Tag Archives: strength

How Fast Does Fitness Dissipate?

We are currently living in some very challenging, different times. You can’t go to visit family or friends. You can’t travel and going to the store is a task within itself. Most can’t go to work either because the business had to shut down or their work was considered to be “ non-essential”. All of this from a vicious virus that has spread not only continentally, but globally. And if fitness is a part of who you are, that too has been stripped from you. Gyms, fitness centers, studios, and whatever else fitness gatherings that we have taken for granted are closed. What is one to do? More on that in just a bit. A bigger concern is what happens to the fitness we have all worked so hard to build and/or maintain if all of the sudden it stops!

The News is Not So Bad

First, it’s important to remember that taking time off now and again is a good thing. Any good workout program includes a heck of a lot of rest days, especially if the exercise is very intense. And there are benefits to both “active recovery” and complete rest. Exercise inflicts a degree of stress on your body. Generally speaking, if you’ve been working out several times a week for more than a year, your muscle memory is solid. When it comes to fitness, we’ve all heard the saying “Use It or Lose It”. While it’s true that when you stop exercising you lose fitness, how quickly you lose it depends on several factors, including how fit you are, how long you have been exercising and how long you stop. Losing fitness when you stop working out, also called detraining or deconditioning, is one of the key principles of conditioning. The principle of use/disuse simply means that when we stop exercising, we generally begin to decondition and lose both strength and aerobic fitness. Most of us need to stop exercising on occasion for any number of reasons. Illness, injury, holidays, work, travel, and social commitments often interfere with training routines. When this happens, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning. That being said, the better in shape you are, the minimal that is lost. A few weeks, ok; a month, a little bit more; a month or two more and you’ll see and feel a drop in both muscular strength and cardio fitness. Here are some of the general guidelines to how we lose fitness.

Strength Loss

  • For most people, strength loss occurs after two to three weeks of inactivity, but that can vary.  A 2017 study showed that men who did resistance training held on to muscle strength after a two-week break. But a 2013  study showed that athletes will start to lose muscle strength after three weeks without a workout. 
  • The more muscle you have, the more you stand to lose. A 2015 study found that active young adults lost one-third of their leg strength after just two weeks of inactivity.

Cardio Loss

  • Sadly, we lose this kind of conditioning a little more quickly than we lose strength.
  • An older, but a landmark 1984 study showed that after 12 days of inactivity, VO2 max dropped by 7 percent and enzymes in the blood associated with endurance performance decreased by 50 percent. 
  • A 1993 study of endurance cyclists found that four weeks of inactivity resulted in a 20 percent decrease of their VO2 max, which measures a person’s maximum capacity to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise.
  • The really good news is that while your cardio conditioning does fall faster than your strength, it’s easier to regain.

Other Factors

Consistency is key for building new habits, and it’s as true for the body as it is for the mind: If your body hasn’t been enjoying exercise for long, it can be easier to lose the progress you’ve made. While your fitness level is key to how quickly you get back to your fitness baseline, a few other variables also come into play.

  • A 2000 study found that age plays a role in bounce-back time. Among 41 study participants who were either 20 to 30 years old or 65 to 75 years old, the older people lost strength almost twice as fast as the younger people during a six-month “detraining” period.
  • Children have a serious advantage. A 2018 study found that 10- to 13-year-olds were able to hang on to fitness gains after four weeks of detraining. 

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Quarantine

1. Go for a walk. Indeed, training a little will do a much better job of maintaining your gains than totally stopping, especially if you’re able to squeeze in the odd cardio session that’ll train you at the upper end of your intensity level.

2. Incorporate some resistance training. If you have some equipment, great, but it’s not necessary. Do some body weight training exercises like push ups or squats. For the really inclined, do a four-minute Tabata session (or two) that will make a huge difference in maintaining your strength.

3. Hire a coach. No one thinks they need a coach until they need one. Technology today, especially in today’s era of “social distancing”, makes it easier to reach people in every corner of the world right from where you are currently.

3. Eat well. Exercise helps control junk food cravings, so you may need to try harder to avoid less-healthy foods while you’re not working out. Get lots of protein, healthy fats, and low-GI carbs, and your body will thank you. Eating well will help you avoid any weight gain, which would make restarting fitness all the more challenging.

When this is all over, and believe me, it will end, the gym will be right there waiting for you when you’re ready for it, but for now, do what you can and do what makes you happy. Until then, stay safe and stay well.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 11 – 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

(This is part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

No matter how good or bad I have it, I wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone, somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.  Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles.  Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost.  Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

  1. Pain is part of growing. Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward.  And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to.  When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose.  Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.  Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.  Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there.  Good things take time.  Stay patient and stay positive.  Everything is going to come together; maybe not immediately, but eventually. Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you.  When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.
  2. Everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt, you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will last forever.  It won’t.  Nothing lasts forever. So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.
  3. Worrying and complaining changes nothing. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least.  It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.  It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it.  If you believe in something, keep trying.  Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future.  Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter.  Take action instead.  Let what you’ve learned improve how you live.  Make a change and never look back. And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
  4. Your scars are symbols of your strength. Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with.  A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed.  It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward.  A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of.  Don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage.  Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear.  You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them.  You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.  Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most powerful characters in this great world are seared with scars.  See your scars as a sign of “YES!  I MADE IT!  I survived and I have my scars to prove it!  And now I have a chance to grow even stronger.”
  5. Every little struggle is a step forward. In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing that the work is worth it.  So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way.  Otherwise, there’s no point in starting.  This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills.  It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar.  It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers.  It could mean lots of time alone in solitude.  Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible.  It gives you the space you need.  Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it. And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds.  And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine.  You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path.  And it’s worth it.
  6. Other people’s negativity is not your problem. Be positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others try to bring you down.  It’s an easy way to maintain your enthusiasm and focus.  When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.  You can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you.  They do things because of them. Above all, don’t ever change just to impress someone who says you’re not good enough.  Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future.  People are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it.  So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think.  If you believe strongly in something, don’t be afraid to fight for it.  Great strength comes from overcoming what others think is impossible.
  7. What’s meant to be will eventually, BE. True strength comes when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and appreciate your life instead.  There are blessings hidden in every struggle you face, but you have to be willing to open your heart and mind to see them.  You can’t force things to happen.  You can only drive yourself crazy trying.  At some point you have to let go and let what’s meant to be, BE. In the end, loving your life is about trusting your intuition, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning through experience.  It’s a long-term journey.  You have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting every step of the way.  Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.
  8. The best thing you can do is to keep going. Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again.  Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.  Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.  There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.  And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t.  When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.  Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best. Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher.  Find the strength to laugh every day.  Find the courage to feel different.  Find it in your heart to make others smile too.  Don’t stress over things you can’t change.  Live simply.  Love generously.  Speak truthfully.  Work diligently.  And even if you fall short, keep going.  Keep growing.

Awake every morning and do your best to follow this daily TO-DO list:

  • Think positively.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Exercise today.
  • Worry less.
  • Work hard.
  • Laugh often.
  • Sleep well.
  • Repeat…

“The best way out is always through.”

―Robert Frost

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies
Day #9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset
Day #10 – The 11 Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders

 

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Gym, or PE programs in schools are not what they use to be. Back then, we participated in physical activity; good old fashioned physical activity. I remember competing in the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge, performing physical tasks like sit ups, pull-ups (chin-ups), running shuttles, and of course, push-ups. The push-up is a great stand-alone exercise that many say that can’t do very well if at all so they avoid it. It’s time to reconsider that thought.

Push-Ups Get No Respect.

While other bodyweight exercises like chin-ups and dips boast devoted fans from all corners of the fitness industry, the lowly push-up is likened as the spoiled step-child of the training world. Most women can’t do them and those that can, can’t do them correctly. Men seem to have an easier time with them but they’re not immune from head shaking either. Arms flare out; core sags; partial reps are performed. Why is an exercise so simple and effective performed so inconsistently if at all with both sexes? It doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

 Understanding the Push-Up

The push-up is as much a core strengthening exercise as it is an upper body exercise. The abdominal muscles are king when it comes to spinal stability during push-ups. The rectus abdominis is the primary stabilizer for preventing hip sagging, while the obliques do most of the work to prevent lateral shifting and twisting. Push-ups of course are also about arms and chest as well as the back. Hand position plays an important role. A narrow base push-up position significantly increases stress on the elbow joint, but also involves higher muscle activation in the triceps and pecs. Internally rotated hand positions were also shown to produce greater and potentially injurious forces on the elbow joints. Depending on your goal, you’ll want to do different push-up progressions.

Common Push-Up Errors

Ask 10 people to perform a push-up and you’ll likely see 10 different presentations but including some of these most common errors:

  • T-Set Up – hands are positioned high and wide
  • Caterpillar – hips sag and back is tilted
  • Stopping short – just as the name implies, not complete reps

In all three instances, there are distinct muscle weaknesses/imbalances that need to be addressed before push-ups can be safely completed. Most “egos” don’t allow or permit those things to be addressed so you have a bunch of people performing what they think are push-ups. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do in the gym to build a healthier, stronger body, but sometimes the basics are the best. Of course, you don’t need to stop what you’re doing and start doing push-ups but perhaps it’s time to give the much-maligned push-up a second look.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple

Which Is Better – Free Weights or Machines?

Get-started-with-free-weights-for-a-better-physiqueFor the greater part of my career, I worked in gyms and thus had the convenience of being able to work out where I worked.  Every once in a while though I would visit a local competitor anonymously  to just workout without interruption but more so to see what other types of equipment they had to offer. Could there really have been much difference? Aren’t all gyms essentially the same when it comes to equipment? Cardiovascular equipment is relatively the same with a few added features and types here and there. With the exception of colors, manufacturers, or may be some slight modifications in design, free weights (plates, barbells, dumbbells, etc.) are essentially free weights. But where a lot of gyms would try to differentiate themselves would be in the amount and types of weight machines (aka resistance machines, strength machines, Nautilus, etc.). Over the years that grew into a greater, more prominent argument as opposed to just being the gym with the mostest. What were these resistance machines and were they superior to free weights?

In The Beginning

Resistance machine training has its origins dating as far back as the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s through the 1970s where companies like Universal and Nautilus began a movement of adding horizontal resistance by way of cables, pulleys, and cams to move weight stacks where it really took off. Nautilus became a household, generic name to describe all resistance machines when in fact Nautilus is the name of a particular company and product, much like Kleenex is used to describe tissue. The ease of their use and user friendly appeal launched a rise in their production and use through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. But as they say, what was old is new again and despite all of the technology that has created some amazing resistances machines, free weights still reign supreme when it comes to developing muscle. Or are they?

Building It Up

The primary reason anyone should be doing resistance training of any kind (free weights, resistance machines, body weight training, bands, balls, etc.) is for the maintenance and growth of lean tissue, a diminishing factor as we age. Sure, training with weights can be used to increase muscle size, strength, and power – and those are all positive results – but at its root, it’s about being stronger against the constant forces of gravity. In that essence, any external resistance on the muscles will do. But when it comes to building quality or functional (term that is used to describe mimicking or relevant carryover to daily living) muscle, free weights are superior. Here’s why.

King of The Mountain

Aside from their Neanderthal, caveman-like reputation, free weights are unattached, free movable objects that translate well to applied human movement, much like we encounter in real life. Free weights address and simultaneously train multiple planes of movement; teach how to deal with gravity in every and all positions; and teach how to manipulate physical elements, such as inertia, momentum and impulse.  Training with free weights can do all of that and due to its strong neurological component, it sometimes can provide result within minutes!  This is a very hard combination for any training methodology to live up to or compete with. Since resistance machines are generally fixed, unnatural positions, does that make them ineffective? Of course not and for certain populations (bodybuilders, rehab patients, etc.) they can be used as mode of training that isolates a muscle and provides a different stimulus to stave off physical and mental boredom. But in the real word, no muscle works in isolation and through free weight training proper lifting technique and stabilization mechanics are gained– both very important when it comes to moving through this life.

So are free weights superior to resistance machines? Yes. Does that make them a bad exercise choice? Absolutely not. Resistance machines have become an invaluable part of the strength, fitness, and conditioning fields and are what I like to call just another tool in the tool box. Remember, there is no such things as a good or bad exercise; just the application of the exercise.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

10 Things To Teach Your Kids (Or Yourself) About Fitness

10371943_711569598908803_8165290089901549042_nIn another month or so my little boy will be turning five! Where in the world does that time go? I’ve loved every stage of his growth from feeding him to watching him crawl to seeing him run to trying to keep up with him, and I know it’s only going to get better. But he’s of the age now where he’s more aware of the world around him outside of school, cartoons, and toys. He understands more of what his daddy does for a living and knows that both his mommy and daddy are exercising, running, or riding. (Mommy swims too!) Brady has the fortunate privilege that his daddy is a fitness professional and what better resource to have right at his disposal let alone two parents that lead an active lifestyle? It got me thinking about what I really want him to understand regarding fitness. Chances are, whether you have children or not, there are probably a few things may be you also need to or should know about fitness and to better understand and appreciate its value. Here are the 10 things I want my son to understand about fitness and perhaps you can share with you and yours

  1. It’s Not a Contest. You exercise regularly for one and one reason only – YOU! That means doing what YOU need to do for YOU to the best of your ability. No one loses out more in the end by not addressing your fitness than YOU! Hold yourself to a high standard and worry less about what everyone else claims to be doing and only what you’re doing.
  2. Like Respect, Fitness is Earned. You were born with the greatest machine on Earth. Take care of it the best you can and if things become hard or turn for the worst, don’t blame it on what you did or did not do. There are literally endless ways to stay fit and take care of yourself. You make your choices and endure the results.
  3. Keep It Fun. As previously stated, there are endless ways to find physical activity and to take care of yourself. Find what you enjoy that keeps you moving and looking forward to, not dreading, the next opportunity. The only best exercise is the one you stick with.
  4. Fitness Is Not A Chore. When we negatively associate things chances are we will always conjure up ways to avoid or say bad things regarding them. At its root, fitness is just about keeping the body moving and while that may seem like work, keeping a positive perspective will go a long way. George Bernard Shaw said it best: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
  5. It’s Called Working Out For a Reason. It’s cliché to say, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. Just because you work out three days a week, take weekends off (as does the diet) hardly classifies you as an “active” person. It requires a lot more than just showing up or going through the motions. It takes a commitment to keep moving forward and not being content with mediocrity.
  6. Exercise Is A Lifestyle, Not An Event. You can’t expect exercise to work for you if you do it in little increments expecting big returns on little to no investment of time. Ignore all the marketing hoopla, pseudoscience, and “experts” who claim to get you more for less. Maintain a consistent healthy lifestyle and it’s much easier to make a bigger shift if necessary.
  7. With Strength Comes Confidence. It’s never about how much you can lift, or how much you can throw. Having strength is having the ability to do the things you need to do in every walk of life without ever feeling like you need help. Real strength is measured by what a man can do, not what he pretends he can do.
  8. It’s A Healthy Stress Reliever. Having a bad day and need a release? There’s nothing better than the release from physical exertion can offer without compromising other areas of your health. You may even surprise yourself with just how hard you can let it all go.
  9. Appreciate Fitness From The Inside Out. Don’t stress over numbers like weight or inches until you first put into perspective what it is you’re trying to accomplish and you’ve made a 110% commitment to that end. It will serve you better knowing that you’re doing the right thing despite what some lab rat or popular media would have you believe.
  10. Fitness Breeds Life. When you take care of yourself, you’ll feel great and when you feel great, you’ll make excuses for nothing. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can’t put that in a pill; you can’t “fake” your way through. I once had someone challenge me to feel like them for a day to which I responded they should have a taste of what it feels like to be me for just five minutes. End of discussion.

Fitness is my profession and it has always been a part of my life. Fitness to me is the rule, not the exception but I find the strength every day to train smarter, eat well, and be better every day for my little boy in the hopes that someday it will be him trying to keep up with me. I will continue to lead by example and he will know fitness is not just another activity – it’s what we do.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

 

My Top 10 Most Useless Pieces of Exercise Equipment – #4 The Bender Ball

(This is a 10 part series in which I am reviewing some of the products sold as exercise equipment, fitness solutions, etc. on infomercials, magazine ads, and cable shopping networks.  Unlike most of the ads for these products, this isn’t based on a double blind, major university backed study.  It is simply my professional opinion based on my fitness experience and knowledge in the hopes that it will save you some time, aggravation and money.)

Bender-Ball-300x300The Bender Ball

I stated in an earlier post in this series that I could do an entire series on abdominal gimmicks alone. At number four is yet another one and with only three more remaining, two of which are also abdominal gimmicks, it may make you wonder if all abdominal equipment is junk or is there any abdominal equipment ever worth buying. I will answer both of these questions before this post is finished, but first things first.

Let’s Play Ball

The Bender Ball  is the creation of a “master trainer” by the name of….? You guessed it – Bender.  The Bender Ball is a small, 9 inch ball that is placed in the lumbar curve (small of the back) to make abdominal crunches 408% more effective by increasing flexion and extension of the torso. 408%? How exactly do you quantify that? You can’t but that helps sell product. What they won’t tell you about are the legitimate studies that examined the effectiveness of the Bender Ball on abdominal muscle activation. What did those studies find?  That the Bender Ball was only slightly more effective (less than 50%) than some traditional abdominal exercises such as the basic floor crunch, bicycle crunch, or crunches performed on a foam roller.  The only slight differences (more than 50% effectiveness) were found in the varying levels of extension that could be achieved in certain individuals. The amount of extension however is the biggest concern with this small ball.

Put Your Back In To It

Most of us are born with an “S” curve in our spine.  It varies from person to person but a normal healthy spine begins at the base of the skull, bends slightly forward, bends back slightly again in the torso or thoracic region, and bends forward again in the abdominal/hip region, thus causing a concave curve in the lower back (lumbar) region. This “S” essentially functions as a spring that keeps us upright against the ever present forces of gravity.  The lumbar region is notoriously associated with low back disorders of all types, from muscle spasms to herniated discs. The reason? Among other things: not enough or too much curve, tight psoas muscles that cause an anterior hip tilt (sitting too long) and convex (flat with very little curve) low back, weak abdominals that do not balance the strength required to oppose the back muscles, etc. Any one of these scenarios can lead to an already compromised muscle imbalance, thus making normal flexion and extension difficult or painful.  Throw in a ball designed to increase extension and subsequent increased flexion and you have a spinal disaster in the making.  And all for what? A flat, chiseled midsection that could be obtained much safer and more efficiently by much more effective and cost friendly means.

My Advice

Abdominal devices are plentiful because their demand is so high. However, rational thought is thrown out the window when emotions are running high so be smart about how you train your abs and what you use if anything at all – devices are not necessary. Remember, the flat stomach look has less to do with the amount of abdominal exercises you do or how much they burn the muscles and more about what your overall approach to health and fitness is. Want a flat stomach? 1) Stop buying into overhyped, unproven methods and gimmicks 2) pay more attention to what you eat and drink 3) get moving hard and fast 4) resistance train.  Failure to do ALL of these things and a flat stomach you will never have – guaranteed. Plus, your back will remind you in due time if you don’t.

 

Stay tuned for future posts with the remaining 3.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

In case you’ve missed them, here are My Top 10 Most Useless Pieces of Exercise Equipment so far:

#10 The Jump Snap
#9 The Thigh Master
#8 The Ab Roller
#7 The Red Exerciser
#6 Leg Magic
#5 The Ab Circle

My Top 10 Most Useless Pieces of Exercise Equipment – #6 Leg Magic

(This is a 10 part series in which I am reviewing some of the products sold as exercise equipment, fitness solutions, etc. on infomercials, magazine ads, and cable shopping networks.  Unlike most of the ads for these products, this isn’t based on a double blind, major university backed study.  It is simply my professional opinion based on my fitness experience and knowledge in the hopes that it will save you some time, aggravation and money.)

318VlUApY7L._SX300_Leg Magic

The internet never ceases to amaze me.  When I began working on this post for #6 on my list, an old advertising campaign popped into my head. “Nothing beats a great pair of legs” was the catch phrase for L’Eggs pantyhose back in the 80’s.  Sure enough, the commercial can still be viewed today on YouTube.  But I’m not here to discuss my astonishment with the internet or why I can even care to remember those ads (that’s effective advertising I guess).  I want to discuss how legs are a critical part to our physique, whether you’re a leg model or not.  Those two limbs beneath are hips are a big part of what makes us human. They give us the means to walk, run, jump, hop, skip, climb, pedal, kick, swim, and so on. It is true then that nothing beats a great pair of legs, which is what the makers of Leg Magic are hoping you’ll believe their product can deliver.

A Huge Set of Muscles

Don’t take that the wrong way.  Some consider their legs to be the largest part of their body.  In fact, they’re right.  Two thirds of all the muscle mass in men and women is below the waist.  These muscles include most notably the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the adductor (inner thigh) muscles, abductor (outer thigh) muscles, and the muscles of the lower leg, the calves.  There’s a lot of muscle there and rightfully so.  Aside from providing all the movement described previously, the muscles of the lower body most notably support us upright.  But even more importantly, they are the conduit to producing movement.

The Great Conductor

Locomotion, or physical movement, is the result of forces created in the muscles and the reciprocating ground reaction forces produced from contact with the earth.  To understand this concept better, think of throwing a baseball as far as you could with both feet on the ground.  Now, think of throwing a baseball while suspended in a swing with no foot contact with the ground.  Which one goes further? The one where both feet are on the ground.  Why? The ground reaction forces produced by the legs in contact with the earth.  So the stronger the legs, the more force that can be produced, the greater the return forces from the earth.  Why is this relevant to this discussion? Because the legs are the link between what the brain commands and the motion the body is capable of performing.

Yet Another Piece of ****

You have to watch the video of Leg Magic if you get an opportunity (click the link here to see video). What I find the most amusing is that the woman in the video shows you how to do two of the best exercises for strengthening the legs, squats and lunges, while holding onto Leg Magic for balance, which is probably what it’s best for.  Performing squats and lunges puts both feet in touch with the ground, ensuring greater muscular, ground reaction force development which translates into stronger, more functional legs. The inner/outer thigh motion of this apparatus has little to no value to everyday life, unless of course you make a living downhill skiing.

Here’s a tip.  You don’t need Leg Magic to do squats and lunges, and if they’re done properly as part of an all around program, you’ll have amazing legs that cost you nothing more than your hard earned time. Yes, unfortunately, Leg Magic will not “tone your legs”, “make your abs fitter” (whatever that means), or “raise your butt” in one month as promised in the ad.  It will make a great shirt hanger though.

Stay tuned for future posts with my top 5.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

In case you’ve missed them, here are My Top 10 Most Useless Pieces of Exercise Equipment so far:

 

#10 The Jump Snap
#9 The Thigh Master
#8 The Ab Roller
#7 The Red Exerciser