What diet do you recommend for weight loss?

I do not recommend any specific diet because diets are usually too limiting and cannot be maintained long-term.  However, I recommend implementing a healthy nutritional lifestyle of moderation, balance, and whole food choices using calorie awareness.  When trying to lose weight, it is important to look at energy intake versus energy expenditure. Basically, calories in versus calories out approach. Increase physical activity or energy expenditure, and decrease calories or energy intake to cause a caloric deficit from your baseline caloric intake. To lose one pound per week, it is necessary to reach a deficit of 3,500 calories. It is advised to lose no more than 2 pounds (7,000 calories) per week.  It can be difficult to pinpoint your required metabolic needs/baseline caloric intake without a metabolic test, however, do not go below 1,200 calories per day unless supervised by a physician. The best results take place when diet and exercise are combined in efforts to lose weight.

 

What are isometrics, eccentric muscle contractions, and the stretch reflex?

Isometric contractions can be defined as equal length or no change in muscle length because the load on the muscle exceeds the tension generated by the contracting muscle. No movement takes place with this type of contraction as seen with holding a plank, plie, or wall-squat. Because there is no change in muscle length, this type of contraction does not produce a lot of muscle soreness.

Eccentric muscle contractions are lengthening contractions because the muscle lengthens as it resists a load. The force the muscle is generating is less than the external load. Muscle strengthening is greatest with eccentric contractions. Eccentric contractions take place during the lowering phase of a load as seen with lowering a weight during a bicep-curl, or for example the quadricep muscles eccentrically contract in the lowering phase of a squat. Eccentric contractions cause the greatest amount of muscle soreness because skeletal muscles are resistant to lengthening due to the stretch-contract reflex.

Stretch Reflex or Myotatic Reflex is a muscle reflex that takes place when a muscle (muscle spindle) is stretched causing the muscle to resist the change in length by  contracting the muscles. This reflex is a protective mechanism to prevent injury. The more sudden the change in muscle length, the stronger the muscle contraction. This must be carefully implemented since this is a protective mechanism in application to training. With extensive training, the stretch reflex can be controlled to the point there is little or no contraction when lengthening the muscle as possible with elite ballet dancers/athletes. Ballet Body™workouts are designed with balance utilizing the stretch-reflex in specific exercises, however, Ballet Body™ workouts do not extensively train in controlling the stretch-contract reflex in regards to resistance exercises. On the other hand, it is important to hold a stretch for increasing flexibility and allowing the muscles to relax during stretching to reduce the signaling that causes the stretch reflex.

 

Can I perform resistance training every day?

Recovery is just as important as every rep and set you perform because training adaptations take place during rest. You must allow the muscles to rest, rebuild, and repair after resistance training to allow for proper muscle development and to prevent overtraining. Allow 48 hours of rest in between working the same muscle groups with the exception of cardio. Allowing more than 48 hours of rest may be necessary for recovery depending on workout intensity for the same muscle groups. For example, if Monday is a heavy leg day, it is usually best to wait till Thursday to train the legs again instead of Wednesday to allow 72 hours for adequate recovery. It depends on the workout duration/intensity and individual. Some trained individuals and athletes recover faster than others and do not need more than 48 hours of rest. If you work the same muscle group two days in a row, you eliminate all gains from the first day. This would nullify the hard work from the previous day’s workout. It is also important to take care of your body during recovery with proper hydration, sleep, and nutrition. One reason why implementing a periodization plan is key to optimal results is due to the principle of recovery. The important adaptations necessary before gradual progression take place during recovery to allow for the best results.

 

Why should I perform resistance training?

Resistance training improves the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and metabolic systems while reducing anxiety and depression improving overall psychological health. Resistance training increases lean muscle mass and mineral bone density while reducing overall body fat and the chances of developing osteoporosis. Increased muscle mass improves the metabolic rate, or the rate at which we burn calories at rest.  Resistance training improves cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and exercise heart rate while improving the blood lipid profile. Resistance training improves glucose tolerance in people with diabetes mellitus.  It is important to perform resistance training to increase muscular strength and endurance to perform the activities of daily living, which is very important as we get older. We lose muscular strength and lean muscle mass as we age. It is important to counteract these losses with resistance training.

 

I’ve been performing different workouts everyday to change it up and I’m not seeing results.

Changing your workouts everyday or doing something different every day does not allow for your body and muscles to properly adapt, and therefore you will not achieve the best gains or results. There is no baseline to build from which is very important in creating the progression after adaptation.The principle of overload, adaptation, progression, and recovery are important to elicit results from your workout regimen. Using a periodized workout plan like the Ballet Body™ Periodized System is the best way to incorporate these principles for optimal training and results.

 

How much cardiovascular, resistance, and flexibility training should I be doing each week to improve my health and physique?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity greater than or equal to 30 minutes five days or more per week  or vigorous-intensity physical activity for greater than or equal to 20 minutes for three or more days per week for a minimum of 75 minutes per week. These recommendations are to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and decrease risk factors associated with cardiovascular and metabolic   disease. The ACSM recommends resistance training 2-3 days per week including neuromotor training for balance, agility, and coordination. Stretching to increase joint range of motion and flexibility should be performed at least 2-3 days per week, but daily stretching is best.

To achieve optimal results including weight loss, muscle definition, and physical fitness improvements, I highly recommend a periodized resistance training program with  3-4 resistance training sessions per week from 45-75 minutes in duration while performing moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 3-5 days per week from 30-60 minutes. Studies shows that physical activity greater than or equal to 250 minutes per week is associated with significant weight loss, however, more is not always better. As a general guideline, exercise no more than 90 minutes a day to prevent overtraining, and make sure to take one day of complete rest per week.  In addition, there should be 48-72  hours in between working the same muscle group depending on workout intensity to allow for recovery with the exception of cardio.  Cardio sessions should begin with a warm-up and finish with a cool down. Cardio sessions should not include any resistance exercises including squats, lunges, or lower body resistance training. This guideline is especially important on resistance off-days to avoid overtraining the lower body during periodization and to ensure appropriate modes of aerobic training (dancing, walking, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, etc). Stretching should be performed daily after exercise, in addition to, one yoga session per week to receive benefits including reduced stress levels, increased flexibility and balance, and enhanced mind-body connection.