My  wife and I are looking forward to buying our first home later this year, and with that, I'm giving some serious thought to investing in some equipment to work out at home.  Transportation is a difficult issue for me, I'm uncertain about working out around other people, and besides, I like the idea of doing it shirtless in the privacy of my own home and at a time of my choosing.  To that end, I'm wondering what the general consensus is around here regarding the SoloFlex or other similar machines and if they do any good and are worth the cost.  I do not pretend to have the slightest bit of knowledge about fitness trends or what works and what doesn't.  I just know that I enjoy cooking and eating and am good enough at both that I need to work to get my weight down and also want to start building some muscle.  I'm not talking hardcore bodybuilding here; just getting stronger and more fit and toned.  I'm currently sitting at 190 lbs. on a 5'6 medium-built frame, so I'd like to lose about 20 - 25 lbs of bad weight along with building some muscle.  I'd like to get one of these machines since I don't feel I'm at the point now where I could deal with free weights very well.  A treadmill might also be in order.  I'll say up front that I resist fad diets and don't intend to make radical changes to my diet.  I eat very little in the way of junk foods, rarely drink soda or other sweet drinks, and believe a diet should  have variety and be well-balanced. My greatest weakness is my love for sweets, which I enjoy making and eating.  I'm willing to make changes in what I eat, but won't, for example, cut out carbs or whatever.  With that, I'm open to suggestions, especially regarding the machines.  If this topic has come up before, I apologize.  But, I find the search function on this site to be very user-unfriendly.  And by the way, feel free to message me here on the site if you're so enclined.

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They make a relatively expensive clothes rack.

Any machine is better than no machine . . . if you actually use it.

 

Perhaps invest in a set of (much less expensive) resistance bands and see if you can commit to working out with them. If the commitment / habit persists, then think about buying a large, heavy, bulky, expensive machine.

 

Otherwise, if you have your heart set on a large, heavy, bulky, expensive machine without knowing whether or not you'll actually commit to it, I suggest you buy a used one off of Kijiji or Craig's List (etc.) from one of the other countless people who bought one brand new and then decided to sell it because they couldn't commit to it.

 

;)

Personally you would be better off buying a full set of dumbbells (or those new dial a weight ones) and a treadmill or elliptical.  I bought a nice treadmill because I like to run and do not want to run too far from home (children) nor do I like running in the snow.  I then started buying dumbbells.  5lbs, 10lbs, 25lbs, and now 35lbs as my strength improved.  I feel dumbbells improve your target muscle group plus all of the extra muscles around to help stabilize your arm, leg, etc. Machines target one muscle and do not allow for the various supporting muscles to improve.  

By buying dumbbells and only the ones you need you save money or at least space out your investment.  If you stop lifting you do not have a $2K clothes rack that nobody will buy off of you.  Since I started seriously lifting and running again this January I lost only 10lbs however I dropped two waist sizes.  If you want I will share my dumbbell routine on Google Docs.

I prefer simplicity in gym equipment.  Free weights, dumbbells, heavy bag, pull-up bar, etc.  I just don't see much benefit in big, complex machines to simulate lifting heavy stuff ... especially when its probably cheaper to actually lift heavy stuff.

 

JB

80% of your battle is going to be your diet. Fix your diet and the pounds will start melting off.

But as for the machinery, there are some very well designed machines out there, the solo flex and bow flex being the best known. I have a bow flex and have used it one time. My gym membership serves me much better and would have been a better use of funds, had I purchased the machine. (it was acquired in a trade)

I certainly am not ready for free weights yet, and am honestly embarrassed to use the empty bar, but compound exercises with free weights are going to get you more results, faster, and in a more harmonious way, than any machine on the market. I'll be hiring one of the trainers at my gym to produce a workout routine for me, once I reach my initial weight goal.

For something you can do for free, consider body weight exercises. I've found an entire group of apps for my phone which lead me through progressively more and more exercise. C25K, 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, etc. All are excellent, and all will get you into much better shape with regards to core fitness.

If it were me I would get bored after awhile; that is why such machines litter Craigslist.

After years of spectacularly mediocre gains on gym machines I switched to free weights and found them to be so much more challenging (mastery of form, esp as weights go up) and you can use them in infinitely more variations than machines.

And after seeing what it's done to me, in terms of size, speed, health and even reflexes I still wonder why there's no line to use the gym squat rack.

It's a fountain of youth.

I don't doubt or dispute that free weights are better than machines when it comes to developing good muscle definition and the like, based on what I have read so far.  I'd like to get there, but I have had two different pro trainers in my distant past that due to some difficulty with balance and weak strength that I should start out on machines to improve my form before moving on to the free weights.  As for motivation; it could be a problem for sure, but I see it as easier to overcome than my current obstacles at the moment of having no way to get to a gym on my own or anyone to go with. 

When you are a beginner simply use lighter weights and learn the form that way.  Once I can do 3 set of 15 reps on one weight I move up to the next weight dumbbell then drop my reps to somewhere around 6.  This way I am maximizing my weight resistance and keeping good form.  

Barring something like an inner ear infection, balance issues usually stem from weakness. The variety of machines at a gym is helpful because they work each muscle group while enforcing form.

However it is that same trait that makes them undesirable for the long term.

You might try a gym for a month, or even a week, just to see what you can do there. Do you have a bicycle? You could ride to the gym. I just got a bike for exactly that reason, and I'm out in the sticks.

My concern is that you will spend all this money on a machine which will serve you for a relatively brief while until you move beyond it. That's what happened to me, and I'm still very new to this. Or, do the body weight stuff I mentioned. It's free, and rooted in exercises that genuinely work.

For the price of a fancy machine you can get some dumbbells, then a bench.

Youtube is full of videos on how to properly do any sort of exercise. If I used the excuse I had no one to go with or learn from (I have no money for a trainer) I would never have started, as I have always worked out alone with no help from anyone.

The problem with YouTube is that, if you don't already know how to do the exercises, you don't know which of the million videos to trust as being correct.

I know this stopped me for a very long time.

Do you have any specific recommendations, Carl? I'd be interested, myself.

Mark Rippetoe

Glen Pendlay

Pavel

Eliot Hulse (not a big name but I like his videos)

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