Monday, March 30, 2009

Fat Burning Tools

In a previous post, I addressed the difference between using exercise equipment effectively and ineffectively.  The next logical question is when looking at different exercise goals, what are the best tools for each specific goal.  I consider myself an equipment minimalist and am always looking to see how I can get the most bang for my buck with my equipment purchases.  For the purposes of this series of posts, I'll be addressing the four most common fitness goals and the equipment that correlates to each.  The goals are:

  1. Get Lean.
  2. Get Strong.
  3. Get Big.
  4. Get Athletic.

Today, we'll start with "Get Lean."  Many people feel they need to join a gym to get results from a fat burning program.  They think that the access to all the machines is going to get them in better shape faster.  THIS COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

In fact, all the equipment in the average globo-gym is exactly what is preventing many people from achieving the fitness they desire.  Fat loss is driven by short, super-intense workouts.  This requires you to use as much muscle mass per exercise as possible.  This is impossible if you are moving from one machine to the next on a gym designed circuit.  These machines are specifically designed to isolate individual muscle groups.  They are the enemy of fat burning.

For a solid fat burning program, you need three pieces of equipment. 

  • Pull-up bar that is 1 inch higher than you can reach from your tip-toes
    • Cost:  <$10 for a piece of pipe, 2 2' 1x2's and hardware to screw into ceiling joist in basement or garage.
  • A pair of dumbbells anywhere from 15 to 30 lbs. in weight (depending on your strength levels)
    • Cost  approximately $25 at your local sporting goods store.
  • An open section of flooring 4' x 8'.
    • Cost FREE!

Your total cost here is less than 1 month's gym membership!

Now this is not to say that you will not find other pieces of equipment valuable, but anything else is a luxury.  Having too much, or the wrong types of equipment is only going to hamper you in achieving your goals.

If you really wanted to go all out, you could add:

  • A medicine ball (6 - 8% of your bodyweight is a good weight to start with)
  • A kettlebell (10 - 20% of your bodyweight is a good weight to start with)
  • A sand bag with 60 - 100 lbs. of sand

All of this can be kept in a closet or garage and can be purchased for less than the cost of a 3 month gym membership.  It will also give you plenty of variety in your fat burning workouts.

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