Monday, October 30, 2006

A Word About Consistency

Speak with any good fitness professional and they will tell you that above all else, CONSISTENCY is first and foremost in achieving ones goals. You can have the best laid plans, all the right equipment and a "trainer to the stars" and it all means nothing if you don't show up and perform on a consistent basis. You MUST be unfailing in your training, cardiovascular and nutritional programs – or all bets are off. When I train individuals, I can tell right away who is going to make the most progress by virtue of their dedication and those who are going to struggle because they have not yet made that all important committed to themselves to work hard and consistently. Talking about exercising and actually showing up to do it are two entirely different things as you well know and making time, not excuses to exercise is what will improve your health, mind and body. Too often I see individuals starting to make improvements and then get waylaid for a period and they lose their momentum – resulting in frustration, a further lack of enthusiasm and dedication and most importantly, a stand still in achieving their goals.

An application of a quality resistance and cardiovascular training program along with a sound nutritional plan is not a part time approach, it is more of a life change and once one becomes committed to that change, positive results will happen. Exercise and eating right on an occasional or semi-occasional basis will not yield good results – or any at all for that matter.

Attending to your health doesn’t need to be a full time job either. Making time to exercise two to three times per week for 20-30 minutes – if you are truly working hard – will yield fantastic results in muscle gain, fat loss and cardiovascular health, assuming you are utilizing a safe and efficient program. I have clients that train with me two times per week for approximately 20 minutes and have made obvious gains in muscle and fat loss – not to mention an overall improvement in their physical and mental health. Of course, eating well is pretty much an every day thing but once proper habits and food selections are in order, it becomes second nature.

So, don’t make excuses for not exercising. If you have 30-60 minutes a week, you can improve your health, BUT the key is to be consistent in your efforts. The rewards are there for the taking.

"Train With A Purpose"

Fred Fornicola

Thursday, October 26, 2006

60 Minutes to Better Health

When I have conversations with people about exercise I often find them offering many excuses as to why they don’t perform any exercise. Many are under the impression that you have to put in a set amount of time and do a certain type of exercise or workout to gain any real benefits. Because most are confused and mislead, they find themselves doing nothing because they can’t make their “5 day a week, 2 hour workouts” and anything less will not yield any kind of improvement. Yeah, that makes sense, do nothing at all, that will make you real healthy.

After patiently listening to these reasons for performing no activity I offer a simple yet effective concept for them to think about. This usually results in me receiving a strange look – stranger than I usually get but I have their attention none the less. I offer the crazy notion of performing 2 weekly sessions that last no more than 30 minutes. This would mean that we could reduce their proposed weekly schedule of 10 hours a week down to one per week! WOW, who wouldn’t like to reduce their training time down to 10% of what they used to do – or thought they HAD to do?

Training with a high level of intensity (see my previous post on “Defining INTENISTY”) two times per week can definitely improve your level of strength, fitness and overall level of health and well-being. It just takes hard work, consistency and dedication to achieving your goals. I think that most can agree that finding time to workout 30 minutes twice a week to improve the quality of their life shouldn’t be that difficult.

In a future installment I’ll discuss my 15 minute challenge for those who don’t have 30 minutes to spare.

“Train With A Purpose”

Fred Fornicola

Monday, October 23, 2006

Walk before you run

One of the most popular activities associated with improving ones fitness is running / jogging. And why not, after all running is easily accessible, inexpensive, requires no set up time, and can be done outside in nature. In addition, the cardiovascular and weight management benefits are well known and respected by many. Personally, I think running is a great activity and will improve ones overall fitness tremendously with little rivals in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. However, I also feel that running places a great deal of stress on the connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, and cartilage) of the lower leg. In addition improper running form can also lead to lower back, hip and knee pain. With that said, it is important to mention that most running issues can be solved by first learning how to run correctly and second, building up the strength of the connective tissue and muscles of the lower leg. Like any other aspect of improving ones fitness, this is best done by a slow and gradual build up in exercise intensity to allow for the associated body parts to adapt to the stress. Simply put, if your intensions are to begin a running program and you have not run in a while or ever before, start out slowly by walking first. After continued efforts of walking at a moderate pace is no longer challenging, pick up the intensity to a brisk walk for several workouts. After that is accomplished begin to jog for one minute and walk for three. Slowly build up the amount of time you spend jogging and reduce the amount of time you spend walking. Soon you will have 10-30 minutes of consecutive jogging in place. At this point it is up to you whether to work on increasing the duration of your runs, or the speed in which you are running. Remember it is not where you start that matters, but where you finish. Always begin with caution and work on improving each time you train. - Doug Scott, Strength Coach

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Post Workout Nutrition

After a hard workout your first goal should be to re-hydrate yourself with fresh water, then immediately replenish your depleted glycogen stores and offset protein catabolism. The simplest and most convenient way to accomplish this is to consume simple carbohydrates along with some liquid protein. This can be achieved quite easily by drinking some fruit juice mixed with a whey protein (in a isolate and concentrate form) or some kind of milk (cow, rice or almond). There is no need for any fancy post-workout supplements or expensive sports drink (unless that is what you prefer) to achieve your immediate nutritional needs. Grape juice would probably be the first juice of choice since it is quite high in sugars but any fruit juice will do just fine. If you enjoy cow’s milk and can easily digest it, then drinking down a glass or two of low or non-fat milk or even condensed milk (which is GREAT because it is convenient to carry with you) would work equally as well. In fact, the extra source of protein that milk provides is also beneficial immediately after you workout, but keep in mind that fats are kept to a minimum during this time. Other options include making a shake consisting of some liquid protein and carbohydrates along with some fresh or frozen fruits.

Now, after drinking your water and restoring your glycogen levels you can hit the showers, relax for a bit and sit down to a nice meal. Your post workout meal is one of the most important if not THE most important meal on your training day. This is where you give your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself from the work you just imposed on it in the gym. Your meal should be eaten approximately 2 hours after the completion of your strength workout and should consist of lean proteins*, complex carbohydrates*, vegetables* and essential fatty acids (EFA’s)*. This is a MUST meal folks and one that should not be overlooked or taken lightly. Whether your goal is to lose body fat, maintain weight or increase muscle mass, this is an important meal which fuels your body so it can repair itself from the stress of your workout.

Remember, training in the gym is merely one aspect of improving your overall health, mind and body.

Here are a few examples of the higher nutrient dense foods you may want to try. Remember, when selecting foods you want to eat foods that offer you the “biggest bang for the buck” when it comes to nutritional value as well as select organic or locally grown foods when you can. Again, this is not a limiting list but merely suggestions.

Protein Sources

Lean meat: top round, eye round, filet mignon from beef or buffalo, lean pork, game
White meat from poultry: chicken, turkey
Fish: preferably cold water such as wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines.
tuna, flounder, snapper etc are also fine.
Dairy: non or lowfat dairy such as yogurt, hard cheeses, cottage cheese and milk
Powders: Whey protein from isolate and concentrate

Carbohydrate Sources

Whole grains: whole wheat, amaranth, oat, millet, quinoa, spelt, brown rice
Legumes: kidney beans, lentils, chic peas, green peas
Vegetables: carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach, celery, squash, broccoli (an endless list of non starchy veggies), potatoes, yams
Fruits: melons and berries are first choices, kiwi, pineapple, etc.

Fat Sources

Oils: flax, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), almond, extra virgin coconut
Seeds: RAW pumpkin, hemp, flax
Nuts: RAW almond, walnut, Brazil
Cold Water Fish

Please keep in mind that the lists above are merely a sample of good, healthy foods and can and should be expanded upon for your overall health and palatable delight.

"Train With A Purpose"

Fred Fornicola

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is High Intensity Training?

With all the garbage that continues to swirl around the high intensity training (HIT) community about who is right by HIT experts that were not around when Arthur Jones was developing Nautilus equipment and high intensity training principles. The following quote is taken from the book "Maximize Your Training" by Dr. Ken Leistner, noted strength coach from Valley Stream NY, who in my opinion summed high intensity training the best.

"Hit is going all out, not almost all out: It is taking each set to one's absolute limit, not almost to the limit: It is using whatever piece of equipment that is available, not just a machine or group of machines: it is not the words of two or three men, but a commitment to work as hard as possible while in the gym or weight room......without socializing, resting excessively between sets, or falling prey to the "this isn't going to work so I'll copy the star attitude." Hit is hard but it is effective. HIT is hard but it should be safe relative to other methods of training. It is demanding but rewarding. It can, if used properly, be the necessary vehicle to alter one's physical strength, muscular size, and level of confidence both in and out of the athletic arena."

This is me talking now. It's not about obsessing about every damn little thing that may or may not be important. And it's not about getting on some discussion board and making an ass out of yourself. Wonder why HIT is misunderstood? Get on one of these discussion boards and have a go with one of the resident experts. - Jim Bryan, Strength Coach

Editors note: Both Jim Bryan and Dr. Ken Leistner are two men that I have the highest regard for and have learned a great deal from. Both gentlemen where part of an exciting time in the field of strength and fitness before trends and lab coat technicians infiltrated the industry.

Train hard, be consistent and move on. - Fred Fornicola

Friday, October 13, 2006

E. coli update

Is irrigation to blame?

Click on the attached link for more info on the recent E. coli breakout....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Basics

In my opinion, the fitness industry has gotten way too trendy, so much so that people are more confused than ever about what to do to improve their level of health and fitness. “Specialized” programs are being developed to encourage people to workout – which is good thing – but these boot-campy, trainer to the stars, shreadmill (yes shreadmill) training protocols are masking what is the essence of what a program should revolve around. Boys and girls, it comes down to the basics:

- utilize exercises that are orthopedically safe for you to perform
- perform the movements in a controlled fashion
- train efficiently – make every minute of your training count
- be consistent
- work damn hard every time you train

Now, if you want to camouflage your workouts with these funky names and get caught up in this “flavor of the month” exercise approach, go right ahead but just make sure the above points are being addressed for your program to be effective.

"Train With A Purpose"

Fred Fornicola

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mental Toughness

At my training facility, it is understood that when you come to train under my supervision you will be training very hard. Each and everyone one of my clients is made aware of this prior to their verbal commitment to becoming a client. This is not to scare anyone or a means of intimidation; it’s just the harsh reality of what training at Premiere Personal Fitness is like.

Working very hard builds strength. Working very hard builds muscle. Working very hard improves your cardiovascular system. Working very hard builds mental toughness. Mental toughness? Yes, mental toughness – but what is mental toughness?

I rarely come out and state that training as hard as we do will build mental toughness because in my opinion, one needs to train very hard for a while to understand what the term means and actually experience it themselves. I continually discuss my clients training with them – it is part of my ongoing responsibility and genuine concern for their training and overall level of health and personal satisfaction from performing all their hard work. I usually ask to encapsulate what they view our training style as and 99% of the time their answer is “it’s really intense”. I will then ask them what the benefits are that they feel from our training and the answers I usually hear are some of the more obvious such as "I have more energy" - "I can perform activities much easier" - "I don’t become so easily fatigued" - "My clothes fit better" - "I feel better about myself" - "Mentally I feel like I can achieve more than ever before". BINGO – we just hit upon the mental toughness I was referring to. The crazy thing is the more mentally tough you become from the intense training, the harder you will work and therefore enabling even greater gains in strength, cardiovascular fitness, muscle growth and mental toughness. It becomes a perpetual cycle of progress.

Being able to go beyond what you thought you could ever do in the weight room creates a mental toughness that enables a person to do more beyond what takes place in the gym. I’ve spoken to my girls from the Ocean Twp. High School field hockey team that I have the pleasure of training about what the additional benefits of our training offers. They said they feel that they can do so much more on the field since undergoing such intense training. They now can “push on” when in the past the may have given up. They not only became stronger and more fit, they became mentally tougher.

Don’t think that mental toughness is reserved for the athlete or only the young. No way! Everyone can work at developing that sense of toughness. Becoming mentally tough is you challenging you to do better than the last time, to work a little harder than you did before, continually striving to push yourself that little bit extra and confidently knowing that you can achieve what you set out to conquer.

“Train With A Purpose”

Fred Fornicola

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Kim Wood, legendary strength coach for the Cincinnati Bengal’s for 28 years conveyed to me in a personal conversation that Arthur Jones – inventor and founder of Nautilus and high intensity principles – defined INTENSITY as “percentage of momentary ability”.

So what does “percentage of momentary ability” mean? Basically, it means working as hard as is momentarily possible so that maximum intensity (hard work) is achieved. This high level of intensity then is not dictated by your strength levels but by your efforts on every set of every exercise throughout your workout. Understanding this concept is important because maximum effort is the key here. Let’s use an example to get a better understanding of percentage of momentary ability. Let’s say an individual (let’s call him AJ for examples sake) has a best effort in the leg press of 200 pounds for 20 repetitions. On one particular training day AJ comes to work out, but prior to his training session he chose to go for a 2 mile run. AJ then loads up the leg press with 200 pounds and performs a set using maximum effort but only achieves 17 repetitions. One would immediately realize that AJ’s run fatigued his legs which in turn prevented him from obtaining his previous best of 20 repetitions. But AJ worked within his percentage of momentary ability because he made his set of leg presses very intense by giving 100% effort and therefore stimulated his lower body so as to become stronger. So it’s the intensity of effort that is important, not how much weight you use.

“Train With A Purpose”

Fred Fornicola

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Improve Your Fitness One Exercise At A Time

Many times starting a fitness program is a daunting task. On one hand you have the obvious heath benefits that an active lifestyle can bring; and on the other hand there is the up hill battle and hard work often associated with a fitness plan. We have all been in that position at one time or another, even us fitness professionals, where the task at hand seems to great and the rewards don’t match up to the effort needed. If this has ever happened to you here is a little trick I have found very helpful. Pick just one exercise, any exercise will do for now, for one month. During that month try to perform it at least 10-15 times, and each time strive to do better than the time before. What I mean is attempt to perform one more repetition or lift a little more weight. If you choose a cardiovascular exercise, like walking or jogging, try to go farther than before. The idea is you make the attempt to improve this one exercise. Improving ones fitness is all about staying focused and striving for achievement no matter how small. To often the “fitness world” tries to complicate matters with “new and improved” exercise antics that only leave fitness goers confused and frustrated. If after this one exercise is completed and you want to perform another and another, go for it. Every successful exercise program starts with one exercise and builds up from there. Good luck - Doug Scott, Strength Coach