Quick Results

By Kristen Castillo

January 4, 2012 5 min read

When Erin Buckingham wanted to tone and sculpt her arms, she chose The Hundred Pushups program, which, she says, "seemed like a great way to challenge" herself "and get results."

She completed the six-week exercise challenge, which required participants to do sets of pushups at least three days a week, each time increasing the number of repetitions. Buckingham often did the program four or five days a week.

"It takes about five minutes tops a day and is so easy to fit into your schedule," she says. "I usually did them before I went to bed, just on my floor. No gym needed."

Buckingham recommends the program, which she still does a few times a week.

"You cannot just go for six weeks, stop and still expect to look the same," she says. "It's a thing that you need to do somewhat consistently."

*Quick Fixes?

Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, quick-result workouts can be tempting.

Aside from The Hundred Pushups program, there are lots of other quick-result programs to consider, including the Hula Hoop Workout, a 30-minute workout in which you try to get fit while having fun twisting and turning with a hula hoop; The Fifty Pull-Ups Challenge, which involves seven weeks of training that results in being able to do 50 pull-ups; and playing Wii Fit Plus video games to help you get in shape while also gaming.

"We are an instant gratification society," says personal trainer Amy Mac. "We want to work hard at the gym today and slip into our skinny jeans tomorrow."

These programs may be intriguing, but fitness experts say that fast rewards are not always a good thing. "You don't get out of shape overnight, so you can't get in shape overnight," explains Jonathan Ross, author of "Abs Revealed" and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that promotes safe and effective exercise.

Ross explains that many quick-result programs have too narrow a focus, which doesn't provide long-lasting results. Mac agrees, saying, "If you don't make fitness a priority in your daily life, you will always find yourself looking for these 'quick fixes.'"

*Benefits and Drawbacks

Quick-result programs may be short-term, but they could spark lasting change. "It can be a stepping stone to greater things," says Ross, who finds some quick programs can be fun, challenging and motivating.

Still, there's the risk of injury from over-exercising a certain muscle or part of the body. For example, a workout that targets the shoulders could strain that area, potentially resulting in injury.

"The end result is usually getting hurt by the second or third day and thinking that exercise is evil," Mac says. "This is unhealthy because overdoing exercise by going too hard and too fast can really cause an injury."

Ross recommends choosing "a small variety of movements that provide a total body response," including exercises that entail pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging and twisting.

"We can't just focus on one movement," he says. "Human movements are complex. We move in different directions."

*Workouts That Work

So what workouts are worth the effort?

"If you are looking for a total body transformation and think you can stick to working out a bunch every day, then P90X is great," says Mac. "If you have the money, then a good personal trainer will help you achieve your specific goals in the least amount of time."

On its website, the American Council on Exercise details the most effective exercises -- including lunges, planks and dips -- to target the body's three "trouble areas": the glutes, abdominals and triceps.

"Train everything from the hips to the pits," says Ross, who reminds clients to add lots of variety to their workout to keep the body and the mind from getting bored.

The most important thing is to keep moving. "In order to get fit, we need to up the activity level," he says.

As for Buckingham, she's happy she mastered The Hundred Pushups: "My arms and shoulders looked great, I felt stronger in my core, and I was proud of myself for completing a challenge that I never would have thought I could have before."

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