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Best Home Exercise Equipment

David Fitzgerald


So what’s the best home exercise equipment to buy. That’s a question we get asked frequently and clinic and I have a standard answer to it. Most people are expecting us to say cross trainer or a stepper or a treadmill or exercise bike something that is a low impact type of device primarily geared towards improving cardiovascular fitness. Now improving cardiovascular fitness is important and of course, the popular belief is that that’s the best way to lose weight also. Current research would suggest that that’s not entirely true but I have a standard answer which I tell folks and that is that they don’t need to buy expensive equipment. The best piece of equipment is your own body weight. What I’m saying really here is bodyweight exercise can achieve for most individuals exactly what’s required in terms of trying to improve muscle strength. So what we’re talking about here are movements where you use the resistance of your own body weight to target particular muscle groups in order to improve their strength. Now one of the downsides of body weight exercise is that a lot of people aren’t sufficiently strong enough to handle their body weight. Let’s say for example a pull up movement where you’re hanging from a bar and trying to pull your body weight up you know va ery small percentage of the total population could do a pull up. Some estimates are between 1 and 5 percent of the population. That’s obviously quite an athletic level of movement but a very very good measure of general upper body strength.

Now the good news is that there are lots of variations in exercise that can try to meet people at whatever particular level they are at. So that you know there are a step ways a stepwise pathway to try to move towards a final objective and that’s really ca ase of matching your whatever starting point you’re at and matching a level of loading at that point and then trying to walk systematically through progressions to whatever level is necessary. If you did want to use equipment my usual recommendation is to use something like a pull-up bar with a TRX suspension strap. Many of the of the supermarkets do these at very reasonable prices are you or you can get them in the sports stores. But it’s a very modest investment of you know between 40-50 euros which really is a very very versatile set up but really that would be very much at the upper end of the scale for the vast majority of folks. Body weight exercise can be structured sufficiently to make it really as challenging as it needs to be even for the athletic populations. The example I gave there of upper body strength was a pull up even simply being able to hang from your arms for 10 to 15 seconds very good measure of grip and upper body and upper back strength what’s called a hanging leg raise if you can lift your knees took your knees up our legs out straight.

Very very strong measure of of midsection strength or core stability and then if we look at the legs the ability to do squat which in daily function replicates the sit to stand action a very common kind of movement a lot of folks into their 60s and beyond start to use trick movements to disguise deficits in leg strength and they’ll tend to push up through their arms to come up into an upright position. So a squat would be a very very fundamental requirement and the ability at least to be able to control your body weight bending down to 90 degrees of hip and knee bend or knee flexion as as it’s referred to. The reality of course is that if you want to climb stairs and get in and out of cars and do those kind of functional task you need to be able to tolerate your body weight on one leg not two but on one leg. So there are specific exercises variations of one legged squats split squats pistils squats. These are the technical terms for those exercises and these can all be modified and adjusted to within your own current capacity. But they really are the essential building blocks of maintaining that kind of function. And even athletic folks who can do great heavy weight lifting will find a one legged pistol squat with body weight a challenging drill. So I’m a big fan of body weight and a big fan of manipulating variables to try to meet people wherever they’re at. So that you can you can devise a level of loading that targets a specific muscle group whether it’s a neck, shoulder midsection or legs and and and then be able to challenge them at an achievable level and then show a pathway of progression in order to achieve their functional objective. Of course, the advantage in that is that there’s virtually no expense involved.

Okay, so you don’t need to go out buying equipment it doesn’t take up space at home. It doesn’t become like many exercise bikes and treadmills just become a place to hang clothes for airing and doesn’t get used so you don’t have any of those downsides but you just need a little bit of discipline in order to to put the time in and again this is very time efficient 15to 20 minutes of body weight exercise an awful lot can be achieved relative to spending an hour in the gym and whenever your commuting time and what have you in the gym. So I’m a big fan of the body weight for a whole number of reasons. If you wanted to look into that and a bit more detail or a lot of online resources the Kavadlo Brothers have some really great information on their websites and their books. Frank Medrano is another exponent of this type of body weight exercise. The general terminology is called callisthenics. So again if you search on the callisthenics you’ll find that there’s a whole sort of street culture particularly in the United States sometimes referred to as street workouts and you’ll see these guys doing some quite extreme things but don’t be put off by that. Those that level of performance which is really almost on the gymnastic scale takes years to achieve and I mean years to achieve. So that’s the very high end of the scale. But but there’s a lot of consolation for us in the more normal end of the scale that there are always ways to modify and make things very safe.

And again as I say meet you at your current level of capacity so that you have achievable of objectives but then are able to determine the progressions to a level that’s required for whatever your activities of daily living are. So that’s today’s tip a useful on which could save you a fortune. Some people are a little disappointed that I don’t recommend some fancy piece of equipment with bells and whistles and apps and various kinds of plugins but I guess I’m an old fashioned guy and a body weight exercise has been around since military training and armies began. There’s a reason why it’s stuck around because it’s because it’s effective. So where I will leave you with that thought and we’ll see you again on another video.

Bye for now.

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