The days are getting shorter and colder so every year around
this time you probably see an increase in clients that are
returning to the gym and bringing their training indoors
for the winter. The warm weather of summer encourages
more outdoor activities and for enthusiasts, this can include
endurance activities like running, biking and swimming. Over the
past number of years, marathons, half-marathons, long distance
cycling events and triathlons have steadily increased in popularity-
-even with individuals who had never pushed these physical limits
before or weren’t previously fitness enthusiasts. Perhaps this season
is the time to remind our clients about striving for balance with a
well-rounded workout routine that includes both strength training
and endurance exercises.
Extreme endurance activity - too much
of a good thing?
Only recently have studies shown that this move toward extreme
endurance sports may be detrimental to our health. Increased levels
of free radicals, damage to DNA, myocardium and muscles, as well
as drastic hormonal reactions, have all been noticed in those who
engage in this type of long duration exercise for extended periods
of time. There may even be a link between extreme exercise and
abnormal heart rhythms (Wilson, O’Hanlon 2011).
Some researchers are suggesting we rethink how we push our
bodies and the outcomes we hope to achieve. A team of scientists in Britain maintains that engaging in “chronic extreme exercise appears
to cause excessive ‘wear and tear’ on the heart” (O’Keefe, Lavie
2012). They go on to say that regular but moderate exercise may be
the best alternative to maximize health and longevity benefits. This
exercise regimen can and should contain a healthy combination of
both cardio and endurance type training with strength training.
Pilates - the perfect mix
Why not add STOTT PILATES® over a standard weight lifting
program for your clients? The Mayo Clinic (MayoClinic.com) describes
pilates as “a method of exercise that consists of low-impact
flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements”.
It is widely accepted and there is extensive research showing that
resistance training can increase lean muscle mass and bone density.
It can provide improvements to postural realignment, movement
efficiency, joint fitness and appearance. Some studies even tout
enhancements to circulation, digestion, balance, agility, flexibility,
and energy levels. A well-designed pilates program is going to work
a variety of muscles concentrically, eccentrically and isometrically
through a three-dimensional range of motion.
Since one of the most important factors in achieving the desired
gains from a strength training program is performing exercises correctly,
STOTT PILATES’ attention to detail is a definite bonus. The method features a concentrated focus on correct form, movement
efficiency and muscle recruitment patterns, and the controlled systematic
and repetitive movements throughout provide the stimulus
to elicit the early neural responses recognized as gains in a strength
training program. These adaptations relate to the recruitment of
motor units and the learned recruitment of additional units. And
the advantages can be noticed in both a Matwork based program,
or one performed on pilates apparatus like the reformer.
When specifically looking at the core, pilates exercises provide
the constant abdominal stabilization often cited as one of the most
effective ways to activate the deepest layers. Movements that recruit
torso rotation, flexion and stabilization significantly up the
rewards, particularly when performed correctly. This focus on ideal
execution also ensures that accessory muscles are only recruited
when necessary and don’t end up performing a compensatory role.
The ACSM (Odar, 2011) reports that pilates Matwork exercises
performed with a small degree of torso flexion, like the “hundred”,
single leg stretch and obliques, actually recruit the deeper abdominal
muscles, including the transversus abdominis and internal obliques
more effectively than other moves. While this was only credited
with creating the appearance of a flatter abdomen, the functional
benefits of increased endurance for the inner core muscles should
not be overlooked. Strengthening and increasing endurance of
these muscles effectively stabilizes and protects the lumbo-pelvic
region. Other Matwork staples like the “roll up” or ”roll over”, which
require full spinal flexion, place more emphasis on recruiting the
rectus abdominis and external obliques, both of which are crucial
for developing increased force and torque.
Progressively increasing the loads for the duration of a strengthtraining
program is necessary to continue to see results. Traditionally
this would be accomplished by increasing weight, reps and sets.
However, STOTT PILATES takes a slightly different approach. Once
individual moves have been learned and mastered in a Matwork
routine, the intensity of the workout can be increased by adding
external resistance or balance challenges.