Is it better to work out at home or the gym?

Fitness. You can reach peak fitness whether you choose to work out at home or the gym. Here's a rundown of the advantages of each, and what to look for before spending money on gym memberships.

02 Dec 2019 | 10:13

No one needs to join a gym to exercise. Your body itself offers the cheapest equipment available. And a small investment in additional equipment — such as hand weights, resistance tubing, and a stability ball — greatly expands your exercise options.

Gyms do have advantages, though. Monthly fees are a big incentive to exercise. Classes offer companionship, a chance to learn proper technique, and opportunities to challenge your body and sample new trends. Gyms can afford sturdy equipment that would drain your bank account and take up floor space at home. Often personal trainers are available for weekly appointments, small group training sessions, or a short-term overhaul to freshen your routine. Also, for many people, being around others who are investing time and effort in their physical fitness is motivating.

When looking for a gym, consider these questions:

• Based on your goals, which amenities will you really use (classes, trainers, showers and sauna, or just gym equipment)? Watch out for additional amenities that hike up cost.

• How busy is the gym at the times you expect to work out? Is there sufficient equipment so you won't waste time waiting?

• Can you test-drive the gym with a free pass for a day or week?

• Is equipment in good shape and sized to fit you?

• Are staff members well-trained, pleasant, and appropriately certified and experienced?

• Is everything clean and well-maintained?

• Are there ways to trim membership costs to fit your pocketbook? You might save money by working out only during off-peak hours, selecting a gym with limited amenities, or choosing a community center, a storefront gym, or a branch of the YMCA

Source: Harvard Medical School: health.harvard.edu

Six tips for safe strength training
Strength training isn't just for bodybuilders. Like aerobic exercise, it's important for everybody, and it should be a part of any comprehensive exercise program. Of course, if you've never trained with weights before, it can seem a little daunting. But as long as you ease into it gradually and take the proper precautions, strength training is safe for most people. Use the six tips below to help you get the most from your strength workouts.
1. Focus on form, not weight. Good form means aligning your body correctly and moving smoothly through an exercise. Poor form can cause injuries and slow gains. Start with very light weights, and concentrate on performing slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents whenever you learn a new exercise. You can always add weight to challenge your muscles once you know how to move with good form.
2. Tempo, tempo. Control is very important. Tempo helps you stay in control rather than undercut gains through momentum. Sometimes switching speed — for example, taking three counts to lower a weight and one count to lift it, instead of lifting for two and lowering for two — is a useful technique for enhancing power.
3. Breathe. Blood pressure rises if you hold your breath while performing strength exercises. Exhale as you work against gravity by lifting, pushing, or pulling the weight; inhale as you release.
4. Keep challenging muscles. The "right" weight differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can't do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, challenge your muscles again by adding weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs); adding a set to your workout (up to three sets per exercise); or working out additional days per week (as long as you rest each muscle group for 48 hours before exercising it again).
5. Practice regularly. Performing a complete upper- and lower-body strength workout two or three times a week is ideal.
6. Give muscles time off. Strenuous exercise, like strength training, causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. Muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always allow at least 48 hours between sessions for muscles to recover. For example, if you're doing split strength workouts, you might do upper body on Monday, lower body on Tuesday, upper body on Wednesday, lower body on Thursday, and so forth.