Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bodyweight and Beyond

As I've discussed in past posts - this one in particular - you will see that I am a big advocate of bodyweight exercises. Pushups, chinups, squats, crunches, plank holds and the like are phenomenal exercises for developing strength and conditioning and are quite often overlooked as part of an individuals exercise program. Granted, for some, doing a pullup or pushup is too challenging and can then be contraindicating to their quest for improved health, but there are other options.

This is where the TRX Suspension Trainer really comes in handy. This simple, yet effective piece of equipment can enable anyone of any strength level to perform exercises to stimulate the major muscles of the legs and upper torso. The mid-section, low back and hip area (also known as the "core") is heavily stimulated when the exercises are performed correctly - even if they aren't directly being worked!

And if you think the TRX is only for those who are looking to get "tone" - then you might want to look again!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Premiere Personal Fitness

At Premiere Personal Fitness, we focus on strength and conditioning training for all levels of fitness. By utilizing a high level of intensity in our training sessions, we are able to provide a safe, efficient and effective workout to help you achieve your fitness goals. And each and every workout is personally supervised in our private training facility. With equipment ranging from Hammer Strength, Nautilus and Pendulum to free weights, sand bags, stones and other “tools of the trade,” we can provide you with the opportunity to improve performance in all areas of your life.

Because we believe in getting the most out of each and every training session, we will adhere to the following guidelines:

- We perform full-body workouts, two or three times per week
- We use a high level of effort on each and every set of our exercises
- We perform exercises that utilize all the major muscle groups of the body
- We raise and lower the resistance using the muscle’s greatest range of motion
- We perform each repetition in a very controlled manner so our muscles move the weight – not momentum
- We move quickly (60 seconds) between each exercise to achieve a cardiovascular benefit
- We never exceed more than 30 minutes for our training sessions
- We strive to work hard during each and every workout

For local clients, call 908.433.4542 or email Fred Fornicola to set up a free consultation!
Phone Consultations are also available!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Conditioning Work

What it boils down to is that every activity you perform whether it is strength training, steady state aerobics, intervals, or any combination of the three is a form of conditioning. You are conditioning your body to perform a certain way or have a certain "function". All activities fall on the same continuum and a lot more carryover exists between the activities than previously thought. It is up to the participant to figure out what "function" they want to have and what the best way to achieve that would be. For those of us who are looking to improve our fitness and "general preparedness" for life it really does not matter what form of exercise we choose. I do think there should be a balance between higher intensity work and lower intensity work, as well as "strength dominant activities", and more aerobic endurance components. Personal enjoyment also has a lot to do with.

Let’s face it I could say that running the best activity for conditioning the legs and heart, and give valid reasons for this, but if you don’t like to run than you will find valid reasons why running is bad and not needed. Personally I enjoy steady state slow to moderate jogs so I see value and do them often. I also enjoy performing jump rope intervals, and circuit style bodyweight workouts. I have in the past performed more traditional high intensity workouts although I have "cycled" off them as of late. There are too many forms of productive workouts to limit oneself into thinking that there are certain activities to develop condition and other to develop strength. All activities fall on the same continuum some lean more to one side than the other.If you are looking to perform daily activity than I would suggest you not think in terms of strength and condition but in terms of movement. Train each day if you think that is best and do something you enjoy. If you want to go all out on weight training than go for it. The next day if going for a long walk is what you feel like, do that. Your body will let you know when it is time to kick it up and when to back it off. – Doug Scott, Strength & Conditioning Coach, The Pingry School

Friday, November 23, 2007

A great place to talk about safe, effecient and effective exercise is a discussion forum that I run called High Performance Training.

If you have any interest in learning more about fitness, feel free to visit this site. - Fred Fornicola

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In The Present

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. " Buddha

Monday, November 19, 2007

Simple Things - TRX Suspension Training

As a Strength and Conditioning Coach I have access to literally thousands of dollars of state-of-the-art exercise equipment ranging from barbells and dumbbells to high speed treadmills and variable resistance machines. However, even with all the “high tech” training devices I still find myself incorporating the most basic of exercise modalities into my athletes’ fitness routines. The method of training I am referring to is known as bodyweight training. This, simply, is the use of ones own bodyweight as resistance to stimulate the muscles to become stronger. This form of exercise, which requires little or no equipment, is very beneficial to anyone who wants to improve their strength and fitness levels. I am frequently asked by athletes of all sports why are we doing such a “simple” exercise, but only after a few properly executed repetitions they quickly learn the answer - “Because they work!”

From my experience, the versatility and convenience of these exercises in conjunction with their ability to stimulate the muscle structures of the body in a safe and productive manner makes bodyweight training second to none. One of the greatest advantages to bodyweight exercises are their versatility and convenience. These exercises can be done virtually anywhere with little in the way of set up time and equipment and can be used in conjunction with traditional “free weight” and machine based exercises, or as a stand alone activity for muscular strength gain. They can even be used on “off” days to enhance recovery and “get the body moving” to alleviate the next day muscle soreness which often occurs after an intense workout.

A very popular method of training with my athletes is to perform a series of 10-15 exercises for a specific period of time, usually 1 minute, and rotate through with little rest periods for a very effective strength and aerobic workout. Too often this form of exercise is shrugged off as being “too easy” or relegated to warm up activities or as a last resort when no other equipment is available. The beauty of this kind of training is the same exercise(s) can be used for “warming up” before a more intense activity; or performed in an “all out” fashion to challenge the most seasoned of exercisers. Simply adjust the repetitions or sets performed; or incorporate isometric holds at various positions of the exercise; or adjust your hand or foot position to create a whole new exercise experience. Whichever you choose it is no problem making the exercise more or less challenging depending on your fitness goals.

Introducing the TRX Training System

Although it would be tough to argue that a workout consisting of push ups, squats, sit ups, chin ups, dips, and bear crawls would not be effective as a stand alone workout (especially if the participant was able to perform high repetitions) an apparatus is required to perform some exercises which is not always available. In addition, dips and chin ups require a fairly high level of strength just to begin the exercise, which makes them difficult for people just starting out or with poor body leverage. That is why I am happy to support a training system that enhances the bodyweight training experience and allows everyone, regardless of ability level, to reap the benefits of training in this style. What I am referring to the TRX Training System. This is a very simple device that attaches easily to any structure and sturdy enough to support your full bodyweight and adds more productive exercises to your training “tool box”. Exercises such as lay back rows, biceps curls, swimmer pulls, and hip lifts can be used by both beginner and advanced fitness enthusiast to train the muscles through unique ranges of motion leading to more complete muscular development and enjoyment. Using the leverage principle, each exercise can be made more or less demanding by adjusting ones body position. The more you lean away form the devise the more resistance you will be lifting, making the exercise more challenging. This feature allows anyone to perform the exercises, regardless of strength or training experience in a safe and productive manner.

For me, TRX’s greatest advantages is its portability. The entire system folds up into a small 2 pound sack, which makes it a perfect accessory for busy travelers or in my case, to bring along to athletic fields to train athletes. Simply hook it to a goal post, fence post, swing set or other fixed structure and begin your workout. There is even a door mount attachment that enables the device to attach to any standard door.

With hundreds of fitness devices on the market today and all the promises of a better body they promote the great thing about this system is its simplicity. There are no fancy labels or flashy exercises, just simple movements that produce results. My advice is to choose ten exercises, any ten will do, and perform them to the best of you ability, all the while striving for improvement in repetitions performed. Do this 3-5 times each week for 3 months and you start to see what I am talking about. - Doug Scott, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Beginners Strategy for Losing Weight - Part 2

In "A Beginners Strategy for Losing Weight - Part 1" I referenced previous blog posts that focused around "the doing" and how uncomplicated it was to find time to exercise. In this segment, I will touch briefly on the concept of the "D" word - Dieting.

When I work with my clients, I feel that educating them on all aspects of health is vital to their success. Resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning and flexibility training are among the different aspects that I consult them on as we work together, but the one facet of the whole health equation that is usually the most difficult is the nutritional piece. I find it challenging at times to convey what I consider to be a healthy approach to nutrition because of all the “special diets” that are circulating among the American population. It seems that almost every diet propagated amongst friends, co-workers, the media, etc. all seems to work…..for a while anyway. More diet gurus have come and gone and have come back again to suggest that you “Stop the Insanity” and “Deal a Meal” yourself to a better body. Personally, I can’t imagine buying prepackaged food and being told what to eat or running out of “points” and not being allowed to eat or better yet, having extra points left over and being told its OK to eat that big piece of chocolate cake (even though you want to)and not to worry. It’s my contention that the immediate focus should be on our health, not a tight pair of buns and a chiseled chest (although they too can be obtained through hard work). The aesthetic improvements that everyone hopes for is usually the last to happen once they realize that efforts aren’t just at the dinner table and that resistance and cardiovascular training are part and parcel to achieving the health and body you dream of having (but that’s for another article).

A major health concern that we should be addressing is obesity in America. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States, 55% of the population, are overweight or obese. The American Public Health Association (APHA) has supplied statistics stating that nine million children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight. The proportion of children who are overweight has tripled since 1980 according to this study. Now, keep in mind that these studies are based on BMI (body mass index) which is calculated based on your gender, height and body weight only, with absolutely no regard for your actual LBM (lean body mass). To be honest, it is a feeble attempt at predicting what your LBM is. Basing it solely on the parameters listed above is ridiculous. For the heck of it, I used a “health” calculator
to determine my BMI based using my current statistics. I am 5’7”, male and weigh 175 pounds. The “ideal body weight calculator”, (the governments misleading term, not mine) tells me I should be 148 pounds at my height for my gender. According to their health calculator I am 22 pounds over weight - which is absurd. This figure puts me in the “over weight” category – which isn’t the case. This means of determining body fat levels skews the obesity number in my opinion, however, there is still a large (no pun intended) amount of Americans that should certainly address their body fat levels and overall health and well-being.

So, with all the diets out their and the amount of people who participate in these programs, why are we as a nation still seeing a majority of people still carrying excess body fat and suffering from stressed immune systems, heart disease (the number 1 killer in America), stroke (#3 killer), elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension, etc.? Why are there still unsuccessful attempts at losing this unwanted body weight and fat? Why are we still so unhealthy? As far as I’m concerned, most diet plans are short term in nature, whereby the individual sees some weight loss in the beginning and once they go back to what’s deemed as “normal eating” they then tend to “yo-yo” or “rebound”, which means they gain the weight back and on most occasions, go above the weight they started at.

The way to lose weight is a basic concept, take in fewer calories than you expend and you will lose weight. That is why most people lose weight immediately because they may cut out the junk food or all the breads and pasta they eat, blaming carbohydrates for their excess weight, not the amount of calories. Adding in some type of resistance and cardiovascular exercise also helps in burning calories and so does portion control to an extent, but evaluate what is being focused on by some of these diet plans. Looking good is the prime concern when a diet is proposed. Vanity is what is played on, with little regard for health. The idea that “thin is in” does not, I reiterate, does not ensure that you are healthy. Keep in mind that losing weight isn’t the primary goal; losing body fat is what you are ultimately trying to accomplish along with enriching your body with nutrients to make you healthier. Can you see a theme here with the amount of times I’ve referenced the term HEALTH?

It comes down to some fundamental principles and implementation. I am not trying to imply that losing body fat is easy, it certainly isn’t (I know, I’ve done it), but it isn’t as difficult and mundane as some propose. The beauty of eating good, wholesome foods and structuring a sound eating plan doesn’t revolve around meetings or the need to be afraid of fats, nor do you need to join the “anti-carb” committee to achieve positive results.

You need guidance, time, patience and dedication to make it happen. You have the ability to make a permanent change that will benefit you for life.

If anyone is interested in more information on how to lose body fat and improving their health, feel free to contact me by email or call 908.433.4542 and I will send you a Healthy Living Questionnaire to get you started. - Fred Fornicola

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dumbbell Training

An interview with Fred Fornicola on "Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness"

Monday, November 12, 2007

What's All the "Buzz" About?

Energy Drinks are pretty popular - especially among young adults. Please view this article I wrote regarding the dangers of consuming these energy drinks. - Fred Fornicola

Friday, November 09, 2007

What Can You Do In 30 Minutes?

At Premiere Personal Fitness, we use an approach that is based on controlled and safe training, and we combine it with an intense effort at a solid tempo throughout the entire workout. This provides a stimulus for both the muscular and cardiorespiratory systems and because of our hard work, most clients train in roughly 30 minutes - and in some cases, 15-20 minutes is all that is needed.

At my facility, we have all types of equipment from machines, barbells, dumbbells and "odd training tools". We use whatever we can get our hands on to provide a safe, efficient and effective workout and put a strong emphasis on "enjoying the process".

Part of making things fun is introducing new ideas, different styles and of course, new "toys" to use. For a while now, I have been using the TRX Suspension Trainer with my clients and having great success. Recently, one of my long time, dedicated clients requested a little change in his style of training and included in his request was if I would train along with him. I was reluctant at first for a few reasons - mainly because I prefer to train alone - but after giving it some thought, I felt that it might actually be good for both of us.

He, like me, enjoys performing the bulk of his work doing bodyweight movements and lifting stones. He trains really hard, has a pretty good understanding of exercise and so the "match-up" works well for now - plus he and I have had the opportunity to experiment and find out the nuances of the TRX, so the experience has been very beneficial to me because it has allowed me to utilize the TRX system more effectively and intelligently.

Listed below is a workout that we've done recently. It took us just about 30 minutes to complete and we were pretty wiped out at the end. All of our exercises were worked to muscular fatigue and we moved quickly between exercises - allowing jut enough rest for the person to perform their set.

TRX Handstand Pushup
TRX Rows
TRX Suspended Pushup
TRX Rows
TRX Leg Curl
TRX Leg Extension
TRX Hip Kick
TRX Bicep Curls
TRX Tricep Extension
TRX Suspended Crunch
That's it - 10 total sets in under 30 minutes

Anyone interested in using the TRX Suspension Trainer or Ordering one, please contact me -Fred Fornicola

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The First and Most Important Step

There is no doubt that good, wholesome food is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When we consume foods full of vital nutrients such as proteins, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, etc we are enabling our body to fight off disease, repair itself from exercise and life's daily stress. Without proper support, our bodies will begin to "lose the battle" and that is when we become sick, start to gain body fat and lose muscle and buckle under the stress and strain of every day life.

I don't mean to paint such a "gloom and doom" picture here but the reality of it all is this does happen to many people. But a lot of this can be avoided by taking some simple steps. At this point I will state the obvious and that is to make sure you eat good foods throughout the day to give your body and mind the energy it needs to perform mental and physical tasks, but when you can't get your food in you, you need to look for other sources.
Because we live in a fast-paced society, most people are notorious for skipping breakfast. Breaking the fast is vital to starting off the day properly - it sets the tone of how your body and mind will handle the day. The best way to so start your day off right is to consume a complete source of protein, some complex carbohydrates and essential fats. If you can't find the time or the means to make something to eat then I strongly recommend consuming a liquid meal consisting of a high-grade whey protein, maybe add some raw oats or fruit and pop a few essential fatty acid capsules. And if you are usually devoid of vegetables, throw in a scoop of engineered greens and you would have a great start to your day.

The whey protein I recommend is Dream Protein. It's hormone free and tastes great. I also like Green's First as well as Perque Triple EFA's - all of which I carry at my studio for my clients.

Remember, the first and most important step is to start off your day with a solid breakfast.
If anyone has questions, please feel free to contact me - Fred Fornicola

Monday, November 05, 2007

Don't Sweat It....

Health and Fitness are generally thought of as a "physical thing". You know, most goals for people are to have good looking abdominals, lifting a certain amount of weight or being able to perform some kind of athletic activity.

But health and fitness aren't only reflected externally, it comes in the form of emotional, spiritual and emotional as well - and all are important to becoming as healthy and individual as possible. So why don't people recognize the need to intrinsicly be healthy? Maybe it's vanity or ego, maybe they don't consider it to be important or worse, they don't even recognize that there's a need.

There are many ways to address these health factors - which will be addressed at a later period in time - but for now, maybe start out small and "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff..."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

PPF Products & Services

Well, I'm happy to announce the Premiere Personal Fitness "Products & Services" portion of our website is now up and running and ready for business.

Currently, PPF is carrying select items such as:

TRX Suspension Trainer Pro and all accessories
Slater's Stone's
Top Squat
Elite Power Rings
Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness
The Essential Guide to At-Home Training
The Kennedy System
Phone Consultation

More items will be added over the coming weeks and month's so check back often.

Fred Fornicola