Can You Add Muscle With VR Fitness Apps?

Virtual reality platforms are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s fun to see fitness games popping up.

So can you improve strength and add muscle with VR workouts?

The answer is “not really.”

First, anything that gets you moving is great. So if you throw on a Meta Quest 3 or PlayStation headset to dance, box or work out, you’ll be further ahead than if you just park on the couch without moving. 

And you can definitely work up a sweat in some games, such as “Pistol Whip,” “Beat Saber” and “Dance Central.” If you search online, some people who are trying to move more report that they’ll play for quite a while without even realizing it, which helps them increase their activity levels.

Beyond that, you can find all sorts of fitness programs, such as “Supernatural VR,” “FitXR,” “VZfit,” “Holofit,” “Body Combat” and more. Some of them even allow you to sync up an elliptical machine, bike or rower. 

These games will get you moving for sure, but if you play them you’ll notice they’re all about general movement and cardiovascular fitness—they make your heart pound and they get you breathing hard.

That’s great—as long as you remember that cardiovascular fitness—cardio—is just one part of overall fitness. 

Beyond Cardio

There are many elements of fitness—agility, balance, accuracy, stamina, etc.—and VR workouts can address some of them. But VR falls short when it comes to strength and power.

Strength is how much force your muscles can exert, and power is the ability to produce force fast. To improve both elements, you need specific and increasing amounts of resistance.

That’s why gyms are full of weight machines, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and other implements. To build strength and power, your muscles need to work against loads: You’ll need to lift objects for about 3-8 reps. Strength training requires heavier loads, and power training requires more speed with lighter but still significant loads.

Regular lifting, good nutrition and appropriate recovery generally combine to produce increases in muscle mass.

VR just can’t offer the resistance most people need to add muscle.

That’s not to say you can’t build any strength at all with a headset. If you’re just starting to exercise, you can expect to gain a little strength in the VR world. 

But there’s a limit to what you can do without external resistance. In VR fitness, you’re more likely to build some muscular endurance by moving your body only. You’re not going to build a lot of strength or add a lot of muscle.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy VR workouts. Do whatever gets you moving! 

But if you want to add muscle, gain strength or even preserve your independence as you age, weights are the answer. 

We’re experts with weight training, and we’d be happy to help you learn how to lift. We’ll even review your fitness routine outside the gym, including VR workouts, and tell you how we can improve your program to help you accomplish your goals faster.

To book an appointment to talk to us, click here. We’ll even meet you online if you want to jump on a call after a VR workout!

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