With the large variety of workout equipment on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed about what to purchase. Some equipment, such as shake weights, are fads that quickly fade from the public view. Other tools, though they fade in and out of popularity, stand the test of time in terms of effectiveness. I have investigated the trendiest workout equipment of 2018 to find four pieces that deserve their recent popularity. These pieces of equipment are actually effective at improving your strength and endurance while also improving joint and stabilizer health. Here are the top fitness tools of 2018 I recommend investing in:
Kettlebells have become a fitness buzzword over the last five years, and are growing in popularity every year – for good reason. Kettlebells are incredibly versatile and portable. They can be taken anywhere for a workout and easily tucked away when not in use. Kettlebells are inexpensive for the large number of benefits they provide (compare to a treadmill or barbell, which are much more expensive). Kettlebells enhance cardiovascular endurance while building lean muscle mass – giving you cardio and strength training in one tool. A kettlebell is bottom-weighted, which means performing traditional exercises is harder and engages your core and stabilizer muscles. As a result, kettlebell training can be a great tool to mitigate injury. For example, kettlebells develop core strength, which in turn contributes to spinal stability, a stronger back, and stronger stabilizer muscles and joints.
If you live a busy life and are short on time to work out, kettlebells are perfect for short duration, high-intensity interval training workouts that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Kettlebells can also be incorporated into a normal fitness regimen to benefits outlined in the previous paragraph. Kettlebells build lean muscle and contribute to fat loss through a longer post-exercise caloric burn period than regular cardiovascular exercise.
We recommend purchasing a kettlebell from a kettlebell-specific retailer instead of from a store or general retailer, as the quality will be higher. Look for a kettlebell that is one solid piece of cast-iron instead of two pieces that are connected. Any seams created from the casting should be filed down to prevent irritation of the skin.
The steel mace is another piece of equipment that has resurfaced as an incredibly versatile and effective piece of workout equipment. Shifting your grip along the handle of the mace changes the level of difficulty of any given exercise, which means you can keep making progress with a mace of the same weight even as you get stronger.
The benefits of a mace are similar to those of a kettlebell, as you can complete dynamic movements with the mace that simultaneously build strength and cardiovascular endurance. Like kettlebells, steel maces are great for HIIT workouts and building lean muscle mass while also burning fat. The mace builds great core strength and rotational power.
Steel maces offer unique benefits in the way of shoulder strength. The shoulder joint, as a ball in socket joint, has the ability to rotate 360 degrees. While this allows the shoulder to do a lot for the body, it also means the shoulder is susceptible to injury. To mitigate injury, it’s vital to build good shoulder stability and strength throughout the entire range of motion. The rotational movements the steel mace is designed for improve flexibility and strengthen the connective tissues around the shoulder, thus aiding in injury prevention.
A resistance band may not seem like the most exciting piece of workout equipment, but the huge amount of versatility and benefits provided by the band prove otherwise. Almost any movement that traditionally uses a weighted implement can be replicated with a resistance band, with less risk and just as much benefit. Resistance bands force the body to maintain stability throughout the entire course of a movement. Resistance band workouts don’t take up much space or require additional equipment, and can easily be scaled to any fitness level. Simply using a thicker band increases resistance and creates a more challenging workout. Resistance bands are low impact, which makes this method of training easier on the joints than weight training. Like kettlebells, resistance bands aid in the development of core and stabilizer muscles that mitigate injury risk and can be used for both upper and lower body workouts.
The speed rope is one of the best workout accessories to add to your at home fitness equipment. The speed rope is thinner and more aerodynamic than a traditional jump rope, making it preferable for high-speed work and more advanced movements such as double unders. As far as cardio equipment goes, a speed rope is inexpensive especially compared to typical machines like treadmills, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, etc. The speed rope improves cardiovascular endurance as well as any machine, and can be used for a multitude of different movements (crisscross, alternating foot hops, etc). Although speed ropes are most commonly seen used by mixed martial arts fighters and boxers, they are a great tool for anyone to add variety and fun to their traditional workout. The increased agility, timing, and coordination that com from using the speed rope will improve all other aspects of your workout regimen.
There’s no telling what innovations in fitness equipment will produce in 2019, but these are our top picks of 2018. Every piece I’ve recommended provides a total body workout and tons of benefits, including minimizing the risk of injury. There is enough variety within the equipment I covered to keep your workouts fun and engaging while achieving results like building muscle tone and increasing strength. I hope you’ll consider adding the one or more of these tools to your home gym.
Author - Amanda Perkins
Amanda works with Kettlebell Kings as a senior writer. She has been put onto this earth to inspire people and achieve their health and fitness goals with enthusiasm. Her niches are health, fitness, and kettlebell workout. Read more about Amanda's writings at https://www.kettlebellkings.com/blog/.
Whether you’re a gym owner who wants to prolong the service life of his equipment or a fitness enthusiast with a couple of training machines at home, you will find these tips helpful. Fitness equipment can be costly so maintenance is key. Keeping your machines in excellent condition ensures you can enjoy them for longer without having to pay extra money for repairs every few months. Here is what you should keep in mind when it comes to maintaining your fitness equipment in top shape.
1. Place and Store Your Equipment in the Right Place
The location you choose for your fitness equipment is very important. Whether you’re using the machine on a daily basis or you want to store it away for a few months, pay attention to a few factors in the environment you choose for it. It’s not ideal to keep your machines in a conservatory, shed or garage since LCD displays can gradually become slow to respond. This issue appears when the temperature is cold, which makes the liquid crystal slow to react.
Sudden temperature changes are also detrimental to your fitness equipment since they can cause condensation which affects both the metal frame and the electronics in the machine. Environments that are prone to high moisture levels should also be avoided for keeping or storing fitness machines in. Humidity will slowly but surely affect the circuit paths and give you minor intermittent issues or even bigger failures such as a failed circuit board.
Direct, powerful sunlight can also damage certain parts of your machine over time. Sunshine can cause the membrane keypads to peel off while the buttons can become unresponsive. Any plastic parts and buttons may start fading, affecting the overall look and performance of the equipment.
2. Use Adequate and Clean Gym Gear
Your gym clothes not only protect you during your work out, they also protect the machines. You should have a dedicated pair of shoes that you only use for working out indoors. For example, by using adequate shoes when running on your treadmill you can help prolong the machine’s service life and keep the equipment free from dust, mud, pebbles and other debris that could get stuck in the sole of the shoes while you’re walking or running outside.
You should also use clothes and accessories (such as gloves and headbands) that were designed for training, as these trap sweat and moisture and don’t let it interfere with the machines. If you’re struggling with getting your shoes and clothes cleaned on a weekly basis, try a dry cleaning service that picks up and delivers the clothes to your door step whenever it’s convenient for you.
3. Keep the Machines Clean at all Times
Even if you’re not using your equipment for a couple of weeks or a few months, it doesn’t mean you should stop cleaning it or looking after it. Equipment can be damaged by dust, moisture, condensation, cold or hot temperatures and much more. Making sure the machines are clean at all times will keep them in better shape for longer and will help you save money on costly repairs.
Make it a habit to wipe down the equipment after each training session. This might seem like an extra tedious step, but don’t skip it. Wipe down any pads, benches, seats and cardio consoles you’ve touched or used. If you have your own equipment, it’s simple to clean it with a dry rag or with moist, disinfectant towels that are more convenient and easy to use. If you own a gym, encourage all the members to use paper towels for cleaning the equipment as soon as they’re done using it. Not only will they help keep the machines in excellent shape, they will also prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
4. Oil Your Machines at Least Once a Month
Not all equipment pieces need to be oiled but resistance machines require this special treatment in order to function properly and perform well. Their moving parts should be lubricated with an appropriate fitness equipment product once a month.
In order to lubricate resistance equipment, you simply use a clean rag and silicone spray. Apply the product to the weight tracks and also into the bearings. Check these can move freely to ensure proper silicone application. Treadmills and the vast majority of cardiovascular fitness equipment are self-lubricating. For these, you will have to take a look at the oil reservoirs to ensure they have plenty of oil. If you need to fill the reservoir, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Read the Owner’s Manual and Check the Equipment Often
Even if you’re a seasoned gym owner or a fitness aficionado, never skip this step. Read the owner’s manual, especially the maintenance recommendations and procedures. These will offer plenty of tips on how to keep your fitness equipment in excellent working order. You will also be able to find the manual online if you’ve misplaced your hard copy.
Take the manufacturer’s recommendations into consideration when performing your routine check-ups. You should implement a preventative maintenance routine to check the equipment for wear. Keep an eye out for cracks, tears or fraying, especially for cables. It’s also essential you make sure dumbbells and barbells are in perfect working order and that the weights are securely attached. Damaged parts or potentially hazardous issues should be addressed on the spot. This will help minimize damage to the entire fitness unit and will also keep the users safe.
Author - John Stuart
John Stuart works on behalf of love2laundry.com in outreach and content creation. He creates engaging content that help businesses connect with their audience and stand out from the crowd.
I (Erika) have an addiction. I buy workout music constantly. If you pull up the genre in my iTunes, I have 8 DAYS of workout music. It occupies 9.52 GB of storage and 47% of my total music library. I don't even want to know how that translates into $$.
Growing up I loved Weird Al (still do). I listened to his music so much that the original versions of songs he parodies sound odd to me. The same holds true for Aerobic Music - Someone please stage an intervention!
I started, like most instructors, with my coveted mix tapes. Then upgraded to CD's like a big girl. Now I'm fully decked out with my own DJ software with the ability to manipulate the BPMs of any song and arrange them in whichever order I choose. (Cuz we all know there is always that ONE song, smack dab in the middle of a premade mix, that SUCKS and ruins the CHI of the whole workout.) My Aerobic CD Library is ready to go at a moment's notice to make the next prize winning workout mix. (Turns out, there's actually no prize for this)
I'd like to take this moment to publicly state too that I was so ahead of my time on this. There are now Tempo Apps that can manipulate your music for you, but before that, there was Erika playing around with her MixMeister software till the wee hours of the morning.
Now, everyone has the ability to purchase music a la carte with sites such as Clickmix, U-Mixit, and my personal favorite, YES! Fitness Music's MYMIX. And while all three of these sites allow you arrange the songs and BPMs as you'd like to make your own continuous mix, I still download them as separate songs and play around with my DJ software, as well as chop them up for my Tabata app, Seconds Pro Interval Timer. Despite 8 days worth of tunes from which to choose, I have "go to" songs that I totally overuse, but WHO CARES? They're awesome.
Now I know that there are Music apps, Music streaming services, different genre preferences, etc., so this is a very subjective and personal topic that can be debated endlessly. And you may sample these songs and think, Erika, your musical tastes suck! But I say you can't help tapping your toes to the 12 happy tunes listed below, and if you are a runner, I challenge you to download these songs and see if your pace doesn't improve!
Why 12 you ask and not 20 or 10? With YES! Fitness Music, you can purchase 12 songs for $15, so my brain works in 12 song chunks. Also, with each song lasting approx 5 minutes, you have an even 1 hour of running and workout music: And Remember, your can slow these down or speed them up depending on your pace and preference.
12. Cruel to be Kind - It's More of the embellished filler that psychs you up for the lyrics to start. This Song is also on one of my favorite CD's as well by Power Music, One Hit Wonders. I just did a search though, and it's not for sale at the moment.
11. Killing Me Softly - Interspersed with Rap parts, it keeps you moving from start to finish. ~Yes!FitnessMusic
10. Let it Go Vs Let Her Go - Anyone with little children is probably swearing at me right now to even bring "Let it Go" up - we were having so much fun up to this point. But trust me, this mashup is great. One Drawback with the Mash-ups, they can get busy if you are an instructor trying to cue over them. ~From YES! Fitness Music
9. Unchained Melody A.R Speedo Mix - This song starts like the love ballad original, then throws the driving drum beat behind it like a tons of bricks. Your energy level instantly goes to 11~From Yes! Fitness Music
8. Judgement Day - Featured in Jay Blahnik's Calorie Killer Workout (Only Available on VHS) and from MusicFlex (No longer a company), not so helpful, but still an awesome song.
7. Sweet Dreams - It's so Angry! Don't mess with anyone in my Kickboxing class when this is playing! ~Power Music, but only available from iTunes. Part of the Intense! Album Series, it's on the first one.
6. Jump vs California Gurls - Yes!Fitness Music. What's with the Mashups? Were they a thing before Glee? Anywho, this song is a perfect blend.
5. Rock Nation - A BK Howe Song that is featured in Athletic Step by Cathe Friedrich. It is so robust, that even Cathe comments what a great song it is in the workout. Full Disclosure, this version is slightly different than featured in Cathe. I can't find that one. Little TidBit: Anyone looking for songs featured in Cathe Videos, a good portion of them are at ClickMix rebranded under NU NRG as the artist. Not sure what's going on there, but oh well.
4. It's Raining Men - Need I elaborate?!? Only Downfall is to keep it a 32 Count song, it eliminates "Soaking" wet, so you get tripped up singing along. Also Available on the Awesome 80s Album.
3. All I Have to do is Dream (Dance Mix) - I love the original song. And when I saw it online, I thought, "Awww, that would be a nice song to have." Then I heard it and all bets were off. ~Yes! Fitness Music
2. The Tide is High Vs. Wild Ones - Another perfect combination! Nuff said.
~Yes! Fitness Music
1. - Get Into Magic - I am not sure this song is available for download anywhere any longer, but another BK Howe creation, this song is featured in two Cathe Friedrich Workouts, (Butt & Guts, and Low Impact Circuit) and it was love from the first note. An instrumental song, I have no idea what is so awesome about it, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Whenever it comes on in class, I yell, "This is my favorite aerobic song of all time!" And everyone rolls their eyes like, "We Know Erika, you tell us that every time"
(Originally Posted 8/11/2015)
I know what you're probably thinking; What makes my (Erika) opinion matter when it comes to the following list of the Best Workouts?
As a 25 year veteran of the group fitness industry, I have been in many gym settings as an instructor. I pull from my mentors and the content of their home workout videos to construct my own classes in an effort to keep the choreography fresh, the content relevant, and catapult my participants to the next level of fitness. Before the days of YouTube and Workout Apps, I had to buy videos to do this. I have wasted more money and thrown away more home workout videos than many people will own in their entire lifetime. My current collection consists of workouts I have used as reference for my classes but never do, and videos that I love, use, and are a mainstay in my personal rotation, resulting in the list you see below.
So whether you are a runner looking for some cross training options, a home exerciser looking for the next best thing, or someone just starting out looking for some guidance, you can take my street cred and humble opinion for what you will to trust that the following are the 5 Best Workout Series to Own (and Use!)
Because they are Box Sets, they are an investment. And as a result, you might be inclined to shy away from purchasing them. But trust me, they are worth every penny.
5. Cardio Karate
Comprised of 14 DVD's, the breakdown combines Cardio and Weight Training from experts such as Amy Bento Ross, Gay Gasper, Greg Cook, Greg Sims, Keli Roberts and Steve Feinberg.
What I Like: If you are a fan of Kickboxing, this takes a calmer, more Zen approach. You feel as though you are expanding your repetoire with this Kickboxing/Yoga-esque hybrid. I would imagine that if you have any sort of Karate background whatsoever, this would seem silly, but I really feel that I've expanded my cross training with this series and worked on some things that get overlooked in traditional workout videos, like Balance, Power and Cleansing Breaths
What I Could Do Without:The DVD's focusing solely on Weight Training. Some of the moves are simply undoable. They are big fans of the Chinup Bar and as far as home workouts go, one could really injur themselves trying to emulate some of the moves.
My Favorite Disc: Cardio Complexes with Amy Bento Ross. This workout repeats the same 4 to 8 count combination in 3 consecutive waves; with no weight, with 1lb weights, with 2 or 3lb weights. While it sounds redundant and possibly boring as anything, it's actually quite fun and surprisingly intense. While it is easy to do, you realize at some point you are huffing and puffing, and REALLY sweaty.
I got on a Punching Bag obsession for a while and was ravenous for videos that focused on this format. One Google search later, this series was ordered. Consisting of 5 DVDs and 1 instructional DVD, this series lets you get out any and all aggressions in a 45 minute time frame, all led by Merle Silver. All the DVDs consist of Kicking and Punching combinations interspersed with intensity blasts of Mountain Climbers, Russian Kicks, Frog Leaps, etc. Everything is timed as the Addiction Logo in the bottom corner of the screen forms a complete circle to tell you it's time to move on.
What I Like: The Freestyle Structure. There are no combinations to speak of. She just shouts out, "Do this Now" and you either wail on the bag or do some sort of high intensity cardio move. It's perfect for when you want a great workout, but don't want to concentrate or just want to let your mind do nothing for a change. The music pumps too so you can just get totally immersed in working really hard.
What I Could Do Without: The Freestyle Structure. While this is what I like best about the series, it could have been executed better. She will call out a change mid beat, or intersperse jacks in between a Jab, Cross, making it a 5 count combo and throwing you off the downbeat. The music is also mixed badly so when the song changes, you are totally off the beat altogether. If you are not beat oriented, I guess it wouldn't bother you, but my Aerobic teaching background compels me to cringe at these professional video fails. I just self correct and move on.
My Favorite Disc: Disc 4 - It contains the most use of the Punching Bag. Some of the other discs are too blast heavy and draw you away from actually using the Punching Bag.
3. Katami 4x4
First of all, I need to disclose that I adore Paul Katami. He can truly do no wrong in my eyes. ANY video you get from him is a winner. That being said, I am partial to the 4x4 series. This series takes you through 4 phases; I am Change, I am Athlete, I am Warrior, I am Hero, and each workout consists of "Quads"; with a Quad consisting of 1 minute Cardio, 1 minute lower body, 1 minute Upper body, 1 minute core, repeated twice. The phases progress from easier cardio moves and isolation weighted exercises, to more intense Cardio moves and compound weighted exercises, thereby blurring the lines of each 1 minute round consisting of the afformentioned categories. Each DVD is a Total Body workout and the series in its entirety is designed to see measurable progress after the series is over.
What I Like: Aside from the entire concept, I like how the workout is given to you in digestable bite sized minutes. You find yourself working harder because you can do it for a minute. By the end, it is a total body workout and you have pushed yourself. Also, Each DVD has intensity menu options, and although the workout you will do/view is exactly the same, the camera focuses on the individual (there are 4 of them in the videos) who is doing the intensity level you chose in the menu. It's a measurable progress checkpoint within the measurable progress series
What I Could Do Without: He tries too hard to make it a brand or a household catchphrase and it's forced. "Take a 4x4 breath", "Do this in 4x4 fashion". (In the Foam Roller Video) "If something speaks to you, take a 4x4 hold and relax." We get it, it's called 4x4
My Favorite Disc: I Am Athlete, Disc 3. When I do well, it makes me feel like I won't get picked last in Gym class tomorrow.
2. Ripped with HIIT
The latest workout series from Cathe Friedrich consists of 7 DVDs, broken down into two HIIT Circuit workouts, one for lower and one for Upper Body, Low Impact HIIT, Plyo HIIT, and three strength videos - Lift it HIIT it. The strength videos are broken down into Chest/Triceps/Shoulders, Back/biceps/Shoulders, and Legs. The series also comes with a User's guide and suggested rotations.
What I Like: The Upper Body Lift it HIIT it DVDs. At this point point Cathe has several HIIT and Tabata workout DVDs and quite frankly, they all have blended together in my head. But the upper Body Strength videos are really innovative in this series. Once you've done three heavy sets of a muscle group, she ends that muscle with a "Finisher" move, usually utilizing Resistance Bands. The Finisher moves really pack a punch; easy to do at the time, but making you feel it the next day!
What I Could Do Without: The HIIT Circuit DVDs. This is just a personal preference of mine at this stage of my training, but I have no place for these types of workouts in my rotation. I end these workouts feeling like I neither did enough cardio nor weights. And if you are doing this workout on and "Off" weight day, you're still doing weights, so how is that an "Off" day? It makes me feel like I didn't work hard enough yet overtrained at the same time. (PS - I realize this statement negates my loving Katami 4x4, but 4x4 really is in its own category, so I declare it N/A for Paul!)
My Favorite Disc: Lift It, HIIT It Back, Biceps Shoulders
1. STS - Shock Training System
There are no words to express how this series has transformed my life, but I will try to accurately convey why this series NEEDS to be a part of everyone's home workout collection. Consisting of a whopping 41 DVDs, the series is broken down into 3 Mesocycles; Muscle Endurance, Hypertrophy, and Strength. Within this 3.5 month journey, this series incorporates periodization, muscle confusion, one rep max, and progressive overload training principles. The series is like a puzzle wrapped inside a riddle surrounded by a game. Not only do you get the true form training techniques of each aptly named Mesocycle, there are various techniques within the Mesocycles, such as Drop Sets, Back Off Sets, and Double Wave Loading. After you have finished the 3.5 month rotation, having gone through each mesocycle for four weeks, and resting one week in between, you should be 5% stronger, thus giving you the opportunity to revisit the entire series using weights that are 5% heavier than you previously used. Another way to revisit is the Undulating Rotation; Meso 1/Week 1, Meso 2/Week 1, Meso 3/Week 1, Meso 1/Week 2, Meso 2/Week 2, Meso 3/Week 2, etc. Or my personal favorite, the undulating rotation with the other Cathe Strength DVDs on Week 4.
What I Like: Everything - You are using weights appropriate to you as you have completed your one rep max tests prior to beginning. You have a definitive path to take for 3 months so as not to flounder with "What workout should I do today?" syndrome. The rest times appropriate to the training technique you are doing are measured out for you. You can record your results and truly see as you revisit the series that you are, in fact, stronger. The fact that it is a pure strength series and there are no Circuit workouts (see above) or Cardio-esque fillers. You know what you're there to do and can execute it well.
What I Could Do Without: The mess and the extra $$ associated with that mess. STS is equipment intense. As a result of adding STS to my training schedule, I have purchased slanted risers for my step, extra risers for my step to use it as a weight bench, the Cathe/Altus STS Tower, (Which I don't think is available any longer), Microload gloves to go up in smaller increments than a DB will allow, Safety barbell catches, heavier Dumbbells (my DBs range from 3 to 40 lbs and all the increments in between), Dumbbell handles for plates (to go higher than 40lb because I was sick of buying so many dumbbells), a weight rack for all my Dumbbells, more Plates, a tree for my plates, and a W Barbell in addition to the straight one I already had. By the end of the hour, your workout room looks like a tornado ripped through it...and now, exhausted, you have to clean it all up!
My Favorite Mesocycle: Meso 2 - Hypertrophy. Using weights that are 70 -80% of your one rep max, you use one muscle group until completion before moving onto another. The upper body is broken down in your traditional Back/Bi's, Chest/Tri's/Shoulders concept. You also use techniques such as Double Wave loading and Drop Sets. The rests are long enough that you are not racing around to gather your weights before they start without you (Like in Meso 1) and you are WORKING. Still, after 3 years of consistent STS training, this Mesocycle does not bore me one bit and I am ALWAYS still sore afterward. See Also: My Success Story Posted on Cathe's Website
About The Authors
A 25 Year Veteran of the Group Fitness Industry, Erika currently teaches Kickboxing, Step, and H.I.I.T. classes at Guilford Parks & Rec.
An Avid Runner, Lisa began her running career about 10 Years Ago.