Tag Archive | muscle

Is your scale weighing you down?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people (and ladies, it’s usually us) step on the scale at the gym and see their face overcome with defeat and shame. I want to run over to them and tell them to focus instead on inches lost instead of pounds; on strength gained instead of lost; and on energy and happiness that comes from exercise instead of the lethargy and depression that comes from being sedentary.

weight on scaleSource

Has this ever happened to you: You step on the scale one week to see you’ve lost 2 pounds (hooray!)…only to weigh in the next week and realize you’ve gained them both back (ugh)? It happens to the best of us, but the reality is that the number on the scale doesn’t mean a whole lot about your physical fitness, and it doesn’t mean jack SQUAT about your self worth.

number-on-a-scale    Source

 

The worst is when I hear someone say something like, “I gained 2 pounds since yesterday! What’s wrong with me??” Listen, it takes an EXCESS 3500 calories to gain one pound. So unless you ate an additional 7000 calories on top of what you normally ate, you didn’t truly gain a pound. I mean, I could weigh myself…step off the scale and drink a 16 oz water (zero calories mind you)…and step right back on that same scale and weigh one pound more. Would you believe I “gained a pound” right before your eyes in less than 5 minutes? Yeah, I thought so.

I can tell you from my own past experience that when being overly focused on weight and the number on that scale, I enjoyed working out less and actually saw less progress! Now, on the rare occasions that I weigh myself just to check in, I actually mildly panic if the number dips because I’m like, “oh no!! I better not be losing muscle!!”  Plus, did you know a pound of muscle takes up far LESS SPACE than a pound of fat. What does that mean? You could be getting smaller and tighter and not weigh an ounce less!  I know, right? Don’t you feel enlightened?

fat-VS-muscle Source

Do yourself a favor…break up with your scale for a while and instead, focus on how you feel. How’s your energy level?  Do you feel challenged with your physical activity level? Are you eating enough? How are your clothes fitting? Do you feel happy?

I can tell you that if you’ve ever felt like you were a slave to those numbers on the scale in front of you, giving yourself an opportunity to experiment with being free from that could open up a whole new way of looking at things. I may be completely wrong and full of boloney, but then again, what if I’m right 😉

Ciao for now,

-E

 

 

Do You Even S T R E T C H ?

Alright, confession time…how often do you hard gainers, iron pumpers, and cross fitters actually stretch? I mean, consistently and thoroughly stretch?

If you’re like me, your answer will be “meh, not much.” And in my own head, I’ve kind of rationalized this by coming up with a myriad of excuses. For example: I don’t have time; I don’t feel like taking time; It’s boring; I forget; How much difference will it really make with my workouts?; etc…

What if stretching could actually help you gain more muscle?? That’s right! I recently read an article, How Stretching Can Explode Your Muscle Growth by Nick Nilsson, VP, BetterU, Inc, which mentions the critical role of stretching in building muscle.

Now, I learned in my massage therapy training that every muscle in your body is enclosed by tough connective tissue known as fascia. And it’s pretty common knowledge that fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body. BUT, Nilsson proposes, your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth.

FASCIASource

“Because fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within. The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia that many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.

Using the pillowcase example above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand to fill that new space.”

Anyone else having the same lightbulb moment that I had?

Nilsson goes on to mention that there are actually ideal conditions in which to stretch your muscles so that you can maximize fascial stretch and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

“The key to effective fascial stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.”

 fascia stretchSource

You’ll know you are engaging the fascia when you feel a powerful pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it. Just be careful not to stretch so hard that you hurt yourself…you should not feel any sharp pain, just a steady pull.

You can find instructions for stretching at: http://www.fitstep.com/Library/Info/Stretching1.htm

“Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren’t pumped, just stretch normally.”

Ciao for now,

-E