Do Toning Pants Really Work?
“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 enhance the efficiency of the wearer’s workout. But can a pair of pants not only “streamline the figure” but also provide “41 percent more support” and a “50 percent 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 the ACE-sponsored study, researchers 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 2.5 MPH, 3 MPH, and 3.5 MPH 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, ratings of perceived exertion, and muscle activity at the end of each of the five-minute stage.
After analyzing the data, the scientists found that while exercising in the toning capris there was a 2 percent increase in VO2 plus a tiny boost in caloric expenditure (0.09 more calories 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 this data mean? According to the researchers, the slight increase in calorie burn 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 percent increase in muscle workouts, and the result is that this piece of apparel isn’t going to boost the effectiveness of your workouts. However, given the extra compression and tightness that the capris provide, they might help some women feel more comfortable while exercising.
Interested in reading more about the results? Check out the full ACE-sponsored research study!
Jessica Matthews is an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. As a contributor to The Juice Bar, she'll be giving you the scoop on the latest fitness classes, decoding newfangled gym equipment, debunking exercise myths, and more.
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