Exercise equipment is any apparatus or device used during physical activity to enhance the strength or conditioning effects of that exercise by providing either fixed or adjustable amounts of resistance, or to otherwise enhance the experience or outcome of an exercise routine.
It is important to use exercise equipment properly: inappropriate use of equipment can lead to injuries from mild to extreme.
A broad range of different types of exercise equipment are available, including
- Free weights such as dumbbells, kettle bells, barbells
- Resistance bands
- Weight machines
- Flexion machines such as Bowflex
When strength training, not only should the weights used be considered, but also the space available, one's diet, and clothing should also be taken into account.
There are a number of different machines that can be used to improve cardiovascular health, including elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines and stair steppers such as Stairmasters. Each one provides a slightly different workout, with treadmills, bikes and stair steppers emphasizing the lower body while elliptical and rowing machines provide more of a full-body workout. Prices vary greatly, depending on how many features a machine has and how technologically sophisticated it is. Though they may cost a little extra, machines with electronic displays that allow programing a variety of different workouts may be worth the money. The chart below describes each type of machine and details some of the features to look for and benefits of use.
|Machine||Description||Features and Benefits|
|Elliptical||Features foot pedals that move in an elliptical, or ovular, motion as well as handles that allow a workout on the upper body.||
|Exercise / Stationary Bike||A bike that’s designed to be ridden in place. Generally features only a single wheel in the front.||
|Rowing||Simulates the experience of rowing, placing equal emphasis on working out the upper and lower body.||
|Features two steps designed to simulate the experience of walking up stairs.||
|Treadmill||Features a conveyor-style belt that rotates at varying speeds, providing a low-impact running workout indoors.||
- Abdominal Machines and Other Equipment
- It seems like there may be more machines available for use on the abdominals than any other single muscle group. While many of these machines may make claims that they can rapidly improve abs in a matter of days, success is more possible if they are used as an additional element in workout routines rather than relying solely on them. Some have handles that you grip while rolling across the floor while others provide head and neck support to reduce strain and stress while performing crunches. In addition to ab machines, there are a number of other pieces of equipment that can be used to improve fitness levels. Yoga and Pilates kits, for example, may include a yoga mat, instructional video, foam block, soft strap and a bag to carry everything around in. For a higher-impact alternative, look for boxing gloves and bags. Boxing is a good way to build both strength and endurance. Speed bags and heavy bags offer different ways to work out, giving choice in comfortable exercise. Workout balls offer another option, allowing stretchs, to strengthen muscles and abdominals.
- Strengthening and toning abdominal muscles requires a total-body workout in addition to focused exercises
- Use exercise mats for stretching and abdominal exercises as well as to provide a cushion beneath weight equipment
- Stretching machines are ideal for warming up and cooling down, as they make it easier to stretch nearly every muscle
- Medicine balls can be used to strengthen and tone muscles
- Gloves and Lifting Straps
- Available in different sizes, workout gloves are usually fingerless and provide padding that helps prevent blisters. Lifting straps are designed for use when lifting particularly heavy objects, so they’ll come in handy if heavy-duty weight training is used.
- Wristbands and Headbands
- Headbands and wristbands absorb sweat, that help staying focused on the task at hand.
- Weight Belts
- If lifting weights, a weight belt can provide extra support for the back, helping maintain proper form and posture to prevent injury.
- Heart Monitors
- One of the keys to achieving improved cardiovascular health is to reach target heart rates during workouts. Heart monitors help determine whether or not the rate has been reached making it easy to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout accordingly.
- Exercise balls
- These are available in a number of forms. There are large Swissballs specifically suited to Pilates exercises. Medicine balls are somewhat larger than a basketball and are used as a training aid for a variety of different exercises. There are also a number of different types of timing balls used in developing accuracy and timing of martial arts strikes and kicks. An exercise ball can also be used to help treat low back pain and to prevent future back pain episodes. The ball helps by strengthening and developing the core body muscles (the belt of abdominal and back muscles) that help to stabilize the spine (or vertebral column). An exercise ball creates instability to the exercise that normally wouldn't be there, forcing the body (and the core) to keep balanced. This strengthens the muscles that are doing the balancing. Exercise balls work for many types of athletes, including older people and pregnant women. There are specific exercises developed for use with the ball that are appropriate for these and other special interest groups.
- Come in many forms, machines, Bulgarian Bags, dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, sandbells, and barbells. A dumbbell is a small bar with weights on either end, and is held in a single hand, a barbell on the other hand is a large bar with weights on both ends, and both hands are used to grip it. Dumbbells and barbells are both useful for exercising different muscle areas and maintaining safety throughout a workout, but machines are both safe and also what is known as an isolator. Machines usually only have one path of motion, meaning that it follows a direct path through a system of pulleys and/or attachment to an immobile frame. Some examples of weight machines are Smith Machines, leg press and the shoulder press.
- Homemade Weights
- Sand bags of various weights, water-filled kegs, ropes, tractor tires and generally other heavy objects can be used for exercise. These more awkward weights and exercises utilize even more muscles, such as forearm muscles involved in gripping the weights. Each of these are examples of free-weights that are exercised with while standing and incur full body impact. These are alternatives to store-bought weights and can be made on a budget. Sandbags and kegs can be filled to various weights and tuned for the individual exercise practitioner.
- Rowing Machines
- There are a few different types of rowing machines that are classified by resistance. Different form of resistance offer different workouts for the individual using them. The hydraulic rowing machine uses pistons to form resistance for the user. This is often the least expensive form of rowing machine. Water Rowing machines use water as the resistance source and are often considered the best rowers by many because of the natural feel they give. Flywheel or air rowing machines have been in existence for years. They use the resistance of air to provide a solid workout. The one downfall to flywheel rowing machines is they often put out a lot of noise due to the air movement. The last form of rowing machines is that of magnetic resistance. These are one of the most popular forms of rowing machine because they put out basically no sound. These machines work off of magnets that provide smooth transitions in and out of resistance levels. While most rowing machines are rather large there are some that fold easily to move out of the way.
- Weight training
- Elliptical trainer
- StreetStrider (elliptical cross trainer on wheels)
- Exercise machine
- Fitness (biology)
- Hojo undō
- Miller, Lauren. "Types Of Exercise Machines". Live Strong. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
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