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Fitness fads: Get the facts right
Every few months a new fitness trend that promises to get you into fabulous shape is the rage. You rush and try it, only to realise it is not giving you a Perfect 10 body.
What's going wrong? Fitness Expert Brinda Sapat helps you get the facts right:
Probably the reason you don't see results is that most fitness trends address only one or two of the four components of fitness required by the body.
What are the four components?
This category consists of cardio exercises like walking, aerobics or swimming, sustained for 30 to 40 minutes, at least thrice a week. This component helps BURN FAT and strengthens your heart and lungs.
This includes exercises using heavy weights and utilising as wide a variety of muscles to lift weights. This helps to increase muscle mass and strength.
Exercises using lighter weights and more repetitions work to gain muscular endurance. This helps your body to cope with daily physical tasks.
Stretching exercises fall into this category. Flexibility helps prevent muscular and joint injuries; and improves posture.
Any fitness routine that does not include all these components is incomplete. You body will never be fit until you give it these four different types of training.
Now that you have understood the basics, let us look at different fitness trends and the components addressed by them:
Fitness component: Muscular strength, endurance and flexibility
Misses out on: Cardio
What it will do for you: It will help to strengthen and tone your muscles, improve your posture and overall shape.
What it will not do: It will not help burn large amounts of fat.
Summing up: Addresses 3 of 4 components
Fitness component: Muscular endurance and flexibility, focusing mainly on your abs, back and hips.
Misses out on: Cardio and muscular strength.
What it will do for you: It will increase endurance in your abs, back and hip region. This makes Pilates one of the most needed forms of exercise in your fitness routine. The abs, back and hip support your entire body. If this area is weak, it can result in serious or chronic back and hip problems and injuries.
What it will not do: It won't help burn fat. Not even on the tummy, hip and back. There is no such thing as spot reduction. Also, it will not improve muscular strength.
Summing up: 1� of 4 components
Dancing (any form)
Fitness component: If dancing is sustained for 30 to 40 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week, you will see some cardio benefits. Flexibility will also be addressed if stretches are being done frequently.
Misses out on: Muscular strength and endurance
What it will do for you: Burn some fat, increase flexibility and grace and improve posture.
What will it not do: It will not strengthen your muscles. Nor will it increase endurance.
Summing up: 1� of 4
Fitness component: Cardio and muscular endurance in the lower body.
Misses out on: Muscular strength and flexibility
What it will do for you: Burn fat
What it will not do It will not improve muscular strength. The upper body misses out on endurance training. No flexibility training.
Summing up: 1� of 4
Fitness component: Can address all four components
Misses out on: None
What it will do for you: If used for all four types of training, it can do everything. Aerobics with the ball addresses the cardio component. Adding a pair of weights to the stationary exercises helps target muscular strength and endurance. A variety of stretches can be done using the ball, improving flexibility.
What it will not do: Nothing!
Summing up: 4 of 4
Kick boxing (aerobics style)
Fitness component: Cardio and some flexibility
Misses out on: Muscular strength and endurance.
What it will do for you: Burn fat and increase some amount of flexibility
What it will not do: Does not address muscle strength and endurance
Summing up: 1 � of 4
Stylised aerobics (Salsa, hip-hop, African, country etc.)
Fitness component: Cardio
Misses out on: Muscle strength, endurance and flexibility
What it will do for you: Burn fat at a much higher percentage than a pure dance class.
What it will not do: Will not improve muscle strength, endurance or flexibility.
Summing up: 1 of 4
Resistance equipment (dumbbells, barbells, tubing, bands, etc.)
Fitness component: Muscular strength, endurance and flexibility (post workout stretching)
Misses out on: Cardio
What it will do for you: Improve muscle strength and endurance. Will tone the body. The post workout stretching will increase flexibility.
What it will not do: It will not burn fat
Summing up: 3 of 4
Boot camp (army style training, which includes cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility drills)
Fitness component: A bit of everything
Misses out on: A bit of everything
What it will do for you: A bit of everything
What it will not do: A bit of everything
Summing up: 2 of 4
By the time you read this article, another fitness trend may be cropping up. Remember to verify what the workout is actually doing for your body. This does not mean that if it doesn't address all four components it shouldn't be done. Fitness trends aren't hoaxes; they are simply different and newer ways to work your body. The more variety you add to your fitness regime, the better your body responds and the fitter it gets and that, is the best way to workout. You could try all the above. Mix and match to make sure all the four components are addressed and you'll finally be working your way to being a Perfect 10!
-- Brinda Sapat is the head of the Group Exercise Department at Gold's Gym, Napean Sea Road, Mumbai. Certified with Training Zone & Progressive Fitness (USA), she has been a fitness instructor for the last nine and a half years.
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