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Exercise Equipment

Discover the many kinds of exercise equipment.

Exercise Equipment

There are two major types of exercise equipment: equipment for cardio workouts and equipment for strength training workouts. While cardio exercise helps people burn calories and lose weight, strength training helps build muscle and makes a body look lean. With so many different pieces of exercise equipment available on the market, it can be difficult for a novice to know which equipment provides the desired workout.

Cardio Equipment

Cardio exercise helps build up a sweat and burn calories. According to Women's Health Magazine, a person burns 10 to 12 calories a minute running or cycling, compared to eight to 10 calories a minute with strength exercises. Some types of cardio equipment are the elliptical machine, stationary bike, treadmill and stair climber. While gym facilities offer this equipment, these machines are also available for in-home use.

A treadmill lets users get a running or walking workout whatever the season. Treadmills let the user control the speed and duration of the workout. When shopping for a treadmill, some common features to look for include an emergency switch-usually a pull cord or button that stops the machine during an emergency-a safety lock, treadmill belt cushioning, a water bottle holder and a warranty. A safety lock is important if children will be around the machine because it ensures that a child can't turn on the machine and get hurt. There is no preferred type of treadmill belt, but users should opt for more cushioning for a lower impact workout.

An elliptical machine produces a zero-impact workout, meaning it doesn't stress out joints due to hard impact. Options for elliptical machines include handrails that provide an upper body workout or a machine that offers both forward and backward motions. A stair climber mimics the actions of climbing the stairs and works the leg muscles. These machines come with or without side rails and usually provide information on calories burned. Exercise bikes provide a low-impact aerobic workout and are available in two types-the recumbent and the upright. The recumbent bike provides comfort because the user sits on an oversized seat, while the upright bike works much like a regular bicycle, except it's stationary.

Strength Training Equipment

Strength training equipment tends to be bulkier and take up more space. For this reason, many people keep this equipment outside, in a garage or in the basement. According to Lee Hayward's Total Fitness Bodybuilding, there are two basic types of strength training equipment-free weights and machines.

Free weights are dumbbells, barbells and weight plates. Dumbbells are the short weights that can weigh anywhere from 2 lbs. to over 100 lbs. Barbells are a long metal bar that the user attaches weight plates to, making them adjustable for all levels. Other exercise equipment used for strength training includes curl bars, benches, stability balls, dipping bars and chin-up bars. Any exercise a person can do on a bench can also be done on a stability ball.

Strength training machines include:

• Leg press machine
• Hack squat machine
• Leg extension machine
• Leg curl machine
• Calf machine
• Lat pull down machine
• Pec deck machine

Since most of these machines are rather large, many users prefer to use them in a gym setting. However, there are companies, such as Bowflex, that have created an all-in-one piece of exercise equipment that offers the ability to do all of these exercises on one machine. Strength training machines are ideal for people wanting to increase muscle tone.

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