Health and Fitness Tips and Inspiration
Posted: April 20, 2017||Strength training in your home gym is a possibility.Read more »
By now, you all know that a strong body is a healthy body.
You also know that strength training can be one of the most efficient ways to lose unwanted body fat.
And, ladies, you know that you won’t get bulky by incorporating strength training into your fitness routine.
While treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes are great and can be a solid addition to your home workouts, I highly recommend the following pieces of strength equipment to not only give you unlimited options on the exercises you can do, but also to help you build the strong, healthy, fit body you deserve!
Barbell & WeightsBarbells can come in various lengths and sizes but there are two main types that you’ll most likely have to choose from…standard and Olympic.
Standard bars are one inch in diameter and utilize weight plates with 1 inch holes in the center. They’re a good starting point but are not the best option for heavier lifting (over 150 lbs.).
Olympic bars, on the other hand, are built to handle a bigger load. They are typically 7 feet long and weigh 45lbs. without any weight added to them. The end sleeves are 2 inches in diameter, so the weigh plates have larger 2” holes through the center.
Barbells allow you to do a wide variety of exercise from presses to pulls to squats to deadlifts. They also allow you to progress by being able to add small increments of weight as needed.
Bumper plates are also a great option for your barbell and the home gym setting. These rubber plates are made for Olympic size bars and are easier to move around and a better (safer) option if you will be doing any floor-based lifting.
Power RackWhile it may sound a bit daunting, a power rack is actually one of the most versatile pieces of strength equipment you can add to your home gym.
First of all, a rack goes hand in hand with your barbell. It allows you to do almost anything with your barbell from bench pressing to squatting to racking your bar for deadlifts, curls, push-ups, shoulder presses, etc.
The power rack also adds the ever important measure of safety by allowing you to rack your weight and know that safety bars can be put in place in case you cannot complete a lift.
Racks also allow you to add accessories to your home gym. Many offer built-in pull-up/chin bars and allow for add-ons such as dip attachments and band pegs.
Racks come in many different sizes, so don’t be fooled by the thought of it taking up too much space. You’ll be surprised with just how much you can accomplish within a power rack with a barbell and weight plates.
DumbbellsDumbbells are just as versatile as a barbell and allow for an unlimited number of exercise options. And, like barbells, you’ll have a couple of different options to choose from.
Selectorized dumbbells are also popular with the home-gym crowd these days. They’re a bit more expensive than the plate loaded bells, but allow users to quickly change their weight. They may not, however, be the best option for those in need of heavy dumbbells (above 50 lbs.)
On the other hand, if you have more space and a higher home gym budget, you may want to consider going all out and getting a commercial-style dumbbell rack with fixed-weight bells. Most commercial gyms are equipped with dumbbells that range from 5-100+ pounds. This makes for a very convenient option as far as quickly grabbing the weight you need, but like I said, they will eat up a lot of space and add quite a bit to your home gym investment.
Utility BenchTo get the most out of your barbell and/or dumbbells, I highly suggest adding a utility bench to your home gym.
A bench allows you to perform any exercise that requires you to lay down (bench press, pullovers, tricep extensions, flyes, ab work, etc.) or work in a seated position (shoulder press, lateral raises, bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, etc.)
Benches are relatively inexpensive, but can get a bit more expensive as you move up to more of a commercial grade piece that is built with a heavier grade steel and often has more padding and higher quality upholstery.
Benches can come in just a fixed flat position or one that can be adjustable up and down to accommodate for incline and decline exercises.
The heavier duty benches should have wheels that allow you to easily move them around, while the home model flat benches are usually light enough to pick up and move.
2 Bonus Strength PiecesWhile the equipment above will go a long way in providing you with a great strength-based home gym, there are a couple of budget-friendly/space-friendly pieces of equipment that you may want to consider adding:
Suspension Trainer. Systems like TRX allow you to utilize your own body weight and are a great addition to a strength training routine. The straps are easily attachable to your power rack, a door or a support beam. They are relatively inexpensive when you consider the wide variety and overall number of exercises you can do with them.
Resistance Bands. These are a great strength tool for any home gym and can be utilized for a wide variety of exercises. You can attach them to your rack, to a door, wrap them around equipment, or utilize your own body to stabilize them for a wide-variety of pushes, pulls, etc. Plus they take up minimal space….always a bonus when it comes to your home gym!
Runners are always looking for ways to push themselves harder. They want to get more out of their workouts or to beat previous personal records. The truth is that to get different results, you need to make some changes in your life and routine to help your body qualify for a harder, faster and longer running session.
We'll be going through some effective techniques that will help you run faster, farther and have a more enjoyable experience. However, before we dive in, it's important to know your current metrics and abilities so that you’ll be able to track your performance and improvement over time.
Apps such as "Strava" or "Under Armour MapMyRun" are perfect for this and available at no cost for both Android and iOS. If you want to track all aspects of your fitness routine download Viafit. You can pull in data from your favorite apps like MapMyRun or MyFitnessPal and tie it in with the data from your workouts on your cardio equipment. It’s great to see it all in one spot!
Warm Up Is EssentialIf you rush your warm up or even forget to do it, you will significantly reduce the efficiency and longevity of your running session. Always make sure that you stretch and warm up before heading onto the treadmill or outdoors for your run. Warming up prevents your muscles from getting too tight, which can hinder your performance. It also helps your blood to flow more effectively through the body, improving your heart rate and oxygen levels for the session ahead.
Run OutdoorsMany runners take advantage of the great outdoors when training, and it is beneficial to breathe in the fresh air, and scenery.
Our minds can often cut our runs short through boredom or lack of distraction. Outside, we have a lot to look at, which helps us to change our thoughts from how difficult or strenuous our run may feel to thinking about what we can see. The atmosphere is different, wind can pick up and drop down, and noticeable weather changes help us to let go of thoughts that can sabotage our efforts.
Running outside does produce a harder workout due to gradient changes and surface areas, but it doesn't necessarily mean we won't run faster or further. With the distractions of weather and visuals, we find ourselves continuing and pushing through where we may have otherwise stopped.
You can also supplement your outdoor runs with treadmill workouts. Treadmills allow you to change your inclines on a whim, push you to run faster at an even pace, and there are even social media, TV, and entertainment apps on treadmills that can help to keep you engaged.
Change Your Route OftenIf you run the same route every session, it's going to get boring eventually. Sure you can track your performance and try to beat your time, which can help sometimes, but a more effective way to defeat your metrics is to change your route often. For example, let's say you run five miles each session and you do this in 50 minutes on average. You can take that data and use it for any route you use. Just make sure you run five miles and then check how fast you did it on your new route.
Changing routes helps to keep things fresh and interesting. Seeing the same trail every session can make your mind turn off and leave you feeling like you’re stuck in a loop. Stick to the same running schedule but alter your course frequently to keep your mind guessing. It'll help pick up your energy as there'll be a sense of wonder throughout the session.
By training and developing your muscles, your body will be able to cope better with the stresses of running. Through fine-tuning your muscles, your fatigue levels will drop and your running time will increase and become faster. You don't have to go overboard; simply training your muscles for 15-30 minute sessions, two to three times a week is enough.
Here are some effective strength training exercises for runners:
Make Adjustments and See ProgressOverall, we can see that improving our runs involves both physical and mental adjustments. We must keep our routes fresh while ensuring that our body is finely tuned and warmed up for the sessions. Also, we can use strength training to enhance our stamina and speed when running.
Author bio: Faith is a fitness and tech blogger who enjoys teaching from her personal experiences. She also enjoys keeping up to date with the latest solutions and technology in the health and fitness industry, using apps and wearable devices to track her performance. Faith is a member of the team over at eHealth Informer.
Wondering which home fitness equipment burns the most calories? It’s no surprise that this is the question we hear the most when people are shopping for home fitness equipment. Burning calories in your home gym is an important piece of any effective plan to lose weight. Used correctly, the right piece of exercise equipment will burn calories, and even specifically target fat loss, support a healthy metabolism, and improve cardiovascular function. So how do you know which piece of exercise equipment will help you burn the most calories?
Calorie calculators are a good place to start, but they only tell one part of the story. Calorie calculators provide a helpful reality check when it comes to planning your diet and total calorie consumption for weight loss. Knowing the calories burned while running or cycling for an hour helps you consider how many calories you burn each day, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you which piece of exercise equipment will be the most effective for helping you to lose weight. So how do you choose the best exercise equipment to burn fat and calories?
Calories are really just a way of measuring the amount of power generated by our bodies. The best exercise machine for burning calories on your body is the one that allows you to use your body the most, rather than relying on the machine to create the movement. Sounds simple? Not surprisingly, your current physical health, available time for training, and tolerance for some types of exercise are important things to consider if you want to burn a lot of calories while using your home exercise equipment.
Here’s How It Works:
If you are in good physical health, without injury or physical limitations, and have plenty of time for training, the best exercise for burning calories is going to be running, hard, on a treadmill. Hard running on a treadmill burns more than 700 calories per hour. Additionally, running is a very honest exercise. It doesn’t allow much cheating when it comes to supporting your body. Unless you are gripping and leaning on the handrails (hard to do when running, but I have seen it), you are forced to hold your body upright, engage core strength, and move your legs forward. All of these actions will make you burn more calories per minute.
So what happens if you’re not a runner? Elliptical machines, indoor bikes, rowing machines, and even a steep incline on your treadmill all offer great ways to burn calories for those of us who need something that is lower impact. These methods of exercise also provide varying levels of opportunity to cheat when it comes to working out. If you want to burn calories, cheating is anything that makes the machine, rather than your body do the work. Avoid supporting yourself by holding on to the machine as much as possible. Leaning on the elliptical machine means you aren’t holding yourself upright. Standing on a bike with bad form or using very low resistance means you aren’t engaging your leg muscles to pedal, which results in fewer calories burned. This is where calorie calculators break down and the number of calories per hour becomes much more individual.
If you want to burn the most calories on your home fitness equipment, choose a piece of fitness equipment that you can use with good form and use good form while using that equipment. If running hard on a treadmill for an hour is not something that you can physically (or psychologically) tolerate, it’s not going to be the piece of equipment that burns the most calories for you, even if it blasts calories in a laboratory setting. Rowing is a calorie blaster that targets the upper body and provides a great low impact workout. The calorie burn is also close to running. Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend working out, rowing is a great way to make use of limited time by providing intense workouts that also build strength.
If you have more time for working out but want to avoid high levels of impact, consider an upright cycle or elliptical machine and learn how to use it well. Avoid leaning on the handlebars and use sufficient resistance to make your muscles feel tired during your workout. Simply leaning on a machine while you read or surf the web, might look good on a calorie calculator, but your heart rate monitor and your waistline will tell a different story. When used properly, both biking and the elliptical can burn calories that are in keeping with running on a treadmill, from 500-1000 calories per hour, with the advantage of being more forgiving when it comes to impact.
Remember when it comes to exercising to burn the most calories, it’s not so much the machine as the way you use it. Use a heart rate monitor for objective feedback. Calories are really a way of demonstrating the work performed. The more of the work your body performs versus relying on the machine, the more calories you’re burning. Choosing the exercise machine that you can use well, without compromising your joints or core is the best way to burn fat through exercise.
Memorial Day is around the corner and the best of summer follows right behind it. Are you ready to level up your fitness routine for a beach ready body? This eight week program is just what you need. Combining the research proven benefits of high intensity interval training (not just for serious athletes) through the foolproof Sprint 8 program, offered through many Vision and Matrix Home Fitness products, you will reduce body fat and increase muscle mass in just eight weeks. These home workouts are convenient and time efficient and will help you lose the winter bulk while targeting your core, arms, and backside (you want to look good leaving the beach, too, right?).
Why 8 weeks? 8 weeks is the perfect amount of time to commit to a tough but doable training program. By combining these workout routines with a clean diet, you’re giving your body the tools it needs to shed five to fifteen pounds and build visible muscle. The evidence backed Sprint 8 programming included in this plan has been demonstrated to boost energy (keeping you motivated), reduce body fat, promote lean muscle mass, and improve cholesterol in just eight weeks. After eight weeks of training you’ll probably be ready for a break to enjoy your first taste of summer and possibly repeat the program after a week or two. Here’s how to get started.
Choose your Cardio Equipment: You already know that some cardio equipment is better than others at torching calories. You want to choose equipment that lets you, personally, get the hardest workout you can, while also maintaining good form. That means, no leaning on the machine. You also need to keep your core engaged and use a sufficient resistance to challenge your heart and the muscles involved. If you can run, choose a treadmill. If you aren’t a runner, or can’t tolerate the impact, an elliptical machine or exercise bike will also get you there.
Weeks 1-2: Nail the diet. Increase your Cardio Base and Begin Targeted Strength TrainingDiet: We all know that abs are made in the kitchen, right? Start a food journal, do some meal planning, and measure your food to get a reality check on portion sizes. Your meals should be centered around whole foods … fruits, vegetables, and reasonably lean protein. If you’ve got more than five pounds to lose, keep your starchy and sugary carbs to a minimum as well (easy on the potatoes, pasta, and recovery drinks). Be careful about going too low on fat as that can impact your motivation for working out and make you hungrier in the long run. Your best approach is to include a small amount of fat, as well as healthy carbs and protein each time you eat. Now is a good time to cut out the extras . . . sugar, alcohol, and processed foods.
Workouts: This plan includes both an AM and PM workout schedule. Developing a morning workout routine is associated with higher success in sticking to your workouts so it’s a good habit to develop. These morning workouts are designed to be quick so you can get started on your day. If it works for you to switch up am and pm or to complete all of your workouts in the morning at this point, that’s fine.
Weeks 1-2 AM PM Monday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 1 Tuesday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 2 Wednesday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 1 Thursday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 2 Friday 40 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate Saturday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 1 Sunday Recreation: walk or hike, take a yoga class, play frisbee, or garden. Whatever gets you moving on the weekend!
Weeks 3-4: Increase Intensity and Challenge:Diet: The changes that you made during the first two weeks should feel more second nature now. If you need to revisit meal planning or food journaling this is a good time to recommit. If there is something you’ve been craving and stayed away from, schedule a time to enjoy it by having a dinner out of the house or meeting up with a friend for ice cream or a glass of wine. Workouts: To keep your body from adapting, these workout routines will add intensity to the workout routines of the first two weeks. Increase the load and muscular recruitment through adding in resistance bands and dumbbells. This will build muscle and increase stability, preparing you for more explosive work during weeks 4-6. We are also increasing intensity through super-sets, back to back exercises targeting the same muscle group, and beginning a day of twice daily workouts to keep your metabolism high.
Weeks 3-4 AM PM Monday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 3 Tuesday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 4 Wednesday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 3 Thursday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 4 Friday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate Saturday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 3 Sunday Recreation: walk or hike, take a yoga class, play frisbee, or garden. Whatever gets you moving on the weekend!
Weeks 5-6: Halfway There! Avoid the PlateauDiet: It might get tougher to stick to your diet at this point, especially if the pounds are coming off. A tough training schedule increases your need for protein so make sure you’re getting plenty of that, as well as fat. Keep focusing on a variety of nutritious carbs from fruits and vegetables to help keep the cravings under control. Schedule a Friday evening with a friend to enjoy a meal or drink you’ve been craving and then get back on track with a tough Saturday morning workout. Workouts: Introducing the Saturday Slammer. After your Friday night out, eat a healthy breakfast and choose one of the calorie churning workouts given here (you can do the same workout routines on an elliptical or indoor bike as well). You’ll burn more than 500 calories and break up your routine. We are also adding an additional 2 workout day and stepping up the explosiveness of the strength training to support muscle growth while maintaining a high metabolism. The range of 75-85% of your max heart rate during interval training is designed to stay just below your lactate threshold in order to build endurance and recovery. You want to feel uncomfortable during this training, but as though you can stay there with effort for more than 5 minutes.
Weeks 5-6 AM PM Monday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 5 Tuesday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 6 Wednesday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 5 Thursday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 6 Friday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 75-80% of max heart rate Saturday Saturday Slammer (see above), Strength Workout 5 Sunday Recreation: walk or hike, take a yoga class, play frisbee, or garden. Whatever gets you moving on the weekend!
Weeks 7-8: Getting ShreddedDiet: You’re almost there! Keep your hydration up and continue including a variety of unprocessed foods to keep the cravings under control. If you’ve stepped back from journaling, reintroducing it now will keep you on track. During the final week, make sure to stay away from alcohol, processed sugar, and starchy foods to reduce bloat for your final weigh in or beach event. When you make it to the final week, take some time to recover by enjoying a favorite food and some extra rest. Workouts: Your goal is to avoid injury and support full muscle development before you head to the beach. We do this by adding more variety and rotating through the previous weeks’ workouts and hitting the upper body super-sets from weeks 3-4 hard. While we continue the frequency of workouts for a few more weeks, the upper body strength training is targeted at visible muscle development to help you get your pump on before you hit the beach.
Week 7 AM PM Monday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 1 Tuesday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 2 Wednesday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 3 Thursday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 4 Friday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 80% of max heart rate Saturday Saturday Slammer (see above), Strength workout 3 Sunday Rest or active recovery Week 8 AM PM Monday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 5 Tuesday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 6 Wednesday Sprint 8; Strength Workout 1 Thursday 30 minutes of cardio at 75% of max heart rate, Strength Workout 2 Friday 25 minutes of cardio intervals at 75-85% of max heart rate 30 minutes of cardio at 80% of max heart rate Saturday Saturday Slammer (see above), Strength Workout 3 Sunday Enjoy the Beach!
Enjoy the results of your hard work over the past eight weeks. Remember that your body needs to recover after pushing hard. Take the next week or two to focus on sleep, nutrition, and recovery while you step back on your training volume and intensity. You can repeat this training plan once again before Labor Day to end the summer in even better shape!
To make your workouts easier, we've lowered prices on all our home cardio and strength machines. Stop in store today to talk to a fitness expert and try machines in person. We'll make sure you reach your summer fitness goals.
Posted: March 30, 2017||
Strength Workout 1 (upper body/core, less than 20 minutes)25 push-ups
1 min plank
1 min hollow hold/Banana
20 tricep Push-ups
1 min Superman/locust
Each round has a time cap of five minutes. If you do not finish in 5 minutes, rest for 1 minute then start where you left off for your next round. Repeat 3 times.
Modifications: Push-ups and planks can be done kneeling; If needed, bend knees for hollow hold and keep legs down for locust. Option, reduce push-ups and tricep push-ups by five each round.
Strength Workout 2 (lower body/full body)10 Burpees
25 bodyweight squats, full depth
20 foot Bear Crawl
Stepping Lunges – alternate legs, 12 each side
20 foot Bear Crawl
Side Plank, 20 sec each side
Complete the round in 6 minutes. Repeat 3 times. If you do not finish in 6 minutes, rest 1 minute and start where you left off for your next round.
Modifications: Squats should be done to full depth (butt drops lower than your knees). If you cannot do full depth, you may place a low chair behind you to provide a target to squat to and get up from. You may also do less than full depth. Squats may be substituted for the lunges if needed. Squats may be reduced by 5 and lunges by 3 (each side) for second and third rounds.
Strength Workout 3 (Using Bands)Each exercise should be done 12 times (on each side of the body) before moving to the next exercise.
Complete each Super-set three times.
Tricep Dips: Using a chair, place hands outside of hips on the chair. Dip your hips as low as possible while keeping your bottom near the chair. Bring legs in close to make it easier, far away to increase challenge.
Shoulder Extension with Tricep Kickback: Anchor band to a low point. Facing the band, grip the band to extend your arm away from your body. Then bend and straighten your arm while keeping your shoulder in position. That’s one rep. (here’s an image. Just add the tricep kick back to that… https://fruitfulsteps.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/ther-ex-0062.jpg)
Pallof Press (using resistance band): Anchor band and turn so that your side faces it. Hold the band at chest height. Maintaining tension, extend arms to press away from your body. Return.
Here is a quick demo… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g921oqINXFQ
Bent Row: Anchor the band to a low point and face the band. Holding it in each hand, bend over, make a rowing movement so that your elbows come behind your body as you press your shoulder blades towards each other.
Rear Delt Fly: Face side on to your band and bend over so that your upper body is parallel to the floor. Using the hand furthest from the band, grip the band and extend the arm away from you so that it is in line with the shoulder and also parallel to the floor. Return your arm to the starting position.
Strength Workout 4Superset 1
Front Squats: Complete full depth squat holding a heavy dumbbell in front of the chest
Squat Press: Holding dumbbells at shoulder height, complete a full squat. As you stand, press the weight overhead.
Weighted front lunge: Holding a plate at chest height, step forward into a lunge. Step together. Then step the other leg forward.
Lunging Pallof Press: Anchoring band at a middle point. Stand in a lunge position. At the bottom of the lunge, press hands forward to extension. Stand while keeping feet in beginning lunge position. Repeat 6 times
Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift High Pulls: In a wide leg position with dumbbells on the floor centered under the body, bend to pick up the dumbbells keeping chest upright. Keeping the dumbbells close to the body and elbows high, shrug shoulders to lift dumbbells to chest height (here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjh2-gR6ijw
Squat with Side Leg Raise: Holding a shallow squat position (hips above knee level), step your right leg to the right. Stay in the squat position on the left leg. Raise your right leg up and touch it down. Repeat up to 12 times before completing reps on the left.
Strength Workout 5Circuit style: each station is 60 seconds. Complete two stations then rest for one minute before the next pair of stations.
Jack Push-ups: from high plank positions jump hands and feet wide to low push up position, return to high plank position.
Jump to Squat Clean: From a standing position with dumbbells at your side, jump forward to a wide squat position catching dumbbells at your shoulders. Jump back to starting position.
Rest (1 min)
Scissor Lunges (jump into a lunge position then immediately jump into a lunge with the other leg forward)
Rest 1 min
Alternate Dumbbell Pushups: Place a dumbbell under your right hand to raise it up. Complete 6 push ups, move it to your left hand, complete six pushups. Repeat
When you finish, repeat the circuit placing the other exercise first, so that station 1 is Jump to Squat Clean followed by Jack Pushups, etc.
Modifications: Remove jump or weight from any movement. Squats can be substituted for lunges.
Strength Workout 6Home Gym Friendly Wall Balls: Using a Dynamax Ball, complete a full squat holding the ball at chest height, when you stand extend heels up and reach ball overhead as though throwing it up the wall in front of you. That’s one rep.
Sit up Ball Passes: Using the Dynamax ball, facing the wall as though prepared to do push ups. When you lie down, your arms bring the ball to the floor over your head, when you sit up, pass the ball to the wall, catch it and repeat.
Each station is 5 minutes. Complete as many reps as you can. Repeat each station 1 time.