We all know how it feels: you want to be healthy, you want to lose weight, you want to get fit. Every New Year it’s on your list of resolutions. While the motivation may be there at first (a new gym membership and some fancy workout clothes always help), eventually it starts to fade.
The first few months of the year, you are in denial. ‘It’s cold, and I’m wearing big sweaters and jackets. No one will see me anyways.’ But then bathing suit season comes again, and you curse yourself out for going this long without doing something.
Gym memberships start to seem more like monthly gym donations, and going out for a run just seems too hard once the winter weather hits again.
So what are you going to do?
You’ve finally found the solution: it’s time to have a home gym.
If you are limited on time, you can skip to a section by clicking a topic below.
Whether you have an extra room to devote or just a corner, whether money is no object or you’re on a tight budget, there are lots of options that will ensure fitness success. So what are they?
Here are five of the best home workout machines you can buy (and why we think they’re so great).
Type of Workout: Cardio
Ah yes, the classic workout machine, the first that probably came to your mind when you read the title of this article. It is the one machine you will always see at the gym, and usually more than just one! So talking about the treadmill again may seem like a broken record. But this machine is an old favorite for a reason.
Home treadmills have come a very long way, and you can now get a treadmill for your home that is just as good as the ones in your local gym. The best home treadmills these days are commercial grade and cost a fraction of what gym treadmills cost.
Running is touted as one of the best cardio exercises one can do. However, running outside is not always easy. Anyone who has ever tried to run on a cold winter morning can attest to that! Outside are the dangers of ice, snow and rain. This is why getting a good running treadmill for those cold months is a great idea.
Even just a good stiff breeze can throw a runner off his balance. Not to mention that, if you live in a city, there are also cars, busses, bicycles, and other pedestrians to watch out for. And who can really say that they enjoy awkwardly jogging in place while waiting for the pedestrian crossing light to turn green?
With the treadmill, all of these issues are eliminated. So, why do we like the treadmill?
- Easy Indoor Access
This means no more running in the cold, in the rain, no more trying to start your workout before work only to find that it’s still dark outside.
If space is limited, that is fine, grab a folding treadmill and store it away after every workout.
But most importantly, this means no more excuses for not getting your 3 miles in.
- Great for Training
Are you a runner who is preparing for a race? Or are you just trying to beat your latest minute per mile record? Either way, a treadmill is a great option for you. With built-in training programs, there’s always a way to improve yourself.
Also, the treadmill automatically keeps track of how hard you worked, and how fast you went, so you can work on building your endurance and speed and keep track of your progress over time.
- Wide Range of Usage
Whether you’re a marathoner or an avid walker, the treadmill provides what you need. With adjustable speed and incline settings, this baby is prepared to take your body where it’s never been before.
Type of Workout: Full Body/Cardio
Introduced to the market in 1995 by Precor, this machine was built for smooth and (as the name suggests) elliptical movement. Running is great, but not for those with issues involving their knees or ankles.
In fact, running with problems in those joints or in the back can make a fit person very unfit. With its hypnotic, gliding motion and sleek appearance, the elliptical is a fantastic, low-impact option for your home gym.
So what are the benefits?
- Low Impact
As mentioned, the elliptical provides a low impact workout and will leave you injury-free while still allowing you to work up a good sweat.
- Good for Multitasking
Ever get bored while working out? The elliptical’s positioning makes it ideal for reading a book or magazine. Most ellipticals will also come with a convenient place to put such items.
- All Levels Welcome
Whether you’re just beginning the journey to fitness or you’re already a workout enthusiast, the elliptical is a great machine. It is simple to use, but still provides a fantastic workout. The resistance is adjustable, so find the place that challenges you in the right way and go!
- Works That Body
The elliptical gets your heart racing, and will make you feel tired in that sweet, I’ve-worked-out way. In some studies, people have even reported feeling that their legs were more fatigued than when using the treadmill, with the same amount of measured effort.
Also, this machine will work your upper body as well as your lower body. And don’t forget: most ellipticals will also go backwards, which allows you to work your calves and hamstrings more than with forward motion.
Type of Workout: Cardio
As with using the treadmill in comparison to running, the advantages of bicycling indoors rather than outdoors are apparent. The weather factor is completely eliminated. Also, and especially with a bicycle, the stress of riding in traffic is gone.
Add in the fact that the indoor bicycle gives you a place right in your home to do a quick workout and there really are no excuses. With the motion of the pedals, this option offers you a great, low-impact workout.
Is the stationary bicycle right for you?
As one of the most cost-effective of the common workout machines, the bicycle is the obvious choice for those on a budget. Although you can get a very cheap model for under $100, it’s best to go for those that are at least $300 or above. You want a good, stable bike that won’t wobble when you ride it. Of course, a bike with all the bells and whistles could cost up to $1,200, but the price is basically adjustable depending on what you want.
- Keep Yourself Entertained
The bicycle is a great place to read, like the elliptical, because of its positioning and the added feature of a little shelf that will come in many models. (Make sure to check for it if that’s something you really want!)
This is probably a good thing, since the stationary bicycle is rated high for boredom levels.
- Balance is Key
Because keeling over is not exactly enjoyable, this machine will help you work on balance. Just make sure your hips don’t wobble as you ride, because this can lead to injury.
- Pain be Gone!
As another fantastic, low impact workout machine, the stationary bicycle will exercise your heart without putting stress on your knees, hips, or ankles. Just take care that the seat is adjusted right, or else it could cause shoulder and back pain.
The seat should be level with the floor and just high enough so that your knees bend slightly at the bottom of the pedaling stroke. There is also the option of purchasing a recumbent bicycle, (as shown in the picture) which provides back support.
Type of Workout: Cardio/Muscle Toning
For some reason, a picture of Sandra Bullock playing a brutish female cop in the movie Miss Congeniality always comes into my mind when I think of the punching bag. Well, this could be you!
Okay, but in all seriousness, punching a heavy bag is a great way to get some serious cardio in, not to mention it helps release stress. With time and good technique, this can be a great workout.
Here is why:
- Intense Cardio
This fast-paced, action-packed workout will strengthen your heart and improve your circulatory system. It is also great for coordination, and improves oxygen uptake.
- Great For Men and Women
This isn’t just a man’s workout, as Sandra Bullock so elegantly demonstrated. In recent studies, both men and women show improved levels of endurance and self-confidence from punching a heavy bag.
- Tone Your Whole Body
Punching bags are not meant just to be punched. Get your feet involved and you’re developing muscle and toning over your whole body. This will also help with balance.
- Increase Reaction Time
Some bags are lighter, and will swing easier when you punch them. This means that, while you punch and kick, you also may need to jump out of the way of a swinging bag.
Another option is to purposely set the bag swinging at the beginning of your workout.
- Mental Health Benefits
It kind of goes without saying, but punching something as hard as you can is a great way to release all the pent-up stress you’ve gained during the day. (Not to mention it’s a much more acceptable alternative to punching people in the face.)
Throw some gloves on and work a punching bag as hard as you can for 1 minute straight and see how much this really works your whole body.
Type of Workout: Gentle Aerobic
Although not the most conventional of home workout equipment, it definitely seems like the most fun! This bouncy activity has been shown to be three times more beneficial than running. This means that a ten minute bounce is the same as a half hour run!
Why bouncing is good for you:
- Lowers Stress on the Body
While running puts a lot of pressure on weight bearing joints, using a trampoline has been shown to take up to 80% of that pressure away! Another great, low-impact option.
- Reduce Cellulite
This may sound too good to be true, but studies have shown that bouncing on a trampoline is one of the best ways to truly reduce cellulite.
- Health Benefits
Fitness trampolines can improve heart rate and circulation, as well as lower blood pressure. It also stimulates the metabolism, and improves your sense of balance (lest you go bouncing into the nearest wall).
This fun exercise has been proven to be very good for mental health as well. I mean, really, can you imagine a frown on your face when you’re bouncing up and down just like you used to when you were a kid? Just make sure to mind the ceiling!
Although this is not a comprehensive list of all the possible fitness machines, they certainly are some of the best.
So which will you choose?
Well, the decision is entirely up to you. Each person will find the particular machine that works for them. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you need low impact, the elliptical, stationary bicycle, and fitness trampoline are all great options.
If you want a full body workout, go for the punching bag or the elliptical.
But also, pay attention to what you like. After all, if you don’t enjoy the workout or the machine, you won’t end up using it. Then, whichever machine you decide to buy will end up sitting in the corner collecting dust and knick knacks until you decide to sell it for much less than it cost originally.
So, find the machine that you enjoy using.
The important thing is actually working out, whether you have an hour or just 15 minutes. Make a schedule, and stick to it! Tell your husband or wife, your kids, or whoever you live with about the routine you want to do, and ask for help to maintain it.
Have a goal for the time you want to spend each day, and do your workout consistently. The majority of machine readouts for calories are flawed, so it’s best not to focus on that.
Instead, make goals that focus on how you feel, maybe on a certain item of clothing that doesn’t fit (for now), or, my personal favorite, which hole you’re using on your belt. A caution for setting goals, however, is to make sure they’re realistic. No one is motivated by failure. If you consistently reach your goals, that will motivate you to try harder.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get yourself into the shape! We hope these tips will help you on the road to fitness.