3 pounds

One of my guilty pleasures is that I watch Oprah. No, I'm usually not home at that time of the day, but thank goodness for DVRs so that I can record it; saves a lot of time skipping over commercials, but also, if I'm not interested in the topic being aired that day, I'll just delete it.

Yesterday she had Gwyneth Paltrow & Mario Batali on her show to promote a new series that is coming out where Gwyneth & Mario travel around Spain eating their hearts out. The first segment of the show was an interview with Gwyneth about her workout routine (see the video). I can only imagine that they did that so that America wouldn't curse Gwyneth after seeing her eating her way through Spain; giving rise to the fact that no one gets a free ride as far as the calorie formula goes – Calories In versus Calories Out.

So they show Gwyneth & her trainer, Tracy Anderson, working out – which, by the way, that band-stuff looks really interesting. But what killed me is that Tracy said "No woman should ever use more than 3lbs".

What? Are you kidding me?

What I see happening all around America now is that women are doing bench presses and bicep curls with 3lb weights. Ladies, let me tell you that unless you're going to do 100 of them, that's not going to do anything for you. My hand is heavier than a 3lb weight!

I have so many things to say about this topic that I don't know where to start. I don't want to say that her method doesn't work, because for some it will, going back to the idea that everyone's body is completely different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Power vs. Endurance – Okay, so let's start here. We have two different types of muscle fibers: power & endurance. Power muscle fibers get used during power moves: plyometrics, sprinting, or during strength training when fatigue occurs in 8 or less repetitions. Power muscle fibers are the muscle fibers that allow us to gain size in our muscles through hypertrophy. Endurance muscle fibers get recruited when we do repetitive actions with those muscles: running, walking, cycling, etc. as well as strength training where the weight is light enough to do repetitions of 15 or higher. When we exercise our endurance muscle fibers, we're strengthening the muscle fibers, and teaching them to become more efficient at converting energy at the cellular level.

Note the difference in physiques between Marion Jones, a sprinter, and Desiree Ficker, a marathon runner:

Marion Jones

Desiree Ficker

Endomorph vs. Ectomorph – There are 3 different bodytypes: Endomorph, Mesomorph, and Ectomorph. Endomorphs are naturally muscular, gain muscle and fat easily. Ectomorphs have a difficult time adding muscle, and lose weight easily. A Mesomorph is somewhere in the middle. Tracy Anderson (as stated on her site) is an Endomorph. Therefore, if she strength trains with heavy weight, she will grow.

Hormones – Testosterone is the hormone that allows muscle growth. For any woman who's afraid of getting "bulky", I have two things to say 1) women just don't have enough testosterone to grow freakishly large muscles. Any woman who has freakishly large muscles (and probably a freakishly low voice) has been supplementing with something intended to grow those muscles. 2) You will not wake up one morning and look like a female bodybuilder. If you notice that a part of your body is getting larger (with muscle) than you'd like, then decrease the weight slightly, and increase the number of repetitions.

In closing, Tracy Anderson's method will work for some to get the body style that they want. By using low weight & an extremely high number of repetitions, she's having her client work in an aerobic state to fatigue. Ultimately, she's having her clients do cardio for the entire duration of the workout. It (dancing) may be funner than lifting weights, but it's still cardiovascular exercise, which will help you lose fat. And losing fat is what we all want in order to show off our muscles.

For you women who are now lifting 3lb dumbells for 10-15 repetitions, you won't change your body at all. You need to do more. For those of you that think that lifting weights will make you "get big", if you do get miraculously big, call me. I'll be your agent.