Is It Worthwhile Getting An Exercise Machine With A Pulse Sensor?

A lot of the best exercise machines for home gyms right now will proudly claim to have pulse sensors built into the machine. The idea here is that the system will take a reading and this will translate to the heart rate monitor on the screen. There are lots of people that will benefit from this approach. However, there are also some potential flaws in the design that could be an issue for some. So, is it worthwhile getting an exercise machine with a pulse sensor?

Treadmill Elliptical and Recumbent BikeWhy might you find that a pulse sensor is a beneficial tool for your workout?

Let’s start with the potential benefits of this system. Many top treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical machines will have pulse sensors embedded into the handlebars. All users have to do is hold on while they work out and allow the sensors to take their readings. This creates a steady stream of data to the console so you can see any fluctuations in your heart rate.

Those that work out often should be aware of the ideal heart rate for their activity level and their resting heart rate. A constant reading lets you see when the rate has risen too far so you can tone the intensity down and get back to a better rhythm. This is important for all those that are trying to improve their sessions and their results. It is too easy to push too far and put yourself at risk. The sooner you realize this, the better the chances of a quick recovery without having to end the session altogether. If you don’t see the danger signs than this could put you at great risk. The last thing you want is to suffer heart complications just because you decided to ramp up the resistance a bit too much.

What limitations are there to these in-built pulse sensors that you should be aware of?

The first issue lies with the placement of the sensors on the machine. Most have one set embedded into the stationary handrail or handlebars of the machine. This isn’t too much of an issue for those using a treadmill or exercise bike if you remember to keep hold of the handlebars. If you stop holding on, the machine can’t get a pulse reading and there won’t be any accurate data available.

This can be an issue for those that want to keep their hands free or try another position. One of the best as to improve your posture and core strength while using an exercise machine is to sit up straight without holding on. Some people also like to use resistance cords or dumbbells for arm exercisers on bikes and treadmills as they work. This means that there is no way of using the pulse sensors and getting that reading. The problem isn’t such an issue for those that use elliptical machines because the handlebars are such an integral part of the workout. Just make sure that you can use both sets of handlebars on dual-function models where you can switch between moving and stationary arms.

Pulse sensors and pulse belts

One way to combat this possible problem is to use a different heart rate system. Some machines will come with additional chest straps for pulse readings when the other method isn’t convenient. These connect to the console for the same type of data stream. Just double-check that this indeed in the box and not an extra feature sold separately. If not, you might find that this ramps up the overall cost.

Some machines are better than others

Then there is the quality of the sensors. Some cheaper machines are a little inconsistent in their readings because the sensors aren’t ideal. They may be too sensitive and create inaccurate readings or they might not be sensitive enough and require too much pressure. Some also struggle because they aren’t sweat-proof, which isn’t ideal for any high-intensity workouts. Another possible flaw to consider is the quality of the reading on the console. The sensors may be just fine but the console could be a little temperamental or difficult to read.

Does this mean that pulse sensors are more hassle then they are worth?

This all makes it sound as though it is a bad idea to get a machine with a pulse sensor. This isn’t the case at all. These features can be a great aid and there is no harm in having them built-in. It is, in fact, better to have it and use it occasionally for those really tough sessions than to not have it and hold yourself back. The point here is that you have to be careful about how you use them and to get a machine where the sensors are of a decent quality.

That is why it is so important to check the features of your chosen exercise machine to know exactly what you are getting. Where are the sensors located on the product? Does this mean that they will be easy to use consistently or a little too awkward? Is it possible to get that continual reading with ease or will you have to plan your workouts a little better? Also, is there a chest strap to help you diversify your sessions and still get the best reading?

On top of that, take the time to read users reviews to see what they have to say about this feature. If more than a handful have struggled to get consistent or accurate reading then there might be something wrong with the software or the design of the sensors.

Find the best approach for your needs


A pulse sensor in a treadmill or any other fitness machine can be a great tool when it is accessible and reliable. If you find a machine that has this function, and you know that users have no problems with it, it could turn out to be a very helpful tool. Think about your needs and preferred style when working out and find the approach that suits you.

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Why Do Many Exercise Machines Now Have Bluetooth And WiFi Connectivity

Wireless connections and the Internet of Things can seem a little like an expectation rather than a luxury these days. We expect to be able to connect our devices with ease and reach out to our social connections online. So, it is no surprise that so many fitness fanatics are drawn to smart WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled machines for their home gym. There are a few obvious benefits in doing so.

Spin Bike With WifiWiFi connectivity to other devices that you own

First of all, there is the connection to other devices. Wireless streaming overs a brilliant two-way connection between your machine and any other devices that you might have in your possession. There are two benefits to this. If you have a fitness tracker of some kind of fitness app on your phone or tablet then you may be able to create a strong connection between the two. The machine will be able to send all the relevant data to your mobile device about your session. This could include the number of miles walked/jogged on a treadmill, your stroke rote on the rower or the theoretical calories burned with your exercise bike. This then creates a detailed log that you can access whenever you need to. All data can then be used in other ways on your mobile device for other means, such as planning meals and schedules.

Another benefit to having this sort of connection, such as a direct Bluetooth link to your mobile device, it the ability to stream media. Not all machine have music systems; some do but only have a simple port or an MPS player. Smarter machines may allow for wireless streaming of music to the console. This is perfect for creating the perfect workout playlist or maybe listing to a motivational podcast as you work out. The easier it is to lose yourself in something else as your work out, the easier it becomes to work that little bit harder and push through barriers.

WiFi connectivity to apps and programs within your consoles

With that in mind, there is the other benefit to having a wireless connection on the console of your smart exercise machine. You might find that it is better to have a machine where the apps and media on offer are within the console. Many of the smartest exercise bike systems, rowers and treadmills have clever apps built-in that provide clever programs and other tools.

One great example is the ability to link up to Google maps on a fitness app and create a fun new route. This can be more interesting that just pretending to row or run in a straight line. You can key in courses in real locations and use the console as an inspiration to get to the finish line. This can be perfect for those that need to train for specific distances or events. These smarter console may also have those fitness apps built-in so that you can log everything that you need to know about a session without having to rely on your phone.

WiFi connectivity to other people

The final benefit of having an exercise machine with smart connectivity is a connection to other people. There is a growing trend now to use the consoles on these exercise bikes as a way to connect with other riders and coaches. You can think of it as taking part in a spin class from the comfort of your own home. You get the right guidance and a great workout but you don’t have to face quite so many “real” people and can build on your confidence.

These wireless smart exercise machines do come with their downsides for some users

Of course, these smart machines with wireless connectivity aren’t going to be for everyone. There is an issue of cost, as the smarter they are and more diverse, the higher the price. There is also the fact that you need to be sure of a strong power and WiFi connection for the machine and the data sharing to get the most out of the session. Drop-outs 20 minutes in can be a real pain to deal with. There is also the issue of all the light and noise. Some people struggle with the constant beeping and flashing that comes with some intense consoles. This can take it to another level. However, if you do feel as though this sort of wireless connection and Bluetooth enabled machine is the right approach, there are some key consideration to keep in mind.

Always check the specifications and reviews before choosing a machine with wireless or Bluetooth connectivity

Check the specification on the machine to make sure that it has all the right features that you need. This means looking at the programming and the details of the apps. How much is included from the start with the basic price and how much is subscription-based as a bonus expense? Are there any noticeable restrictions with compatible devices? It is also important to check user reviews for these machines to see if there are any obvious problems that the company won’t tell you about. There may be a group of users that struggled to get a strong connection or that found the console difficult to use. There is also the risk that new, next-gen models for 2020 may have teething problems that need patches.

Is this the right approach for you

In short, there are a lot of benefits in going for a smart treadmill, rower or exercise bike with wireless connectivity. But, this is only the case with the right machine and if you are sure to make the most out of all the features. One final point to remember here is that these machines are only going to get smarter and more diverse with time. Eventually, a large proportion will be made under the assumption that we all want to stay connected to the outside world at all times. Your workout could either get a lot more complex and overwhelming or a lot more diverse and beneficial. Take your time to find the model that suits your needs the best.

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What Are The Best Exercise Machines For Leg Workouts?

For some people, leg exercises mean very little else than a long walk or some yoga poses to stretch out the muscles and keep the weight off. For others, it can get more serious than that. If you have gotten into your fitness regime and improved your tone and strength in your upper body, you may feel that it is time that your legs caught up. A little more definition in your quads and calves or strength in your hamstrings can go a long way. However, it isn’t always obvious how best to achieve this with your standard fitness machines at home.

Below are some tips to help you improve your leg workout routine. First, there are tips for using more traditional machines and then some recommendations for equipment specifically designed for the legs.

Leg Press Exercise SketchLeg exercises with traditional fitness machines

A lot of your common at-home fitness machine will help you to work the legs pretty effectively as you build your cardio and general fitness. However, those only really work to a certain point.

The treadmill

You are working your muscles and getting the blood flowing as you exercise if you like to use a treadmill. There is a repeated motion that means that you can slowly build tone and strength in these areas. If you like the simplicity and familiarity of a treadmill then you can find ways to increase your output and work on toning your legs further. You can increase the incline or the pace so that you have to work a little bit harder and really feel the burn. You can also work on the intensity through HIIT sessions – either manually or by enjoying a pre-set program.

The rower

There is a similar approach if you like to use a rowing machine. These machines are better at providing a full-body workout than you might imagine. The repeated motion of the extension of the legs and the bending of the knees does play its part. Make sure that your rower has the right length rail and comfortable footplates so that you can get the best out of this motion. Again, you can improve your output by altering the speed of your strokes and the resistance on offer.

The elliptical

Elliptical trainers will always be popular when it comes to leg workouts because of the motion on the footplates and the resistance provided. There are some that now offer a 360 degree motion that allows you to move your legs in a circular motion and tone the muscles of your inner thighs too.

The exercise bike

Finally, there is everyone’s favorite for leg exercises – the exercise bike. Whether you prefer an indoor bike that mimics road cycling, a spin bike or something a little more traditional, you can work your legs for long sessions with these machines. Spin bikes are great because you can really push yourself and stand up for intense sessions. Regular work on these machines can go a long way to improving the tone and strength of your legs at home.

Other specialist machines for your leg workout

However, there are other machines that are designed for leg exercises. If you want to really focus on a specific muscle group and improve the look and strength of your legs, you might want to consider the following.

The leg press

The first is the leg press. The basic idea here is that you use the force of your legs to lower and raise a platform. Bring your legs to your chest to lower the platform and then push it back up. This tests the strength of your quadriceps. You can adjust the weight to increase the resistance and effort needed. You can also choose how many reps you do.

The leg extension

Next is the leg extension. You sometimes see these bars on other pieces of gym equipment as a way of diversifying a workout. You get comfortable on the seat with your feet hooked under the padded bar. Then you simply extend your legs out straight, pushing the bar up. As with most of these machines, it is all about the weight and resistance.

Inner thigh machines

If you like the idea of working your inner thighs, but don’t like the idea of the 360 degree elliptical machine, there are specialist machines for this too. Again, you can sit quite comfortably in the best models while you let your legs do all the work. This time the pads sit by your knees and upper thighs as you bring your legs together. Adjust the weight of the machine to make it as easy or as hard as you need it to be.

The squat rack

Finally, there is the option of the squat rack. This is a piece of equipment that you might overlook when thinking about leg exercises. Squats are such a great part of a leg workout because they really test the strength of your muscles and improve tone quite quickly. One way that you can increase the intensity is to perform weighted squats. A weight rack is a good idea as you can increase the weight and balance it safely. However, it is advisable to have a spotter in this situation to be as safe as possible because of the free weights.

Choosing the right equipment for your leg workout

There are plenty of ways that you can improve your leg days and really work on the strength and tone of these muscles. If you don’t have the space for a new machine specifically for your legs then look into ways of improving your workouts on your treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical trainer. If you do have the space, pick a machine that you know you can use with ease on your own.

The worst thing that you can do in this situation is over-exert yourself and risk an injury. Start slow, work your way through different weights and resistance levels and increase your reps. Before long, you should start to notice the difference in the feel and appearance of your legs.

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What Are The Best Exercise Machines For Arm Workouts?

How often do you actively work your arms when using your fitness machines at home. Probably not as much as you could be, right?. Our arms can be one of the last areas to gain tone and strength if we focus on cardio workouts or basic sessions on a treadmill. But, that doesn’t mean that we should give up hope.

Below are three ways that you can bring more focus to your arms during your workouts. First are the ways to make the most of the common exercise machines that you may be used to. Then there are some of the more specialist pieces of equipment that you can add to your gym. Finally, I want to talk about some of the more basic tools that you can try.Flexed Arm Sketch

Arm workouts with common machines in your home gym

Let’s start with those common fitness machines. This can be the best starting point if you already have a good routine going and just want to make some adaptations.

The treadmill:

If you are used to using a treadmill during your daily workout then you won’t be using your arms that much. You can change all this through a couple of different tools. You could upgrade to a machine that has built-in arm cables with adjustable resistance. This means that you can work the muscles and get more of a full-body workout as you jog or run. Just make sure sure that you are up to this sort of multi-tasking if you are still a bit of a novice.

The alternative is to hold some dumbbells as you run to add a bit of weight to the workout. Some treadmills do actually come with free dumbbells and a place to store them after use.

The exercise bike:

If you prefer to use an exercise bike then you can enjoy something similar if you find a machine with a cord or pulley system attached. But, this does mean that you probably won’t get such a consistent reading on your heart rate because the pulse sensors are in the handlebars.

The rower:

Rowers are already perfect for arm exercise because you get the motion and resistance on that pulley and can adjust the settings accordingly.

The elliptical:

As for elliptical machines, make the most of nay resistance and motion in the upright handlebars as this can really work those muscles and those in your shoulder

Specialist machines for arm workouts

When it comes to machines specifically for arms, there aren’t quite so many options besides more all-purpose gym set-ups and arm extension machines. Extension machines work in a similar way to leg extenders and leg presses with a weighted, adjustable system and resistance. You pull the handles out to extend the arms and bring them back to the middle of your chest. Repeat this as often as needed and increase the weight to help with tone and strength. Another option is to get a body gym that has a pull up bar, arm curl feature or some other station where you can make arm exercises part of your routine.

The mini exercise bike:

Another machine that I want to highlight here is the mini exercise bike. While many people will use this as a way to rehab leg injuries or get some basic motion for their knees under a desk, there is also potential for those needing to work on their arms. All you need to do is put this up on a desk or table, hold onto the pedals and get a rotary motion going. This is advisable for those new to exercise or that have weaknesses or injuries in their arms.

Simple tools to add to your set-up for arm workouts

Finally, I want to talk about some of the other pieces of equipment that you can bring into your home-gym set up to improve the strength and tone of your arms. You don’t have to get high-end fancy machines if you don’t want to.

Resistance bands:

Resistance bands and cords in treadmills are great. But, you can get bands on their own that you can use under your own power. Look out for packs that have lots of of different sizes and resistance levels so that you have room to progress.


Dumbbells don’t have to be part of another machine either as they are an affordable way to work on your arm muscle anywhere that you want’ you can do curls as your check your emails, make a cup of tea or watch your favourite show. They soon add up over the day and you will notice the difference.

Medicine balls:

If you have the space in your home gym, why not consider getting a medicine ball. This weighted ball is versatile and lets you work on your explosive strength.

Free weights:

Finally, there is the option of the weight rack if you really want to get serious about lifting weight and tracking your progress. You can choose between deadlifts, bench presses or basic dumbbell work.

Choosing the best approach for your needs

Whatever your goals when it comes to working your arm muscles, you need to find the best piece of equipment to help you get there. If your goals are minor and you just want a little more strength and tone then the resistance bands and dumbbells are a great choice. It is up to you whether you would prefer to use them on their own or as part of a machine. If you have a strong routine going on your treadmill, rower or elliptical than look at ways of adjusting this to bring in more arm exercises. Finally, if you are really keen on big gains and a new shape to your arms, you might want to go further with a weight system.

Consider your needs carefully and don’t bite off more than you can chew. You want slow, steady progress, not torn muscle and sore joints. Start small, build on your progress and enjoy the results.

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Can You Lose Weight Using A Rowing Machine?

Many people will look for an exercise machine that will offer them the fastest possible route to weight loss. They want to see the pounds disappear as quickly as possible and get some form of instant gratification for their purchase. This is overly optimistic because all the best regimes for fitness and weight loss take time. However, there is no reason why you can’t create an effective plan and see noticeable results with some of the most basic machines. This includes the rowing machine.

Exercising on Concept 2 RowersRowing machines are a fantastic tool for fitness and are seen as one of the best cardio machines out there. You can build a steady rhythm at just the right resistance level to get your heart rate up and get your muscles working. This can mean more of a full-body workout than you might expect because of the impact on the arms, legs and the ab muscles. So how can this be a better way to weight loss than some of the other machines that you can get for the home?

Weight loss requires a machine you can use each day with ease

First of all, you have to look at the bigger picture of your weight loss story. You need a machine that you can use every day with ease and that will provide room for improvement down the line. A rowing machine is a great choice because it is so easy to hop on and off as needed and enjoy the right workout for the day. You can work on a slow and steady rowing session that goes for miles on a medium resistance. You could push your self to sprint through short distances to get those muscle working. There should also be enough settings on the machine to ensure that whatever your starting point, you can increase either the intensity, the distance or the reach of the stroke. There is always some little way to tweak things for a better result.

Add in some HIIT for improved results

One way that you can try to do this with the potential for even better results is to bring HIIT into your rowing workout. This means creating a program where you use short sessions of high intensity and low intensity to push the heart rate and the metabolism further. Many fitness fanatics find that this is the perfect way to get results if they do so in a safe way. The great thing about a rowing machine is that you don’t simply have to do this by changing the intensity on the resistance. Smart machines might have a HIIT program that allows you to do this but, otherwise, it can be tricky to keep switching back and forth manually. That is why many people prefer spin bikes for HIIT. Yet, there is the chance to alter the stroke rate and the reach as you row. You can spend 30 seconds physically picking up the pace by pushing yourself harder or find a way to extend your legs and arms further in that period. Then you can have a session where you cool down.

Track your data

The issue of the HIIT programming brings up a key point about the type of programming that you can get on these machines. Some rowers are quite basic with little more than data. It is up to you how smart it needs to be. Then there is the fact that this sort of machine is actually pretty good for burning calories because it targets all those muscles and lets users work out for a long as they need. You can push yourself to burn off those cheat day meals or sneaky snacks that you are struggling to give up. The more calories you burn on a regular occasion, the better the chance of getting the result that you want. One of the great things about the consoles of some of the best rowing machines for home use is that they do actually show the calories burned as part of their data – alongside the distance, stroke rate and time elapsed. This means you can work a session on the rower into your plan if you are keen to count calories and balance things out.

Always balance your fitness regime with the right diet

This is where it is important to stress that the best results with any machine, including these rowing machines, always occur when you combine the exercise regime with the right diet. This will help you to lose weight faster. Think about what you consume before and after working out. Keep a bottle of water beside the water or, better yet, some green tea to boost your metabolism even further.

Tone the core as you lose weight

Finally, there is another benefit to choosing a rower over some other machines. When you work out on this machine you will be working your core muscles and abs a little bit too – more than on a treadmill. The work you do here will help tone the area and sculpt the body. This means that even if the weight loss is slower than you might like, you might still get slightly more noticeable results because of this additional benefit.

Finding the right machine

If you decide that you do want to use a rowing machine for your journey to weight loss then you need to find the right model. The first thing to look at is the range of intensity settings. Is there enough resistance here to push you into sweating out all the toxin and burning those calories? Does the console offer clear helpful data on those calories, your stroke rate and time elapsed? Is there any memory in a user profile to help you log this progress? Also, make sure that the machine is comfortable enough for those longer rowing sessions with a long enough rail for a full range of motion.

Find a machine that you know can be a companion for a long time and commit to a long-term weight loss regime. With perseverance and good form, you can lose weight with a rowing machine.

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What Are The Best Exercise Machines For Ab Workouts?

There are four types of exercise machines that are most commonly used in the average home or home gym. They are the treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine and elliptical. You will often see companies selling these machines to consumers as the ideal way to get a full-body workout. This typically means that they have some form of dual motion that lets you target a few areas at once. Elliptical machines have moving handlebars for arm and shoulder exercises while you make those strides. Rowing machines push the arms and legs simultaneously for a strong cardio workout. There are even new exercise bikes that have resistance cords for arm exercises.

Ab WorkoutIt is all about engaging as many muscle groups and possible at once. But, what about the abs? Are they overlooked here? Can you still tone them with these traditional machines or are you better off getting something else to really target those areas? Let’s start with the impact that those machines can have on your ab workout.

Using common exercise machines for ab workouts

There are some benefits in elliptical machines because the posture allows you to build a strong core here and make gains from there. Over time, this could help with toning and your overall appearance. However, there are no deliberate ab exercises with this machine. Exercise bikes aren’t all that functional in this area because of the focus on the legs and the same is true of the treadmill.

However, the rowing machine can be a better choice here. First of all, this machine does offer the right motion to target the muscles in this area. It isn’t quite the same as doing crunches or bicycle kicks on an exercise mat, but it is a start. If you feel that this product is not quite enough for your abs workout, there is an alternative way of using the machine to engage those machines. A word of warning here is that it helps to already have some core strength, arm strength and balance here to do this. Act as though you were going to perform a plank off the back of the machine with your legs resting on the seat. Then use the motion of the seat on the rail to push your legs back and forth. This is a great way to build the muscles and tone the core area and gives the machine some extra purpose.

This might feel a little awkward at first – and get some odd looks in the communal gym – but there is no reason you can’t try this as home with the right safety precautions. This is a great idea if you don’t want to buy any new fitness equipment. Perhaps you don’t have the space for anything too excessive in your gym or much in the way of disposable income right now. It is always best to use every part of an existing machine to its full potential. Just because something isn’t the traditional way that doesn’t mean that it is the wrong way. Still, there will be some people that say that this approach doesn’t go far enough. That is where it can help to buy in some additional equipment to push your workout even further.

Specialist tools for ab workouts for the home

The following four items could be a great fit.

1) The ab bench

The first product to mention here is the ab bench. These systems can look a little daunting to those that haven’t used them before because you do have to hook your feet and allow gravity to add to the resistance. You can adjust the incline to change the difficulty and make sure that you are safe and comfortable with a sturdy, padded model.

2) Pilates reformers

Then there are the reformers. This is a different approach where you can use a Pilates system to strengthen the core and perform different exercises. They are complex contraptions that are more beneficial than they look. Once you get the hang of the poses and the different parts, you may be converted for life. You can see a lot of other benefits with tone, postures and flexibility too.

3) Ab machines

Next up are the ab machines. These devices are quite small and consist of little more than a frame and lever system. It is a good support system for those that hate doing crunches or that struggle to pick up the technique. It is a great tool to pull out while watching TV as you can really lose your self in the rhythm and make great gains.

4) Ab wheels

Finally, it is important to mention the ab wheel because even though some people dislike the movement and find them unreliable, they can be of help for those that have absolutely no space for large equipment. This is another item that is deceptively simple and can help when you choose a strong wheel and use the correct form.

Choosing the best piece of equipment for your needs

Those 4 pieces of exercise equipment for ab workouts are just some of the different tools that you can use to try and get your ab regime back into better shape. There is a nice range here in terms of the intensity of the systems, the size of the device and the cost. The larger reform and bench will take up a lot more space and this could be an issue for all those that are lacking space, to begin with. But, these machines are arguably the most reliable for ab workout because of the options, the security and the way that you can be sure of your form. The ab machine is more affordable and compact while the wheel is cheap and takes up no space at all.

Whatever you preference when it comes to creating a fitness regime, find the option that suits your need, space and budget. When can add the best tool to your arsenal you can begin to see better results and a true full-body workout regime at home.

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How Can You Get The Most Out Of A Rowing Machine Session?

There is the assumption sometimes that a workout on a rowing machine can be a little bit boring. All you do is work at the same rhythm and the same motion on a machine that doesn’t do very much at all. There is also the concern that this basic motion won’t do all that much for your workout plan. This can be true for some people but it all depends on the machine and how you attack the workout.

Group of Rowers on Concept ModelYou might find that it is best to look for a new machine that offers more features and options that will expand your horizons. You could find something new in software or a more intense system that has a knock-on effect on your gains. Alternatively, if you like the machine you have, or are short on disposable income, you could look at new ways to get the best out of your current set-up. This could mean trying new techniques or competing with other users. The following tips are designed to help you spark new life in your rowing machine regime.

How can you get the most out of your rowing machine?

Let’s start with the way that you use the machine. At its best, a rower should be able to produce a great workout on your arms, abs, legs and more. You push off from the footplate and work the leg muscles as you pull the cord and handlebars. The resistance in the cord works the upper body and the movement and posture help with the core. But, this only happens with the right amount of resistance and the right motion. Play around with the resistance settings. There should be some sort of dial that lets you increase and decrease as you need too. This might be electronic or manual. Look at the programing on the machine to see if there is any way to play with interval training or other modes.

How do you use the cord to make the most of its resistance and reach?

You could also try a different approach with the resistance cord. Instead of pulling it to your chest, try extending your reach and taking it up to your neck – or even right over your head. To do this, you need a machine that offers enough settings for the resistance and scope to increase the intensity. You also need a machine that has enough range of motion for your body length. Too many consumers end up with machines that are too short because they opted for a compact model. You need room to get that full extension on the arms and legs to power out on each stroke.

Would you be better off with a new, smarter machine with more options?

Improved programming doesn’t just mean more resistance levels and an automatic process. Smart rowers may also offer consoles that are app-controlled or that have clever fitness programs pre-installed. Some may allow you to create distances and routes that replicate rowing races. This is great for those with more of a competitive streak. Push yourself to row a specific distance. Where possible, convert that distance into a journey on a map. How far would you have traveled along a local river or piece of coastline? Can you reach a specific port? Could you even cross bays or seas?

Are you making the most of any data tracking software?

If this is all too much for your machine to handle, you can still make the most of any software and data tracking. Keep a log of your times, distances and calories burned. It may not always feel as though you are making progress, but the data may show otherwise. In order to do this effectively, you need a machine that is proven to be reliable when it comes to data collections. Some cheap rowers are a little inconsistent when it comes to the calories and precise miles/kilometers traveled. Look for one with a good memory that will store a data log for you of your progress over the months.

Perhaps you could even look for one with enough memory for more than one user profile. This then opens up the chance to get competitive with other people in your household. Set targets together to see who gets to the designated distance the fastest, or who burns the most calories in the month. This could be enough to inspire you both with your regime when you really don’t feel like working out. Before long, your weekly competitions will add up to long sagas with clear results. Be competitive but also supportive along the way.

Make the most of any media features like tablet shelves and iPod docks.

If this all sounds a little too intense and you just need a little encouragement to stay on target during your session, how about taking advantage of media features. Many products these days will have a media shelf at eye level somewhere near the console. Here you can set up your tablet and watch an episode of a box set as you workout. The time will fly more easily this way. Then there are those that have music systems or ports for Mp3 players. Here you can set up a playlist of motivational workout songs or a relevant podcast to push you over the line.

Try out different ideas until you get the spark back in your workout schedule.

It is unlikely that you are going to find the perfect answer on the first attempt if you have completely hit a wall with your training and motivation. Give a few of these tips a try to see whether they are of use. You might find that one trick is just what you needed to restart your regime and finally get the most out of the session. It could be as simple as a new technique, new program or that competitive approach. Alternatively, you might benefit from using more than one. Keep these ideas in mind, even if you get over that hump for now. You never know when they might be of use in the future.

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Are Water Rowers Better Than Traditional Rowers?

Water rowers will always stand out in online listings and in sales catalogues because the designers always spend so much time making them look pretty. They know that consumers want a high-end project when choosing water over traditional methods. This can also mean a higher price tag. So, is this cost justified? Do you actually get more from a water rower in terms of the gains and the overall experience? Or, is it better to stick with a more feature-rich traditional machine?

Rower Fully StretchedThe Pros and Cons of Water Rowers

1) The relaxing feeling
2) The lack of electronics
3) The authentic feeling
4) The quality of the materials and designs

1) Not as many options for your workout
2) A lack of data and software
3) Not always geared towards the first time user
4) Not always so portable

As you can see, there are positive and negative points to consider here. The final choice will depend on your personal aims and past experiences. So, let’s start with the potential benefits of turning to a water rower instead of a conventional machine.

What are some of the possible benefits of turning to a water rower instead of a traditional rower?

First of all, we need to consider why there is water in the first place. The water helps to provide a more realistic form of resistance as the paddles hit the water in the container. The idea here is that it is essentially like training on the water with the feeling of the oars against the waves. There is a sense of realism here that can be very useful for those that row professionally and wish to improve their form during the winter months. It can be all too easy to take a step back from rowing and training when the seas are rough and the weather is wet and cold. Here you can get a similar feeling at home for year-round training. This could give teams an edge over competitors that don’t think to do anything similar with their own training regime.

Aside from the competitive angle of these water rowers, there are also users that feel that they get a more relaxing session with water rowers. There is something calming about the rhythmic nature of the motions and the noise of the water. Many prefer it to the mechanical whirs of the traditional belt drives and the beeps of the machinery. This meditative state can help users work at a steady, comfortable rate for a long time. In turn, this can improve the effectiveness of the session and the gains made.

There is also a natural approach to the design of these machines that goes beyond the use of water. You don’t have to plug these products into an electrical outlet to gain any benefits. There is nothing beyond the water, the motion of the seat and pulley system and the wooden frame. This means a quiet, minimalist experience where you can set the machine up pretty much anywhere in the home.

However, there will be some fitness fanatics reading this that see some flaws in this approach

If you take away too much of the software and electronic settings and displays, you could miss out on some benefits. For example, a smart, electronic rower will allow you to adapt the resistance with greater ease than a water rower. You can find the opposite of that one-note rhythm to push yourself further. The programming may allow for more options while the console gives a much better indications of your progress. A drawback of some of those water rowers is that the console is often little more than a tiny battery-powered system with the most basic data. There are shinier, smarter options out there for those that seek a little more diversity.

Then there are potential issues regarding the practical nature of water rowers in your home or home gym. Are you prepared to change the water as often as needed? How important is it to find a machine that folds away from storage? Some of the attractive wooden machines with their cherry and walnut frames won’t be able to do this.

It all comes down to finding the best machine for the experience that you want

Do you want a rower that will provide a diverse set of options and data streams to enhance a wider exercise regime? Or, are you looking for a machine that is built for actual rowing training and offers an enjoyable experience? If you want the former, it is best to search for a rower that has a focus on the programs and settings rather than the basic motion and resistance settings.

If you want to improve your training regime for the real thing, consider the benefits of the water rower instead. Look at the construction of the machine from the wood used in the frame to the quality of the water container and the smooth finish on the rail. If you are going to pay more for a water rower then it is worthwhile looking at those quality, attractive options. Read the user reviews to get a better idea of the experience of actual rowers. Do they like the feel? Is there enough resistance? Is it easy to set up and maintain?

If you are looking for a traditional, electronic system instead, look at the console, the programing and the adaptations in the machine. Look for the model with the most effective, interesting system within your budget.

Choose the approach that best suits your needs

In the end, because there are clear pros and cons to each option, there is no clear favorite. Water rowers are loved by a specific group of users with clear goals in mind. It is as much about aesthetics and quality and the gains from the session. This meditative approach won’t suit everyone. But, it is worth considering if you are fed up with the superfluous feature, incessant beeping and the cold feel of your traditional rower.

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Are Spin Bikes Good For HIIT Sessions?

HIIT – or high intensity interval training – is a great way to work out if you want a faster route to improved fitness and weight loss. It is the tough love approach to working out where you have to force yourself through a series of intervals of high intensity and low intensity throughout the workout. The former is a chance to burn energy and push your muscles for a short time to try and enhance the impact of the machine. The latter is a chance to cool down and get your breath back before going again.

Guys on Spinning Bikes
This can all be daunting at first but the benefits for health and fitness are worth it. Those that have just got into spinning and using a spin bike at home may wonder if they can start one of these HIIT sessions themselves. The answer is yes. HIIT with a spin bike is not only possible, but it is also really easy to set up. However, you do have to be careful to create the best workout for your current fitness and ability level. Let’s look at how you can create your own HIIT workout at home with your spin bike.

Creating your own safe, effective HIIT spin bike regime

A successful HIIT session comes from building a workout that meets your current abilities. It isn’t about pushing yourself as hard as you can. Instead, it is about pushing yourself as hard as is comfortable. If you push too hard you will risk injury and other medical issues because your breathing and heart rate could become compromised. If you push yourself at a comfortable level you can increase your potential for muscle toning and weight loss while maintaining your pulse rate and breathing. It has to be a smooth steady cycle between the low intensity and high intensity session to be of any use. So how can you do this?

If you have been working out on your spin bike for a little while now, you should be aware of how the different resistance levels feel. There is probably a setting that you know is your current limit where you feel you can cycle for a long time without feeling the strain. The setting beyond that may be daunting yet manageable for short periods. Use this tougher setting for your high intensity setting and then something lower that you can switch too for the cool-down moments. Don’t go any higher until you feel you can do so safely. Then you are ready to start.

You need to spend a few minutes warming up the body and getting into your rhythm. This warm-up reduces the risk of any injury or strain on the muscles and joints. When you are warmed up, set the resistance to your chosen higher setting and pedal hard for about a minute. When that minute is up, switch down to your chosen lower setting to cool down for a minute. Then, switch back to the higher setting. Repeat this process around 20 times so you can get a good 20-minute workout out of it. Don’t be afraid to stop partway if you feel that you can’t continue. Be proud of any effort that you make with this HIIT approach because it does take a lot of willpower.

Once you get the hang of the rhythm and the process of switching intensities, you can also consider standing up on the bike to increase the intensity further. Only do so if you are comfortable and there is no risk in any way. As you improve, you can choose new intensity settings on your bike and adapt the workout to suit your needs.

Why are spin bikes so helpful for HIIT?

One of the reasons that spin bikes are such a great choice for this type of workout is that they come with all the right features needed for this approach. It is easier to keep pedaling with spin bikes because of that continual motion of the pedals from the drive belt. The bikes are also much more heavy-duty and sturdy to allow for those intense moments. Many also have a manual resistance knob with plenty of settings that you can adjust with ease as you pedal.

Choosing the best spin bike for HIIT

The best spin bikes for HIIT training will help users perform to their best with a range of features. The console should be clear and informative with information about the settings in use, the time that has elapsed and the pulse reading. This lets you keep track of your progress and any heart-rate issues. The pulse reading will come from sensors in the handlebars. Check user reviews when buying a new spin bike to see how functional and reliable these features are.

Some new models are smarter with specialized HIIT programs on board. This can have its pros and cons. Some people will like the automated system as you don’t have to worry about keeping track of time and the machine may even be able to log user preferences. But, others may be more comfortable with the manual approach in case they want to adapt the session mid-way.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the frame of the bike and any smaller details like a water bottle and bottle holder. Hydration is important with these intense sessions. A strong, sturdy frame with good stabilizers and a high weight capacity is better able to take the strain when you stand up.

Is HIIT training with a spin bike the right approach for you?

HIIT isn’t going to be the best option for those that are completely new to spinning or exercise in general. That is because you need an idea of your limitations, the best form and how to warm up properly. It is easy to push too hard too soon with these sessions and set yourself backwards. However, more experienced users with realistic goals can create a HIIT program at home that can really help with muscle tone and weight loss. Just make sure to choose the right settings and duration for your needs. Also, invest in a spin bike that will make the process even easier for you.

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Can You Use Spin Bikes If You Have Bad Joints?

Spin BikeMany fitness fanatics will tell you that an exercise bike is one of the best tools to use if you have any problems with your joints. They are meant to be low impact to prevent damage to the knees or any aggravation to bad hips. But, is the same true for a spin bike. After all, these machines appear to be a lot more intense and potentially a lot more damaging. If people are standing up on these bikes to attack the session further, surely this can’t be good for the knees?

There are two sides to this issue. On one side, you will have those that will warn people about the dangers of cycling on knee health if you don’t take the right precautions. On the other, you will see plenty of people that had bad knees and found that using an exercise bike did them the world of good. So where does spinning fit into all of this? Let’s look at some of the potential pros and cons to using a spin bike if you have bad joints.

1) Spin bikes are still low-impact when used correctly
2) The motion of the pedals can help with mobility and reduce risks
3) Regular sessions can improve knee health more generally
1) Improper form and a lack of experience can lead to knee problems
2) Some spin classes are too intense for people with pre-existing joint issues

The potential benefits of this type of workout

The first benefit here is the same as with a more traditional exercise bike. At its core, the motion of the bike is the same, there is a steady, smooth rotation of the pedals that should keep the knees moving without adding any shock or too much pressure in the wrong places. This is why cycling and using an exercise bike is often better than using a treadmill. Even if you have a treadmill with shock absorption in the belt, there is still that constant striking of the foot on the ground that sends shockwaves into the knee and up into the hip. You don’t get this with cycling or spinning if you have that simple motion and are sitting in a seat.

In some ways, the function of the spin bike can be more beneficial here because it is possible to get such a smooth motion. The flywheels are heavier and the drive belt keeps the pedals moving when you can’t. This maintains a rhythm and keeps users working out. While this can sound more difficult and intense, it does mean that there isn’t any jerky, stop-start motion or any unnecessary strain on the knees. With time, regular sessions of cycling or spinning can strengthen knees and improve their health. You can see better strength in the muscles around the knee, strength and flexibility in the tendons and less pain in the general area. It can be slow progress but it will be noticeable after a while.

The potential downsides of this type of workout

The potential benefits for knee health and the comfort of the session will ultimately depend on the bike and the way that you approach the session. As was mentioned above, it is easy to look at people going for HIIT sessions and standing up on their spin bikes and wonder how that can be good for their joints. These users are probably much fitter and don’t have any pre-existing knee issues to worry about. Standing up will place more pressure on the joints and increase the risk of injury. Interval training increases this risk if you push too hard. This is where you get those warnings about poor form and joint pain from cycling. If you try to do too much, cycle for too long or push at speeds that are too high, you can end up seeing the damage in your joints.

Knee pain or injury most often occurs when there is a sudden change in the action of the joint. Either you force it to change direction to sharply, put direct impact upon it or make it increase speed too rapidly. A sudden change in speed or sudden stop when cycling can jerk the knee and cause pain. This is why HIIT spin sessions aren’t recommended if you have knee problems. You also need to be aware that overuse of the knee can aggravate the joint and make it tender. That is why it is important to pace yourself, know your limits and warm up before any intense sessions.

So what is the best approach if you have joint problems: spin bike or exercise bike?

The answer here depends on the problems you have with your knees and your prognosis. If you have mild weakness in your knees and wish to strengthen them, a spin bike can be a good tool. But, only if you use it wisely. Don’t sign up for intense classes and risk injuring them. Instead, get a user-friendly indoor bike at home and let the flywheel and resistance settings help you improve the health of your knees. Work at a safe speed and duration and slowly build on your progress. With time, this can yield improvements.

If you have more severe issues of pain in your knees, such as arthritis, or have recently had knee surgery, there are other options. You can work up to a spin bike in time as you work on your mobility, strength and pain management. Start with a simple mini exercise bike for a gentle movement and then onto a more traditional bike as you get fitter and stronger. If you get a taste for it, you can move onto spinning when you have the right conditioning and form. Of course, if you are completely fit and healthy and understand the impact of poor form, there is no reason why you can’t take up spinning and enjoy the benefits.

In short, spin bikes aren’t as bad for the joints as you might expect, but they aren’t without their risks either. Consider the current health of your joints and your experience with cycling before you jump on a spin bike to test it out.

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