Fitness Accessories Buying Guide
Fitness accessories are numerous tools that optimize a cardiovascular or strength training workout. Some of the most common fitness accessories include: fitness balls, mats, resistance bands and inversion tables.
Each of these tools can be used in various ways to help the user get the most out of his or her workout.
One of the most common fitness tools on the market is the fitness ball. A fitness ball is a crucial piece of equipment in physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises for athletes and exercisers coming off of injuries.
You can use a fitness ball in a variety of workouts and for rehabilitation. A fitness ball can provide that 'something extra' in a workout, giving the user that extra boost to reach their end-goals.
Benefits and Usage of Fitness Balls:
Before purchasing a fitness ball, determining the correct size for your height is important. Here is a useful chart to help you determine which size fitness ball you'll need:
|4'11" – 5'4"||55 cm
|5'5" – 5' 11"||65 cm
|6'0" – 6'7"||75 cm
Most all fitness balls are made of burst-resistant material, thus eliminating any issues with weight. People of all sizes and fitness levels can use a fitness ball to help optimize a workout.
- Use the ball as a weight bench while doing your free-weight workout to engage more muscle groups.
- Provides a good abdomen workout to keep balanced on the ball on top of your lifting routine.
- Sit-ups, crunches, etc. on an exercise ball will provide a more intense workout as your body adjusts to the balance.
Flexibility and Yoga
- Stretching and relaxing on an exercise ball are other ways of using the ball to optimize a post-workout routine.
Fitness mats can be used for a variety of reasons, ranging from a safe place to set equipment to a comfortable place for stretching and exercise. Fitness mats are a common tool for all types of exercisers and one of the most conventional pieces of exercise equipment available.
Types of Mats and Usage:
There are three main types of mats: equipment, fitness and yoga mats. Most all of them can be used interchangeably; however, a yoga mat would be more comfortable than an equipment mat when doing yoga. Comfort level is the main reason for using different kinds of mats.
- Typically used on a hard, solid surface to support heavy fitness equipment
- Can be used as an exercise mat but provides less stability and comfort
- Soft and comfortable enough to support any type of exercise activity
- Comfortable enough to lay/kneel on
- Soft, thicker pad suitable for yoga exercises
- Can be used for other exercise activities but is best suited for yoga due to the thickness
Strength and resistance bands are just one more way to get a complete, full-body workout when exercising. Resistance bands are a common tool for any exerciser, providing another way for the user to reach their end-goals as efficiently as possible.
Types of Resistance Bands:
There are two types of resistance bands most users turn to when using this piece of equipment:
Flat Resistance Bands
- Flat resistance bands tend to be thicker than tubular bands.
- Color coded in amount of resistance; colors vary from brand-to-brand.
- Can provide higher amounts of resistance than a tubular resistance band.
- More commonly used when training the lower body.
Tubular Resistance Bands
- Much thinner than flat resistance bands; cylindrical in shape.
- Provide lower resistance levels than flat bands, but they are still acceptable for all types of workouts.
- Typically, the band is attached to two handles and able to be held when using the equipment.
- Viable option for both lower and upper body workouts.
Workout Expectations for Resistance Bands:
When using resistance bands, users tend to tone muscles in both the lower and upper body. Resistance bands are color-coded in amounts of resistance, but not all brands color code the same. Beginner resistance band users should stick to lower amounts of resistance until he or she is comfortable with using the equipment.
Using various amounts of resistances during workouts will provide the user with the most optimized workout while using resistance bands.
Inversion tables can be used in exercise routines—however, the main use for this piece of equipment is in therapy. Inversion tables reverse the effect of gravity on the body, relaxing tight and tense muscles.
Inversion tables have no weights, but they are considered to be weight machines. The user's body is technically the weight on an inversion table, providing the weight needed to stretch and relax tight and tense muscles. Having an inversion table that supports your weight is important when using this piece of equipment.
Parts of Inversion Tables:
There are a few notable portions of an inversion table that make it one of the most widely-used pieces of therapy and relief equipment available.
- Specify maximum height and weight for the user; you need to make sure the table you purchase supports both height and weight of all users.
- The stability of the frame is related to the size of the machine—the larger the table and frame, the more suitable the table will be for heavier users and more intense exercises.
Platform and Ankle/Foot Clamps
- Secure ankle clamp is the most common type of platform support on an inversion table
- Some tables offer a padded knee bar for users who prefer to not hang upside-down.
- Thicker, bulkier pads will provide more comfort—and in the end, comfort level is the most important aspect. If you prefer thinner pads, make sure your inversion table supports your preferences.
- Some tables feature removable pads for a variety of exercise activities
Benefits and Usage of Inversion Tables:
The main benefit from using an inversion table is tension relief. You are essentially hanging upside-down, strapped in by your ankles or using the machine's rollers to keep you locked in place. Hanging upside-down forces gravity to release tension stored on different back nerves and muscles.
Most exercisers make optimal use of this machine after a workout to provide relief on any tense spots in their back and lower body areas.