Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
This month we’re going to take a look at three popular exercise methods: P90X, Zumba, and Shake Weight. What are they and do they really work??
If you watch television, chances are you’ve seen the P90X infomercial. It’s been around since 2004 and these no-nonsense workouts are the brainchild of trainer Tony Horton. The 12 DVD set costs $120. It’s America’s most popular home exercise program. Horton’s favorite fitness concept is MUSCLE CONFUSION. Exercise scientists call it “daily undulating periodization” which means that by changing up workouts regularly, your body doesn’t have time to adapt and become efficient at the exercise. This means your body burns more fat and builds more muscle, more quickly.
Here’s what studies show when they’ve looked at whether or not P90X is effective. The P90X workouts that were tested did meet or exceed fitness industry standards for losing weight and improving cardiorespiratory fitness.
As we’ve talked about here in the Joyinmovement newsletters, when people want to get into shape, the best way to do it is with high-intensity, interval training. That’s what P90X uses. And the muscle confusion aspect of P90X helps keep people from getting bored. You end up doing a lot of different workouts in a different sequence and your body never gets a chance to plateau.
If you do P90X, and if you do it to the best of your ability, you will see results. The people I’ve spoken with who have used P90X either liked it or they didn’t. It does require a commitment and if they committed and actually stuck with it, they got great results.
Still, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. You won’t be surprised to hear me tell you that it’s important to realize in order to achieve the type of excellent results you see from programs like P90X, a healthy diet is essential. If you don’t lose the weight, there’s no way you’ll be able to see your newfound muscle.
And don’t pay too much attention to all those calorie burn numbers. The average caloric expenditure for P90X is very comparable to jogging.
That said, this research shows that P90X is a valuable way to burn calories, build muscle and improve your overall fitness level.
2. Zumba is fun, but is it effective?
To say that Zumba fitness has grown quickly is an understatement! It’s a Latin-dance inspired workout and apparently performed by more than 12 million people at 110,000 sites, in 125 countries around the world.
“Ditch the Workout – Join the Party!” That’s the marketing slogan for Zumba fitness. It’s a fusion of dance moves from styles like Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Flamenco, and the sort of choreography you might see in a nightclub. Zumba fitness leaves room for interpretation, meaning you don’t have to move exactly like the instructor.
Just because Zumba fitness is fun, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an effective workout. Despite its immense popularity, to date very little research has been done to document the potential benefits of this form of aerobic dance. When I looked at the research that has been done, here’s what I found out.
Researchers found that participating in a single Zumba fitness class burned an average of 369 calories per hour or about 9.5 kcal per minute.
The average heart rate (HR) achieved was 154 beats per minute (bpm), which is roughly 80 percent of the average predicted HRmax for the subjects in the studies. Accepted fitness industry guidelines suggest exercising in the range of 64 percent to 94 percent of HRmax to improve cardio endurance, so Zumba meets those requirements.
The subjects used heart rate monitors to track the intensity. Zumba sessions looked like interval workouts, going back and forth between high intensity and low intensity. Because of that, with Zumba you burn a lot of extra calories compared to a steady-state exercise like jogging.
Zumba fitness may feel like a party, but this research suggests it’s also a highly effective workout.
It’s a total-body exercise and a good, high-energy aerobic workout. Zumba fitness is also good for core strengthening and flexibility gains because there are plenty of hip and midsection movements.
The study showed that subjects burned an average of 369 calories per class regardless of what fitness level they started at. So both fit and less-fit people will get an equally good workout. In comparison with other exercises tested, Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping, and power yoga. And besides, DANCING is so much fun!
3. Shake Weight. What the heck is Shake Weight? That’s what I wanted to know when someone asked me about it. Here’s what I found.
“Shake Weight is the flab-busting breakthrough that trims your arms and shapes your shoulders at the same time.”
“With the Shake Weight you can get firm and fabulous arms and shoulders in just six minutes a day for only $19.95.”
Hitting the infomercial airwaves in 2009 with promises like these, Shake Weight quickly became one of the hottest-selling products on TV. Originally marketed to females as the cure for flabby arms, the Shake Weight is essentially a lightweight 2.5-pound dumbbell with springs on either end that is designed to be held with one or both hands and shaken back and forth vigorously in a limited range of movement. This rhythmic motion produces an isometric workout for the upper body that, according to the infomercial, enables the Shake Weight “to increase your upper-body muscle activity by up to 300 percent compared to some traditional weights.”
Better results in less time? It may sound too good to be true, but lots of people are buying in! Even men. A heavier, 5-pound version was also introduced for men and it sells well, too.
So when I looked at studies done to see if Shake Weight does get better results than using traditional dumbbells, here’s what I found. The four muscle groups tested (biceps, triceps, shoulder, and chest) did experience greater muscle activity when using the Shake Weight.
Specifically, the total muscle activity was 88 percent greater when performing the biceps shake compared to the biceps curl; 65 percent greater for the triceps shake versus the triceps extension; 50 percent greater when performing the shoulder shake compared to the shoulder press; and 59 percent greater for the chest shake versus the chest fly.
But make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. In other words, the Shake Weight is a two-and-a-half pound dumbbell, but who goes to the gym and lifts a 2 1/2 pound dumbbell??
However, because it provides some level of resistance Shake Weight will produce an exercise response, particularly for individuals at the low end of the fitness spectrum. For a person who has experience with resistance training, however, it’s probably going to have, at most, a modest effect. But for a person who is unaccustomed to resistance training, the law of initial value applies. In other words, if you’re not used to doing anything, just about any dose of exercise is going to have some positive effect.
And for me a more important question to ask is, “We exercise, but for what purpose?” What is the carryover benefit of the Shake Weight into real-life function? There aren’t many things you do in daily life where you just shake the heck out of something. So to my way of thinking, I’d say leave the Shake Weight behind and go shake it up at a Zumba class or set a 10,000 step a day walking goal using a great pedometer. Here’s the one I use, check it out. http://goo.gl/vzLLC
I hope this month’s look at popular fitness programs helps you be a more discerning consumer. Go out there in February and have fun and stay fit. I’m back into hiking and trail running right now and am enjoying my Joyinmovement!