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Fitness and Health

Fitness and health go hand in hand, and this section of our health library is devoted to exploring the relationship between these two very important aspects of life.

The Best Fitness Gear & Products to Upgrade Any Workout

Fitness gear is not exactly necessary, but workout equipment and products can shake up and upgrade any routine. Find out the best options here!

The Best Fitness Gear & Products to Upgrade Any Workout


Fitness equipment and gadgets have greatly evolved since the days of creaky stationary bikes and unsteady treadmills. Nowadays, bluetooth and wifi connection make it possible to join live workout classes from exercise machines and track many fitness markers like speed, heart rate, and steps per day.

Now that home gyms are flourishing more than ever before, exercise equipment companies will undoubtedly continue developing gym equipment that upgrades workout routines and optimizes efforts.

From the top fitness gear to the best fitness accessories and tech and home gym essentials, this article covers it all!

What Determines the "Best" Products?

The word "best" is quite arbitrary, especially regarding fitness, as everyone's definition will slightly differ. However, most fitness experts will agree on general criteria. In terms of this article, the "best" home gym equipment, cardio, and strength products can be defined by:

Effectiveness: intensity of a workout and physical results
Functionality: how realistic and reliable the equipment is
Versatility: how many different ways can it be used
Tech advanced: connection to wifi/bluetooth and workout streaming capabilities

All of the featured products henceforth embody at least three of the above criteria with effectiveness and/or functionality as their most important feature.

Home Gym Essentials

If starting from scratch or seeking the fitness gear that will provide the most "bang for your buck", these home gym essentials can create an Instagram-worthy workout. They offer more intensity than body weight moves, target multiple muscle groups, and foster fun while exercising!

Bench with Barbell

A classic in all gyms, this equipment is exceptionally versatile and ones that fold into a chair, even more so. Not only can one perform the touted bench press, but it also lends itself to seated shoulder press, multiple abdominal exercises, "box" jumps, step-ups, chest flys, and much more. 

With the addition of the barbell, there are at least 20 additional movement options. Ultimately, these two products, alone, can work every major muscle group in multiple ways!

Dumbbells

Being so versatile and functional, free weights easily top the list of best home gym equipment. In order to engage major muscle groups like the legs, shoulders, back, chest and arm, get multiple sets. This might include one in the 3 to 5 lb range, another in the 10 to 15 lbs range, and the last in a heavier set used for squats and deadlifts. 

In essence, one could eternally train with just a set of dumbbells, bench, and barbell. To preserve space when working out at home, adjustable dumbbells are also available.

Resistance Bands

These stretchy bands earn a spot on the "best" list for their versatility and portability. One can perform stand-alone exercises like band walks, supermans and leg abductions with this lightweight gear. Or, they can be added to any normal exercise such as a squat or leg lift for additional resistance and burn.

Stability Exercise Ball

Nowadays, these giant bouncy balls come with charts and booklets of all possible exercises. And not to mention, they also vary in length and size, highlighting their functional versatility. 

What's more, stability balls can double as physical therapy equipment and triple as a seated chair that engages the core.

ProsourceFit Soft Medicine Ball

Smaller and heavier than the stability exercise ball, these 10 to 50 lbs balls are exceptionally functional in nature and mimic heavy objects of everyday life. As a result, these are often utilized for movements that replicate activities of daily living like bending down to pick up an object or lifting an object overhead. 

Functional fitness is more important than ever in our sedentary culture, deeming these sand-filled balls invariably effective.

Cardio Equipment

As of late, cardio has received a bad rap compared to strength or high-intensity interval training. Yet, cardio still poses many health benefits like improved cardiovascular health, mental clarity and enhanced creativity. 

So, rather than banishing it as an option, simply uplevel workouts with the following gear and/or equipment.

Air Runner (Assault Fitness)

Unlike most treadmills, the Air Runner is motor-free, meaning it is completely powered by human stride. This inherently ups the intensity but is also designed for sprint workouts, which ups calorie burn well after the workout ends. 

In addition, there is no max speed and benefits apple to walking workouts too.

Hydrow Rower (Hydrow)

Advertised as a reimagined rower, the Hydrow recreates the experience of rowing on water sans actual H2O. A computer-controlled electromagnetic drag propels the rowing movement and a full-HD screen streams full workouts to follow along. 

Rowing, in general, is an exceptionally effective workout, activating many major muscle groups and requiring a keen mind-muscle connection.

Bowflex M8 Max Trainer (Bowflex)

An elliptical and stair stepper in one machine, the M8 Max Trainer offers a low-impact option. Most impressive, it comes equipped with a personalized coaching system that develops daily, custom workouts that automatically adjust for time and intensity as one progresses.

Peloton Bike (Peloton)

The Peloton prevails as a pedal master, mostly due to its abundance of guided workouts. It offers live classes led by trainers or on-demand options for those unable to make them in real-time. Some of the workouts incorporate strength, yoga, or pilates, deeming this a well-rounded workout.

Jacob's Ladder (Gronk Fitness)

For those seeking a complete upper and lower body workout, Jacob's ladder is it, which is a self-paced ascension ladder that allows one to climb endlessly upward. It surpasses a traditional stair stepper thanks to its 40 degree angle which engages arm, shoulder, chest and core muscles while relieving lower back stress.

Strength Training Equipment

Budget permitting, the following equipment can really uplevel a workout and offer unique functionality by targeting less-utilized muscle groups.

TRX Go Suspension Trainer System

Suited for upper and lower body exercise, it can also help develop core strength and stability. It can be attached to a door inside or a sturdy tree outside and also offers instructional videos and daily 30-minute video workouts on their website. 

And although a bit pricier than some other equipment, a personal trainer exclaims the system can be the only piece of gym equipment one needs.

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weight

This adjustable kettlebell offers over ten different weight selections, allowing for a variety of moves that raise the heart rate. Many upscale studios feature kettlebell workouts and trainers can now receive specialized certifications in kettlebell training. 

Requiring stamina, strength, and coordination, this is an exemplary piece of home gym equipment.

Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP 556 Reformer

This machine commonly used in pilates reformer classes is versatile with a wide range of resistance levels. At one end of the reformer is a padded foot bar that can be adjusted to three different positions, which can also be replaced with a low-impact rebounder. On the other end sits two strapped pulleys that can be gripped or wrapped around ankles. 

The machine also promises comfortability due to its padded back platform, adjustable headrest and high-density foam shoulder rests.

Pilates Ring

Known as a magical circle in the pilates realm, they are composed of flexible metal, add resistance, and are intended to help users find their center. Because they are lightweight, inexpensive, and boast a variety of purposes, they are an up and coming prop for uses at home and in trendy studios. 

Main pilates exercises that utilize this magic include palm press, standing leg press, side-lying leg press, and various other upper body moves.

MiM USA Commercial Hercules 1001 Jumbo Trainer

The most costly piece of equipment on this list, this trainer is touted as an all-in-one weight lifting rig that combines cable and pulley systems along with weight plates. It allows one to perform hundreds of exercises with its smith machine, functional trainer, power cage, vertical leg press, dip and chin-up station and adjustable weight bench. 

Furthermore, it incorporates a set of accessories such as ankle straps, triceps pull-down rope, push bar, grips, push-up and sit-up attachments, an arm workout tube, functional training barbell, triceps barbell, crossover handles, storage, hooks… Just to name a few!

Best Value Equipment

No budget (or space) for fancy fitness equipment? No problem!

Some of the most basic home exercise gear is just as impressive in terms of physical results as its pricier counterparts. 

Feierdun Doorway Pull-Up Bar

At 50 dollars, this doorway pull-up bar rivals back machines in functionality and results. These bars recruit muscles in the back, shoulders, chest, and arms, and changing hand position can isolate smaller muscle groups. 

While it functions best at high points on a door frame, the bar can also be positioned lower to the ground. Overall, it can be utilized for an array of other exercises beyond pull-ups. 

Core Sliders

Also called gliding discs, these frisbee-looking circles offer endless options for lower-impact exercise. They can be used on carpet or hardwood floors.

Core sliders are especially useful for targeting isolated muscle groups like obliques, inner thighs, and glutes. Trainers boast they naturally add intensity to common exercises like planks, lunges, mountain climbers, pushups, and speed skaters.

Lifeline Power Wheel

This abdominal powerhouse also rings in under fifty dollars. In addition to scorching core muscles, this specific roller can also torch hamstrings thanks to the innovative foot straps. Ten reps is the equivalent of about 100 crunches,  showcasing its added effectiveness.

Rubberbanditz Workout Sandbag

This water-filled sandbag makes it easy to adjust weight and at sixty bucks, it provides a big bang. Depending on the weight, use for standard strength exercises like chest press, clean and press, rows, curls, squats, deadlifts, and more. It is naturally resistant, economical, and convenient.

Fit Simplify Resistance Bands

Already deemed a home gym essential, these resistance bands deserve a second spot as they cost less than fifteen dollars! See above for a full description of their benefits. They are not only gluteus medius builders, but are also excellent for injury prevention or rehabilitation.

Final Thoughts

Fitness products are not exactly necessary, as one can complete bodyweight exercises and still reap major results. However, purchasing and experimenting with various versatile pieces of equipment can upgrade and shake up any workout routine. (Heart rate monitors and other fitness trackers are also worth considering!)

Also with so many home gym essentials and fitness gear available, there is likely to be an option that best fits personal goals, desires, and budgets. At the end of the day, any activity is better going without, fitness accessories and tech devices or not!

References:

Benton E. The 29 Best Home Gym Essentials, According to Trainers. SELF. Published January 20, 2021. www.self.com/gallery/best-at-home-workout-equipment

Cannon K, Ebenezer S. The 15 Best Cardio Machines to Push Your Workout's Pace. Men's Health. Published December 15, 2020. www.menshealth.com/fitness/g19547051/best-cardio-machines/

Hall A. The 10 Best Home Gyms of 2021. Verywell Fit. Verywell Fit. Updated February 12, 2021. www.verywellfit.com/best-home-gym-4157711

Lanquist L. The 10 Best Pilates Reformers of 2021. Verywell Fit. Updated March 2, 2021. www.verywellfit.com/best-pilates-reformer-4163616.

Levy L, Adelson KI. The Best Big-Ticket Home-Gym Equipment, According to Workout Professionals. The Strategist. Updated February 4, 2021. www.nymag.com/strategist/article/best-home-gym-equipment-and-reviews.html

Ogle M. Why the Pilates Ring Can Be a Great Addition to Your Exercise Routine. Verywell Fit. Reviewed January 17, 2020. www.verywellfit.com/before-you-buy-a-pilates-magic-circle-2704340.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on May 06, 2021. Updated on May 06, 2021.

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