CINCINNATI—You’ve likely seen or heard the infomercials: Groups of buff, beaming with vigor adults touting—and sometimes SHOUTING—the benefits of muscle confusion and bursts of extreme exercise.
The costs of these mail-order exercise videos tend to run around $100, with a money-back guarantee if you don’t see results in a given time.
But is there a cost to your body?
"Well it’s definitely not designed for ‘straight-off-the-couch people,’ but most are self-paced and I’ve not seen one patient with an injury related to any of the new video exercise programs,” says Jon Divine, MD, a sports medicine physician with UC Health and head team physician for the University of Cincinnati (UC) Bearcats.
While not endorsing any one program, Divine says he has personally tried portions of a video series which is currently all the rage in extreme exercise videos.
"It seems to be fundamentally sound as an exercise prescription and I’ve used a few of the routines. It’s hard, but not that hard,” says Divine.
The theory behind muscle confusion, he says, is nothing new: "It’s just a fancy term for mixing up activities because once we train in an activity we become more efficient or adapt.”
The diversity of exercises is also a motivational factor, as people tend to get bored with the same routine.
What isn’t likely, however, is that any of these programs will give you back the body you had as a young athlete.
"It’s great marketing to entice the ex-athlete, but to get that level of fitness back would be at the far end of the bell curve ... the rest of us are going to fall somewhere in the middle.”
The key, Divine says, is in knowing your fitness level—it is always recommended to consult a physician before starting a new exercise program—and modifying moves that are a struggle or stopping if something causes pain.
"These programs do offer potential, if you are disciplined enough to stick to them.”