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Workout Accessories Buying Guide

Workout Accessories Buying Guide
Workout Accessories Buying Guide

Getting Started

There are many accessories you can add to your home gym. Workout Accessories do everything from creating high intense workouts, to smaller items meant to make your workout regimen safer with less physical strain on your body. Keep in mind that most workout accessories are not necessary, but most will enhance your workout experience beyond what you would normally experience. You'll find many accessories can help add variety to your normal workout routine.

Some accessories, such as jump ropes or exercise balls, can easily be added as individual workout equipment. Others, such as wraps, straps, belts, or mats, are intended more as safety equipment than anything else. The key benefit to your workout accessories will depend on the types of activities you include in your normal workout routine.

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Types of Workout Accessories

Exercise Balls

Exercise BallsAn exercise ball is a good accessory to have if you spend a lot of time sitting down. Exercise balls will help you stay active during long sitting sessions by demanding you to maintain balance, and they also force you to move more than you would sitting on a chair. Additional benefits include better posture, better blood flow, more calories burned while sitting and an increase in energy levels.

Exercise balls can also be used as part of a regular exercise routine. You can find many different workout routines designed specifically for exercise balls to include core development, cross-training, balance building workouts and upper-body strength building.

When purchasing an exercise ball, consider factors such as price, burst resistance, size, weight limit, and any additional features offered. Exercise balls are not overly complex purchases, so simply buying the most expensive one on the market may not be your best option.

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Belts

BeltsYou may have seen people, often weightlifters, in your gym wearing belts while working out. Belts are known to help relieve some stress on your back and spine while engaging in various types of workouts, especially with weightlifting.

Many weightlifters will swear by their belts, claiming that they help increase strength, muscle growth, and power. Research on the latter benefits are mixed, although there is some indication that you can certainly benefit in strength building while using a belt. Nevertheless, the benefits to your spine through spine stabilization are well known, making belts an almost necessary tool to use when engaging in heavy weight lifting workouts.

When searching for a weightlifting belt, consider material (leather is preferred, but not necessary), size fittings, thickness, and purpose (squats, deadlifts, etc.).

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Straps

Another accessory designed specifically for weightlifting, straps are designed to help give you better grip when holding on to heavy weights. This could be while powerlifting with barbells or when lifting increasingly heavier dumbbells or other types of weights. Straps are recommended. They come in handy once you start working on heavier weights, which are more likely to slip from your hand, especially if your hands begin to sweat. Consider straps a necessary safety item if you intend to lift weights.

When purchasing straps, the most important factors you'll want to consider are length, material, and padding.

Wraps

Not to be confused with wrist straps, wrist wraps are designed to help take the strain off your wrists as you engage in weightlifting activities and other workout routines. Similar to straps, wraps are designed to help your body lift more weight by taking some of the strain from the body. Wraps are specific to joints, and are designed to cover elbows, knees, and wrists.

Wraps are generally suggested if you have an injury. Wearing wraps will help you lift more weight and protect your joints but will have the unfortunate drawback of not building strength for those joints either. As such, use wraps sparingly, and try to avoid relying on them to add extra weight to your weight lifting exercises.

When considering wraps, focus primarily on part of the body (knees, wrists, elbows), padding and materials.

Hooks

Hooks are primarily designed to help lift heavy weights and barbells, serving the same purpose as straps and a similar, but slightly different purpose than wraps. Hooks will allow you to lift more weight and take some strain from your wrists. They're uniquely beneficial if you have an injury that you need to work around. The end goal for hooks is to increase your gains. You'll find that many hooks are attached to wrist straps, or come with their own straps.

Hooks may also be used for chin ups, cable weight machines and home gyms, even dumbbell weight lifting. Note that constant usage of hooks will negatively affect your ability to develop a proper grip.

Hooks will typically be metal embedded into a cloth band. When deciding on the right hooks for you, consider the total weight capacity, hook size, and material.

Grips

Designed to help protect your hands and help avoid calluses, grips will help avoid slippage due to sweaty hands. Grips are multifunctional, so you'll find you can use them for a variety of purposes, such as weightlifting or gymnastics. Grips also help prevent rips and tears in your hands from strenuous workouts.

When considering purchasing grips, focus on purpose. Are they designed to fit on your hand, or external pieces that you place over other objects? For the most part, comfort, sizes and material used are key.

Racks

RacksRacks come in several varieties and are often-underutilized as a bodybuilding tool. They can be as simple as storage space for dumbbells or as a supplemental pieces of safety equipment. Power racks for instance, are designed to help you with your weightlifting workout, serving as an aid to your workout and a piece of safety equipment. Consider a power rack if you do squats, bar curls and bench presses. Racks are designed for those who are in the beginning phases of strength building, and who lack the strength to come out of the bottom of squats properly.

When searching for racks, consider construction material, size, load capacity, height adjustment, and extra features, such as pull-up bars and dip bars.

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Jump Ropes

Jump RopesA simple yet effective workout tool, the classic jump rope is a home gym essential. Jump ropes come in various shapes, sizes, weights, and materials. Adding a jump rope to your routine can help burn calories quickly. Moderate-intensity jump roping can burn up to 16 calories a minute. A good jump rope workout can burn over 400 calories in a half hour. Other jump rope benefits include increased bone density, agility, and heart benefits. A jump rope can also provide an excellent cardio workout while toning muscles.

When buying a jump rope, consider construction material, length, and purpose (standard, fitness, and training, speed, beaded, or cloth). Note that length is tied directly to height. When considering length, the following should be helpful:

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Mats

MatsIf you're big into Pilates, yoga, or other floor exercises, you should strongly consider purchasing an exercise mat. The simple, soft padding from an exercise mat makes it much easier to perform floor-based exercises on hard surfaces. Exercise mats can also help protect your carpeted floor from absorbing sweat or used as a base to set up your exercise equipment to help protect your floors from damage. If you find yourself going to the gym often, consider a portable mat an essential item. It will help protect you from bacteria build-up on gym floors.

In addition, exercise mats are simple and low-tech. When looking for exercise mats, consider construction material, thickness, and size. Also, note that there is a difference between exercise mats and yoga mats. Exercise mats tend to be far larger and thicker, while yoga mats are small, often about the length of a person's body, and much thinner.

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Bags

Perhaps one of the ultimate workout accessories, bags are a necessary item for anyone serious about getting a great workout. Even if you have a home gym, consider investing in a high-quality gym bag. This allows you to take your workout clothes with you anywhere. Gym bags are also a great way to avoid mixing your workout clothes with regular attire and help prevent contact with sweaty items and clean clothes or someone else's items.

Exercise bags come in several sizes and with several options. When considering exercise and workout bags, think about style (duffel, backpack, shoulder, tote), material (nylon, leather, canvas, neoprene), size, weight, pockets, and durability.

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