Equipments Archive

The Treadmill Or the Open Road: Which Is Best For You?

treadmill workoutsWhen Dr. Christine Clark emerged as the upset winner of the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Columbia, S.C., a couple of years ago, she gained recognition as an unlikely champion. The 37-year-old pathologist and mother from Anchorage, Alaska, trained by logging 70 miles a week on a treadmill because the roads were too icy. Although her 2:33:31 achievement is a testament to treadmill workouts, do these motorized mini-walkways offer the same advantages as an outdoor run or walk?

If you consider the intensity of the workout alone, research indicates that running or walking outdoors provides a slightly better workout than doing it on a treadmill. But that doesn’t mean you should trash your treadmill. With a little ingenuity, you can even the score.
One factor that makes outdoor running a better workout is wind resistance. A second reason has to do with biomechanics, says author Greg McMillan. Outdoor running requires pushing off against the ground, while treadmill running is a more air-borne activity, with the ground moving beneath the runner. But according to McMillan, it’s easy to compensate for these discrepancies. In an article published last year in Peak Running Performance, a bi-monthly newsletter for runners published by Road Runner Sports, McMillan suggested that runners use proper, upright form and raise the elevation of the treadmill to one-percent to compensate for the lack of wind and ground resistance.
Monitoring your heart rate can also provide valuable information about how to compensate for the differences between the surfaces, says Dr. Edmund Burke, Director of Exercise Science at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and editor of Burke’s Complete Home Fitness Handbook (Human Kinetics; 1996). “Notice your heart rate [during outdoor and treadmill workouts]. If there’s a difference, you can make up for the loss. Increase the speed or elevation [on the treadmill],” he says.

Treadmills do offer one technological training advantage that nature can’t match. Interval training, a method that runners rely upon to increase their speed, may be more challenging on a treadmill than on the pavement, according to Len Sherman, contributor to The Precor Treadmill Training and Workout Guide (by Alberto Salazar, Hatherleigh Press; 2000).

During interval training, Sherman says, “every quarter or eighth of a mile, you increase your speed by a tenth of a mile. On a treadmill, that’s easier to do than anywhere else,” says Sherman. It’s difficult for runners to accurately monitor such tiny increments on a stopwatch, Sherman explains, but a treadmill computer can do it precisely.
Of course, outdoor running and treadmill running both offer distinct secondary benefits
Of course, outdoor running and treadmill running both offer distinct secondary benefits that the other can’t match. Outdoor running, for instance, offers the refreshing treat of an outdoor breeze after a long day at the office.
Treadmills, on the other hand, can help keep you motivated when refreshing breezes aren’t your type of thing. If you tend to peter out on a lone outdoor jog or stroll, an indoor treadmill, combined with the charged atmosphere of a gym, can provide the motivation you need to log the miles you’re striving for.
“People run in the mirror and look at themselves. It can help you work a special pace,” says Susan Kalish, the executive director of the American Running Association . Kalish isn’t a big fan of the treadmill, but she recognizes its benefits. “There are a ton of things that you can do on it.”

outdoor runningWhatever surface you choose, the most important thing you can do for your fitness program is avoid injury. “We encourage people to pick their surfaces carefully, as well as walking and running shoes,” says Dr. Kevin Stone, an orthopedic surgeon at the Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Foundation for Sports Medicine and Arthritis Research, both based in San Francisco.
Stone recommends wearing relatively new running or walking shoes with shock absorbing soles. He cautions against wearing sneakers with hard inserts. “It increases the force in people’s knee joints,” he says. Choosing a proper surface can also help minimize stress on the joints. Stone recommends soft outdoor surfaces such as grass, instead of concrete or asphalt.
The hardness of the running surface is even important when picking a treadmill. “You want enough give so that you’re not shocking the joints,” says Tracy Morgan, education and training manager for Cybex International, the Medway, Mass.-based exercise equipment company. “But you also want hardness so that you have enough surface to push off on.”
Most runners and walkers who use a treadmill agree: They’d prefer to run outside, but the treadmill can be useful if the weather turns ugly or if you simply prefer an indoor workout. By making a few small adjustments to your treadmill workout, it can offer the same fitness benefits as the great outdoors.

Strength Workout with Elastic Resistance

Workout with Elastic Resistance

Grueling overnight business trips jam your schedule for the next few weeks. So much for your exercise program. You may be able to squeeze in a cardio workout, but forget about strength training. It’ll have to wait until you get back … unless, of course, you have elastic resistance.
With rubber bands, you can take your workout on the road. And no matter how much you’ve packed, resistance bands will fit easily into any suitcase.

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Why elastic resistance?

Elastic resistance offers benefits that typical strength training equipment doesn’t. It’s not necessarily tougher than free weights or barbells, but it does challenge your muscles differently.
Bands allow you to concentrate on the lifting and the lowering phases of an exercise. With free weights, for example, you might reach the top of the motion and then drop the weights suddenly. With bands, however, you have to stay in control; otherwise, the band will snap back at you. You can also perform exercises that free weights and barbells typically won’t allow.
A band isn’t just any strip of rubber, though. Many companies make bands in different resistance levels; the thicker the band, the harder the workout. Inquire at a local sporting goods store about elastic resistance, or search the web for home equipment resources.

The ins and outs of elastic resistance

Before you work with a band, make sure that it doesn’t show signs of normal wear and tear. Temperature changes often affect the tension and condition of the band so check for splits, holes or changes in tension. If you find anything wrong, throw away that band and get another one.
Also, when you exercise with bands, be aware of your body posture. Many first-time band users tend to bend their wrists excessively, especially when performing exercises for the upper body. Be sure to keep your wrists in line with your elbows at all times.

Finally, keep in mind the properties of elastic resistance. If the resistance is too great, ease up slightly on the band. On the other hand, if the resistance is too light, slide your hands closer together. Never, though, tie two bands together. Always stay in control of the band to maximize safety.
So pack up your bands and follow these exercises when you’re on the road. Who knows? Maybe going out of town won’t be so bad.

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The Workout

Spend at least five minutes warming up by doing light aerobic activity like jogging in place or walking up and down . People who are just starting a fitness routine or exercisers who are short on time should perform at least one set of six to 10 repetitions.
Intermediate and advanced exercisers can increase the intensity to two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, time permitting.

Tie the band to form a loop. Sitting on the floor, place the band around your ankles. Keep your feet on the floor and lie face up. Lift your right foot off the floor until that leg is almost straight. Lower to starting position and repeat. If the band slides up your leg, step on the band with your left foot while you’re lifting. Switch sides and repeat.

With the band still tied in a loop around your ankles, lie face down on the floor. Place your hands on top of one another, directly underneath your forehead, and rest your forehead on top of your hands. Keeping your hips on the floor, slowly lift one foot off the floor and curl it into a 90-degree angle towards your body. Lower to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.

Standing, place the band around your upper back and shoulders and pull each end under your arms. Start with your elbows tucked by your sides, palms facing each other. From this position, press the band up and out at a 45-degree angle. Return to starting position and repeat.

Standing, hold the ends of the band in front of your body with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows relaxed, lift your arms overhead. Slowly pull your right elbow down to your waist. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.

Stand on the band with your right foot. Hold the other end in your right hand. With your right palm facing your body, slowly lift your arm to the side no higher than your shoulder. Remember to keep your wrist straight and your elbow relaxed. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.

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Kneel on the floor with your right knee. Place your left foot on the floor in front of your body, your left knee directly above your left foot. Place the band under your left foot; make sure the band is securely held by your foot. Hold the other end of the band with your left hand and place your left elbow to the inside of your left knee. (For comfort, rest your right hand behind your left elbow.) From this position, keeping your wrists straight, lift your left hand toward your left shoulder. Lower to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.

Standing, grasp the center of the band with your right hand. Place your right hand on your left shoulder. Grasp one end of the band with your left hand. Tuck your left elbow into your waist and bend your left arm so that your forearm is parallel to the floor (your left arm should form a 90-degree angle). Straighten your arm and press your left hand toward the floor. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.