In this video we discuss EIGHT fitness buzzwords that are common in marketing. Some are completely devoid of meaning, while others have been repeatedly taken out of context and used incorrectly. We provide context and meaning behind them. Enjoy!
01:35 Tone / Toning
02:54 Fat Burn
05:08 Muscle Confusion
13:10 Cleanse / Detox
Alright, in this installment of Fitness Edda, we’re covering fitness buzzwords that need to die. These are popular words you might see in any kind of marketing on the internet, whether it’s an influencer pushing their own program, whether it’s in Men’s or Women’s Health, or any of those magazines. And while some of them are words that have no meaning and absolutely need to die, others are words that have been used so much, they’re so ubiquitous, they’ve lost meaning and we need it back. So hopefully you guys enjoy this one. If you do, give us a like, subscribe, and we’ll do more of this.
First up: tone/toning. It’s a very popular word in women’s health magazines. Toning does not exist. I repeat, it does not exist. You cannot tone a muscle. You can make muscles bigger by training them. You need to do enough work to give enough of a stimulus that your muscles are going to grow. Or you can do nothing and let them atrophy over time and they will get smaller. You can expose the muscle by burning fat through a caloric deficit. Or you can add fat by being in a caloric surplus. In order to get that toned look that everybody wants, you need to have big enough muscles to show and low enough body fat for them to be exposed. hat is it. Build muscle. Lose fat. That’s how you tone.
It is marketing bullshit that usually pushes small weights for lots and lots of repetitions. It’s lightweight that’s not going to do enough to elicit any kind of change whatsoever. Total bullshit. Strength trained normally, eat smartly, and you’ll get that toned look. Our verdict on this word is kill it. Kill it with fire. Get rid of it.
Along those same lines, also very powerful is fat burn. This term is kind of misleading. Typically, it’s associated with exercises that, you know, can do endless amounts of abdominal work and I’m going to get a six pack. No. Spot training does not exist. You cannot do a ton of work to a specific area in the body and lose fat in that spot. It doesn’t work that way. Yet, for the last 40 some odd years, every marketer, every pro, has pushed this. You lose fat only by being in a caloric deficit. That’s it. You have to be burning more calories than you are absorbing. And typically, if you want to have that six-pack, you need to preserve that muscle by lifting weights during your caloric deficit. Make sure you’re getting enough carbs and protein to preserve that muscle.
Frankly, I don’t like the term fat burn anyway. I’m not a big fan of exercise as punishment or exercise to induce a caloric deficit and that’s probably a topic for another time. The best way to induce a caloric deficit is through your nutrition as opposed to exercise. We want people to focus on using exercise to build: build strength, build muscle mass, build confidence, all good things. If you have a negative connotation with exercise and you’re associating it with punishment and losing weight -number one, it makes it a hell of a lot less fun. And number two, there’s kind of the implication that once you’ve burnt off the fat that you wanted to burn off, you’re done. You’re not going to exercise anymore. So, focus more on performance. And building, and less on fat burn. So again, a little bit of a misleading term that uses a marketing play for fat burning routine or you might see it as fat burning supplements or something like that. So, we don’t like it. Verdict. Kill it. Put it right up there with toning. Kill it with fire.
Along the same kind of lines, we get muscle confusion. The more your muscles are confused, the more fat you burn apparently. That’s why it ties into fat burn. What is muscle confusion? I don’t know. Muscles don’t have a brain. The only confusion in this is me. What does muscle confusion mean? To me that’s just random training, doing random stuff. There’s no routine. There’s no rhyme or reason. You’re just doing something random. Get rid of this one.
One of the other ones that we’re seeing is – we want to have diets that reduce inflammation. Inflammation has to be bad. Calories have to be bad too, right? No. Inflammation is natural. Your body has a natural inflammatory response. It is part of training. When I put myself through a hard training session, my body goes through the inflammation process. Once it clears out that inflammation naturally, I have super-compensated is what we call it. In other words, that’s how I get stronger.
The inflammation is the response to training. It is part of your adaptation to that training, and you cannot get stronger or faster or fitter without it. So, anything that we do to blunt your natural inflammation is not great. Again, this is an argument against icing right after a workout. If I go through a heavy strength training session and I immediately start icing things because I’m, you know, I put myself through some serious burn and I want to take that pain away. I am blunting all of the response that my body is creating, and I am not going to get those adaptations.
The only time you really want to start icing immediately after training would be for an athlete that has multiple performances. If you are, say, a baseball player is a great example. If you’re a baseball player and you’re all banged up after a training session or after a game and you’ve got another game later that day, or if it’s a doubleheader, or the next day, yeah, maybe that would be a good idea to ice up and prevent the inflammation so that you’re not sore the next day. But if you are training naturally, hopefully your training program is organized so that you’re not repeating muscle groups unless, you know, if you’re doing them the next day a little bit lighter to try to get some more blood flow and actually clear that inflammation out through movement. That’s a good idea.
But if you’re avoiding that area altogether and using another muscle group, then inflammation is normal. We want it. Anti-inflammatory methods interfere with your adaptation to training. So, we don’t want to get rid of inflammation for the most part.
Where we run into a little bit of trouble is if it’s chronic inflammation. You know, that could be something going on with your gut. If you’re lactose intolerant and you just have to have that slice of cheese and milk before bed and cookies, whatever, ice cream, and your body can’t clear that inflammation because you keep putting stuff in that doesn’t agree with you, then we want to look into ways for mitigating that, whether through dietary intervention or something else.
So again, it’s become a buzzword these days. And our verdict here is we need context for it. It is not necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, it’s a good thing. Don’t fall into the marketing ploys saying that anything you’re eating is anti-inflammatory. They’ve now glommed on to the whole inflammation marketing ploy as well, cleanses and detoxes. They’re nothing new. Juice cleanses have been around for a long time. Your body has natural filters in it to clear things out. Your liver. Your kidneys. Alcohol is technically a poison. Your liver is pretty efficient at getting rid of it within reason and provided that you are drinking in moderation.
You naturally cleanse and detox. It’s part of your body’s ability to survive. Another thing that we see is on these juice cleanses is people want to detox, you know, clearing out the toxins. What toxins? Whenever you ask these people what they’re talking about, they can’t give you an answer. They have no idea what these toxins are. It’s just some nebulous thing that they throw out there to justify selling you products. Where we see this a little bit more, I mentioned if you, you know, for chronic inflammation, if you’re lactose intolerant, you might want to do something. The dietary intervention would be something called an elimination diet. And this would be one instance in which we actually encourage this type of diet which is where you remove a ton of stuff temporarily.
So, a great example of this would be the Whole 30. For 30 days, no grains, no dairy. It needs to last at least two weeks so your body can adapt to it. I’ve recently heard about someone on an elimination diet. They called it a cleanse, and it lasted one week. That is not enough time to clear out your system. I’m glad that it was temporary. Just again – you need a little bit longer. And the whole point of an elimination diet, or something like the Whole 30, is that you slowly start reintroducing things at the end. Maybe you start with some hard cheeses. Hard cheeses are okay. They don’t aggravate you. And actual liquid milk blows up your system. So, you’re not necessarily 100% lactose intolerant. You now know what you can handle and what you can’t.
Same goes for grains. Maybe you start reintroducing white rice which is bleached of just about everything, and it’s pretty much pure carbohydrate. It’s pretty easily digestible, so maybe you start with that, and your body handles it just fine. But then you move on to wild rice and your body freaks out and can’t handle that. Or maybe you start with whole wheat pasta and that’s okay, but traditional pasta is not. So that is the point of an elimination diet, and that is the only context in which I would say that a cleanse or a detox makes sense.
So, our verdict here is stop using the words cleanse or detox. They have become very loaded, and they are not specific enough. Let’s replace that with “I’m on an elimination diet”. Now you’re being specific. You’re not going to trigger me by telling me you’re on a cleanse and having me assume that you’re doing nothing but drinking water with hot sauce and other spices, lemon, and all that, you know, whatever juice cleanses are pushing. . So that is our verdict on this one. Let’s replace it.
Moving on to the CrossFit world. In this world, we hear “everyone who comes into the gym deserves a cue.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people come from other gyms ask, “Can you give me a cue? Can you give me a cue to fix my snatch?” No, no I can’t give cues. Why not? Let’s get into definitions here.
A diagnosis is simply describing what is going wrong. A common example that we see in CrossFit: knees caving in during a squat. If you do a squat and your knees are touching more than Michael Jackson’s ever did, and I just say your knees are caving, that is a diagnosis. It is not useful because there’s no direction associated with it. I’m just giving you information and you’re like, okay, what do I do with that?
If I were to actually coach you, I would tell you that you want to try to screw your feet into the ground. It’s also going to help you use your glutes a little bit more during the concentric portion of the lift, which is when you’re standing up. And it’s going to help you push your hips through and lock out the lift. You’re more likely to be more successful. The more muscle you can recruit into a lift, the better it’s going to be in terms of strength and in terms of muscle building. That would be the coaching that is done outside of your repetitions. The coach has a conversation with you and explains this to you. You now have context for why we want the knees to go out.
And if during a lift you hear a coach yell, “knees, knees, knees!” Or “Knees out!” That is a cue – a callback to and a reminder of the coaching that has already taken place. If there is no coaching to call back to, the cue is completely useless. Lamp. I love lamp. I can do it too. Just throw out random words, no meaning, no context. So, verdict here. Cues are useful DURING THE MOVEMENT. But again, we need to contextualize this. It is a callback to coaching. It is not a substitute for coaching. And unfortunately, it has become such.
The same goes for stimulus. It’s not just in the CrossFit world. Any exercise scientist worth his salt will use this word. Any coach worth his salt will use this word. In the CrossFit world, we see anytime you’re modifying a workout, they tell us to scale to preserve the stimulus of the WOD. The problem with this word is it gets thrown around a lot as a kind of catch-all when people don’t know what the hell they’re making you do.
If I give you a random workout and you’re asking what’s the point of this workout, and I don’t have an answer other than I want to make you sweat and breathe hard, and you want to modify something, and I tell you no because that’s not the stimulus of the workout, I’m using this word incorrectly. It clearly shows I have no freaking idea what the hell I’m talking about. You should turn and run and find someone that does.
I’m kidding. What is a stimulus? It is something that we apply to the system to elicit a response. So, we talked about toning. If you are using a super lightweight for a ton of repetitions, it is so light, you’re not even training muscular stamina with it. It does not provide enough of a stimulus to change your body. So, in defining a stimulus, we need to actually talk about, what are we training?
“We’re going short and heavy today.” That is not a stimulus. If we are working on your ability to exert near-maximal force under metabolic fatigue, that is what we are trying to stimulate. That is the goal of the workout. Therefore, when we scale this workout, we need to make sure that you are adequately fatigued. So, you can’t just say, who knows?
Maybe this information convinces you that we actually know what we’re doing here at Viking. If you want to train with us, please book a free no sweat intro, we’re happy to talk with you about your health and fitness goals, and how we can help.
We’ll see you guys next time.