Hear, hear! Look around and be ready to be awed by the next fancy fitness scam in town! Open your eyes wide to try out this new program that will make you sweating with no real results! You will be confused by its science and muscle talk, but hey what gives—they said it works so lets believe it! Why spend effort at the gym, when you have this piece of fraud you can waste eons on?—Fitness fads. It is a thing.
▲ A man performing the deadlift, one of the staple exercises in strength training. Provided by timberwolfcrossfit
With an increased attention to fitness, people find themselves swamped by a myriad of related information readily available on the Internet, in books, and from friends. However, due to this overwhelming amount of information they need to understand and process, the casual gym-goer often chooses to instead follow the most convenient, simplest plan. The issue is that, often, the most appealing information and fitness plans are the ones that are tweaked to lure in customers with sweet words and false guarantees of a dream physique with little effort. These kinds of fitness fads and myths superficially satisfy customers’ unrealistic expectations, but do not actually deliver results.
▲ The shake weight, an exercise tool that is now generally considered as ineffective in muscle building. Provided by The Western Sun
Perhaps the most widely believed fitness myth is that of spot reduction. The general consensus within the fitness industry is that it is biologically and physically impossible for an individual to lose fat in a particular body region through exercising specific muscles in that area. Yes, it is now officially true—people cannot get a flat belly by grinding through sets of abdominal crunches.
In truth, fat is lost throughout the whole body when calories are burned. The reason some areas seem to lose fat more quickly than others with exercise is due to the illusion caused by muscles pulling on the fat so that it no longer hangs loosely. Or it may also be simply due to genetic preferences, in which case it sucks not to be the girl next door who lost five kilograms and flattened her belly without losing any of her curves. Either way fat and muscle are completely separate tissues, and changes to one do not directly impact the other.
Another misconception is the idea of “toning” a muscle group. When people mention toning they are referring to the idea of getting a firm body with just enough muscular definition and shape to look fit, but not overwhelmingly muscular. However, muscle either shrinks or grows, but does not go from hard to soft or vice versa. As renowned strength coach Joe DeFranco nicely put it, “The main difference between a lean and toned physique and a bulky physique is the amount of body fat that surrounds your muscles. The lean and toned look that most people desire is a result of having muscle that is not hidden under layers of fat.”
So what follows is the notion that any individual striving for a better physique, either slim and fit or bulky and muscular, should involve themselves in regular strength and resistance training. There really is no way around it other than hard work and dedication. Truth be told, no one is going to bulk up by doing a few bicep curls and triceps pushdowns anyway, so may the people who are only thinking of building enough muscle to look fit may rest their minds about that.
▲ A weight loss belt, an exercise tool that supposedly lose weight without exercise. Provided by wafflesatnoon
It seems that most fitness myths spawn from a basic misunderstanding of how fat loss and muscle building occur. In order to properly know how to build a better physique, people need to learn the mechanisms of both fat and muscle. Muscle grows when its fibers and tissues are torn by a great force of external pressure, namely, weight training. So the act of pumping iron at the gym is actually to fatigue and attack the body enough so that, when it recovers, it becomes stronger and bigger.
The process is simple. Lift, eat, and sleep. Grow muscle, lose fat. However, many fitness fads seem to be pitching faster, more effective, easier methods for a better physique. In fact, absurd products such as weight-loss earrings and—yes you can buy these—seem to be gaining more and more popularity, as a United States (U.S.) survey on consumer fraud conducted by the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 reveals that the type of scam that consumers are most likely to fall for are weight-loss frauds.
Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society and distinguished science writer, stated in an interview with AskMen, “Weight loss is so susceptible for fraud because it is so hard to do, and the signs of progress are so slow.” According to him, the reward from conventional training is not enough for most people. “Anything that appeals to shortening the process is going to sell.”The underlying issue seems to be society’s characteristic desire for instant gratification, and since fitness first requires time, it is an easy target.
A standout aspect of fitness fads is that they tend to be only temporary, flooding the markets one week and then disappearing without a trace the next. People are anxious to get the best results in the least time possible, and they do not have the patience to wait. They, against their best interests, jump around from program to program, justifying themselves with the pseudo-explanations given by the product marketers. Shermer added, “More than any other, the reason people believe weird things is because they want to. It feels good. It is comforting.”
Granted, something is better than nothing. However, when people are looking for concrete, reliable results, maybe they should try better than just something. Hit the gyms, workout, ask trustworthy trainers for advice, keep things simple and remain patient. Obviously fitness is not an instant product, and it would be absurd to believe instant efforts can yield instant results. Train smart and stick with it, maybe something good will happen.
▲ The vibrating belt, an exercise tool that was widely popular during the 1960s now exposed as having little weight loss benefits. Provided by mariadicroce.com