Exercise Equipment: What’s Right For You?

Everyone has different exercise and fitness goals depending on what they’re trying to accomplish.  Whether it’s building lean muscle, increasing stamina and endurance, augmenting weight-loss or bettering your cardiovascular health, you’ll most likely need a few pieces of exercise equipment to help you on your way to a healthier lifestyle.  Some equipment such as an exercise bike or spin cycle requires a true investment, while others such as an exercise ball or resistance bands can cost only a few bucks.  No matter what you decide to spend your money on, just make sure you use it!

Exercise EquipmentHere are a few pieces of exercise equipment that may help you achieve your health and fitness goals with a description for various applications and workouts from Lucas James Personal Training.


Stability, Core & Resistance

*Exercise Ball Exercises: Seated Crunches, Side Crunches, Back Extensions, Stability Ball Shoulder Press, Stability Ball mountain climbers, Squat & Reach

Swiss / Stability Ball – The greatest benefit of training with a stability or swiss ball is that it helps target your core muscles that are essential for stability and flexibility.  Another added bonus is that you can incorporate your stability ball with other equipment at your gym such as dumbbells, barbells and other free-weights to augment your typical workout.

*Kettle Bell Exercises: Dead Lift, Bent Row, Front Squat, Single Sided Ab Cross-over

Kettlebells, for as simple as they are, often look like intimidating pieces of equipment. However, they’re simple to use just like a regular dumbbell and actually make traditional dumbbell exercises more challenging.  Since the weight in a kettlebell is not evenly distributed you are forced to engage accessory stabilization muscles to workout harder. Kettle bells can be used to target your arms, shoulders, back, gluts, and core muscles.

*Medicine Ball: JackKnife Crunches w Medicine Ball, Medicine Ball front squats, Russian Twists, Medicine Ball Abdominal-Toss, Wood-Choppers with Medicine Ball.

Like Kettlebells, medicine balls are weighted and can be used for a variety of exercises.  They vary in weight depending on your intended use and proficiency.  Medicine Balls are often used in tandem with core abdominal exercises to add resistance and increase muscle tone.


Resistance & Strength

*Resistance Band Exercises: Resistance Band Chest Flys (Incline, Flat & Decline), Tricep Extensions, Tricep Kick Backs, Bicep Curls, Reverse Back-Flys, Lat Pull-Throughs, Side Deltoid Raises, Front Deltoid Raises, Shoulder Press, Abductor Side Leg Raises, Squats, Lunges.

Resistance bands are widely used for both general strength and conditioning, as well as, rehabilitation and injury prevention. They are inexpensive and highly portable, making them ideal for exercising at home or within a circuit training routine to help condition your cardiovascular system. Since they are light-weight pieces of exercise equipment they are easy to travel with as well, so no excuses!

*Light Dumbbells: Core exercises with dumbbells braced between your feet or legs. (Hanging Leg or Knee raises), Bicep curls, Tricep extensions, Tricep kick-backs,  front rows for your traps, Shoulder press, Shoulder Side and Front Raises, Lying chest flys and chest press.

Dumbbells are a great and versatile piece of equipment, but can be highly immobile and difficult to bring around if you need to be mobile.  You can use them individually or together, depending on the exercise and your personal goals and preference. There are adjustable dumbbells available that allow you to manually adjust the weight and change between different exercises and movements. Most commonly, however are fixed dumbbells of a specific weight that require you to spend money on additional sets of varied heaviness.   A majority of Dumbbell exercises can be done just as easily with resistance bands, as noted above.



*Pads & Foam such as a Yoga Brick or Foam Roller: Exercises typically include stretching movements to elongate muscle fibers and help stretch your muscles.  Some stretches are: Calf Stretch, shin stretch, hamstring stretch, gluts stretch, IT band stretch, quad stretch, lats-back-spine stretch.

Foam roller exercises are sometimes referred to as self-myofascial-release (SMR) exercises, because they can be used to relieve deep muscle tension without any assistance.  SMR is a form of soft-tissue muscle therapy that helps reduce muscle pain and tension and increase range of motion. It is essentially a way to massage and stretch your while increasing your flexibility to allow for increased muscle fiber development and strength. Foam rollers are often used for injury rehabilitation as well.

 Exercise Equipment


*Cardio Machines & Exercise Bikes: Can be use for…you guessed it: Cardiovascular conditioning / endurance and toning.

Since Treadmills, Ellipticals and Exercise Bikes are quite expensive, they are typically the last piece of exercise equipment you’ll invest in, unless advised by a doctor.  Even then, they are available for use at most sports and athletic clubs and gyms.  Exercise Bikes are the best piece of cardio-equipment for building your leg muscles while engaging in cardio exercise.  While you can increase the incline on a treadmill and resistance on an elliptical, you don’t quite get the isolation effect that you do from sitting on a bike.  When exercising on any piece of cardio equipment, make sure to vary your routine, just as you would with resistance training.  Try alternating between fast sprints and long medium paced intervals to confuse your muscles and increase your calorie burning potential!


High-End Fitness Equipment & Manufacturers:

When looking for high-end or professional fitness equipment, don’t be fooled…pay attention to the details! Machines might look similar but perform completely different!  If you’re looking for an elliptical machine note that the Precor brand invented the Elliptical Fitness Cross trainer.

Keep your eyes open for ellipticals with:

*Adjustable incline – changing the degree /motion of your workout and therefore the way you’re targeting your muscles.

*Adjustable resistance – changing the degree of difficulty, increasing resistance allowing for a strength training effect.

*Electronic Features – such as a Heart Rate Monitor option & Calorie Counting function.

*A true ‘Elliptical motion’.  Its important to note that the elliptical motion provides the truest simulation to walking and running available without impact force on your lower extremities.  When trying a machine note the feel of the motion. Some machines may have a bad spot or ‘kick’ where your heel can come off of the platform. You want to avoid this bounce in your motion.

*Dependent upper body motion. Various machines will include upper body levers to add an upper body workout element.  This can also help with stability and balance while cross training.


Treadmills are the most popular piece of fitness training equipment. Star Trac is a pioneer in new technologies for treadmill training such as integrated video screens with personalized digital trainers to take you through a cardio workout.

*Look for a 60 inch deck for runners with a wide stride.

*Nicer treadmills have a top speed of 12 mph and 12% maximum incline. They often have stronger motors with a longer lifespan than cheap models.

*Look for a prominent gauge luster with buttons you can read while engaging in exercise.

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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