Every year brings a new batch of infomercials and magazine adds touting the latest new fitness gadgets, guaranteed to give you the results that have always been just out of your reach without this or that product. Here’s the real deal on a few of the latest fitness ripoffs and alternatives that while not quick fixes offered by flashy, annoying commercials, really can offer results!
Toning shoes, such as the Shape Ups produced by Sketchers, are a new trend in battle of the bulge. The idea that challenging your leg muscles to better stabilize themselves by turning your sneakers into mini stability boards seems to make sense. The shoes are rounded, rather than flat. However, the American Council on Exercise did a study of several brands of these toning shoes and were not able to show a statistically significant increase in the body’s response to walking in the shoes, or in how much the muscles worked. “There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone,” the ACE author wrote. ACE also points out that the studies quoted by the companies marketing these toning shoes were not peer reviewed.
The real deal? If you want to get more bang for your exercise buck out of simply walking, try walking on an incline. By bumping a treadmill up to a 5% or so incline you not only add difficulty but also better engage your gluteus (butt), quadriceps (top of your thigh) and hamstring (back of your thigh) muscles while walking.
The Shake Weight
By now we’ve all seen the ads, with glistening biceps and giggling breasts, for the Shake Weight. Just “six minutes a day” to get incredible results? Think again. The Shake Weight is only 2.5 pounds, and while vibration training can have it’s advantages you won’t get much out of such a light weight regardless. According to a review by the editors at the American Council on Exercise, no matter how many repetitions you do with such a light weight you’ll be hard pressed to actually build any muscle mass, or “tone”. “If an individual wants to perform resistance training in an effort to develop more muscle definition without a concurrent increase in muscle fiber size it is necessary to use a load heavy enough to fatigue the muscle within 4-8 repetitions,” writes the ACE expert. And for that matter, just six minutes of exercise just isn’t going to do much for you, especially if you are only adding resistance for your upper body.
The real deal? If you want to build your muscles to create a toned look, you need to really challenge your muscles with enough weight that you can only complete 15 repetitions of any given exercise per set. Ideally, less than 10 repetitions. You don’t need bizarrely oscillating or vibrating equipment sold on television for that; anything heavy that you can get your hands on will do.
Ab Exercise Machines/gadgets
There are simply too many to name. There’s the ones that you sit in and bend in all directions, the ones you lie down on and roll about with, the rollers that you grip and roll about the floor with, and the ones that you flat out shock your muscles into motion with via eclectic current. All of them claim to be able to give you the six pack abs or flat tummy you’ve always dreamed of. And, some of them do offer a valid abdominal workout. However, all of them are unnecessary and none of them are the real key to a sexy midsection.
The real deal? Diet. Crunches, leg lifts, hanging leg raises, decline crunches, these are all effective exercises for your abs. So why don’t you already have an amazing stomach? Because the real way to get sexy abs is to eat a healthy, balanced diet low in processed carbohydrates and sugars and get the fat over your abs melted away with cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Fact is, running and counting your calories will do more for your abs than any exercise or gadget ever will. A few minutes of abdominal exercise a week is really all you need, and any of the above mentioned methods (except shocking your abs, which is ridiculous) will do.
Shake Weight, American Council on Exercise
Will Toning Shoes Really Give You a Better Body?, JOHN PORCARI, PH.D., JOHN GREANY, PH.D., STEPHANIE TEPPER, M.S., BRIAN EDMONSON, B.S., CARL FOSTER, PH.D., AND MEGHAN SANDVE WITH MARK ANDERS, American Council on Exercise