Top 3 Tips for Building a Home Gym You Will Actually Use

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People tend to have a love/hate relationship with their local gym or workout center. They are usually paying a monthly fee to be a member, and know they should go. However, after working all day, picking the kids up from school, and fixing dinner, who has time to go to the gym? It would be much easier and cheaper to find ways to workout at home. What if you were to take it one step further, and create a home gym? What are some ways you can do this in order to get the most benefit?

Find the room – The first thing you have to determine when building a home gym, is where you are going to put it. In order to maintain some organization and avoid distractions while working out, it’s important for the gym to be separate from everything else. Choose a guest bedroom that isn’t getting used, a closed off area in the basement, or possibly part of the garage. Make a list of the equipment you want to have and make sure there is enough room for everything to fit.   Once this is done you are ready to start creating your home gym.

Equipment – You can create a gym that revolves completely around your likes and dislikes. If you hate the treadmill or stationary bike, don’t bother making one of these a part of your home gym. Strength training would require a weight machine or free weights as part of your workout routine. Yoga mats, steppers, elliptical machines, fitness balls, and stretch bands are part of the endless supply of workout equipment to help with your daily mantra. The important thing is creating a gym around your likes and dislikes in order to keep you motivated and active.

Create a Routine – The only thing better than having a home gym is using it. Even though you have easy access to workout now, it’s still going to tough to keep up with it if we don’t have a daily routine. Carve out an hour or two during the evening, or possibly before you go to work in the morning to use the home gym. Grab another family member and workout together. This is one way you can avoid the excuses and maintain the motivation to keep at it.

A home gym is one of the best ways for your family to create and stick to a daily workout routine. It’s also the cheaper route when you think about how much a gym membership is on a yearly basis. You can motivate and encourage each other to reach your fitness goals and have a great time while doing so. Not only are you getting in shape, but spending important quality time with your whole family.

 

Exercise Band Workouts for Your Hips and Thighs

The hips and thighs are difficult to slim and trim, second only to trimming belly fat. You can squat, lunge and extend and still have not get the results you want. Adding an elastic exercise band to your workout might be just the thing that helps improve your workout. Adding extra resistance to your exercise routine improves the effectiveness of your workout. To burn fat, you have to reduce your calories and do aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, swimming or bicycling.  Do strength training exercises to improve your muscle tone and to add lean muscle mass while strengthening your muscles.

You can find exercise bands in most sporting goods stores or even at your local gym.  They are generally inexpensive, compared to other exercise equipment, and come in a variety of strengths. Beginners should start using bands that offer the least resistance and gradually move to more resistant bands as your strength increases. You can find bands that have handles or no handles. You can attach them to a door frame or a permanent wall anchor. Circular bands that wrap around your ankles or thighs are great for working your lower body while leaving your hands free.

Wrap a circular band around your ankles and lie down on the floor to do band leg extensions. Lie on your back with your legs extended. Squeeze your abs and lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling, stretching the band as you lift your leg. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and then lower your leg back to the floor. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. As your legs grow stronger, hold the lift up to 10 seconds or do more repetitions. Increase the resistance or the number of repetitions when you can do 12 repetitions without experiencing muscle failure.

Increase the effectiveness of your regular set of squats by adding a medium resistance exercise band. You can use two bands, one secured to each leg, or stand on one long band and hold each end in your hands. Move to your squat position and hold the handles of the exercise band with your palms up (or wrap the band around your hands) until there is slight tension on the bands. Push yourself up from the squat but keep your hands about waist level with your elbows bent and your palms upward. This exercise will not only add resistance to your lower body workout, it is also a great way to strengthen your arms and shoulders. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and then rest for one minute before doing another set of 10 to 15 squats.

Have a seat for this next exercise that will work your inner and outer thighs. Sit in a sturdy chair without arms and wrap an exercise band around your legs just above your knees. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Spread your knees apart pushing against the resistance band. Hold the position for 2 seconds and then relax. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.

Pumping Iron Over 60

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If you’re over 60 and you’ve decided to start lifting weights, you’ll enjoy many health benefits, including stronger muscles and bones. You can strengthen your body using free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. Beginners, no matter your age, should start slowly with light weights and focus on proper form to reduce your risk of injury. You should seek instruction by a qualified fitness trainer if you decide not to use a gym. See your doctor for a complete checkup before you start any exercise program. Always warm-up before working out and cool-down afterward.

Beginners should design a workout routine that works all your muscle groups in 2 workouts each week. Don’t lift weights on consecutive days because your muscles need at least one day to rest and recover. Train a different muscle group at each workout to avoid overuse injuries. Work your upper body one day and your core and lower body at the next workout. Lift slowly and focus on your form. Improper form or lifting too quickly can cause injuries. Begin by doing 8 repetitions of each exercise followed by 1 minute of rest. Do another set of 8 repetitions after you rest. Increase the number of repetitions, the number of sets, or the amount of weight when you can do 3 sets without becoming fatigued.

You can use dumbbells to work your upper and lower body. Dumbbell squats work your core, hips, quadriceps and calves. Shoulder shrugs work your arms, shoulders and upper back. Biceps curls are easy for beginners to perform and work your biceps and forearms. If you really want to focus on your upper body and chest, do dumbbell overhead press exercises. Simply holding a set of dumbbells when you do exercise, such as lunges and crunches, adds extra weight resistance.

Barbells are versatile free weights that train the most muscle tissue in the shortest amount of time. People over age 60 should start working with barbell weights slowly with light weights and focus intently on form. Never hold your breath when lifting weights because holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly. Squats, deadlifts and presses are functional lifts that mimic the movements you make when you reach, lift, bend over, sit down and stand up. You can easily add and remove weight to a barbell to suit your fitness and strength level.

Kettlebells are large, heavy weights with a handle. These weights can be used in a number of ways to help strengthen your entire body. Begin with the lightest kettlebells available and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Kettlebells can be used to work your entire body. Exercises that beginners can do include the half Turkish get up, kettlebell squats, deadlifts, and two-arm swings. Do 8 repetitions of each exercise, rest for as long as you need to and repeat the set.

 

Is Weight Training For You?

Maybe you watch people at the gym, huffing, puffing, grunting and sweating at the weight machines or free weights and think, “No way I want to do that!” You’re not sure you would benefit from lifting weights, especially since you have no desire to look like a body builder.

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You can benefit from lifting weights even if you do it only a couple of times each week. Weight training can help improve your muscle tone, build lean muscle mass and help you lose weight. No matter how old or young you are, weight training is good for you.

As we age, we lose muscle mass. Lost muscle will be replaced by flabby fat if you don’t do something to rebuild lost muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy to function than other tissues, therefore it uses more calories. Your metabolism will increase slightly as you gain muscle and burn fat. Increased muscle mass also means your endurance will improve. You will be able to work your muscles harder for a longer period of time. Weight training stresses your muscles causing them to adapt, which makes them grow stronger.

Start with a weight that you can lift, but tires your muscles after 10 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should start with one set of 8 to 10 repetitions of any lifting exercise. You should be barely able to lift the weight on the last repetition.  When you can do 12 repetitions without fatigue, increase the weight by adding 2 to 5 pounds.

Learn proper lifting technique before you grab the dumbbells. A fitness trainer can help you learn the correct way to lift so that you enjoy the benefits of weight training while reducing your risk of injury. Don’t forget to warm-up before lifting. Do some light exercise, such as brisk walking or calisthenics.

Rest one full day between weight training workouts. Your muscles need at least one full day to repair and recover. You can work your core, legs and thighs one day, and then your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back on the next day. Your workout can be as long as you feel comfortable exercising. You can exercise for 15 minutes, 20 minutes or longer. Adjust your workout to suit your strength, overall level of fitness and your time schedule.

 

Effective Stability Ball Exercises

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An exercise ball is a great way to develop your core strength, back and spine strength and improve your balance. Exercise balls can make exercise fun while you get in shape. Just sitting on an exercise ball will help develop your core strength and balance. Because the ball rolls around you are forced to engage your abdominal muscles and sit up straight to keep the ball stable. As the ball tries to roll underneath your body, you respond by moving your core and tightening your leg muscles, first the left then the right, to keep the ball stable. Try some more difficult exercise ball exercises to get a really good workout for your core, back and shoulder muscles.
Crunches on an exercise ball are moderately easy to perform but will fully engage all of your core and back muscles. Lie back on the ball with the ball under the middle of your back. Keep your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Cross your arms over your chest to prevent you from pulling yourself up using your hands behind your head. When you feel stable on the ball, lift your upper body up using your abdominal muscles. Avoid the urge to pull yourself up using your neck.
The bridge is an effective exercise to strengthen your back, chest, core and leg muscles. Begin by sitting on the exercise ball with your arms crossed over your chest. Slowly walk outward one step at a time while rolling the ball under your body. Roll the ball back toward your upper back until the top of your body forms a flat line from your hips to your chest. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The upper leg, back and chest should form a straight line that is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then roll back to the sitting position.
Push-ups are more effective with an exercise ball. Lie across the ball on your abdomen. Place your palms on the floor about shoulder width apart. Walk forward until the ball is resting underneath your thighs. Keep your feet together and your spine straight. Lower your upper body toward the floor by bending your elbows and then push back up.  Do 10 push-ups and increase the number of push-ups as your body grows stronger.

Save Money & Get Fit

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Gym memberships can be expensive. Exercise equipment can cost a lot of money. You don’t have to break the bank to get fit. You don’t have to let the cost of a gym membership or the cost of exercise machines be a stumbling block to your fitness. There are plenty of low-cost and free ways to get fit. Turn every day activities into a workout. Take a brisk walk before work and after work. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk or bicycle to work. Play a game of one-on-one basketball with your child after work and school. Every day activities, such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpet and gardening are excellent free ways to get some exercise. There are many low-cost options to getting fit, too.
If you really want a treadmill, you don’t have to shell out a couple thousand dollars. Shop around to find the best buy. Consider buying used and reconditioned equipment. Gyms sometimes sell older equipment when they upgrade or replace equipment. Sporting goods and fitness equipment stores often sell used equipment at a huge discount. Check online for used equipment, too. Dumbbells, free weights and exercise bands are inexpensive when bought new but are a real deal when you can find them used. Fitness balls and jump ropes are also inexpensive. 
Fitness videos can be rented from video stores,  rented online or viewed on the Internet via podcasts. You can also find fitness videos at department stores. Choose a video that fits with your current level of fitness and is endorsed by a certified fitness trainer. 

Treadmill Workouts

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Cold, rainy or snowy weather does not mean you have to postpone your daily walk, run or jog. Treadmills are a great way to exercise at the gym or at home when walking, jogging or running outdoors is not an option. A treadmill workout doesn’t have to be boring. Treadmills can be used in a variety of ways to get a good workout. You can walk, jog, run, climb an incline or any combination of these exercises. If you have never used a treadmill before, find a personal fitness trainer for instructions on proper use of the equipment. Used properly, a treadmill is a safe way to get a good workout. 
Many treadmills can be programmed for interval training. Program your treadmill for a 30 minutes of a high intensity interval workout. Start your treadmill workout with a warm-up. Walk slowly with the treadmill not inclined for about 5 minutes and gradually increase the speed until you are walking at a moderately fast pace for 5 minutes. Slowly increase the incline until your heart rate and breathing increase. Now it’s time to pick up the pace and run 5 minutes. Slow the pace to a jog for another 5 minutes. Power walk for 5 minutes and then increase the incline on the treadmill and climb walk for 5 minutes. Cool down by walking at a relaxed pace for the final 5 minutes. Increase the amount of time spent on each interval as your endurance increases.