At some point, almost everyone decides that they want to “get healthier“.
There are a lot of ways to improve your fitness. For many of us, the classic outdoor activities like walking, running, or cycling don’t fit our schedules or aren’t readily available. Some people like going to health clubs, but they aren’t appealing to everyone.
A more convenient option is to workout at home. You already have a spare bedroom or space in the basement. Just buy a cool exercise machine and get toned up whenever you want.
That’s when you realize there are an overwhelming number of choices for home exercise equipment. Even if you’re already in an exercise program, choosing the right piece of gear for your home can be daunting. Maybe you know nothing about training options and the advertisements just make it more confusing.
First, don’t get discouraged.
This article is designed to shed light on a variety of products and help you understand what they’re good for. I’ll start with an overview of the types of equipment and the different aspects of building fitness. You’ll read answers to common questions and see specific reviews on five recommended exercise machines.
If you’re an avid exerciser, this can help you narrow the choices to what best meets your needs. If you’re just getting started, it will explain the options so you understand what the benefits are.
The key to any successful fitness program is sticking with it. Take a little time in the beginning to find the gear that’s right for you. It’s important to stay motivated, and if you like your workout, you’ll be less likely to skip it.
How Many Types of Exercise Equipment Out There?
There are two broad categories of fitness training: strength and cardio. Most machines will improve only one of these areas. The better machines will overlap both areas, but will usually cost more and might require some creativity.
This article gives an excellent overview of the types of exercise, plus additional health and fitness information.
Home gyms that focus on strength training will have functions that resemble standard weightlifting movements. They will incorporate a way to add higher resistance to your bicep curls or leg presses. Having a number of exercise options is a benefit so that you can work many different muscle groups. You’ll also do lower repetitions so having variety is helpful.
Cardio machines mimic normal activities like walking, cycling, and climbing stairs. It’s very rare for them to have more than one or two exercises. Most of them have a way to increase resistance, but that will mainly make you sweat more, not build bigger muscles.
OK, How Do I Choose Between a Cardio and Strength Machine?
The machine you choose will naturally need to address the type of workout you want. For example, is your goal more muscle mass or better endurance? Here are some comparisons. All of these are quite general in nature and have a variety of exceptions. However, they can still be useful in narrowing your choice.
|Strength Workouts||Cardio Workouts|
|Heart rate less noticeable, rarely get “winded.”||Higher heart rate and heavier breathing|
|Fewer repetitions 6-20 per exercise||High repetitions, 50-100 per minute|
|Makes muscles bigger, more mass||Increases muscle endurance, more toning|
|Many different movements to work specific muscles||One movement that mainly works the heart, but may target a body area (legs in cycling)|
|Can help in losing weight, can also serve to gain healthy weight||Often better for weight management|
This link provides more detailed information on cardio and strength training. All of the equipment in this review has at least some form of both types of exercise.
Do I Have to Spend More to Get a Good Home Gym?
Great news! Higher cost isn’t required to get a good workout. Yes, pricier models will usually have more features. But a long list of features isn’t as important as having the ones that are best for your situation.
If you use them 5-7 times a week for an hour and a half, don’t expect the lower end models to hold up as well. The same machine can be completely adequate for a more casual user. There are definitely well-designed, simple, exercise machines at the lower end of the price range.
One thing that is worth taking note of is the weight capacity. If you need a gym designed for heavier users, you will need to look at the middle price points or higher. These frames are built with heavier gauge material to be more stable and safe for large people. A longer warranty also can indicate a sturdier product.
Are These Good for Beginners, Senior Citizens, or People with Bad Knees?
There are a number of reasons that people may be concerned about buying the right exercise equipment. Experience level, age, and health issues are perhaps the most obvious.
The standard and appropriate advice is to check with your doctor before starting a new workout program. Here is a more detailed list of who should get medical advice before starting. Every case is different, so I can’t say what it best for each person. However, in general terms, a home gym is safe and a good option for most people.
Many cardio machines require some degree of balancing, but most strength gear doesn’t.
A home gym will likely have a lot of exercises in a sitting or lying position. These postures take weight off your joints and minimize jarring. It’s easy to pick a lighter load with these gyms to tailor the effort with your experience.