3 reasons I hate your fitness gadgets!
Technology is awesome! We live in a time when information is at our fingertips. No more endless barroom arguments about the name of that actor that did that guest spot on that one episode of Game of Thrones with all the gratuitous sex scenes and dragons. Nope…Google has got you covered! Lost? No problem….turn on your GPS. Need to know the population of Uzbekistan? No need to dig out that encyclopedia anymore! You can find out in mere moments.
Side notes: Uzbekistan is just damn fun to say and the population is 30,300,446 as of 2016. And the encyclopedia….It’s a book kids. A book of facts. With real paper in it and all! How vintage!! Take one to a craft beer shop near you and read it by candlelight. You’ll be the hippest hipster in all of Hipsterville!
Back to my point. Our gizmos are pretty damn handy, but they aren’t the be all end all of fitness computation.
Here are 3 reasons I think you should dump the fitbit-Iwatch-jawband bracelet thingy. Or at least stop relying on this data to be the sole measure of success.
1: They don’t tell the whole story!
This is reason numero uno because this is my biggest gripe. Some things just can’t be measured. People get so caught up in calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken etc. These are all measurements that have some value, but they don’t measure what happens to your body post workout. Post exercise oxygen consumption, central nervous system stimulation, and neuroendocrine response are all very serious factors in physical adaptation that have very little to do with the calories you burned in that 45 minute session on the elliptical. These are responses to stimuli that have a drastic effect on your body over a longer period of time than the duration of that 45 minute session. Heavy deadlifting paired with box jumps and sprints can’t be sustained for the same amount of time that a pure aerobic workout like jogging can be. Your electronic device will usually read a higher calorie burn from the slower steady state cardio. It doesn’t tell you what happens to your hormones and the CNS after the fact and those are key factors in the progression of strength, endurance, and body composition. There is no unit of measure for this on your device, but I’ll take this kind of work over a 3 mile jog ANY DAY!
2: They aren’t very accurate.
Not all devices are created equal. Generally speaking the ones that are more of a one trick pony (ie: the My Zone Belt) do a better job than the ones that try to do 100 different things. Either way, it is very hard to get all factors right. Your body type, your resting metabolic rate, your level of general physical preparedness, your hydration, your rest, your mental and emotional state, your hormones, your food choices, etc. are all small factors that add up to you having a different response to exercise and intensity than the person right next to you doing exactly the same workout. Even just having a less than optimal contact point to your skin can mean inaccurate readings. I have literally seen 2 people with the same device do the same workout and have readings that are so far apart that you just know something is off.
3: They can slow you down and possibly even hold you back.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been coaching a class and seen someone step back from the activity in progress to look at their device. “Whoa…my heart rate is at 90% max. Better take a break!” Bullshit! I call bullshit! Get to work. Push. Push hard. It’s called intensity and if you don’t have it then you are spinning your wheels. You don’t need a watch to tell you when to take a break. Here is a simple rule: take a break when you FEEL you need to. Push when you FEEL you can. Sometimes…..try pushing when you aren’t certain you can. It’s called getting out of your comfort zone and that is where results are found. People have stopped listening to or being in tune with their bodies. You are capable of way more than you realize. Can you imagine a Crossfit games athlete or an MMA fighter looking at a bracelet mid competition and calling time out??? “Whoa buddy….could ya wait to punch my face for say 30-45 seconds? My heart rate is really up there!”
To sum things up, no you don’t have to ditch your device altogether. I know you paid good money for it AND it’s the new 17.24 S+ model that hasn’t even hit the American market yet. (WOW factor optimized!) Just don’t rely on technology to tell you whether or not you got a worthy workout in. If you lifted super heavy, maxed out reps, were gasping for air, or some reasonable mix of all these factors for a decent duration of time and you truly pushed your limits, then you got shit done! That is all the data you really need. Use your devices to track some calories for the day, but don’t let them determine the value of your workout!
Go forth and lift all the heavy things.
J. Kyle Hopkins.