...... Frequently asked questions about fitness equipment 

  1. Choosing the right fitness equipment.
  2. What type of exercise is best for you?
  3. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – treadmills.
  4. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – cross trainers.
  5. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – bike trainers.
  6. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – rowing trainers.
  7. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – spinning bikes.
  8. Choosing the right weight equipment – fitness centres/ home gyms.
  9. Choosing the right weight equipment – bench presses, barbells, dumbbells.
  10. Choosing the right weight equipment – abdominal benches.
  11. Buy the best you can afford.
  12. Top expert advices.
  1. Choosing the right fitness equipment.
  2. Choosing the right fitness equipment is the first step many people take toward better health and fitness routines they can live with. If you make your choice wisely, your exercise equipment will provide years of healthy workouts. From simple hand held free weights to an elaborate home gym, the range of available fitness equipment is staggering and can often be confusing and complex. So which one do you choose: the machine that is supposed to get you the most fit; the one that burns the most calories; or the device that has least impact on your joints? These are all valid concerns - but none of these is the most important question you should be asking yourself. That question is: which machine do you really want to use? So instead of choosing the treadmill for the calorie-burning factor, or the elliptical trainer your friend recommended, figure out which machine feels best to you, everything else is secondary. Which machine is likely to feel right to you is the answer to question what type of exercise is best for you?

  3. What type of exercise is best for you?
  4. This is often the hardest part of the selection process – thinking about the how you want to work out. To make an informed decision, you need to know that there are two basic types of exercise: aerobic and weight bearing. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate, boosts metabolism and puts your body into “fat burning” mode while you do it. Aerobic exercisers include: treadmills, cross trainers, bike trainers, rowing machines, spining bikes. Weight-bearing exercise, (also know as strength training) develops the large muscle groups of the body and actually increases the muscle mass in your body. Types of strength training machines are abdominal exercisers, bench pressers, home gyms, etc. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, building lean muscle plays an important role in weight loss. The more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn during a cardio workout. Your workout program should include both types of exercise to build endurance, burn fat and develop muscle mass. Next, you’ll need to select equipment that suits your body demands, lifestyle and available time.
  5. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – treadmills.
  6. Treadmills burns the most calories of any of the cardiovascular machines available at most gyms. You can expect to burn about 100 calories per mile, walking briskly. A treadmill can be adapted to many different fitness levels by increasing the speed from walking to running or by adjusting the incline. But even walking may be too much for someone who is overweight and has joint pain. If it doesn’t feel right - particularly on your knees or lower back - choose another machine. There are loads of varieties of treadmills but you need to choose one that suits your needs best. Motorized - don't buy manuals because you probably won't use it after the first week. (If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, manual treadmills may put too much stress on your heart). Whether manual or powered, your treadmill should have a digital display that shows minimally how fast you’re walking and how far you’ve gone. Speed function, incline function for which you can use for 'hills and intervals“ and other programs if possible too. The pulse rate function is optional, although it is recommended if you are very unfit or have any medical conditions. These basic functions, which most motorized treadmills have, offer heaps of variation for your workouts and for you to advance with your 'cardio' program. One of the main advantages of a powered treadmill is that it’s more challenging – it can go faster than you can, so you have to work harder to keep up. Some powereds have built-in programs that vary the intensity of the workout automatically, a feature that helps keep the workout from getting boring. One of the drawbacks of a treadmill is that it’s high-impact.
  7. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – cross trainers.
  8. Cross or elliptical trainers offer the same benefits as treadmills but are low impact machines, i.e., your feet stay stationary. These machines have adjustable resistance; sophisticated digital displays and are quiet in operation. Ellipticals use a flywheel and have a roughly circular motion (ellipse) that takes a little getting used to. The better machines have a fluid, natural motion and also exercise the arms and upper body.  Elliptical machines pack a little less punch on the joints, and either can be a good alternative to the treadmill. Because you use them in a standing position, you're using lots of muscle mass, so the calorie burn rate is still pretty high. Elliptical machines with arm components can further increase the numbers of calories you burn. But if you're a beginner, it is not recommended using your arms at first. Cross trainers are similar to rowers, in that they exercise the major muscle groups in a single fluid motion that simulates cross country skiing. The “skis” on these machines travel back and forth with leg motion. There are elastic cords to simulate the arm action of using ski poles. Offering another low impact workout, ski machines are also manual.
  9. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – bike trainers.
  10. Bike trainers are particularly good for the large muscle groups in the legs. These machines have variable resistance. Most experts agree that the bike offers the workout with the least impact on the joints. People with knee pain are often steered toward these bikes, since the impact of body weight is not a concern as it is on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. But to avoid knee strain, you must make sure the bike is adjusted to fit your body. When adjusting the seat height, make sure that when you’re sitting on the seat, there is a very slight (5- to 10-degree) bend in your knee. Most people sit too low, meaning their knees flex too much as they pedal. This can put too much pressure on the knee and result in soreness. In addition if you’re too low, you’re not allowing the leg to go through a full range of motion, meaning you'll use fewer calories. The bike is a less intense calorie-burner than some of the other machines. You'll need to pedal four miles to burn 100 calories.
  11. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – rowing trainers.
  12. Rowing machines have the advantage of using the entire body in a single, fluid motion. The seat on a rower slides on rails and there are handles attached to stretchy cords that simulate the arm motion of using a paddle. When performed with the correct technique, rowing spreads the intensity of exercise evenly over all three major muscle groups, legs, arms and torso. Rowers are manual devices. It is a mistake thinking that this machine gives you only an upper-body workout. Because you must push with the legs while you pull with the arms, rowers require all body coordination. They also require you to engage your core abdominal muscles to support and protect your back. Rowers burn lots of calories because they use so many muscle groups. Rowing trainers are not suitable for those of extra weight or exercisers with back problems. Usually extra weight comes with back pain, and this is not a machine you would like to use if you have back issues.
  13. Choosing the right aerobic equipment – spinning bikes.
  14. Some of the most well-liked exercises are performed on a stationary spinning bike. These kinds of bikes allow you to increase your strength and stamina. They are usually adjusted to suit your requirements and make you much more comfortable, and they might be placed almost anyplace in your home. You'll be able to even place one in front of the TV set. Search for bikes built from aluminum or stainless steel so that you will not need to worry about rust. Make certain that your bicycle comes with a warranty, so you don't need to worry. Look to see that you can adjust the bike's seat and handlebars up and down and forward and back. Also, sweat may be dripping on the flywheel as you ride, choose a bike with a flywheel in the back, to minimize the chance of rust and maintenance.
  15. Choosing the right weight equipment – fitness centres/ home gyms.
  16. Home gym equipment will give you a great deal of flexibility. These machines allow you to perform health club quality exercises like squats, presses, curls and pulldowns on a single device. Most allow great adaptability in varying the weight and type of exercises, but often need to be set up for each exercise, disrupting the fluidity of the workout. If you invest in a home gym, consider working with a personal trainer the first few times you use the machine. This will optimize exercise benefits and minimize injury. Be sure to check how much space your home gym will take. You need to figure on the exact external dimensions of the assembled unit, with all possible attachments, and then add any extension that occurs during exercise. If a leg extension or chest flye adds to the room required, it needs to be factored in when you’re working out the space you require. Be sure your chosen home gym has sturdy steel frames with comfortable backs or seats adjustable according to any demands.
  17. Choosing the right weight equipment – bench presses, barbells, dumbbells.
  18. Bench presses, barbells, hand weights (dumbbells) and similar are less expensive ways to get all the benefits of resistance training without the high cost of a home gym. With this simple equipment, you can also simulate many health club exercises like squats, presses and curls. An incline bench adds the benefit of performing exercises in a semi-recumbent position, saving your back. Choose a bench press of a sturdy construction that would make the steel square tubular frame easily withstand training with heavy weights. For basic body building, benches, barbells and dumbbells are hard to beat and highly affordable.
  19. Choosing the right weight equipment – abdominal benches.
  20. Abdominal exercisers kick the standard sit-up or crunch up a notch or two because they help hold the body in the optimum position to perform these exercises. Consider an ab exerciser if the more traditional forms of exercise don’t seem to be working. The user places his hands on the top of the bar and presses down while crunching the stomach muscles. This exercise helps build muscle while limiting the amount of pressure on the back.  An ab exerciser might be an interesting gadget to add to your personal fitness routines, saving you money.
  21. Buy the best you can afford.
  22. You may be tempted to buy discount exercise equipment with too short waranty, but try to resist the temptation. The smooth action and fluid operation of a quality piece of physical fitness equipment will make your workout at home enjoyable and beneficial. Cheap and primitive trainers are very often inferior in durability and workmanship and ultimately not much of a bargain. That inexpensive trainer with the 100 day warranty should send up all kinds of red flags. Fitness is a lifelong endeavor. Your fitness equipment should support that endeavor with reliable operation and quality components.
  23. Top expert advices.
  24. Choose a machine that feels right. It’s not so much about the machine as the relationship between the body and the machine. If impact is a problem, the bike trainer may be a better choice than the treadmill. If you have low back limitations, it’s probably not a good idea to get on a multi-muscle machine like the rowing machine at first.

    More muscle use equals more calorie burn. The basic rule is that the machine that exercises the greatest muscle mass burns the most calories. There's a flip side of this coin: if you're a beginner, using more muscles means getting fatigued sooner - which will result in burning fewer calories. As someone who hasn’t been exercising, it’s better initially to work less muscle groups so you don’t get tired as quickly and to increase the load gradually.

    Vary the routine. You’ve discovered you like the elliptical machine and it keeps you coming back? Great. But don’t let yourself get bored. Try using a pre-programmed workout that includes variations in speed and intensity. Or vary those factors yourself during your workout.

    Ignore the readouts. At the end of your workout, it’s nice to see that you’ve burned X number of calories or traversed X number of miles, but don’t put too much credence into these numbers. These results are based on averages. You better cue in on how you feel, how you’re breathing, and what your perceived exertion is. Just do it and the outcomes will take care of themselves.

    Be a creature of habit. We brush our teeth every morning and every night. It's a habit, a routine, something we do every day. It’s not something we have to think much about, or come up with an excuse for avoiding. Exercise should be that way too. It doesn’t mean you can’t take a day off but it’s easier to do if it’s something that’s ingrained in you, like brushing your teeth.

    Set realistic goals. The bottom line is that if you don’t like your exercise program, you won’t stick with it. So instead of setting yourself up for failure with all sorts of requirements, set less lofty goals at first, if it means you can meet them. Maybe tell yourself you’ll start exercising three times a week. If you manage a fourth time, that’s awesome. But if you say you’ll make it six days a week and end up only coming three, you’ll feel negative instead of positive about what you did.

    Get medical clearance. Never begin a new exercise regimen without getting the approval of your doctor. If you don’t even have an internist or family practitioner, it is a great time to hunt one down. You should ask your doctor too if he / she recommends any specific equipment if you require rehabilitation. Make sure you tell the sales consultant if you have any injuries or medical conditions that may affect what type of equipment you require eg such as knee or joint injuries or high blood pressure, lower back pain, etc.