If you’re a warm-blooded, breathing American, chances are good someone has asked you the question: If your home was on fire and you could save only one item, what would you grab?
As a fitness expert, I sometimes get asked a similar exercise-related question: If you could only do one exercise the rest of your life, what would it be? Or, its cousin: If you could only use one piece of cardio equipment, what would you choose?
The answers are, in my opinion, much easier than deciding what to save from the fire (computer? wedding album? fave cozy sweatshirt? chocolate stash?) Read on for the world’s best exercise and cardio equipment.
Best Exercise: Man Maker
The man maker (or, hero maker, if you want to be politically correct) reigns supreme because it works every muscle in your body, including your heart and your facial muscles—from the grimaces you’ll make while doing it. It’s essentially a burpee on steroids, combining multiple exercises into one. Here’s how to do it.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand throughout the entire exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place the dumbbells on the ground (don’t let go of them), and jump your feet back so that you’re in a plank position with your arms straight.
- Do a push-up, and return to the plank position.
- Do a renegade row: Pull your right elbow straight upward, until the dumbbell reaches your torso; then lower it to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm.
- Jump your feet forward, and stand up.
- Keeping your elbows against your torso, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders, turn your wrists forward, and perform a shoulder press by lifting the dumbbells straight overhead. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders; then turn your wrists toward you, and curl the dumbbells back to your sides.
- Repeat until you can’t stand it anymore.
Best Cardio Equipment
The hands-down winner: a rowing machine.
Why are rowers so great? Like the man maker, rowing machines target nearly your whole body: back, arms, legs, core. The only thing it doesn’t do much for is your chest. Plus, if you crank up the intensity (or do high-intensity intervals), you can get in a crazy-good cardio workout in just seven minutes.
Come to think of it, if I owned a rower, I’d definitely save it from the fire. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?
Kellee Katagi is one of those strange souls who actually enjoys working out for the sake of working out. She’s spent most of her 20-plus-year writing and editing career covering fitness, nutrition and travel, as well as outdoor sports ranging from skiing to spelunking to street luge (yes, that’s a thing).