Cheap Home Gym

Here's how to create a cheap home gym.

Studies have shown that obesity is one of the most common conditions plaguing Americans today, but is also one of the most easily preventable. Following a strict and healthy diet regimen, exercising on a regular basis and avoiding a completely sedentary lifestyle are all steps any of us can take to avoid becoming morbidly obese.

Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

But what if our desire to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle is hampered by economic concern? Health clubs and gyms are wonderful places, if you can afford the membership fees and the expense of traveling to the facility. Add to that the cost of proper clothing and personal equipment, making the idea of improving your fitness level a very expensive one. Working out at home would be a good alternative, if only you could afford the home versions of the most useful gym equipment.

Here's how you can still manage a good workout and fitness routine at home, even if your budget is very limited.

1. Resistance training. The underlying principle behind a lot of expensive gym equipment is resistance. The difference between a $1000 piece of equipment at a health club and a $10 rubber inner tube can be neglible. What you are really trying to do with any resistance training is 'fight' the tension created by something- rubber bands, ropes, weights, etc. You can still get a good resistance-style workout by using a strong piece of elastic rubber, such as a bicycle inner tube, and concentrate on both negative and positive resistance. Don't let the band snap your arm back into position- fight it all the way.

If you aren't getting enough positive resistance, get an additional inner tube. You can work your arms, legs and even your abs by simply stretching an innertube or a bungee cord while doing extensions.

2. Dumbbells in the kitchen. If you want to do some light freeweight work, save up a few empty milk jugs or other water-tight containers. A gallon of water weighs approximately 8 pounds, which is enough weight to do some light strength training or rehabilitation. Try lifting a full jug of water in various ways- behind your back, from the ground to your waist, from your arms to the top shelf, etc. You won't necessarily get the strong resistance of a standard weight plate, but if you're just starting out or are rehabiliting an injury, you don't want too much weight anyway. For additional resistance while doing aerobics or step workouts, try holding cans of food in each hand. Some fitness professionals are not comfortable with the idea of adding additional weight while doing aerobic exercise, so consult with a physician or personal trainer before taking on additional weight.

3. Your home can be a gym in disguise. The architecture of your home or apartment itself may provide some ways to exercise comfortably. Retail stores with sports departments often carry affordable home exercise equipment that utilizes your home's own design. A specially-designed bar can be hooked to a strong doorframe and used for chinups or inverted exercises. Some resistance trainers attach to doorknobs for leverage. The bottom of a heavy dresser may be sturdy enough to brace your feet for proper crunches and sit ups. If you have stairs, you have a good aerobic exercise routine just waiting to happen. Make sure that whatever part of the house becomes a part of your exercise plan is indeed strong enough to handle the extra stress.

4. Jumpropes- not just for children anymore. A good quality jumprope designed for exercise is not too expensive, and the benefits are tremendous. You can do the exercises just about anywhere, and a good jumproping session is arguably one of the best aerobic exercises possible. There is a good reason why professional boxers are routinely seen doing jumprope exercises- not only do they improve overall cardiovascular health, they also improve coordination, balance and stamina.

5. Punching bags. Another great way to improve strength and also release aggression is the punching bag. If you can afford a professional one, you can get quite a workout for your investment. Make sure it is securely fastened to a proper hook, with enough clearance to prevent accidents. If you cannot afford a professional bag, you can get a used canvas duffel bag or other oversized cloth bag and fill it with playground-quality sand. Securely tie off the opening and hang it from a properly-installed hook. A good body punching bag workout is not about pounding the bag into submission, but more of a full extension of your punching arm encountering mild to medium resistance. Always wear boxing gloves or some other form of hand protection. If your bag has exposed metal pieces, tape them down with plenty of duct tape. Start out slowly, aiming a few quick jabs at the bag and moving in a controlled circle. Breath out in short bursts as you throw each punch. Quit when your arms are almost to the point of failure- anything past that can cause tearing of the ligaments and extreme soreness the next day.

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