Buying Equipment for a Home Gym: What you Should Know First

By: Karen Gates

So you've gone through all the options and decided that a home gym is right for you. After all it's convenient, private and can save you money by not paying for a gym membership.

You know what's coming next. You have to plunk down 200, 500, maybe even 2,000 dollars to get the system that you want. And with all the choices out there how do you really know what you want anyway?

There are two main types of machines on the market, cardiovascular and strength training. Your body will look very different after you've shed the pounds depending on which exercise machine you choose.

Cardiovascular: These machines get your heart pumping quickly and increase your overall stamina. They include treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, rowing exercise machines, steppers and skiers. Once you get your heart rate going on one of these machines you'll start shedding calories fast. And most come with a calorie tracker so you can see when you've burned off that hamburger you felt so guilty about eating.

Cardio machines often only focus on a few muscles, meaning that your legs might get toned but you won't get a six-pack or strengthen your arm muscles if all you do is use an elliptical. If you want a toned look all over, you'll need to add other exercises like sit-ups and push-ups to your routine.

When shopping for a safe machine make sure it is sturdy and quiet when in use. Some cheaper brands tend to be wobbly which can be dangerous and distract you from getting the most out of your workout. An anti static floor mat may also help the stability of your machine by creating a hard surface for it to stand on. Compare prices to the quality of a brand you like. It may be worth it to get the upgrade because it will last longer.

You'll also want the control panel to have quick response time because when you've reached your limit on a treadmill you need to stop immediately. Some machines keep going until a few seconds after you press the button.

To avoid having problems order from an online retailer that has a good return policy. Check to see how thick the base legs are. This is something you can find easily on Pro Form treadmills or NordicTrack Ellipticals.

Strength Training: This is what you want if you're looking for the big bulk. Pumping weights is the fastest way to get larger muscles without using harmful drugs. You can also tone your muscles with strength training by lifting smaller amounts.

If you plan to work out alone you'll need to find a machine that has a built in spotter or uses resistance in place of weights. If not you may find yourself at a stalemate with the 100 pounds above your head. Talk about an awkward situation!

Just like cardiovascular workouts, you won't get big arm muscles if all you buy is an AB CoreMaster. So make sure you know what muscles a particular machine targets before buying. You may find that it's worth it to spend a little extra money to get an all-in-one gym that targets most major muscle groups than a machine that focuses on just a few.

And don't be surprised if you don't lose any weight after strength training for a long period of time. Since muscle weighs more than fat you may even find that you've gained a few pounds.

Take the time to analyze your goals. What areas of your body are you concerned about and how do you envision yourself looking at its best? You may decide that what you need is a combination of cardiovascular exercise from a machine like the Pro Form treadmill and strength training from a set of weights. There are a few machines on the market, like the Cardio Cruiser by Jake that do both in one. But no matter what you decide you'll be happier with your purchase and the results you get if you base it on your goals.

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