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Best Gifts for Rowers

With Christmas around the corner, along with just the general worries when birthdays come around – I thought it would be useful if I shared some gift ideas for those people in your life who have been taken in by the wonderful sport of rowing.

This selection of ideas is mostly aimed at those who are still active in their rowing pursuits, but I’ve also included a couple of gift ideas for those who have retired but still hold that obsession.

Sunrise Alarm Clock

This is something I had read about a few years ago and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that waking up to a gentle increase of light is ‘better’ for you, against a straight forward loud clock. Waking up early is a key part of the rowing regime and I was totally up for finding new ways to help me ensure I get up on time, and reduce feelings of grogginess. The beauty is that you can switch these between modes – on rowing days I will use both sun & sound in combination (with the aim being that it helps you gently wake up but gives you a noise as a final nudge). On non rowing days I will leave it as just the light option, and let nature do its work (or I might not set it at all, if I feel daring).

Whilst I was skeptical at first, I have to say I think these are brilliant pieces of kit and are priced perfectly to be a great gift for that rower in your life!

There are many versions our there, but you can’t go wrong with Philips as a brand, and therefore I would suggest checking this one out.

 

Buy on amazon

 

Trigger Point Foam Roller

There are many things that are in short supply at rowing clubs and gyms, but one of the most in-demand pieces of equipment is the trusty foam roller. A good foam roller regime can be utilised both pre and post workout, as well as on other rest days. Stretching properly and improving mobility is essential for rowing success, and making sure that your loved one/ friend/ acquaintance is equipped with a great foam roller will really impact their performance in the boat.

Whilst there are many types of foam roller on the market, budget level rollers are prone to losing their shape quite quickly, and also lack the firmness required to deliver an effective treatment.

This model from Trigger Point is one of the best on the market, you’ll see them in high end gyms and in a lot of rowing club boat houses, but there are never enough of them. For the level of use you will get from one of these, they are incredibly good value. I have had mine for six years now and it is still in great condition.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Rowing Tee

Everyone jokes that all rowers do is talk about rowing – and that isn’t far from the truth! In order to help that, why not get a great rowing t-shirt. There are lots on offer, and to be honest most are pretty boring/ dull/ full of awful slogans but this is one I think the majority of rowers would appreciate. Hard to say much more – there are plenty of other designs on Amazon, but this is the one I would pick out of the bunch.

Of most of these items I am listing, this is one that is still suitable for those who are now just ex-rowers having hung up their lycra.

 

Buy on amazon

 

Compression Top

On the subject of lycra, a good compression top is essential for rowing. Skins have an impeccable reputation, offering both great functional quality and also in my opinion, a great looking range of items. Skins would be my first choice of top if I were purchasing a top again.

At Christmas especially, keeping yourself warm when training is essential, allowing you to perform at maximum level, and also protecting yourself from injuries. I would always recommend sizing this one above normal t-shirt size for whoever you are buying this for.

 

Buy on amazon

 

Hand cream

Another common feature of all rowers is…. Blisters! At all levels, they are unavoidable especially when seasons change and when bad weather comes in. The majority of rowers are however very very bad at taking measure to reduce these and prevent them from getting any worse. I tried all sorts of creams over the years, and I have to say that this one is incredible. It is not a typical hand cream, it is like a gel and you only need to use a very small amount (less than the size of a pea) after each session. It is fantastic for keeping moisture in and really does go a long way to keeping hands in great health. This is especially important for those who also work full time. I used to cringe meeting new people in meetings when I had blisters all over my hands.

This product is also very small in size, lasts forever (I had a tube that lasted over a year) and is very cost effective. This would be a great small present for that rower in your life!

Buy on amazon

 

Buff Neckwarmer

Finally, this is something that I swore by throughout my rowing career. A lot of heat is lost around the neck and head, and I would always wear this lightweight buff like a snood/ scalf. In times of extreme cold you can pull it up over the mouth and chin.

There isn’t much more to say about this – it is versatile and does exactly what you expect. Machine washable and comes in a huge amount of design options. What is not to love?!

Buy on amazon

 

 

I really hope this helps anyone looking for ideas of presents to buy for someone who is rowing obsessed. These will delight anyone you are buying for.

Thanks for viewing!

 

Thanks,

Simon

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

p.s. if you don’t have time to read this and want to see my winner, click here

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

I will start this article of by highlighting that I previously wrote a similar review comparing the Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X – however I believe the new features of the Polar H10 requires a new and updated review.

In the new world of Bluetooth heart rate straps, there are two clear leaders that have both carved their route to the top through having quite different key characteristics.

Polar and Wahoo

Why heart rate?

Before we step in to this, I should recap why I am such a proponent of training based on heart rate (especially in rowing and cycling). In short – I truly believe that heart rate is the most important metric that you can measure and pay attention to. Much more important than many others touted in the industry these days:

  • Calories burned
  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Steps

All of the above are often seen as features on gadgets, or in training plans and challenges. However, I believe that all of the above are either meaningless (steps, BMI), gross approximations (calories burned) or lead to odd behaviours (weight).

Here are three key areas that heart rate is the best measure for making progress in the most efficient way possible.

  • Health
  • Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance
  • Weight Loss

Health

This is how I first saw the light with measuring heart rate, and it came from one of my first ever rowing club captains at University. He had a training spreadsheet and one metric we were all required to fill in was resting heart rate every morning. This was especially important during winter when cold, flu and other easily spreadable illnesses go around. If a spike in resting heart rate was noticed for 2 days or more, we would be put on a reduced training plan, and we were told that if we felt groggy or the onset of illness coming, to focus on getting better (increased intake of greens and water) and to stay away from the squad.

This was such a simple indicator to help you keep on top of general health and it is one that I still often track in the winter when training so that I know when I need to pay attention to myself. I would totally recommend giving this a go – it can be easy to do by throwing the heart strap on and logging the HR in a note on your phone or a spreadsheet that you update each day. For the sake of 60-90 seconds each morning – this is a simple and easy way to monitor health!

Resting heart rate is an incredible indicator of overall health, and being able to monitor it, and watch it improve over time can lead to a much better long term, healthy future.

“The best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning.” Harvard Health

 

Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance

I am a strong believer that you should do the majority of your cardio training based strictly on heart rate – keep this constance and measure fitness improvement through seeing how your power/ distance improves over time with your heart rate being fixed.

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)

This is a form of cardio training designed to keep you in that ‘fat burn’ zone. My simple description of the science here is that it is low enough that you can repeat it very frequently as recovery is short, but it is high enough that you are getting a sweat on. This should be targeted to be completed at 60-65% of your maximum heart rate. As a rule of thumb, use 220 minus your age as max HR. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes for LISS, and if you can, try getting up to 60-90 minutes (the odd 1 minute break for water/ stretch is fine!)

High Intensity Steady State (HIIT)

This is a popular word in the training world, and HIIT is getting a lot of attention as it can be such a good use of time if you don’t have that much to play with. The aim of the game here it so get your heart rate as high as possible for short stints of exercise, followed by a rest, and then another interval (and repeat).

As example HIIT workout on a rowing machine would be intervals of 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off. Try and do 12-15 minutes of HIIT – if you can do longer, you aren’t working hard enough!

The benefits of HIIT are that the ‘after burn’ is longer, as your metabolic rate increases for a substantial period. However, recovery takes longer and you should limit this to 2 or 3 sessions a week.

 

Weight Loss

As per my points above – I think that training needs to be done as efficiently as possible. If you use LISS correctly, you aren’t working too hard, which will impact your recovery and also the duration you’re able to train for. If you do HIIT correctly, you keep sessions efficient and maximize long term calorie burning.

If weight loss is the aim – being considerate about how you train and monitoring what you are doing is essential. Why pay a personal trainer to tell you to train harder if you have a watch letting you know exactly how much harder you need to go!

 

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Right, I’ve given my thoughts on why tracking heart rate is so important for a multitude of reasons. Now lets get to the main focus of this article – how do the Polar H10 strap and the Wahoo Tickr compare to each other?

 

Polar H10

First up – it is the Polar H10. This is one of the newest developments by Polar who really are one of the giants (if not THE giant) in the heart rate industry – the prioneers of wearable sports technology. Having seen that the proliferation of devices was disrupting the industry, and new players coming in (like Wahoo, who we will get to shortly) – they knew they needed an answer for those who want a heart rate strap but don’t necessarily want to be tied in to needing a watch to go with it.

It is hard to say too much about a heart rate strap – but here are some of its main features:

  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Fully waterproof – you can even swim in it.
  • Long battery life (400+ hours), ideal for those who might be doing long sessions over multiple days
  • Built in memory
  • Pairs well with Polar Beat – Polar’s own heart rate and training app

Here is a video giving a better summary than I could do with words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw0WV-PWtcw

 

To summarise the Polar H10 – it is a high quality piece of equipment created by one of the most established brands in heart rate electronics. You really can’t go wrong with this.

 

Buy on amazon

 

 

Wahoo Tickr X

The first thing I need to mention here is that you have two options with the Wahoo Tickr – one with memory and one without. The difference in price is pretty marginal so I am writing this review for the Wahoo Tickr X with Memory. This makes it a different product to the Polar H7, however the Polar H10 does now come with built in memory giving these products pretty similar features. What this means is that you can use the Wahoo Tickr X without being connected to any device and it will store what you’ve done and sync to your preferred device later on. Ideal!

Before we get too into the review. Lets take a step back. Wahoo is a relatively new company to this industry, however they have made an instant impact by bringing out a range of products aimed straight at serious athletes that meet requirements no other company had yet approached. Think motion analysis, in-memory heart rate and much more. There is a reason the Team Sky Cycling Team (Current Tour De France champions) swear by Wahoo – it is phenomenal.

Some key features:

  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Built in memory
  • Connect to an array of watches including Garmin and Polar (and Concept2 PM5 screens)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWwAkufauS8

To summarise – this is a seriously impressive piece of technology. For me it ticks all the boxes and is a nice change from the usual suspects for tracking heart rate. Wahoo also have a huge range of apps, one of which allows you to use the Wahoo Device to count your reps!

Buy on amazon

 

Final comparison

I could summarise this easily by saying this – both the Polar H10 and the Wahoo Tickr are incredible bits of kit and neither would do you wrong. Below is a quick summary table that might help you to make that choice

Feature Polar H10 Wahoo Tickr X Recommendation
Established Brand Polar have been around for as long as athletes have been using electronics for tracking heart rate Wahoo is new to the game, they are the disruptor causing brands like Polar to innovate If you want a trusted brand, Polar are a titan in the industry
Aesthetics The H7 used to come in various colours including pink, blue and black but the H10 is now only available in black (for now). Only currently available with a single colour strap (black) Ultimately, these two products looks the same!
Memory The H10 has added in-built memory to Polar’s product set. This is the biggest advantage of the Wahoo Tickr X (with memory) Wahoo’s product innovation used to give it a USP, but the new Polar has now replicated this.
Native Apps Polar Beat is a great little app that helps you track and manager your sessions and heart rate throughout. Wahoo have done a great job on creating a range of apps for different activities. They really know their audience. For innovation in their apps, which will drive usage of the strap from users it has to be Wahoo here for me.

 

So there we have it – overall it’s a tie, but it really depends what you are looking for in a heart rate strap, and what your ambitions are. I think Wahoo is aimed more at serious athletes who want to do more analysis, whilst the Polar H10 is a reliable heart rate strap for anyone.

Let me know if you found this review helpful!

Simon

 

See below for a summary of the other head to head posts that I have done:

Powerade vs Gatorade

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Concept2 vs WaterRower

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

P.S. This is a long article, if you can’t wait to find out the result click here to find out!

In the new world of heart rate and activity trackers aimed at everyday use (rather than just for during the activities themselves), there are two products that are leading the market – the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ – but how do you know which is the best one for you.

Why heart rate?

Before we step in to this, I should recap why I am such a proponent of training based on heart rate (especially in rowing and cycling). In short – I truly believe that heart rate is the most important metric that you can measure and pay attention to. Much more important than many others touted in the industry these days:

  • Calories burned
  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Steps

All of the above are often seen as features on gadgets, or in training plans and challenges. However, I believe that all of the above are either meaningless (steps, BMI), gross approximations (calories burned) or lead to odd behaviours (weight).

Here are three key areas that heart rate is the best measure for making progress in the most efficient way possible.

  • Health
  • Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance
  • Weight Loss

Health

This is how I first saw the light with measuring heart rate, and it came from one of my first ever rowing club captains at University. He had a training spreadsheet and one metric we were all required to fill in was resting heart rate every morning. This was especially important during winter when cold, flu and other easily spreadable illnesses go around. If a spike in resting heart rate was noticed for 2 days or more, we would be put on a reduced training plan, and we were told that if we felt groggy or the onset of illness coming, to focus on getting better (increased intake of greens and water) and to stay away from the squad.

This was such a simple indicator to help you keep on top of general health and it is one that I still often track in the winter when training so that I know when I need to pay attention to myself. I would totally recommend giving this a go – it can be easy to do by throwing the heart strap on and logging the HR in a note on your phone or a spreadsheet that you update each day. For the sake of 60-90 seconds each morning – this is a simple and easy way to monitor health!

Resting heart rate is an incredible indicator of overall health, and being able to monitor it, and watch it improve over time can lead to a much better long term, healthy future.

“The best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning.” Harvard Health

Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance

I am a strong believer that you should do the majority of your cardio training based strictly on heart rate – keep this constance and measure fitness improvement through seeing how your power/ distance improves over time with your heart rate being fixed.

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)

This is a form of cardio training designed to keep you in that ‘fat burn’ zone. My simple description of the science here is that it is low enough that you can repeat it very frequently as recovery is short, but it is high enough that you are getting a sweat on. This should be targeted to be completed at 60-65% of your maximum heart rate. As a rule of thumb, use 220 minus your age as max HR. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes for LISS, and if you can, try getting up to 60-90 minutes (the odd 1 minute break for water/ stretch is fine!)

High Intensity Steady State (HIIT)

This is a popular word in the training world, and HIIT is getting a lot of attention as it can be such a good use of time if you don’t have that much to play with. The aim of the game here it so get your heart rate as high as possible for short stints of exercise, followed by a rest, and then another interval (and repeat).

As example HIIT workout on a rowing machine would be intervals of 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off. Try and do 12-15 minutes of HIIT – if you can do longer, you aren’t working hard enough!

The benefits of HIIT are that the ‘after burn’ is longer, as your metabolic rate increases for a substantial period. However, recovery takes longer and you should limit this to 2 or 3 sessions a week.

Weight Loss

As per my points above – I think that training needs to be done as efficiently as possible. If you use LISS correctly, you aren’t working too hard, which will impact your recovery and also the duration you’re able to train for. If you do HIIT correctly, you keep sessions efficient and maximize long term calorie burning.

If weight loss is the aim – being considerate about how you train and monitoring what you are doing is essential. Why pay a personal trainer to tell you to train harder if you have a watch letting you know exactly how much harder you need to go!

 

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart

Right, I’ve given my thoughts on why tracking heart rate is so important for a multitude of reasons. Now lets get to the main focus of this article – how do the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ compare to each other?

Fitbit Charge 2

First up, here is the Fitbit Charge 2. This is the latest release from the hugely popular and rapidly growing Fitbit organisation. They are a new entrant to the fitness technology market and are becoming hugely disruptive to the incumbents.

Fitbit has a range of products and the Charge 2 is probably around the middle, ranging from the Fitbit Flex to the Fitbit Surge

It is hard to go into too much detail about the Fitbit Charge 2, as it largely contains the features you would expect from such a device. Although it has a couple of major selling points including the breating session support and the high quality fitbit app.

  • PurePulse Heart Rate
  • GPS optimized for multi sports
  • Guided breathing session
  • Fitbit app
  • Sleep tracking
  • Long batter life

Here is a video giving a better summary than I could do with words.

 

To summarise the Fitbit Charge 2 – it is a high quality piece of equipment created by a disruptive fitness organisation. This is a great device for someone looking to stay away from the main players in this market, but with a level of quality assurance guaranteed.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Garmin Vivoactive HR+

The first thing I need to mention here is that you have two options with the Garmin Vivosmart HR – the HR and the HR+. The difference in price is pretty marginal so I am writing this review for the Vivosmart HR+, where the only different between the products is in built GPS. This means that we are making a more accurate comparison to the Fitbit Charge 2.

Something interesting to note in the comparisons of these two products is the history of the manufacturer. Garmin has a long and rich history in making GPS and exercise tracking devices – with some very well regarded.

Some key features:

  • GPS Enabled
  • Running Metrics (pace, cadence, PR)
  • 24/7 heartrate

 

To summarise – this is an impressive piece of technology for the price. For me it ticks all the boxes that you would be looking for from an exercise and activity tracker whilst coming in at a very good price given the prestige of the brand.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Final comparison

I could summarise this easily by saying this – both the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ are incredible bits of kit and neither would do you wrong. Below is a quick summary table that might help you to make that choice:

Feature Fitbit Charge 2 Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Recommendation
Brand Fitbit are a new entrant and only operate within the exercise wearables market. Garmin is one of the biggest and most reputable names in GPS and heart rate tracking. If you want a trusted brand, Garmin are a titan in the industry
Heart Rate Fitbit PurePulse heart rate – optimized for 24/7 tracking Full 24/7 HR tracking Both products offer the same features here.
GPS In-built GPS tracking, able to be seen in the Fitbit app. In-built GPS tracking, able to be seen in the Garmin Connect app. Both products offer the same features here.
Native Apps Fitbit has developed an app to allow you to track, monitor and review sessions and overall activity and sleep. Garmin have had rich apps available since the inception of the smartphone, that this phone is able to connect to. I believe the Garmin app is much more mature but both products have access to their own manufacturer’s apps.

 

So there we have it – whilst being largely a close call, I believe that the Garmin edges out the Fitbit for this comparison. Whilst both offer similar features, I think you need to trust the HR and GPS ability of the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ given Garmin’s long and reputable history in products of this nature.

Let me know if you found this review helpful!

Simon

 

P.S. For a wider view of available bluetooth heart rate monitors, see my post Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor

 

See below for a summary of the other head to head posts that I have done:

Powerade vs Gatorade

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Concept2 vs WaterRower

The Best Foam Roller Exercises and Stretches

Foam rollers have gone from being that unknown, random piece of equipment in the corner of the gym to being a highly sought after item that a lot of frequent gym goers, athletes or those in rehab also look to purchase for their own home. The reason why? Simple – they provide an incredible aid to recovery, soreness, tightness and mobility. For most people, knowing exactly what to do with one is a bit of a mystery so I wanted to share my tips on the best foam roller exercises to help you get started.

Additionally, if you are considering a purchase for home, there are many types of foam roller on the market – check out my thoughts here for the best foam roller.

For this guide to the best foam roller exercises I have enlisted the help of my other half to demonstrate the positions you should take to exercise some key body parts where I feel a foam roller can have the most impact.

1. Quads

I personally find that legs are the body part that gets DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the most, and therefore benefit most from thorough foam rolling. Quads are a muscle that most only do half hearted stretches for at the best of times, so the impact of rolling these can be very noticeable – and painful at first!

For this exercise, you simply hold your body firm whilst lying face down and use your forearms to rock your body forwards and back.

Best foam roller exercises - quads

2. IT Band

The IT (Ilotibial) band is one of those body parts you hear about, but don’t really know much about. It is effectively a group of fibers that run own the side of your leg and are responsible for your need and hip mobility. Due to its mystery, the IT Band is generally completely untouched and therefore very tight and causes great sensations when first foam rolled – so take this as a warning!

For this exercise, you want to be on your side, using your lower forearm and upper leg to balance you. The leg of the IT Band you want to stretch should he held parallel to the floor. From here, start at the hip (as per the photo) and slowly move towards the knee. Be slow at first, as this can be a very painful move, however it is a great tension to relieve in your legs.

Best foam roller exercises - IT Band

3. Hip Flexor

The Hip Flexor is a very important area to focus on flexibility and mobility. A lot of hip and quad issues can be resolved by removing tension from the hip flexor, and as thus this is a fantastic foam roller exercise.

Looking rather similar to the quad exercise, this one requires much less movement and rather targeted at the Hip Flexor. You want to position the point of your roller right into your hip, and then roll forwards and backwards only an inch or two in each direction. Whilst doing this, you want to be pressing your hip into roller to ensure you are putting enough pressure down.

Best foam roller exercises - hip flexor

4. Hamstrings

Again, the hamstrings are an area a lot of people try to stretch, but do so half-heartedly meaning again this is one of the best foam roller exercises as it really hits a muscle you use a lot and likely don’t stretch enough.

For this one, it is rather self explanatory. You start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight, and then place the foam roller underneath the hamstrings either at the knee or at the crease of your glutes. From here, lift both feet off the ground and use your hands to shuffle yourself forwards and back until you feel the roller massaging the muscle in the right places.

For those wanting to go a bit more advanced, cross one leg over the other to add more weight into the leg on the roller which gives a deeper massage.

 

Best foam roller exercises - Hamstrings

Best foam roller exercises - hamstrings

5. Adductor (Inner Thigh)

Now this is one you may not have seen before, and probably one you might feel more comfortable doing in private or during a quieter time at the gym!

Here, you want to be rolling the foam roller on the inside of your thigh from your knee up to your hips. To get the stretch you want to move your body laterally whilst pressing down on the raised leg. This one will feel strange but is one of the best foam roller exercises given it is again a stretch that is often overlooked.

Best foam roller exercises - adductor

6. Glutes

Foam rolling your glutes is definitely one where you need to experiment until you hit the right spot. There are many parts of the glute where you won’t feel a good release of tension, but trust me you will know when you get the right part! To get the muscle stretched, you need to cross one leg onto the opposite thigh before you then sit on top of the roller. From here you then only need gentle movements on the foam roller, and you should use your arm to move your body. This really is one of the best foam roller exercises, but takes a fair bit of practice.

Best foam roller exercises - glutes

7. Calves

This is probably the best foam roller exercise for runners, and one that looks ineffective but with the right amount of pressure applied and done at the right frequency is one that can help prevent injury. There are a number of ways to roll your calves. You can target the main chunk on the back by simply rolling from a similar position to your hamstring stretches.

Best foam roller exercises - calves

To do the side of your calves, you will need to move yourself to a move intricate position as shown below. I have to say this particular one does feel strange, and doesn’t always feel like it is providing much relief, so only really one I would recommend doing if you have particularly tight calves.

Best foam roller exercises - calves

8. Upper Back

This is one I do during every foam rolling session – the relief you feel is always substantial and quite addictive! Simply sit back on the floor and use your feet to leverage your back across the foam roller. You can choose whether to have your bum on the floor or raise it in the air. Lifting your bum off the floor will allow more weight to go into the roller for the massage.

Moving your arms around will also help add variations to this foam roller exercise as they move the positions of your back muscles.

Best foam roller exercises - upper back

9. Thoratic Spine

This is more of a stretch, but definitely a good use of the foam roller. For this one, you want to roll your spine over the shape of the foam roller (placing it in the small of your back) and then hold your body tight whilst really focussing on your breathing. This is a great thing to spend time doing for long term back health.

Best foam roller exercises - thoratic spine

10. Rotator Cuff

This is the final foam roller exercise I want to show, and again it is an often overlooked muscle group when it comes to stretching. The rotator cuff is a key muscle for upper body strength and one that needs attention and tension release.

This is a very similar position to the upper back exercise, but you need to hold your core tight and put effort into getting the foam roller to focus on an area between your lat and your arm pit. Like others, this is one that might cause some sensations, but it is a very effective exercise.

Best foam roller exercises - rotator cuff

Thanks for reading this far in my attempt to compile the best foam roller exercises – I hope this guide proves useful. Thanks also to Emily for being such a willing volunteer!

Happy rolling!

The Best Shoes for a Rowing Machine

P.S. As always, here is a sneaky peak of my top choice in case you are limited on time and don’t want to read my post!

This has been a topic of big debate in every rowing club/ squad that I have been a member of. Everyone will look for anything that they believe can give them an advantage on the rowing machine. I believe there are a couple of key things you need to look for in a shoe for using when indoor rowing, and will share a couple of examples of shoes that are most suited.

  1. Solid Sole
  2. Breathable
  3. Comfortable
  4. Versatile

Solid Sole

This is probably the feature that causes such debate in what makes for the best shoe for indoor rowing. However – watch any of the internationals and they are either barefoot (aka no sole!) or in their weight lifting shoes (completely solid sole). For us mortals, what this means is simple – avoid trainers/ running shoes that have massive air pockets in. If you imagine the first bit of pressure you put down in your stroke, this is being absorbed into the shoe’s sole and therefore not all being transferred into the rowing stroke. I also feel it risks placing uneven effort and pressure into each sole therefore potentially causing unbalance and even injury.

Breathable

If like me, you do a lot of long sessions on the rowing machine, you will get very warm and sweaty. As with running shoes, you want to have good airflow for all-round foot health. This is why I often suggest people don’t use a shoe like Converse or other plimsole type shoes. Even though they are good from the sole’s point of view, in long sessions your feet can get very stuffy which can cause some long term problems like the risk of athletes foot.

Comfortable

Almost as importantly as the previous two points, the shoes you get need to be comfortable. Feet come in all different sizes and widths. You should be sure that you are not going to cause yourself needless pain by buying a shoe that is not a good fit.

Versatile

I have a theory here, and that is this. Unless you are using a rowing machine 4-5 times a week, you most likely don’t need a specific shoe just for using it, but want one that you can also use for other gym workouts. Of course, there is nothing stopping you having a collection of shoes best suited for this machine, for which I am going to share some contenders!

The Best Shoes for Indoor Rowing

  1. Reebok Crossfit Nano
  2. Vibram Fivefingers
  3. Adidas Power
  4. Nike Free

Reebok Crossfit Nano

If I were looking specifically looking for a shoe to wear on the showing machine, this is without doubt the one I would buy. It ticks all of the boxes I have highlighted and has been designed, tested, iterated and updated continuously by Reebok in association with Crossfit who have rowing as a key element of a number of their workouts. The heel is rock solid, and it designed to be used in workouts that might include a mix of weight lifting and cardio. This is a rare shoe in existence that has a sock solid sole but the ability to be used in a number of different ways

 

Buy on amazon

Vibram Fivefingers

In the quest for finding a ‘free’ shoe, Vibram really changed the market. Whilst 100% guaranteed to make a statement, I have heard some great reviews for the comfort of these shoes. The lack of padding and air pockets means you are guaranteed to have maximum balance and stability, and in rowing machine terms you can be sure that all of your power is being transmitted into the footplate.

 

Buy on amazon

Adidas Power

Now these are really aimed at the elite, or those who want to have the best of the best when it comes to equipment. These weightlifting shoes by Adidas are used at the top end of the sport – at my club they were an essential purchase for those with Intenational aspirations who were doing such intense weights sessions and pushing the boundaries. At International level, you see a lot of rowers using these same shoes on the rowing machine (seen below), typically due to the rock solid heel and support/ comfort provided. As mentioned, these are a fantastic shoe – and can fulfil dual roles if you do a lot of lifting but do come in rather pricey.

I used to have these in my rowing boat and can vouch for the comfort!

Buy on amazon

Nike Free

Now these are a shoe you see a lot on runners and gym users. They have continued to grow in popularity since Nike got involved in the move towards gym shoes that don’t contain air pockets. The Nike Free range are also designed to have an easier level of flex in the sole.

Going by my criteria earlier, I think a shoe should be bought that is multi functional, but at least with the aim of bringing the right benefits to the rowing machine. For this reason, I think these are a great option. They avoid the dreaded air cushioning but are suitable for everything else in the gym, in addition to being quite popular and accepted from a casual fashion option too.

Buy on amazon

 

Concept2 Model D Review

Best Rowing Machine 2018

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X with Memory

P.S. This is a long article, so click here for a sneak peak of my choice!

P.P.S. I have since written a new article for Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr

In the new world of Bluetooth heart rate straps, there are two clear leaders that have both carved their route to the top through having quite different key characteristics.

The Polar H7 and the Wahoo Tickr

Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor

Why heart rate?

Before we step in to this, I should recap why I am such a proponent of training based on heart rate (especially in rowing and cycling). In short – I truly believe that heart rate is the most important metric that you can measure and pay attention to. Much more important than many others touted in the industry these days:

  • Calories burned
  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Steps

All of the above are often seen as features on gadgets, or in training plans and challenges. However, I believe that all of the above are either meaningless (steps, BMI), gross approximations (calories burned) or lead to odd behaviours (weight).

Here are three key areas that heart rate is the best measure for making progress in the most efficient way possible.

  • Health
  • Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance
  • Weight Loss

Health

This is how I first saw the light with measuring heart rate, and it came from one of my first ever rowing club captains at University. He had a training spreadsheet and one metric we were all required to fill in was resting heart rate every morning. This was especially important during winter when cold, flu and other easily spreadable illnesses go around. If a spike in resting heart rate was noticed for 2 days or more, we would be put on a reduced training plan, and we were told that if we felt groggy or the onset of illness coming, to focus on getting better (increased intake of greens and water) and to stay away from the squad.

This was such a simple indicator to help you keep on top of general health and it is one that I still often track in the winter when training so that I know when I need to pay attention to myself. I would totally recommend giving this a go – it can be easy to do by throwing the heart strap on and logging the HR in a note on your phone or a spreadsheet that you update each day. For the sake of 60-90 seconds each morning – this is a simple and easy way to monitor health!

Resting heart rate is an incredible indicator of overall health, and being able to monitor it, and watch it improve over time can lead to a much better long term, healthy future.

“The best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning.” Harvard Health

Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance

I am a strong believer that you should do the majority of your cardio training based strictly on heart rate – keep this constance and measure fitness improvement through seeing how your power/ distance improves over time with your heart rate being fixed.

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)

This is a form of cardio training designed to keep you in that ‘fat burn’ zone. My simple description of the science here is that it is low enough that you can repeat it very frequently as recovery is short, but it is high enough that you are getting a sweat on. This should be targeted to be completed at 60-65% of your maximum heart rate. As a rule of thumb, use 220 minus your age as max HR. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes for LISS, and if you can, try getting up to 60-90 minutes (the odd 1 minute break for water/ stretch is fine!)

High Intensity Steady State (HIIT)

This is a popular word in the training world, and HIIT is getting a lot of attention as it can be such a good use of time if you don’t have that much to play with. The aim of the game here it so get your heart rate as high as possible for short stints of exercise, followed by a rest, and then another interval (and repeat).

As example HIIT workout on a rowing machine would be intervals of 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off. Try and do 12-15 minutes of HIIT – if you can do longer, you aren’t working hard enough!

The benefits of HIIT are that the ‘after burn’ is longer, as your metabolic rate increases for a substantial period. However, recovery takes longer and you should limit this to 2 or 3 sessions a week.

Weight Loss

As per my points above – I think that training needs to be done as efficiently as possible. If you use LISS correctly, you aren’t working too hard, which will impact your recovery and also the duration you’re able to train for. If you do HIIT correctly, you keep sessions efficient and maximize long term calorie burning.

If weight loss is the aim – being considerate about how you train and monitoring what you are doing is essential. Why pay a personal trainer to tell you to train harder if you have a watch letting you know exactly how much harder you need to go!

 

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr

Right, I’ve given my thoughts on why tracking heart rate is so important for a multitude of reasons. Now lets get to the main focus of this article – how do the Polar H7 strap and the Wahoo Tickr compare to each other?

Polar H7

First up – it is the Polar H7. This is one of the newest developments by Polar who really are one of the giants (if not THE giant) in the heart rate industry. Having seen that the proliferation of devices was disrupting the industry, and new players coming in (like Wahoo, who we will get to shortly) – they knew they needed an answer for those who want a heart rate strap but don’t necessarily want to be tied in to needing a watch to go with it. 

It is hard to say too much about a heart rate strap – but here are some of its main features:

  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Waterproof
  • Long battery life, ideal for those who might be doing long sessions over multiple days
  • Available in multiple colours

Here is a video giving a better summary than I could do with words.

 

To summarise the Polar H7 – it is a high quality piece of equipment created by one of the most established brands in heart rate electronics. You really can’t go wrong with this.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Wahoo Tickr X with Memory

The first thing I need to mention here is that you have two options with the Wahoo Tickr – one with memory and one without. The difference in price is pretty marginal so I am writing this review for the Wahoo Tickr X with Memory. This also makes is a different product to the Polar H7 and more worthy of being reviewed and compared as the Polar H7 does not have memory. What this means is that you can use the Wahoo Tickr without being connected to any device and it will store what you’ve done and sync to your preferred device later on. Ideal!

Before we get too into the review. Lets take a step back. Wahoo is a relatively new company to this industry, however they have made an instant impact by bringing out a range of products aimed straight at serious athletes that meet requirements no other company had yet approached. Think motion analysis, in-memory heart rate and much more. There is a reason the Team Sky Cycling Team (Current Tour De France champions) swear by Wahoo – it is phenomenal.

Some key features:

  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Built in memory
  • Connect to an array of watches including Garmin and Polar (and Concept 2 PM5 screens)

 

To summarise – this is a seriously impressive piece of technology. For me it ticks all the boxes and is a nice change from the usual suspects for tracking heart rate. Wahoo also have a huge range of apps, one of which allows you to use the Wahoo Device to count your reps!

Buy on amazon

 

 

Final comparison

I could summarise easily by saying this – both the Polar H7 and the Wahoo Tickr are incredible bits of kit and neither would do you wrong. Below is a quick summary table that might help you to make that choice

 

Feature Polar H7 Wahoo Tickr Recommendation
Established Brand Polar have been around for as long as athletes have been using electronics for tracking heart rate Wahoo is new to the game, they are the disruptor causing brands like Polar to innovate If you want a trusted brand, Polar are a titan in the industry
Aesthetics Comes in various colours including pink, blue and black Only currently available with a single colour strap If you care about the look of the strap, then Polar have done well to bring out a number of eye catching colours
Memory The H7 does not come with any in built memory This is the biggest advantage of the Wahoo Tickr X (with memory) Wahoo’s product innovation here gives it a special USP
Native Apps Polar Beat is a great little app that helps you track and manager your sessions and heart rate throughout. Wahoo have done a great job on creating a range of apps for different activities. They really know their audience. For innovation in their apps, which will drive usage of the strap from users it has to be Wahoo here for me.

 

So there we have it – overall it’s a tie, but it really depends what you are looking for in a heart rate strap, and what your ambitions are. I think Wahoo is aimed more at serious athletes who want to do more analysis, whilst the Polar H7 is a reliable heart rate strap for anyone.

Let me know if you found this review helpful!

Simon

P.S. for a wider view of available heart rate monitors, see my post Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor 

 

See below for a summary of the other head to head posts that I have done:

Powerade vs Gatorade

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Concept2 vs WaterRower

1

Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor

One of the most popular trends in the market for fitness accessories at the moment is activity trackers. Whilst these are great for encouraging an active lifestyle, what is absolutely music to my ears is the growth in the market for heart rate monitors. The advent of new technologies means there are now ways other than just having a strap and a watch (although this is still my method of choice).

What this means, is you have a much more convenient way of storing and comparing your heart rate, whilst also adding more insightful data to this e.g. distance run/ cycled etc. What I want to do is give some thoughts on what I think are the clear market leaders and best bluetooth heart rate monitors.

Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Strap

1. Polar H7

For me, Polar are one of the absolute giants in heart rate technology and they continue to lead the way and embrace new technologies and methods of training. With the Polar H7 strap, they have made what I believe is the best Bluetooth heart rate strap. What I like about this, is its ability to connect to a multitude of different devices including Polar’s own watches, Concept2 PM5 monitors and the iPhone and Android App – Polar Beat.

Key features:

  • Provides live and accurate heart rate to all Bluetooth enabled devices
  • Waterproof
  • Compatible with iOS (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch) and Android devices
  • Strong battery life – ideal for endurance athletes and those who do long active holidays with lots of running/ cycling/ swimming.
  • Connects to majority of gym machines you might use e.g. stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, stepper
  • Incredibly comfortable, adjustable and durable strap
  • Available in multiple colours – black, blue and pink.
Check price on amazon

 

 

Below is a great video giving an introduction and summary, better than I ever could!

2. Wahoo TICKR

The Wahoo is very much the new kid on the block, but it is making huge waves and disrupting the old guard including Suunto, Garmin et al making them a real contender for the best Bluetooth heart rate strap.

The Wahoo TICKR is now the official heart rate monitor for Team Sky – current Tour de France champions, and an event where live tracking of heart rate is more important than any other.

For the tech savvy and ‘early adopters’ of new technology, I would recommend the Wahoo TICKR!

Key features:

  • Live and real time heart rate data
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible
  • Built in memory meaning you can use without having your device with you (and sync later)
  • Ability to connect also to GPS watches including Garmin and Polar.
  • Rep counting for interval training when used with the Wahoo App
Check price on amazon

 

 

As with the Polar, here is a great video for the Wahoo TICKR.

Best Strapless Heart Rate Monitor

Staying on the theme of new technology – wrist based heart rate monitors are becoming big news as they get more and more accurate. As with above – I believe that there are two clear leaders here (excluding highly priced GPS watches geared more towards runners & cyclists), and both are on their second release, where they have built on the feedback from their initial entries into this market.

1. Mio Alpha 2

This is a chunky watch that tracks your heart rate and is geared towards serious athletes. The company is pretty new, but they are gaining credibility quickly for the quality of their technology. I absolutely love the look of this watch, and it comes packed with features.

Key features

  • Wrist based heart rate, even when sweating through exercise
  • Track activity including steps, distance and calories
  • Sync to Bluetooth enabled apps
  • Water resistant up to 100ft / 30 m
Check price on amazon

 

 

2. Fitbit Charge 2

If you are in the market for a strapless heart rate monitor, then there is no way that you have escaped hearing about the Fitbit. It has been a bit of a game changer, and is very much the most popular out there.

Fitbit do a number of models, but the Fitbit Charge 2 is the latest and best rated so far (plus I think looks much better than the original). For even more info on the Fitbit Charge 2, see my review Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Key features:

  • Wrist based heart rate tracking, carried out continuously throughout the day
  • Ability to give heart rate zones including Fat Burn, Cardio and Peak
  • Smart functionality to link to your mobile device (connected via Bluetooth)
Check price on amazon

 

 

Best Heart Rate Monitor for iPhone

If you have made it this far, then you’ve been introduced to a number of market leading products that exist. If you are looking to track and monitor your heart rate on your iPhone then you need to make one big decision that we have covered – do you want to use a strap or do you want to use wrist based heart rate monitor.

The devices mentioned above all come with their own native apps for both iPhone and Android and this also feeds into the decision. However, I believe that by far the best heart rate monitor for iPhone is the Wahoo TICKR. As you can imagine, you need the strap, but you should connect it to the Wahoo Fitness App, and the suite of other apps available from Wahoo.

Key App Features

  • 7 Minute Workout – workouts loaded into the app, with logic to count your reps based on movement in the strap
  • Utility – ability to test and check up on your Bluetooth heart rate strap
  • Wellness – track your weight and BMI over time
  • Runfit – GPS fitness tracking for cardio, running and walking etc.
  • Wahoo Fitness – GPS app for running and cycling
Check price on amazon

Best Equipment for Weight Loss at Home

So it is that time of year again, and there are thousands of articles, guides and companies wanting your money on the promise of helping you shift some of that gut. But what really is the best equipment for weight loss at home?

Well, this is a position I too have been in before. Believe it or not, the biggest problem with being an ex-rower at times is eating like a rower, but not doing the 2+ hours of training a day that used to go with it!

Anyway, I am going to summarise key pieces of equipment that are in my opinion essential for long term health and fitness, which should be considered along with any weight loss plan. I am dividing them into four categories:

  • Cardio Fitness
  • Strength
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility

 

Best Equipment for Weight Loss – Cardio

So this really depends on what your situation is. If you have access to a gym, or to the outdoors then you really need to mix it up. Running, Cycling etc. However, if you are looking to get a single piece of equipment for your home then there is only one choice that works all major muscle groups whilst being low impact on the joints. The rowing machine.

Rowing Machine

As seen in this article I have previously written, there are many types of rowing machines. I would personally always choose a Concept2 over any competitor, but there are other options that might fit a tighter budget. Rowers are quite simply the fittest athletes on the plant, and typically have low bloody pressure 

Rowing machines can be used for both HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) which need to be combined for the most effective results.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Heart Rate (HR) Monitor

If you are doing any form of training with a goal in mind, I think it is crazy to be doing so without knowing what your heart is doing. Training can be made much more efficient and effective if you train in certain heart rate zones. For this reason, a heart rate monitor is one of the best pieces of equipment for weight loss.

Again, I have done a bit of a run down on models available here – my personal favourite comes in quite low cost in the masses of HR watches available. The Polar FT80. It does exactly what you need it to do and is a very well trusted brand. You can always upgrade to a fancier one once you have shifted some of that gut!

Buy on amazon

 

 

Best Equipment For Weight Loss – Strength

Kettle Bell

Different approaches work for different people, and completely depends on your starting point and ability. Building lean muscle is a great long term approach for weight loss as in short, when you build more muscle your body burns more calories at rest. Doing this at home is tricky as there are so many specific exercises for different muscle groups. If this is your plan, you either need a very big space for multiple pieces of equipment or a very specific routine to uses just a couple of pieces.

However, for the newcomer to weight loss, just working the right muscles in an easy manner to build a routine is most important. For this, I think the humble kettlebell can be utilized to work almost any muscle group. You can buy them in varying sizes, or just get one and work out your sets & reps ranges around that. This range of cast iron kettlebells from CAP are the ones I would personally go for.

Even with a gym membership, I have a kettlebell at home to be used for the odd morning or evening when I don’t have time to gym but can fit in a quick 10-15 minute workout.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Resistance Bands

As mentioned in a prior article, there are a number of new sets of resistance bands being released into the market, all with different focuses. I love the look of this set as the resistance is enough that you can get a good strength workout in using just this single piece of equipment that costs the price of one meal!

This set from Black Mountain looks great, but there are others on amazon that meet the same criteria. With this all you need is to scour youtube for people filming 10-15 minute workouts using these bands. Perfect to fit into any schedule or into a suitcase if you travel with work.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Best Equipment For Weight Loss – Mobility

Resistance Bands

On a similar theme to above, resistance bands are becoming huge now – and for good reason. In my opinion, if you are trying to get into a new regime of health and fitness, mobility is essential to work on as like most of us who are desk bound day in day out, there are massive gains to be made.

For the purpose of mobility, I don’t think you need to go to extravagant on bands to use for this. I personally use the set from Limm here. See my article previously published on the subject for some more ideas about this. 

Improving mobility can be addictive, and for me I look at it like this – every joint effects those north of it on the body. So if you have had hips, your ankles are probably impacting them. If you have a bad lower back, your hips and ankles are contributing. Etc.

Buy on amazon

 

 

Best Equipment for Weight Loss – Flexibility

Foam Roller

This is my final recommendation, and again I think this is a key item for any portfolio of home equipment. If you are moving into a new workout routine, recovery is key. In the past, simply stretching was the only option available however advances in technology mean you can now get equipment that is much better at this.

I take my foam roller on any trip abroad I do either with my rowing team or with my bike. It is great for releasing tension and massaging muscles. There are a number of different types. I personally use this model by Trigger Point, but as a newbie there are entry level versions which are still effective. the best foam roller

Buy on amazon

 

 

Summary

So, in short – if you are setting up to lose weight from home, these are the pieces of equipment you should be looking to get into your armoury.

  • Rowing Machine
  • HR Monitor
  • Kettle Bell
  • Resistance Bands
  • Foam Roller

If you get all of this, you really are making a great investment into long term health and fitness. Now – check out some of my other posts that will be helpful.

  1. So you’ve bought a rowing machine – what next?
  2. Rowing Machine Workouts
  3. Which muscles does a rowing machine use?

 

Until next time.

Simon

 

Best Resistance Bands

In the world of home workouts, there is are a few new toys that are simply a must and one of these that is gaining great infamy is the humble resistance band.

Now, this might not be an item that can have a direct input into muscle growth or cardio fitness, however I feel it it needs to be used in a short and frequently carried out set of routines to help with mobility and flexibility.

If you’ve ever felt niggles in your back, hips, ankles, shoulders – I guarantee these would be improved and even removed through being more mobile.

There are floods of companies offering different types and models of resistance bands, and my aim here is to give a quick summary of the different types so that you can understand what is the best resistance band for your needs. I have identified three key areas that resistance bands have been aimed at targeting:

  1. Mobility & Flexibility
  2. Full Body Workouts
  3. Olympic Lifts

Mobility & Flexibility

At a later date I plan to dig much deeper into this subject but in short:

  • Mobility – the freedom at which a joint can move through its range of motion. Typically combatted through a range of exercises that require good posture and work on improving this range of motion.
  • Flexibility – the length of a muscle. Typically combatted through stretching.

If this is an area that interests you, I can recommend this site Mobility WOD as the best source of information out there on the subject.

So, back to this post – in order to improve mobility you need to have a routine that helps you work on expanding your range of motion in key places. I personally like to work my way up as I believe the mobility of a joint affects everything above that joint. So for me I would do ankles > hips > lower back > shoulders > wrists. As a rower, mobility is paramount and means you can get much better hip power and rock over to engage more muscle groups.

Resistance bands for mobility don’t need to be over engineered, and are generally there to
provide some tension that can be adjusted easily. There are a number of sets out there, and I think that this set by Limm gives exactly what you need. There are 5 bands offering different levels of resistance that can be inter changed by body part or as strength improves.

Buy on amazon
I will start suggesting my favourite and most effective routines for improving mobility. Watch this space.

Full Body Workouts

Now this isn’t totally new – people have been using some type of resistance bands for getting in a home workout for decades, however the equipment available for this is always improving.

These days you can get sets that come with handles and grips that attach to a host of different bands of different resistances. This means the number of exercises you can do effectively is much greater. If workout out at home is something you do a lot, I think this can be a very good investment.

There are a number of sets on the market, and I think that this set by Black Mountain is both high quality and great value – what more can you want!

Buy on amazon

See below for a great 10 minute session you can do with just one resistance band set at home.

10 minute resistance band workout

Olympic Lifting

This is for the serious lifter, and one that will typically already have a strength & conditioning coach. One way to add extra resistance to a lift that escalates through the movement is using a real heavy duty band. This is commonly done for Deadlifts or Bench Press – I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone without an experienced spotter or coach. However – these are the final set of resistance bands I said I would share information on.

These bands from WOD Fitters are ones I have seen used in my gym.
I can’t say I have been brave enough to use them but they are incredibly heavy duty – and they need to be if you are lifting weights that require the use of bands to help you through plateaus and pace of lifts. They are expensive, and the price is PER BAND, but if this is something you are looking to invest in then look no further.

Buy on amazon

Conclusion

To summarise – there are a number of key types of resistance band, however from my perspective they should be used primarily for mobility as there are much better pieces of equipment you can buy to support full body workouts. So for me, the best resistance band set is the Limm and I think you’ll be surprised at how much improved mobility affects not only exercising, but all over posture.

 

Until next time,

Simon

 

 

Best Foam Roller

Choosing The Best Foam Roller

It is my firm belief, that flexibility and mobility are the key to rowing fitness as without this, you will struggle to have a long and efficient stroke. Imperative to this is the humble foam roller – however new models have emerged in the market lately that I have had the opportunity to experience as they have emerged during my career and so I am here to tell you which I think is the best foam roller.

1. LuxFit – High Density Foam Rollerbest foam roller

So LuxFit is probably the best selling brand for what is essentially a vanilla foam roller – just a lump of high density foam. This is the type that I first started using and I have to say, using a foam roller for the first time is genuinely life changing! The amount of stretching you can do, and the ability to remove aches and pains is incredible.
I think this a high density foam roller is perfect for the beginner as the foam naturally has some give to it, meaning it is slightly more forgiving. However, with the right stretches, I don’t believe that any performance is lost.
The only draw back to a high density foam roller is life span – with high usage, the middle becomes compressed and you will need to buy yourself a new one after a year or two (even sooner if shared within a club).

However, for the money – this is an essential purchase for a beginner!

Check price on Amazon

 

 

2. Triggerpoint Gridthe best foam roller

TriggerPoint is a relative newbie to the foam roller game, and it has completely rewritten the rulebook! TriggerPoint is a brand you will see all over high end physiotherapy studios, they do a vast range of goods for athletes.
The TriggerPoint Grid is a fantastically designed foam roller that uses a solid plastic inside, with very dense foam on the outside, textured to provide a varying surface to provide massage like relief.
When these came out, I personally found the price prohibitive, but the popularity has seen these become very very affordable, and I (and my past rowing clubs) swear by them. I honestly cannot recommend these enough. The built quality and durability is superb, and the product offers a much better experience than the LuxFit. My only caution would be that there is limited ‘give’ in the foam, and this might be a bigger shock to a newbie than the LuxFit.

So What Is The Best Foam Roller?

For me – the best foam roller has to be the TriggerPoint Grid. It is available in various sizes, and more importantly, many colours!