All too often, clients obsess over body weight, weighing themselves daily on overpriced, deceptively marketed, home scales. While weight loss may be a good measure of assessment for obese individuals, goals change as one reaches a healthy weight. Body composition, a comparison of ones lean to fat mass, is a better reflection of health. While an obese individual's goal is to lose as much mass as possible, this loss of mass is also at the expense of lean tissues, such as muscle and bone. Once a desired weight, or Body Mass Index, is achieved, its important to reevaluate goals, programming, and diet, shifting the focus to building lean mass, and continuing to burn unwanted body fat. What may have worked to drop a significant amount of pounds, is not going to work for cutting fat and building muscle. Muscle is developed through appropriate doses of resistance training, followed by a proper balance of macronutrients and sleep. Muscle is metabolically active tissue. It requires a lot of calories to develop and a lot to sustain. This increased energy demand to sustain your newly developed muscle mass, taps into fat stores, and devotes consumed calories toward the creation and sustenance of your metabolically active tissues, thereby stripping you of excess body fat. This is a delicate balance, however. Too many calories, and your body will store the excess as fat; to few calories, and your body will shed muscle, conserving calories for vital organ function, thereby decreasing your metabolism. (see Resting Metabolic Rate) To determine your resting metabolic rate, use this formula, or consult with a local dietician to help establish an eating plan that maximizes lean mass development, increases your metabolism, and burns fat! Seek out a fitness professional in your area, and have your body fat measured. Read these steps The Hierarchy of Fatloss, outlined by famed fat loss guru Alwyn Cosgrove, on the most effective activities for developing muscle and burning fat. Hint: Its not cardio!!!!!!!!!!
Pilates is great for creating mind/body awareness, skilled movement, and physical introspection that we do not always spend time with on the gym floor. It is sometime defined as controlled movements through a strong core. Id like to think all training could be described this way. The "long, lean look" they preach is more of a selling point. Long lean muscles are created in the kitchen with your diet, and your genetics. Though I know what everyone means, when they say they want to get "toned," its actually a reflection of the tension or strength your muscles can create. Strength and tension is created using resistances of progressive intensity. Being defined, is a reflection of your body composition, which is 80% diet, some training, and genetics. Using "smaller muscles" is not entirely true either. Muscles used for movement can be categorized as agonists, antagonists, stabilizers, and neutralizers. They are all involved in any body movement, from getting out of a chair, to walking, movements on a Pilates reformer, or bench pressing in the gym. Agonists and antagonists are your main movers, the pushers and pullers, flexors and extensors. They re the muscles you see and become developed, hence their focus in exercise. You also have muscles that aid these movements called stabilizers and neutralizers. Theses muscles stabilize joints throughout your agonist movements and neutralize any unwanted movement elsewhere in the body when performing an exercise. These muscles are often under your superficial muscles, making them harder to visualize. They are also not as voluntary, making it harder for you to recruit and engage, sometimes even involuntary, and do not need to be engaged, i.e. the transverse abdominus. This lack of awareness or ability to engage or recruit has made Pilates and mind/body training popular. However, in Pilates, like any other mode of exercise, all four types of muscle actions are taking place, and no single mode of exercise truly isolates any of these. So to say Pilates works small muscles is not entirely true. In fact, I would argue that the resistance generated during a barbell squat or dead lift recruits more of your smaller stabilizing/neutralizing muscles, than a resistance created on the reformer with resistant springs attached, much like a bench press or pull up, trains the smaller muscles more than pulls on the cadillac, or equivalent pushing movement in Pilates. It does have application for corrective exercise and injury prevention/rehabilitation in addition to traditional resistance training. However, it lacks progressions, scientific periodization, and objective measures of its training protocols. If you continued to use the same resistance for a given exercise, you would plateau and eventually regress, as that stimulus would no longer elicit a response. There s a diminishing return for the same intensity, which is why strength and conditioning applies systematic progressions.
Often yogis, dancers, and individuals that are already genetically lean, long, and flexible, are drawn to Pilates, which allowed for a subcultural attractive look to develop. You don't see overweight Pilates clients, because they are doing something more efficient for fat loss, and an overweight Pilates instructor can not stay in business long. It would be fair to say that many personal trainers are former athletes or fitness enthusiasts that always had good genetics and results too, but there are many trainers with life transforming stories. Because Pilates is fairly new and does not have mass appeal yet, there is little science or research to support any of its benefits. The entire philosophy of Pilates was developed by one German man looking for an alternative way to be healthy through physical activity. It is now passed on from instructor to instructor and has evolved over time. Many fitness professionals, on the other hand, have degrees in exercise science and internationally recognized certifications. Their training and expertise is routed in science, supported by facts and centuries of historical application. I recently had a conversation with a Pilates instructor who mentioned their instruction specifically avoids anatomical terminology, in terms of their branding and imaging. And while some instructors are educated in anatomy and physiology, the focus of Pilates is more about feeling and less about applying real theory. In some ways it made me think of a placebo....
All of us would like to be leaner. Yet many of us do not know the most effective way to utilize and burn our fat stores. First, diet is THE most important factor in body composition. If you are not eating right, all the training in the world will not change your fat percentage. When you are training though, you need to target as much muscle mass at once as possible. Muscle mass is metabolically active, it requires a lot of calories to do work, repair, and sustain itself. To burn the most amount of calories, while in the gym, and increase your resting metabolism outside of the gym, you need to target large muscles. Compound, multi-muscle, multi-joint movements, burn calories. You are genetically predisposed to store fat in specific amounts and areas on your body. For men, the first place we are going to store fat and the last place we are going to lose it, is our stomachs. Women, the first place you are going to store additional calories, and the last place you will lose it, is typically, hips and thighs. You cannot spot reduce these areas. Guys, doing 1000 sit-ups a day will not burn fat around your abdominal area. It may herniate a vertebral disc, but it does not require a lot of energy. You may have the worlds greatest looking six pack under your fat stores, but you will never see it. Women, the abductor, adductor (inner, outer thigh) machine will never tone your thighs the way you want them too. You must burn fat as a whole in your body. To do this you need to use your larger muscles, burn more calories, and set your self up to storing less, by burning more energy than you consume. So what muscles should you be using? Your legs! 70% of the muscle in you body is below your waist. Start using them! If you want a flatter stomach, leaner thighs, or more sculpted arms, start training the most calorically demanding part of your body. Guys, science has proven testosterone release significantly increases as a result of intense lower limb training. If you want to add lean mass everywhere in your body, increase your metabolism, and burn more fat. Hit the legs hard. Ladies, squatting and dead lifting will tone and sculpt your inner/outer thighs, and buttocks, more effectively than any isolated inner outer/thigh movement or hip extension movement. Wouldn't you rather tone those areas, and burn fat at the same time? Training legs alone will yield a leaner, more scultped physique than upper body alone. And no, running does not count as leg training. Check out my blog on Cardio vs Resistance training for more info. So what about the upper body. Guys want a bigger chest and arms, women, toner shoulders and triceps. You dont need to isolate these small muscles. Add a few compound upper limb movements to target these areas and burn calories. Two pressing movements, and two pulling movements within 1 full body weight training routine is a great way to burn calories and target the areas you are looking for. A horizontal and vertical pulling motion will hit your biceps twice within one workout, burn lots of calories, and improve your posture. Ladies, a horizontal and vertical push hits your triceps twice, while burning lots of calories. To conclude: the more muscles you use at once, the more calories you are going to burn, the less fat you will store on your entire body.