"Thank you for signing up for my monthly fit tips.  You will find the contents beneficial as they relate to the whole spectrum of fitness issues.  I try and keep the focus on the fundamentals.  I teach my clients that they must first 'build their basement' in order to be successful in whatever they attempt.  Enjoy the read and thanks again for checking out Ultimate Best"
                                                                                    Good Luck and Good Health!

                                              Take Time To Recover

Whether you exercise or not, the vast majority of us know that it is important to warm up, particularly with  cardio…..a tennis game, a run or a pick up game of basketball.  But what about after you have completed your game or your run?  You have one more step to take…the cool down.

                                               The System is a Closed Loop

How important is cooling down?  Well, let’s look at the way the body pumps blood from the heart and back again.  Your circulatory system is a closed loop.  Blood leaves via the left ventricle when the heart muscle contracts.  Put your hand over your heart and you can feel the force of each contraction.  That force propels the blood to each and every cell of your body.  As the blood distributes throughout the body, the ‘push’ diminishes as the blood reaches the trillions of individual cells.

                                        Getting Back To The Starting Point

Now, the blood, with its load of waste products (CO2, etc) needs to return to the heart to unload the ‘debris’ and restock with oxygen.  But, if the pumping action is essentially depleted, how does is the body suppose to get the blood back to the heart?  Primarily, it is the movement of the body, resulting in the rhythmic squeezing of the veins, that propels the blood back into the right atrium.  But, what if, after you finish a 2 mile run, you grab your Gatorade and sit down to recover.  You have stopped moving your body, but your heart is still pumping away.  Your ability to get that blood back to the heart is ‘sitting on the sidelines’, so to speak.

The natural process of recovery has been compromised.  The results may include:
 Blood tending to pool in the lower extremities 
 Increased potential of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
 Chances for Dizziness and Fainting
 Increased tendency for muscle spasms or cramping

                                                    Bottom Line

After any intense exertion, in order to avoid the negatives listed about, you must keep in motion for 4-5 minutes (at least) to allow the body to restabilize (also known as ‘homeostasis’).  Keep moving by walking or jogging.  Stretching after exercise will also aid in your recovery.  Click on 'INFORMATION' to review the benefits of both the warm up as well as the cool down. 
Good Luck and Good Health!

      “Always remember that striving and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary” 
                                                                              Sarah Ban Breathnach, writer

                                                                                                                            top of webpage

                                                    Fantasy versus Reality
Many of the fitness shows that are on the air today have shown that, with a quality workout plan and proper education, an individual can regain their health.  Popular shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ and ‘Celebrity Fit Club’ demonstrate how individuals, famous and not so famous, can start and stay on the road to physical health.  With ‘The Biggest Loser’, you start with 60 plus days in which you can focus your undivided attention to eating right and exercising.  After the 60 plus days, you return to your regular day to day routine, trying over the next several months to take the lessons learned and continuing the regimen before returning to see who wins the big prize of $250,000.  With ‘Celebrity Fit Club’, you have the support team of a doctor, a psychologist and a personal trainer to help you stay on the path to quality health in the context of your day-to-day life.
                                                    Flash and Bang
Of these 2 shows, ‘The Biggest Loser’ has far higher ratings, mostly due to the amazingly dramatic weight loses that occur over and over again.  Those in the viewing audience who have a weight problem dream about being able dropping 10 to 20 pounds week after week.  I have to admit the results can be stunning but, the truth of the matter is that, ‘Celebrity Fit Club’ is more reality while ‘The Biggest Loser’ is more fantasy.
                                                      Back to Earth
Who of us out there has the resources to take off 2 whole months from our lives (work, family, friends) to concentrate solely on exercising and eating right?  While you’re at it, you will need a fully equipment gym and a continuous supply of all the ‘right foods’.  Be sure to include in this scenario an onsite nutritionist, a full time trainer and a medical staff waiting in the wings.  On the other hand, the celebrities of Fit Club are still working their careers, travelling here and there.  While advice is routinely provided concerning proper nutrition, quality exercise and how to stay focused mentally, for all intents and purposes, they are mostly on their own, having to plan when to fit in the exercising.  The Fit Club model realistically reflects what the every day Jane and Joe has to deal with in order to take care of their health.
                                         Less Time More Lasting Results   
I also take issue with the training methods used on the Biggest Loser.  The level of intensity and the number of hours the contestants exercise each day are excessive and unsustainable. The training has a built in ‘failure mode’ because no one can use the model provided as a day in, day out training method once they leave the show.  When the real world arrives at your door step, trying to schedule 2 or 3 hours each week for yourself can be a challenge, much less several hours a day.  I wrote an article back on November 2007 entitled ‘The Tortoise and The Hare Revisited’ which described how fitness is a lifestyle that you incorporate into your day to day lives and not something that your try and accomplish in 60 or 90 days.  As intensely as Olympic athletes will workout, if they were to stop their training, their fitness levels would begin to decline.  Too many former Biggest Loser participants have fallen by the wayside once the show was over, having not been given the proper tools to stay fit.  The key is to find a common sense approach to incorporating exercise into your busy routine… keep exercising in a practical way for the rest of your life.  
                                  Good Luck and Good Health!                                              “The best things in life aren't things”                                                                       Art Buchwald                                           top of page
                     What You See Is Not Necessarily What You Get  

My wife showed me a blog last month from an individual who had lost over 50 pounds of unwanted body fat.  Losing that much weight definitely does improve a person’s overall health.  Taking stress off the joints, greatly reducing the chances for Type II diabetes, feeling better about one’s self  are just a few of the many positive benefits that result from dropping the pounds.  Congratulations to this person for persevering and reaching their goals.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have that level of drive or focus.

                                                           The Rest Of The Story

The story would have ended there but, as I read the full context of the blog, it was implied that exercise, which had failed this person in the past, was not necessary to attain the above stated results. The twin methods of detoxing and nutrition dense supplements were the preferred means of taking off the unwanted pounds.  While it is true that these methods are important tools in the fight to regain our health, I’m obligated to enter a big ‘but’ into this discussion.  The ultimate benefit of losing weight is to be healthier so you can have a better quality of life and live longer.  With that is mind, let’s look at what physical attributes were improved and which ones were overlooked as it relates to 2 key areas, cardiovascular/cardio pulmonary and tendon/muscle/ligament/bone improvement.
                                                                Sweat Equity

First, how were the lungs, heart and circulatory system upgraded?  The way to improvement in this area is to elevate the heart rate through some type of physical activity (bike, jog, swim, etc) so that the heart, which is one big muscle, will get stronger and work more efficiently, the lungs will exchange oxygen more efficiently and the circulatory system will become more functional.  Were these goals reached?  No.

Secondly, in order to improve the muscle/tendon/ligament/bone composite, you have to lift, push, pull, carry some type of external weight.  Remember, we start losing muscle mass in our late 20s and earlier 30s if we don’t challenge the body.  In this case, no gain in active tissue or bone density was achieved.

                                                          The Effort Is Worth It

Research has proven that an overweigh individual who is engaged in a quality exercise program is generally more fit than a ‘normal weight’ person who doesn’t work out.  Another way to look at this story is that the best nutrition program in the world can only get you half way there if you don’t exercise.

I applaud anyone who can lose significant unwanted weight.  Just make sure that the methods that you use to reach that goal include the twin components of cardio and strength training.  Knowing that you are using all available means to take care of your health will bring you true peace of mind.  Don’t leave anything on the table.  In the long run, you will regret your decision if you do.  
Good Luck and Good Health!         

                                                                                                                         top of webpage

                                            How High Is Up

The majority of us who start an exercise program just want to get in shape, to be healthier, not to prepare for some type of competitive sport.  The competition is within, trying to improve your overall fitness and energy levels.  You know that if you put in the time and effort, the results will come.  What I see today in so many articles on exercise is a focus on getting that last 5% out of that workout…….to continually push yourself to your limits.  Let’s consider whether that should be the goal in the long run.

                                                 Step Back For A Moment

In the beginning of an exercise program, one aspect of your training is to start thinking about just how far you want to challenge yourself.  For example, if you are going to improve your cardio by running, what distances are you ultimately going to cover?  If you undertake weightlifting, how many pounds do you envision handling 2 to 3 years from now?  If you were athletic in your earlier years, but have not worked out in the past decade or so, it may not be reasonable to expect to approach what you had accomplished in the past.  In that same vein, if you weren’t that physically active earlier in your life, a quality exercise program may allow you to do more than you expect.  As you progress in your workouts, you will start feeling better, stronger, faster, more comfortable with your body and develop a better understanding of your abilities. What you believe you are capable of will begin to take shape.  Let me give you a couple of personal examples as to how I decided ‘how high was up’.  

                                                  Reasonable Expectations

As I progressed in my training, I settled in on the 5K (3.1 miles) for the max distance I wanted to run.  As my clients have heard me say time and again “If you have to run more than 3 miles, you might as well turn and fight”.  My goal is to keep my resting heart rate below 50 and attempt to beat last year’s time of 27:55 minutes for the local Summer’s End 5000.  At that point, I feel I have addressed the fitness demands as it relates to my heart, lungs and circulatory system.  Now, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with running further.  For instance, if finishing the Peachtree Road Race (6.2 miles) is a goal you have always wanted to achieve, then you go for it.

In the case of weightlifting, I stopped increasing the amount of poundage I was handling several years ago.  To continue increasing the amount of weight I was lifting would have only increased the injury potential, which, to my mind, would offset any additional positive effects.  I have attained a quality level of strength, particularly for my age (60), and can physically do most anything I need to (or want).

                                                               Bottom Line

Starting and maintaining a fitness program is imperative.  Those of you who have been receiving my fit tips for any length of time know this is what I teach.  Once you start feeling the improvements, the excitement over your decision will grow.  While the final ‘setting of the bar’ is a personal preference, the caution I interject is to not swing too far in the other direction and get caught up in exercising for exercising’s sake.  Read your body.  While you’ve learned that you can accomplish more than your thought your could, don’t let your ego get in the way.  Remember, getting fit is a means to an end, not the end itself.  
Good Luck and Good Health!

                                                                                                                                  top of webpage

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it”
                                                                                         Norman Schwarzkopf

                                            Run Forrest Run

When we decided to move back to Georgia in 1985, we were fortunate enough to have settled in Winder. I soon discovered that one of the many benefits of living here was the annual Summer’s End Run. Back then, the course ran in front of our home.  Since jogging was my primary exercise at the time,  I knew instinctively that I could not sit and watch all those people jogging past our front porch that Saturday morning without wanting to join in.  So, in 1986, I started competing in this local event, with my wife and eventually my two young sons cheering me on from our front porch as I raced by, waving and getting “blasted” with the kids’ water guns.  As much fun as that was, I was pleasantly surprised when my older son decided to run with me. 

                                                             As So It Begins

Rich began at the age of 9, winning his age group (9-10 year olds) two consecutive years.  These accomplishments were the genesis for his desire to join his school track team in the 8th grade.  It wasn’t too long after that when he began to show me that he had learned his lessons well.  In other words, instead of slowing down for him, he now waits for me at the end of the race, cheering me on to the finish line.  He has since gone on to win his region in the 400 and the 800 as well as representing his school in the state finals.

                                                              Give It A Go   

Just as my son’s love of running eventually led him to compete at the state level, this same love has led me to seek out running challenges beyond the Summer’s End.  Two weeks ago, May 15th to be exact, I ran in the Atlanta Senior Olympics, a competition in Atlanta which will be held annually, covering track and field, swimming and other competitive events for the 50 and older crowd.  Having not run a competitive race since my intramural days, the idea of the race intrigued me.  At least I would have an official record of how fast (or how slow) I actually was.  My choices of the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints were based on my physical skills derived from 4 years of resistance training and 5 years of Tae Kwon Do.

                                                               Have A Plan

My specific plan for speed training had consisted of 3 weeks of running 400s, 200s and 100s. However, when I ran the two races, I quickly discovered that whatever running techniques I had tried to incorporate in my training all went out the window the instant the gun when off.  “Run Forrest Run” suddenly became the name of the game.  When the races were over, I had won a bronze medal in the 100 and a silver medal in the 200.  It just proves the point that you never know what the results will be unless you try.  Lesson reinforced.  I have now decided to incorporate sprint work as a regular part of my exercise regiment, as my goal is to win the gold one day.As for my son, he will continue to pursue that passion for running.  He has been accepted at Kennesaw State and will be participating in their track and field program.  Who knows what opportunities will spring from this love of running that was inspired all those years ago by watching his dad "do his thing."

                                                            The Bottom Line                                                           

Moral of the story: By being physically fit, when the opportunity came along to try something different, I was in a position to “give it a go”.  If you commit time and resources to your physical health, you too will be in a better position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, be it a backyard volleyball game, a spontaneous request by your son or daughter to go play tennis with them, running/walking the Summer’s End Run or even competing in the Senior Olympics!

Don’t miss those moments that could shape the times of your life, making the end result more colorful, more fulfilling.  It’s truly never too late to embark upon that exercise program to which you’ve been promising yourself.  The key is to make the commitment.  What opportunities could be awaiting you tomorrow?  Unless you “go for it,” you’ll never know what you are truly capable of doing or who you might inspire.

Good Luck and Good Health! 

"You may never know what results come from your action.  But if you do nothing, there will be no result."
                                                                                                            Mahatma Gandhi 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            top of webpage

                                       Don't Sweat It.....Just Write It Down

Deciding to start a regular exercise program can be one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. When done properly, adopting a regular workout routine can also be one of the most rewarding.  Now that you have decided to commit your valuable free time to regularly working out and physically challenging your body, you`ll want to get the most out of your efforts.

                                                              Missing Key

Of course, good nutrition and good training techniques are essential to optimizing your results.  However, if you are going to spend your valuable down time sweating, you will find that having a cohesive exercise plan will help you attain your fitness goals faster and safer.  Its been my experience that even the best workout routines usually are missing one key component.  Its a simple component really, but one that is regularly overlooked.  The component I am referring to is always remembering to keep a written record of your efforts!  Whether you choose to run, lift weights, or swim, you will soon discover that maintaining regular documentation of your sweat equity efforts will help you to keep your focus, allowing you to accurately track your progress and maximize your exercise time.

                                                   Got A Photographic Memory?

You might think that this is an unnecessary step in the mistaken belief that one can estimate or guesstimate what they did during their last workout session.  But, as the old saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  And, unless you are one of those lucky people equipped with a photographic memory, can you really remember how many times you jogged in the last week?  What if you tried to include your exact distance and times?  Now try and record the past 2 to 3 weeks?  If you lift weights, can you correctly recall the number of sets, reps, types of exercises and amount of resistance you used during your last workout?  If pressed, could you write down what you were able to accomplish in your workout routines over the past several weeks with any degree of accuracy?  Without keeping a written record of your workout routines, how do you determine whether or not you are on track with achieving your fitness goals?  Just imagine how your confidence would soar and your physical fitness would improve if you were able to drive to the gym with an exercise plan based on what you actually did in your previous workouts.

                                                                Have A Plan

In addition to keeping you on track, maintaining a written exercise log will prove to be very helpful in planning your future workouts.  Your log will provide an exercise road map which accurately tracks where you`ve been and where you want to go.  Simply stated, your future fitness goals should be based on what you have actually achieved in previous workouts.  You will be able to focus all your attention on your workout, secure in the knowledge that the goals you set have for yourself are realistic and attainable.  Furthermore, the time you spend maintaining your written log will be more than offset by the amount of time you save in the gym because all of your energies will be focused on why you are there and what you need to do instead of trying to remember which exercise to engage in next, what equipment to select, what weight to select, etc., etc.  The analogy would be if you were preparing for a speech, a meeting, or a trip, you wouldn`t purposely choose to fly by the seat of your pants by being unprepared.  Instead, you would make your best effort to be organized to ensure your eventual success.  The same holds true for your daily workout routine.  You may believe that you are already giving your best effort and do not need to regularly record your progress.  But, in order to know for sure that you are achieving your fitness goals, it is vital to start, maintain, and regularly review your written exercise log.  In short, don`t sweat it, just write it down.

Good Luck and Good Health!

                “The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen” 
                                                                                Lee Iacocca, automobile executive     
                                                                                                                               top of webpage

"Take Time To Recover" -  Importance of the cool down
"Fantasy vs Reality" - Comparing Biggest Loser to Celebrity Fit Club
"What You See Is Not Necessarily What You Get" - Losing weight is more than just detoxing and 
                                                                                good nutrition
"How High Is Up?" - You don't always have to increase the amount of weight you lift
"Run Forrest Run" - Reflections on personal running experiences and challenges
"Don't Sweat It....Just Write It Down" - Why you should regularly record your workouts
"Enough Already"  -  You only need to strength train twice a week
"Cardio Will Not Help You Lose Weight?"  -  Cardio is just as important for weight loss as strength 
"Don't Take My Word For It... Time Will Tell"  -  The benefits of resistance training
"Catch "The Fever"  -  Looking at 'old age' differently and running the Senior Olympics
"The Big Picture" -  Stop and look at the months and years ahead of you
"The Essential" - Why the free standing squat should be included in everyone's workout routine
"It's a 500 Piece Puzzle" - There are so many ways to improve your fitness but only so many of those 
                                          ways that you can implement 
"Taking Control" - Control the resistance movements will improve your results
"Making the DIFerence" -   Intensity of the workout will dictate the level of improvement 
"Bend But Don't Break" - Flexibility (ROM) is just as important as your cardio and resistance training
"Turn Back The Clock" - Naturally increase your body's production of testosterone and growth   
"Don't Resist Resistance Training" part 1 - Why everyone should include resistance training
"Less Is More" part 2 - Working out twice a week is all you need
"Free Weights vs Machines" part 3 - Why you should focus more on free weight exercises
"Multi Joint vs Single Joint" part 4 - Why you should perform your multi-joint exercises in the            

                                                   Enough Already!

There have been many times when a gym rat (someone who works out constantly) will ask me questions related to their workout regimen.  The most common issue I hear is that they are not getting what they think they should out of their program, that they have ‘hit a wall’ in their training.  I’m sure many of you who have committed to getting physically fit sometimes feel like you are spinning your wheels.  The harder you work, the less you seem to be accomplishing. 

Well, I have good news for the vast majority of you.  In fact, it’s great news!  In most cases, you are probably working out too long and/or too often!

                                                        Less Is More

First, understand that your body is improving physically, not when you are working out, but during the times in between the workouts.  Resistance training actually stresses out your muscles, ligaments, tendons and bone structure.  The improvements come when you rest your body and feed the cells (with good nutritional foods).  Your body is adapting to the stress placed upon it.  If you go back to the gym too soon, your cellular structure may not have fully recuperated from the last workout.  For instance, if you did bench presses 3-4 days a week, your body would get weaker over time because your pectorals, front deltoids and triceps would never get the recovery time needed to prepare for the next lifting session.

                                                 Maximize Your Time

You only need to do resistance training twice a week!  Anymore than that and you are probably hindering your ability to reach your goals.  My clients never lift weights more than 2 sessions over a 7 day period and they continue to see gains.  This time frame also fits far better into your busy lifestyle.  I can even show you how working out one day a week can be effectively introduced into to your existing program.  Yes, I did say one day a week!  My clients will tell you just how effective this element of training can be both from a development standpoint as well as a personal perspective.

“Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the 
                                                                                William Arthur Ward

                                                                                                                            top of page

                          Cardio Will Not Help You Lose Weight?

I was clicking through the channels Friday night when I happened across a 20/20 segment that was going to report that cardio was bad for weight loss.  Well, I had to stay tuned in to see what this was all about.  It seems Jim Karas, a celebrity trainer and fitness expert, has written a book entitled “The Cardio-Free Diet” in which he states that you should not include cardio in your exercise program if you want to lose weight.  He went so far as to say “Cardiovascular exercise kills a weight-loss plan, your internal organs, your immune system, your time and your motivation. If your true goal is to lose weight, interval strength training is the only way to go”.

                                                  Saying It Doesn't Make It So

While I have not read the book, I did watch the tv segment as well as read the accompanying article on’s website which you can view on the link below:


Here are my thoughts on this subject.  First, I agree that weight training is vital to any weight loss program.  Your metabolism is directly related to the amount of muscle you carry on your skeletal frame.  The reason that an older person’s metabolism slows down is because he or she does not engage in regular strength training.  In fact, you can start losing muscle mass as early as your mid to late 20s if you shy away from resistance exercises. Without strength training, you are setting yourself up for failure physically on many levels.  (Click on "Don't Take My Word For It... Time Will Tell" for details about resistance training).  
                                              You Can't Get There From Here                                                    

And while I do have issues with people performing hours upon hours of cardio (for reasons to numerous to start exploring in this Fit Tip), no amount of strength training is going to enhance the cardiovascular system (the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries) or cardiopulmonary system (the heart and lungs) to the extent that regular cardio exercise will.  Cardio works in tandem with weight training to accelerate weight loss.  The research proves that conclusively.  So does the anecdotal evidence.  

                                                      Balanced Approach

I strongly believe that a balanced approach is best for improving functional fitness for the vast majority of us.  I am skeptical of any program that espouses one component of fitness to the near exclusion of the other components (i.e., high carb or only interval cardio or high protein or strictly weight training).  Spending too much time on any one aspect of physical health will result in not gaining the full benefits of the others.  

Cardio, resistance, range of motion, balance and breathing techniques (along with good nutrition) are all integral to my personal training philosophy.  These six are synergistic, meaning they assist one another to optimize each other’s individual benefits.  My clients have been proving over the last several years that this method works very well.  

Good Luck and Good Health!

                                   “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.” 
                                                                      Saint Jerome
                                                                                                                                  top of page

                    Don't Take My Word For It... Time Will Tell

There are no guarantees in this world except the twin absolutes of death and taxes (although a debate can be started about that “tax thing”).  From guarantees we move one step down to items with a high probability of occurring. Grey hair, a sprained ankle and misplacing your car keys would fit into the “high probability” category. Let`s talk about another high level of probability.  If you decide to do nothing about your health in terms of eating better and exercising, then the odds of you developing physically negative issues goes way up.  With the twin epidemics of obesity and type II diabetes permeating our culture, many of us have greatly stacked the odds against ourselves for being able to enjoy the “golden years”. 

                                                       Take a Look Around

Stop and think for a minute about where you will be 10 and 20 years from today. Look at the people around you who are that much older than yourself.  How comfortable would you be in their shoes healthwise?  The simple truth of the matter is that by taking 2-3 hours a week for yourself, you can begin that journey to rediscovering your energy, your vitality, that bounce in your step. This is also not rocket science.  The problem comes from having so many ways to start an exercise program that a person can become paralyzed with indecision.  Since a myriad of books have been written on the very subject of starting a exercise program, attempting to explain within this article how to get started would, at best, be incomplete.  So let`s crack open the window on one of the components of the health issue... strength.

Strength is directly proportional to how well you have maintained your muscle mass.  Now, we are not talking about Schwarzenegger `s muscle mass.  Governer Arnold`s physical structure came from long hours, long weeks, long months, long years of very intense weight training.  His job, then anyway, was to build muscle.  If your full time job was to build muscle, then I know starting an exercise program would be a much easier proposition for you.  What I am talking about is having a form of exercise that requires us to overcome some type of resistance.  Examples are many, including rock climbing, sprinting, hiking, weightlifting to name a few. The muscle fibers need to be challenged in order to grow stronger. 

                                                           Reasons Abound

What are the benefits derived from maintaining (and growing) our muscle fibers?  Let`s take a look.  Each benefit listed below, in and of itself, is reason enough to look into some kind of resistance program.  And the beauty of the list below is that it is not followed in small print by a corresponding list of negative effects (unlike what we see on some commercials about this pill or that pill). 

1. Denser bone structure  
2. Less chance for injury  
3. Less stress on the joints  
4. Cells are more sensitive to insulin (a good thing)  
5. Less chance for falling  
6. Look better, feel better  
7. Higher probability of enjoying later years  
8. Increased testosterone levels  
9. Control your weight (increased metabolic rate) 
10.      Help the transit of food through your digestive system 
11.      Be better prepared for a crisis situation (see Katrina) 
12.      Regain your physical confidence

                                                       Free Weights Rule

When it comes to strength training, my teaching philosophy centers around the idea that it is “the shortest distance between two points”.  In other words, strength training is a concise way that one can grow their power at a controlled and yet rapid pace with a built in method of numerically tracking that progress (weight, repetitions, sets, etc).  While the vast majority of us are not looking to get on the cover of a magazine or bench press 300 pounds, being functionally fit is a goal for everyone.  You can have a well balanced program that fits into your schedule and that will give you a healthy level of muscular strength and endurance in less than one year.  At that point, you can make the decision to either continue increasing you strength or go into a maintenance level of training (which will allow you to spend even less time in the gym but still maintain the energy levels you`ve developed). 

For less time than it takes to play a round of golf, you have a very good chance of turning back the clock; or, if you`re under thirty, you`ll be able to feel the way you do now and and for decades to come.  Yes, I said decades!  This is not some “pie in the sky” theory; not an outside-the-box hypothesis.  The hundreds of research findings showing positive results and the millions of individuals who prove this concept everyday speak volumes as to the efficacy of working out. 

                                                       You Need A Plan

What I and other personal trainers bring to the table are experience and organization.  We have had the time to read, study and put into practice various exercise philosophies.  We save you time by teaching a focused program of physical activities to improve yourself.  And when you are healthier, you can be more productive at work, be better able to enjoy your chosen activity (golf, tennis, basketball, etc) and feel better about yourself overall.  If you are looking to start an exercise program in 2005, take a long, hard look at weight training.  Six months from now you will look back and wonder why you waited so long.  But the regret will be fleeting because you will be in the middle of experiencing all the positives mentioned and that will be one heck of a way to have started off the new year!

      “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”
                                                                                           Maureen Dowd
                                                                                                                                    top of page

                                                CATCH THE FEVER

When my parents’ generation was growing up, the plan was to work hard and eventually retire at age 65 to enjoy ‘the good life’ in their “golden years”.  Today, with over 50,000 people in America living past 100 at the start of this millennium and the average age around 77 years old, our perception of the ‘golden years’ and what we want to do with them  is changing rapidly.  The activity level seen in the over 50 population is exploding.  The growth of fitness facilities is attributed mostly to this same segment of our population.  The research has proven that the body will get stronger, become more vital, if an individual exercises on a regular basis.  All of the evidence points to the new paradigm that the 50s and beyond can be a great time to enjoy life on a whole new stage.  Each one of us has the opportunity in this country to make the phrase “The Golden Years” ring true.

                                                      Change Can Be Good

In my own case, I made the decision to change careers after the age of 50.   My choice to become a personal trainer was influenced in part by my own experiences with old age as it related to different members of my family.  I saw what one possible future could be, and passively accepting illness and physical debilitation as being part of the natural aging process was not something I could envision for myself or the people I love.  

When we were in our 20s and 30s, our ‘reserves’ were topped off.  We had energy to spare.  But as we entered the second half of our lives, the pressures of family and work began to supersede any time for ourselves.  Exercising needed to be a planned event, and it just never seemed to make the list.  The good news is that an increasing number of the Baby Boomer generation have discovered “the secret”.  I am happy to report that the “Boomers” are learning that by taking care of their primary asset, their physical health, their ultimate goal of being able to enjoy the “good life” well after the age of 50 can turn into a reality.   By becoming more physically active, we can restock that energy reserve.  And it feels good.  To be able to play an hour of one-on-one tennis or go jog around the neighborhood on a spring day are two of the many functional activities in which we should be able to participate, and dare I say, even look forward to doing.

                                                         Don't Be Surprised

One of the constants that I have seen again and again is the surprise that individuals express as to what they can attain physically, whether it relates to strength, flexibility, balance and/or endurance.  What my clients have taught me and what I have learned from my own training regiment clearly demonstrates that the human body is capable of much more than we ever expect.  We just have to try.  And the shame of it all is that when we neglect the physical nature of our being, we limit our potential to accomplish so much more in our day-to-day lives.  

                                                     Over 50 Ain't Over The Hill

For those of us who have started back on the fitness trail and for those of you who never quit in the first place, maybe you would like to have the opportunity to qualify your physical skills, and meet with people who have similar goals.  The Atlanta Senior Olympics is one such venue, designated for the 50+ crowd, having embarked upon its maiden voyage in 2005.  You will have the opportunity to compete against individuals your own age.  One great aspect about this yearly event is the range of activities presented for the 50 and over crowd.  You don’t necessarily have to be an ‘athlete’ to participate.  Table Tennis, shuffleboard and bowling are included along with racquetball, track and swimming, just to name some of the competitions that will be held from May18 through May 24.  Check out the complete list of events at to see if you find one of interest to you.  

                                                          Senior Olympics

I actually competed in last year’s Senior Olympics.  I selected the 100M and 200M races, based on the twin facts that my weightlifting has provided me with strong legs and my flexibility was equal to the task thanks to my martial arts training (thank you Master You).  At the very least, I expected that it would be a great experience, and I’d have irrefutable evidence of how fast (or how slow) I actually was. As it turned out, I did better than I ever expected.  I won a bronze in the 100 and silver in the 200.  Now that I am a Senior Olympics medalist, I have to go back to see if I can keep up the pace and hopefully do even better this time around.  I never would have imagined that at age 57, I would be struck with “Olympic Fever”; and yet, I am.    

The point is, you will never know of what you are capable until you try.  Why not give it a shot?   Accept the challenge.  Experience new things and meet new people.  You’ll have some great stories to tell your friends, your kids and your grandkids.  And who knows, you may even walk away with a medal, or two.  Good luck, good health, and I hope to see you there.

Good Luck and Good Health!
                                 "A Black Belt is a White Belt who didn't quit"
                                                                                                                                 top of page

                                                      The Big Picture            

Today’s hectic pace can be daunting.  There never seems to be enough time to get things done.  You’ve got to finish the job in front of you, then hurry on to the next item on the list.  You tend to focus on the task at hand and have little time to reflect on the day, much less on the weeks and months to come.  You need to take a moment, catch your breathe and look at the big picture. 

                                                        Many Reminders                                                  

And what is the big picture when it comes to your health?  You have ample evidence that paying attention to your physical health has considerable rewards.  You have family and/or friends that go to the gym on a regular basis and rave about how much better they feel. They will ask you to come along but you respectfully decline, saying something about ‘next time’.  You see on ‘The Biggest Loser’ or ‘Dancing With The Stars’ how being physically fit will improve your quality of life.  How often do talk shows have a segment on the latest exercise fad?   And, when you went online this holiday season, did you not see that article telling you “10 Ways to Avoid Gaining Weight Over The Holidays”.  You are constantly being bombarded with reasons why you should take care of your health.  But you just don’t have time to deal with that right now.  You’ve got things to do. 

                                                    For The Rest of Your Life

The research has shown that the most difficult aspect of an exercise program is making the decision to start.  I would argue that the real challenge is making that change in your thought process so you understand that exercise should be part of who you are, not an add on you do when it’s convenient.  When you truly understand the reasons why you are regularly committing time and resources to go to the gym or walk around the neighborhood, then, and only then, will you be able to put yourself in a position to sustain your program….for the rest of your life.  

                                                The Light At The End of The Tunnel  

While you have little control over your body’s genetic makeup, about 70% of what you will become is directly influenced by your day-to-day decisions.  Research confirms that exercise and eating right works.  No two ways about it.  If you want your body to work right, you feed it good food and make it do work.  If you make poor food choices and let your body reside on the couch, what do you think will be the results?    Stop and think for more than a moment on that question.  The decision you make today is completely within your control.  What direction do you want to take your life in the coming years?  Get the picture?                                                           

Good Luck and Good Health!
         “You will either step forward into growth or you will step backward into safety”
                                                                                             Abraham Maslow                                                                                                                                                                                top of page

                                                          The Essential 

Strength training is one of the absolute keys to health.  I believe the best approach to starting a strength training program for the average Jane and Joe is to educate the client as to the ‘why’ and stick with the fundamentals.  Focusing on the fundamental movements, represented by functional lifts, has been shown to generate significant physical improvements.  In other words, the resistance training movements should reflect the day-to-day activities in which a person engages.  While the bench press, the bent over row and the pushup are important functional exercises, the one that carries the fitness industry title as the “King of Exercises” is the free standing squat.  The squat mirrors the most common movement pattern that everyone must be able to do….get up out of a chair.

                                                                Stand Up

The squat is the body’s optimal position for activating the most number of muscle fibers, thus allowing you to lift the most amount of weight, build the most amount of muscle fiber and burn the most amount of calories.  For most of you under 50 years of age, getting up out of a chair is a no big deal.  You do it all the time.  But as we age further on the other side of 50, one of the biggest concerns can become getting up out of a chair without having to ask for help.  Here’s a test for those of you under 50.  Try getting up out of a chair 10 times in a row, using only your leg power.  Do not provide any assistance with your hands.  Look straight ahead, keeping your head up and shoulders back.  How you feel on the 9th and 10th repetition may give you an indication as to whether your most powerful position needs attention.

                                                       Don’t Just Sit There                                                                                                                      
There are 2 reasons why people end up in assisted living and nursing home environments.  They either lose their ability to reason or they lose their ability to walk.  If you’re not presently exercising in any capacity, your leg strength is diminishing each and every day.  If you have a fitness regimen, make sure that leg strength training is an integral part.  You have more muscle mass below the waist than above the waist.  If you don’t have a focus on your legs, which provide your power, your transportation and your independence, you need to rethink your plan.

                                                        Dollars and Sense 

The cost of health care is spiraling out of control.  You need to take whatever actions necessary to delay and/or reduce its impact to you and your family.  Statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate how eating right and exercising can potentially reduce your health care costs, sometimes significantly.  It’s common sense that demands that you take care of your primary asset…your physical health.  To neglect your health because you’re tired, or you’re busy or you don’t feel it’s necessary at this time is to make a conscious decision to accept the consequences.   So don’t complain when you’re stiff, or sore or have no energy.  Those are natural results of your decision to neglect your body.  And be prepared to hand over more and more of your hard earned money down the road to the health care system in order to help repair the body you decided wasn’t worthy of your attention.        
Good Luck and Good Health!
               “You are the only problem you will ever have and you are the only solution”
                                                              Bob Proctor – Motivational Speaker, Author 
                                                                                                                                        top of page

                                              It’s A 500 Piece Puzzle

Getting back into shape.  You know you need to do it.  Where do you start?  Difficult question to answer.  In some ways, it’s even tougher today because we know so much more than our parents did when it comes to what is required to keep the body healthy.

                                                   Decisions Decisions  

Translation:  It’s a 500 piece puzzle.  You might say “hey, I’ll do some cardio.  That should do the trick”.  While this is a good starting point, realize that cardio is a multi-faceted exercise method with many ‘moving’ parts.  All you have to do is look at just how many books related to this subject are on the shelves today.  Let’s attempt to list some of those various parts. They would include type/s of cardio (running, hiking, spinning, step class, basketball, etc.), total distance for the week, speed (fast, slow, interval), do you run on a track or the street, do you run hills, what is your heart rate during a workout, what is your RHR (resting heart rate), do you cross train, are you 17 or 71?  You get the picture.  There are many facets to a quality cardio program, each one important in its own way.

                                                Multi-Faceted Approach

Nutrition is another fitness component with multiple elements.  You can’t eat healthy all of the time.  Attempting to be perfect in your food habits will drive you to distraction.  Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself.  Do I eat a good breakfast, do I avoid transfats, do I read labels, do I get enough nutrition dense foods, am I hydrating enough, have I limited my fast food intake, should I increase or decrease the amount of food I consume, are most of the foods I eat closer to whole foods or more processed, do I rush through meals or take the time to chew my food.…the list goes on.  You can’t do everything right.  I like a Whopper Junior or a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup on occasion, but I have given up that blooming onion for good (so far).  I tell my clients to eat well 90% of the time and indulge yourself (within reason) the other 10%. 
                                                 Do The Best You Can                                                      

The same holds true for resistance training, flexibility and balance training.  There are many aspects you must look at in order to optimize the results for each.  Ultimately, you can only cover so many of the bases.  Accomplishing 300-350 pieces out of the 500 piece puzzle is good and accomplishing 400-450 out of 500 is even better.  If you try and do all 500, the stress will take its toll!  Be smart about your choices and do the very best you can.  Your overall physical health hangs in the balance.         

Good Luck and Good Health!
“When facing a difficult task, act as if you cannot fail. When going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce!"
                                                                                      Author Unknown
                                                                                                                                      top of page

                                                       Taking Control

Walk into any gym and you will see people engaged in resistance training, either sitting in a machine pushing and pulling or using free weights such as dumbbells or a barbell.  Strength training is one of the keys to obtaining your fitness goals.  Only giving lip service to this component of your training is to greatly limit your end results.

                                                 Benefits Gained…Too A Point

When you are watching the weightlifters, you will often notice the attempt by some individuals to continually try and lift as much weight as possible.  The theory is that the more poundage you lift up against gravity, the more muscle, and therefore the more strength, you realize and, to some extent, this is true.  There is a good possibility that the work they have put in has resulted in a much higher level of fitness.  Now here comes the qualified ‘but’.  As hard as they are working to challenge their muscle fibers to grow, there are a couple of simple changes that could be made in order to take their workout to the best possible conclusion.

                                                            You’re The Boss

Slow down.  By attempting to lift as much weight as possible, there is a tendency to jerk the weight.  In other words, you are using momentum to get the weight to move.  The results?  You are not really using your true strength because the weight wants to return to the starting point immediately, whether you wanted it to or not.  You are not in total control of that iron.  It has a mind of its own.  What I tell all my clients is “from the time you put your hands on a weight until the time you put it down, you must be in control of that weight”.  Test this approach when you are performing the seated row or lat pulldown.  Have the weight stack stop in midair for ½ second (come to a complete stop).  If that proves difficult, you will want to reduce the amount of weight in the stack by 10 to 20 pounds.  Now execute the lift.  Are you now controlling the weight?  Do you feel the muscle groups you are using when you stop the momentum?  You should, which will result in an increased focus on the lift.

                                                  Put Your Mind On The Muscle

This stop-and-hold method is what a body builder does when they are in competition.  Posing for 10-15 seconds or longer in one body position after another is very challenging.  Several competitors have told me that they are the most exhausted after a show as opposed to the fatigue they feel from a regular workout session.  That says a lot!  This stop-and-hold approach can also be applied to the Upright Row, Bent Over Row, Lateral/Forward/Prone Raise and the Tricep Pressdown.  By focusing on what you are doing, being in control, you will put yourself in a position to optimize your gains.

                                                           Bonus Technique 

Can you contract your muscles enough to get the bar to touch your torso (and stop).  That extra couple of inches the bar has to travel to make contact with your body is that next level of challenge for your muscles and tendons.  Try it.  Make contact with your mid section (seated row) or your upper torso (lat pulldown) and see if you feel the difference.  Again, you may have to drop the amount of weight you are attempting to lift.  You will get better results with less weight.  Form in lifting is key to your ultimate success!

Good Luck and Good Health!
                                                                                                                                         top of page

                                                Making the ‘DIF’erence

Evaluating your fitness program can be done in a variety of ways.  One method used is the ‘DIF’ method, based on 3 criteria:

                                         Duration:  How long is the workout
                                         Intensity:  How challenging is the workout
                                         Frequency:  How often are the workouts

The basic principle of ‘DIF’ is that if you increase one of these 3, you will need to decrease one or both of the other two.  This definition fits in with my training philosophy, which has always been to get the most out of an exercise program in the least amount of time, making the most efficient use of the day.  Let’s apply the above 3 criteria to Cardio.  The minimum standard for getting healthier is generally considered 3 days a week for 20 minutes.  The logical conclusion is that increasing that time will boost a person’s fitness levels.  

                                                       Fact of the Matter

A study in Japan set out to test that theory by evaluating 2 different approaches using stationary bikes for 5 days a week over a 6 week period.  The 1st group pedaled for 60 minutes at a steady pace while the 2nd group applied interval training, pedaling all out for 20 seconds and slowing down for 10 seconds for a total of 4 minutes (8 intervals).  Allowing 4-5 minutes each for a warm up and a cool down, the total time for this interval training method was under 15 minutes. The punch line is that the VO2 Max (oxygen exchange efficiency) for the first group improved by 9% while the second group improved by 15%. 

                                                           Less Is More

The 2nd group had a 66% better improvement in 75% less time.  Higher intensity (I) with less duration (D) and no increase in frequency (F).  A far greater improvement in your overall fitness levels while, at the same moment, not spending as much time in the gym.  The more intense the workout, the higher you set the challenge point for the body, so that as long as you are consistent in your training, your body will be shooting for a superior level of fitness.

                                                       Word of Caution 

In order to start training at these more intense levels, you must first condition your body.  I would recommend:
Not trying any of this interval style training for at least a month until you get a baseline of cardio fitness
The 20 second/10 second cycle is not ‘optimal’.  While the research shows that shorter bursts of very high intensity will get the best results, these levels are for very fit individuals.  You should start out with (after you have warmed up) 1 minute at a faster pace then 2-3 minutes at your normal pace
Try different ratios – 1:1 or 1:2 or 1:3 using different time frames (30 seconds, 1 minute) – varying your workouts helps keep you coming back 
Slowly introduce a 0.1-0.2 mph increase in pace, depending on how you felt from the last workout – your body will tell you if you are pushing too hard
I do not recommend doing intervals every time – they are definitely beneficial, but not the only way to get fit – a nice steady jog or walk still brings benefits - it’s always good to mix up your workouts 

                                                             Bottom Line

The ‘DIF’ approach also applies to my approach toward strength training.  By using full body training instead of split routines, the intensity is higher so more recovery time is needed, therefore dictating reduction of the frequency.  While lifting only 2 days a week, my clients strength levels continue to increase.  Reevaluate your exercise program.  Could applying the ‘DIF’ approach save you time and up your game?  Please contact me if you want to learn how to make a difference in your training.  

Good Luck and Good Health! 

“It is not impossibilities that fill us with deepest despair, but possibilities that we have failed to realize”
                                                                Robert Mallet, poet (1810 - 1881)
                                                                                                                                          top of page



                             Turn Back The Clock

Testosterone.   Human growth hormone, aka: HGH.  People pay small fortunes to get a shot or three.  Their desire is to regain years lost.  All one has to do is write a check.  But….the research is inconclusive.  Some hits, some misses, some real negatives, a lot of questions.  No guarantees.

                                           The Empty Nest Syndrome

When you hit 50, you start feeling your age.  Before that, those little aches and pains had been just a part of your life, things you dealt with.  Now, you start taking stock of what you’ve done and where you are going.  It can be sobering.  It took the dual impact of my younger son leaving for college while, within the same 30 day period, celebrating my 60th birthday, to cause me to reflect.

                                             Getting Better with Age

We all are getting chronologically older, but that doesn’t mean you have to grow ‘old’.  The great equalizer is strength training.  Muscles help keep your bones upright and properly positioned, allow your body to maintain a high metabolic rate and reduce your chances for injury.  Retaining your muscle mass will greatly enhance your ability to remain independent into your 70s and beyond.  While you can start losing muscle as early as your late 20s or early 30s, the great news is that, if you incorporate resistance training into your fitness regimen, you can turn back the clock.  Your body will naturally increase its production of testosterone and growth hormone.  Cardiovascular training, at best, is limited in its ability to address this subject.  

                                           It Ain’t That Complicated

Save your hard earned money when it comes to ‘injecting youth’.  Instead, pick up a weight.  No matter what your age (I started after the age of 50), building your overall strength will help your body up its game on many different levels.  If you don’t, the negatives will gradually overtake you.  Review my article entitled "Don't Take My Word For It...Time Will Tell"      
Good Luck and Good Health
 "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one   
       more time."
                                                                                                        Thomas Edison
                                                                                                                                        top of page

                         Don’t Resist Resistance Training? (Part 1) 
Everyone is on board with cardio training.  Running, spinning, hiking, walking, step classes are all quality ways to improve your health.  We all know that a strong heart is important.  But, if you are only focused on cardiovascular training, you are missing a key component in the fitness equation.  Resistance, or strength training, is just as important to your long term health. 

You start losing muscle mass in your late 20s and early 30s if you don’t work at it.  By the time you reach 70, you may still be able to walk several miles, but will you have difficulty carrying the groceries up the back steps or will lifting up your grandchild be a concern?  Will working in the garden become a chore?  Maintaining your muscle mass benefits both men and women in more ways than you could imagine. 

                                                  Many Reasons Why 

The benefits to strength training are numerous.  (1) Developing osteoporosis is on the minds of many of you baby boomers.  Lifting weights will help alleviate that concern.  (2) Trying to control those extra pounds you have put on is a problem that far too many of you are having to face.  Lifting weights will increase your metabolic rate, allowing your body to more efficiently burn off those excess calories.  (3) Maintaining your independence in your later years weights heavy on the minds of many of you as you approach retirement age.  Strengthening your muscular structure has been shown conclusively to be a key factor in allowing you to be on your own into your 60s and beyond. (4) And, no matter what your age, a more youthful appearance will result when you change your body’s composition to more muscle and less fat.  

                                                    The List Goes On  

There are many other reasons why resistance training is so vitally important to everything else you do, both now and in the future, so start now to rebuild your strength.  Neglect this component of your health at your own peril! 

Over the next 3 months I will be presenting basic concepts to help you get the most out of your strength training program, whether you have been training for years or are just getting started.  Stay tuned.     
Good Luck and Good Health!

                                                                                                                              top of page

                                             Less Is More

How often should you lift weights?  The commonly held belief is that you should be going to the gym 3-4 times per week.  Some myths die hard.  Having been born in the 1970s when we were just beginning to scratch the surface in our understanding of what quality strength training really was, it was thought that the more time you put into your workouts, the better the results.  Some people would go to the gym 4 and 5 days a week.  What we have discovered over the past several decades is that spending less time lifting those weights will actually produce better overall results.

                                                   Here’s The News Flash
You only need to workout twice a week!  If your strength training program has been properly set up, your results can be optimized with only 2 visits to the gym every 7 days.  My clients prove this over and over again!  Unless you are a competitive athlete or a bodybuilder, that’s all the time the vast majority of you will ever need to commit in order to gain a high degree of physical strength. 

                                                     Only Twice A Week? 

Why only twice a week?  During your workout, when you challenge your body with higher and higher levels of intensity, your body will require more time to recoup.  What actually happens when you lift weights is microscopic damage to the muscle/tendon/ligament fibers.  This is natural.  It is during the body’s repairing of these fibers that the body adapts and gets stronger, preparing itself for the next time the resistance is introduced.  Lifting is actually creating stress within your body and your strength is gained not during the workout itself but during the time it is rested and feed.  If you try and lift the weights too soon after the last workout, there is a strong possibility that your muscle fibers have not fully recovered.  The results are that you will limit your development.  And, as you get older, your body naturally needs a longer period of time to recover from the work it has done.  

                                                  Have You ‘Hit A Wall’                                                         

Try this approach next time.  When you’ve ‘hit a wall’ in your training and think an additional workout would improve your performance, you might be better served by giving your body an extra day (or two) off.  If you have been going to the gym 3 or 4 months non stop, a week off could be just what the doctor ordered.  You will be pleasantly surprised with the results.  The other morning I worked out a client who had been on vacation for 10 days.  The workout I had set up for him was not as much of a challenge as anticipated.  He felt stronger and was able to handle the weights more comfortable, to the point where I was able to increase the intensity on the last set of each exercise. 

                                                        Less Is More 

The overall bonuses of 2 workouts per week are (1) less time in the gym (more time for what you want to do), (2) scheduling that better fits into your hectic lifestyle and (3) overall superior results.  It’s a win-win scenario.

Next Month: Free Weights versus Machines    
Good Luck and Good Health!                                                                                              top of page

                                     Free Weights vs Machines

One of the biggest boons to the growth of health clubs was the introduction of resistance machines such as Nautilus back in the 70s.  To this day, various devices continue to be developed that help people get stronger.  These machines allow the average person to work on strengthening their body under much safer conditions because the resistance is supported within the structure of the machine.  This containment of the poundage being lifted greatly reduces the risk of injury as opposed to free weights (barbells, dumbbells, kettle balls, etc) where your body is having to act alone as its own ‘support system’.  With the machines, someone who has never worked out before can join a gym and, with minimal instruction, start improving their ligament, tendon, muscle and bone structure.

                                                  Inevitably Free Weights 

For the same reason that machines are safer also contributes to their unavoidable limitations.  Both the fact that the weighted plates you are lifting are housed within the machine’s metal framework and that, in most cases, you are sitting down before you even begin the exercise, dictate that specific muscle groups within the body (particularly the stabilizers) do little or no work.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Machines play a vital role in the fitness revolution.  Machines give people the confidence to safely start training, are instrumental in the rehabilitation of injuries and allow you the option to focus on certain muscle groups.  I incorporate machines in my workout routines.  My point is that, once you have developed a baseline of strength through the use of machines, you should start introducing more free weight exercises.  

                                                    The Honey-Do List

Free weights are critical to your overall fitness.  When you lift a barbell or a dumbbell, you are training your body to maintain proper posture as well as be balanced correctly.  You have to be able to move that external weight with the help of your body alone.  There is no ‘support system’ other than yourself.  By understanding how to safely and effectively engage that external weight, you are using all your body’s muscles and tendons in the way they were designed to be utilized.  The free weight training translates to what you do in your day-to-day life, so when you pick up those 40 pound bags of top soil at ACE Hardware or help move that piece of furniture, you have put yourself in a position to perform that task better while reducing your chances of injury. 

                                                     Risk and Reward 

Because there is an inherently higher risk factor when lifting free weights, you will need instruction from a qualified individual such as a personal trainer.  But, once you begin the transition, you will be far better prepared when you rearrange furniture in your home, pick up your grandbaby, carry those new plants out to the back yard or unload those bags of top soil.                                        

Next Week:  Multi Joint versus Single Joint

Good Luck and Good Health!

                                  Multi-Joint versus Single Joint
You pack up you bag to go to the gym or plan part of your day to workout at home.  With your busy schedule, you want to get the most out of that time spent.  If that’s the case, this next point is fundamental to optimizing your fitness investment.

                   Multi-Joint Exercises First / Single-Joint Exercises Last 

Multi-joint exercises are those exercises that engage 2 or more joints during a movement.  For instance, with the pushup, you engage your shoulder and elbow joints, calling upon (primarily) the pectorals, front deltoids and triceps.  With squats, the ankle, knee and hip joints move, engaging the muscles of the quads, hamstrings and gluts (among others).  Single joint examples are the bicep curl where you pivot only at the elbow, activating the bicep muscle or the front raise, which targets the front deltoid as you pivot through your shoulder joint.

                                 The Best Return On Your Investment

You activate more muscle fiber with multi-joint lifts, thereby gaining greater development of testosterone, growth hormone and, of course, muscle mass.  In the same amount of time that you spent doing your bicep curls, you would have challenged 4-5 times as much muscle mass with pushups or over 7-10 times as much with squats.  A far more productive use of your time, wouldn’t you say?

Another reason to use this approach is that single joint exercises are centered around your the arms (the 3 deltoids, triceps and the 3 bicep muscles), which are the extremities of your body, not your core muscle groups.  By beginning your workout with multiple sets of curls, reverse curls, tricep press downs and/or lateral raises, you will have now fatigued these muscle groups.  Because these muscles assist in all the primary upper body multi-joint movements, you have just restricted the amount of weight you can lift with the bench press, military press, bent over row, bench incline press, etc.  Therefore, you must perform your multi-joint lifts first if you want to maximize your gains.

                                                       Thank You!

Thank you for tuning in to my 4 part series on resistance training.  You are now in a better position to design a more productive program.  If you would like to learn additional techniques for improving your workouts, please contact me at:        
If you are looking to initiate a strength training routine in the privacy of your home or office and, along the way, develop better flexibility and balance, please go to my “Contact Us” page and tell me what your goals are.  I look forward to showing you how you can reach those goals.

Please check out my ‘Testimonials’ page to see what my clients have to say about the results they have experienced from the Ultimate Best fitness revolution


Good Luck and Good Health!
                                                                                                                                      top of page

                               BEND BUT DON’T BREAK
The other day I was talking to a runner who had started having issues with their legs.   Their ability to complete their scheduled runs was being compromised to the point where, sometimes, they had to stop running and walk back.  Having gone to a rehab specialist, the prognosis was that the muscles in the legs were too tight, causing constant unbalanced stress in the joints.  The solution….stretch, stretch, stretch!

                                                       Thank You Matt

When my son Matt was 12, he announced he wanted to take up martial arts.  Fortunately, that same month, Master You decided to set up his training facilities in our town.  The discipline was Tae Kwon Do.  Decades earlier, I had attempted to engage in this same discipline but never stuck with it past yellow belt.  Thanks to my son, my reintroduction to this form of martial arts ended up benefiting me in more ways than I could have imagined.  One of the keys to Tae Kwon Do is having a high degree of flexibility, especially in the core of your body…your legs, hips and lower back.  The practical application of stretching techniques during the following years was a lesson learning that fundamentally changed the way I train my clients.

                                    Just As Important as Running or Lifting

ROM (Range of Motion) is as important as Resistance training and as important as Cardio training.  The fitness community is becoming aware of this fact more and more with each passing year.  Having flexibility in your muscles and tendons is vitally important for a host of reasons.  Let’s look at six key advantages of ROM.

(1) ROM Takes The Muscles Out Of Tension:  
Walk, push, lift, run, carry, pull.  Every move we make is created by the contraction of muscle fibers.  The muscle/tendon complex is the cable system that moves our skeletal structure.  The more we move, the more our muscles contract.  Let’s look at that ½ hour walk you take in the evening around the neighborhood.  After having contracted continuously for 25-30 minutes, you can imagine how tense certain leg muscle groups could get.  Stretching them after the walk will help eliminate that built-up tension.  This same approach applies to any higher level activity, be it lifting weights, running a 5K or working in the yard for a couple of hours.

(2) ROM Increases The Blood Flow:
By stretching the working muscles, there is an increase in blood flow through those muscles.  This means more oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to the affected area and, because the circulatory system is a continuous loop, the removal of any waste products is accelerated.  Logic dictates that this process will speed recovery.

(3) Reduces DOMS:
DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is that feeling you get in your muscles over the next several days following certain activities.  The more intense the activity, the more likely that DOMS will arise.  As you can see from (1) and (2), the ability to speed up the recovery cycle will go a long way toward you just being aware those muscles had exercised earlier, as opposed to them being so sore they hinder your day-to-day activities.

(4) It Feels Good:
Stretching the muscles is very similar to massaging the muscles.  Anyone that has had a massage can attest to the feeling of well-being that your body feels.  The same is true for ROM movements.  Relaxing into a stretch, practicing deep breathing and feeling the tension flow out of the working muscles allows you to re-center yourself and better prepares you for the next run, the next lift and the next day.

(5) You Are Increasing Your Flexibility
       By stretching on a regular basis, you will enhance your overall ROM.  Hold each
       stretch for at least 30 seconds or longer.  30 seconds is a tipping point.  The more 
       above 30 seconds you hold the stretch, the more likely memory is achieved in the 
       muscle/tendon groupings.  The further below 30 seconds that stretch is held, the less 
       likely you will induce a permanent flexibility.  You are introducing a memory in the 
       muscle/tendon complex so that, the next time you play volleyball or compete in a 
       tennis match or run a 5K, the muscles can better perform because they are use to 
       performing in the wider range of motion that is required by those activities.  
(6) You Lean Out the Muscles
       You can envision how, by elongating your tight muscle and tendon fibers after they 
        have done work, you are giving them a leaner look.  Instead of leaving the gym with 
        your muscles tight and bunched up, you will have relaxed the muscle/tendon 
        complex and allowed them to return to their ‘normal’ length.  Over time, the results 
        will be more of a swimmer's body type as opposed to that of a bodybuilder's. 

                                        Even Better Than Advertised

The good news is that there are even more benefits to ROM beyond these six (link to complete list >>  Make sure that you include stretching after exercise.  Also, you may stretch everyday, even several times a day.  I always remind my clients to “stretch it when you feel it”.  By teaching your muscles to have a better range of motion, they will become more resilient, less injury prone and be better able to perform whatever tasks you present to them.  ROM may well be the missing link in your search to optimizing your physical fitness.

     “Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use”
                                                       Charles M. Shultz (Peanuts cartoonist)
                                                                                                                                 top of page