Fusion, hardcore, extreme, hybrid – Get fit quick classes come under many different guises, yet they all centre around one core principle: to give your body a health-boost as fast as possible.
But, the question on everyone’s lips is: do they actually work?It’s all very well – promising ’60 minute abs’ or offering advice on how to ‘shed 20 lbs in 30 days’; but do these seemingly miraculous workout plans actually pay off, and if so, are they good for you?
In order to put your mind at rest, we’ve taken a look a look at some of the most popular schemes and compared them against expert knowledge and opinions. Read on to find out more.
Most of these activities involve plyometric exercises, or ‘jump training’, which are based around your muscles exerting high amounts of force in incredibly short bursts.
One of the most popular current trends for rapid fitness is the ab belt, or mechanical toners, which you strap to yourself whilst you exercise (or chill out on the couch). These supposedly ‘ingenious’ belts emit tiny electronic vibrations which pulse through your body and cause your muscles to spasm, tightening them in the process.
Because they don’t actually burn fat, true results can only really be seen when this equipment is used in conjunction with an exercise regime, however it’s advised that if you wear a pacemaker, you should consult a doctor before using an ab belt.
It’s been described as a mix of gymnastics meets Olympic lifting; Crossfit involves a series of increasingly difficult bodyweight drills and plyometric movements, including handstand push ups and weighted crunches.
Since its inception, Crossfit has built up a strong plethora of users due to its group-led, competitive nature, and it even has varied exercises to cater to many fitness levels.
Interval training involves a mix of intense exercise separated by small rest periods and low-intensity activities.
There are plenty of variations of this workout available, though perhaps the most popular of all is the aptly named ‘Insanity Workout’. Over a short period of time, this takes the recent trend of ultra-fast workouts to a whole new level, testing the limits of stamina and conditioning.
Those who attempt this workout are expected to perform high intensity workouts for one hour a day over a 60 day period. Whilst the website showcases plenty of examples of the great results, it also mentions that these types of workouts are definitely not for beginners.
There are several health risks associated with high-intensity workouts:
Most gyms and exercise warn you that if you have a weak heart, or a history of heart conditions, then it’s worth checking with a doctor before carrying out strenuous exercise. There’s no point in putting unnecessary strain on your body, and a healthy heart is vital to good fitness levels.
Those who suffer from joint or knee problems may find it difficult, even painful, to complete certain tasks during workouts. You can always adapt the exercises so they don’t apply as much pressure to certain areas, but it still may be worth consulting a physician to find out if this is really the right exercise for you.
Many of these schemes involve some kind of dieting aspect, which can cause more harm than good if your body is not ready. The same goes for liquid intake. Most people don’t drink enough water as it is, but if you’re suddenly exercising much more than usual, and not eating enough to fuel your new habits, you may find yourself feeling worn out, weary, and in the worst-case-scenario, very dehydrated.
As with any activity, if you overdo any these exercises, chances are you’ll case your body damage. These chances are increased when it comes to plyometric workouts, due to their intense schedules.
Opinions from fitness experts vary when it comes to the benefits and effectiveness of plyometrics. There are those who strongly deny that these exercises have any benefits whatsoever, and argue that plyometric activities are extremely unsafe and the risk of injury far outweighs any potential benefits.
Whilst exercises like CrossFit have been praised for their almost ‘back-to-basic’ workout regimes, they’ve also come under fire for putting too much stress on the body.
In discussing intense workouts without weights, such as the ‘Insanity Workout’, Dr. William J. Kraemer, kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut, had this to say:
“You may lose the weight and look good, but with such extreme catabolic programs, some of the people we are starting to look at are catabolic nightmares,” said Kraemer in an enlightening interview with Carey Goldberg of 90.9 Wbur fame. “They look good because they’re young and can tolerate it, but in reality their measures of catabolism are two, three, four times higher than normal.”
When it comes to exercise physiology, “catabolic” refers to muscles breaking down. With programs that constantly push your limits, your body never gets any real time to recover and build that muscle back up.
Of course, if you regularly exercise, keep your internal chemicals in check and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’ll find yourself becoming naturally fit as time progresses.
So do get fit quick schemes actually work? The short answer is yes, but only if your body is prepared for them.
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Healthy Man via Bigstock
Crossfit Man via Bigstock
Fitness via Bigstock