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Favourite Fitness Accessories

 

The following are 27 of my favourite, most frequently used fitness accessories. These products are used in my practice and are featured in my videos. They are available through Amazon. Please contact me if you wish to purchase them locally.

 

1. Ab Slings or Ab Straps

 

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Hanging leg raises and hanging ab wipers are a couple of the best ab exercises you can do. They are most-effectively done with ab slings as you can focus on your abs rather than grip strength from from hanging from a bar.

 

 

2. Harbinger Lifting Hooks

 

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I only use lifting hooks if I am going very heavy or if I have a hand/finger injury. Harbinger offers a great pair of metal hooks that are comfortable and durable. They perform very well and are very inexpensive. They are a good tool to have if grip strength is holding you back from performing your best.

 

 

3. Harbinger Dip Belt

 

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Like most other Harbinger products, this dip belt is comfortable and built to last. I have had mine for a decade or more and it shows no signs of wear and tear. It has endured heavy weighted dips and pull-ups over these years. These are good to have if you are looking to progress on bodyweight exercises.

 

 

4. Harbinger Weight Belt

 

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I don't use a lifting belt often. I only use one when I am doing heavy deadlifts or squats. Throughout the year, I am very rarely lifting anywhere near 100% of my max. I am using cycling around endurance and strength and not maximum power. I focus on lower repetitions/power for a handful of weeks over a year period. The belt is a safety tool even if it is more so psychologically. The latest research has shown that by using a belt you actually engage your abs more than not using one. This contradicts previous research. This Harbinger belt is very comfortable and has a Velcro strap to easily adjust it.

 

 

5. Trigger Point Therapy - TriggerPoint Performance Kit

 

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TriggerPoint Performance kit is the best tool for self-massage therapy/rolling. I will try to stretch and roll a few times a week to help with recovery from exercise. With this kit you can target the most troublesome muscles that get the worse knots: calves, quads, piriformis/glutes, hip flexors, and chest. The kit comes with a quad roller, calf roller with block, and ball. Many professional athletes/teams use this product religiously.

 

 

6. Acu-Ball

 

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In addition to the TriggerPoint Performance kit, I will also use the Acu-ball when I need a deeper massage. These balls are spikey and harder. The Acu-Ball can also be heated.

 

 

7. RumbleRoller

 

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The Rumble Roller (the harder, black model) offers a deeper massage than the TriggerPoint Performance kit. This roller is especially useful for targeting larger muscles; quads, hamstrings, and upper back. This is an essential item for self-myofascial release.

 

 

8. TRX Suspension Trainer

 

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The TRX suspension cable system is a versatile piece of equipment. You can train almost anywhere with these cables - it only requires a tree or bar as an anchor. These cables were originally designed for deployed military professionals. You can design a whole body workout using this system. Some of my favourite TRX exercises include: inverted rows, Bulgarian squats, leg curls, pushups, dips, front planks, and side planks.

 

 

9. Strength Bands

 

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If I were to list these fitness accessories in order of importance, usefulness and versatillity, strength bands would easily be in the top 5. They are essential for the athlete and fitness buff. With strength bands, you can lower resistance of exercises or do drop-sets (with chin-ups/pull-ups, dips and more). You can also add resistance to pretty much any exercise (squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, and more). In addition, you can do a lot of exercises just using the bands alone. You can even use bands for several essential assisted stretches. Many of the best athletes heavily rely on resistance bands for their workouts (Terrell Owens and Tom Brady are just a couple of the biggest names).

 

 

10. Bodylastics

 

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Bodylastics resistance bands are another versatile accessory that can provide a full body workout. These sets are made for beginners to advanced lifters. With the carabiners, you can add multiple bands to the handles. The set also comes with a door achor that allows you to perform many additional exercises (including: twists, pulldowns, leg curls, crunches, straight arm curls, tricep pressdowns and so much more!). Like Strength Bands, you can also use them for added resistance or reduce resistance for many exercises. These sets are very compact and can easily travel with you for on-the-go workouts.

 

 

11.Mini Strength Bands/Booty Bands

 

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These bands are very useful in targeting the glutes. A few exercises that can be performed using mini bands are: squats, lying leg abductions, hip extensions, and frog pumps.

 

 

12. Lebert Equalizers - Dip Bars

 

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These bars are lightweight, portable, and durable. They replace a few exercises that you can do at a bar park. They are now available in two different sizes. There is an XL version for people taller than 6 feet. However, I am 6 foot 1 and have no issue using the original Equalizers. My favourte exercises using these bars are: dips, inverted body rows, Bulgarian squats, and pushups.

 

 

13. Garmin Forerunner GPS and Heart Rate Monitor

 

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Garmin's Forerunner is an all in one GPS watch with heart rate monitor. It is great for running or biking. There are so many measurements it provides and collects, including: distance, speed, average speed, top speed, pace, heart rate, and so many more. You can monitor 4 at a time (although I only like to use 2-3 so I can focus more on running). This is so useful to monitor your progress. Your stats can be uploaded onto a computer. This watch is great for beginners to competitive athletes. It comes with a chest strap to monitor your heart rate accurately. I own an older model, Forerunner 305, but the newer ones perform (as pictured) the same. They are just a little less bulkier, more aesthetically appealling, and do not require a chest strap.

 

 

14. Polar Heart Rate Monitor

 

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This is a basic heart rate monitor by one of the oldest (if not oldest) HRM companies. Polar makes a very accurate heart rate monitor. The FT7 is a very good model that is inexpensive. It is much less bulkier than my Garmin so I use it for workouts (mainly high intensity intervals, HIIT). It provides data on heart rate and calories burned (based on age, weight, and heart rate).

 

 

15. Buddy Lee Speed Skipping Rope

 

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These skipping ropes are the best on the market - they are the Rolls Royce of jump ropes. They have a bearing that allow smooth rotation and speed. They are the same ones skipping competitors use. Personally I cannot do all the fancy skipping moves but I like to have a quality rope (that also doesn't tangle) for doing my interval training.

 

 

16. Fat Gripz

 

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Fat Gripz are thick and heavy rubber attachments that fit on almost any barbell or dumbbell. These make any exercise quite a lot more difficult. They help to improve grip strength and overall body strength. The exercises I occasionally use these for are: dumbbell and barbell presses, rows, and curls.

 

 

17. Stability Ball

 

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Stability balls are a useful piece of equipment for a handful of exercises. They can be used to replace a bench for pressing. With the ball up against the wall, you can even do incline presses on them. They are especially useful for ab and oblique exercises. Some of my regular stability ball exercises include: roll-outs, stir the pot, ball transfers, side planks, and leg curls. If you plan on using the stability ball to replace a bench, make sure you get a durable one that has at least a 1000-2000lb weight capacity. I learned this when a cheaper, thinner, stability ball exploded on me while I was doing skullcrushers. Scary!

 

 

18.PlateMate Weighted Magnets

 

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I use 1.25lb and 2.5lb magnets to make small, incremental weight increases to help with my progressive of strength. These magnets work well with my PowerBlock dumbbells but will work with any dumbbell that is not covered with rubber. I also use these magnets on my competition kettlebells. They were originally made for weight stacks for cable machines but a little creativity can go a long way with strength training.

 

 

19. Lange Skinfold Calipers

 

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If you cannot have regular access to measuring your body fat percentage with DEXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) or Bod Pod ("an air displacement plethysmograph which uses whole-body densitometry to determine body composition"), skinfold calipers are the next best option. With a a little bit of practice and quality skinfold calipers, you can get an accurate body fat percentage measurement within +/-1-2%. I used Lange skinfold calipers for a fitness assessment course at York University and I have been using them ever since I graduated and become a certified personal trainer. You take measurement from 3 to as many as 9 sites. You input the measurements you collect into equations to determine your body fat percentage. There is no need to do the calculations any more because there is an App and website that does it for you - just plug in your numbers here: http://www.linear-software.com/online.html

 

 

 

20. Heavy Grips - Hand Grippers

 

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It is very common for grip strength to be the limiting factor in weight lifting and strength gains for both men and women. Pull-ups/pull-downs, deadlifts, rows, and many more exercises require a strong grip and forearms. It is a good idea to strength train forearms and grip twice per week. This usually includes; forearm flexion and extensions, farmer's walk, dead hangs, and the use of hand grippers. I like ones that come in resistances of 100lb-350lb+. Heavy Grips offer high quality hand grippers for beginners to very advanced athletes.

 

 

21. Gymboss Interval Timer

 

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Gymboss timers are great for setting up your work and rest times. I like to use an interval timer when I am doing bootcamp-style high intensity interval traiing (HIIT). This timer will either beep or vibrate to let you know when to rest and when to go.

 

 

22. Inversion Boots

 

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Inversion boots are useful for decompressing the spine and relaxing. I also use them to perform upside down crunches for abs. Be sure to do inversion or upside crunches with a partner so they can assist getting you onto and off the bar.

 

 

23.Slamball

 

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Slamball exercises are a regular at my bootcamps. There are 4 main exercises I perform with slamballs. These include; overhead ball slams (with or without squats), twists, and overhead and behind the back tosses. I particularly like the slams with squats. They are a power exercise that also demand cardio conditioning. They work shoulders and abs and legs. Slamballs come in weights from 10lbs to over 100lbs.

 

 

24. Battling Rope

 

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Battling ropes are an awesome tool that is a standard for my HIIT training and bootcamps. Waves, ins and outs, and overhead pressing are a few of my favourite battling ropes exercises. These movements can be combined with squats or lunges or lateral shuffles. They demand strength endurance, and cardio conditioning. The user determines how intense their set is by the rate of undulation. I usually do sets of one minute duration for each exercise. Battling ropes exercises work the whole body, particularly the arms, abs, and obliques. The ropes usually come in lengths of 40-50 feet and thickness of 1"-2" thick. They typically weigh anywhere from 20lb. to 50lb.+. I have a 50 foot rope that is 1.5" thick and is 35lb. and it is challenging.

 

 

25. Sandbag

 

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Sandbags provide a challenge unlike any other fitness tool/device. The awkwardness and weight-shifting, make sandbag training a true functional training tool. Exercises like carries, off-set lunges, and clean & squat, and clean & press; work the whole body - especially the core. The words "functional training" get tossed around erroneously in the fitness world. There is no clear definition to what it even actually means. But I believe it is exercise that helps develop strength for "real world" movements. For example, sandbag training can help you become a great mover. I have become the go-to guy when friends or family are moving. As much as I enjoy having this functional strength, I cannot say I like the title of "moving expert". I typically use 50lb.-100lb. sandbags.

 

 

26. Landmine Rotational Tool

 

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The landmine is a portable and versatile training tool. You can perform a whole body workout using one. A barbell fits into a sleeve that includes a rotating mechanism. Most exercises performed with this tool require core strength. Some of my favourite landmine exercises include: kneeling presses, squat presses, lunge presses, chest presses, rainbows/rotations, deadlifts, bent-over rows, and Turkish get-ups. To make some of the exercises even more challenging you can loop a strength band around the bar.

 

 

27. Lifeline Power Wheel

 

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There are only 3 exercises I perform using the Lifeline Power Wheel, but one of them is one of the most effective ab exercises - resisted roll-outs with strength bands attached. I also perform pikes and leg curls using the Power Wheel.

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________

Personal Trainer in Toronto

Eric Astrauskas, Spec. Hons. B.A.(Kinesiology), P.T.S.

Phone: 416-912-9716

Email: eric@ptinto.com

Hours: M-F 6am-8pm, Sat+Sun 8am-12pm

 

 
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