Are you looking to kick your workouts up a notch? Here are 5 fitness accessories that will help you boost your performance, improve your pace time and add a little flavor to your workout routines,

Sports Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

Hands down, the most valuable fitness tool I have is my heart rate monitor. While, at first, I was a bit taken aback by wearing a chest strap and watch , it quickly became a necessary staple in building my cardiovascular fitness.

There are essentially two varieties of heart rate monitors for athletes:

  • Chest strap with a sports watch
  • Strapless heart rate monitor watches

Go Cheap Tip: Buy the more versatile chest strap heart rate monitors.

These units tend to be a bit more reliable and most sync with cardio equipment to display your heart rate on the machine in real time. The chest strap monitors are really the best if you’re planning on using it while working out at the gym.

Go Pro Tip: Buy the Garmin Forerunner.

If you’re looking for a sports watch for running and the heart rate monitor function is not as important to you, the best choice hands down on the market is the Garmin Forerunner GPS sports watch. It is a bit large and awkward but there is no other competing product on the market right now that even comes close to what the Forerunner can do.

Body Bar

Weighted fitness poles like the Body Bar are sorely underrated and under utilized in home gyms. The Body Bar is a long weighted, cushioned pole that is normally used in toning and balance exercises. These bars are available in different weights, ranging from 4 pounds to 36 pounds, depending on the brand.

What’s great about using weighed, cushioned exercise bars? They give you an opportunity to add resistance training and weight to cardio circuits and callisthenic techniques without adding the extra discomfort and danger that a heavy barbell might.

Check out this article on how to incorporate body bars into cardio workouts for some ideas.

Bosu Ball Balance Trainer

This fantastic piece of home exercise equipment is a staple for anyone serious about training. If you want to improve coordination, balance and agility, the Bosu Ball is for you. The beautiful thing about this home gym accessory is that it easily fits under a coffee table.

What is the Bosu Ball?

The Bosu has an unstable half-ball top and hard, flat plastic bottom. I tend to use it a lot like my Body Bar, as an element in circuit training or callisthenic routines. Some of my favorite techniques on the Bosu include push-ups, jumping lunges, balancing on the back side of the Bosu (with the round side of the half-ball on the floor), jumping squats - you are really only limited by your imagination in how you use it.

Check out this article on Bosu Ball cardio workouts for some ideas and videos on how to use the Bosu for cardiovascular fitness.

Exercise Cards

Planning your workout reduces the amount of unproductive time in your cardio routine. Using exercise cards to shape your workout is a fantastic way to keep your plan organized, easily accessible and on track.

I love the Jillian Michaels’ Hot Bod in a Box exercise cards. The box fits into the pocket of my gym bag and contains 50 fully illustrated exercises and 9 total body circuit training workouts. They’re inconspicuous enough to use at the gym and very easy to follow. For under $10, it’s definitely worth the price.

Go Cheap Tip: Make your own reusable workout routine cards.

  • Buy a pack of index cards on a binder ring.
  • Scour YouTube for circuit training ideas.
  • Write out your workouts.
  • Laminate each finished card.
  • When you‘re going through the workout, use a dry erase marker to keep track of your reps and set.
  • After the workout, wipe the card clean.

16-Ounce Boxing Gloves

Kickboxing gloves look cool and cute, but if you want to get an extra edge on those deltoids and improve your punching power, use 16-ounce boxing gloves.

What can you do with boxing gloves? If your gym has a heavy punching bag, try cardio intervals on the bag. If your cardiovascular fitness is at a beginner level, you might want to try 10 to 15 minutes of 30-second full-force punching cardio intervals followed by 90 seconds of rest. If you are at an intermediate or advanced fitness level, try 30 minutes of 60 to 90 second intervals followed by 30 to 60 seconds of rest.

No punching bag? No problem. Shadow sparring is a great workout that incorporates footwork and timing with endurance. If you’re a beginner, try 60 second intervals with 60 seconds of rest. Intermediate and advanced students can push to 2 or more minutes of shadow boxing with half 45 to 60 seconds of rest between each cardio interval.

For more information on how to punch correctly, so that you don’t injure your wrist or hand while going to town on the punching bag, check out this article on common cardio mistakes.


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