Toning Pants- Too Good to Be True?

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Research & Studies


Toning Pants- Too Good to Be True?

January 21, 2013, 12:00AM

Achieve amazing in half the time.” That’s the claim Fila USA™ has made regarding its Toning Resistance Tight Capri exercise pants for women, which purportedly enhances the efficiency of the wearer’s workout. But can a pair of pants not only “streamline the figure” but also provide “41% more support” and “50% increase in muscle workouts” as Fila claims? As the Workout Watchdog®, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) enlisted the exercise scientists at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to evaluate these claims and to get the facts about this particular piece of fitness apparel.

For this ACE-sponsored research study, the researchers from the University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science and Physical Therapy, led by John Pocari, Ph.D. and Alexa Kleingartner, M.S., recruited 16 healthy female volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 24 years old, and each subject was fitted with a pair of Fila Toning Resistance Capris prior to testing. During testing, each subject walked on a level treadmill at 2.5mph, 3.0mph, and 3.5mph for five minutes at each speed. This sequence was repeated twice- once while wearing the toning capris and once while wearing regular athletic shorts. Researchers monitored heart rate, VO2 and ratings of perceived exertion as well as measured muscle activity with EMG for the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris and vastus lateralis at the end of each of the 5 minute stage.

After analyzing the data, it was found that while exercising in the toning capris there was a 2% increase in VO2 plus a small boost in caloric expenditure (0.09 more Kcal per minute), however there was no significant difference in terms of heart rate. The subjects did report significantly higher ratings of exertion while wearing the toning capris, yet researchers found no significant differences in terms of muscle activation.

So what does all of that data mean? According to Dr. Pocari, the slight increase in calorie burn the researchers noted among the subjects wearing Fila’s toning capris is like “burning off the equivalent of half a single peanut M&M.” Couple that with a lack of scientific data to support the claims of a 50% increase in muscle workouts and the result is this piece of apparel isn’t going to make a difference in terms of increasing the effectiveness of your workouts. However, given the extra compression and tightness that the capris provide, they may offer some psychological benefits, as they make help some women to feel more comfortable while working out given the look and fit of the toning capris.

At the end of the day the old saying seems to still ring through- if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. So while the toning capris may not “achieve amazing in half the time” as promised, they may help you to look and feel your best while you’re breaking a sweat, and perhaps motivate you to continue to stick with your fitness pursuits.


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