Metabolism 101

Great stuff on this from Dr. Mark Cheng at BeachBody -

The human metabolic process is broken down into two parts: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the “burning” or digesting of food or fuel sources to provide cells with energy. This is the part of metabolism that provides muscles with the energy to maintain posture and create movement. Anabolism, in turn, uses energy to link chemical compounds together to produce larger molecules, like muscle mass.

For catabolism to be efficient, you need to give your muscles the maximum number of opportunities to burn fuel like fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. So it stands to reason that if you’re training your body for the purpose of burning off excess weight, you want to engage the maximum number of muscles in the most efficient and safest manner possible.

One way to think of your body’s muscles is as their having two main functions: stability and mobility. Most of the big muscles people develop for cosmetic reasons, with prime examples being the quadriceps muscles of the thighs, the pectoral muscles in the chest, and the deltoid muscles of the shoulders, are centered around dynamic mobility. In other words, they’re muscles that allow you to go through a full range of motion. The stabilizing muscles, however, are generally those muscles that are deeper and closer to the joints. These are smaller muscles that include the spinal multifidi, the rotator cuff of the shoulder, and the core musculature of the midsection, and if they’re doing their job properly to stabilize your body while you’re in motion, they also play a major role in energy consumption.

Don’t be fooled, though. While some fitness coaches argue that it’s better to focus on the bigger mobility-oriented muscles because they burn more calories, any weakness or poor functionality in the smaller stabilizers can force the prime movers to pull double duty, making them attempt to both stabilize and move at the same time. This kind of inefficiency can overload one muscle group (prime movers) while robbing another group (stabilizers) of training. This scenario can lead to joint dysfunction and pain, which your body reads as a stressor. When it’s under stress, your body dumps the stress hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. And cortisol keeps packing the flab on around your midsection.

The bottom line is pretty simple. If you want to look good, you’ve got to move well. In order to move well, you have to feel good. In order to feel good, your body has to function well. So to get the most out of your metabolism, both in catabolic, fat-burning reactions and anabolic, muscle-building processes, your training has to involve both dynamic, explosive, gross movements and slow, controlled, precise movements—without pain. Pain is a silent enemy that constantly undermines the effectiveness of our workouts and hampers our metabolic efficiency. So to improve the functionality of your training, make sure you incorporate stability and postural training in addition to your dynamic, high-intensity workouts.

The correct mix of stability and dynamic motor control exercises along with explosive, high-output routines can give your body an incredible boost. By training muscles to perform their correct functions, you work more muscle groups with your exercises, perform those exercises more safely, and dramatically drop your risk of injury. Coordinated functioning of both your stabilizers and your prime movers is the essence of metabolic efficiency. As the stabilizers kick in and increase your caloric burn, not only do they consume more calories through their own action, but they also help the prime movers operate more efficiently with more powerful contractions, creating stronger movement and burning even more calories than ever.

The big thing here, to me, is when he states: …your training has to involve both dynamic, explosive, gross movements and slow, controlled, precise movements—without pain…

When I read that, I see “weight training” and “yoga and/or pilates.”

I’m OK with the former but need to do more on the latter. And, I’m putting this on my goal list now.

This entry was posted in Anatomy, Goals, Metabolism, Pilates, Weight Training, Yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

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