Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Adjustable dumbbells are a wise investment when compared to purchasing an entire set of weights -- but the most popular brands are still cost-prohibitive for some.

Here's a new adjustable dumbbell set from Universal, a division of Nautilus, that's relatively affordable and comes with a custom stand. This complete package is an inexpensive alternative to the Bowflex SelectTechs and other adjustable dumbbell models.

The Universal Power Pak dumbbells allow you to adjust between 4 to 45 pounds (in 5-pound increments) quickly, safely and easily. Just turn the selector dial to the desired weight and lift, while the unused plates stay firmly in the stand. Choosing a weight, lifting the dumbbell and replacing it all happen seamlessly.

The Universal stand lets you store the dumbbells in a single location. It includes two cradles that are custom sized for the Power Pak dumbbells, holding them at an ideal height for quick access. The trays are made of thick plastic but are very well built and sturdy.

Newcomers to adjustable dumbbells may wonder if they provides a solid, sturdy feel during use, like that of a regular dumbbell. The weight plates on these units do shift back and forth a bit, but it's only minor annoyance.

The package includes a handy weight chart that demonstrates how to properly execute the most popular and effective exercises.

The Universal Power Pak adjustable dumbbell and stand set are an impressive combination of performance and space-saving ingenuity. This single dumbbell set lets you perform arm, chest. back and shoulder exercises without cluttering up your workout space or needing to grab new dumbbells each time you switch exercises.

It's very easy to get started; the weights themselves ship pre-assembled and the stand comes in three pieces. Both carry a one-year warranty.

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Resistance band training is an effective and affordable alternative to traditional weight training and is becoming increasingly popular with casual users, fitness trainers and professional athletes. The demand spike in recent years has created a market of hundreds of manufacturers, offering sets of varying quality and price.

The Black Mountain Products (BMP) Resistance Band Set offers comparable functionality as a set of dumbbells, but use a fraction of the space.

This is one of the best customer-rated resistance band sets we've seen. The professional grade bands are of higher quality and can be substituted for those that come with popular home workout DVD programs and console fitness games.

The set includes five resistance bands, appropriate for beginner to expert, made from the highest-quality latex rubber and include soft cushioned foam handles for comfortable grip during exercise routines: 1 Yellow band (2-4 Lbs), 1 Green band (4-6 Lbs), 1 Blue Band (10-12 Lbs), 1 Black Band (15-20 Lbs) and 1 Red Band (25-30 Lbs). Each band is 48 inches long and is very smooth through the entire range of motion.

It's important to note that each band has a permanently attached handle. This may be considered positive or negative, depending on the user. There's no need to spend time clipping and unclipping separate bands to a single handle. But, while the five bands do cover a wide resistance spectrum, you can't use multiple bands without holding multiple handles.

Like most resistance band sets, the Black Mountain bands are compact and portable, making it easy to workout almost anywhere. They're ideal for toning the back, chest, arms or abs, in addition to rehab of rotator cuffs, elbows and knees.

The package includes a convenient door anchor, a guide to help you get started, a 60-day no questions asked money back guarantee and a life time breakage guarantee.

  • Read more of our Resistance Band reviews

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    Amazon BannerBlack Mountain Products Resistance Band Set (Five Bands Included)
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    America is in a health crisis. Our environment is overloaded with toxins and the food we consume is increasingly over-processed. To avoid premature aging, diabetes, obesity and cancer, we need a method to reduce or eliminate the toxic overload that comes with living in a modern society.

    Health and well-being depend greatly on what we put into our bodies. Environmental factors are beyond our control, but we are responsible for what we consume. The body responds to toxins and chemicals by covering them in fat, leading to weight gain and other health problems. Detoxification can reduce this process.

    Beachbody recently released the Ultimate Reset cleanse, which they claim will have you eating cleaner than you have in decades. For some, this means feeling renewed and restored for the first time ever.  Ultimate reset is designed to improve energy and focus, help overcome feelings of being tired and sluggish, improve digestion, lower cholesterol and regain maximum health.

    Such amazing results would seem hard to come by in just three weeks, so let's look at what the Ultimate Reset includes and how it works.

    Beachbody Ultimate Reset is a meticulously designed, comprehensive inner body tune-up that aims to restore your body’s natural vitality in just 21 days. It will assist in counteracting the perpetual barrage of toxins and harmful chemicals from the air, water and food we eat. The program can help anyone wanting increased energy, reduced risk of disease, improved digestion, or just to feel better.

    Beachbody Ultimate Reset includes three phases. In Phase 1, you Reclaim your body’s natural state, balancing inner chemistry and preparing it for change. In Phase 2, you Release the toxic compounds that are clogging your cells and stored within your tissues. In Phase 3, you Restore your metabolism to optimal efficiency, while strengthening your body with the nutrients, enzymes, and probiotics it needs to maintain healthy performance.

    The program includes six supplement formulations, uniquely created to help restore your body to optimal health. (1) Alkalinize helps maintain alkalinity. (2) Optimize promotes a healthy metabolism and effective body functions. (3) Oxygenize helps provide supplemental oxygen to the body. (4) Mineralize adds natural minerals needed by the body. (5) Detox helps remove toxins and waste in the colon. (6) Revitalize helps revitalize flora in the digestive tract.

    Also included are two DVDs. "Reset Your Health" starts with detailed instructions for your Reset and inspirational Success Stories to help stay motivated. "Cooking Class" provides a video guide to preparing the healthy Ultimate Reset recipes.

    The meal plan is built around recipes from celebrity chefs and the nutrition guide includes thorough step-by-step instructions for the 21-day Ultimate Reset journey.

    Ultimate Reset is a complete, life transforming program with proven results. The invaluable Beachbody online support system makes you feel like there's always someone right there with you.

    It’s important to note that Ultimate Reset is NOT a starvation diet, but rather a gradual process of real, long-term change. During the 3 week process, the body will release accumulated toxins and gently return to a natural state of balance and well-being.

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    Weider understands that an effective home workout should engage the core, build muscle tone and definition, as well as attack the biceps, forearms and lats. To accomplish these goals, Weider has designed the X-factor Plus Home Gym.

    This machine is perfect for getting a proper upper and lower body workout and a good combination cardio/weight workout, without taking too much floor space.

    The X-factor Plus Home Gym provides 210 lbs. of dynamic resistance, with every move increasing the resistance through exponential stretch, so vital to a good strength building workout.

    The included cables come in 25 lb, 35 lb, and 45 lb strengths, work smoothly and can be mixed and matched to suit the desired workout resistance level.

    The machine includes a fold-away vertical knee raise (VKR) station that allows body builders and casual fitness enthusiasts to build more muscle. The 2 high pulleys and 2 low pulleys allow for a more intense, well-rounded workout.

    The multi-grip pull-up bar is another beneficial feature as it assists with building biceps, forearms and lats. You can develop lean leg muscles using the ankle strap.

    Expect to enjoy your workout in comfort thanks to the padded arm supports and the ergonomic design that gives a more natural movement as well as additional support.

    The gym comes with an exercise chart to help users achieve maximum results and an easy-to-understand instruction manual that allows for a quick setup of the machine (average 2 hours). The manual clearly illustrates and numbers the parts in each instruction making it easy to assemble. It also comes with all the necessary tools.

    One minor criticism, if you are of average height, is that the arms for the dips are quite far apart. On the other hand, if you are tall with wide shoulders, the dip stations in commercial gyms are probably too close and the arms for dips on the X Factor Plus may be just right for you.

    Designed to specifically target abs with the Vertical Knee Raise (VKR) Station, and strengthen arms and core with the dip station, the Weider X-factor Plus Home Gym is recommended for anyone serious about building strength and increasing overall muscle definition, with an efficient full body workout.

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    People kept asking and Bowflex listened. The best-selling Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells are back. An alternative to the extraordinarily popular SelectTech 552 Dumbbells (adjustable from 5 to 52.5 pounds), the 1090 model boasts a top weight of 90 pounds.

    The Bowflex SelectTech series features technology that is helping revolutionize exercise equipment.  The weight adjustment selection dials effectively replace up to 17 pairs of individual dumbbells while providing the same functionality, allowing you to work smarter, not harder.

    Let's take a look at how the technology works and assess the advantages and disadvantages of the SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells.

    Purchasing a full set of dumbbells can be prohibitively expensive and consume a substantial amount of space in your workout room.  A complete set requires a large rack and can lead to additional costs to store the equipment. Even in professional gyms, space can be difficult to allocate. Compact, space saving equipment allows gyms to offer more workout options to their members.

    Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells take up no more space than a traditional 90 lb dumbbell and can be adjusted from 10-90 lbs in 5 lb increments, all very easily and efficiently. Purchasing an entire set of dumbbells with this weight range could cost upwards of $1000, when including a stand. The Bowflex SelectTechs, with all their advantages, are available at less than a third of that cost.

    The weight adjustment mechanism is quite simple.  After placing a dumbbell on the included stand, simply turn a dial to select the desired weight. The handle will attach itself to each increasing weight plate as the dial is turned. This simple function makes it possible to very quickly adjust resistance and save time during a workout.

    These dumbbells are designed for total body results, with the wider weight range accommodating heavy exercises such as shrugs and lunges, as well as lighter exercises such as curls and raises. The durable molding around each metal plate provides a quieter workout with a smooth lift-off and no more clanging metal plates!

    A minor criticism of the new 1090s is that the grips are slightly different than previous models. Where earlier versions had a nice rubber handle for a secure grip, Bowflex has opted for a chrome metal finish on this model, which can become slippery from sweat during a hard workout. This can be alleviated with tape, but we would have preferred rubber handles.

    A second issue is that the mechanism of adjustment may occassionaly jam if the weight is not seated in the stand correctly. This can be fixed by releasing all of the weights and starting over.

    A special free bonus workout DVD  "Secrets of the 4 Step Rep" with over 30 exercises and over 80 variations is included and the system comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

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    Amazon BannerBowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbell (Single)
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    BRAND NEW Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells Set of Two
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    For decades, the word “exercise” has conjured images of overzealous, spandex-sporting, free weight-wielding enthusiasts, seemingly working out to the beat of the all-too familiar – and outdated – mantra: “No pain, no gain.”

    We’ve gained some serious ground since then, exercising the freedom to realize that we have myriad options when it comes to getting and staying fit – none of which require us to accept the boring, the intimidating or the ridiculously expensive when it comes to getting healthy, and staying strong and in shape.

    We’ve summarized five such options here, all of which are likely to not only feed your passion but also awaken your active self.

    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which means "gentle art" in Japanese, is an ancient form of martial arts, adapted in Brazil, which encourages leverage and balance over sheer strength.

    Coming to international prominence in the martial arts community in the early 1990s, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu proves that size is not the most important factor. Superior skills, joint locks, chokes and other finesse techniques can help gain an edge over and defeat a larger, stronger opponent.

    A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class may begin with stretching, followed by calisthenic and aerobic drills. Typically, a new student will learn one move per day and then be paired with a partner to practice and hone the technique. There may then be an extended round of live grappling, where participants improve their skills and put them to the test in a trial by fire.

    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is similar to kinetic chess and one of the only martial arts where you can spar at 100% capacity on a daily basis.

    • Conditioning  ****
    • Flexibility ****
    • Weight Loss****
    • Strength ***


    CrossFit is a strength and conditioning system consisting of constantly varied, if not randomized, functional movements executed at high intensity. The concept was originally developed by US Navy Seals with the goal of creating a variety of workouts not requiring any special tools or exercise equipment.

    CrossFit not only trains your entire body to actually be used, but trains you in how to use your body to it's fullest extent. Each workout combines a set of varied movements done with high intensity in relatively short bursts, in order to stress and confuse many different muscles. CrossFit workouts are usually only 20-30 minutes in duration.

    In addition to developing every muscle group, CrossFit is intended to build proficiency in ten different physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

    CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded in 2000. As of 2012, there are over 3400 CrossFit-affiliated gyms worldwide and CrossFit workouts are used in thousands of private affiliated gyms and many fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and military organizations.

    The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.

    • Conditioning  *****
    • Flexibility ***
    • Weight Loss****
    • Strength ****

    Krav Maga

    Krav Maga, meaning "contact combat" is a system of martial arts created by Israel Defense Forces emphasizing aggression, intensity, threat neutralization and simultaneous defensive and offensive skill.

    Krav Maga is not a sport, but a system based on principles and concepts and is considered by many as the most devastating fighting and self defense system in the world.

    Participants work with grappling, wrestling, and striking techniques as well as weapon disarmament and how to negotiate with a potential attacker.  The cardio exercises have a CrossFit feel, where you engage in workouts that combine various components. Students learn to defend against any type of attack before engaging in full-contact sparring.

    Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient, brutal counter-attacks. A key principle is finishing combat as fast as possible with all all attacks aimed towards the most vulnerable parts of the body -- the face, neck, groin, knee, etc. The aggressive training style helps overcome fear, hesitation and nervousness, all of which are inherent in human nature.

    • Conditioning  ****
    • Flexibility ***
    • Weight Loss****
    • Strength ***


    Parkour is a spectacular combination of gymnastics, obstacle movement and Ninja Warrior obstacle course running, with a focus on speed and efficiency.

    Developed in France, parkour movements include running, vaulting, rolling, climbing and jumping. Parkour obstacle training develops superior cardiovascular conditioning, upper body and core strength, and extraordinary spatial awareness.

    As parkour grew in popularity in the mid 2000s, military forces around the world began incorporating parkour into their training. The British Royal Marines hired parkour athletes to train their members and parkour is slowly being introduced into the United States Marine Corps.

    Parkour is as much an art form as it is a sport, and indoor gyms focusing on parkour are becoming more and more common.

    • Conditioning  ****
    • Flexibility *****
    • Weight Loss****
    • Strength ***


    Kickboxing is a full contact sport combining the punches of boxing with the kicks of karate, a perfect art to learn self protection. Although the roots of kickboxing date back 2,000 years, modern competitive kickboxing came to the fore in the 1970s when American karate experts staged competitions that allowed full-contact kicks and punches, previously banned in karate.

    Competitive kickboxers use a wide a variety of moves to disorient and defeat their opponents. Punches include the jab, uppercut and hook. The hook is among the most devastating of strikes as it powerfully contacts an opponent from the side at full force. Kicks are also devastating weapons with techniques including the front, hook, side, roundhouse and spinning back kicks. The latter is good for surprising opponents as the kickboxer quickly spins and drives his heel backward into his opponent.

    Kickboxing workouts involve constant movement and the development of excellent coordination. A typical kickboxing class begins with stretching and calisthenics, followed by a few rounds of cardio, and  drills using pads. Sparring in kickboxing is done infrequently and often performed with limited power.

    Kickboxing is a total body workout using body weight as resistance so no one muscle group is worked to excess. Kickboxing conforms to the individual instead of making the individual conform to it.

    • Conditioning  *****
    • Flexibility ****
    • Weight Loss****
    • Strength ***

    • Know of other training methods and disciplines that help avoid workout boredom? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


    Abdominal trainers are becoming increasingly popular, as the mid-section is one of the most difficult muscle groups to isolate, train and sculpt.

    TV infomercials have locked into the niche that having rock solid abs is easy, using a popular trainer, requiring as little training and exercise as physically possible. Some ab trainers do exactly what they say on the product description, providing complete isolation and training the muscle group accordingly at great value.

    Let’s see what the Ab Rocket Twister Abdominal Trainer has to offer.

    From initial impressions, video advertisements and the like, the Ab Rocket Twister abdominal workout trainer looked original and attractive. The system boasted a sturdy steel construction to support body weight of even the heaviest users.

    The system claims to sculpt rock solid abdominals and promote various health benefits if used frequently – all with an allegedly very comfortable operation. The Ab Rocket Twister abdominal trainer claims the repetitive description of a new, revolutionary way to train your abdominals, concentrating on each segment of the muscle group, lower, upper and obliques etc.

    At first glance, the Ab Rocket Twister Abdominal Trainer looked relatively simple to assemble. However, the system was awkward and time consuming to complete and the assembly does not click together easily as highlighted in the adverts.

    The Ab Rocket Twister Abdominal Trainer is questionably designed and constructed from seemingly cheap, frail components. Tall users will not be suited for this system. The back is constructed with a claim of one size fits all, but the neck support will be an issue for people with a taller torso height.

    After only short periods of use, the trainer may cause excessive back pain and neck fatigue. The seat is very small and not very comfortable for a heavier set person. Exercise is not supposed to be comfortable, but this system highlights this reality and does not live up to the hype of being of comparable comfort to the Ab Lounge. This may mislead customers and cause some unhappy faces.

    The system does come with an added bonus of a tutorial exercise program DVD. The DVD includes three different levels from beginner to advanced, a benefit to people not familiar with exercising their abdominals. The package also includes a nutritional plan providing a variety of balanced, calorie controlled diet meal plans. This is a perk not always provided by some other abdominal trainer models.

    Final verdict: There are better quality abdominal trainers currently on the market. The flimsy craftsmanship and flawed design simply do not live up to the hype and expectation of an avid abdominal trainer user. Read a few reviews and watch a few videos before making a purchase on this one. You never know -- what works for one, may not work for another.

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    Are you thinking about starting a new home fitness routine? There are many excellent exercise programs available and making the decision to start working out regularly is the first step. Committing to make it a priority and staying motivated to continue is the next.

    Exercise is key to a healthier and happier lifestyle. We all know that a good workout program can burn fat, build muscle and improve coordination. Other, often overlooked benefits include an increase in self-esteem, relief from stress and a reduction in the risk of chronic disease.

    Our friends at Vibram FiveFingers have developed this infographic illustrating the dos and don'ts of starting a new fitness routine. It includes valuable exercise tips and advice from professional trainers and fitness instructors to help you begin and continue a results-driven home exercise program.

    Click to open image in new browser and again to zoom to full size

    Courtesy of Vibram FiveFingers. View more health & exercise articles.

    Personal health and fitness is a growing industry, and as with any industry, there are always some products that stand out from the crowd -- products that really make a difference. The Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer  claims to be one of those products, so we decided to take a closer look and see what it has to offer and what advantages can be found by using the device on a regular basis.

    First Impressions
    The first thing you'll notice about the Fitbit Wireless Activity Trainer is the size. It is VERY small compared to other fitness gadgets. While this is ideal considering the Fitbit is designed to be worn all day long, you may be concerned about losing it from time to time. With that being said, the manufacturer has gone to great lengths to supply a means of always having somewhere to attach the unit. They even provide a comfortable wrist band to be worn during sleep, and a special belt clip for oversized belts. So, now you have the unit securely attached, what can you expect to learn from it?

    Constant Feedback
    It should be noted that the Fitbit does not improve fitness in the sense that it tells you what you need to do. What it does do is give you as much feedback as possible on the activities being performed. From the total steps taken to the calories burned during the day, everything is available to you at the click of a button. While this information is always available on the unit itself, the best presentation is saved for when you upload the information onto your PC. With the help of the Fitbit website, you can easily see a comprehensive display of the progress you've made that day.

    Extra Features
    The addition of a sleep monitor, which gives you impressive and vital information on your sleeping patterns, is a great way to see where you are really making gains or losses in your fitness regimen. If convenience is a big selling factor, the unit can be set to transfer data wirelessly whenever you are close to your computer. This eliminates much of the hassle of remembering to keep your online information up to date.

    The Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer is a worthwhile investment for those wanting to monitor exactly what is happening to their body, but above all else, it makes training a little bit more fun and engaging.

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    Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer Fitbit Clip NIB FB101
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    P90x2Update: 1/1/2012:

    P90X2 is available now in 3 versions.

    The P90X2 workout is the result of two years of research and development conducted by a team of the most qualified experts in fitness. P90X2 takes the original Muscle Confusion concept to new heights with Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP), a training technique developed by professional sports trainers to deliver world-class results.

    How is P90X2 different from P90X?

    P90X2 is the next wave in applied science for body transformation. Like P90X, it's a complete 90-day program but with all-new, cutting-edge workouts grounded in the most modern thinking in sports science. It takes the principles and foundation of the P90X concept and cranks up the intensity with exercises that demand every ounce of your balance, agility, core strength, and athleticism. P90X2 is also available on Blu-ray with free lifetime disc replacement.

    What is Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP)?

    Postactivation potentiation has gained popularity in the strength training community recently for its approach to optimizing muscle force and power production above and beyond performance achieved through traditional training methods.  The PAP phenomenon can maximize performance of explosive-based activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping and throwing activities. P90X2 incorporates this phenomenon into a systematic, well-produced DVD workout system for the home.

    P90X2 is Available in Three Versions

    P90X2 Base

    • 12 workouts on 13 DVDs or 4 Blu-ray
    • Fitness Guide
    • Nutrition Guide
    • 90-day Workout Calendar

    Amazon BannerP90X2 DVD Workout - Base Kit
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    P90X2 Deluxe

    • Includes everything in P90X2 Base, plus:
    • 2 bonus P90X2 workouts
    • 1 Foam Roller
    • 1 55cm PREMIUM Stability Ball
    • 2 8-lb. Medicine Balls

    Amazon BannerP90X2: DVD Series Deluxe Kit
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    P90X2 Ultimate

    • Includes everything in P90X2 Base, plus:
    • 2 bonus P90X2 workouts
    • 1 RumbleRoller
    • 1 55cm PREMIUM Stability Ball
    • 2 8-lb. Medicine Balls
    • Tony Horton's PowerStands
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