The Thighmaster. The Shakeweight. Skechers’ Shape Up shoes. Let’s face it—some people will try anything in order to get in shape, no matter how crazy it seems or how actually ineffective it might be.
While a slightly gullible person might be hypnotised by an infomercial featuring unnaturally toned and athletic-looking athletes modeling a gimmicky piece of fitness equipment, the pros know better. Chances are good that a certified personal trainer would never recommend trying the Shakeweight before hitting the weight rack, or encourage buying an electrical stimulation ab belt in lieu of whipping out a few ab planks.
If you’re already pretty savvy, you might’ve already guessed that the results those infomercial products claim to yield definitely aren’t typical. But have you ever stopped to think about the exercises that you’re doing every day in the gym—and whether they’re actually worth your time and sweat?
According to celebrity personal trainer and holistic nutritionist Kara Griffin, most people are going about their cardio all wrong:
If I could toss out any exercise or piece of equipment it’d be the elliptical. If you want to use it to catch up on your favorite magazines or TV shows then all the power to you, but if you’re looking to it for an intense workout it’s going to be less effective. Even when the resistance is up for more intense cardio and muscular endurance, users frequently misalign their upper body to accommodate the extra lower body work. If the resistance is low, you might as well be taking a walk on flat ground!
Noted: If you want to catch up on Scandal, hit the elliptical. But if you actually want to get a workout in, ditch it. Many people are attracted to the elliptical because it’s touted as a low-impact cardio option. Here’s the thing: Unless you have some serious injuries and joint pain, your body actually needs high-impact exercise in order to improve bone density and strengthen skeletal muscle. If you’re injury-free, go for a jog or run on the treadmill instead.
If you have chronic joint pain, try the stationary bike and play with the resistance and speed (just like you would in a spin class). Or, opt for a no-impact HIIT workout using weights and resistance exercises—studies show that dynamic weight lifting is just as good for heart health as cardio!