Thursday, October 14, 2010

Women and Weights

Once in a while I am asked by my female clients about the effectiveness of Weight-Watchers and similar programs. Although, I do believe some diet programs provide a necessary structure to evaluate food intake and somehow control one's eating habits; I don't believe they can sustain without an EFFECTIVE weight-training program.

Recently, I came across a study where the effects of Weight-Watchers and simply joining a gym were monitored. The female participants lost some abdominal fat while participating in 12-week Weight-Watchers program, but body fat composition didn't change. The females that exercised in a gym were given a Gold's Gym pass for 12 weeks and followed a weight-training and cardiovascular program based on the basic principles of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). 

That should make your eyebrow lift...

The conclusion of the study found that both groups lost some weight* (not only subcutaneous fat), but some fat free mass was lost also. The study relies heavily on dietary modifications--which is necessary for weight-loss--however, the study fails to detail specifications regarding the exercise programming. With a loss of fat free mass (which constitutes an overall loss in total body weight), a measure of training intensity is missing.We can variably assume that "fat free" mass represents lean body mass...or what we call muscle. Some water content can constitute as fat free mass; however in this day in age, women need to be exposed to weight-lifting.

In the study, the  ACSM basic guidelines were stressed and the "Express Line" machine are used in the exercise programming. It is clear to me that the participants did not engage in overly challenging weight-training, but just basic protocol to supplement the dietary modifications for the study. I believe that if a higher intensity was used (increased volume = weights), muscle mass would be increased as well as metabolic activity. This in turn, would maintain lean mass or induce an increase, and decrease overall body fat percentage. The link to the study can be found below.

There are 2 messages in this post:

Message #1.) I have had to follow ACSM guidelines in several fitness outfits that I have been employed in. In each time I had to express the "ACSM recommends...." to a client I'ev always seemed to cringe inside. The American College of Sports Medicine set up BASIC or entry level weight-lifting protocol that seem to be ineffective in creating a self-perceiving notion of self-achievement, self-efficacy, and sustainment in physique alteration.

"There not supposed to be" (that may be one response)

Truth is, as a practicing professional...if I gave every client the entry level ACSM guidelines to follow,  they would never reach a level of threshold that elicits changes. They would see improvements in certain aspects of fitness; however they would never achieve autonomy that accompanies self-confidence when overcoming physical challenges. The only way to achieve this is to overcome progressive resistance exercise and activities. The ACSM guidelines are "entry level"--meaning they open the door. I want my clients to open the door, step in, and run around in the room!

Message #2) This is directed to females: Get rid of the pink dumbbells.Strong is the new skinny! Building lean mass is the name of the game and the game is called SUCCESS!

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