Factors to Consider when Buying Home Exercise Equipment

More people these days are choosing to set up exercise equipment at home rather than paying for a gym membership. Home exercise equipment can be set up in any unused space you have — many people use space in their basements.

Having such a setup has several advantages over a traditional gym membership: you save on gas, are able to work out any time, and you have the privacy to work out without feeling self-conscious.

Set Personal Goals and Find the Tools to Reach Them

When choosing what type of equipment you are going to buy, the first thing you need to look at is what your personal goals are. If you desire to lose a couple of pounds or just get in a little better shape, very minimal (or even no) equipment will cover your needs.

If you’re planning to get in better cardiovascular condition, there are treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines — basically hundreds of different machines that do the same thing. The major difference in these type of machines is what you prefer. Some people like to be seated, some like to stand, etc. At the top end of the issue, if you are planning to build muscle through resistance training, you are probably looking at the biggest, most complicated, and most expensive proposition. The good news is that new devices are constantly being developed that suit many different tastes.

It Depends on Your Situation

The big thing with gym equipment is you can go as big or as specialized as you want. I know a woman who has a full gymnastics gym in her house for her daughter. She simply did a search for the best equipment she could find including home balance beams, various bars, and other pieces of equipment that could help her daughter. Basically, find what will work for your personal situation (or your family’s!) and go from there.

Be Mindful of Setup Requirements

The second issue you need to look at is how complicated setup of your equipment is. A basic treadmill requires very little setup, but a Bowflex is much more complicated. The rule of thumb here is to select equipment you will actually use. We have all known people who had a stationary bike in the corner of their basement that served as nothing more than a coat rack. If you don’t have a whole lot of space to leave your equipment set up and workout ready, you want to be sure that equipment can be pulled out of the closet without a great struggle.

Some outdoor gym equipment

If setting the equipment up is more intense than the workout itself, you probably aren’t going to want to use the equipment much. This sort of caveat applies to something like the Total Gym endorsed by Chuck Norris. It is a really great and versatile piece of equipment, but I have heard many complain that it is a lot of trouble to drag out and set up every time they want a quick workout. This also applies to something like the Bowflex. While both of these machines are much, much better than anything that was available 25 years ago, your best bet would be using these machines in an area you can leave them set up. That way, whenever you need a workout, you just do it. You don’t need to budget time and effort to get everything ready.

Stay Within Your Budget

The last thing to look at when choosing your equipment is cost. If you just want to get into general shape, buying an aerobics DVD or very simple equipment like a jump-rope are very inexpensive. Again, the more versatile your equipment, the more expensive. When looking at top-end equipment like the Total Gym or Bowflex, many people even need to finance the equipment. One of the best alternatives to this is looking in your local papers. There will always be people who buy this sort of equipment and either don’t use it or upgrade very soon. These people are often willing to part with their equipment for very little money.

Regardless of your own starting point, choosing your exercise equipment is a pretty straightforward process:
Decide on your goals. Choose equipment that will let you accomplish those goals and that you will actually use. Finally, do your homework and find the equipment that suits your goal and your budget.

Four Weight Lifting Routines for Building Middle Back Muscles

Strong, bigger back muscles can be yours with the right middle back weight lifting routines. Developing noticeable, strong mid-back muscles shouldn’t just be for vanity or appearance, but for protecting yourself from serious vertebral problems in the future, like narrowing of the space where the spinal cord goes through (spinal stenosis).

You want strong slabs of muscle “like a buffalo,” explained an orthopedic surgeon during a back surgery seminar that I once attended with my father, who was having back issues.

You probably already know that the deadlift is a superb exercise for hitting the lower and middle back muscles, but it is not a be-all, end-all – in other words, don’t sit pretty with just deadlifts and think you don’t need to do any other weight lifting routines for building strong middle back muscles.

Bent-over rows with heavy dumbbells…with a twist. Normally, a person will do one side, then the other, then keep switching back and forth, sometimes with rest in between each switch-back. Here’s a twist on bent-over rows:

Choose a weight that’s your 12-15 rep max, but this is with no cheating, such as losing proper form and yanking the weight up. You are to pull the weight up with control and while keeping good form (no back twisting or rounding).

Rest 35-45 seconds only,and then repeat on the same side. You should not be able to repeat the initial rep count. Do six sets total, on one side, with 35-45 seconds in between each. If you find that you’re reaching muscle failure in less than 8 reps but have been resting 35-40 seconds, then rest 45 seconds. A little loose form for the last few reps is fine as far as the pulling, but don’t hunch the back.

After the sixth set, rest again 35-45 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Your middle back muscles should be nice and sore the next day. Tip: Hold dumbbells with an almost 100 percent pronated grip (palms facing behind you).

If you haven’t been working at pull-ups and chin-ups, then start. See if you can do just one. Don’t bother with the assistance machines; you’ll progress faster by simply attempting the real thing.

I can do pull-ups and chin-ups for reps, all without ever having trained on the assistance machines. There is something about having your knees on that floating pad that warps the entire posture, creating an unrealistic hanging position, not to mention unrealistic pulling-up motion.

Gravitrons might be okay for women and men new to weight lifting, but if you’re a man (or woman) with some muscle development and strength already, then go straight to a real chinning bar and get to work.

Seated rows are the final weight lifting routine that will build a strong, thick, muscular back … but don’t cheat. Keep the body upright, not leaned back. If you can’t, the weight is too heavy. Hold the bar to your chest for two seconds before releasing, and release with control; don’t let it fly back; focus on a good negative.

To build strong, thick back muscles, do deadlifts, bent-over rows one side at a time, chin-ups/pull-ups and seated rows.

Pros and Cons of “Cleans” in Weight Lifting

Before you can really assess benefits of something you must first understand what it is. A clean is a swift movement of a barbell weight from the floor to shoulder level. This is something in which you can be easily hurt if you do not know what you are doing so you should first study this move before attempting on your own.

This type of exercise is common in people who want to build strength and muscle quickly.

The Pros

There are several pros to this exercise; the first being that it allows you to develop more power in your muscles and therefore you will be able to lift heavier things more quickly. This is one of the primary benefits of this exercise as the rapid movements from floor to shoulder help your muscles to quicken up so to speak. Another benefit is that this type of movement works several muscle groups all at once. Rather than just working your upper body like a bench press, a clean works your legs, hams, calves, lower back, as well as your upper body. By engaging multiple groups at once this exercise allows you to get the most out of your work out.

Yet another benefit is that you do not necessarily need all of the advanced equipment that many weight lifting moves require. You simply need a bar and some weights. Though this exercise has many benefits it also has several draw backs.

The Cons

The first and most important drawback is that they are dangerous if you do not perform them correctly. You have to be extremely careful when you are performing a clean as lifting large amounts of weight all at once can strain your back or cause you personal injury. Another draw-back is that it is not something that you can pick up in a weekend. It takes practice and dedication to make sure that you are performing correctly and safely. Also you do not have as much control over specific body parts as you do with other exercises.

If you are considering starting to use cleans in your body building regimen you should first make sure that you understand the exercise completely and that you have someone standing by should you need assistance. You may also want to check with your doctor to make sure that you are fit enough to undergo such tenuous training. If you do finally decide to do cleans make sure that you build yourself up before going for the big guns.

21s: Check Your Weight Lifting Technique

With the proper understand of the human body and exercise in general, the ways to train yourself are limited only by common sense and your own imagination. And following suit, I’m sure that you have heard all kinds of opinions and theories about not only how to train but what you should be doing.

The following technique isn’t so much about what you should be doing, but what you can do to really get the most out of any range of motion that you are doing. However, it is physically exhausting and should only be done on occasion to make sure that your muscles get plenty of rest.

The following lifting technique is known as “21s“. The name itself has to do with the number of repetitions that you will be performing per set, but it is a little more complicated than doing 21 reps. While I have gone over focusing on the negative portion of a movement, this technique has to do mainly with the positive portion.

It involves splitting the exercise of your choice into two halves. Do the first half of the movement seven times, then the second half of the movement seven times, and finally the entire movement seven times to finish out one set. Let me explain it in terms of a specific exercise.

Tricep Pulley Pushdowns

It doesn’t matter which attachment you are using for this exercise (rope, straight bar, EZ curl) just make sure to check your form. First of all make sure that you are keeping your elbows locked at your sides, the only parts of your that should be moving are your forearms and possibly your wrists depending on the attachment.

– First 7
Start off by keeping your hands at the top of the motion, your hands shouldn’t go above your nipples, doing so will take the emphasis off your muscles and force you to incorporate momentum. Lower your hands until your forearms are parallel to the ground, that’s all the further you should be going for your first seven reps. These seven will work as a warm-up and pre-exhaust before you have to go into full contraction.

– Second 7

As you finish your first set of seven, your arms being parallel to the ground will be the new top of your moment. Extend your arms to full extension and raise back to parallel, this will force a constant contraction in your muscle throughout these seven reps.

– Final 7
Your final seven reps are full movements starting at your nipples and going to full extension. At this point your muscles will be pre-exhausted and you will be incorporating the most out of all of your muscles fibers. You will not be able to use your standard weight on this movement, so make sure that you take into account the fatigue factor.

Do reps in this fashion will ensure that you are getting the most out of your range of motion. To make it even more difficult and beneficially, slow down the negative on each rep to really get the most out of your time and effort. Just make sure to leave your ego at the door, because you aren’t going to throwing around the big weights 21 times without sacrificing form.

This type of training can be done on any exercise you choose. Just make sure that you have thought out ahead of time how you will dividing up each movement. Depending on what you are doing, especially freeweights, you will probably want to utilize a spotter to make sure you keep your form and maintain your safety as you hit muscle failure.