How you exercise is just as important as exercise itself. Pilates workouts build elongated, sculpted muscles. Incorporate Pilates to balance muscle recruitment as a part of your overall health related fitness.
Types of Muscle Activation
Most muscles are composed of either tonic or phasic muscle fibers. This distinction is important because during exercise the different fibers perform differently.
Tonic muscles are slow-twitch muscles. They have a low speed of contraction, recruit (or flex) at lower loads of resistance and fatigue slowly. An example of tonic muscles are your deep transverse abdominal muscles. Phasic muscles are fast-twitch. They have a faster speed of contraction, recruit at a higher load of resistance and fatigue quickly. An example of phasic muscles are your powerful quads! The body needs both types of muscle fibers to develop whole body movement and balanced muscle recruitment.
Tonic muscle fibers lay closer to the bone and source oxygen for energy. Cellular respiration within the muscles’s mitochondria converts your fat to source this oxygen and produce long lasting energy. It’s the mighty mitochondria.
Activation of this fat-burning ability found within the tonic muscles fibers elongates and tones your limbs and sculpts your core. Moreover it improves yours body’s circulation, hormone balance, joint health and brain function.
Are you the right kind of active?
Unfortunately, prevalent in all of our lives today are varying levels of inactivity coupled with excessive stress and poor diet. These realities can restrict our bodies ability to achieve optimal muscle function and recruitment. Excessive stress on our muscles can actually change tonic muscle fibers to be phasic, bulking up your muscle and making movement stiff. And important to note, it inhibits the mitochondria’s fat-burning ability.
To clarify, while tonic muscles are oxygen fed, phasic muscles, are glucose fed. Glucose breaks down faster in the body. It quickly feeds the phasic muscle fibers required for rapid movement and high contraction force. The level of effort and intensity of your workout directly influences which fibers of your muscles are fed. In conclusion, whether you are inactive or excessively active, exclusively feeding your glucose hungry phasic muscles does not burn fat!
Balancing your tonic and phasic muscle activation aids in diminishing fat deposits on your hips, thighs, abdomen, and even the visceral fat around your organs, and builds elongated, sculpted muscles.
How Does Pilates Help?
Prolonged exercise at an easy to moderate level of exertion over a long period of time recruits tonic muscles which convert fat to energy.
This is where Pilates steps in! Each Pilates exercise builds upon the recruitment of slow-twitch tonic muscle adding fast-twitch phasic recruitment on top.
Take for example the Pilates Movement Principle Lumbopelvic Stability. It is a first step in a progressive system of functional skill development, coordinating your skeletal, muscular and fascial systems. A pre-exercise like legs in table top quickly illustrates if you’re able to hold your pelvis still or not. The exercise recruits your Inner Unit tonic muscles to hold your pelvis still and work against gravity.
The Inner Unit tonic muscles include your Transversus Abdominus, Lumbar Multifidi, muscles of the Pelvic Floors and Diaphragm.
Add on to that any progression of Toe Taps, Single Leg Footwork, Supine Arm Work or even The Hundreds. Now you’ve recruited your Outer Unit phasic muscle fibers to handle the heavier resistance.
The Outer Unit phasic phasic muscles: Rectus Abdominus, Obliques, Adductors, Glutes, Lats and Erector Spinae.
Tonic and phasic muscles are flexing together, building strength and burning fat!
This is just one example of the way the Pilates repertoire naturally weaves together tonic and phasic muscle activation to boost your body’s ability to metabolize excess storage of fat and build elongated, toned muscles. Build a better body and a healthy one, with Pilates. The flow of the movements affording you an easy to moderate level of exertion over an extended period of time. The centering teaches tonic muscle, or inner unit, recruitment with that of phasic, or outer unit, recruitment. And relaxation provides pace in our lives and outlet for the compounded stress; physical, mental and emotional.
The Take Away
A toned body exhibits lean body tissue that has been elongated and sculpted through balanced tonic and phasic muscle recruitment. Pilates work simultaneously supports both of the body’s muscles types and balanced development while training in a variety of spatial orientations and spinal configurations.
Regenerate your soft tissue, increase your body’s ability to burn fat, and significantly decrease stress hormones to create balance in your body. There has never been a more apt time to follow Pilates’ workouts to build elongated, sculpted muscles.