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Ellipticals: The Adjustable Stride Feature

Author: Tedd Falk

adjustable stride elliptical If you’ve been doing your elliptical research lately, one feature that tends to appear more often than not is adjustable stride. Adjustable stride can absolutely be a vital feature to many elliptical consumers, so let’s get into a few details regarding what to look for in an adjustable stride!

Manual or Automatic: No we aren’t car shopping, but just like cars, not all ellipticals are automatic, or have automatically adjusting stride. Many will have a pin near the fly wheel that will have to be manually adjusted to change stride. This manual adjustment can be a turn off in that it can interrupt your workout, or is just flat out annoying! However, it can be a more inexpensive way to get the correct stride lengths you are looking for, instead of shelling out more money for the automatic feature.

Stride Length: How far can the elliptical actually adjust? Is it 16”-20”, 20”-22”, 18”-24”? There is a wide array of ranges when it comes to elliptical strides and the only way to find out what range will fit best is to try them out! You might even find that you like a longer stride when you are working hard and moving fast, and a shorter stride when you are cooling down. Don’t forget about your family if they will be using it too! A family of varying heights might find it very beneficial to have a wide range of stride lengths.

Incline: Some ellipticals, such as the Vision Fitness Suspension Trainer, adjust stride by varying the incline of the pedals to create more of a hiking motion. Others, like the Octane Q47, will simply adjust length for more of a running motion. Once again, the only way for you to know which suits you best is to try them out. Do you want to focus on a particular body part? Are you training for a specific sport? Is your elliptical for cross training? These are all things to keep in mind when deciding which motion is best for you.

Stride Programs: Stride programs are typically only available on automatically adjusting ellipticals and act as a personal trainer to adjust the stride for you. Stride programs help to give you a variety of stride lengths during your workout to help engage different muscles in the lower body. For example, an interval stride program might start you off at a shorter 18” stride for one minute, then increase the length to 22” for the next minute, and so on and so forth. While one could certainly do this on their own by pushing the adjustment buttons every minute, the programs make the ability to adjust stride more convenient and are usually better designed to help you better achieve your goals.

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I Can’t Fit That In My Home!

Author: Tedd Falk

Folding Elliptical If you have ever looked at a piece of fitness equipment and said these exact words you are not alone. Luckily, there might be an option out there for you!

Let’s first get one thing straight. If there was such a thing as an elliptical, treadmill, or bike that could fit snug into a corner and was durable, natural feeling, smooth, and comfortable, we would never sell anything else. The problem is, there is a reason the equipment is so big and it’s because of all those adjectives above. When you start shrinking an exercise machine, you typically start to lose out when it comes to durability and comfort.

But there is hope! Did you know that a lot of the equipment out there today can fold up? Yes, folding treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes are becoming more and more popular today and can save you that little extra space to fit your favorite piece of equipment in that spare bed room. But, buyer beware, there can be some disadvantages to a folding machine. A treadmill for instance, might have a lighter deck to make it easier to fold. This will unfortunately take away from the strength and stability of the machine. When in doubt, always try it first. Going back to our treadmill example, take a jog on the machine to make sure it doesn’t feel too flimsy and take a look at the folding mechanism itself. Does it look like the machine is folding on top of any parts that are vital to the operation of the machine, say the front roller? These are all things to keep into consideration, and always make sure to ask your sales associate to become as informed as possible. Just a few examples of machines that we like and can fold are the LifeSpan 4000i treadmill, Vision Fitness TF40 treadmill, and the Vision Fitness XF40 elliptical.

Ok, now for the free weight dilemma. There is no way I can fit a whole rack of dumbbells in my home! Yes, not everyone has a dedicated home gym space and that is why adjustable dumbbells exist. Adjustable dumbbells, like PowerBlocks, include a variety of weight selections in one dumbbell with weight varying anywhere from 5lbs-90lbs depending on how much you need. They are easy to use and tend to be less expensive than piecing together a set of individual dumbbells. They also usually include a small rack option for added convenience.

Now that you have some ideas of options and what to look for, it’s time to work out!

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The Cardio Zone

Author: Tedd Falk

Heart Rate Zones Training zones became popular when fitness equipment manufacturers started putting the green, yellow, and red heart rate charts on their equipment, but many were probably wondering what it all meant. Isn’t cardio just cardio? Today we talk about the cardio zone, and how it can benefit you.

So where does the cardio zone fall into our colorful heart rate zone chart? The cardio zone begins after 70% of your max heart rate, and within this 70%-100% are a few sub classes of the cardio zone. The first, being the aerobic zone. When you are you working out in the aerobic zone, you have probably begun to jog or run, instead of walk, and have started to sweat at a good rate. However, you are still meeting oxygen demands to where your muscles are not deprived. This is typically the zone to train in if your goal is to increase your heart and lung capacity, or in other words, your endurance.

Uh oh, that angry dog just started to chase you down the street. It’s time to turn the afterburners and break into the anaerobic zone. The anaerobic zone is a tough zone to maintain and we are now turning to the muscles in an oxygen deprived state where you will begin to build up lactic acid. Well that doesn’t sound good at all, why would I want to be in this zone? Training in the anaerobic zone will improve the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume (Vo2 max) and you will also burn calories at a faster rate. But if I can only handle this intensity for a short amount of time, I won’t burn that many calories right? There is some truth to that, which is why it’s good to vary between aerobic, and anaerobic exercise (Hello Interval Training!).

Last up is the red zone or the max zone. You literally cannot work any harder and probably wouldn’t be able to say a single word in between breathing. This is where a high level athlete might train within a sprint regimen and it will help build overall strength. At this point you are also burning about 90% carbohydrates and 10% fat.

Cool, you now have a basic understanding of the cardio training zone. Now go out and do some cardio!

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Exercise Equipment for the Road

Author: Tedd Falk

Not every hotel has a fitness center and as much as you want to, you can’t throw your treadmill in your car. So when you are traveling on the road, think about bringing one of these tools to give you a challenging workout in a pinch:

1. TRX Suspension Kit: The TRX is extremely portable and easy to setup. You can hang it from a door using the door anchor attachment and off you go. The number of body weight exercises you can perform are endless, and can be as basic or as advanced as you want them to be.

TRX single leg squat 2. Resistance Bands: Another small and portable tool to use that can also be attached to a door. Resistance bands can be a great total body strength training workout. They come in different resistance levels for novice or advanced users, or for specific exercises.

3. Adjustable Dumbbells (EX. Powerblocks): Probably not the best thing to bring on a plane but if you’re driving to your destination you can certainly throw a pair of adjustable dumbbells in the trunk for you to continue your strength training program on the fly.

Mountain Climber Exercise 4. Jump Rope: Need a way to get an intense cardio workout on the road? Pack a Jump Rope! Try performing interval training with your jump rope by jumping fast for one minute, and then cooling down at a slow pace for the next. Continue this for 15 mins and I guarantee you’ll be sweating!

5. Exercise ball: Pick up an exercise ball with a portable pump so that six pack doesn’t disappear on the road. Need some ideas? Try the mountain climber exercise: Put your hands on the ball as if you were holding a high plank. Now, keeping your core tight, quickly alternate lifting your left and right leg as if you were climbing in place. Perform this for 3 sets of 30 seconds. This is a great core exercise and a quick way to get your heart rate up.

6. Yoga Mat: Yoga is a great fat burning workout, and will also help better your core strength and flexibility. All it requires is a mat and can be performed just about anywhere!

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Cross Training: Why It’s Important

Author: Tedd Falk

Bike Types You and your elliptical are basically best friends. You two spend 3 days of the week together for at least 30 minutes and have done so for the last 3 years. You are really good at working out on your elliptical. Maybe TOO good? Problem is, that grocery bag seemed extremely heavy when carrying it up the stairs, and when you dusted off your bike for a ride over the weekend it felt really hard. It might be time to meet some new friends. Hello Crosstraining!

Look, we all want to be really good at things, but sometimes specializing isn’t always the best solution for us. This is especially true in fitness. We are unfortunately creatures of habit that get stuck in the same routines, all while our bodies crave to move in different ways. So, you don’t have to completely break up your relationship with your elliptical, but think about supplementing your elliptical workout with a different form of cardio once and a while. For example, you could make Monday your elliptical day, Wednesday your stationary bike day, and you could even add a strength training day on Friday. If you have a specific goal in mind, find multiple exercises that all work to achieve similar results. By doing this you’ll start to find that your fitness level will become much more rounded and stronger overall.

Not only will you become stronger overall, but cross training can also prevent the potential for injury. Runners are always a good example of how our muscles can become imbalanced by specializing. Runners are typically very powerful and have high endurance, but constant running causes their quads to overpower their hamstrings. Let’s also not forget to mention running completely neglects the upper body. Most runners also fit the stereotype of being very inflexible. All of these factors combined make the body more vulnerable to injury, where they could be avoided by mixing up your workouts.

Even in sports, coaches are beginning to encourage kids not to specialize in a sport at too young of an age. Many scouts/recruiters are reporting that they are able to pick out young athletes who have specialized due to weaknesses in overall strength and coordination.

If for no other reason, cross train to cut out the monotony! Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring! Freshen up your workout and have some fun with fitness!

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Interval Training: What you should know

Author: Tedd Falk

Is your regular workout on the treadmill or elliptical getting old? Try pushing that interval training button on the console of your exercise equipment for a new challenge!

Interval training is a workout consisting of short, alternating bursts of high intensity activity and light intensity activity. For instance, if you enjoy walking outside, you could begin to jog every 30 seconds. By doing this you will now combine aerobic exercise with anaerobic exercise. What does that mean?

Aerobic exercise can vary in intensity based off the individual, but when exercising you are sufficiently generating enough oxygen to meet energy demands and this type of exercise can be performed for longer periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is higher in intensity to the point where lactic acid will begin to form. This type of exercise would more likely be performed by an athlete such as a short distance sprinter.

Well I’m no athlete so how will this help me? To start, more intense exercise will in fact burn more calories, and I think we all know why this is important. Your Aerobic capacity will also improve, so that 30 minute workout on the elliptical can turn into 45 minutes. Or, you will be able to perform that 30 min workout at a quicker pace, which again will increase your calorie burn. Lastly, it will keep you from getting stuck in the same old routine. Anyway we can motivate ourselves to get back on our exercise equipment and challenge ourselves to become a healthier person is a good thing.

The Octane Fitness 30:30 workout is a great example of an intense interval training workout:

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Which type of exercise bike is right for me?

Bike Types Author: Tedd Falk

It’s time to get a piece of in-home fitness equipment and you’ve narrowed it down to an exercise bike. But now you went to the store and you learned that there are 3 different kinds! Here we make the case for all 3 so you can choose the right machine for the right reasons:

1. Recumbent Bike: The La-Z-Boy of exercise equipment. Recumbent bikes have a back rest to lean against for a little bit more comfort and support. This can be a plus for certain medical conditions and for the right person, the added comfort can be a motivational tool as some machines can become uncomfortable which can deter you from using it. Working out is hard enough as it is! Recumbent bikes can also be a bit easier to access as they are lower to the ground and have the option to have what’s called a “walk through” design. Therefore, you won’t have to step up, or step over anything to get on the bike. Recumbent bikes can have simple or more complex workout features, but almost all will have the option to choose a program that will guide you through a workout. It will be up to you to decide whether these programs will help you better achieve your specific goals.

2. Upright bike: As the name suggests, you are seated upright with no back rest when riding this bike. Where the recumbent bike can cause the perception that you are not working as hard because you are leaning back, the upright will not, and this can keep some riders more engaged in their workout. The majority of upright bikes have a large cushioned seat as opposed to what you would find on an outdoor bike, which most people find to be ideal to maximize comfort. This type of bike is best for the rider that likes to stay seated throughout the workout as most of these bikes are not built for standing sprints from a feel or durability standpoint. Like the recumbent style, the upright can come with simple or more complex workout programs that can guide you through a workout.

3. Spin Bike: Spin bikes are for the true bike riders out there and they do a better job of replicating outdoor road biking. If you are the more aggressive racing type rider, this might be the right bike for you. While some seats can be replaced, spin bikes typically come with your standard outdoor bike seat which may not be comfortable enough for some riders. You will also have the ability to ride while standing and this will feel more natural as opposed to if you were to do this on a standard upright bike. While upright and recumbent bikes will include a computer console to guide you through a workout, everything will be up to you on the spin bike. Most spinners only include a resistance knob that you can turn to either increase or decrease resistance and the option to add a computer to track RPMs, calories, distance, time etc.

No matter which one you choose, they can all help you achieve your goals! Good luck!

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