Essential workout gear

People ask me quite a bit about essential equipment to your home gym.  If you know me, you know that I advocate bodyweight exercise and dynamic workouts as much as possible.  I can recommend several great, affordable pieces of gear aimed at getting yourself fit, but I want to make sure not to neglect an equally important aspect of training: recovery.  Recovery gear is just as important as workout gear, so I can’t make a list of essential gear without including some of both. With that, here are some devices I can recommend:

  • TRX bands: These are great ways to diversify your bodyweight routines.  They enable you to push, pull, and turn from different angles in order to target different muscle groups.
  • Kettlebells: Many people associate these with the Crossfit crowd, but you don’t have to use them with that level of intensity.  These can provide great, stable resistance for lifting exercises and they incorporate into dynamic exercises better than regular free weights or dumbbells because of their low center of gravity.
  • Resistance tubing: Like TRX bands, resistance bands can be used at different angles to target different muscle groups.  Unlike TRX bands, they’re stretchy. This makes them unsuitable for bodyweight exercises, but that also means their resistance isn’t limited to the direction of gravity.  You can use them anywhere and with any intensity.

Recovery gear:

  • A foam roller.  Foam rollers are very versatile gear that I use every time I work out.  When used properly, they reduce muscle soreness and decrease recovery time.  
  • Massage sticks:  Like foam rollers, these decrease pain and recovery time, but they can often be used in different positions and in more targeted areas.
  • A tennis ball.  Yep. Use it just like a tiny foam roller to target tightness and soreness in your muscles.
  • More specialized gear: Infrared heating pads, inversion tables, and thermal lasers can all contribute to your comfort, but do what’s comfortable and affordable for you.

Don’t “Spring” into an injury!

Spring is here, and even if it’s getting a little bit of a slow start. Every year, if you’re like most people, you get excited to start outdoor activities again after a long winter. Unfortunately, sudden bursts of physical activity after a long period of sitting still is one of the most common ways that people injure themselves.
The key to avoiding injury as you get active is to start slow getting in shape. Before you start running, walk a few days first. This is something most people do instinctively over the long term; everyone knows that as you get in shape, you can do more than you could before. It’s also true in the short term though–when you’re about to start physical activity, even something that’s seemingly not very intense, like golf, make sure you do a dynamic warm-up first. Many golfers sit in their car on the way to work, sit all day at work, sit in their car on the way to the golf course, and then hit the links. That’s an injury waiting to happen. You really want to do yourself the favor of a short warm-up before any kind of exercise.
Physical activity is so important for your overall physical and mental health, but make sure you don’t hurt yourself in the process of trying to get healthy.

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