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Buying the Right At-Home Equipment for the Fitness Enthusiast
Although going to the gym a few times a week is a terrific way to get in shape and stay healthy, it can sometimes be difficult to make it to the gym. Runners and bikers can get their exercise in and around their neighborhood, but sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate. That's why having your own equipment makes it possible for you to exercise anytime day or night without worry about getting too hot or too cold. When buying exercise equipment, there are some things to know before making these big-ticket purchases.
One of the main considerations regarding a treadmill is how much space it takes up. A typical treadmill is about 6.5 feet long and 3 feet wide. For those with limited space, a treadmill that folds up is ideal, and some can fold up so thin that they fit under a bed when not in use. Another consider is stride length. Some treadmills have a long deck area that is dedicated to running while some have design cues that limit the running space. Treadmills should have a high degree of adjustability to be the most useful to you. This includes speeds that should range between 0 and 10 to 12 miles per hour and incline grades of around 10 to 15 percent. Some upgrades to look for on treadmills includes a dock for iPods or MP3 players, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and USB ports.
For a complete workout, consider an elliptical trainer. Similar to a treadmill, an elliptical trainer takes up a decent amount of space. Ellipticals usually run about 6 feet long but can be 7 feet long and between 2.5 and 4 feet wide. Because of the stepping action that is part of using an elliptical, you should know that elliptical trainers have step-up heights of between 6 and 25 inches above the floor. Having adjustable cushioned handgrips is a nice addition, making sure the user is comfortable, and allowing users of different heights to use it. For multi-taskers, you want to look for certain high-tech features for the equipment to have, such as USB ports, Web access, Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to link to a mobile device. The elliptical trainer should offer several programs to keep your workout interesting, such as hill climbing, long-distance climbs and one that targets a specific heart rate.
Comfort is probably the most important consideration when choosing an exercise (or stationary) bicycle. The saddle should be padded and designed in a manner of your choosing. Some users like a wide saddle and some like a long, narrow saddle. Adjustable handlebars are features that also add to a user's comfort. Weight capacity is another consideration as some lightweight bikes only hold up to 250 pounds while some can hold users of 350 pounds or more. These bikes can be either belt-driven or chain-driven models and should be quiet when operating. Like elliptical machines and treadmills, stationary bikes have built-in programs that allow users to vary their workouts and keep them from becoming tedious. You also want to look for bikes that have heart-rate monitors, computer screens that display your statistics as you ride and adjustable tension levels.
Rowing machines come in four different styles: air, hydraulic, magnetic and water. All simulate the rowing action of a canoe or kayak in the water. Air rowing machines use flywheels (similar to elliptical machines) to create resistance. Hydraulic machines use cylinders filled with oil to create resistance. Magnets provide the resistance in magnetic rowing machines, and water pressure provides the resistance in water rowing machines. The seat should be comfortable and can either be a saddle or have a back connected to it. Some rowing machines are fixed while some are foldable, which is a consideration for those with limited space. One thing to note is that fixed machines tend to be more durable for frequent home use than folding rowers.
Home gyms make it possible for users to perform many different weight resistance exercises all with one machine in a small space. Some home gyms use free weights purchased separately to provide resistance while others come with the weights attached to the gym. An adjustable bench that detaches is useful for doing several different exercises either seated or lying down. Some gyms that come preloaded with weights have the ability to add more, making them useful to people looking to increase their strength levels. There should be a number of accessories as well, such as a pull-down bar, lat bar, dumbbell and leg lift.