Friday, December 21, 2007

Daily Movement - Friend or Foe

Editors note: The following thoughts are excerpts which were taken from discussions and correspondences with Douglas Scott, the Strength and Conditioning Coach for The Pingry School in Martinsville, NJ. Doug , who is a former collegiate football player and powerlifter, has developed a very open-minded approach towards exercise over his many years of being in the field. He does not quibble over how or what an individual does for their exercise regimen -as long as it is safe and enjoyable. He does not believe in differentiating "training days" from "non-training days" - every day should be a day for movement.

Personally I think you can train everyday so long as you understand that training takes many forms and all forms have value and can be deemed productive. Too often training is only thought of as "strength work" or "conditioning work" or "metabolic work" and that in order for a workout to be productive it must challenge the body to new heights. But what about the value of improving joint mobility or getting the blood flowing or just practicing an exercise for the intrinsic value it brings. All are benefits of exercise.
We can't view training in such a one dimensional fashion. If one was to train everyday using the same modality or style of training (strength training) for the same purpose (to gain strength) than a problem would come up. But if one was to train one day for strength development and the next day used exercises to "limber up" and get blood flowing and followed that up the next day with a "metabolic" type workout....etc and continued for the majority of the week cycling between intense, moderate, and light physical activity there should not be a problem. Very much like academics, if one were to push hard in one subject all the time, that could lead to burn out, but if they used one day to learn new material and the next to review old or even switch to a different subject then the goal of gaining knowledge and receiving an education would be met.
If we (experienced trainees who don't have other physical activities) viewed our training like a sport and the different venues of fitness as skills which needed to be developed than training each day would be valuable (much like sports practice). And just like athletics there would need to be hard days and easy days as well as rest days. I don't really like that whole line of thinking that anything enjoyable is recreation....If you don't enjoy your training why do it? Training should be enjoyable and rewarding.....not painful or monotonous. A productive exercise / workout is one that produces a result. A strength training workout performed with a high level of effort will cause a result. A less intense movement workout the next day will cause a result. Namely bringing in blood and nutrients to the muscles....aiding in recovery.
Unless you are a [true] bodybuilder where your only concern is "growing", training to the point where you can't move or "function" doesn't make sense to me anymore (even if that is deemed as the "best" way to train). This is something I have learned working in athletics. If I train someone so hard that they are sore and "heavy legged" and can't practice well.....what was the point of training? Training is supposed to compliment your activity not compete with it. Granted, I no longer play organized sports but I do have to move around at work and "survive" long days training people so training that way is not needed and somewhat counter productive. -
Douglas Scott, The Pingry School, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

TRX Comments

I recieved my TRX on Nov 9, and have used it exclusively since then, twice a week. No other weights or machines. Today, I "tested" myself on chins at the local community center. In spite of doing only layback rows on the TRX, I gained a chinup, executing 14 and a partial, which for me is great. My last attempt at regular chins was 13 barely. This is interesting as I can do more layback rows, due to part of my bodyweight being supported, but the strength "transferred" big time. I am 57 YO, 5'8", about 145 lbs. So I'm not a big guy. I'm also arthritic in the spine and knees. I'm not sure how you larger guys are doing on the TRX, but for me, it's the best all around fitness tool I've ever owned. It works.
The TRX works fine for me. The exercises are as challenging as you want them to be. No joint pain, though. I can move very quickly between exercises. One of the problems with bw exercise is the lack of low body stuff. You either have to do tons of reps of squats or do pistols, which I think are hard for most people and possibly not knee friendly. With the TRX I can do really hard lower body workouts.And everybody knows about the core stuff. If I could only have one peice of equipment it would be this one. And my wife loves the fact it takes up no space when I'm not using it.

“UNBELIEVEABLE! What a great workout I just had with Fred. He kicked my butt from head to toe in less than 30 minutes using just the TRX Suspension Trainer. I was amazed at how many exercises could be done using the TRX and how intense the workout was. I look forward to using it again for my next workout.”

“…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.’”

If you are interested in purchasing the TRX Suspension Trainer or would like to be trained by me, please feel free to contact me. - Fred Fornicola

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stone Lifting for Strength and Conditioning

Training to become stronger and physically fit is pretty much a simple process; you have to work hard, be consistent and use safe exercise techniques. What you choose to exercise with, whether it’s machines, weights, bands, stones or your own bodyweight, is a personal preference. Sometimes, however, you may not have access to the “latest and greatest” equipment or you’re too busy to make time to even get to the gym. Or maybe you just enjoy being a “garage lifter” and want to add some variety to your training, regardless of your situation, stone lifting is an excellent way to improve your strength and conditioning. Remember, all movements should be done deliberately – with control and very little momentum!

Here are just a few of the exercises you can do with stones:

Overhead Press (one arm or two)
Curl (one arm or two)
Front Squat
Tricep Extension
Clean & Curl
Clean & Press
Front Raise
Hammer Curl
Stone Hold
Stone Carry
Lift & Load
Clean to shoulder/chest
Front Squat with Press
Push Press

The following are some sample stone workouts you can try using the “Strength Training Guidelines” discussed earlier.

Workout #1

This workout involves only using one sized stone. Use one (1) set of an all-out effort (get as many repetitions as possible) with each exercise and take no longer than 60 seconds rest between exercise movements. Some exercises will allow for higher than normal repetition ranges while other movements will not – the key is to work the set to momentary fatigue. This simple workout will have worked every major muscle group in your body directly and indirectly and will certainly elevate your heart rate if you are giving 100 percent effort on each exercise, especially if you take little rest between movements.

- Standing Overhead Press
- Squat holding the stone at chest height
- Stiff leg Deadlift
- Hammer Curl
- Stone Lift (Clean) from floor to shoulder - alternating sides for each rep
- Crunch with stone on chest

Stones are a great tool - take up little space and challenge your muscular and cardiovascular systems to the maximum. Anyone interested in purchasing Slater's Stones, please feel free to contact me. - Fred Fornicola

Friday, December 14, 2007

Red Meat Rant

It seems like red meat is always getting a bad rap. Claims of increased cholesterol, heart disease and now obesity makes you wonder how anyone's ever survived past 30 if they were meat eaters.

My question is this: Is "red meat" the real reason for these problems or is it that the red meat that most people tend to eat is from steroid fed, antibiotic, hormone injected cows who graze on insecticide and pesticide grass?

What if we were to eat hormone and antibiotic free beef with no chemicals? Would red meat still be the "bad guy"? Probably not. So what can you do? First thing, try and eat Certified Angus beef (90%). It's claims are that it is drug free of what the every day cow is eating. Also try eating more game like venison and buffalo if you can.

Hey, what I'm throwing out here is not backed by science and no guarantee to what I'm saying is accurate - it just seems logical and I'm just putting it out there for consideration. Fred Fornicola

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'Tis The Season



For some, the holiday's can add stress to an already crazy schedule and finding time to work out is the last thing on your mind, but in truth, it should be the first. Exercising just 10-15 minutes a day can help reduce - and in some cases, even alleviate - the stresses of the season. The simple task of performing bodyweight squats, crunches, pushups and some plank holds can add a new found energy to both mind and body.

Now, I know most people are questioning this idea - thinking that how can that little bit of exercise really be helpful? Well, instead of wondering, give it a shot. Are you afraid I'll be right and that it doesn't take a lot of time to benefit from such little amount of work? I don't know where the industry went wrong but they did when they imposed parameters on what someone needs to improve their health.

My philosophy is simple - work hard and efficiently on a consistent basis and make safety a priority. Remember, a little of something beats a whole lot of nothing any day! - Fred Fornicola

Happy Holidays......

Monday, December 10, 2007

Age and Exercise

Over my many years in the field of fitness, I've had countless conversations with individuals about exercise and improving their health. Quite often, I'll hear many diverse "reasons" why they aren't doing anything physical, but my favorite response by far is "wait till your my age - you'll see how hard it is".
I find this comment humorous on many levels. First, and foremost, because anyone at any age can find and use a safe, efficient and effective way to exercise. Second - and this is usually the fun part for me - I get to tell them that I'm actually older than they are. At that point they are just praying that their cell phone rings or someone calls their name so they can get out of this now embarrassing situation. This is not to say I look young, not at all, but staying in good physical condition does add a youthful appearance and attitude.
Of course, age is a consideration based on what someone is capable of doing - this means young and old - but regardless of age, everyone should perform some type of exercise.
Remember, "Age is a factor, not an excuse." - Fred Fornicola

Friday, December 07, 2007

What Can You Do On The TRX Suspension Trainer?

The TRX Suspension Trainer - in the most simplest terms - is an apparatus that has improved the ability to perform bodyweight exercises. Its main functions that provide this improved capability are:

- Versatility in providing quick exercise changes

- Ability to increase or decrease leverages to make it usable by everyone at any strength and fitness level

- Variety of full range of motion movements for every major muscle group

- Safe, Efficient and Effective exercise in less than 20 minutes

Spend some time viewing the exercise library to a get a glimpse of just some of the exercises that can be done using the TRX trainer.

Anyone interested in working out on the TRX or purchasing one can contact Fred Fornicola via email or by phone at 908.433.4542

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pushup Form

I had discussed in a previous post how I feel that the pushup is an underrated and undervalued exercise. Many people don't utilize the pushup enough and if they do, they tend to throw it in at the end of their workout as an after thought. And it's too bad because it is such an effective exercise for the muscles of the chest, shoulder and triceps. And few people recognize that the pushup also utilizes the muscles of the upper back, legs and "core" areas, so in truth, it becomes a great overall body exercise.

Finding people who do pushups is one thing, finding people who do them RIGHT is a whole other ball game. When I do run into those who perform the pushup, I am simply amazed at the amount of reps they claim to get. I have had people have rattled off figures that are staggering. I've even had people tell me that they could bang out 50 and in some cases, even 100 consecutive reps - which to me is an incredible accomplishment. If at the time I'm feeling a bit cynical (and for those who know me, they are already asking "when isn't he?") I will ask that person to demonstrate their pushup form for me. More often than not they have a limited range of motion, are pumping the reps out faster than I can count and to be honest, have no business even trying to do pushups at all, let alone quoting some astronimical numbers.

If you enjoy doing pushups or would like to start doing them then do them - correctly - then you might want to view this video I found and learn How to do a proper pushup - Fred Fornicola

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dumbbell Training

“Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness” by Matt Brzycki and Fred Fornicola is not your conventional “how-to” book that you’d usually find in any bookstore or Internet site. With an emphasis on safety, this book thoroughly covers all aspects of proper strength training while simultaneously debunking certain myths and misconceptions such as explosive training and sport-specific training. The book shows how to perform nearly 50 exercises with dumbbells in a safe and effective manner. Unique to this type of book is the inclusion of more than three dozen dumbbell workouts that have been submitted by approximately 24 strength and fitness professionals from across the country along with an additional dozen challenging dumbbell workouts and finishing routines.

Here is a list of the individuals who contributed workouts to this book:

Steve Baldwin, Drew Baye, Randy Berning, Michael Bradley, Jim Bryan, Luke Carlson, Brian Conatser, Michael De Joseph, Jeff Friday, Jason Hadeed, Chip Harrison, Aaron Hillman, Gregg Humphreys, Sunir Jossan, Tom Kelso, Sam Knopik, Aaron R. Komarek, Kristopher R. Kotch, Mike Lawrence, Dr. Ken Leistner, Ken Mannie, John Mikula, Willis Paine, Adam Rankin, Jeff Roudebush, Doug Scott, Mike Shibinski, Rob Spector & Scott Swanson.

Here are some comments about “Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness”:

“This book on dumbbell training is a touchdown. The style of writing is easy to read, informative and very interesting. The content is useful for the serious trainee and the novice fitness enthusiast. You would have to be a dumbbell to not like this book.”

Dan Riley, Strength and Conditioning Coach - Houston Texans

“Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness is a profound presentation of practical information on one of the simplest, safest and most successful means for improving muscular strength and physical fitness. This well-written book provides everything you need to know for attaining excellent results through sensible dumbbell exercises.”

Dr. Wayne Westcott, Fitness Research Director South Shore YMCA - Quincy, Massachusetts

“High-tech machines or low-tech dumbbells, they're all strength-building tools. This is the book that will tell you how to use dumbbells to your greatest strength-enhancing advantage.”
Dr. Ken Leistner, Strength Coach - Valley Stream, New York

“Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness offers numerous practical and time-efficient training using one of the oldest tools in strength training: the unsophisticated, simple-to-use dumbbell. This book should be on the shelf of every trainee, trainer and coach as it is an invaluable tool/reference for anyone.”

Tom Kelso, Coordinator of Strength and Conditioning - Saint Louis University