Switching up your workouts from time to time is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps you from getting bored. Second, it gives your body a “shock.” When you repeat the same exercises over and over, your muscles get used to the movement, and you don’t get the same benefits. One way to add variety is to take advantage of the many gadgets available today.
Years ago, gym equipment was bare bones. Remember the late-70s movie “Pumping Iron”? The gym was wall-to-wall silver and clanking metal. Today, when you think of gym equipment, brightly colored elastic bands, TRX bands, ropes and fitness balls may come to mind.
The great thing about switching up your workouts and with all these new gadgets is that you get different types of resistance and you’re able to hit different muscle fibers. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular options:
Fitness balls. The first time I did pushups off a fitness ball, I immediately felt my arms begins to shake and my core fire up. I couldn’t do half as many as I normally do the traditional way. Fitness balls are great not just for building arm strength, but for developing core strength, balance, flexibility and more.
TRX bands. One of my new favorite things to use in the gym, TRX bands aren’t your average elastic bands. They’re made from durable nylon and can be attached to just about anything, letting you use your own body weight for resistance. When using TRX bands I’ve noticed a greater level of difficulty doing simple movements because different muscle fibers were being engaged.
Elastic bands. Popular both because they can be used anywhere and because they’re so versatile, elastic bands give you a different workout than you’d get with traditional dumbbells or barbells. With elastic bands, resistance actually increases as the bands are stretched. I like super setting bands in with traditional weights to help target different muscle fibers in the same muscle group.
Jump ropes. Last but not least, a jump rope is one of the newest things I’ve introduced into my workouts. Not ordinary playground toys, today’s fitness jump ropes are made from heavy duty, marine-grade rope, meant to withstand the most intense workouts. Talk about a good burn to your arms, shoulders and core! Plus, just 11 minutes jumping rope is said to be the cardiovascular equivalent of running 3 miles. Not bad for an over-sized string!