Fitness fads that don’t work

It promised to blast away the fat, tone your arms, and give you a six pack overnight. All you’re left with is a receipt for the machine…

Exercise fads are big business, and probably more popular than ever as we live in the age of social media where looks are all-important. Everyone’s striving for the perfect body, in the fastest time possible.

The bottom line though, say experts, is that the fads don’t work. Diet and fitness trends are transient and seldom give long-lasting results. Cape Town coach, Roland Jungwirth points out that exercise “programming” is more than just exercise selection. “It needs to take your lifestyle into consideration and should be adapted accordingly. Although we can group most fitness goals into clear categories, the effectiveness of a plan to reach these goals depends on your current and previous lifestyle choices, and adherence to the plan.”

Which is where fads fade away: they seldom fit into our lifestyles; require a temporary change or shift in some area and are usually unrealistic in an everyday context.

5 fads you should avoid

1 Waist trainer
Known as a “body modifying lie”, the undergarment promises to flatten, tone and tighten your stomach, and cinch your waist for a Jessica Rabbit-style figure. They may contour your body to a tiny degree (some statistics say it could take about two years to see a 25% reduction in your tummy area). But health experts are not convinced. It’s not feasible to “spot reduce” a problem area, says Dr Stephen Ball from the University of Missouri. Besides the wasted hours struggling to breathe, you’re doing real damage to your organs. The corsets restrict the midsection of your body as your organs are tightly squeezed. This can cause digestive and breathing problems.

Instead: Try aerobic exercises like cycling, sit-ups, squatting, stair exercises, burpees, jogging in place, and planking. These work your midsection by toning your muscle core.

2 Shake weights
Can you fight the arm jiggle with this contraption? The device gives off a vibrating effect, that’s meant to tone your arms, shoulders, triceps, and biceps. It claims to be more effective than normal weights, but doesn’t really apply enough resistance to the muscles to be stimulated. And, you land up with other problems, namely nausea, impaired vision and hyperventilation, thanks to the continued vibrational exposure.

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Instead: Get a regular dumbbell that’s meant for your muscle mass. Do tricep exercises that include curls, dips, kickbacks, extensions and push-ups.

3 Sauna suits
Melt off the fat! This garment made with waterproof fabric enthusiastically claims to spur on weight loss. Does it work? Not very well, as the weight you lose is temporary water loss. A full workout would help you lose weight by burning actual calories. These suits offer very little ventilation and can cause dehydration and overheating.

Instead: Cut down on sugar, refined carbs and processed foods first, as these are the main triggers for weight gain, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Add fruits, vegetables and protein to your diet to help boost your metabolism, increase energy and keep you regular. Drink plenty of water.

4 Vibrating platforms
What’s better than melting off the fat? Simply standing still and letting a machine “vibrate” the extra kilos off you. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There simply isn’t enough proof and evidence to suggest that vibrations transmitted through a machine can shed fat and build muscle. At worst you’re causing yourself joint and nerve damage.

Instead: Do resistance exercises which aim to build strength, flexibility and improve your skeletal muscles in a healthy way.

5 Weight loss pills
They’ve stood the test of time so they’ve moved a little beyond whim status, but weight loss tablets are still bad news. Diet pills have a deserved reputation, thanks to their numerous side-effects that include an increase in your heart rate, palpitations, insomnia, nausea, restless, and dizziness. When used for a long time, you risk harming your organs and could have a heart attack, stroke and digestive issues.

Instead: Choose vitamins and herbal drinks to regulate your metabolism and energy while eating clean, controlling your portions, and keeping fit.

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