Gimmicks and Why I Got Involved on a Facebook Post

I’d like to (sarcastically) pat myself on the back for having my last two posts be not quite a month apart, but I’m still trying to figure out where March went, and by the time I’ve processed that, it will be May. Because really, April is almost over. Wow.

Anyway, off of the subject of time, and onto training!

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook that was sponsored from a company that is selling some gimmicky contraption that is supposed to provide resistance training and will give you a butt. Sigh. It featured Kate Hudson doing donkey kicks *cringecringecringe* in booty shorts and a sports bra, and promised to “lengthen, tone and lift your muscles!”

Cringe. So much cringe.

I don’t have a problem with Kate Hudson, or her (awful) Fabletics sportswear line (really, I don’t, but personally I think it’s horribly made but I also know plenty of people who like it). My issue lies with the fact that companies are once again promoting something that is not only inaccurate, but mostly ineffective.

So, naturally, I had to comment (it’s a downward spiral with that stuff usually, and I knew I was opening myself up to a lot of criticism). But, I would also rather people know that they are being had by a gimmick and using this stupid thing 3 times a week doing 3 sets of 10 reps of donkey kicks is not going to give anyone Kate Hudson’s booty.

So, I said my piece, and I will say – this time, the internet surprised me, but in a good way. I essentially said something along the lines of that this was a gimmicky contraption, and one cannot lengthen or lift their muscles, and toning is a pansy synonym for “building muscle” (which, for some reason, terrifies women endlessly), and that running on the treadmill for hours is bad for you. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people responded inquisitively, and were genuinely curious as to how they could burn the most fat.

I responded with what I believe is a very good metaphor or comparison. I’ve cleaned it up a bit for conciseness, but this is the general gist:

If your goal is fat loss, doing tons of steady state cardio isn’t the best fix for that. Think of it this way: if you put your car on cruise control and drive at a moderate pace (let’s say 55 MPH) for an hour, you won’t burn through very much fuel. On the other hand, think about when you are stuck in stop and go traffic or street driving; you’re constantly asking your car to accelerate and then slow down, sometimes you’re going 50 MPH then you’re going 20, then 5 MPH and then 15 MPH. You’ll notice you will burn through way more gas that way because it takes more fuel for your car to constantly be starting and stopping. Your body is very similar: it takes less fuel, or energy, to consistently run at a steady pace for long periods of time. If you’re doing something like interval training where the intensity is high, your body has to work harder to constantly be adjusting your effort levels. This is a lot better for fat loss because it will tax your metabolic pathways quicker than if you were doing steady state cardio.

If you’re looking to lose weight and add muscle (and adding muscle mass will increase your metabolism ALL the time, not just right after your workout session), add in strength training. Just running, or any other cardiovascular work is hard on your body because you are overworking certain muscle groups and neglecting others, which will leave you prone to injury.

A lot of women were grateful for the explanation, and some even asked me if I posted anywhere else where they could get workout tips. That made me so warm and fuzzy, because I genuinely love helping people figure out the world of fitness. It’s hard: for years, many people have believed that individuals who run marathons (26.2 miles) are the fittest people ever. Don’t get me wrong, you do have to be fit to run a marathon – but really, marathon runners are good at one thing, and one thing only – running. Additionally, they are good at running at one consistent pace for long periods of time; this is not useful in everyday life, as there will more than likely never be a scenario which you have to suddenly run 26.2 miles. Sprinting, on the other hand…that’s a very different story. If you ever have to quickly run for the bus, or run away from a bear (it could happen!), or run to catch up with someone…you’d better hope your sprinting game is on point.

Not only that, but running will really overdevelop your calves and quads, while neglecting your hamstrings, glutes and lower back strength (aka your posterior chain, which is incredibly important to have). Ever wonder why runners have bad knees and low back pain a lot? It’s because many of them don’t do any strength training, and since there is no muscle to help shield those joints from wear and tear, they actual joints take the brunt of all the impact of a runner’s mileage.

Resistance bands are great, and have a place in training, but for the most part there are tons of other (and better) ways to increase your strength and mass in your glutes. Donkey kick backs are not very effective, are often done incorrectly, and are an isolation movement that will only work one muscle in your lower body. Squats and lunges are a much better way to build muscle and develop strength in your glutes,  core, upper back, hamstrings, and legs. I would really encourage everyone to forgo the isolation movements (essentially any machine at the gym) and do compound movements like squats, deadlifts and lunges.

I’ll get off my soap box now – hopefully your day is going fantastically, and if you have any questions about the best ways to build muscle or up your endurance, I’d be happy to help.

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