Hardcore Training Tools

by Chee Gates

Hardcore Training Tools

Calling all fitness soldiers: Boot camp is in session. You've got the guts--now you need the gear. These training tools will put your toughness to the test.

Your goal: Upper-body strength

Your gear: Training rope (Click here to buy it!)

You’ve probably seen growling boot campers wrangle these ropes ferociously, and thought, “That looks insane!” And you’re correct. It’s also effective at integrating the muscles in your upper body, back and core, so you target multiple hot spots at once.

Your move: Wrap the center of the rope around a stable object, hold each end, and raise and lower the rope, to create a ripple (and ripped!) effect. Another trick: Have a partner hold one end and turn the rope in large circles.

Your goal:
Explosive quickness

Your gear: Speed sac (Click here to buy it!)

Famous in sports-conditioning circles, this tool helps cultivate the “blast-off” velocity that turns your legs into jets. We love how you can adjust the weight of the drag from 10 to 30 pounds, and the instructional DVD is a welcome guide.

Your move: Tilt your torso forward and drive your knees toward your chest, as you vigorously pump your arms. Aim for 40 yards, and repeat until you’re pooped.

Your goal:
Lower-body power

Your gear: Sandbag (Click here to buy it!)

You think your Coach bag weighs a ton? Try hoisting a bag of sand over your shoulder that weighs up to 40 pounds. You’ll engage every major muscle group, especially your legs and glutes, and spike your heart rate through the ceiling.

Your move: Do squats, while holding the sandbag over each shoulder; turn up the intensity by running twenty yards.

Your goal:
Quick, nimble feet

Your gear: Agility ladder (Click here to buy it!)

A favorite in football and basketball training camps, this 15-foot agility ladder looks unassuming, but it begs for high-performance and concentration. Use the DVD included to learn basic drills.

Your move: Skip one foot in and out of each square, as quickly as you can, without moving the ladder, as if you’re playing hopscotch. Repeat on the opposite foot.

Your goal:
A tight core

Your gear: A Balance board (Click here to buy it!)

Performing any fitness move on an unstable surface forces you to rely on your core for balance. We love this wobbly board because it allows for 360 degrees of motion, so you can get as creative as you’d like.

Your move: Place one hand on each side of the board, and hold a plank position, or set one foot on the board and do lunges (without tipping over).

Your goal:
Hops, like LeBron!

Your gear: A super-high platform (Click here to buy it!)

Beginners, take note: This 36-inch box is for advanced jumpers. Start small by using the stairs in your home. Slowly build to hopping two stairs, and then take the giant leap when you’re ready.

Your move: Work your way up to doing 10 jumps consecutively.

Exercises reviewed by certified trainer Andrea Metcalf