I was at a business networking meeting a couple of weeks ago when one girl turned to me for some advice at the end of the session. Her problem was, since changing the activities she did in her local gym she’d actually become fatter!! Yes, the tops of her legs and her ass had actually become fatter!! We talked a little and ruled out her nutrition – it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t the best, but it hadn’t changed. All that had changed was the type of exercise she’d chosen to do!!
So now you’re wondering what it was she was doing differently – well what she’d actually done was to take up spinning classes!!! And was doing quite a few of them as it happened!!
Now this could get quite controversial so please bear with me and I’ll explain the science behind what’s actually happening, hopefully that way it’ll make sense!
Let’s start by looking at the exercise – in this case the spinning classes. Now before you try to shoot me down in flames I’m actually a spinning instructor myself so I feel I need to clarify that there’s spinning classes and there’s spinning classes! Spinning classes should be taught with a lot of resistance on the bike, it’s this resistance that turns the class from a steady state cardio into metabolic resistance – the type of exercise that’s scientifically proven to burn body fat both during and after the workout! If your instructor has you constantly sprinting on the bike with very little resistance on then maybe it’s time to look for a new spinning class?!? Just saying 😉 Or if you’re one of those participants who doesn’t listen to us instructors when we tell you to increase your resistance or keep to the beat of the music then maybe you should start to take note, so you don’t fall fowl of the science!!
Now to back up my case with some science – starting with the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands and released during times of physical (training in the gym) or mental stress. One of the functions of cortisol is to increase blood sugar levels using a process called gluconeogenesis – a process which is carried out in the liver that produces glucose from fatty acids and protein. So where does the body get the protein from to perform this?? Your muscles of cause – so long duration cardio will actually cause a breakdown in muscle mass, far from ideal for anyone on a weight loss program as muscle is the only tissue in the body that actually burns fat!!
Let’s now look at how this girl actually gained fat around her thighs and ass – what happens is the long duration steady state cardio will, over time cause a build-up of both intramuscular triglycerides (fat within her actual muscles) as well as subcutaneous triglyceride’s (fat under her skin) in the hip and thigh areas to provide a readily available source of fuel for the muscles in this area – again not ideal if fat loss is your goal!!
It doesn’t just stop there though – girls have it much tougher than us guys where fat loss around the thighs and ass are concerned, you see this can be a bit of a problem area and it’s all down to the high concentration of alpha-2-receptors found in that area of the body, up to 9 times the density of anywhere else! (Us guys have our highest density of alpha-2-receptors around the abdomen). These are what are responsible for fat storage around the body! The higher the density of alpha-2-receptors in an area the greater the likely hood of fat storage!! Simples!!
Finally let’s look at the hormone estrogen. Women have a much higher concentration of estrogen in their bodies, this is usually detoxified by the liver, however if the liver is stressed out (caused by a poor diet) the excess estrogen is sent to be stored in the fat cells until the liver is able to deal with it. Guess where these fat storage cells tend to be – yep, around the thighs and ass!!
And finally, if you are one of the class members who spin with very little resistance on the bike at really fast speeds and think that because you’re dripping in sweat and tired you’re getting a great workout, then think again – the high speeds with minimal resistance actually fatigue the neuromuscular junction that’s responsible for the rapid firing of the muscles, (through the depletion of a chemical called acetylcholine) rather than fatigue the actual muscles themselves. This result is a perceived level of fatigue rather than an actual level of fatigue – so basically you think you’ve worked harder than you actually have!!
Personally I don’t have a problem with spinning classes – after all I’m a spinning instructor, however the classes MUST be both taught correctly and performed correctly if you’re going to see any physical benefit from them …and if you really want to get into fantastic shape then why not compliment them with some resistance training a couple of times a week too?!?
Next time I’ll be telling you just what to do to help drop this stubborn fat from around your ass and thighs!!
Till then, take care and crank that resistance up on your spin bike!