Monday, April 26, 2010

If you're too fat and out of shape to catch the ice cream truck you probably shouldn't be trying to catch it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Unstable Practice

Standing on a wobbly object - especially while lifting weights - does not build stability, in fact, it impairs it. Why? Because you are promoting unsafe stressors on the tendons, ligaments and joints of the ankles, knees, hips and lower back. So get on the ball by getting off the ball.
- Fred Fornicola

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Exercising too frequently can alter your recovery time and therefore hinder growth and performance. Rest is a must and without it, progress will come to a halt or worse yet, there is the strong possibility of injury or illness. In reading coach Phil Jackson's book, Sacred Hoops, there is an excerpt that is applicable to what I'm suggesting:

"The farmer who's so eager to help his crops grow that he slips out at night and tugs on the shoots inveitably ends up going hungry."

Think about how that can apply to your exercise program. - Fred Fornicola

Monday, April 12, 2010

Become One of the Elite

Each and every Monday morning, I start my first training session at 5:30 with Ted, who is one of my many dedicated clients. Ted is one of those guys who never miss a workout (even at 5:30 AM in the middle of winter), never makes up or uses excuses and always gives 100% effort – regardless of his circumstances. Ted has been with me for many years now and we recently discussed his need to refocus his attention on himself as Ted is very much a giving kind of guy. Because Ted is a devoted father, partner, friend and educator, he tends to take a back seat to his own needs and after a recent conversation, we both agreed that it was time for him to make a change. I offered Ted the opportunity (and challenge) to start up on the “Elite” training program as he would benefit greatly from it. In a nut shell, the “elite” program consists of training once every seven days with a very high level of intensity (see the “Elite” program for more details).

Ted and I reviewed and discussed what exercises would suit his orthopedic and personal needs and we decided that the best “bang for the buck” would come from the compound movements (exercises that engage a great deal of muscle). We also knew that because the level of effort is so high in the Elite program that Ted’s total work volume would be no more than six total sets for his entire workout and sometimes seven when we include work for his lower back every other week. And because Ted is looking for a higher than normal conditioning effect and wants to accelerate his fat burning, he also comes in on Saturday for the “High Performance”” training program which is specific to his cardiovascular, conditioning and fat loss goals.

The Elite program consists of a couple different approaches, but the one Ted is currently using is a slow repetition speed in which he takes approximately 10 seconds to raise the weight and 4 seconds to lower. He works until he can’t move the weight in good form and then we terminate the set. His total “Time Under Load” (how long it took him to complete the exercise) is timed for each exercise and is documented. His weights are then adjusted accordingly for his next workout the following week. This makes his training very focused and intense and beneficial to his muscular and cardiovascular systems. A big plus using this training system is that Ted no longer has issues with his low-level exercise induced asthma that he found to be restricting when we used other training protocols and frequency. The “elite” program also frees him up to do the many other things that he’s responsible for on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at what Ted’s once-a-week workout consists of and the muscles that are involved for each exercise:

Hammer Strength Row (back, biceps, forearms)
Pendulum Chest Press (chest, shoulders, triceps)
Gravitron Chin (back, bicep, forearms, abdominals)
Cybex Shoulder Press (shoulders, triceps, chest)
Nautilus Leverage Leg Press (hips, legs, calves)
Nautilus Abdominal Crunch (abdominals)
Nautilus Low Back (lumbar region/lower back – done every other week)

As you can see, every major muscle is being stimulated with just the involvement a handful of exercises done for one maximum effort set. The correct exercise selection along with a monitored approach has enabled Ted to make significant gains over the last couple of weeks. Here are some results from this past week. In just one week, Ted increased his weight in the rows by 10 pounds using only 15 seconds less than last weeks time. His chest press went up by 5 pounds AND he increased his time by 8 seconds. He improved his chins by 16 seconds, his shoulder press by 6 seconds and his leg press improved by 10 pounds as did his abdominal crunch with only a few seconds shy of last weeks Time Under Load. Ted’s total training time was approximately 11 minutes and he took no more than 45 seconds rest between exercises, so that means Ted finished his total body workout in just around 15 minutes.

On Saturday Ted will come in again, but we will use the “High Performance” training module to further his cardiovascular system and fat burning productivity. With careful attention to detail and proper dieting techniques, Ted has lost over 10 pounds of fat in just three weeks time and has put on muscle. Oh, I almost forgot, did I mention that Ted is also in his 50’s?

If you’d like more information regarding Premiere Personal Fitness and our various program offerings, please visit our website.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Static Contraction Exercise - Part III

PARTS 1 & 2 describe the overall concept and the pulldown and shoulder press movement done with static contraction. The third and final exercise of the workout sequence is of the leg press.

Leg Press

The leg press is another of these big exercises that stimulates the entire lower body – with this trainee we used the strong leverage point of near lockout position to but he can (and will) vary by using the leg press in the weakest leverage position which is a few inches off the bottom (picture yourself doing a wall sit). Either way, there are reduced compressive forces on the lower spine/lumbar region.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Static Contraction Exercise - Part II

In PART 1, I gave an overall view of static contraction training as I am employing at the moment and showed the effectiveness of the particular pulldown exercise that we use. The following exercise is the second movement in our sequence.

Shoulder Press

In the shoulder press (which works the shoulders, chest and triceps along with the upper back to stabilize), this particular trainee uses the strong leverage position since he has issues at the beginning of the overhead press due to a shoulder injury which prohibits the use of the press in this range of motion. He can, however, handle the top portion with zero discomfort – affording him the opportunity to do overhead work. Someone else may find the beginning portion or mid range to work better for themselves.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Reduce Stress With Exercise

Times are tough right now. Economy is hurting, government is throwing us some curves and people are feeling the one is impervious to it. The key to a lot of this is how we handle it, trying to keep things in perspective. With all of this surrounding us one of the best things we can do is not give up on ourselves and more now than ever is when we need to take care of our health. Don't short change yourself by sitting on your butt, get up and relieve some stress...invest in yourself.

Reducing Stress With Exercise

Sunday, April 04, 2010

3 Exercises and Out

A GREAT workout by Lynn. Three intense exercises and that was all she needed.

Slow Rep Shoulder Press

Slow Rep Chin Up

Slow Rep Leg Press

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Static Contraction Exercise

We’ve all been told or have read that that you should train with a full range of motion and that exercise, to be effective, needs to provide a concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) of a resistance in a controlled manner. As this is a tried-and-true practice, there is just too much proof that there are other ways to become stronger, to gain muscle and to improve metabolic performance. For the purpose of this article, I will discuss (in limitation), the concept of static contractions. Static contractions (an offshoot of isometric training to some extent) allow for limited range of motion while providing a high level of stimulation with the added bonus of reduced wear and tear on the joints, tendons and ligaments. Several books and information have been written about static contraction and it has become a mainstay for many trainees and as such, variations have spawned from its usage.

Static contractions can be performed in different positions, allowing the trainee to find a spot that is not contraindicating to his or her body for that particular movement. For instance, some trainees may find that the very beginning of a shoulder press (a weak leverage point) alleviates any problem with their shoulder that a full range overhead press may cause while another may find that a few inches from lockout (a strong leverage point) may have no ill effect on their shoulder at all. Through experimentation and a little know-how, a person who was once prohibited from doing an exercise because full-range movement caused by discomfort or orthopedic restrictions can now utilize these exercises again – safely and effectively.

Today’s training sequence is pulldowns, overhead press and leg press for this particular trainee. The workout is broken down as such: Each exercise is taken to momentary muscle failure. Each set is held for approximately 20 seconds. We are striving for a cumulative fatigue effect with lower than normal compressive forces, so on each set there is an increase in resistance until the trainee can no longer hold the weight in good form. As an example, this would be similar to using a weight that allowed for 15 – 20 repetitions as the first half of these reps provide and innate warm-up and fiber fatigue. I instruct clients to take a deep breath or 2 (maybe 10 seconds) in between repetitions to regroup and get to the next weight level. Once they reach a resistance they can no longer handle for 20 seconds in good form, the weight will then be reduced over 2-4 subsequent sets – basically until the trainee is completed exhausted on the movement. The entire set takes approximately 2:30 – 3:00 minutes, at which time he moves to his next exercise movement with little rest. This trainee’s total exercise time today was under 11 minutes.

The Pulldown

The following series of videos are of three movements that, to be honest, is all it takes to train the whole body properly. This pulldown movement (along with some of the program ideas described), is something I recently picked up from conversations with John Little (Body by Science). I’ve implemented static contractions in the past in various ways, but this application and this particular pulldown movement are relatively new to me. As you will note in the video, the positioning of the arms, elbows and torso engage the muscles of the upper (lats) and lower back, the pectorals as they are fully contracted and the biceps which are in a highly supinated position – not to mention the contractive stimulation of the abdominals.