Thursday, October 08, 2009
This is an article I found on yahoo this morning.
Can't afford a gym membership? You can still get into great shape at home without new or expensive exercise equipment. While fitness fads have come and gone, some of the gear you never got rid of may be the key to a killer workout. We asked two top trainers to walk us through what is probably sitting in your storage closet to find out which fitness items should be tossed and which should be dusted off for use.
Balance Ball: Keep
The balance ball is the ultimate multitasker--ideal for crunches and ab work, it can also be used in place of a traditional weight bench for arm exercises. "The ball is probably the single best piece of equipment you can have for a home gym," says Ian Savitz, a personal trainer in Philadelphia and vice president of Facts Fitness, a fitness management company. Make sure yours is the proper size for your height and reinflate it if it hasn't been used recently. Most balls come with an exercise guide; if you've lost yours, check out the stability ball videos on our site.
The ThighMaster targets your adductors, a small muscle group in the inner thighs, but working these alone won't change your shape. "Go for bigger movements like squats and lunges, which engage your entire lower half," says Ashley Borden, a celebrity trainer who has sculpted the bodies of Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore. Borden also cautions against overtraining on the ThighMaster, saying, "You'll overfire a muscle that needs to be stretched out rather than overcontracted.
Reebok Step: Keep
"It's an invaluable piece of equipment," says Borden. She still uses it in the gym for moves like reverse lunges and push ups-and says it works as a bench for arm exercises, too. "There's a lot you can do with it," adds Savitz. "It's a good way to integrate exercises that raise the heart rate for cardio work." Be wary of pulling out old Step videos from the 1980s, though, many of which would be high-impact for your body. Borden says to keep your exercises on the Step basic, and focus on proper form.
Ab Roller: Toss
Savitz says to get rid of your bulky Ab Roller and do crunches on the stability ball instead, which requires you to stabilize yourself, forcing your muscles to work harder and thus providing greater benefit. "I know people who can do 100 crunches on the Ab Roller but can only manage 20 crunches on the stability ball," says Savitz. "The Ab Roller is often compensating for not engaging your abs correctly," he continues. Borden agrees that the Ab Roller is a dud, and recommends core stability work, like planks and side plants, for getting your middle in shape.
Reebok Slide: Toss
Borden and Savitz say the Slide can be a good piece of equipment if used correctly as part of a more comprehensive program-but using it correctly is the trick. "It's not the safest...I know a lot of people who've had knee injuries [due to the Slide]," Savitz says. If you're looking for a cardio workout, there are better ways to achieve this with less risk, like a brisk walk. Savitz adds that if you don't have a lot of space to work out, only hold on to items that can perform more than one function-the Slide doesn't fit the bill.
Resistance Bands: Keep
Savitz says that after the balance ball, resistance bands are the best addition to a home exercise program. "Any movement you can do with free weights, you can essentially do with resistance bands," he says. Borden recommends Juan Carlos Santana's instructional DVDs as great guides for band workouts, and advises examining the tubing on older bands closely for tears since they break down over time and can snap, causing injury. For other exercise moves, check out the resistance band video clips on our site.
Pull-Up Bar: Keep
Pull-ups, along with push-ups, are some of the most effective upper-body exercises out there. Pull-ups are so difficult that most women shy away from trying them, but a doorway pull-up bar can still serve a valid purpose as a stable tool for attaching a resistance band. "Some exercises [with the bands] require you to pull from an upper angle," says Borden. Throw the resistance band over the bar for moves like lat pull-downs and tricep extensions.
"Rebounding is phenomenal," says Borden, who likes that it provides a cardio benefit with little to no impact on joints and ligaments. However, she says the key to a safe and effective workout is using a well-made trampoline (Borden recommends the brand Needak) since "there are some bad ones out there" that could cause serious knee and ankle injury. Wear comfortable, nonslip shoes and check your model to make sure all the springs are in good shape, and that the bounce is firm.
Ankle Weights: Keep
Keep your ankle weights, but don't use them for power walking. "You shouldn't have extra weight on your ankles when you walk," says Borden. "You don't need to put added stress on your hip flexors." Ankle weights can be functional for adding an extra challenge to glute raises, side leg raises and other floor exercises once you've mastered them using just your own body weight. "Once that becomes easy, then move up to the ankle weights," says Savitz.
"Forget the NordicTrack, and go for a power walk in your neighborhood," Borden advises. She says it's tricky to master a machine that requires you to use all four limbs at once, and improper form increases the chance of injuring yourself. "It's great cardio exercise if you're doing it properly, but most people aren't going to be able to do it properly and stay on long enough to get a good workout," Savitz says.
I TOTALY DISAGREE with this one. What happenes if it snows where you live?