The Best Exercise Equipment You're Not Using
These 12 underrated fitness machines and gadgets could give your workout a boost.
Strength Training Fitness Equipment continued...
Get creative, suggests Stoppani: "It's really limitless the exercises
you can do using a cable machine -- shoulder presses, biceps, triceps,
step-ups, lateral raises, even ab crunches."
Low back extension machine. Strengthening the muscles of the back is
critical, says Wayne Westcott, PhD, CSCS, fitness research director at the
South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass.
"Eighty percent of Americans have back pain at some point in their
lives," he says. Though the muscles of the lower back may not be
"showy" muscles like the biceps or the pectorals, he says, they are
critical for trunk stability and for absorbing the stress the back often
Look for a low back extension machine like the Nautilus or the MedEx, in
which you work sitting and strapped in so that your form stays intact. Westcott
says this type of machine enables you to stay off of your hip flexors and
instead use the muscles of your back to do the exercise.
Neck extension machine. "The neck has to hold up a 10-14 pound
head all day," says Westcott. Though neck extension exercises are somewhat
controversial, Westcott says that -- done properly -- strengthening the muscles
of the neck and upper trapezius will help improve posture and avert injury.
"These have been around for decades, and all the football teams use them
to strengthen their necks to avoid injury," he says. "People in sports
realize how important it is to have a strong support for the head, but the
average person doesn't."
Just make sure you get instruction on using this machine, and always take
care to use proper form to avoid injury.
Shoulder rotator machine. The shoulder rotator muscles are often
ignored, and this is a good way to work them, Westcott says.
"Because so many people injure the rotator cuff," he says, "we
need to work the external rotators of the shoulder."
Generally, he says, "we are not doing enough to strengthen the rotator
cuff that holds that loose joint in place. Most everyone ignores the rotator
cuff and builds the chest and biceps, but those aren't the ones that hold the