Archive for January, 2010

By Charles Staley

Ever since the “jogging craze” of the ’70’s, aerobic exercise has been the method of choice for those attempting to “lose weight.” Gradually, the resistance training area of most gyms and clubs is being scaled back to accommodate all manner of equipment designed to elevate the heart rate. With the aerobic revolution in full gear, I feel compelled to ask, “Why are people getting fatter and fatter?”

For those who have critically studied sport training and exercise physiology, this is a rhetorical question.  A quick look at any national level track meet speaks volumes about the effects of aerobic versus anaerobic training.  Compare the physiques of 100 meter sprinters against long distance runners, such as marathoners. Although sprinters do little or no aerobic exercise (it’s not specific to their events), they are just as lean (if not leaner) than their aerobic counterparts. They also have more attractive physiques, which is a by-product of the muscle they’ve gained from hours in the weight room and short-term, intensive running. By contrast, the marathoner’s lack of muscle gives him a “flat” physique. His extensive and frequent forays into the aerobic zone have caused his body to lose muscle (since muscle weighs more than fat, it is the body’s preferred tissue to cannibalize in the interest in lightening the load).  If you’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to lose 10 to 20 pounds of unwanted fat, despite spending hours upon hours on the stairclimber, read on. Anaerobic exercise may not be politically correct, but it IS physiologically correct—if fat loss is your objective.

Since our language affects the way we think, let’s begin by revising our vocabulary for a moment. I’d like to encourage you to delete a few words from your personal dictionary. Words like tone, shape, contour, sculpt, and all the rest of the vague descriptions you hear on late night infomercials. These terms are irrelevant with respect to the adaptations you can expect from any form of exercise. In reality, there are only two bodily tissues that you have two ways: You can gain, or lose. (By the way: tone simply refers to a state of partial, involuntary contraction, a result of muscular work. Even the most rotund can have muscle tone, and the thinnest people sometimes have no tone.)  So the goal is to gain muscle and lose fat. When you do so, let everyone else call you toned and sculpted.  Of course, many people, influenced by the exceedingly massive (and rare) physiques adorning the covers of muscle magazines, shirk at the prospect of gaining muscle. It’s a shame— myophobia keeps more people from achieving their fitness goals than any other single factor. Just a few pounds of added muscle can make a dramatic difference in your physique, not to mention your health and well-being. Muscle (unlike fat) needs calories to survive. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. Bigger muscles burn more calories than smaller ones, even during sleep!

Personal trainers— people who earn their living by making substantial changes in their client’s bodies— regard resistance training as the most important item in their professional “toolbox.” Dave Sinnot, trainer of many top Hollywood stars, including Sean Penn and Angela Bassett, is amazed at people’s avoidance of weight training: “People who think that aerobic training is the ultimate fat loss method are totally missing the boat. I’ve worked with people who spend half their waking hours doing some form of aerobics.  They complain that they aren’t getting results anymore. As soon as we shift emphasis to weight training and nutritional modifications, they always start improving immediately. It’s like their body was begging for it!” Dave related to me that Angela Bassett (star of “What’s Love Got To Do With It”) was not blessed with great genetics as many people assume, and was actually “pudgy” when he started working with her.  What’s the best approach for people wishing to improve their body composition? First, don’t eliminate your aerobic sessions. It’s a good practice to do a handful (three or four) of 20 to 40 minute sessions a week. More than that, and your body starts to drop valuable muscle in an effort to adapt. Second, take another look at your resistance training program. Most people simply don’t spend adequate time and effort in the weight room, and those that do make one or more of the following four mistakes:

1) Too many exercises: One exercise per muscle group per workout is plenty. The key is to pick the right exercises, and work them hard. Forget about “hitting the muscle from different angles” and “shaping” exercises— this is all propaganda stemming from bodybuilding circles.

2) Ineffective exercises: Don’t avoid so-called “hard core” exercises for fear of getting a result. Choose multi-joint exercises, such as squats and their variations, bench presses and their variations, lat pulldowns, and shoulder presses. Smaller muscles such as biceps, triceps, and calves will receive adequate exercise when you do the multi-joint movements mentioned above.

3) Insufficient intensity level: High reps DO NOT “tone” a muscle! For beginners, high reps are important to strengthen connective tissues, and to allow for technique mastery. But for optimum muscle building, stay in the 6 to 12 range for the majority of your workouts. If and when you get to the point where you don’t want additional muscle, just cut back on the volume and frequency of training.

4) Lack of progression and variety: If you don’t seek increases in strength, your body will stop responding. Similarly, if you train in exactly the same manner for extensive periods of time, your body will adapt to the monotony, and stop responding, no matter how good the training program is. For this reason, there is no perfect training program. Most successful trainers use several programs, which they rotate as needed.

As a final suggestion, remember that the entire personal training profession was founded upon the fact that resistance training works! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re beyond benefiting from one. Personal trainers make their living by getting fast results for people. For information on finding a certified trainer in your area, please call the ISSA at (800) 892-ISSA.

Consider These Facts:

1) According to a recent study presented in IDEA magazine, the average female aerobics instructor has 18% bodyfat. This is higher than the average female competitive weightlifter (16%).

2) According to a recent study published in Muscular Development magazine, muscle necrosis (tissue death) and inflammation can be observed in the calves of marathon runners 7 days after a race.

3) According to Dr. Marc Breehl, a leading anesthesiologist specializing in cardiac surgery, the enlarged hearts of aerobic athletes are weaker, not stronger than those with anaerobic backgrounds.

4) Resistance training has numerous benefits to the heart and vascular system, including improved ejection fraction of the left ventricle, and improved elasticity of the arterial walls. This from Power: A Scientific Approach, by Dr Fred Hatfield.

5) Virtually everything we do in life is anaerobic. Aerobic activity is an artificial state which the human organism is not well adapted to. For the majority of individuals, loss of function associated with aging is due to lack of strength, not aerobic capacity.

Like I always say:   Get Strong Stay Strong!



By Phil Stevens via

As the old saying goes; All work and no play makes Phil unhappy, injured, unmotivated and downright discombobulated. Make 2010 the year you make a pact to above all bring fun back into your life, back into your training and nutrition. Fun or more so the lack of effects your life as it pertains to training in more ways then you know.

For start let’s look at simple choices people make on exercising. If you have had the joy to go and see Charles speak at the Your Work Out Sucks seminar, or more recently viewed the videos of one such seminar we hosted on Youtube you’d get this message point blank. One thing I, we, preach is training above All should be enjoyed. You should love it and look forward to it. Athletes view call training practice not the more negative exercise. If what you are doing is not FUN. If you lack motivation, your training doesn’t leave you with a passion and something to strive for change. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

I would urge you first to find an activity or sport your thoroughly enjoy. Something you have a passion for. Then once you have that in turn gear your training to it. If you love Olympic curling great play that its sport it is exercise. So is tennis, ping pong, flag football, hiking rock climbing, and many, many more. Then you can gear your training. Your gym time and the way you eat to become better at what you enjoy.

The gym, training, it should enhance and better your life and sport, not detract from it. Don’t let training be an Achilles heel, find a form and activity you enjoy and make it a pact this year to train for YOU. At what YOU want for the reasons and the physique you want and get joy out of NOT at or toward something others say you should want. If you don’t have or desire to have a six pack, or to be huge and powerful and lift ginormous loads and be a mass of humanity Fine that’s great. ID that. You need to train and live for you. Until you do you aren’t living, you are existing and living for others. Find what you love, have fun at, and enjoy. Aim your training around that. Find others and find a coach open minded enough, and smart enough to help you with YOUR goals for you, not their goals for you. Once you do that you’ll be amazed at how all the other stuff falls into place. This in itself will make training more fun.

Like Dan John so eloquently explains when he speaks of his football players. Some of the hardest and best work they do is when he purposely lets them PLAY. Once a week he will have them break up into teams and they will play a game. Maybe its kick ball, or soccer or ultimate Frisbee. It’s something besides their sport, and is seen by them as play. Once in action thought you see it time and time again the players are going balls out, sprinting faster, running longer and harder then when lined up and forced to in practice, all the while they are laughing. Why because they are having fun. He broke the monotony of their practice that in time can be seen as work up, and added a new element of fun.

Training SHOULD be Fun. You can and should laugh, and have a good time while you are also busting your butt to get the results you want. Its shouldn’t be more stress and discomfort then enjoyment. Go watch some kids run around and play on a play ground. Running like chickens with their heads cut off not a care in the world, going up ladders down stairs over monkey bars up a tree, through a pipe and over a wall. They are in reality, and literally, training their butts off, but they are having fun and don’t view it as exercise. You need to find an activity that’s makes you do the same. If it’s not power lifting fine, that’s normal it’s not for everyone. Find what does and no matter what it is, I assure you some type of resistance training can be used to better it even if it’s one day a week. However, instead of dreading it you’ll enjoy that as it is part of and to better something you love.

Nutrition is the same way. I’ll save a detailed discussion but there are too many diets out there and they ALL work. If you are getting results but hate your diet, find a new one, keep looking until you find one you can live with and enjoy.

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OK, so your training hard. Your giving it your all and more, Your having FUN and love your training. You never miss a training session, never take a break not even for the holidays you LOVE this so MUCH. Yet your ran down, possibly injured a lot, even if lil nagging injuries is what ails you. Maybe your having too much fun training and not enough FUN in other aspects of your life away from training. Get some other FUN in your life. Whatever fun is for you be it hanging out with friends, going to movies, out for the night, a weekend away with NO organized training, relaxing and reading. Whatever.

FUN away from training can impact your training, nutrition, and physique in an enormous way. More than you think. It can impact recovery, both physical and mental/CNS. Just the act of laughter and joy has a huge effect on the human body and the way the rest of your day, week month goes and how the other systems in your body work. Does your life lack other FUN?? If so you better find some this year. The harder you work, even if its FUN, the harder you need to rest and play.

Now let’s go have some fun in 2010.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!