Why Steven Seagal Got Fat: Efficiency

Why did Steven Seagal get fat? He became too damn efficient. In the eighties and early nineties he was lean, athletic and fast. His Aikido skills (Japanese Martial Art) were among the top Aikidoka in the world. Re-iterating something that has been gaining speed in the fitness community, the greater efficiency we gain at something, the less effect it has on our physiology. So, when someone gets to the level of mastery of a skill, it no longer has the same training effect it did when they were just learning it.

So, do you have to worry? To be honest, it’s unlikely. Unless you dedicate a lifetime to learning a specific set of skills (like my martial arts friends), movement and exercise will continue to provide you with wonderful benefits.

Steven Seagal was the first non-Japanese person to operate an Aikido dojo in Japan. He attained his black belt from esteemed masters, and at his peak was utterly amazing. Don’t confuse his B-level movies and acting with his martial skill. Why then did he slowly gain weight over the next 20 years, now looking puffed up and bloated? He became too efficient at Aikido. The interesting thing is, he can still move almost as well as he did when he was young; he still moves his feet, body and limbs like an expert.

There are many examples in the sports world of formerly amazing athletes that fall apart physically when they retire. Even if they continue to exercise, the level and intensity their body was accustomed to is still required to maintain how they looked before.

The more we perform an exercise, the better we get at it. We should always be striving for greater efficiency. After a few weeks of performing kettlebell swings, the 28kg (62lbs) I was using became so much easier. The initial strain I had when just picking it up was no longer there. Of course it is to be expected, since it was having a training effect on my body. But, am I still getting the same benefit as day 1? No, I am not. I am not burning the same number of calories, same amount of fat, or stimulating my muscles as effectively.

Here are some ways you can prevent yourself from getting stale in your fitness regimen:

1. Come to Peak Synergy

I have been a trainer for 20+ years, and I know that when people are left to their own devices they will do the same exercise routine they are most comfortable with. It usually involves something that does not challenge them, and each workout looks like the last one. At PSF we cycle through different types of training – so you’re always on your toes.

2. Don’t keep gravitating towards the same…

dumbbells, same length of TRX, same level of exercise, same set/rep scheme – keep pushing yourself to lift heavier with picture perfect form.

3. Change up your home routine 

if you stick with walking or jogging as your own exercise program, it will stop providing fat loss benefits after about 6 weeks. Change it up regularly. Cycle, row, run, do wind-sprints, sit through knee, mountain climbers, swimming, or kettlebells. Keep it brief and intense.

4. Adherence trumps the perfect program 

a horrible program violently applied regularly will provide better results than a perfect program only done with half-assed enthusiasm. Stick with a program, until it stops working – about 6-12 weeks.

Breaking habits…

When I worked at a local community center, I would see the same people reserve their spot on the treadmill or elliptical every day. I admired their dedication. But, their bodies never changed. Ever. You would think that an hour of running on the treadmill would do something for them. I am sure it improved their heart, lungs, built bone density etc, but their bodies looked the same for years. Conversely, the people who just started out, and stuck with it, made noticeable changes to their bodies within weeks. That is, until they fell into the same habit as their eager counterparts, doing the same thing over and over. That’s when people usually quit.

So, here is the take home lesson. When fat loss or progress slows or halts, you don’t need to work harder at the same things you are already doing. You just need to do something different and fresh.

In Health,

Coach Kumar

Unabashedly educating you on how you can win in life with your fitness, sleep, diet, and stress management.