Making the Tracy Anderson Method work for you
My recent review of the Tracy Andreson Metamorphosis DVD is one of my most viewed posts on this blog. I think that review came across a little negative. I’d like to write about some modifications I recommend to this workout program that I think can make it really effective.
A little bit of background about me first: I am a mother to three children and am trying to shed the last of my baby weight before my youngest turns one in a month. My undergraduate degree was in exercise science and in the early 2000′s, I became certified as a Strength and Conditioning Coach through the NSCA. I have been working out religiously since I was 14 years old. I taught Tae Bo in college and am currently a member of two gyms, yet somehow I can’t manage to get to either of them regularly which is why I’m trying Tracy’s DVD program at home.
I think that the Metamorphosis program can work for most people, but with a few tweeks. Here are my suggestions…
CARDIO: If you follow Tracy’s program, you will be doing the same dance cardio DVD for 30 min on most days for 3 months straight. I don’t believe the intensity of dancing around my living room is enough, nor can I handle doing that same routine 90 times. Instead, I suggest that you aim to get 30-45 min of cardio in almost every day of the week (Tracy recommends resting every 6 days and this is a sound suggestion). I personally go running, do a machine at the gym, take a step class, or yes, even dance in my living room. For extra calorie burning, try interval training. Do a couple minutes of very high intensity, followed by a couple minutes of lower to moderate intensity. Cycle like this for at least 20 minutes. This is much more effective than steady state exercise. One of my favorite forms of cardio, which I think is very compatible with the Tracy Anderson Method, is cardio kickboxing (aka Tae Bo), or anything where you’re kicking at various angles, including to the side and behind to work the glutes. Raising your legs above your waist is a great way to get your heart rate up, and even Tracy does a similar move in her DVD. If you do Tracy’s dance cardio DVD, make sure that you are sweating and breathing hard. If you don’t need a shower immediately after doing your cardio, you are not working out hard enough!
STRENGTH TRAINING: The biggest problem with Tracy’s muscle work DVDs is that they only train some of your muscle groups (deltoids, abs, glutes, and hamstrings). Muscles burn more calories at rest than fat, so in order to increase your metabolism, you need to strength train for your entire body. Skipping large muscle groups like the chest, back, inner thighs, and quads just means that you’re missing out on sculpting extra calorie burning muscle. You’re also not training for a balanced body. In order to make her strength-training DVDs even more effective, you’ll also need to hit the gym at least twice a week to train your chest, back, and possibly more legs too. You can continue to use Tracy’s method of low resistance with high reps.
INTENSITY: In order to continue to see progress, you need to make sure this program continues to challenge your muscles. If by the 4th week, you can do all the exercises without any trouble, you need to make a change. Either add 1-3 lb ankle weights, do extra moves after the DVD is over, do two 30 min workouts back to back (for example, week 5 then week 6), do the entire arm section with weights or do the move with both arms at the same time instead of one side at a time (not sure why Tracy does this), hold the 3-lb weight behind your head during abs, or add a couple gym sessions to your routine. I personally like to focus on a muscle group each day, adding intensity and additional moves, with the hope of becoming slightly sore the next day. One day, I’ll focus on extra arms and abs, the next day legs (I do her 30-min DVD, but then add moves on for the muscle group I’m really trying to fatigue). I have found some additional moves of Tracy’s online, or sometimes I’ll throw in another DVD of hers (her postpartum DVD has an excellent section for abs). Again, I do believe most people will need to hit the gym in addition to these at home moves to see the best results.
DIET: Her diet is incredibly specific. I don’t think this is realistic for most people, much less for mothers like myself. In order to see true changes to your body, there will likely need to be a dietary component to your program. Quite frankly, it’s much easier to eat 500 calories less each day than it is to burn them off through exercise. You will need to take in fewer calories if you’re trying to loose weight. Tracy suggests eliminated processed foods and this is an excellent suggestion. I personally already did that, so I had to make other adjustments. Instead of snacking on dried fruit and nuts, I now snack on an apple. If it doesn’t satisfy me, I throw in a couple of nuts or a touch of peanut butter. I work on portion control, eating slightly less food than I normally would at all meals. But most importantly, I stopped eating in the evenings. I enjoy a satisfying dinner and then try not to eat anything more for the night. If I stay up for several hours more before bed, sometimes I get really hungry. In those situations, I allow myself a piece of fruit. Finding realistic dietary changes that you can make for good will be much more effective in the long run than a specific program with exact recipes and measurements. Who has time for that?!