It’s all about the Slow-Twitch and the Micro-moves
No, not the latest dance faze, so we won’t be getting out the mirror ball anytime soon, but an explanation of why clients are frequently baffled about their tiredness at the end of a Pilates class:
“I feel like I’ve worked, but I also feel energised and relaxed and tired…”
… before they wander/float out of class wondering how they achieved that state without even breaking a sweat?!
One of Google’s most googled questions is “Why am I so tired all the time?”. This has even got its own acronym now: TATT. Now there are of course lots of reasons from poor diet to lack of good sleep, plus stress, too much ‘blue light’, caffeine etc. Pilates as a form of exercise is proven to help alleviate many of these issues – see our blog.
But it also got me thinking about answering that common question: Why am I so tired after Pilates?
Firstly, you are concentrating, you are breathing deeply, but you are also using a particular type of muscle and throwing in some pretty awesome micro-moves to build your stability, strength and stamina.
So, to echo a famous TV ad (and because you are so worth it), here’s the science part…
Pilates exercises recruit different types of muscle fibres to ones we use in High Impact Cardiovascular exercise. Isometric contractions (that’s like backstroke arms or single leg stretch) and no heavy weights activate Type I, or slow-twitch muscle fibres, which provide a low force output but can keep working for an extended period of time. We use type I muscle fibres all day long to maintain posture, joint position, and even walk for long distances. Hence why Pilates is SUCH an important part of your weekly health and fitness schedule. Running or HIT training works the fast twitch Type II, which fatigue quicker. But in Pilates, when we do several reps, you are using those Type I muscles to their limit, hence not getting sweaty, but definitely feeling a little ‘burn’, or ‘heat’ as I like to say! Think about how The Hundred or a simple Oyster can begin to get you after a while.
So, while you may not see serious gains in bulking muscles from Pilates, activating those slow-twitch muscle fibres with the groovy micro-moves, can improve your overall fitness in a number of ways. And understandably leave you feeling a little tired at the end of a session. But you’re worth it (cue hair flick).