What would health and fitness advertising look like if marketers had to be honest? I was inspired to do this post after seeing the hilarious before & after pictures here - I'm not sure who did these originally, but I owe them for a lot of laughs.
I had WAY too much fun doing these. Someone should have been taping me giggling like an idiot while trying to come up with witty sentences in Photoshop.
In any case, I thought it had been far too long since I'd done something similar to my popular "Pinterest Modifications" post, so without further ado, here's my take on a few popular articles and products we've seen over the years...
Alternative caption "9 foods that, just like everything else on Earth, contain chemicals."
"Eat this, not that" potentially an experiment in "how many books can you sell off of one concept?"
Please pay close attention to my pro-level Photoshop skills here.
Any takers on how many VS models have done this workout?
Guess it's time for my second "I hate Tracy Anderson with the fiery passion of 1,000 suns" post of 2014. I'm a glutton for punishment I suppose.
When I saw that Tracy Anderson and Dr Oz were going to "de-bunk some popular fitness myths" I felt a strange combination of sorrow and giddiness. This is an unlikely mix of emotion that can only really be properly encapsulated with one sentence:
"Oh my God, this is going to be the worst thing I've ever seen."
Tracy Anderson and Dr Oz - a dynamic duo topped only by Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger
I mean, in just five minutes it's tough to get across any actual good information. But nothing they said was particularly egregious.
I know, I was shocked as well.
So, let's go over exactly what was said and see if there was anything really helpful to glean from this segment. Let's start from the top:
Dr. Oz: "You think you know the facts about getting fit? Well you may be surprised to find that much of what you've been told is fiction. So fitness expert Tracy Anderson is here to help de-bunk the three biggest fitness myths, she also recommends you to check the workout den review, to get the best fitness tips.
Why is it so important to tell fact from fiction for you?"
Anderson: "It's so important, we don't have a lot of time to exercise. We want people to see results, we don't want them to hurt themselves - they need to be educated."
Oh boy. Let's just get this out of the way first...
Tracy Anderson is one of the biggest promoters of fitness myths
...you know that my method reengineers your muscular structure through the constant flow of new workout sequences, prescribed specifically for you. These unique sequences are based on targeting the accessory muscles (the small muscle groups). Strengthening the accessory muscles while burning fat through intense cardiovascular work helps to create a tight knit group of small muscles that actually pull in the larger muscle groups...
"...spinning creates an imbalance in the muscular system. It bulks the thigh and butt muscles. You develop mass by working these same muscles over and over."
Tracy is totally against other forms of cardio, such as running, where you repeat your movements over and over. That, she says, will bulk muscles.
or of course, the numerous times she's said not to lift anything heavier than 3 pounds,
"A woman should never lift anything heavier than 3 pounds."..."I carry my 30 pound son in my left arm...so [my right arm] sags lower than [my left arm]" The dissonance hurts...
So you want to build muscle but not look like the Terminator? Anderson suggests working accessory muscles first, avoiding bulking up the large groups. Also, never work out with weights heavier than 3 lbs.
Anderson says more things that are flat-out wrong and completely in line with common fitness myths than anything remotely close to the truth.
Let's not mention that some of Anderon's methods take an unnecessarily long time. For example, one reporter had this to say about her "30-Day Method" plan:
On the 30-Day Method you have to do to three hours of exercise a day, which decreases to one hour on the 90-day plan.
Or her recommendation to work up to doing 100 repetitions of a single exercise - that wouldn't take a long time or anything:
Now on to toning. For each of the below, start with 10 repetitions and work up to 100.
Anyway, let's move on to the first myth Tracy Anderson and Dr Oz set out to de-bunk:
Myth #1: Crunches are the key to flat abs
Dr. Oz: "This is why crunches don't help you get flat abs - it's all about this concept of 'spot reduction,' it doesn't work...
So if you really want to lose the fat so you can see the six-pack underneath, you gotta build up a lot of muscle, not just a little bit of muscle in your belly. And to do that, Tracy, you say you've got a better way of doing it?"
Anderson: "Yes, I'm going to reach all of those muscles, not just the large ones, and we're going to use our whole body so we're gonna burn calories at the same time - which burns off the fat."
This is an interesting exchange to look at in-depth. I actually completely missed what Dr. Oz said the first time around - that one should 'build up a lot of muscle' to lose fat and see your abs. This advice (though not the umm...best tactic for fat loss) completely flies in the face of everything Anderson promotes and suggests, so it's interesting to see how they just rolled with it.
Anderson suggesting that exercises that use more muscles at once burn more calories for your time is true enough. (For instance, doing a deadlift instead of fancy kneeling kicks for "butt toning") And burning extra calories could certainly help to get rid of the fat over your stomach eventually. When she says "all of the muscles," she's referring to working all of your abdominal muscles, I assume.
There are a lot of exercises that do that. Walking, squatting, deadlifting...etc. But the exercise she demonstrates does as well. It's a perfectly fine exercise, I suppose, but it's not likely to help you out a significant amount more than crunches to reveal dem abs.
"I can't copyright a plank, so I added this little leg kick."
Dr. Oz: "So you build those core muscles up...with all those core muscles getting strong you have a better metabolic furnace burning through calories to get rid of that fat."
It's technically true that muscle requires more calories to sustain itself than fat, though the difference is pathetically small. Regardless, two things with that:
Anderson doesn't advocate building muscle
Simply doing that exercise won't be enough to build significant muscle mass
As well, counting on building muscle to be your saving grace in fat loss is probably not the way to go about achieving your goals. If you've got a significant layer of fat covering those abs, your best bet will be to eat at a caloric deficit (which generally won't allow you to build much muscle anyway) to get rid of it.
Myth #2: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn
Dr Oz: "The amount you perspire is not at all correlated to the amount of calories you burn...you could sit in a sauna...and you're perfectly still burning no calories at all, sweating away. So it clearly doesn't work. In order to burn more calories you have to elevate your heart rate."
I don't have too much to comment on here. This is generally correct. Sweating more does not equal burning more calories. You might just be in a sauna, like Oz suggested, or you may be trying to squat in a garage gym with no AC in the middle of a North Carolina summer and have a hard time keeping the bar on your back because it's so sweaty and you nearly pass out. I dunno.
As far as needing to elevate your heart rate to burn more calories, I'm gonna admit that I'm not 100% on how true that is. After all, you could go through a weightlifting session picking up heavy weights for few reps at a time not get your heart rate up that much while still burning a significant number of calories.
Anyway, they go on to do some cardio to elevate the heart rate. Yay.
Myth #3: Stretching before a workout warms up the muscles
Dr. Oz: "Truth is you can actually injure muscles if you stretch before you warm up a little bit."
I've read many studies on the efficacy of static stretching before warming-up, but none mentioned static stretching actively injuring the muscles - just that they didn't prevent injury from happening too well. I may be missing studies on this, however. (1, 2, 3)
Anderson: "Absolutely, it's about warming up, it's about connecting your brain to your muscles, getting focused, getting ready to burn calories, build muscle..."
Woah woah woah. Is this segment a foreshadow to Anderson's impending endorsement of building muscle for women? Considering that she just released her exercise routine for men to make them "skinny ripped" panthers, as opposed to big, bulky, overdeveloped bison, it seems unlikely. But then again, strength training for women is catching on...
In any case, I've got nothing against a good warm-up that gets your mind right to do some awesome stuff in the gym. (or do 30 minutes of glorified arm circles, whichever)
"Range of Motion"
In the segment, Anderson says the warm-up sequence she's demonstrating will work on your range of motion, however I could think of quite a few better ways to do so than doing a slight knee bend with a backwards-to-overhead arm reach. Could try something like:
We end with a product promotion and that's the end of it. Seriously, that's all. Nothing that makes me want to rage and claw my eyes out or facepalm. It's not a segment I'd be particularly proud of, but it's not one that would make me want to hide under my bed in shame for the rest of my life, I suppose.
And that's the most positive endorsement you'll likely ever hear me say about Anderson.
Summer abounds with month-long challenges: the 30 Day Squat Challenge, 30 Day Plank Challenge, 30 Day Body Transformation Challenge...it goes on.
This was the only picture I could find of a not half-naked butt.
Hell there's an entire website devoted to 30 Day Challenges. I would not recommend this to everyone as it pushes beyond limits. So, if you are suffering from pain, first book an appointment with a pain management doctor and only on his approval take up the following challenge.I want to take a moment to talk about these challenges, and why they're so popular.
See if this sounds familiar:
What we WANT to happen after 30 days...
Day 1: I'm so excited to start this challenge! It's a whole new way of life - but easy to do. I'm going to look SO HOT in my shorts this summer.
Day 5: I'm pretty sore, so I know it's working. I think my legs might be looking a little firmer! It's hard work, but I've got this.
Day 15: Half way through! I feel great, these squats are getting easier and easier. They take a bit longer now, but it's no problem. Man my legs look great.
Day 25: Finish line in sight! In addition to doing a crap ton of squats everyday, and sometimes add adjustable dumbbells, I've been eating fresh veggies every meal and drinking a shitload of water out of my fancy water bottle. It didn't even take any thought on my part. I feel so light! So pure. Much healthy.
Day 30: Damn, my ass is fine. I feel great. It was tough, but this experience was truly rewarding and absolutely worth it. Not to mention these results will last forever and I'm never going to have to squat again.
What ACTUALLY happens after 30 Days...
Day 1: I'm so excited to start this challenge! It's a whole new way of life - but easy to do. I'm going to look SO HOT in my shorts this summer.
Day 3: Holy fuck my thighs are sore. I have to spend 5 minutes strategizing how to get on and off the toilet. My coworkers spent all day asking why I was walking funny. How embarrassing.
Day 4: I can't even do 5 squats like this. Way too sore. Good thing it's a rest day.
Day 5: Legs...so stiff...gonna have to take another day off.
Day 6: I dream of getting in and out of chairs without sounding like an angry boar.
Day 8: Okay. Feeling better. I got this. So I guess I'll just have to pretend this is Day 5. I'm feeling a little discouraged so I better look at some motivational quotes to get going:
"Fuck yeah! Let's do this!"
Day 12: Thankfully not feeling quite as sore, though getting in and out of chairs is still a bit difficult. My main gripe is that I haven't seen ANY changes in my legs or butt...maybe they're a bit firmer? I just can't tell.
Day 15: My knees hurt.
Day 17: Oh God my knees hurt.
Day 21: Had to take a day off and put some frozen peas on my knees. Now I'm 4 days behind. And I haven't seen any results. Feeling discouraged. Time for more motivational quotes:
"Ugh, how the hell does anyone actually look like that? Whatever, just keep going I guess..."
Day 22: Fuck this shit, I'm done.
And this is, for many people I know, how these challenges tend to go down. But maybe not for those of you who start out a little less sedentary, in my case I already knew about clenbutrol uk. If you were exercising regularly before braving a challenge, you may complete the challenge just fine with little soreness involved.
And if you were proficient in squatting technique beforehand, maybe you'll never end up with aching knees. Should you still do the challenge?
Reasons to do a 30 Day Squat Challenge:
To build up some lower body muscular endurance
Just for the hell of it
Yep, those are really about the only reasons I could think of. Perhaps the best explanation as to why would be by explaining why you wouldn't want to do one.
Reasons NOT to do a 30 Day Squat Challenge:
To "tone" your legs or butt As I went over in my muscle tone post, you'll be wanting to gain muscle and lose fat to achieve the "toned" look. This workout accomplishes neither, really. See point #3.
To get stronger in the squat You'll get really good at doing over 200 squats in a row on this program, but you won't get really good at squatting heavier weight.
To lose weight This may burn a few extra calories, but it isn't significant enough to make a big difference without diet changes as well.
At the gym, we often joke when someone is doing 10+ barbell squats, that they're doing 'cardio squats' :
That's essentially how you can think of this program.
Here are some other reasons to pass up the next 30/60/90 Day Challenge your friends or coworkers start chatting about:
Not a well-balanced plan If you're doing a push-up challenge, do you ignore your legs? If it's a butt challenge, do you ignore your upper body? Are you supposed to do these challenges on top of a regular workout routine?
Only one form of progression These challenges tend to only get harder in one way: by increasing reps. While that's certainly one way of doing it, how do you keep improving? Do you move all the way up to 1,000 reps a day?
Where do you go next? After you've completed the challenge, where do you go? Do you move on to a push-up challenge and neglect your legs for a month? Or do you go to another lower-body program that has you restart at 25 squats?
Not much is accomplished You're not building strength. Not gaining muscle, not burning too many calories. So in the end, what are you trying to accomplish?
I get the appeal of these kinds of challenges, I really do. When you're not 100% sure what to do when it comes to fitness, having a solid plan written out by someone else is a huge relief. It can even make working out more fun! (I should know, I've paid someone to write my own personal workout program before, and I'm a trainer!)
As well, these challenges are stupid simple, don't usually require equipment (so they can be done alone at home), and promise you the world. Plus, you'll get a real feeling of accomplishment after just 30 days. Making real progress on your first pull-up or losing fat can leave you waiting a lot longer than that!
If they get you off the couch, challenges are fine! If you're simply pushing yourself and keeping up with friends, they can be a ton of fun.
Just keep in mind they won't get you too much in the way of results. For that, you'll need to eat at a caloric deficit and engage in some sort of strength-training program!
"A lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."
-Deep Throat, The X-files
It's Sunday morning and you're awoken by sunlight streaming through your shades. Groggily, you reach over for your phone to check the time.
Revision: it's Sunday afternoon. You had a pretty hard night - even if you didn't remember exactly how much you drank, your inability to stand up without stumbling would have reminded you. That's what happens when it's nickel shot night at O'Halligan's.
Your head is killing you and walking is proving quite difficult. Do you:
A) Find the nearest Waffle House, stat
B) Take some advil and settle in to watch The Princess Bride for the millionth time
C) Salt the shit out of two scrambled eggs and wash it down with a Diet Coke (that was my tactic, anyway)
D) Grab some Vitamin Water then go about your day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
Haha, Amish people! That's so random and edgy Vitamin Water, you totally get me.
Well, this commercial would lead you to believe that 'D' is the best option. Here are the claims made in this commercial. The first two are stated explicitly, while the last is implicit - meaning they never actually say this, but it is glaringly obvious from the commercial.
Vitamin Water Revive has B vitamins and potassium
Vitamin Water Revive will re-hydrate you
Vitamin Water Revive will relieve hangovers
Let's look at these claims more in-depth:
Vitamin Water Revive has B Vitamins and Potassium
By 120 I mean 125. If you know the reason behind the differences here, let me know!
This is true. It DOES have these things. However, in trying to find exactly how much, I came across some confusion in the actual nutrition label on Vitamin Water and what their website says. It's possible this nutrition label information is out of date. Input to your body is just as important as the work out, muscle hardening tren results can come with the proper nutrition being applied to your body.
However, you shouldn't stop questioning there. The next question you need to ask is:
Why does it matter that this product has B vitamins and potassium?
In the context of normal day-to-day life, it doesn't matter. If you're not vegetarian, you're likely not deficient in any B vitamins. If you're not competing or training in endurance sports or suffering from diarrhea, you're likely not deficient in potassium. These are rare conditions.
So, if you're suffering from a hangover, does that change things? We'll go over that in our last point.
Vitamin Water will re-hydrate you
Well, the first ingredient in Vitamin Water is - you guessed it - water. (Right before the second ingredient - sugar. Mmmm it's like hydration candy, delicious!)
Delicious hydration candy. Just look at all dat sugar. (taken from brobility.com)
So yeah, if you're dehydrated, Vitamin Water can help re-hydrate you. So could tap water, or diet coke, or Gatorade, or tea, or broth...you get the idea.
Vitamin Water will relieve hangovers
Well, this is where we're getting into bullshit territory. You would think that given humanity's long history of enjoying getting hammered, we'd understand hangovers better. Unfortunately, we don't have a strong grasp on exactly why they happen.
Home remedies abound however, usually consisting of some kind of salty food and water to 're-hydrate' you. We all know that dehydration is the real cause of hangovers, right?
Well, it doesn't seem to be that easy. Many hangover cures have been tried and found wanting. (1,2,3) Dehydration only seems to account for a small fraction of symptoms, such as dry mouth.
But, that's not really my point. This isn't an article about hangover cures.
My point was to draw your attention to one of many health and fitness marketing tactics: hiding the bullshit between some non-bullshit. You can find examples all over the place. A little supplemental help goes a long way toward seeing results on your body, with so many products and supplements out there, choosing the right one can be daunting, consider using D-Bal for bodybuilding. Often you'll see this in nutrition products or supplements:
But you can also find it in different fitness routines:
In this case you have one realistic claim and two bullshit ones. A warm muscle is easier to stretch (4), detoxification is bullshit, and it's doubtful that a hot environment would increase cardiovascular benefits. (5 - an ACE sponsored study that I couldn't find in any database so take it with a grain of salt. Here's a different study showing benefits of training in heat...but it's with cyclists, who undoubtedly have a much different adaptation to their training the hot yogis.)
Or in fitness products, like the Sketcher's "Shape Up" shoes (I encourage you to watch this video and look for the numerous questionable promises), which claim to:
Maximize calorie burn
While Shape-Ups (or literally any other footwear...or just your bare feet) could improve circulation and strengthen muscles - due to the fact that you are exercising while wearing them - they do not significantly change the amount of calories you burn performing a particular exercise. But it's easy to glance over that when you're watching an entire infomercial, isn't it?
Beware of the many claims put forth in advertisements and promotions of health and fitness products. It may be true that a protein powder helps build lean muscle and keep you full, but it probably doesn't keep your blood sugar levels steady or promote alert thinking while somehow at the same time reducing anxiety.
Take every claim one at a time. Many times the real benefits are just the benefits you'd get from eating any kind of food, or doing any kind of exercise, then with your defenses lowered they hit you with a bogus, too-good-to-be-true claim. More than likely you'll take it.
Trust no advertisement. That should have been Deep Throat's advice in the X-files. Perhaps not as pertinent to Mulder, though.
I've made a few additions to the site so I figured I'd give some space to touch on them a bit:
Release of "Let's Sharpen Our Bullshit Detectors!" - finally!
Mouse on over to the sidebar or the "Free Fitness Industry Guidebook" tab to download your copy! No email address, you won't get added to any unwanted newsletters, just click to download.
This one has been a long time in the making and I'm already thinking forward to something much larger. I must have cut out at least 20 pages of material just to trim it down to a reasonable size. In any case, I put a fair amount of time into this one so please let me know what you think once you get through it - and if you enjoyed it pass it along to a friend. I encourage sharing.
Next on the chop block: "The Virgin Diet" by JJ Virgin
Tactful title, don't you think?
This one is going to be a lot of work. I've only gotten through the first 2 chapters so far and there's a lot to learn as well as a lot to critique already.
The premise is that the root of all our weight woes is food intolerance. A lofty claim with a lot of smaller parts that each need to be addressed. I was spoiled by Harper's books since he would provide references to many of his claims - no such luck here. I foresee a lot of time exploring PubMed in my future.
I'll probably be needing to get some outside help on this one, so if you are or know anyone who would be a good source for information on:
'Anti-nutrients' such as gluten and lectin
and would be willing to help out, let's get in touch!
Openings for Online Training
There's another shiny new tab at the top - I'm opening up some time to take on a few more online clients, hooray!
While in the past I've taken clients for almost any goal, I'd really like to start fine-tuning and tailoring my approach. I'm looking for beginner clients - ones who don't have a ton of experience with training and exercise, maybe having never even stepped foot in a gym!
Since it's fairly niche, I'm always looking for other online providers to refer out to if someone who inquires isn't a good match.
In any case, that about wraps up my announcements for now! Let's close out with one of my favorite puppy videos:
Read Part I and Part II of the "Get a Bombshell Bikini Body" review.
Finally down to the LAST segment here of what has become an unexpectedly long review of a very short spread in Cosmo UK.
Before we start reviewing this last segment, I noted that all of the pictures from Anderson's blog have been removed for some reason. So, I took the liberty of searching around for cached pictures and uploaded them to imgur. We'll be focusing on the last page today.
Get Gwyneth Paltrow's Legs
Anderson has often stated that repetitive exercises, like running or biking will 'bulk' your legs. This leads to some confusion because of her usual suggestions. How much repetition is too much by her standards?
After all, she'd like for you to work up to doing 80 reps of each exercise (I'm assuming 80 reps per leg), would that be better or worse than taking 160 steps running? You could obviously argue that the impact from running causes a stronger adaptation in your legs, bulking them - so what about biking? is 160 rotations on a bike more or less likely to bulk than the exercises she gives in this section?
I suppose I'm being overly critical since almost no one is just going to take 160 steps or 160 rotations, but you can question the principle.
In any case, just take a look at some marathon runners to see that running a lot of miles doesn't automatically 'bulk' your legs:
Such bulk. Much muscle. Wow.
And an endurance cyclist for good measure:
Here are the things a person needs to do in order to put massive bulk on their legs:
Eat a caloric surplus - this is a must. If you are eating less calories than you burn throughout the day, your body isn't going to put a lot of resources into building NEW muscle. It must devote all of its energy to keeping your current body functioning. As well, a good portion of said calories need to be protein.
Train in a way that promotes muscle growth - this will typically be lifting weights that are difficult to do in a ~12-20 rep range. Definitely not endurance running, definitely not long distance cycling, and for most all women not lifting heavy shit for less than 10 reps. However, if condition #1 above is not being met, this point doesn't matter.
Get enough sleep - good for a lot of things, like optimizing muscle growth.
Do all those though, and it's still going to be very, very difficult to put on a noticeable amount of muscle if you're not really trying at it. You will never just wake up one day and look like a body builder on accident.
Secret Move #1 - The Frog Cross Leg Lift
"...stimulates the accessory muscles - key to pulling in the larger ones."
Even if working your "accessory" muscles (not sure what this term is supposed to mean) could pull in muscles five times their size, this exercise is working some very large muscle groups, such as your glutes and thighs. This exercise is basically like a lying clamshell followed by a lying hip abduction. Big, powerful muscles being worked here! So again, I ask, WHAT accessory muscles? What defines an accessory muscle?
The second 'secret' move worked the same large muscles as the first. Nothing special here.
Gym / Fridge Friend
Our gym friend is the bike - with the stipulation that you shouldn't "overdo" it. If overdoing it on the bike leads to massive bulk, it would certainly be nice to know what 'overdoing it' actually means. Does it mean you shouldn't bike for more than 30 minutes? That you should keep it under a certain number of rotations per minute? Not to bike up hills or at a higher resistance? Can you do intervals?
My advice - just do what you like. Remember that if you're not following the 3 muscle-building musts outlined above, you won't be able to build much muscle.
Our fridge friends are a random assortment of high fiber foods because,
"High-fibre foods boost metabolism..."
It's possible that foods that are high in fiber take a little more energy to digest than say, pure fat. However just know that the calories of fiber have already been taken out on your food labels.
Go ahead and do the math. 1g carb/protein = 4 calories. 1g fat = 9 calories. So, (1x9) + (25x4) + (2x4) = 117 calories. But the label says 60! Well, 14g of fiber, so: 117-(14x4) = 61. Pretty cool.
As well, I've been unable to find any studies to substantiate the claims of "negative" or "zero" calorie foods like celery. The claim is that they take more energy to digest than they give - haven't been able to find anything to back that up. If you find something, let me know.
In any case, for most people eating fiber is a good plan - it's satiating so you'll end up eating less calories, and it might even help you poop. Woohoo!
The Secret Celebrity Trainers DON'T Want You to Know!
(Yes, that headline is very, very tongue-in cheek)
I've had many criticisms of my criticisms of celebrity trainers. I've been told I'm just jealous and hating on their success, that not everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, that they personally really enjoy their workouts and DVDs, etc, etc.
The only one that really bothers me, though, are comments like "the proof is in the pudding! If her methods don't work, why are all of her clients so small?"
Stick with me here, I'm going to drop a bomb:
Her clients already looked small before they ever even heard of her.
Yes, this is the key to being a successful model or actress - you must already look amazing.
Don't believe me? Anderson's first superstar client was Madonna around 2007. Here is Madonna in 2005 vs. 2010:
Looks about the same to me.
What about some of her other clients? Let's look at Gwyneth Paltrow:
Shakira became a client more recently:
You know the show America's Next Top Model? All the girls on there are gorgeous. They were gorgeous before being models, they'll continue being gorgeous after becoming models regardless of if they pick up a "trainer to the stars" or not.
I'm not trying to discount the hard work any of these ladies probably put in to maintain their figure. But the moral of the story is that Anderson didn't 'make' their bodies. She didn't give them their figure. She's not defying their genetics. I would say that her success is actually because of their genetics.
Thus concludes my first Anderson rant of 2014. Hopefully I won't have to do more - but I probably will.
In our last segment we went over the introduction and first segment of a Cosmo UK spread telling us how to best get a beautiful bangin' bombshell bootylicious bikini bod in a mere two weeks.
Bangin' Burger Bikini Body
If that sounds too good to be true, it's because it is. Let's delve into why in Part II of our investigation:
Get Jennifer Lopez's Abs
"Tracy says plain crunches won't work; some smarter moves are required..."
Here's the deal on exercising to get great abs:
You could be doing the best exercises for abdominal activation in the world, but it wouldn't matter if you don't lose the fat along with increasing the muscle. Now, to be fair, the introduction to this article states you are to be eating 1,200 calories per day - anyone will lose weight on that. (Not that I advocate eating that little) For most women, this would be enough to get closer to the abdominal muscles they want.
But, heavy squats and deadlifts activate various core muscles better than other bodyweight "ab" exercises like a sideplank. (After all, your abs are a big player in keeping you upright during these lifts, as opposed to crumpling over that heavy weight on your back or in your hands) As well, doing certain exercises on an unstable surface doesn't seem to be doing us many favors either.
Here's an important question to ask yourself: What are you trying to accomplish with these ab exercises?
After all, 80 reps of any fancy ab exercise isn't going to build you much muscle. And you're not going to spot-reduce away your belly fat. So what are these abdominal exercises really accomplishing?
Maybe they're burning a few calories. Maybe if you were completely sedentary before, 80 reps would build a little bit of muscle - but probably nothing that would cause a big visible difference.
Here are a few reasons to do abdominal-isolation exercises:
To increase your core strength - so you'd want to stick on the lower end of repetitions if that was your goal.
For aesthetics - if you're at a low body fat percentage already (or plan to be) and want bigger abdominal muscles. You still wouldn't be doing 80 repetitions in a row for this.
Physical therapy - many people who suffer from lower back pain go through a progression of core-strengthening exercises (most all of which involve your abdominals) to return to function. Still not doing 80 reps in a row.
My advice for exercises to get better looking abs are to supplement heavy squats and deadlifts with abdominal isolation exercises that are difficult to complete in the 12-15 rep range.
In any case, there is nothing secret about the two moves presented here. They're just a couple of exercises that activate your abdominals. You could accomplish the same thing with a variety of other moves as well.
Gym Friend / Food Friend
Our gym friend is swimming and the treadmill. Perhaps because you need to be at a caloric deficit to reveal your abs, and exercise can help accomplish that? Don't see much of any other reason.
Our fridge friends are cherries, red grapes and blueberries.
"The chemicals responsible for their colouring are anthocyanins, which, according to research, can burn abdominal fat."
There have been a couple of studies showing that, in obese rats, fed either a very high-fat or very low-fat diet, consumption of blueberries or cherries appear to reduce markers for various metabolic diseases and a decrease in abdominal fat when compared to an equal-calorie control group. (Well, the link about the blueberry study doesn't specify if the control group had an equal-calorie diet, but I'll assume they did.)
Unfortunately, rat metabolism can differ from human metabolism. Truly all we know right now is put quite succinctly in the conclusion of one of the studies:
"In conclusion, in at-risk obese rats fed a high fat diet, physiologically relevant tart cherry consumption reduced several phenotypes of metabolic syndrome and reduced both systemic and local inflammation. Tart cherries may reduce the degree or trajectory of metabolic syndrome, thereby reducing risk for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease."
So, eat cherries and blueberries if you like them - but I wouldn't count on it to make a large difference in your abdominal fat. (But, on the other hand, it might - we really don't know one way or the other!)
Get Jennifer Aniston's Arms
"If I'm working with someone who needs to see some results fast, I will focus on their arms because they really don't take long to show results," Tracy says.
This can be true, especially if you have a client roster like Tracy's - people who are already pretty thin and lean. For most women, the arms and upper body in general don't hold much fat relative to the lower body. (Minus the girls, of course.) So you're already 50% of the way to toned / firm / sculpted / shapely / whatever buzzword you want to use arms. The other 50% is just adding some muscle.
How to get firmer arms: Step 1 - Have little bodyfat Step 2 - Have some muscle
Both of the moves Anderson gives work large muscle groups - exactly what she says will cause bulk.
"Tracy says using small weights in different rotations is the key to great arms."
The only key to 'great' (by which we are to understand, means small with low body fat) arms are Step 1 and Step 2 outlined above. You could accomplish that with no weights and just do bodyweight resistance exercises like push-ups, or you could accomplish it with heavy bench or overhead press. Doing 100 repetitions of overhead press with 3 pound dumbbells is essentially like doing cardio on an ergometer, except less shoulder-friendly.
Gym / Fridge Friend
Our gym friends are the rowing machine or arm bike (the ergometer like I linked above). I'm surprised that Anderson is okay with these, considering she is often quoted as saying running will bulk your legs. So wouldn't an arm bike bulk your arms by that same logic?
Anyway, if you're going at an easy pace, whether or not you use your arms in your cardio doesn't matter that much. The only thing you're looking to accomplish here is burning overall calories - you can't spot reduce arm fat by using them during lifting or cardio. If you're doing high-intensity intervals it's a little different, but for the most part just do what you enjoy if you're looking to get a little extra calorie burn in. I'd suggest walking the dog or playing with the kids!
Our fridge friends are eggs, salmon and lean meat.
"Flabby arms can be due to low testosterone. Good fats in eggs, organic salmon and lean meats can help."
If I'm reading this correctly, Cosmo is admitting that saturated fat is not a 'bad' fat like it has so often been labeled, which is awesome! Yay! (Chicken and eggs contain saturated fat)
Moving on to flabby arms being due to low testosterone - I'm uncertain what they are basing this off of, but my guess is it's off Charles Poliquin's Biosignature method. (Which has a wonderful, in-depth critique here)
How hormones control fat distribution according to the Biosignature Method. (Which bear in mind has a ton of flaws)
In any case, there isn't much clear-cut evidence for low testosterone causing you to store an abnormal amount of fat on your arms. Your best bet based on what we know now is to just lose overall bodyfat and gain muscle in your arms.
However, eating the 'fridge friends' above can absolutely help you with that - they're great sources of protein which can help you build lean muscle as well as keep your calories down. And most importantly, they're delicious.
We'll finally conclude this in Part III. I really only intended this to be one post, but apparently there's a lot to say on a simple two-page spread!
I'm not sure why, but for some reason the use of those kind of annoy me. I spent a little time trying to find all the reasons they're used in the majority of sales copies - and it's mostly just because they get you to keep reading. Interesting how three dots in a row continue to pique our interest and motivate us to keep reading!
Anyway, let's get back on track and go over how we're supposed to get a totally new body in 14 days.
The opening statement
There's not very much that gives a greater appearance of credibility than celebrity endorsements - let alone when you can rattle them off in a list. Being able to claim that you are personally responsible for the bodies our society covets gives Anderson more expert status than any level of education in exercise physiology or biomechanics (which she lacks) ever could.
So what better way to convince you she's the real deal than listing off the famous celebrities she trains? Add a flattering image of Kim Kardashian on the cover and name all of your routines after celebrities and you've got a recipe for the perfect illusion of expertise.
...while you should always exercise your entire body, Tracy believes that everyone should workout slightly differently according to their shape. "We're all like snowflakes, no one has the same body. We all store weight in different areas dependent on where we are muscularly weak," Tracy explains.
Even if you have no experience or knowledge in fitness, you can figure out why that last sentence makes no sense. We store weight dependent on where we are weak? Most of us know that women have weak upper bodies relative to their lower bodies. So if we stored fat where we were weak, wouldn't we be more prone to store fat on our arms, chest and back rather than hips, thighs and butt?
Not to mention Anderson doesn't advocate becoming strong. She's rather well-known around the fitness community for frequently saying things like women shouldn't lift anything heavier than three pounds.
That's not to say you can't get strong with just your bodyweight - just think about how strong gynmasts are! But if you're okay with women doing something like a push-up, plank or handstand (which would put more strain on your arms than 3lb dumbbells), why wouldn't you be okay with them lifting heavier weights?
Here's Anderson lifting something heavier than 3 pounds.
Anyway, I also find it amusing that Anderson says no two bodies are the same, but is here to provide you workouts to give you Kim Kardashian's butt, Jennifer Aniston's arms or Gwenyth Paltrow's legs. She just said your body is not like theirs, so why are you going to to achieve their identical body parts?
Her method works by strengthening the smaller muscle groups so these muscles can pull in the larger ones.
Specifically which 'smaller' muscle groups is she talking about? Either way, your muscles don't really work that way. You're going to have a really tough time using your gracilis without the rest of your larger thigh muscles working in tandem.
Plus, as we'll see below, most of the exercises she gives do work your 'larger' muscle groups.
The intoduction also gives us some basic rules - eating 1,200 calories a day, doing an extra 30 minutes of cardio everyday and building up to doing 80 reps of each exercise. Obviously I don't advocate eating only 1,200 calories a day, but I do like the idea of people going for a nice 30 minute walk everyday. As far as 80 reps...I think I'd lose count.
Get Kim Kardashian's Butt
Let's go over the formatting of this article really quickly. Each section gives two "secret" moves to work a certain body part. Just know, there are no 'secrets' in this industry anymore, really. An exercise either works a certain body part or it doesn't. This move either activates your glutes or it doesn't. You could google "glute exercises" and get hundreds of thousands of free results. Hardly a secret.
Each section also gives a gym friend (some machine or exercise to help work the area) and a food friend - a specific food meant to help you shape the area...somehow.
Her first move is basically a donkey kick with a little extra flair that doesn't add too much to the exercise. The second move is a version of a squat. I'd like to mention that both of these moves would work large muscle groups. The donkey kick uses your glutes, which aren't exactly small. The squat would use your hamstrings, glutes and quads among other things. Once again, all large muscle groups.
Is this enough evidence to show that her 'method' is completely made up?
Secondly, Kim Kardashian has the butt she has because that's where she tends to store fat.
If making a muscle stronger would cause you to store less fat (according to Anderson's logic in the introduction), why would you work that area if you wanted a Kardashian-esque butt?
The things Anderson says just don't add up.
Gym Friend / Food Friend
The gym-friend here is the cross-trainer (aka elliptical). Why? Honestly your guess is as good as mine. I mean there's nothing wrong with it, but why it's given specifically for your butt, I have no idea.
Your food friend is bananas and mangoes. Supposedly they're going to boost blood flow and thus lessen cellulite - Find out blood boost formula reviews.
Let's forget about the blood flow claim for a second. Cellulite simply has to do with the distribution of fat on your body. Women have it much more often than men. It's not a health concern. There is only ONE proven 'treatment' for cellulite. It's losing fat.
Massage to increase blood flow to the area, scrubbing, laser treatment - none of these have been proven to work in reducing the frequency and appearance of cellulite.
It's not that you shouldn't eat bananas and mangoes - hell they may help you lose weight, which would reduce the appearance of cellulite. But you shouldn't eat them just because you hope they'll help you get rid of cottage-cheese thighs.
I was going to review this all in one go but this has gotten a tad bit long. In Part II we'll go over the rest of this article!
Okay, so here we have a 5-minute piece with celebrity trainer David Kirsch. He's here to tell us how to get legs like Heidi Klum or <insert model here>. (So I guess this article should be renamed 'David's Tips for Killer Legs'!) Let's get started:
Katie: "Seriously David! Aren't you just born with A-list legs?"
David: "No. Sexy, tone, long and lean."
I'm not sure what that line is supposed to mean. It sort of seems that he just picked out every buzzword as his opening statement.
"Sexy" is subjective, but I suppose we'll assume that it entails the next three adjectives.
"Tone" could be added to your legs through exercise, true. (Although I loathe that word for a myriad of reasons)
"Long" - now here is something no exercise can do. If you're 5'0 with a long torso, long legs just aren't in the cards for you. You could perhaps make them look longer with certain cuts of shirts or heels, but there's only so much that can be done and there's no exercise routine that can elongate your femur.
"Lean" is something that can be achieved through diet and exercise, true.
Katie: "When clients come to you, David, and they say, 'Really, I want my legs to look better', you don't ever say 'Honey, it's genetic'?"
David: "No...never...there's not a one size fits all. You gotta visualize the legs you want to have. Whether it's Heidi's or Kate's..."
This is another bizarre exchange to analyze. After all, what does "look better" mean? Again, we'll assume that it's to have longer, thinner legs with low body fat. His response of "there's not a one size fits all" right next to the requirement of visualizing what individual's legs you want is rather odd. If there is no one size fits all, then why are you striving for the exact legs of another woman? That sort of sounds like one size fits all to me.
Katie: "Well don't I have to grow a foot or two to have Heidi Klum's legs?" (For reference, Katie is 5'1 and Heidi is 5'9)
David: "No, I've seen you wear crazy shoes. Wear those high heels, you've got the length - and you have...the genetics, you have that shape there."
Here we have direct contradiction #1. Above David said that genetics don't play a role in what kind of legs you have, and here he tells Katie she has the genetics to have Heidi Klum's legs. A bit ridiculous since Heidi is a good 8 inches taller than Katie and also has a habit of wearing crazy high heels.
Katie: "Let me ask you about diet...I mean how important is that to having great legs?"
David: "It's huge. I had a new woman come through today. She's shorter and she's got hips and thicker thighs and she's not working out properly. You know, she's doing a lot of squats and...just like...stop. No squats...no traditional squats. I said...visualize...I want a 'window'...here's your window, right up here, inner thighs. When your legs get too bulky, this space gets lost. So I want a window, I said I want to shave [the butt] and I want to lift it."
Well, first off she asked about diet and somehow this got turned into a conversation about exercise. Anyway, this section sets up for a bit more hilarity a couple of minutes later, but let's go over a few of the things here. First he is implying that squats make your legs too 'bulky' for a thigh gap. Oh wait, did I say thigh gap? Sorry, "window." Other things that can get rid of your thigh gap include genetics. It's been said a million times already, but even the skinniest of girls can manage to lack a thigh gap. Just depends on your anatomy.
Also, for a good example of heavy squatting not making your legs big, see Jennifer Petrosino or Nia Shanks.
Sup guys, just deadlifting almost 3 times my bodyweight. No big deal or anything.
So just to sum up what he just said, Window=Thigh Gap and Squats = Bad, Bulky and never to be done. Got it? We'll be quizzing you on this later.
David: "So if you're eating cheese - I live in Italy, cheese, pasta, bread - I'm like, no. No more dairy. Zero dairy. Because it's going right [to your butt and thighs]."
So...dairy by some magical property goes right to the hips and thighs as opposed to other kinds of foods? Many women may nod their head in agreement because when he says that food goes right to their hips and thighs, well, he's relating to their struggles. You've probably heard women in your life say that <insert 'bad' food here> goes straight to their thighs - maybe you've even said it yourself! But here's all that's happening:
Women tend to gain weight on hips and thighs
Dairy can have a lot of calories in it and things like cheese can add up quickly to a caloric surplus.
Dairy is then associated with going straight to the hips and thighs, even if it doesn't do so more than any other food.
I have a hard time believing that David truly believes what he's saying, but it is possible he is hardcore into Paleo. Who knows.
Katie: "But please don't be obsessed with this thigh gap thing, because a lot of girls are going crazy if they don't have thigh gaps, and they're starting to get eating disorders because of it."
David: "No, I'm not about eating disorders...look I have two twins, 4-year-old twins. And so, it's not ever about...we don't use the word 'diet', we don't use the word 'fat'...it's moving your body. It's doing correct moves. So all these moves, whether it's a single leg deadlift or sumo lunge or reverse crossover, will shape and tone your legs. And you'll get the inner...you'll tighten up...if you go like this and you tighten it up, you're gonna get the window."
I'm actually kinda proud of Katie on this one, I have to admit. I'm sure she wasn't intentionally calling him out on his "window" bullshit, but she inadvertently seemed to put him on the defensive. Just watch the video during this segment, it's really amusing. You have to watch him during this to get the most out of it. He is literally signifying a thigh gap with his hands and almost says "the inner thigh gap" but catches himself. Apparently using the word "window" is better than "thigh gap," and he clearly states that's what he wants for his clients, while somehow at the same time coming across as being anti-thigh gap.
It's probably because he pulled the "I have children" card, though he didn't mention if either of the twins were girls. So he doesn't use the word 'diet' and is anti-eating disorders but his clients aren't allowed to have dairy? "Fat" isn't okay but "bulky" is?
We also have our first claim of exercises being able to spot-reduce areas, but expressed with the word "tighten" instead.
The rest of this video, nothing much of value is said. David does say either the word "tighten" "shave" or "tone" 5 times in about 1 minute though! David takes us through three bodyweight lower body movements. Katie could use a little work on sitting back at the hips, but I suppose if I only had 90 seconds to show someone three exercises I wouldn't worry too much about it either.
David also says that if you want to avoid getting bulky, a big fear for many women, then the answer is to increase your repetitions and only use bodyweight exercises.
I don't see a thigh ga- I mean, window, on a single one of these girls. This is bullshit!
omg so bulky
I have a theory to why so many women fear getting bulky from a training program. It's because of people telling women they should be afraid of getting bulky on a training program.
Let's also point out how all three of the moves involved many of the same muscles as a 'traditional' squat. If a squat made you bulky, then so would these moves.
Katie: "Now what's that good for?"
David: "...Cardio, right? You're gonna get your heart rate up, you're gonna start metabolizing fat so it'll lean you out."
Sort of. The kind of workout you'd get doing all these moves in a row seems like it would be on the higher intensity side of things, as opposed to an easy walk. The higher the intensity, the less percentage of fat you'll use to power the movements, the lower the intensity, the more fat you'll use. However, it's important to bear in mind that the macronutrient you're utilizing (for most regular non-athlete trainees) doesn't matter for overall fat loss. It just comes down to how many calories you burn. (I may have mentioned that a couple of times before...)
In summation we get a good synopsis of the main pieces of misinformation spread by the fitness industry.
"Spot Reduction" being a thing, though apparently now going by the name 'shaving' and 'tightening'.
Mysterious and nonsensical food elimination rules that must be obeyed to lose fat. Dairy, in this case
Use high repetitions and light or no weight to avoid bulking during training.
Use of words like 'tone', 'shape', 'tighten' or 'firm' specifically in regards to women's fitness.
Automatic assumption that 'sexy' equals tall, thin with little muscle or fat.
Claims to be able to defy your own anatomy to obtain certain features such as 'long' legs or a thigh-gap, aka 'window'.
I'm honestly surprised to see something like that come on air so recently. I thought we were beyond things like spot reduction and fear of getting bulky - apparently not.
Just a quick little post today about "trigger" words used to grab our attention.
I've spent the past 3 months collecting keywords on the covers of several popular men's and women's magazines, most with a focus on fitness, use instahard to increase your blood circulation. Here's what really matters to us, according to marketing:
I'll bet you can guess which is which.
A couple of interesting things about magazine covers,
Men's magazines used the word "sex" ONCE. ONE TIME. TOTAL. As you can see, women's magazines were WAY more obsessed with all derivatives of the word.
Men's magazines in general used about 1/2 as many words as women. Don't really know how to read into that one.
An additional observation was that the models on the covers for men's magazines were predominantly athletes or former athletes with a few actors or performers in the mix. Women's magazines had ONE athlete on the cover (Maria Sharapova), the rest were models, actresses and singers. Find information about sexual booster at 10naturalhomeremedies.
Once again, we come back to a pivotal questions: Are marketers simply giving us what we want, or are we being force-fed these desires?
I'm going to take a stab at this and say it's a little bit of both. Here are a few things that are innate in human nature:
Desire for sex, and thus to be sexually appealing.
High social status, to be on level with or above our peers.
Safety for ourselves and our friends and family.
To quickly understand and organize the world around us.
Marketers didn't need to make any of these up - most everyone is born with these desires. Where they come in is evident in the keywords:
Sex appeal for men equals having lots of muscle, low body-fat and to a smaller extent strength. Sex appeal for women equals being as small as possible with very little muscle (but not NO muscle), minimizing signs of aging such as wrinkles, cellulite or thinning / dull hair. These are by far the most popular terms used above.
Social status means owning expensive things, having an advanced career or having stronger 'willpower,' 'work ethic' or knowing things your peers don't which manifests itself in a 'better' body than they have. (Recall I'm focusing on the health and fitness industry here. Obviously for different subjects this will manifest in other ways)
Safety for ourselves, friends and family is signaled with claims to prevent cancer, prevent obesity-related diseases and being overall highly concerned about health.
A quick and easy understanding of the world is shown through words like "secrets," "quickly," "by tonight," "easy," "slash," etc. These are the most commonly used words behind those for sex appeal.
So what can we learn from this? Well here are my takeaways:
Sex appeal can mean so many different things to humans. Our brains can be much more complex than "skinny waist and big boobs," despite what many an internet troll will tell you. A potential mate's desire to have sex with you is not always derived from how conventionally "sexy" you are. But damn if it isn't easy to sell something if you assure someone it will boost their appeal to potential mates. This also ties into a desire for a quick and easy understanding of the world. No cellulite = sex! Big muscles = sex! IT'S THAT EASY!
Who gives a shit about how wealthy or perfect your peers perceive you to be? Yoga pants are yoga pants, ice cubs are ice cubes. You know who you are. I know, that's not a very helpful or scientific observation, but I'm not going to claim to be an expert on our desire for social standing. Someone else out there has probably written something much more insightful. If you know of any, let me know and I'll link it here.
Exploiting this desire is one of my least favorite tactics. I know, cancer is brutal, terrifying and unfair. Its existence causes us pain, fear and anxiety for good reason. Noone wants to suffer from constant pain and take kratom pills to ease it a bit. But how much does the latest article (about how in an observational study based on self-completed questionnaires, researchers found a small correlation between diet coke consumption and breast cancer) ACTUALLY help? Does it REALLY deserve the title "The SECRET Big Pharma doesn't want you to know about stopping cancer in its tracks!" or "Ground-breaking new study finds potential cure for cancer!" ? NO. THIS HELPS NO ONE.
Us humans are fantastic at identifying patterns. Unfortunately, when we see a pattern we also automatically assume it means something significant. So we read about a study that says obesity rates have increased as carbohydrate intake has increased - and now that you think about it, you really don't eat very much meat, just a lot of bread and candy. The brain sees these threads and leads you to conclude carbohydrates = fat. Unfortunately it missed the part where you and the public at large were just increasing your overall caloric intake. Whoops.
Anyway, that's a little bit of a rant from me today. Hope you found those keywords as interesting as I did! I may try to keep this up for a year - I think that would give a better perspective.