Sorry. I shouldn’t have given this article such a title.

However, it was done to make a point.

How many of you got really excited because you thought yet again, that the ultimate fat loss solution had finally arrived?

The point of this article is not to try and find some magic solution but to explain why you can spend your life chasing your tail trying to find one single entity which will magically result in you having the body of your dreams in a matter of days.

I have a genuine dislike for people who make millions by selling products which have no end goal other than to make a profit. This applies to pills, magazines, physical goods or anything else which promises a lot but delivers nothing.

If the truth be told, this article could be a book in itself! The book would never be finished though because until people like you start searching for realistic, but highly effective ways to lose body fat through mental control and physical exertion, the market for such products will remain.

So here we have it, the most popular, and likely most ineffective magic fat loss solutions!

The power plate:

The theory behind the power plate is that the vibrations created by the machine cause stimulation to your muscles resulting in many rapid contractions. The story goes that this causes the muscles to become toned and also helps lose weight and increase strength.

The marketers claim all sorts of benefits from those mentioned above to increased flexibility and core strength to better coordination.

My response:

1) In terms of getting a toned stomach and tight legs it doesn’t matter how much you electrify a muscle into stimulating. If you don’t follow a solid nutrition plan you will not minimise your body fat thus not making your jelly belly look any better!

2) If this type of vibration is the solution to strength and fat loss, why isn’t every Tube / Subway rider perfectly toned. Surely an hour on that every morning and every evening would work wonders! What about the pneumatic drill operators who get vibrated for hours each day and yet are still fat!

3) The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal (2003), which is quoted as a source of scientific evidence on the Power Plate marketing page, concluded “Whole body vibration has the potential to induce strength gain in the knee extensors of previously untrained females to the same extent as resistance training at moderate intensity”

Moderate intensity doesn’t get results therefore matching this is no great success!

Also, pretty much anything that got the muscles working in some form would result in strength gains in ‘previously untrained’ females. It is highly unlikely that it will have any effect on anyone who is even slightly experienced with resistance exercise.

Finally on this point, the research compares dynamic exercises on the plate to machine based exercises with weights. Dynamic, functional movements always lead to greater strength gains (and fat loss) over typical gym-based which is why they form the basis of the Storm Force Fitness programs.

4) I will always, always promote fat loss as part of a total approach to fitness. Exercise hard and eat well and you will achieve massive gains in strength, muscle tone, flexibility, and fat loss. I cannot understand people who want to lose fat without wanting to feel a million times better and live a much more fulfilling life by improving all areas of their fitness at the same time.

5) You can only achieve a certain level of strength gain with bodyweight. Beyond this point, there must be an involvement of weights in one form or another whether it be barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells or ideally a combination.

6) Where’s the challenge in standing on a vibrating platform?!

It could be argued that these machines could enhance the effectiveness of your warm up in the gym. However, unless you play for a pro-sports team the chances are you won’t have one when you go to play football or tennis so learn to mobilise your joints and warm up your muscles in a functional manner you can apply in any situation.

Do yourself a favour and find out how to lose weight whilst dramatically improving your all-round fitness and athletic ability rather than trying to take the lazy route. You’ll be a much better person physically and mentally as a result.

Vibrating abs machines:

The theory behind the vibrating abs machines such as Slendertone is very similar to that of the power plate. Apparently the electrical pulses stimulate muscle contractions which will give you an awesome six-pack!

The reasons why this is rubbish are covered in the Power Plate discussion above.

However, there are other issues to consider.

  1. Even if it did work (which it doesn’t) it does nothing to build strength and stability in the core muscles
  2. It is claimed that the use of Slendertone is similar to doing hundreds of crunches everyday. This probably is true because doing hundreds of crunches will not give you a firm stomach. Such activity is pointless unless you are entering a crunching-endurance competition!
  3. The key to improved physical looks and performance is progressive overload where you continually add more weight, vary the reps performed, the rest time etc. This is impossible with a machine of this nature
  4. (10 June 2008) claims that the TVA (Transverse Abdominal Muscle) is very difficult to reach with conventional exercise. This is an outright lie as we achieve it in Storm Force Abs by utilising certain breathing and bracing techniques to give you rock-hard core muscles before progressing to the development of the ‘six pack’.
  5. Getting a six pack is impossible without addressing nutrition and getting your body fat down to around 10{70bf3f0de345653d44762dc26ff670ad140dd79bcbd9067b668b28c6672699c3} if you’re male and around 17{70bf3f0de345653d44762dc26ff670ad140dd79bcbd9067b668b28c6672699c3} if you’re female.

Again, don’t believe that a truly attractive body can be achieved with anything but hard work and sound nutrition!

Ab rollers:

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about with ab rollers, they look like small cradles in which you lie with your head on the pad and hold on to the frame of the roller above your face. The idea is then to use the frame to help you perform ab crunches.

The idea is that it can help those unable to perform crunches without assistance. As with many fitness devices, all this serves to achieve is a solution to the problem (and a bad solution at that) rather than addressing the cause.

The cause is weak abdominal and core muscles meaning the individual is unable to generate the strength to pull themselves into the crunch position and control their torso on the way down.

This is exactly why yo must go through various stages of core and abdominal development so you can address your weak abdominal and core muscles rather than trying to cheat. In the short, medium and long-term the results in terms of increased strength, injury prevention and looks will be much better!

The use of the arms in this movement is akin to putting a motor on your bicycle and wondering why you’re not getting any fitter! I bet you don’t take a zimmer frame on the treadmill or wear armbands when you swim.

Why? Because you have taken the time (at some stage in your life) to learn how to do it properly.

Another key point on ab rollers is the limits on progress (not that any real success can be made anyway). As mentioned in the discussions on the magic, electro-machines, this exercise has sever limitations in that it can’t be progressed other than to do more and more reps. This will help increase the supported crunching endurance of your abs but do nothing to improve their appearance.

Finlly, the nature of the exercise encourages the body into that forward curving posture. As most people will have poor posture from sitting at a desk and driving all day, this will only serve to compound their problem and encourage back pain and other postural complications.

Nintendo Wii Fit:

As soon as I heard of this invention I knew the world was asking for trouble. I also knew that unfortunately it would sell very well.

For those who don’t know, the Wii Fit is essentially a series of computer games which supposedly helps your entire family to lose weight. It includes bodyweight exercises and stretching amongst other games and also monitors your Body Mass Index and gives targets for you to aim for.

The problems:

1) It’s another invention that treats the problem and not the underlying cause. In this case it’s the slippery slope Britain and the rest of modern society is hurtling down. The use of computers and other technology are largely responsible for the new found laziness and inactivity we see everywhere. Whatever happened to kids playing in the park for 3 or 4 hours every weekend?

2) The Wii draws people away from real-life exercise in the fresh air which provides untold benefits along with the activity itself.

3) The old bodyweight argument again. There is only so much you can achieve with bodyweight in terms of strength gains and improving your physical appearance.

4) Because it is a computer game, people assume they can play it all they want. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as the risk of repetitive strain is great in the same way as playing any sport on a regular basis. This will mainly consist of wrist, elbow and shoulder strains from ‘throwing balls’ or ‘boxing’ with no specific tuition or strengthening of muscles such as the rotator cuff which helps stabilise and protect the shoulder during such movements. The danger is magnified by the fact that there is even less chance of players warming up properly.

5) The player can’t achieve anywhere near the required level of intensity for real fitness gains and fat loss when they are essentially standing on the spot.

6) Do you really want to run on the spot looking at a screen for 30 minutes? Not only is this very boring but you cannot achieve the right biomechanics and elevated calorie burn achieved through sprinting or even fast running intervals.

7) The marketers at Nintendo promote the fact that it helps address postural issues. However, there are no exercises to counterbalance the effects of, and muscles worked during, press ups. How is this balanced? It can lead only to further hunchback postures!

8) On a psychological point, how do you think a 10 year old girl will react when the computer tells her she is overweight because of her elevated BMI?

Get outside! Swing some kettlebells! Sprint in the park! Forget computers for true fitness and fat loss!

Gym machines:

It makes me laugh when people come into our personal training studio in Nottingham and seem confused about why we have virtually no machines.

Unfortunately it has become accepted that fitness venues must contain leg presses, leg extensions, pec decs etc.

These machines are useful for absolutely nothing unless you are looking to become a pro bodybuilder and you need to isolate individual muscles in order to produce perfect symmetry for when you’re prancing on stage in your bathing suit.

Here’s why fixed machines are vastly inferior to free weights for everything from strength gains to fat loss:

1) The purpose of these machines is to isolate muscles. The less muscles you use at one time, the less calories you burn during and after the session. If you are looking for muscle growth consider this. The chances are if you have reached this article you are not a bodybuilder but are looking for maximum fat loss and an attractive but functional body in minimal time. This can only be achieved using full body movements using free weights.

2) Nearly all of these machines involve sitting down. Your body is designed to move freely. It wants to run, jump, bend, lift, and twist. If you want your body to perform well in daily activities and sport you can’t train it sitting down!

3) If you want to increase your strength you need to learn to use your body as one, solid unit. This is known as having a strong, coordinated kinetic chain which works well as one. If you treat your muscles as individual entities, your body will remain only as strong as its weakest link.

4) The Smith Machine is a popular tool for those looking to bench press and squat more. However, it doesn’t allow your body to move in the arc of motion it would do naturally thus affecting your biomechanics and putting you at risk of injury.

5) Steppers and treadmills are also highly popular. Whilst the treadmill can be a great tool in winter, like the stepper it is often abused. Next time you’re in the gym, check how many people hold on to the support rails on the cardio machines. This prevents you from using your natural motion and rhythm and will severely limit progress. Also it often results in shocking posture for the duration of the session. I used to watch a guy put the incline right up on the treadmill then hold on to the front handrail and lean back. This effectively put him back at the angle he would have been at had he stayed flat! All he achieved was giving his arms a good workout having to hang on!

Hopefully this article will stop you from falling for any more expensive, yet largely useless ‘fitness tools’. There are many more marketing scams out there in addition to those mentioned so be alert!

Stick to free weights and your body’s natural movements and you will progress.


The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal, 2003, vol. 35, No.6