The $10 Workout Tool

For a cheap, DIY training tool, look no further than your local hardware store. The PVC pipe is a lightweight plastic tube—normally used for plumbing—that has all sorts of cool, handy fitness uses. Here are three of them.

• Improve your form:
Hold the pipe lengthwise along your spine during exercises like lunges to ensure that your head and back stay in proper alignment throughout the movement.

• Boost mobility:
Mimicking barbell exercises with the superlight pipe is a safe way to practice full range of motion without the fear of injury, says Los Angeles–based fitness trainer Ashley Borden.

• Challenge your core:
Holding the pipe above your head during exercises like overhead squats (pictured) changes your center of gravity, forcing your core to keep you stable.

Power Up Your Playlist

Your playlist can do more than motivate you during workouts: A consistent, steady beat can help you run longer and more efficiently, according to new Dutch research.

And picking up your step rate just 10%—say, fom 150 beats per minute to 165—can reduce stress behind the kneecap by 14%, says a University of Wisconsin–Madison study. (A quick turnover causes shorter steps, reducing impact.)

To achieve both goals, use the app Cruise Control: Run ($4.99; iTunes). It changes the beat of any music on your smartphone to match a steady cadence.
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