One of the most popular areas of improvement to target in the last 10 years has been stability. Many popular fitness programs and personal trainers have focused on the concept of adding instable environments to basic exercises in order to improve total body stability. One of the best pieces of equipment for this is the StrongBoard Balance.
I love the StrongBoard as it’s perfect for everyone from athletes to elderly fitness populations. The StrongBoard is designed with four core springs that immediately generate a safe environment of instability and complement any fitness program whether you’re using bodyweight or dumbbells.
Benefits of the Strong Board Balance
Improves Total Body Stability
Since the StrongBoard Balance is an unstable surface, the body has to frantically work to stabilize on a neuromuscular level. This requires an immense amount of work even though you might not feel like you’re doing much. These stability challenges are going to have a big impact on your day-to-day life, especially for older populations. Better stability decreases your risk of injury while improving your functional movement patterns.
Activates the Core
As soon as you step on the StrongBoard Balance, you’ll notice that it immediately activates the core musculature. Since most the U.S. population works a desk job, a weak core has become one of the most common problems that trainers see. Simply standing on the StrongBoard will help to activate and strengthen the core.
Exercises for the Strong Board Balance
Closed Loop Resistance Bands
One of the most versatile and convenient pieces of fitness equipment, closed loop resistance bands are durable, inexpensive, and travel-friendly. Closed loop resistance bands are made with a rubber material that is able to be stretched two to four times its starting length. Resistance bands are also color coordinated. Different colors correspond to greater levels of tension and resistance.
In general, closed loop resistance bands have been associated with toning muscle but they are also ideal for building muscle mass as well. You won’t be able to train like Phil Heath at the Mr. Olympia but resistance bands can help you achieve a realistic gain in lean muscle tissue.
Benefits of the Closed Loop Bands
Greater Range of Exercises
Compared to handle-based resistance bands, closed loop resistance bands offer a greater range of exercises without the worry of the bands snapping back. For example, performing a push-up with a closed loop band is far easier and more effective at providing extra resistance for the chest, triceps, and abdominal muscles.
Replaces Dozens of Dumbbells
If you’ve ever wanted to build an at-home gym but you don’t have the space, resistance bands are a great alternative. They provide the same level of resistance as a collection of dumbbells without taking up your entire garage or basement. The shorter you make the resistance band, the greater the tension becomes.
Exercises for Closed Loop Resistance Bands
Just as the name implies, the Steel Mace from Onnit likens the Persian weapon used in battle. Made from solid steel and available from 7 to 25 pounds, the Steel Mace is surprisingly effective at total body conditioning.
Benefits of the Steel Mace
Ideal for Functional Training
In general, functional training is any type of exercise or workout program that will improve your functional movement patterns outside of the gym. For example, if you are performing functional training, you will notice that picking up groceries or your kids will become easier. If you’ve always had a sore lower back, with functional training you may notice that the pain is greatly reduced or eliminated completely.
The Steel Mace is designed to be used in functional training programs, improving stability, lean muscle mass, and primary mover cooperation while promoting fat loss.
Dramatically Improves Grip Strength
Grip strength is one of those abilities you never think about until it starts getting weaker. Grip strength is a transferable ability in that it can be effective inside and outside of the gym. For example, have you ever been performing an exercise and noticed that your grip failed you before the muscle fatigues? Outside of the gym, maybe you’ve been carrying bags and needed to take a break because your grip couldn’t go any further.
The Steel Mace has been shown to improve your grip strength and this can have important implications for life outside of the weight room.
Exercises for the Steel Mace
Following in line with the Steel Mace, Onnit came out with another piece of fitness equipment called the Steel Club. Again, just as you’d expect, this is a piece of solid steel. No tricks or gimmicks with the Steel Club. Onnit takes one chunk of steel and machine produces it into the fitness tool you see in the video below. Not only is the Steel Club incredible durable but it’s also an effective piece of fitness equipment for real world strength.
Benefits of Steel Clubs
Back to Basics
One of the things I love about the Steel Club is that it is an ideal fitness tool for beginners, the elderly, and those going through rehabilitation; however, even veteran lifters will be surprised at how much it can enhance their results. It allows you to improve seemingly simple movements that you don’t think much about. For example, swinging movements with the Steel Club are going to strengthen your core, which is the foundation of all movement.
Just like the Steel Mace, the Steel Club is going to be a great way to enhance functional movement patterns. Functional movement training isn’t a hot button topic that will fade away. Functional training is important for the long term as it drastically reduces the risk for injuries, especially as you age. Functional training with the Steel Club might allow you to hold on to your sense of independence well after many others have become sedentary.
Exercises for the Steel Club
Flex Disc Fit
Don’t let the simple design of the Flex Disc Fit fool you, this little thing provides you with a seriously intense workout. The Flex Disc Fit is a stable circular surface propped up on eight super tough wheels. You can place it on carpet, wood, or tile and get the same results. The Flex Disc Fit can be used during basic exercises as it challenges your body’s neuromuscular connections.
Benefits of the Flex Disc Fit
Balance and Mobility
Similar to the StrongBoard Balance, the Flex Disc Fit focuses on providing an environment of instability to promote better balance and mobility. However, unlike the StrongBoard, you can separate the body parts you are using. For example, I often have clients use two Flex Disc Fits and place one arm on each. You can’t imagine the challenge this puts on your core! The Flex Disc Fit is a sure cure for bad balance.
What’s more, the Flex Disc Fit also target core strength no matter which exercise you are performing. Remember that all movement originates from the core so you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve your strength there. Through instability, the Flex Disc Fit demands activation from all of the core musculature including the deep abdominal muscles that many people forget to target while in the gym. The result is an incredibly strong core and a lower risk for injury.
Exercises for the Flex Disc Fit
Proudly made in the United States from recycled materials, the Xiser is an effective stepping machine that you can bring with you on-the-go. It’s light weight and saves plenty of space, making it ideal for at-home gyms without much room. The Xiser may look small and simple, but it provides a high intensity workout like you’ve never felt before.
Benefits of the Xiser
High Intensity Gets Better Results
The days of spending an hour on the treadmill moving at a slow and boring pace are long gone. High intensity, short duration workouts have been scientifically proven to be far more effective than traditional low intensity, long duration workouts. The Xiser is going to be a safe way for you to reach your target heart rate and burn the maximum amount of calories. What’s more, after your workout, your EPOC levels will be elevated so that your body will continue to burn fat for hours after you finish.
Ideal for Those with Limited Mobility
The Xiser is incredibly effective but that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. The Xiser is as easy as it gets. The up-down motion of the steps on the Xiser make it ideal for everyone, even those with a limited range of mobility.
Exercises for the Xiser
Maybe you’ve seen a pair of black and yellow straps hanging around at your local gym and you’ve always wondered what they are used for. TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) is a form of suspension training, meaning that you’ll be using your own bodyweight as the resistance while the TRX straps provide support and instability. Developed by a former NAVY Seal, the TRX bands are easily one of the best pieces of fitness equipment to hit the industry in the last twenty years.
Benefits of the TRX
Fast and Effective
Take a look at most of the cookie cutter training programs on your favorite bodybuilding websites and you’ll notice a common theme: you spend a lot of time walking from one training station to the next. Not only is this ineffective for maximizing fat loss and muscle building but you may also get stuck waiting for equipment to become available. With the TRX bands and your bodyweight, you have everything you need for an incredibly effective workout that will maximize results and save you time.
Total Body Strength and Stability
If you are looking for a proven way to increase your strength while improving stability and mobility, you’ve found it. The TRX straps allow you to change the resistance and challenge based on the angle and depth of your body. What’s more, the suspension-based system is going to challenge your neuromuscular system in a big way. You’ll quickly notice improvements in stability and mobility with a focus in the core.
Exercises for TRX
A sexy set of six-pack abs has been the new “must have” body feature in fitness for years. In response, there have been plenty of companies pushing products that promise fast results but do virtually nothing to give you that lean and ripped six-pack you want. The Ab Dolly is the exception. One of my personal favorites, the Ab Dolly is a strong and sturdy surface supported by a set of wheels. Able to be used with upper body and lower body exercises, the Ab Dolly uses your own bodyweight and instability to target your core and help you sculpt those abs.
Benefits of the Ab Dolly
I love how core-focused the Ab Dolly is, which is why I use it with almost all of my clients. It doesn’t just target the aesthetically pleasing abdominal muscles but also your deep ab musculature, which is critical for proper posture and avoiding postural distortions. What’s more, the instability that your body is constantly working to adjust and readjust to is strengthening your core in a way that may dramatically improve your quality of living.
For those people who love lifting weights, cardio day is often thought of as the day that’s okay to skip. I’ve found that the Ab Dolly makes cardio day worth looking forward to. Not only are you working on your abs but your heart rate is going to be through the roof even though you don’t feel like you’re doing much.
Exercises for the Ab Dolly
In the last decade, fitness has moved from traditional weight lifting to finding better ways of achieving strength, power, endurance, and muscle. Weighted throwing, crawling, and jumping movements are a result of the search for making a better athlete, not just a better weight lifter. Steel Bells from Onnit are easily the most versatile weight-based tool on my list, which is why I bring them with me wherever I go. This tough neoprene material is packed with steel shot and can weigh up to 50 pounds! It’s built to last so you can throw and slam it.
Benefits of the Steel Bells
Want to perform arm curls? Looking to improve pushing power? Need to get better at swinging? The Steel Bells can make it happen. I love how versatile the Steel Bells are and how they can complement any fitness program, regardless if you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran lifter.
Exercises for the Steel Bells
Just like with the TRX straps, there’s a good chance you’ve seen big and bulky ropes lying around. Battle ropes brings fitness back to an old school methodology where you need to use your entire body to perform the movement. As I’ve talked about above, this is ideal for functional strength training.
Benefits of Battle Ropes
Improve All Areas of Fitness
When you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance while burning fat and building lean muscle, Battle Ropes are the go-to fitness tools. What’s more, the swinging and throwing actions are going to dramatically improve stability, power, and strength.
Exercises for Battle Ropes
TRX Rip Trainer
The final piece of equipment that comes with me on every training session is the TRX Rip Trainer. This is a solid and durable resistance cord attached to a weighted bar on one side, which produces an uneven distribution that forces your body to deal with a new and different training stimulus for every exercise, even once you’ve done a thousand times!
Benefits of the TRX Rip Trainer
Stability, Cardio, and Power All-in-One
Since the weight is attached to only one side, this creates an asymmetric load, which presents a unique training environment for the muscles. For each exercise you perform, you are challenging your stability and power while working up a sweat. In other words, it is an all-in-one training tool!
Exercises for the TRX Rip Trainer
Bored with Your Workouts?
The best exercise equipment that I’ve listed above travels with me on each and every training session with my clients. As you read, each tool has its own unique benefits and strengths allowing me to curtail each client’s program to fit their specific limitations and needs.
Do you need a serious change in your own workouts? Have you been trying again and again to lose weight or build muscle without success? Let me help you!
I am a certified personal trainer with fifteen years of experience in the Boston area and I travel to you! All of the equipment I’ve listed above comes with me so you’ll never have to worry about the same tired old routine. Want more information about how I can help you achieve your fitness goals?
You can call 617-505-2627 or send me an e-mail at Will@elitetrainingboston.com .