We strongly point out that Megaformer is not "Pilates" or a "Pilates based workout." Pilates uses a low-impact and low (or no) intensity method. Most Pilates studios use the method as a regenerative or rehabilitative method which Megaformer does not. In addition, Pilates training is missing several key elements of physical fitness such as strength, cardio, and muscular endurance training; which affect the overall body composition.
Physical fitness is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve which relates to the ability to perform physical activity. In other words, it is more than being able to run a long distance or lift heavy weights at the gym. Being "fit" is more than what kind of activity you do, how long you do it, or at what level of intensity. While these are important measures of fitness, they only address single areas. Overall physical fitness is made up of five basic elements: Cardiovascular Endurance, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Body Composition and Flexibility that Megaformer effectively combines each and every move.
In other words Megaformer Training Method, utilizes 5 key elements to stimulate improvement of the body:
1. Effective Resistance: Megaformer uses spring resistance which provides progressive resistance allowing the muscles to work to their threshold of intensity at their strongest, and gives support and stability to the joints and connective tissue at their lightest. The tension of the springs is constant and does not rely on gravity to provide resistance.
2. Effective Range of Motion: Megaformer can adjust the distance and direction the body and muscles move and target both the larger fat-burning extrinsic muscle fibers, as well as the connective intrinsic muscle fibers.
3. Effective Body Alignment/Angle: Megaformer is adjustable to allow the training at different body angles to optimize the muscle fiber recruitment and maximise the body's efficiency.
4. Effective Tempo: Megaformer utilizes slow and controlled movements. None of the movements are performed using momentum. When working with and against resistance slowly, the tension on the muscles stays constant, recruiting more muscle fibers. Working the muscles with control, keeps the joints safe and stimulates the intrinsic muscle fibers and connective tissues. Slow and controlled movements activate the slow-twitch/fat-burning muscle fibers in body, effectively stimulating the body for maximum results.
5. Effective Duration: Each exercise is kept at a minimum of 60 seconds to activate the aerobic system and make the workout both strengthening and toning.
Megaformer is a total-mind/body workout that strengthens the body and promotes fat loss without bulking up the muscles and forces a neuromuscular adaptive response which may cause a improvement in the brain structure. In addition, it restores the body's natural alignment and balance. The method is both intense and therapeutic: Two benefits rarely seen in the same workout; It is both fire and water.
Effective Muscle Stimulation is the minimum amount of muscle stimulation needed in order to trigger a positive and adaptive response from the body and brain which results in muscle growth and fat loss. It's as simple as that. Your goal is to train to Effective Muscle Stimulation. For that you need Effective Intensity (EI).
For EI, you need to focus on the Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers (ST) - the "fat" burning fiber.
To stimulate the ST, the tension on the muscle fibers must be kept constant and continuous, so that neither rest is allowed during the set (typically at least 60 seconds for upper body and at least 2 minutes for most lower body exercises) nor between the sets (transitions). This will also stimulate the Aerobic System.
Pilates takes its name from Joseph Pilates. He devised the Pilates method as a new approach to exercise and body-conditioning in the early decades of the last century (1930s). His method included the use of equipment called Reformer which is in use today’s Pilates studios. First Reformer was bed with attached springs, invented to exercise against resistance for rehabilitation of Joseph’s patients who were unable to walk. Ever since this great invention, neither Reformer or its method didn’t had much change in last century. The machine is still similar to bed, and the method is still based on rehabilitation, posture correction and flexibility benefits.
On the other side, Megaformer is not pilates or pilates based workout. Altought they look similar, it brings much more than Reformer does, including what Pilates was lacking such as strength, cardio and endurance. Generally, people who claims more than being flexible with good posture feels like they need another workout after Reformer training. However, with Megaformer you’ll have no energy to do any other workout, but good amount of rest before other day’s class. You can also see attendants’ reviews who experienced both Megaformer and Reformer below as well.
Machine: Both Megaformer and Reformer has the carriage mobility, handlebars, tension, and the long straps. However, Megaformer has a wider and lighter carriage, adjustable handlebars for different exercises and modifications, shorter handles at the back for more movement versatility, and eyelets on the carriage for leg, core, arm and back exercises. Plus, the Megaformer was designed to create transitions in between each exercise very fast.
Tempo: In a traditional Reformer session you can expect a workout with quick movements targeting your core and fast-twitch muscle fibres. The Megaformer adopts slow and controlled movements of at least 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out. None of the movements are performed using momentum. When working with and against resistance slowly, the tension on muscles stays constant, recruiting more muscle fibres. Slow and controlled movements activate the slow-twitch fat-burning muscle fibres.
Transition: Even though the exercises are performed slowly with muscle control, a Megaformer workout integrates little to no transition (5 seconds) time in between moves. In Reformer, you typically take breaks between each set of exercises. The Megaformer philosophy is that shorter transitions lead to a quicker burnout and muscle fatigue.
Muscle: Reformer do a great job at targeting specific muscle groups one at a time, while Megaformer targets many muscles at the same time. When you are in a lunge on the Megaformer, for example, you have the option of working both legs, your core, abs, and your arms all at once. Once you’ve built the foundational core strength, you can never plateau on a Megaformer– with many options to modify and tailor the workout based on combining muscle groups and adjusting spring loads efficiently.
Results: Reformer and Megaformer are both recognised globally as excellent machines of improving flexibility, core strength and balance without impact on the joints, spine and connective tissues. However, the Megaformer training method achieves superior results in body composition and fat loss, cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and endurance by reaching effective muscle stimulation.
Grip Socks: While on Reformer it is an option, on the Megaformer, wearing grip socks is a requirement. There are several reasons for that: Prevent possible injurries due to fast transitions between exercises, aid in balance and coordination, cleanness of machine and the studio.
Music: During a traditional Reformer class, classes are held either in silence, or with New Age-y, instrumental music playing softly in the background. That’s not the way it’s done with Megaformer. Its class’s music is designed to get your heart pumping, your muscles burning and your butt moving.
Some attendants also like to call it ‘’Pilates on steroids’’ or ‘’If the Reformer is a Toyota, Megaformer is like a Ferrari’’.
You can become a 24 hours-a-day fat-burning machine simply by adding some lean muscle! One of the great benefits of strength training is the calories burned as a result of the workout, not the calories burned during the workout. By effectively stimulating your slow twtich muscle fibers, you will add toned and defined muscle to your body, which causes the body to need more calories at rest. A more "muscular" body burns more fat at rest.
Many exercise authorities claim that single set training is insufficient, however studies have proven otherwise. A study out of Adelphi University surveyed all of the known literature that compared single-set vs multiple-set resistance training. The results showed overwhelmingly that multiple sets resulted in NO increase in results compared to single-set training. Bottom Line: The extra sets produced nothing but more time spent in the gym. However, We do believe that there is a benefit in multiple sets training if the sets are performed differently, meaning using different angles and planes of motion, antagonists and synergist muscles. Megaformer will "beat" a muscle to death performing multiple sets for the same muscles but each set is forcing the muscle to act differently, therefore targeting different muscle fibers of the same type within the same muscle group.
A study of male and female subjects between 25 and 82 years of age conducted over a 10-week period, showed a 59% increase in overall strength using slow-speed repetitions compared to a 39% increase with traditional repetition speed. So yes, it is more effective. Moving slowly will stimulate more muscle fibers.
The fitness industry is moving toward methods of training that do everything at once (all elements of physical fitness) in a shorter amount of time. The fitness industry of the future is all about stimulation and finding the effective triggers for your body and mind; It's finding out how to turn the right switch on, so that you turn your body into a 24 hour fat-burning, muscle-building machine without spending an endless amount of time at the gym.
With Megaformer many people can workout at the same time and everyone would train at their own Effective Intensity. Everybody can exercise in the same setting, and on the same spring load, but each individual will perceive the resistance from the spring differently depending on their body positions, proportions, and range of motion.
This is exactly what people are looking for! Consumers are becoming smarter about how to train their bodies, and they want to find effective intensity, without harming their joints and connective tissues.
Megaformer was developed specifically to teach a high-energy and high-intensity but low-impact workout to a group of attendants safely, and the only material allows it is spring. The notion of the springs is extremely important to understand as the machine is engineered around it. The spring is the nucleus of the machine. You must understand how the tension works.
On the Megaformer, as you move the carriage out, the spring stretches and the tension increases. As the carriage moves back in, the spring compresses and the tension decreases. One spring will give more or less tension depending on how far you stretch it. It is one of the most effective and safe methods to strengthen the muscles while reducing the stress on the joints and connective tissues.
Variable Tension: Spring Resistance
Static Tension: Free-weight Resistance
Spring Tension works smarter than Static Tension. When you look at your muscles, and examine each effective range of motion, the variable tension is especially accommodating to the strength curve of the muscle. And just as there is an effective range of motion for the muscles and movement, there is a strength curve for both the muscles and movements.
#1: The Biceps Muscles have a strength curve that increases as the muscle contracts and peaks toward the end of the range of motion.
#2: The Wheelbarrow Exercise has a curve that is strongest as set-up and then becomes challenging and then too stressful on the spine as you press the carriage away.
In both of these examples the spring-tension can effectively stimulate the muscles better than static-weight because the spring will support the muscles when the exercise is the most difficult, and create more resistance where the body is most resilient. Spring-tension can provide more intensity than weight and with zero impact on the joint. It is the perfect balance of High Intensity & Low Impact.
Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption a.k.a Afterburn Effect is a period of time that person loses majority of their fat due to exercise.
If there is a higher rate of oxygen intake after exercise, it’s not only adapts the body to the activity just performed but balances hormones, repairs cells and helps to burn fat. The Afterburn Effect accompanies an increased burning of fuel (fat cells) for energy to drive the cardiovascular system, which is consuming this increased supply of oxygen.
EPOC is greatest immediately following the completion of exercise when our bodies are consuming the highest amount of oxygen. The gains that come from this naturally diminish as our bodies regulate back to baseline. This is why maintaining an increased oxygen intake during strength training, and cardiovascular exercise can deliver instances of fat burning up to thirty-eight hours after the exercise!
Maximizing the Afterburn Effect
Afterbun Effect increased when the intensity of the exercise and the time spent performing the exercise increase.
To maximize the Afterburn (EPOC) Effect, you need to minimize the transition time between sets. This means performing exercises that work multiple muscles simultaneously. Compounded exercises such as The Lunge allow you to incorporate upper body exercises, which will keep the heart rate up. Also, standing exercises require more energy expenditure than lying because you engage your core for balance.
To improve and change your body composition and appearance, you need to train at a continuous high-intensity. The Megaformer Training Method offers a safe platform to train the muscles at a high intensity while keeping the joints and the skeletal system fully-supported.
Megaformer is both Aerobics and Anaerobics. How can that be?
"Aero" as a prefix comes from the Greek for "air."
Simply put, the terms "aerobic" and "anaerobic" refer to the presence and absence of oxygen. Most of our cells prefer to get their energy by using oxygen to fuel metabolism.
During exercise with adequate fuel and oxygen (i.e., aerobic), muscle cells can contract repeatedly without fatigue almost indefinitely. During anaerobic or non-oxygen conditions (i.e., higher intensity exercise), muscle cells must rely on other reactions that do not require oxygen to fuel muscle contraction. Although anaerobic metabolism still technically involve air, it is not directly part of our cardiovascular system - and is thus labeled “anaerobic.”
As a matter of fact, during exercise, we never switch from total aerobic to total anaerobic metabolic conditions. We oscillate between the two.
It is best to view the terms aerobic and anaerobic as "transitions" in metabolism, where the proportion between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism changes depending on exercise intensity.
Is one more important than another?
No, they are both equally important.
Essentially, aerobic fitness is the health and efficiency of your body's air circulation system: your heart. Aerobic training enables you to exercise for long periods of time, benefiting from the sustained energy expenditure.
Anaerobic Fitness builds muscles other than your heart.
Anaerobic workouts are also called "resistance training." These workouts push your muscles to work against above-average resistance to strengthen the muscles.
Breathing supplies over 99% of the entire oxygen and energy supply. Your body needs oxygen when it exercises!
In addition, the Slow Twitch (ST) muscle fiber is the aerobic fiber. It needs the oxygen to release the energy. You must keep breathing, constantly and continuously. Traditionally, the exhale is on the exertion, but since the body is constantly exerting, it really doesn’t matter which way you breath but keep breathing! Again, continuously and constantly.
We match the breathing to the movement of the carriage (breath out as you push the carriage out and breath in when you pull the carriage in (out/out; in/in)), however, this technique has proven to be very difficult if not impossible when the movement is slown down dramatically.
Proper breathing is essential during exercise. During aerobic activities, such as running or swimming, a good breathing pattern ensures that your working muscles will continue to receive the oxygen they need to keep contracting. According to researchers at the University of New Mexico, proper breathing is also central to nonaerobic forms of exercise, including weight lifting and Yoga.
Muscle fibers can be broken down into two main types: slow twitch muscle fibers and fast twitch muscle fibers. The fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for giving the body its speed, agility, and power.
Slow Twitch also known as “Red” fibers: Refers to muscle cells that contract slowly and resistant to fatigue and are utilized in endurance activities such as long-distance running, cycling or swimming. The slow muscles are more efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel for continuous, extended muscle contractions over long period of time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. Therefore, slow twitch fibers are great at helping athletes run marathons and bicycle for hours.
Fast Twitch also known as “White” fibers: Refers to muscle cells that fire quickly and are utilized in anaerobic activities such as sprinting and power lifting. Because fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create fuel, they are much better at generating short bursts of strength and speed, than slow muscles do. However, they fatigue more quickly. Fast twitch fibers generally produce the same amount of force per contraction as slow muscles, but they get their name because they are able to fire much more rapidly.
*Slow Twitch muscle fibers will begin to weaken after 60 seconds of continuous tension.
In the 1940s, Dr.William Sheldon developed the theory for classifying physiques into certain body types. Sheldon classified all physique into three broad categories: Endomorphs, Mesomorphs, and Ectomorphs.
The Endomorph is a naturally heavy or fat person. This body type is characterized by a soft, round body, wide hips, a round face, and a heavy, thick bone structure. The endomorph gains fat quickly and has a hard time maintaining a lean physique. That type of body is predominant with Fast-Twitch / Sugar Burning muscle fibers.
The Mesomorph has the classic athletic or bodybuilder physique. This body type is characterized by wide shoulders and a large chest. A mesomorph is muscular but lean with greatnatural strength. That type of body has a balanced amount of Fast Twitch and Slow Twitch muscle fibers.
The Ectomorph is a naturally thin person. This physique is characterized by long arms and legs, flat chest, narrow shoulders, a slight bone structure, and typically little body fat. The ectomorph is predominant with Slow-Twitch / Fat Burning fibers.
Very few individuals are strictly one body type, most of us fall in-between. It is important to recognize what body type you have in order to maximize the benefits of the training and which training techniques to employ. Different body types should not be trained the same way. Megaformer will effect more on people with a Mesomorphic and/or Ectomorphic body type. It’s not to say that an Endomorphic body type will not benefit from this type of training; That is not the case at all. Endomorphs, same as in all other sport branches will benefit from the class but they will not see the results as quickly as the Mesomorph and Ectomorph. The reason being that all three body type have a different ratio of Slow-Twitch to Fast-Twitch muscle fibers.
Megaformer keeps the muscle under constant tension throughout the entire duration of the exercise. The muscles are not allowed to relax for even a fraction of a second during the movement. The moment the muscle is allowed to relax, the set loses its efficacy. Studies have shown that this type of training is very effective for building strength and muscle definition.
Constant tension is the term used before, as Time Under Tension became a popular term. Time under tension (or TUT for short) is a commonly used term in the strength, conditioning, and bodybuilding industry. In short, TUT refers to how long the muscle is under strain during a set, in other words the total time a muscle resists weight during each set. However, TUT does not consider the speed of the movement (unlike Megaformer) which we think is just as important as the duration of the set itself. Most training approaches focus on one aspect only such as: repetitions, weight, time, or speed. All are important factors and all are integrated in the Megaformer Training Method.
We cannot emphasize enough that the target muscle must never be allowed to relax during the set. If you allow the muscle to relax, even for a moment, oxygen will enter the muscle and you’ll be wasting your time. So, just grit your teeth and keep that muscle flexed, with no pause between reps.
Stay in the Effective Range of Motion
Avoid spending long amounts of time during the easiest portion of an exercise (at the top of a lunge for instance). The easiest part of a lift presents the least amount of stress on your muscles.
Don't lock the joints.
Locking the joints takes the stress away from the muscles.
Try to maintain a steady tempo.
At least 4 seconds out and 4 seconds in.
Spend as much time on the eccentric portion of the movement, in other words on the return of the carriage.
That refers to the lowering portion when your muscle is slowly elongating. Slowing down the eccentric portion of the lift causes more muscle damage and encourages more growth.
Focus on form.
With the longer sets, fatigue will set in and adjust form. As a result of this, with time you’ll be able resist longer sets.