Personal & Athletic Training in St. John's, Newfoundland

The Truth about Curves

By jonerikkawamoto | In Program Design | On February 20th, 2010

jkconditioning personal trainingWell, it’s been a crazy two weeks here in Vancouver. The Olympics have brought a sense of unity and pride to our city and our nation. I’ve never seen strangers walking down the street giving high 5s and hugging each other after Canada’s Men Olympic hockey team won the gold medal yesterday after a nail-biting overtime win.

It’s too bad the cauldron had to be extinguished yesterday night. I am looking forward to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

On to the goods…

I’m going to share something with you that certain gyms (rhymes with “durves”) wont want you to know. I want to enlighten you on the truth behind not just what Curves promotes, but the truth behind machine based exercises.

Here are the details on the Curve’s circuit:

  • hydraulic machine-based exercises performed in a circuit style fashion
  • “recovery” stations (in-place walking, jogging or running) are interspersed in the circuit to maintain heart rate
  • workouts are promoted 30 minutes in length
  • workout can be performed multiple times a week (they promote 3x/week)
  • the exercises are the same EVERY workout
  • the weight is not changed with a pin as in other rec. centers; the hydraulic machine will provide more resistance if the handles are pushed/pulled with more force
  • Curves is promoted as a fat-loss, strength-training health club exclusively for women
  • They have nutritional services
  • They have CurvesSmart, a “personal coaching system” that can log your workouts, heart rate, range of motion and calorie expenditure

Not all those points are bad. The nutritional help is hugely important in a fat-loss program. Circuit training is awesome at promoting fat-loss. I can’t say too much good for the other bullets in that list though.

Now, on to the stuff they DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW!

Machine based exercises are inferior to free-weight exercises at developing strength, core activation, joint stability and contributing to fat-loss.

Curves promotes that all the major muscle groups are challenged in their circuits. Since when did the Tensor Fascia Lata become a major muscle group?? If you watch the short video on their website, they illustrate some of the exercise stations they have in their circuit:

  • seated overhead press/lat pull down machine
  • seated leg extension/leg curl machine
  • seated leg press machine
  • seated ab/back machine – seated curling motion to push the handles down past your thighs; from there, go back to the upright position while pulling the handles up, past your thighs – basically, a seated back extension
  • seated leg abduction/adductor machine
  • seated machine chest press/row machine
  • seated bicep/tricep machine
  • squat – feet stance hip width-apart with shoulder pads; pushing into the shoulder pads provides resistance

Result in the phenomenon called GLUTEAL AMNESIA-YUP. If you sit on your ass, how are you supposed to strengthen it?? Result in tighter hip flexors-YUP. The list goes on...

How about the exercise selection? Exercise programs should incorporate these major movements (depending on the sport, needs analysis, goals, injury history etc.)

  1. vertical pull – e.g. chin up, lat pull down
  2. vertical push – e.g. over head press, jerk
  3. horizontal pull – e.g. dumbbell row, blast strap inverted row
  4. horizontal push – e.g. pushup, bench press
  5. quad dominant – e.g. front squat, rear-leg elevated split squat
  6. posterior chain – e.g. conventional deadlift, single leg deadlift, kettle bell swings
  7. core: bracing and anti-rotation – e.g. planks, ab roll outs, anti-rotation presses
  8. power – e.g. Olympic lifts: clean and jerk, barbell or dumbbell snatches; plyometrics

The fact that the exercises are the SAME every workout doesn’t provide much variety. Your body will get used to the exercises and adapt only in the first few weeks of the workout. After that, your body will be more efficient at the exercises and reduce the amount of energy needed; thus, leading to fewer calories burned per workout. Imagine doing the same workout, 3x/week for a year.

How do you think your motivation level will be after the first month??

At JKConditioning, my females train like athletes. Why? Because they’re fat-loss athletes. They’re strength training athletes.

Ask any of my female clients…doesn’t matter their age…they all get stronger…lose weight and feel more confident with their bodies. The only two machine based exercises I use in their programing is the lat-pull down machine (with the hopes of using the chin up bar in the future) and the seated cable row. All the other exercises challenge the major muscle groups utilizing full body exercises, barbell/dumbbell complexes, circuits, body weight exercises, core exercises and the list goes on. The workouts progress from one to the next and the variety is huge. They never get bored and always progress. And YES, they use dumbbells heavier than 10lbs!!

How do you get that sexy, strong female physique, like Melissa Hollingsworth? Let’s analyze her sport. She does the Skeleton. She has to sprint as fast as she can to accelerate her board. She needs to be strong in her hip extensors, calves and quads. So, she probably deadlifts and squats. She needs to have excellent core stability and running mechanics. I bet she doesn’t do sit-ups…so that means she probably develops core stability via plank progressions. She needs to be very fast and quick on her feet. So she probably sprints, does plyometric running drills and hill repeats. She needs to be very powerful, so she probably does Olympic lifting.

Now, I don’t know what her strength and conditioning routine is, but I can guess she doesn’t use machines at all. She probably does different chin up variations because lat strength is related to one’s ability to sprint. She probably does a row variation to counteract the rounded posture she has to be in when sprinting with the skeleton board in her hand.

So, you can see, out of the list of 8, she’s probably performing a variation of EACH NUMBER! She’s not terribly muscly, but athletic, sexy, fast and healthy!

So, don’t waste your time on machines if your goals are fat-loss and to get stronger. Invest is a knowledgeable coach that can lead the way. Your health is your future, make the best of it.

Thanks for reading.

-JK

PS. This applies to males too…stop just doing chest and bis all the time…you wont look like hulk unless you do the list of 8 above.

One Response to “The Truth about Curves”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Awesome article!

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