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Muscle growth

April 24, 2010

Good morning–it’s going to be a beautiful weekend!

Have you ever been to a pilates class or a sculpting class?  Many exercise enthusiasts have.  I recently went to a pilates class and I found it to be a great workout, I really enjoyed it, but I also concluded that some of the information given by the instructors was just flat-out false.  After reading an article in a popular women’s fitness magazine that stated “this method uses calculated isometric movements to work each muscle, then stretches the muscle out to create long, lean lines–without bulk”, I rolled my eyes yet once again at this popular statement that so many  instructors make.  Let’s look at why this information is not true.

To create “bulk” one must work very, very, very hard.  It’s not as simple as doing a few isometric exercises or taking a pilates class.  Remember Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby?  This actress is normally slim and lithe and she transformed herself into a muscular, strong boxer for the role.  It was an amazing transformation, in my opinion.  She stated that getting buff for this movie was a full-time job, and she often woke up in the middle of the night to consume protein shakes.  To create bulk, one must work a muscle eccentrically (with heavy weight!)-this will create the microtrauma that over time causes the muscle to “grow”.   Henceforth, you must also eat like a bodybuilder, which means consuming large amounts of protein. You must constantly be at it-once she stopped working out like this for the role, her body went back to its normal shape and size.

There are many more examples I can use, but she came to mind because she is normally very slim. She did not create that body by accident.  Hard work!

And I am not sure what “creating a long, lean line” means.  One can stretch the muscles out, for sure.  But create a longer muscle?  You can’t make your muscles longer! They only “appear” to be longer after you’ve worked out for a period of time because you are possibly standing taller, more confident and you are more defined and toned (a word I normally don’t like to use but in this case, I’ll let it slide).

The reason why I was inspired to write about this is because I feel that before an instructor claims something to be true in his or her class, he or she must research it!

Other silly things I’ve heard are:

“This exercise will get rid of cellulite”. (Ha! Yeah right! Nothing gets rid of cellulite, thank you.  Will possibly reduce the appearance but that’s it)

“Don’t go too fast, slow movements please…fast movement will create bulk”.

There is the dreaded work again. Bulk. I’ve been trying to “bulk up” since 14 and I’m not seeing it yet.  Muscle definition is elusive, once you have it, it slips away in a matter of weeks if you aren’t constantly at it. Maybe because it’s virtually impossible unless you make it a full-time job!

Ladies, please don’t get caught into this “I don’t want to bulk up” trap.  To put it simply, it’s really hard work.  You won’t get “longer” if you take pilates, you’ll just get a really good workout that will most likely define your muscles.

Until next time, keep lifting!

Your exercise partner in crime,


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