The fitness industry is constantly evolving since our society is constantly changing. Since our society has become more and more sedentary, people need to be taught to proper movement patterns. Because of this focus on proper movement patterns workouts have become more and more focused on functional strength.
While classes like Zumba are becoming more popular as people are seeking out “fun” ways to workout (that seem less like working out) so is functional training equipment (YAY!).
Here are some cool pieces of equipment that I hope to start seeing in more and more gyms!
- Kettlebells are probably one of the oldest forms of lifting equipment. They were developed in Russia in the 1700 and finally reached the US around the 1960s. They were once a common staple of the gym, but have since virtually disappeared. Recently though there has been a resurgence and now many kettlebell training certifications are available. One of the best ways to work your entire body and gain lean muscle mass!
- Sleds – A great way to improve your leg power! Pushing (or pulling!) a sled is a great full body workout. While I love deadlifts and squats, pushing a sled can help you get pretty much the exact same benefits as both in one exercise!
- Heavy Ropes – These are not something I’ve worked with, but I can’t wait to! You can literally get a full body workout using these ropes. There are specific exercises with the heavy ropes that can target your upper body, core and legs. They also provide you with a very cardio workout!
- Sandbags – If you think lifting a dumbbell, plate weight or barbell overhead is hard, try lifting a sandbag of the same weight! Because the weight in sandbags can shift, you really have to use your core. This is a much better way to engage some of those core stabilizer muscles than a stupid bosu! Plus you are lifting something heavy, which you know I love!
- Sandbells and Waterbells – A variation of both the medicine ball and the sandbag, I thought these were just too cool not to include. what a great way to incorporate the sandbag into more exercises. These sandbells can also help you work on grip while you are getting all the benefits of lifting a sandbag and heavy weights!
- TRX bands – A Pilates-based movement system, the TRX is a great way to get in a full-body, bodyweight workout. The thing I love about the TRX too is that it can be used to teach beginners proper movement patterns, but also be used to challenge even the fittest of athletes!
- TRX Rip Trainer – This new piece of equipment actually started this whole post. I love the fact that this is a small, easily portable piece. Like the TRX, it looks like something that everyone can use. I can’t wait to try it!
- Foam rollers – I love foam rollers. While not exactly a piece of exercise equipment (although it can be used for exercises), it is essential to any functional workout. It is key to developing proper length-tension relationships and correcting imbalances!
- Tires – I love deadlifts and squats. BUT flipping tires can be a great substitute. There is something about the idea of flipping a tire that just seems so Primal to me. I feel like this exercise came from cavemen and women who flipped rocks to prove who was strongest. Am I crazy? Probably.
- Rings – Can we say DIFFICULT!?! Working out on the rings, whether you are doing muscle ups or not, is probably one of the hardest things EVER. I always love watching the gymnasts do them because you can see every muscle in their bodies working!
Runners up: Medicine balls, Resistance bands, Ergs, Versa Climbers, Monkey bars (I LOVE MONKEY BARS!)
All of these pieces of equipment can be used to give you both a cardio and strength training workout! Plus they work your entire body!
What functional training equipment do you love?
You don’t need a gym to get in a great workout. Actually you don’t even need any equipment at all – here is a list of 10 great exercises you can do anywhere!
BUT if you are going to invest in some home exercise equipment, these are the pieces to get! Some are definitely not essential but can add a lot of variety to your home routine. Also, most of the stuff you can tuck away in the closet!
- Pull up bar – If you only have a pull up bar and your own body weight, you have more than enough to get in a killer full body workout! You can do chin ups, pull ups, wide grip pull ups, towel pull ups…any variety of pull ups to work your back. You can then do a variety of push ups and plyometrics to kill the rest of your body. Pull up bars for your doorway also aren’t expensive, costing only about $30. You can also easily store them away in your closet!
- Bowflex Dumbbells – One of the best presents that I ever got for Ryan in my opinion. Weights can add intensity and variety to any workout routine. I find that they are great especially for leg workouts since body weight exercises are usually the least challenging for the legs. And dumbbells like the Bowflex ones, give you a range of weights to use (ours go up to 52lbs) without you having to purchase a trillion different pairs.
- TRX Suspension Trainer – One of the most expensive pieces on the list, but also one of the most versatile. You can hang it from a door OR even use it outside! You can get a full body workout just using the TRX system. To name just a few exercises you can do: 1 leg squats, balance lunge, inverted row, push up, back flyes, chest flyes, pike push ups, climbers, knee tucks, jackknives…
- Resistance bands – You can get these instead of weights but I recommend using them in addition to weights. Not as good for challenging the legs, resistance bands are great for the upper body because they make you work through the entire range of motion. Also, they are great if you aren’t yet able to do full pull ups. If you have a door strap, you can hook one of the bands up and do a modified pull up. These are also a great thing to have if you travel often since they are easy to take on trips!
- Foam Roller – While this can be used for making workout moves more challenging, you most definitely NEED to have one of these at home for rehab/prehab purposes. You should be foam rolling before and after every workout in my opinion. Since I have one at home, I sometimes foam roll two or three times a day if I’m super tight or sore!
- Yoga mat – Not a necessity to have, but if you plan to do any stretching, crunches or yoga, it can be very nice to have a mat instead of just using a towel. It is also nice to have one on the floor if you do plyometrics…nice for any neighbors you may have that is!
- Medballs – Again not a necessity since you can use weights for many of the moves you do with a medball. BUT these are great to use to make push ups more challenging…push ups say like the Impossible Push Up! These are also a great addition to any home exercise equipment collection especially if you are able to bounce them or throw them at walls as that opens up a whole new range of exercise options!
- Box step – It is much safer to use a box step than a chair or couch for many moves. Also, if you’ve already bought just about everything else on this list, this is one of the last few pieces you need to be able to do just about everything at home! It is a great piece to use for decline push ups, step ups, balance lunges, box jumps, box shuffle…and many other moves!
- Stability Ball – This piece is cheap, but it takes up some space. It is a great way to add in exercises that work your core even more. It is sort of one of those pieces that you add in when you need to spice up your routine or want to take on some of Tony Horton’s ridiculous push up challenges!
- Jump rope – A great piece of cardio equipment! Easy to carry and store. The only downside is you probably have to do it outside. But if you want to add some cardio intervals to your workout, definitely add in jump rope. If you want an extra challenge, do double jumps instead!
Runner’s up: Sliders and kettlebells. Sliders are the things you use to move furniture. They are great to use to make leg moves and abs moves more difficult. Kettlebells are just a fun addition to have for cleans, snatches and swings but you can simply use the Bowflex dumbbells.
As long as you skip the Shake Weight and Sketchers Shape Ups, there are some great fitness gifts out there.
One year, I got Ryan Bowflex dumbbells, which were a great idea aside from the fact that I ended up with bruises trying to get the two 52lbs dumbbells up three flights of stairs (and hide them so they would be a surprise).
Here are 10 fitness gifts that I love:
1. TRX Suspension Training
2. Pull Up bar
4. P90x DVDs
5. Personal Training Sessions
6. The Primal Blueprint
7. Bowflex Dumbbells
8. Resistance bands
9. Yoga mat
10. FOAM ROLLER!!!!!
Please just don’t get any of the products on this website!!
So I found out last week that Jillian Michaels hates running and I 100% agree with that sentiment. I run as little as possible and if I have to run, I prefer to do sprints. I just get too freaking bored running long distances.
BUT running is good for you. So I force myself to do it. I usually force myself to run by including it in a workout – like in crossfit workouts like the Murph (1 mile, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile) or the Small (3 rounds of 1,000m rowing, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps and 800m running). But sometimes I do manage to just do a cardio day like yesterday.
Yesterday I actually did what are probably my two least favorite things – running and rowing. I’ve already mentioned I hate running, but rowing is also up there among the things I hate most. BUT unlike running, I force myself to row at least a few times a week. Boredom isn’t a factor when I row – surviving is. Rowing is probably one of the hardest activities for me, which is why I force myself to do it. I’m determined to get better at it.
Anyway, yesterday I did a workout that included both running and rowing and was purely cardio aside from the tough ab circuit before. I’ve included both the abs and the cardio workout below. Even Man Bicepers need to do cardio even if we do like lifting weights more! 🙂
Abs: (Repeat circuit 3 times)
15 Knees to Elbows (Hanging from a pull up bar bring your knees up to your elbows.)
10 each side Cable Cross Rotation with Press (Put the cable as low as it can go. Using the rope attachment pull from low on your right , pull across your body and up toward your shoulder rotating your body so that you can press the cable up and out on the left side.)
15 TRX Knees to Chest (Holding a push up position with your feet in the TRX band, bring your knees in toward you chest without raising your butt up.)
10 each side Russian Twists (Use weight!)
Walk 2 minutes
Run 7 minutes
On the third round:
Walk 2 minutes
Run 7 minutes