Rebecca is actually a case study for two projects I am working on. The first one is the cellulite study that I am doing, but I am also writing a fitness book on the Hystrength approach to fighting menopause. It is a given that women who go through menopause will have a pot belly from the hormonal shift, and that there is nothing that can be done about it. Both my wife and I disagree with the general view, and we are setting out to disprove that. In my opinion, the reason that women after menopause struggle with body fat issues is the same reason women struggle with cellulite: they simply have not trained the fast twitch fibers, and they shrink with age and neglect. As ironic as this may sound, even many strength training programs do not work the deeper fast twitch fibers. As a matter of fact, most exercise programs do not work the fast twitch fibers, and that is why they shrink as we get older…and we lose the youthful figure along with it (yes, this includes men too).
In any event, she is both post menopausal, thus displaying a bit of the pot belly (although it is not bad), and a fair amount of cellulite that she would like to see disappear.
When she first started, she weighed 139.5 pounds, and her body fat was around 30%. This is typical. In actuality, she is a little leaner than most women her age…even women who exercise regularly. We started the program on January 3, 2014, and as of January 28th, she weighs 135 pounds. This is a net loss of 4.5 pounds of scale weight.
Let’s take a look at her strength gains:
Jan 3rd: Jan 28
- Leg press 120 lbs for 15 reps 340 lbs for 15 reps
- Dumbbell press 15 lbs for 13 reps 25 lbs for 14 reps
- Pull-down 45 lbs for 12 reps 67.5 lbs for 10 reps and 1 assist
Let me explain the criteria I use. I like to compare the three largest muscles of the body for overall strength gains: legs, chest, and upper back. With that in mind, I will always compare strength gains over time with the leg press or bar bell squat, dumbbell press or bar bell press, and for the upper back I will use pull-downs or chin-ups. I do believe that functional and core exercises have a place in an exercise program, but I do not use them for improved fitness comparisons over time. Yes, we can display more core stability or better balance, and this is important, but it is the strength gains of the large muscles that will ultimately determine success for reshaping the body…and losing cellulite or the pot belly in the case of both of these studies.
Rebecca is doing very well. She is the only one of the study that has not regained weight, nor did she stagnate. She has seen a steady loss of about 1.5 pounds a week. This, of course, is no guarantee that she will see steady fat loss from here on out. After all, the body always seems to have its own agenda, but so far so good.
Moreover, she undoubtedly has gained some muscle, although it is not much. Remember, the body improves the neurological drive first, developing the capability of the body to call on the deeper fast twitch fibers. In time they will respond by changing shape.
As with all of my female clients, Rebecca is lifting heavier weights than she thought was possible. This, after only one month of training. We are only beginning to get Rebecca to her fullest potential for strength. I bring this up because most of the women who read my articles don’t believe they can lift this much weight. My point is this: yes, you can. Moreover, you must if you want to see the shapely body you want to see. Doing a higher rep and lighter weight protocol without any meaningful progression will not change the body…you will not work the deeper fast twitch fibers.
Train with purpose. Get stronger. Rebecca is, and she will be very happy with the results.