The other night I saw an infomercial for the Bowflex Treadclimber TC5000 which is like a combination of a treadmill and elliptical machine in one that helps reduce joint stress and claims to burn 2 x the calories than on a regular treadmill due to their 3-in 1-technology (which I’m still not sure what that means but it sounds pretty cool doesn’t it?) and that you’ll get more results with less effort in less time…
Now, I’ll admit that I’m all for time efficient workouts that produce better results than traditional high volume training. However, at times during the infomercial I noticed a block of fine print that quickly flashed on screen.
The fine print is so small you practically need a telescope to read it and the text is white which they cleverly blend into a white background making it barely legible…Also, that fine print is on and off the screen in the blink of an eye so unless you’re one hell of an amazing speed reader with the vision of the bionic man you probably won’t even notice it.
But, thanks to the creation of the DVR I was able to take a closer look and I was shocked at what the fine print said…
So, here’s a summary of the Bowflex Treadclimber TC5000 fine print facts:
Fact #1: Studies were performed with the Treadclimber at 3.2 mph and at level 12 intensity versus a regular treadmill at 6.2 mph and 0% incline
Now, I’ve never actually used a Bowflex Treadclimber but I have used an elliptical trainer at a level 12 intensity and I’m willing to bet that level 12 intensity on the Treadclimber is pretty darn difficult to maintain just as it’s difficult for most people to maintain a 6.2 mph pace on a treadmill for 30-60 minutes.
While the Treadclimber allows you to move at a comfortable walking pace the reality is that you are simply substituting speed for resistance. This is the same thing you can do using an elliptical machine.
Fact #2: The Treadclimber infomercial shows a chart revealing you burn 321 calories on the Treadclimber (at 3.2 mph and level 12) over a 30-minute period which is more than on the treadmill (at 6.2 mph and 0% incline).
However, I’m curious as to how they came up with this number since calorie expenditure is largely dependent upon how much you weigh.
Another thing to consider is that at most only 60% of those calories burned actually come from fat.
So, if we do some quick math we can see that out of 321 calories burned x 60% of those calories come from fat = 186 calories from fat burned…
1 lb of fat = 3,500 calories
This means that you would have to perform about 9 hours on the Treadclimber just to burn 1 measly pound of fat…Coincidentally, this is about the same amount of time it would take to burn 1 lb of fat using a treadmill
Maybe it’s just me but trading 9 hours for 1 lb of fat just doesn’t seem like it backs up their claim of more results with less effort in less time.
Fact #3: The participants in the Treadclimber study lost a significant amount of body weight and body fat.
However, the participants used the meal plan that comes with the Treadclimber which goes to show that you cannot achieve your weight loss goals without controlling your calorie intake.
And, since we now know that it takes about 9 hours to burn 1 lb of fat using the Treadclimber this suggests that a large contributor to the weight and body fat loss is due to proper diet.
The bottom line is that the Bowflex Treadclimber has some advantages versus a regular treadmill (and a hefty price tag) but when it comes to losing weight and reducing body fat cardio just isn’t a very effective option.
While the Treadclimber may burn 2 x the calories versus the treadmill it’s still only slightly more than 5% of a pound of fat for 30 minutes!
The 2 most important factors for weight loss and body fat reduction are: (1) diet and (2) resistance training and you can achieve your goals without fad diets or expensive over-hyped fitness equipment.
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