Trainers and counselors would say that any exercise is better than none. That’s true, but what if you could work smarter instead of harder? Wouldn’t it be discouraging to discover that your 2-hour workout burns 1/3 of the calories of a workout half as long? You shouldn’t just exercise to lose weight or build muscle, but consider using the following pieces of exercise equipment.

Free Weights

A home gym is incomplete without sets of weights in varying increments. While a gym provides machines and weights attached to pulleys or tension-based pushing/pulling equipment, those are expensive and can’t be moved around.

Any weight not connected to a machine is “free”: kettlebells, dumbbells, and bags of sugar. Build these into your routine at least every other day to work arm, back, chest, and shoulder muscles.

Notice how much more defined your upper body becomes and the confidence you feel about wearing a sleeveless top. Enjoy being able to lift, pull, and carry things that were once too heavy. The key to success here is to work in sets of up to 10 repetitions, take a rest, repeat the process twice more, and to feel like your muscles are burning by the time you’re done. When this doesn’t happen anymore you should have another set of weights at least 2 lbs heavier at your disposal.


The weather outside might be frightful: too hot, too cold, too icy, or too wet. Inside, you have the luxury of running or walking on a surface that remains dry and ice-free and under your own roof instead of the blazing sun. Modern treadmills can be set at a rigorous walking pace, a light run, or a fast sprint. Create a gentle, moderate, or steep incline. Set a program based on your fitness goals such as weight loss, endurance, or trail running. Stay fit until the weather is better. The impact of running or walking is important for the maintenance of healthy bones but you also protect them by running on a forgiving surface when you choose a treadmill rather than a cement sidewalk.

Elliptical Trainer

Fitness enthusiasts are generally surprised by how effective this tool is for burning calories even though they’ve been popular for about 10 years or more. The movement of arms and legs mimics that of cross-country skiing, considered one of the best whole-body cardio workouts for people of all ages. There is no impact to worry about, so it’s ideal for seniors with concerns about brittle bones. Compared with a similar amount of exertion on the treadmill during the same time period, exercising on the elliptical trainer burns more calories. Program the machine to vary tension or just vary it yourself. Stop and move backwards for a change and to build strength in different areas.

Exercise Ball

Some offices provide large fitness balls for employees to sit on during the day as a way to promote stronger core muscles. They don’t even think about how much work their abdominal, floor muscles, legs, and butts are doing to stay upright as the ball tries to roll out from under them. Take one home and inflate it to the point where your legs bend at a forty-five degree angle. Sit on it at the desk but also incorporate ball exercises into a whole body workout while following a DVD.

Rowing Machine

Simulate a rowing action on this special machine either during the cold season when the lake is frozen or instead of renting/buying a row boat. The seat moves, so suck in your abdominal muscles as you scoot forward before pushing back with your legs, feet fastened in stirrups. This is an opportunity to practice rowing posture during the off-season, where to hold your arms and also change hand position to work different muscles.

Switch so you grasp the handles from beneath, something you would never do in a real row boat. A display screen shows many meters you have covered and how many repetitions you manage per hour, adjusted as your speed increases or decreases. At the end of a workout view the average.


There are two types of gym bikes: the standard style seen in spin classes and the reclining bike. With the first one, sit as you would on a regular bicycle: upright, pushing down with your legs. On a reclining bike, you rest your back and the motion of your legs is not entirely down but slightly forward.

While both exercises are excellent for working your big quad muscles, the reclining bike is not as restful as it sounds. You can really burn some calories on this machine. High-tech versions are programmable so tell the computer to alter gears automatically.

Step Climber

Mimic the action of climbing stairs without finding a high-rise building. You know how exhausting it is when the elevator at your apartment is out of order and you have to climb stairs or when you visit a historic building constructed before the invention of electricity. Work out on the stair climber regularly and next time you have the choice, you will choose to take the stairs and reach the top, barely out of breath, before the elevator arrives.

One version of the step climber provides leg action only, set at your preferred tension. Another type comes with elliptical style handles so you can mitigate the work your legs are doing by taking some of the effort into your arms. Though the movements are slow, this machine will make you sweat.