If you’ve spent much time in the fitness space, you might have an idea of how much workout equipment is really out there. So, the question is, how much do you really need?
Some workout equipment that you on the shelves or on television is worth your money. Some of it will just take up space.
A quick disclaimer before we get started: we will be recommending that some workout equipment is worth the dime and others aren’t and, in some cases, we’re going to be using brand names.
Those brands might be the most recognizable example, or the only example, of a piece of workout equipment, or we might really like or dislike that particular brand. The important thing for you to know up front is that this article isn’t sponsored. No one is paying us to praise or put down any of the items that we’ve seen fit to discuss.
Buy: Pullup Bar $30 – $130
This form of workout equipment, in one form or another, has been around for ages.
The most industrious models look more like what you would expect to see at a gym and they can be mounted to the wall rather than being limited to doorways like less-expensive models. However, remember that they’ll be supporting your full body weight and you should be very confident about how you install it, or have a professional install it for you.
Some are essentially tension rods that can be adjusted to the inside of a doorframe and then secured. They’re a little more permanent, but they’re still easy to move and remove and they’re very safe.
Some more modern takes on the pullup bar have supports that brace the bar and anchor it against the top of a door frame. While these models are easier to move and work with most architecture, you should be confident that your door frame will support the device without damage or risk of injury. Don’t be afraid to buy one of these, but keep the receipt if you do.
To manage a good sit-up, most people need something to hold their feet down. If you did sit-ups in gym class as a kid, it was a partner. If you do them at the gym, you might use special equipment. You can get similar equipment for your home and, while it isn’t expensive, it’s also not worth the money.
Some sit-up bars anchor into a doorway, others secure to the floor. Either way, all they do is hold your toes down while you do a situp. Do you know what else will do that? Anything. The edge of a couch, the end of your bed, a sturdy coffee table, etc.
If you have a home workout space, money is no object, and you really want a place in your dedicated home workout space to do situps, we can’t make you not buy a sit-up bar. But if you’re in absolutely any other set of circumstances, we can advise against it.
You may have seen advertisements on television for “The Perfect Pushup.” It’s a piece of workout equipment that allows your forearms to rotate as your arms extend, similar to how they do during a punch. It’s a small change, with a significant impact.
The company’s pitch is that it involves more muscles for bigger gains. Extending your arm and rotating your arm involve different muscles, not all of which are exercised during a conventional pushup.
Further, if you’re into the self-defense and martial arts scene, the “muscle memory” points from a pushup that also has you rotating your lower arm like you do in a punch might be their own selling point.
The Perfect Pushup is one of a class of workout equipment called “pushup grips.” These are tools that you hold onto while you do a pushup. Some anchor to the ground via various means but others just sit on the floor.
Spinning is kind of the selling point for Perfect Pushup beyond being a regular pushup grip and other models don’t really add a lot of value to just doing pushups on the floor.
It’s true that orienting your hands and forearms in different ways can target different muscle groups, and using pushup grips can help you to think about that, however, you don’t really need them. In fact, foregoing pushup grips to do pushups on your knuckles from the floor can be a part of the knuckle-conditioning routine advocated in martial arts circles.
Some people do find that using pushup grips helps them to keep proper form. If that’s the case for you, they might be worth the low price. However, most people can take a pass on this one.
Do Buy: “Grippers” $5 – $35
We advocate for grip exercisers in our article about forearm muscles because most of the muscles in the forearm are actually those that manipulate the hand and digits.
Many exercise sources skip exercises like this, pointing out that these muscles are passively exercised whenever you use your hands – including for other exercises. That’s technically true, however, all muscles are passively exercised when you do something else and that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with targeting specific muscles from time to time.
Classic “Grippers” use resistance provided by what is essentially a large spring. More sophisticated models by manufacturers like prohands shrink the springs so that you can target individual fingers.
Another small piece of workout equipment is essentially a modified version of a stress ball with elastic loops to run your fingers through. The stress ball provides resistance for your grip, and the elastic provides resistance when you extend your fingers.
Most bodybuilders don’t think about their fingers very much, but they work like your larger joints: A pair of muscles allows their movement, one when the joint flexes and one when it extends. The exercise ball system does work both of these muscles.
That having been said, if you use classic grippers in a mindful way, you can exercise these muscles as well. More importantly, think about the last time that you used these muscles. Maybe ever?
Usually on this site, we emphasise well-rounded workouts because building one muscle without building up its partner can cause joint and bone problems. That’s true with larger postural muscles, but with the fingers it’s not that much of a concern – unless you have pre-existing joint problems like arthritis.
There’s a lot of gimmicky workout equipment out there. Some of it is worth your time, money, and space, but a lot of it isn’t. If you have endless money, time, and space, play with it all. Otherwise, think twice about what the piece of workout equipment claims to do, whether it’s likely to deliver, and whether you actually need that thing.