5 workout tools and how to use them

Not all workout tools are created equal’while some add much-needed resistance to your workout, others will simply gather dust in the garage. Here’s what’s worth buying’and why

5 workout tools and how to use them

Source: Power Up; Random House Canada

While I’m not a big fan of buying exercise equipment’most home stationary cycles mysteriously turn into clothing racks’some strength-training toys can be useful for working on those hard-to-reach and long-neglected-muscle groups.

‘ Bands: Massive rubber bands that come in different tensile strengths to provide resistance. Hold the bands in front of you, core engaged, and stretch the ends of the bands in opposite directions to exercise the triceps and upper back muscles.

‘ Balls:
You can pump up your push-ups with an exercise ball. Push up with your hands on the ball to improve balance, or with your feet on the ball and hands on the floor, core engaged, to really ratchet up the level of difficulty. Sitting on a ball and trying to remain stable while doing any exercise ‘ such as moving hand weights ‘ engages the core, improves balance, and intensifies any exercise.

‘ Weights:
Handheld weights are still the standard for strength training. But I’m not taking about hulking up a 50-pound weight, which is invariably done with horrendous postural adjustments. Simple one- to five¬pound hand weights are perfectly adequate training tools. I prefer exercises that mimic normal activities. Take a two-pound weight and, with your your core fully engaged, simply go through the motions of loading the car with groceries (lift and reach) or of putting away a carry-on bag in the overhead compartment (lift the weights from shoulder height to up over your head.)

‘ Balance boards:
These add the element of balance to your strength training. New to the scene are microelectric balance boards, which provide a nearly infinitesimal electric vibration that requires your nervous and muscular systems to constantly work for balance.

‘ Jump ropes:
The sine qua non of aerobic and resistance training’jumping rope provides aerobic, core, and upper body training. But skipping rope is extremely rigorous’most people new to aerobic training will be exhausted after a couple of minutes.

Excerpted from Power Up by Woodson Merrell, M.D. Copyright © 2008 by Woodson Merrell, M.D.. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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