PILATES AND MUSCLE CONFUSION

One of our viewers recently wrote in, asking us if the principles of muscle confusion can be applied to Pilates.  Programs like P90X have soared in popularity due to the emphasis on Muscle Confusion, and their practitioners have seen amazing results. “Muscle Confusion”, most basically, is derived from two training principles:  the Specificity of Training Principle and the Overload Principle. Both of these principles can be applied to Pilates so that you will continue to reap all the benefits, including flat abs fast, lean legs and a lifted butt, and a stronger core.

The Specificity of Training Principle states that the body will adapt to the specific demand that is placed on it.  If you’re a Pilates beginner, it may take a while for your body to adapt to the new exercises you’ve given it, which is a good thing!  You won’t hit an exercise plateau as quickly as someone who is already fit.  However, once you’re able to do the Pilates exercises correctly in your class, while you will maintain your current level of fitness if you keep doing your Pilates workout in the same way, in the same order, etc., you will not necessarily get stronger and stronger.  This is where the Overload Principle comes into play.

The Overload Principle states that to continually adapt, the body must be placed under a stress that exceeds the body’s current capabilities.  In other words, with Pilates exercises, one must continually work at his/her own edge as opposed to work in the range that’s comfortable.  (That’s why your instructor is continually cueing you to pull in your abs more, to work more deeply, etc.)  This is also why certain exercises should always feel hard!  For example, once your body adapts to “The Hundreds” with your legs bent, you can then straighten the legs, and then proceed to lower them from there…. get it?  And with an exercise like “The Teaser“, the possibilities abound!  Most Pilates exercises can be made either more difficult or more intense relatively simply.

Upon researching more about Muscle Confusion online, we found two interesting articles, one for and one against the idea of muscle confusion.  Both have useful tips you can use (or not use!) in your teaching of Pilates.  One article (http://www.articlesbase.com/muscle-building-articles/how-the-muscle-confusion-principle-can-maximize-your-workouts-911684.html) LOVES the idea of muscle confusion, stating that even if your goal is NOT to build muscle, (and most Pilates enthusiasts are avoiding muscle bulk) you will achieve your goals much faster applying the muscle confusion principles.  On the other hand, the following article (http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Biggest-Muscle-Building-Fallacy-in-Bodybuilding&id=553415) scoffs at the over-emphasis on muscle confusion, pointing out (very convincingly) that if you do not allow your body time to give your brain valuable feedback, then you can’t really accomplish anything.  We agree!  You need to know where you are to really know where you want to go.  Be patient!

So, what’s the final answer?  YES! You absolutely can apply the principles of muscle confusion to Pilates workouts as well, of course dependent upon the type of Pilates that you are doing.  If you are going to a studio where the lesson is exactly the same every time, then, as you pointed out in your email, your body will adapt and eventually plateau to the extent that you stop seeing results.  However, if you are continually varying your Pilates workouts and routines, focusing on different muscle groups AND increasing the difficulty level appropriately, then you have effectively introduced the principle of muscle confusion and thus made it impossible for your body to adapt!  But remember, whether doing Pilates online or in a studio, you don’t want to change things up too quickly!!  Give your body enough time to give you valuable feedback.

For those of you who are utilizing our website for Pilates online, www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com, we recommend balancing your workouts between total body workouts and targeted workouts, such that are found in the Strong, Svelte & Savvy Series.  If you were to do one of the longer total body workouts on one day, and one of the targeted workouts for arms, legs, butt, back, etc., on alternate days, and then throw in some cardio 2-3 times a week, your muscles would be confused, but balanced and happy as well!  Keep the same Pilates training routine for 2-3 weeks, then increase the difficulty.

Incorporating props is another way to keep your muscles COMPLETELY confused!  The stability ball, foam roller and BOSU(R) will introduce new challenges with both core stability and strength, while the Pilates Ring and Stretch Band can be used to intensify the workload of certain muscle groups and simulate the Pilates equipment, respectively.  It’s all about how you put everything together!!

The bottom line is, even if you find a Pilates video or Pilates DVD that you love, don’t do the same one all the time!!  Our site has over 25 free mat workouts, so we encourage people to try different ones so that different muscle groups are continually being worked and challenged, and new exercises are continually being introduced.  Our new Pilates iphone app (debuting soon!!) will have workout plans included, so follow one of those for great success!

Advertisements

January 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings.

One Comment

  1. Alishba Khan replied:

    No doubt its the name of
    commitment
    consistency
    drive
    intensity
    time
    and…the know-how!

    http://abworkoutsecrets.com/

    Really nice article like it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: