, strain-free cardio without breaking the bank.
If you’re seriously considering picking up a good treadmill or exercise bike, or in fact any heavy piece of exercise equipment, then ensure you have the appropriate flooring for your home gym. You don’t have to sacrifice your floors for your health and fitness.
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Conditioning refers to exercises that aim to simultaneously build cardiovascular and muscle endurance, as well as muscular strength. Its primary purpose is to improve the capacity of the body’s different energy systems (e.g., aerobic, anaerobic, etc.) by employing real-life motions and developing specific skills. Strict conditioning programs are generally used by athletes to help ensure they’re able to perform their chosen sport at their maximum for as long as possible. As such, conditioning exercises tend to be gruelling.
Sounds complicated, right? Well, it can be. If you’re not trying maximize your performance for competition in a particular sport, then you don’t really need conditioning. That said, general conditioning is a thing, and training your different energy systems has the same benefits for your overall health and fitness as some of the more ‘regular’ forms of exercise discussed above.
In reality, conditioning isn’t necessarily distinct from the forms of exercise above – it’s just a unique way of completing them. High intensity interval training (HIIT), for example, is a form of cardio conditioning that aims to increase the capacity of the anaerobic energy system and power output of relevant muscles by doing repeated short bursts of very high intensity activity (e.g., running or cycling sprints). Some people find this kind of training less boring or tedious than continuous moderate intensity cardio, like jogging, and therefore more effective for keeping fit or losing weight.
So, we’ve gone a long way to make a short point: You can use any of the equipment above for conditioning, you don’t need anything special. However, there are a few kinds of relatively inexpensive equipment that allow for particularly effective conditioning exercises.
We’re being a bit naughty here by lumping two very different kinds of rope in together: Speed ropes and battle ropes. But, while they’re quite different equipment, they can both be used to equally great effect.
The speed rope (or jump rope) is a traditional training tool that has stood the test of time. As far as conditioning is concerned, jumping rope is extremely valuable because you can transition between high-intensity anaerobic work and more moderate-intensity aerobic conditioning without stopping.
Moreover, speed ropes help condition the kind of lightness-on-the-feet that benefits many sports, such as boxing and other combat sports. Jumping rope has also been shown in numerous studies to help build general balance and coordination. If you want a light, fast and durable speed rope, then check out The Rogue SR-2 Ballistic Speed Rope 2.0. For something more moderate in price and performance, Rep Fitness’ Speed Cable Jump Rope. If you’re after more detailed info, then have a read of our article on The Best Speed Ropes.
Battle ropes are increasingly popular training equipment as they provide an efficient and extremely vigorous workout, especially for the upper body. Battle rope training has been shown to effectively condition aerobic capacity, muscular endurance and power, and even help to improve the shooting accuracy of collegiate basketball players.
Battle ropes, while somewhat cumbersome, are also versatile. If you don’t mind lugging them around, then they can be set up virtually anywhere with a ground-based anchor, like a post or tree. For this reason, they’re a great addition to anyone’s home exercise equipment arsenal. We’ve previously looked at the best battle ropes on the market, so check out that article if you want a detailed breakdown of the best battle rope options currently available to you. If you want to skip that, then our top recommendation is the Rep Fitness v2 Color Battle Rope. They’re nice and cheap, good quality and, in our opinion, the hands-down best there is.
If you’re aim is to build and condition muscular power – that hallowed combination of strength and speed – then there are few training methodologies more effective than plyometric training. Plyometrics involves explosive movements that are characterised by rapid stretching followed by shortening of particular muscle groups. One of the most common forms of plyometrics is jump training, which helps to develop powerful, propulsive jumping ability needed for sports like volleyball and basketball. Plyometric boxes (plyo boxes for short) are very commonly used equipment in this endeavour.
With a bit of solid guidance, plyo box training is really easy to incorporate into your home workouts. Plyo boxes come in different shapes and sizes, and can be made in different ways. A full description of the differences between boxes is beyond the scope of this article. Our review of the 9 best plyo boxes, however provides an in-depth description of the various types of plyo boxes, recommendations on which are the best and most suitable for different people and purposes, and includes a number of plyo exercises to get you started using a plyo box.
At a glance, the Rogue Games Box is a great 3-in-1 plyo box that’s safe, versatile and well-suited to all home exercisors – from novices to veterans.
Well, there you have: The Best Home Exercise Equipment for Almost Everyone.
No matter your individual needs or training goals, this list will have you well on your way to building a home gym you can be proud of showing off to your friends and family.
Getting the right home exercise equipment and building a home gym that meets your individual needs has so many benefits. The key ones are:
- Cost: Irrespective of what equipment you go with, home exercise equipment will save you a heap of money. In some instances, the initial cost may be substantial, but over the long run you’ll save ten fold by doing away with that gym membership.
- Convenience: When you have your own gym, you can get your sweat on when it suits you. Plus, there’s no more trekking to the gym or sweaty drives home – walk from one room to the next and it’s on!
- Comfort: Some of the main drawbacks of a commercial gym are the lack of privacy, unavailability of equipment, and the need to put up with gym rats. None of that’s a problem in your own home gym.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: When it comes to our health and fitness, we can make excuses or make the effort, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)