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Steroids not the only gear in town

Getting big is big business.

Getting big is big business. Photo: James Brickwood

Supplement sellers are telling us we don't need roids to get ripped, bulked, and massive: those 5kg tubs of protein powder and creatine are just the trick for serious muscle builders, they say.

Now exercise equipment manufacturers are getting in the on the act with some bold claims of new 'gear' to get you steroid huge.

The Cooling Glove has been hailed by some as better than steroids, and was developed by biologists at Stanford University. The idea is simple: cool your hand, and increase your strength – massively. Over a six week period during lab trials, a member increased his max pull-ups in one session from 180 to 620.

The science: Increased activity within muscle cells causes the body to heat up, resulting in a weakened body. When you cool the muscle cell during a period of rest, you can essentially end the muscle's state of fatigue and start with renewed energy.

Our Verdict: Wait and see. After all, a single glove caused MJ do to do some unforgettable dance moves and another helped OJ receive an acquittal. Further, Stanford is a reputable university, so let's stay tuned 'til it hits our local gyms and sporting fields.

The Ab Doer Twist ($200) was invented by John Abdo (Ab-do, no joke), and the website claims 3 million were sold around the world. If you haven't seen on the infomercials, The Ab Doer Twist is a chair with a bar at shoulder length, allowing you to 'twist your way into shape'.

The science: The Ab Doer Twist allows you to have a 360 degree ab workout all while providing aerobic training at the same time. Being seated means you're supported, stable, and aligned – allowing for an exhilarating workout in just minutes per day.

Our Verdict: Get fit, while you sit, smile, and watch TV? I don't (nor won't) buy it. And in my view, isolating the abdominals is not the best start for those starting their fitness journey.

The Perfect Pushup Elite ($US30) is a low-tech, rotating handle push up device, allowing the user to perform a push up the same way you throw a punch or press up a dumbbell.

The science: U.S. Navy Seal designed, the rotating handles allow your muscles to rotate to their natural arc, all while making push ups easier on the wrists and elbows. You engage more muscles during a simple push up, which means better results – faster.

Our Verdict: Big fan. I've used (non-rotating) push-up handles for years, and they are the business. The decreased load on the wrists is a plus for beginners and the seriously fit, and the height allows for a full-range of motion push up that even recruits back muscles at the end of the chest's eccentric and start of the concentric phase.

The Tower 200 ($188) is a Body by Jake device. Jake Steinfeld has been a fixture on American infomercials for years, and he also brings us Mario Lopez's The Solution ab workout – marketing at its finest. The Tower is an attach-to-your-door-frame-in-seconds type device with handles and bands.

The Science: There isn't much science detailed on the website. The Tower 200 is about getting 'Bigger, Harder, and Stronger' and working out just like 5-time MMA champ Randy Couture.

Our Verdict: Mixed. The Tower 200 emulates band and cable workouts which have been around for years and are very effective. However, bands might not be the best tool for hypertrophy sessions in getting bigger. And the 'Gotta Door? You Gotta Gym' claim sounds cool, until you're doing your workout and your partner's entrance into the living room sends you flying through your LCD television.

Beetroot juice: We're finally smartening up and noticing that nature provides organic steroids that benefit young and old.

British athlete David Weir's haul of four Paralympic gold medals was powered by a special ingredient that is completely legal, scientifically proven to improve sporting performance, and has even been referred to as 'legal blood doping'.

The Science: Beetroot juice increases blood flow, reducing the oxygen needed by muscles, which enables them to work more efficiently.

Our verdict: Love it. Thanks Mother Nature.

26 comments so far

  • "Over a six week period during lab trials, a member increased his max pull-ups in one session from 180 to 620."


    What on earth did he increase by 344% in a 6-week period?

    Date and time
    October 10, 2012, 12:06PM
    • Most people I see downing protein drinks would be better off just losing weight by going for a brisk walk around the block.

      Date and time
      October 10, 2012, 12:59PM
      • They would be better off taking a brisk walk instead of drinking a protein shake and expecting to lose weight - because that's not what protein shakes do.

        If, however, they were hoping to aid in muscle recovery after a hard gym workout (like I just did), then a protein shake would be the ideal thing to have (like I am right now) and every personal trainer in the world would agree with me.

        Perhaps you should take a brisk walk around the block instead of writing uneducated comments.

        Date and time
        October 11, 2012, 2:23PM
      • Low intensity steady state activity like walking does little to burn fat, also If someone is downing a protein drink odds are their priority is to gain muscle.

        Date and time
        October 11, 2012, 5:03PM
      • Many people downing protein shakes are trying to gain weight/muscle, not lose it. But your right, walking is one of the best ways to lose weight.

        Date and time
        October 12, 2012, 6:07AM
      • My point is, Dan the Man, is that most people drink their protein powders in a belief that somehow it does magic stuff to "burn fat and grow muscle".

        It does basically nothing for the former and, BTW, whether its even necessary to supplement for the latter for keyboard athletes (like you) is also up for grabs.

        Date and time
        October 12, 2012, 1:43PM
    • "The idea is simple: cool your hand, and increase your strength – massively. Over a six week period during lab trials, a member increased his max pull-ups in one session from 180 to 620."

      Even if true, this is an increase in endurance rather than strength.

      Date and time
      October 10, 2012, 1:03PM
      • Sweat, hard work, intensity, = Gains!

        Skippy The Suburban Kangaroo
        Date and time
        October 10, 2012, 1:23PM
        • Great internet article - quick and to the point.
          What about the "Power Tower" - pullups, dips and pushup handles all in one?

          Date and time
          October 10, 2012, 1:27PM
          • Cooling gloves? What a load of crock. There are millions that have achieved great physiques without all this fancy stuff. The following list is what truly works:
            Good food
            Hard training

            No amount of fancy powders, equipment, or steroids will change this. I've seen many gym rats who take all sorts of "gear" both legal and illegal and look terrible due to not following the above points.

            Date and time
            October 10, 2012, 1:33PM

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