Companies like Reebok and Fila have jumped on the "Band" wagon lately by sewing rubber resistance bands into workout garments like tights, shorts and tops. The theory here is that the bit of extra resistance delivered by the bands provides constant toning any time you move a muscle.
The idea is intriguing, I just wish there was more evidence to support it. The only independent study seems to have been done at the University of Virginia where investigators asked 15 women to take a brisk walk on a treadmill, once while wearing regular workout clothing and then again while wearing toning tights.
When the incline stayed flat and the women were squeezed into toning tights they didn’t burn any more calories than usual. However, when the climb was sufficiently steep, they burned significantly more calories during their tight-wearing stroll – up to 30 percent more than when they wore regular clothing.
The reason for the increased calorie burn at increasing inclines could be that the bands add a slight amount of resistance to the muscles in the front of the hips causing them to work a little harder. The front hip muscles always kick in and work overtime anytime you climb hills so this seems logical.
That said, I don’t recommend basing your workout choices on such a tiny, short duration study. If the workouts were longer the women in tights might have bailed more quickly and this might negate any extra calorie advantage from earlier in the workout. It could be that this sort of training may create muscle imbalances that lead to injuries. And perhaps the amount of resistance needed to make a real calorie burning and toning difference is so great it would throw off movement mechanics, another route to increased injuries. Who can say without more information?
I think there are much simpler and less expensive ways the average person can bump up calorie burn and build strength. For instance, interval training and hill work. These workouts certainly have the science behind them.
Despite the lack of evidence, I do think there is one big reason toning clothing might help you get in better shape. It looks amazing!
I slipped on a pair of Fila tights and I swear it was like I was wearing a Super Hero muscle costume. They molded every fat cell into exactly the right place, then held them there. My thighs looked like steel and any Kardashian would have been proud to own my butt. As for the long sleeve 2XU top, it flattened down all the bumps and bulges to perfection especially around the tummy, back of the arms and shoulder areas so I looked seriously ripped, smooth and lean. When I finally tore myself away from the mirror all I wanted to do was go for a run to show off my goods in public.
Looking this awesome is a real confidence booster. If you’re as vain as I am, sometimes that’s enough to get you into the gym more often.
I recommend buying a size larger than normal in this type of gear. I get that the clothing is supposed to be compressive but true sizes look (and feel) like you're being swallowed by an anaconda. I can't imagine who is wearing the extra smalls.
So who out there has walked a mile in toning tights or cranked through an ab class in one of the tops? Did you feel a difference? Did you look as fab as I did? Or at least as fab as I think I did? Share here or tweet me.