Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Training gear for small spaces

Damien Kelly shares his fave fitness equipment for the humble home workout.

Training gear for small spaces
(Q) I exercise five times a week at home. But I live in a two-bedroom unit and don't have room for bulky equipment. Can you recommend smaller exercise equipment I can use at home?

(A) If I could recommend one piece of equipment for a person to use for strength training at home it would be dumbbells. Every exercise you do with a barbell or medicine ball at the gym, you can do a dumbbell at home. Sure they're slightly modified but in essence they're the same.

Remember, these are just external weights we are adding to the body to add a challenge to our movements. Your body can't tell what you are carrying it only knows the stress you are placing upon it. The beauty of a dumbbell is that often it places an asymmetrical stress on the body, such as lifting only one dumbbell. Even if you are using both dumbbells the benefits are still greater.

If you do a shoulder press (overhead press) with a barbell, often your dominant arm will dominate the movement – it's natural. With dumbbells both arms have to work the same. No imbalances. What you'll notice over time is that your weaker, non-dominant arm, will catch up. This provides you with much more balanced strength in the future.

One mistake people make with weight training is being conservative with their weight choices. It's wise to be conservative when you start up, as you want to be safe and perfect technique. However once you've ticked those boxes, you need to learn to challenge yourself.

Keep a chart of your strength training and measure your strength over 1, 3, 6 and 10 reps for different exercises. If you're not getting stronger you're not maximising your training sessions. And if you're not getting stronger you're not going to stimulate the metabolic changes that will get you shifting fat and toning your muscles.

So, definitely use the dumbbells. You can't get any better tool for exercise. But, learn to use them properly and up the ante on the weights when it's safe and when you're ready to do so. You'll quickly reap the rewards.

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