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Your Guide to Cardio & Fitness Equipment
Treadmills - Stay on your feet and off the street!
Whether it's the centerpiece in your new commitment to fitness or just a convenient alternative to your running routine, a treadmill can help you reach your fitness goals and improve your cardiovascular health.
Treadmills are among the best-selling fitness equipment in the industry thanks to their proven results and ability to maximize calorie burn. Most models offer a variety of terrain and difficulty settings, allowing you to customize your workout and simulate a number of running environments. Treadmills are also easier on the body than asphalt and concrete surfaces, providing better shock absorption and less impact on the knees and joints.
Given their popularity and efficacy, treadmills are now coming with more features and options than ever before. While this gives you the best chance to find exactly what you want, it can make buying a treadmill overwhelming. The following guide will help you select the right treadmill based on available features and your own needs.
What treadmill is best for you?
With all the options available to you in the search for a treadmill, you should consider some basics before you buy. The most important of these are:
Determining a price range is an important first step in deciding what treadmill will be right for you. Treadmill prices vary greatly depending on a number of factors, so it's very helpful to start your search with a specific price range.
Will you have a dedicated workout space for your treadmill or will you keep it in a bedroom? Some treadmills have folding frames for easy storage, while others require more space, so it's important to consider the area in which you'll house your treadmill.
A treadmill can help you accomplish a number of goals. Do you want to lose weight? Improve your cardiovascular health? Will there be different users with different objectives? Knowing who will be using your treadmill and what they wish to accomplish will help you select the perfect product.
- Drive System
What's "under the hood" of the treadmill? The most important part of the machine, the treadmill's drive system consists of:
- Drive motor: The source of power that moves the belt forward during your workout.
- Horsepower: There are two ways treadmill horsepower is measured. Always look for the machine's CHP, or continuous-duty rating. The machine's THP, or standard treadmill-duty rating, is akin to a maximum horsepower rating. The CHP is a more realistic measure of the treadmill's operating power.
- Incline motor: This is the component that raises and lowers the deck for the treadmill's incline level.
- Suspension System
The suspension system provides the feel of the treadmill. You'll want to closely consider the durability of the treadmill's frame, folding vs. non-folding treadmills, the width and the size of the running belt and deck, and how much cushioning there is between the belt and the frame.
The treadmill's console system allows you to: 1) perform the basic operations of the treadmill, such as turning on and off and changing incline levels, 2) get feedback, such as heart rate and calories burned, to help monitor your progress, and 3) program different workout options by adjusting the machine's settings.
Ellipticals - The smooth-stepping solution for a full-body workout!
If you're looking to diversify your cardio routine, an elliptical could be the ideal choice for you. The smooth, natural motion of an elliptical trainer minimizes stress on the knees and joints, and because your feet never leave the pedals, the jarring impact of running is eliminated.
Ellipticals also offer very efficient workouts, training major muscle groups such as the chest, back, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes all at once. With elliptical exercise you will burn more fat and keep your metabolic heart rate elevated, all while getting a good upper and lower-body workout. Ellipticals are great for both beginners and experienced fitness enthusiasts.
As with any exercise machine, there are a number of factors to consider before buying an elliptical trainer. The following guide will help you identify what is most important in selecting the elliptical that is perfect for you.
What elliptical is best for you?
There are several factors to consider before you begin shopping for an elliptical trainer. The most important of these are:
You'll need to settle on a price range in order to narrow down your search. Elliptical prices vary greatly depending on a number of factors, so it's very helpful to start your search with a specific price range.
Ellipticals come in a variety of sizes and designs, so it's critical to know whether you'll have a dedicated workout space for your machine or if you'll need to move it around.
Why are you purchasing an elliptical trainer? Whether you're trying to lose weight, improve muscle tone, or even start a rehabilitation program, you'll need to have a clear idea of who will be using your elliptical and what their goals are.
- Frame and Drive System
The frame and drive system determine the overall feel of the elliptical trainer. Key features of the frame and drive system are:
Stride length: Ranging from 12" to 21" on most models, the ideal stride length should mimic the motion of walking or jogging and depends on the size of the user.
- Frame design: Ellipticals are constructed on front, rear and center-drive frames.
- Flywheel: The flywheel controls the feel of the elliptical. In general, the heavier the flywheel, the smoother and quieter the machine will be.
The pedals are very important to the comfort of an elliptical trainer. Look for the machine's Q-factor, which is the distance between the pedals. Tighter pedal spacing means a more comfortable workout.
- Electronic System
An elliptical trainer's console system allows you to: 1) perform basic operations, such as turning the elliptical on and off and adjusting incline levels, 2) receive feedback, such as calories burned and distance covered, to track your progress, and 3) program different workouts by adjusting the machine's settings.
Exercise Bikes - Working out is as easy as riding a bike!
An exercise bike is a great option for any fitness enthusiast. Whether you're just starting an exercise program or you're an experienced cyclist, an exercise bike will give you an effective yet comfortable workout.
Stationary bikes are available in four basic design types: dual action, recumbent, upright and direct drive. While each type of exercise bike offers a unique set of features and benefits, all of them provide a smooth, low-impact workout.
With all the different combinations of designs and features available, you'll need to consider several key factors before buying a stationary bike. The following guide will help you understand all your options in selecting the right exercise bike.
What exercise bike is best for you?
Given the different design types and features available to exercise bike shoppers, you should start by narrowing your search according to the following basics:
Exercise bikes are generally quite affordable, but like most large fitness machines they do vary in price, so it's a good idea to start your shopping with a specific price range in mind.
Exercise bikes come in a variety of sizes and designs, so it's critical to know whether you'll have a dedicated workout space for your machine or if you'll need to move it around.
Why are you purchasing a stationary bike? Whether you're looking for a lower-body workout, a new exercise program or even an intense cycling routine, you'll need to consider who will be using the exercise bike and what their goals are.
Types of exercise bikes
While all exercise bikes provide a low-impact stationary cycling workout, each of the different design types offers a unique set of features and benefits. After narrowing your search based on pricing, space and goals, your next step should be to decide which type of exercise bike will be best for you depending upon personal preferences and the type of workout options you're looking for.
- Dual Action Bikes
Upright bike with movable handlebars for a combination upper and lower-body workout.
- Recumbent Bikes
Bike on which the user sits back in a chair-like seat with legs extended forward of the torso, resulting in a more horizontal pedaling motion. Recumbent bikes provide good lower-back support.
- Upright Bikes
Similar to traditional bikes and the most popular type of exercise bike.
- Direct Drive Bikes
Commonly referred to as Spin Bikes, direct drive bikes are made to mimic the riding position of road bikes. Direct drive bikes generally have very small seats and often do not have the technical features that other stationary bikes are equipped with.
The flywheel controls the bike's resistance and determines how smooth your ride will be. A heavier flywheel means a more powerful and steadier motion.
The exercise bike's console provides feedback to help you evaluate your workout progress. At the very least, you should look for a console that provides data on speed, distance traveled, and calories burned. Most bikes, especially higher-end machines, will offer an array of console options.