Do you follow a certain school of fitness, Dumplings? I’m a bit of a fitness butterfly, to be honest. I’ve enjoyed yoga, Pilates, barre, any fusions of the above, and running. Post-pregnancy, however, I’ve narrowed down my fitness regimen for a variety of reasons.
It’s been months since I’ve gone running (thanks to shin splints and Texas heat), and I’m no longer the devoted yogi I once was. With my baby now mobile and exploring the entire house, spending lots of time in one place just isn’t an option. I need my workouts to be quick, efficient, and low-impact. I also find myself wanting to target specific areas–usually depending on where I feel stiff or weak.
To help me tailor my workouts and make the most of my time, I started a subscription with Pilates Anytime, and I follow many of the short streaming workouts on Ballet Beautiful. Something both Pilates and barre have in common is maximizing core (and whole body) stability while toning the body from head to toe, building lean muscles. Those fitness priorities gel beautifully with my needs, time availability, and energy levels (which are variable these days…).
In the past few weeks, I’ve been supplementing my routine with moves from John Benton Model Fitness. Known as the “Hip Whisperer,” John Benton is based in Dallas, TX, and aspiring models, beauty pageant entrants, and Victoria Secret models fly to Texas where Benton helps them sculpt their bodies and lose inches around their hips and waists. Benton is the first to acknowledge that the modeling industry is immensely problematic–a career rides on a matter of a few inches, and male models don’t face the same pressures.
I am certainly not one to keep up with my own measurements. I don’t even know where our tape measure is! But as I read more about Benton’s method of targeting smaller muscles groups for full-body strength, I wanted to know more. Unlike some of my favorite fitness gurus, Benton doesn’t offer streaming classes, so I gleaned what I could from snippets on the web.
John Benton’s Model Fitness Method
Using moves like swan crunches, reach-through twists, and leg lifts, Benton’s workouts aren’t overly complicated, and they’re designed to be portable. In fact, he provides clients with several bodyweight-only options, so they can continue working out even when they’re far away from a gym. To intensify or diversify movements, Benton’s clients may also keep resistance bands handy, which are fortunately easy to carry-on.
“I do these workouts all bodyweight because a lot of my clients I’ll get in amazing shape, then they sign with an agency in Milan, Paris, South Africa, or China and it’s really hard to find a gym there,” he said.
You don’t need to go crazy with speed. Benton espouses a slow toning method to maximize results: “When you slow down the tempo of the exercise you create a much more intense workout. So with leg exercises, think of small and slow up-and-down pulses rather than big fast intense lifts and kicks.” Dr. Mercola expands on the effectiveness of slowing down your movements to build strength: “You can ‘turbo-charge’ your weight training by going slower. By slowing down your movement, you’re actually turning it into a high-intensity exercise. The super-slow movement allows your muscle, at the microscopic level, to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle.”
I’ve been doing simple push-ups at a very slow pace, and I think I can feel this in action!
Vary Your Angles
“Working any muscle at the same angle every time may build strength…however, if you change the angle you’ll engage different muscles and increase your range of motion,” Benton says. This can be especially helpful if you’re targeting your glutes. By varying the angle and position of the foot, you can work every nook and cranny (at least that’s what it feels like).
Not Just Any Cardio
Benton says that running is great for burning fat, but it can over-develop the quads. While highly developed quads are #goals for many, for those with different preferences may want to stick to cardio involving jumping (jumping jacks, jump rope).
What another Fitness Expert Says
Heather Milton, the senior exercise physiologist at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center provided her analysis of Benton’s method for Harper’s Bazaar:
“It looks like he’s choosing more endurance rep schemes than more hypertrophy rep schemes. What that means is he’s not initiating a hypertrophy response, which is increasing the muscle size itself, but rather endurance for those muscles. So the muscles are keeping their aerobic enzymes, they’re improving the leanness so there’s less marbling, without increasing the size of the muscle fibers,” she explains.
“There are different fiber types in our bodies. There are some muscles that have a greater percentage of type two muscle fiber types, and those are the ones that are able to hypertrophy much more easily,” Milton said. “It looks like what he’s doing is targeting the smaller stability muscles—they are endurance muscles made-up of more type one muscle fibers that don’t hypertrophy as easily.” Milton adds that as long as you’re eating enough, Benton’s style of exercise should be safe.
Benton’s method has taught me the value of slowing down my reps and varying my angles. His preferred moves are great for my situation because I don’t have a single workout space in the house. I just get on the floor wherever my baby is playing and do what I can! Adding a variety of leg lifts from different angles while slowing things down has allowed me to feel stronger and increase my proprioception–which was definitely thrown off during and after pregnancy.
I’m not trying to change the size of my hips, and I don’t think anyone should feel pressured to do so (come’on, modeling industry!), so I think inviting any hip whispering into your life should be done with mindfulness–and hopefully a dose of playfulness!
What’s your favorite style of fitness?
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Photo: John Benton via Instagram