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REALITY CHECK: FITNESS VERSUS FANTASY, PART IV

CORRECT AND EFFECTIVE FREE WEIGHT-RESISTANCE TRAINING TECHNIQUES:
 
It’s just this simple so I’ll tell it to you straight: if you aspire to BUILD muscle size, strength and endurance then stop cheating on all your movements, stop showing off to prove how “strong” you’re NOT by bouncing, jerking and swinging all around weights you aren’t yet conceivably capable of handling in perfect form and strict style, concentrate and focus instead on performing the movements SLOWLY AND SMOOTHLY AND WITH COMPLETE CONTRACTION AND COMPLETE EXTENSION THROUGH YOUR FULL RANGE OF MOTION WITH COMPLETE CONTROL WITHOUT BANGING AND CLANGING THE WEIGHTS ALL AROUND. 
 
You know who you are so you know what I’m talking about and nobody gives a flying hang how “strong” you DON’T look cheating on your movements anyhow.  So why waste all that time and effort trying to demonstrate when you could develop or to impress when you could improve?  If you wonder why your physique never changes and stays the same day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, then LISTEN UP and start training SMART—with BRAIN, not pain!  Stop being a dumbbell DOPE and start controlling the weights rather than letting the weights control YOU!  Forget about all that bouncing, jerking and swinging the weight just to get it up and over and done with like some premature ejaculator.  Get REALLY strong by going the DISTANCE!
 
To build maximum muscular development with the most effective results in the least time: lift the maximum weight you’re truly capable of handling in perfect form or strict style, targeting 8-12 repetitions for just 3 sets maximum.
 
Perfect form and strict style means performing each and every repetition SLOWLY AND SMOOTHLY—without bouncing, jerking or swinging to generate centrifugal force or momentum—all the way up and all the way down with complete contraction and complete extension.  Each repetition should take you about TWO SECONDS on the POSITIVE part of the repetition and THREE SECONDS on the NEGATIVE or lowering part of the repetition.  Lower that weight SLOWLY, concentrating and focusing deeply on the muscle fibers being worked.
 
PAUSE FOR A BEAT at the TOP of all POSITIVE repetitions.  Never DROP the weight down.  Always RESIST the weight instead.
 
Rest no more than 30-45 SECONDS in-between sets.  That means you have precious little time for superfluous chit-chat or socializing—or swaggering around the room bragging unduly about all the amazing feats of strength you CAN’T really perform.
 
Perform all your sets ALL-OUT to fatigue until it’s impossible to perform another repetition in perfect form and strict style anywhere between 8-12 repetitions.  If 8 reps are too HARD then LIGHTEN UP.  If 12 reps are too EASY then LOAD UP.  Keep the weight the same or REDUCE it SLIGHTLY(by 5-10 pounds)with each set.
 
If you want to lift HEAVY then perform 5-8 reps.  If you want to lift LIGHT then perform 12-15 reps.  Do whatever works best for YOU(not that guy with the humongous arms whose genetics are completely different from yours)and your muscle fiber type(fast-twitch muscles favor heavier loads with lower reps, slow-twitch muscles favor lighter loads with higher reps).
 
Work your body parts in this precise order: shoulders(delts), chest(pecs), back(lats), arms(biceps, triceps), legs(quads, hamstrings), calves, lower back, abs and neck.
 
Now let’s look at a select number of those free weight-resistance exercises you’ve been cheating on for way too long to no good effect—or what I call wasted movement without beneficial result:
 
  • Upright Row(barbell)
 
Grip the barbell in the middle with your hands only chin-width apart with your thumbs-in.  Keep your elbows out as you lift the barbell slowly and smoothly to your chin.  Flex and LOCK your LATS throughout this movement to target your delts(shoulders)by disengaging your traps from doing the work.  The upright row is NOT a shrug exercise that most of you make out of it. 
 
Don’t CHEAT: don’t DROP the weight during the negative or lowering part of the movement.  Pause instead at the TOP of the POSITIVE part of the movement.
 
  • Seated Press(dumbbells)
 
If you’re going to perform seated, simultaneous, palms-forward, thumbs-in dumbbell presses for the side shoulders then don’t waste your time and effort by performing those half-ASS movements! 
 
Start your presses in the FULLY CONTRACTED SHOULDER-LEVEL position!  Complete your presses in the fully-extended TOP-most position overhead, PAUSING for a beat before lowering the weight slowly and smoothly to a point LEVEL with your shoulders again.  Lowering your arms at right angles to your shoulders just doesn’t cut it.  Your shoulders aren’t at the level of your EARS so nor should your weights be lowered just to that level either.  You’re trying to work and DEVELOP your shoulders, not DEPRIVE them of the stimulation they need to grow! 
 
If you’re lowering the dumbbells only HALFWAY down just to show off by handling heavier weight then GET OVER IT, REDUCE your poundage and do it CORRECTLY—or just don’t do it at all!
 
  • Supine Bench Press(barbell)
 
Keep a medium wide grip on the barbell to maintain a steady and even degree of demand on the chest muscles from beginning to end of the movement.  Grip the bar too close and your press will start easy but finish hard.  Grip the bar too wide and your press will start hard but finish easy.  Keep your friggin’ feet FLAT ON THE FLOOR and forget those STUPID SPLASHY DISPLAYS of raising your legs at right angles whilst lying supine on the bench.  Don’t resort to those equally STUPID THUMBLESS GRIPS or else someday you’ll wind up in a hospital nursing a broken sternum bone.  Never bounce the bar off your chest and never arch your back off the bench just to get the weight back up.  Lower the weight all the way down to roughly your nipple line with complete contraction, TOUCHING THE CHEST before raising the weight all the way up with complete extension, PAUSING at the TOP of the POSITIVE part of the movement before lowering it again.  If you’re incapable of doing that with COMPLETE CONTROL then GET OVER IT, REDUCE your poundage and do it CORRECTLY—or just don’t do it at all!
 
If you persist with doing all that bouncing of the bar off your chest, arching your back just to get the weight back up, banging and clanging the weights with no control, grunting and groaning out aloud all the while—you’re looking not just like a novice but like a complete jerk-off as well!
 
  • Supine Bench Press(dumbbells)
 
Same principles apply for this exercise as well: begin at CHEST-level where your chest IS!  Lift the weight all the way UP with complete extension and all the way DOWN with complete contraction with COMPLETE CONTROL.  Your CHEST-level is AT your chest, NOT halfway up in mid-air at right angles to your chest.  So quit with the half-ASS movements!  If you’re incapable of lowering the weight all the way to your chest and lifting it all the way up again then GET OVER IT, REDUCE your poundage and do it CORRECTLY—or just don’t do it at all!
 
  • Parallel Bar Dip(parallel bars)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise incorrectly with frenetic, half-ASS movements, bouncing up and down on their bent, flared-out elbows for momentum—either to evade the embarrassment of being powerless to properly press their own bodyweight or to make a deceptive splashy display of “strength” by dangling an over-heavy dumbbell from their crossed feet throughout their MOCK movement.
 
To correctly focus on your lower chest muscles: press yourself up to complete extension, locking your elbows close to your sides.  Lower yourself as far as you can comfortably to complete contraction, bending your arms, preferably until your armpits are level with your grip on the parallel bars or until your biceps and forearms TOUCH!  Got it?  Good!
 
  • One-Arm Row(dumbbell)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise incorrectly with frenetic movements by jerking the weight up and down to and from their chest and torque-ing their torsos—once more to make mock splashy displays of “strength” with over-heavy weights they’re not conceivably capable of handling in perfect form and strict style. 
 
Never lift the weight to your chest.  Never lift the weight any higher than your HIP—the INSIDE of which should be the dumbbell’s completely contracted position—keeping your weight under complete control throughout the movement in either direction.
 
  • Low-Pulley Lat Row(seated cable row machine)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise incorrectly by jerking and heaving their whole bodies back and forth in a ridiculous seesaw movement for momentum—once more to make mock splashy displays of “strength” with over-heavy weights they’re not conceivably capable of handling in perfect form and strict style. 
 
Keep your upper body bent slightly FORWARD at your waist with your shoulders BACK and your back STRAIGHT in neutral position throughout the movement.  Lean FORWARD and move your ARMS ONLY back and forth in a CONTROLLED manner with full extension and full contraction.  Keep your legs outstretched with your knees just slightly bent if at all.
 
Pull the lower-pulley handles to your WAIST—not to your chest.  Target your lats by WORKING your lats—not your lower BACK.  Forget then that slight backward LEAN and jerking the weights to your chest to pull over-heavy weights; that just makes you look silly and amateurish.  Do it right or just don’t do it at all!
 
  • Standing Curl(barbell)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise awkwardly, jerking the weight up and down with their elbows flared out like CLUCKING CHICKENS while swinging their upper bodies(or torsos)back and forth in a silly seesawing motion for momentum—once more to make mock splashy displays of “strength” with over-heavy weights they’re not conceivably capable of handling in perfect form and strict style.
 
Keep your elbows PRESSED IN TIGHT against your sides.  NEVER flare out your elbows.  NEVER raise your elbows FORWARD for leverage—keep your elbows STRAIGHT AND VERTICAL AND STILL.  Only your FOREARMS perform the movement.
 
Strictly curl and lower the weight in a CONTROLLED manner throughout the movement.  Doing otherwise uselessly stresses your elbow joints.
 
Prove to YOURSELF how “strong” you’re NOT with over-heavy weights by performing this exercise standing with both your BACK AND ELBOWS against a solid WALL.  Then EVERYTHING will quickly SINK IN!
 
  • Alternate Curl(dumbbells)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise incorrectly by alternately bouncing and swinging up one dumbbell in one hand from their hip while dropping down the second dumbbell in the other—typically with their elbows flared out to make mock splashy displays of “strength.” 
 
OFFSET YOUR GRIP by holding each dumbbell with your little finger pressed against the upper plate while letting the rest of the dumbbell hang down.
 
Keep your elbows pressed tight against your sides.  Alternately curl the weights in a CONTROLLED manner, moving ONLY the FOREARMS with complete contraction and complete extension while keeping your upper arms completely motion-LESS or stationary.
 
  • Triceps Press-Down(high pulley bar)
 
In spite of how consistently or how often you might see big bad bulk-builders performing this exercise incorrectly it’s NOT a frenetic triceps JERK-down exercise!
 
Space your grip narrowly on the bar only a hand-width apart.  Keep your elbows pressed tight against your sides WITHOUT letting your elbows rise or otherwise move forward during the contraction or negative part of the movement.  Contract and extend completely in a CONTROLLED manner, moving ONLY your FOREARMS while keeping your UPPER ARMS completely motion-LESS or stationary.
 
  • French Press-Behind-Neck(dumbbell)
 
Big bad bulk-builders perform this exercise correctly with half-ASS movements by failing to FULLY lower their FOREARMS and so falling short of complete contraction—once more to make mock splashy displays of “strength.” 
 
Position your elbows right next your ears and KEEP THEM THERE.  Contract and extend completely in a CONTROLLED manner, moving only your FOREARMS while keeping your UPPER ARMS completely motion-LESS or stationary.  Lower the dumbbell behind your head as far as your elbow joints will permit to get the utmost stretch and to achieve the fullest possible range of motion.
 
HOW you train is eminently more important than which exercises you do.  Stop CHEATING on all your exercises and you’ll get eminently greater results in a whole lot LESS time!  And that’s the name of THAT tune!
 
Leave your questions about your free weight-resistance training techniques in the comments section of this blog and I’ll reply to anything and everything asked. 
 
YOUR BEST IN HEALTH, FITNESS, YOUTHFUL VITALITY AND LONGEVITY!

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REALITY CHECK: FITNESS VERSUS FANTASY, PART III

 
Weight-lifting’s Golden Rule couldn’t be more excruciatingly simple yet it’s so rarely practiced correctly:
 
For building maximum muscle development lift the maximum weight you are able and ready to lift and perfect form or strict style—meaning performing your repetitions SLOWLY AND SMOOTHLY—without bouncing, jerking or swinging the weight to create centrifugal force or momentum.
 
Take special note of that term: weight-LIFTING.  You needn’t bounce, jerk or swing the weights to make them move otherwise it would be called weight-bouncing, weight-jerking or weight-swinging!  If you can’t move the weight by any other method than bouncing, jerking or swinging then you’re more than likely incapable of moving it and shouldn’t even be trying.
 
Now don’t take me wrong.  Momentum exercises are great if your goal’s to develop power and speed—but not for muscular growth, strength and endurance.
 
“I believe that if you use too much weight before you’re ready,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “it’s not good for building muscle size.  With heavy weights, your tendons get extra strong but then they tend to take over—instead of the muscle!  Whereas if you use the proper weight and do the exercises slowly and with good concentration, the muscles will take over and will build and strengthen.
 
“If you do jerky movements, with too heavy a weight, the tendons are going to get the size of your thumb but your muscles will be slow to gain size!…Perfect form with as heavy a weight as you can handle—while still maintaining perfect form—is the key to building a Classic Physique.”
 
In contemporary weight-resistance training there’s this rather mis-guided mal-practice of wielding over-heavy weights called the “Neurological Method” resorted to mostly by runty guys trying to look “strong.”  I call it the “Little Man Syndrome.”
 
Strength development with this method is “accomplished through higher intensity training(repetitions between 1 and 4), and increases in strength are the result of the body’s improved ability to recruit more of its existing motor unit pool…Most strength training is characterized by high intensity(85%-100% loads), low repetition sets(1-4), which improve strength through neural adaptations rather than increases in muscle cross section.”
 
Since bodyweight and body composition remains constant it’s supposedly getting strong without adding any muscles.  Which would be fine(in theory, at least)if their repetitions were performed correct in perfect form and strict style.  What happens in practice though is that trainees resorting to that system bounce, jerk and swing the weight they’re not even conceivably capable of handling just to make it move—and that gets them nowhere fast.
 
“I believe the reason that most people torque their bodies so much is simply to use more weight and show off at the gym—but this should never be your objective if building a classic physique is your goal,” wrote STEVE REEVES.  “They would get more benefits—that is, more results in a shorter period of time—if they simply forgot about the weight and concentrated on doing the movement correctly.”
 
CHEATING with weights on an exercise is in fact the most habitual training mistake repeated in gyms over and over, time and time again.
 
“Without question,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “it would have to be            CHEATING on an exercise.  Using full body swings, instead of just using the muscle groups in isolation, such as the biceps and triceps.  Or people bouncing when doing squats or bouncing the weight off their chest when performing bench presses—there’s all kinds of CHEATING.
 
“The only person you CHEAT when you break good form to handle heavier weight is yourself, because you’re robbing your muscles of stimulation they could be using to grow bigger and stronger.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
How does that CHEATING typically manifest itself in the gym?
 
“On the other side of the coin are those that use weights that are too heavy to lift with strict style,” wrote STEVE REEVES.  “They swing, they bounce, they bend under or CHEAT any way they can just to finish their set.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
Now if you feel you must increase the intensity of your weight-resistance training then one great alternative method is simply to decrease the time you rest in-between your sets and body parts.  That just means training hard, not stupid.
 
“In other words,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “I would just train a little bit faster and increase the intensity of my workouts by having less rest time in between sets and muscle groups.”
 
And that means you have precious little time—30 seconds of LESS as a rule—to stand around socializing whilst working out!
 
No matter what your weight-resistance training program or goals NOT CHEATING on your exercises—performed consistently in perfect form and strict style—is the single-most and all-important lesson you must first learn.
 
Now what exactly constitutes perfect form and strict style—the HOW of your exercise efforts—is a whole other story!
 
But mostly it boils down to this:
 
“You must exercise your muscles through their fullest possible range of motion.  This means complete extension and complete contraction in perfect style—but get every last rep you can from every set you perform.”—STEVE REEVES
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REALITY CHECK: FITNESS VERSUS FANTASY, PART II

“What I like most about this issue is the diversity of people we cover,” publisher Pam B Kessler introduced further the July/August 2009 issue of her ad rag Walnut Creek Magazine.  “They range in age but share a common belief—staying fit is key to feeling good.”
 
Trust me, the fad-crazed, self-conscious and superficiality-obsessed natives of Walnut Creek aren’t that deep: looking—not feeling—good is their prime preoccupation even if one is reflective of the other.  And as is typical in most plastic places looks reign supreme.  Small wonder then so many get so frustrated and despair after investing so much time, effort not to mention money in all those “hottest fitness trends and trainers,” but getting in return for that investment next to nothing by way of real results—that is, tangible, visible and progressive changes or improvements in their physical appearance.  Or what’s known in the fitness trade as “body composition.” Or what physical culturists of times past referred to simply as physique development.
 
“We believe in a constant change to your exercise routine and we provide the highest level of variety for that change,” is one smart gym’s advertised claim to prospective fitness clients, representative of the nice-sounding notion that variety spurs change.
 
What kind of change and what sort of variety?  Typically that so-called variety translates to mostly useless “fitness gadgets and gizmos.”  In a word: gimmickry.  And any so-called changes that result are not only coincidental(if not accidental)but negligible as well.
 
“In many cases,” wrote all-natural classic physique bodybuilding icon, STEVE REEVES, “our choice of conditioning activities are almost as counterproductive as our daily living habits.  Everyone seems to be looking for a gimmick or fad—the easy way.  In response to this demand, everywhere you turn there is a new diet, exercise gimmick or conditioning tool—anything to make us look younger, thinner, sexier, bigger, smaller or better.  Few people seem satisfied with approaching their health in a SCIENTIFIC manner.  No matter how bad the economy, people will always find a way to afford the luxury of beauty.
 
“Truth be told, there is no quick fix.  There is no miracle way to fitness or weight loss.  But there are good and practical ways to achieve a firmer and more shapely body.  THESE PRINCIPLES WILL NOT AND HAVE NOT CHANGED.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
  • TIP#1: FORGET FADS
 
When it comes to weight-resistance training in particular, you’ve got to become your own physique architect or exterior decorator since no two physiques are alike.  In my own case, like Steve Reeves I aspire to possess a fully-developed physique that’s balanced, proportional and symmetrical as opposed to merely big and bulky—or size for size’s sake.
 
“So many people,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “including bodybuilders and other weight-trained athletes, just don’t know how to train to get the most benefit out of the time invested in their workouts.  Their training program, instead of being well thought out, is haphazard at best.  If you ask them why they work a certain body part first or do a certain exercise before another in their routine, they either have an illogical answer or no answer at all…
 
“If, by a rare streak of luck, they’re given a logical, well-thought-out routine, nine chances out of ten, they will not follow it.”
 
Whatever your personal fitness or physique aspirations happen to be always aspire to SENSIBLE AND SPECIFIC GOALS, whether those be strength, muscular growth, maximum muscular development or any combination thereof.  Such goals should fulfill three requirements for TRUE fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiopulmonary conditioning.
 
“In order to get the most benefit from your workouts in the short time,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “you must choose the right system of training for your SPECIFIC GOAL.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
  • TIP#2: HAVE A GYM GOAL
 
Now when I went to that smart gym for my first rigorous weight-resistance training workout after an absence from the gym game of some four years, I was treated right off to the sorry spectacle of two of those “hottest fitness trainers”—a grandstanding Mutt-and-Jeff pair(one bulky, one scrawny)showing off at the flat bench press station. 
 
The bulky Asian one with humongous arms and fat calves, pressing comfortably 225-pound repetitions, boisterously boasted about how picky he was(out of “respect”)in permitting the scrawny one to “spot” his reps.  When it came to his turn to lift the scrawny one exaggeratedly huffed and puffed, straining to complete his set in a piss-poor display, arching his lower back off the bench so that his shoulders and upper back could give him enough leverage to bounce the weight bar back up to the rack.  Not a pretty sight!
 
“Strength demonstrations should be performed only at contests and shows and not in the training room,” wrote STEVE REEVES.  “A truly strong person can impress and inspire thousands from the stage.  Who are you impressing in the gym?  A few newcomers?  The guys that have been working out for a while are more concerned about what they’re doing and not how much weight you are using.”
 
So if these two characters most mistakenly thought they were impressing me—as I was the only other participant present on the gym floor at that time—then I’m afraid they both failed miserably.
 
“Your purpose for coming to the gym is to develop muscle and strength—not display them!”  STEVE REEVES emphasized.
  • TIP#3: GO TO THE GYM TO DEVELOP(NOT DISPLAY)AND TO IMPROVE(NOT IMPRESS)
 
Ironically those two less-than-impressive characters represent perfectly two extremes of ill-fitness.
 
“The majority of bodybuilders and other strength athletes have a great deal of anaerobic energy enabling them to perform at a high intensity level for a short period of time,” as STEVE REEVES put it.  “They look healthy and strong and muscular, yet they lack one thing—the aerobic capacity to run, swim and bike for an extended period of time.  In other words, many of these big muscular guys lack endurance and get tired in a hurry.”
 
About the only aerobic exercise I ever witnessed the bulky Asian guy engage in was walking at a snail’s pace on an abnormally inclined treadmill whilst holding on to the elevated hub of the machine for dear life to avoid falling off!  Clearly overweight for his stunted height, he typically wears very baggy tank tops and long shorts, exposing his humongous arms and fat calves, but cleverly(he thinks!)concealing the blob that’s likely rest of his body.
 
“On the opposite end of the pendulum are the aerobically-trained athletes such as long-distance runners and marathoners who have a high degree of cardiopulmonary fitness,” STEVE REEVES wrote, “but don’t have that strong, healthy muscular look.  In fact, the majority of world-class marathon runners look emaciated.”
 
Now the bulky Asian guy’s scrawny counterpart boasts some moderate upper body musculature but cleverly(he thinks!)habitually wears elongated shorts to conceal his spindly bird-legs.
 
As the reputable International Sports Sciences Association(ISSA), one of my own fitness trainer certifying boards, puts it rather bluntly:
 
“Many trainees have a tendency to focus on the beach muscles: chest, biceps and abdominal muscles.  Lower body development has taken a back seat to the aforementioned “show” muscles.  Developing the legs seems to be less and less of a priority as evidenced by legions of these pant covered, tank top wearing WONDERS.  Bench pressing and bicep curling fanatics cringe when they hear the words ‘leg workout.’  Nothing looks more RIDICULOUS than an individual whose arms are bigger than his legs.  Our legs are the foundation of the body.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
So never automatically assume you’re going to get anywhere with your own individualized and specialized fitness goals simply by copycatting some bulky guy with humongous arms.
 
“I think the poor form is the result of trying to use too much weight,” wrote STEVE REEVES, “or by watching some other guy working out who was using poor form and then copying him.  Let’s say you’re sixteen or eighteen years old and the guy  you’re watching is 25 years old and he has big arms and big lats—you might automatically think that what he’s doing must be the right way.  However, it may have taken him ten years to get those big arms and lats, when it would have taken him only two years if he did the exercise correctly.”
 
So carefully observe and critically assess and appraise any of these prospective so-called “hottest fitness trainers.”  Otherwise once you start to emulate them all you’ll ever attain is their piss-poor training habits—and piss-poor physiques.
 
One rather precocious kid posting at the popular YELP review website puts it like this and makes for a great closing tip: “I have patented a phrase when it comes to trainers: ‘Your body is your business card.’  Never let someone train you who is in worse shape than you.”
 
Or as STEVE REEVES put it: “Too many people today BLINDLY follow somebody else’s dictates.  They’ll see somebody with big arms and they’ll do the routine that this individual utilizes—not that his program will necessarily work for them…You have to be a THINKING bodybuilder; you can’t just go by somebody else’s routines—there has to be a METHOD, a LOGIC to your training.”(caps added for emphasis)
 
  • TIP#4: FOLLOW NO FITNESS “TRAINER” BLINDLY.
 
Finally, practice correct gym etiquette, mind your manners and show good form not only with your weights but also to your fellow trainees.  Just a couple tips concerning common courtesy recommended by four-time Mr Universe(1953, 1961, 1967, 1971), BILL PEARL:
 
“Always be concerned of your actions.  Be polite and courteous to everyone.  Make it a habit to say hello and good-bye to people.  Call them by their proper names and don’t be ashamed to say Sir or Mam.
 
“Watch your language closely and be sure not to offend people you are talking to or people who may hear your conversation.
 
“Don’t discuss controversial subjects with just anyone, or enter into arguments.  If a subject becomes heated, drop it…
 
“In the gym be sure to PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF AND REPLACE ALL EQUIPMENT TO ITS PROPER LOCATION making it easy for the next person.
 
DO NOT MONOPOLIZE EQUIPMENT but encourage others to WORK-IN with you.  Spur them on while they perform the exercise and lend them a helping hand if they commence to get into difficulties…
 
“Do your exercising with training gear that covers most of the body and if you perspire a great deal, USE A TOWEL TO CLEAN UP THE SWEAT ON THE BENCHES, etc.  Keep your shirt on and DON’T SPEND MORE TIME LOOKING AT YOURSELF IN A MIRROR, giving the appearance you are self-centered…”
 
On that last note it’s pretty silly to pose and flex your “pumped up” muscles in mirror whilst you’re working out when you’re actually breaking down, not building up, muscle tissue.
 
As STEVE REEVES put it, “Now, growth stimulation and growth production are two entirely separate animals.  When you stimulate growth in the gym, that’s only half of the equation.  The second half involves recovery and growth—and that only happens when you’re at rest.”
 
At that smart gym I’ve been patronizing its supposedly “hottest fitness trainers” are habitually the worst repeat offenders of these commonsensical rules of gym etiquette.
 
One black fellow spends the majority of his time and effort there constantly swaggering and loudly bragging to everybody within earshot about how great he and all his supposedly superior cohorts are, speaking of offensive—not to speak of unduly distracting “language.”
 
Other “trainers” sit on the benches or the seats of weight-resistance machines they’re not using whilst “instructing” clients, whom they indulge to sit likewise during breaks in-between sets.  If you really want to loaf and loll around then stay at home, lounge in your easy chair and be an “armchair athlete.”  Either that or they’ll indulge their trainees to loiter right in front of the free-weight racks, blocking access, whilst they stand there—undirected—with absolutely nothing to do.  Either that or they’ll leave light free weights they’ve used where they lay to litter the floor.
 
“When I tell you to rest two minutes between exercises,” STEVE REEVES wrote, “I don’t mean for you to PLOP yourself down on a bench and do nothing!  I want you to remain STANDING AND NOT SITTING DOWN.  If you’re not helping your training partner with a spot, KEEP YOUR BODY IN MOTION by walking slowly or shifting your weight from foot to foot.”
 
Monopolizing exercise equipment can cover a variety of offenses but—as witnessed more often than not at that smart gym I patronize—loitering around the free-weight area and hovering closely over other trainees trying to work out, or worse still, cluttering the free-weight area further by dumping their workout gear and paraphernalia(duffel bags, beverage bottles and other trappings)on the floor in-between benches because they consider themselves privileged and special characters, rank amongst the rudest and most obnoxious.
 
  • TIP#5: PRACTICE YOUR GYM EMILY POST!
 
 Next time we’ll get down to some practical fitness brass tacks!
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REALITY CHECK: FITNESS VERSUS FANTASY, PART I

“I’m motivated,” publisher Pam B Kessler introduced the July/August 2009 issue of her ad rag Walnut Creek Magazine.  “After putting this issue together, I am ready to expand my workout regime and strengthen my core.  As a Renaissance ClubSport member, the

fitness club has everything I need to get started…So put in your 20 minutes each day and make space for fruits and vegetables on your plate.  Check out our ‘hard bodies’ feature…and take the small steps to get started.”

 

“Hard Bodies, Hot Fitness Trends & Trainers” is the issue’s cover banner headline, picturing a quartet of camera-staring “trainers”—a couple whose poses and expressions are more suggestive of a soft-porn than a fitness feature!  To say nothing of the residual belly baby fat displayed by the not-so-hard exposed midsections of the two young gals.

 

“Now it’s time to get out and feel the burn,” puffs Deborah Burstyn’s feature lead-in.

 

These few opening lines are indicative of just about everything that’s so radically wrong with the contemporary fitness industry today—as well as what people truly interested in nurturing in their lives balanced health and fitness practices, youthful vitality and longevity should learn to discern: and avoid like the proverbial plague!

 

·         Expand your workout regime?  Try expanding its quality rather than its quantity instead.

·         Strengthen your core?  Drop the supposedly hip-and-cool jive-turkey talk.  Try training the midsection instead—and developing the abdominal muscles in particular.

·         Put in your 20 minutes each day?  Sounds fraudulently reminiscent of those late-night infomercial spots for that bogus Bowflex “home gym,” falsely promising “real results” from training just 20 minutes a day three times a week with a pathetic contraption permitting extremely incomplete exercise contraction and extension, and making it impossible to exercise muscles through their fullest range of motion.  So putting in 20 minutes a day doing what exactly?  If you’re wasting your time and effort performing perfectly ineffective movements then you’d be better off just staying at home.  Doing something really isn’t better than doing nothing—in fact, doing something ineffectual can be as detrimental as it is unbeneficial. 

·         Make space for fruits and vegetables on your plate?  A nice little sound-bite.  Try consuming well-balanced nutrition with a slight emphasis on your complex carbohydrates instead.  Carbohydrates, contrary to popular misconception, are major constituents of fruits and vegetables—as well as breads and cereals.

·         Feel the burn?  An offshoot of that negative, “No pain, no gain,” mentality, which ought to be replaced with thinking fitness enthusiasts by a more positive, “No BRAIN, no gain,” outlook.

 

Fitness training, properly performed, is more about positive, good old-fashioned hard work than it is about unduly frenetic stress, strain and negativity—not to mention the tangible and visible results thereof.  Exercising should be relaxing and refreshing to the mind and nervous system as it is tiring for the body.  Otherwise you can’t put out your maximum effort and wind up dreading your workouts rather than looking forward to them, recharged and ready.  Shatter your nerves working out then you quickly lose your enthusiasm for training, defeating your whole purpose for being in the gym: maximizing your benefit and minimizing your time!

 

Now a word about that “exclusive,” upscale and overpriced Renaissance ClubSport “resort”: Buyer Beware!

 

Last time I looked its “best trainers” all had to be nationally certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM)—to my mind one of the out-and-out lamest and piss-poorest fitness trainer certification boards around.  I know, I earned its “personal trainer” certification last December 2006.

 

Against all common sense logic, NASM absurdly advocates its exceptionally stupid “module” for the “special population” of lung-disease clients, which it euphemistically calls the “Peripheral Heart Action” training system, amounting essentially to drawing blood through exerting exercises to random extremities and haphazard parts of the body!  HAZARD being the operative word here—much akin to that other stupid contemporary practice of training your legs first rather than last during a full-body workout.

 

To get the most benefit out of exercise it’s crucial to do it correctly.  HOW you exercise is eminently more important than what exercises you do.

 

“Now is a good time to reflect and determine how you can make a difference,” publisher Pam B Kessler lectures her readers.  “As you travel around Walnut Creek, remember to SHOP LOCAL…our local businesses need your support.  That’s one way you can surely make a difference.”  Meaning fork over your hard-earned bucks to THEM for next to nothing in return.

 

Walnut Creek’s one place, you see, making the world safe not for democracy but rather for commerce—even if in America those two concepts have already merged to become one and the same thing.

 

Profiteering fitness frauds don’t give a rat’s ass for your personal health, fitness and well-being.  So are you getting your money’s worth for the exorbitant prices they’re “surely” charging you for all those “hottest fitness trends and trainers?”  Don’t bank on it.

 

Next time I’ll recommend practical, real-world ways in which you can optimize the quality rather than the quantity of your workouts to get the most out of whatever training you prefer to employ.

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EMBARCADERO YMCA AND THE “INCREDIBLY EDUCATED!”

It was Thursday the 17th of July 1997 when I walked into the waterfront Embarcadeo YMCA at 169 Steuart Street in San Francisco to interview for a fitness employment position with a powerfully pompous little twirp, pretending to be a "fitness coordinator," named: ROSANNA–to whom I’d already faxed a resume on request.
This Rosanna was an extremely runty, short-haired oriental(that’s right, of the Orient!)chick.  Presently she sat me down in a frontward cubicle and straightaway started stammering, hemming and hawing about why she hadn’t been able to call me back before then for that appointment.  "You’re busy," I volunteered, cutting off the crapola short.
She didn’t have my resume in front of her, she said, and couldn’t really remember too much about it.
"It doesn’t have too much on it," I said, trying to remain modest about its condensed, single-sheet contents.
"That’s what I kinda thought," she cracked in response; she remembered I’d worked at a gym in Tallahassee or Tennessee or someplace like that, she said.  Cute.
Well, I’ll tell you the gist of what it contained: that I lettered in high school track, running the 440(quarter mile)event, that in junior college police recruit academy I’d excelled and won a No. 1 physical training award, that I held a 3rd kyu(brown belt)in traditional Japanese-style shotokan karate, and that I’d already had well over a full calendar year’s worth of experience as a fitness floor instructor at a health & fitness spa in Tallahassee, Florida before relocating to "progressive" California.  From past experience I didn’t emphasize my considerable academic credentials due to frequently being accused of being "over-qualified" for lower-level positions such as this one I was applying for.  I was(am)a strong swimmer with considerable experience in calisthenics and flexibility training. 
But most importantly, for roughly the past seven or eight months leadng up to that appointment I’d been training intensely according to the all-natural classic physique bodybuilding training principles of the late, great WORLD-CLASS physique culturist champion, STEVE REEVES.  And even then at age 43 the most effective results of that training were already beginning to display in my own developing physique.  So much so that I can recall passing Cal college co-eds calling out to me when they saw me heading shirtless in shoes and gym shorts for the Edwards Stadium track to run, "You know what you’re doing!"
Now the only reason why this Rosanna dragged me over there all the way across from Berkeley in the East Bay was that she "wanted to tell me"–tell me, mind you–that ALL their supposedly eminently qualified floor or fitness trainer staff were "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT-ED!"  Think excruciatingly whiny California Valley-girl twang to feel the full force of this chick’s pompous harping: "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED!"  Pure puffery!
By twangy "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED," this Rosanna elucidated at length that without holding either a bachelor’s degree in a "health field" or a fitness trainer certification–or both, as many of their supposedly "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED" staff did–she couldn’t "seriously consider" hiring me, conceding that they experienced a "high turnover" amongst floor trainers who "went on" to becoming "personal" fitness trainers.
This "totally" clue-less chick, not knowing me from Adam, was so downright ludicrous and laughable that, speaking of being "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED," I didn’t think it seemly to even mention my general junior college AA and AS in law enforcement, my three(3)BAs in Criminal Justice, Economics and International Studies, nor my fourth BA in Secondary Education shy a single social studies methods course, nor even my MA in Political Science shy an exit exam and thesis.  It really was all I could do to restrain myself from bursting out laughing at this sappy chick’s extreme pomposity. 
Well, in the intervening time, long story short, I’ve "gone on" to attain thus far not one but five(5)fitness trainer certifications granted by the American Council On Exercise(ACE), International Sports Sciences Association(ISSA), National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM), National Council on Strength and Fitness(NCSF)and National Federation of Personal Trainers(NFPT)–and shortly I’ll study to attain yet a sixth certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA).  Big deal, huh?  Such is my enthusiasm for the fitness field I’ve also written and published the 220-page fitness tract, Stay Fit(And Hot)For Life(2003). 
So now I suppose I might just qualify to be considered "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED" too, just!  What do  you think, dear readers?  Anyway, I can’t help but wonder where that Rosanna is now and what she’s accomplished since then, if anything; I couldn’t help but wonder then when the last time was she ever even saw the inside of a gym much less actually worked out in one.  All I know is, even at 54 I’ll stack up for comparison my fitness trainer "qualifications"–and physique, aerobic, strength and flexibility abilities–against ANY of those supposed "personal trainers" at the EMBARCADERO YMCA any day of the week!  Any takers, Y directors? 
Now the bottom line point of this blog isn’t to expose the absurdly ridiculous conduct of one runty little pompous and sappy EMBARCADERO YMCA punk flunky, singing the false praises of their several armchair-manual trainer staff, despite that conduct rather blatantly contradicting and paying cheap lip service to the Y’s spurious touting of their supposed "commitment to four core values: respect, responsibility, honesty and caring."  Something of a superficial, even hypocritical "commitment" if you ask me.  Excuse me, I’m sorry, but…RESPECT????!!!!
Now what’s the real significance of holding all those multiple fitness trainer certifications?  Well, I’ll tell you: virtually NIL!!  Diddly squat!!  As they’re just about all the same in both form and content and cover mostly the same material with some minor exceptions in approach and emphasis.  Gyms like them for sheer, pretentious boosterism: projecting a false and deceptive facade of legitimacy; and, of course, for liability and insurance purposes.  They don’t give a tinker’s damn about the fitness CLIENTS who become the ultimate victims of this rampant fitness certification credential CHICANERY!  
For the actual truth of the matter is this: like most everything else in this greed-based, commercialistic society of ours, fitness trainer certification is just another fee-gouging racket, pure and simple.  And attaining fitness trainer certification amounts to nothing more than purchasing a set of exorbitantly-priced study materials and taking and passing an exorbitantly-priced exam, which most any moron possessed of even a modest modicum of mental capacity can successfully accomplish.  As a result, fitness trainer certification scarcely ensures that fitness trainers are true, expert fitness practitioners, much less truly knowledgeable and experienced in the most essential aspects of the fitness field–despite the posturing prima donna attitudes displayed by a good many of those so-called "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CAT’ED!" certified personal trainers.  You’ve heard of Monday-morning quarterbacks and armchair generals.  Well, I call most of them Armchair Manualists! 
Some of that mis-leading, fitness trainer manual mis-information can in fact prove to be downright dangerous if not deadly.  Of the five fitness trainer certifications that I’ve collected thus far, NASM‘s the lame-assest, piss-poorest of the bunch!  For the "special population" of lung-disease clients, for a prime example, NASM promotes some exceptionally stupid "module" called the "Peripheral Heart Action" training system, which essentially amounts to drawing blood through exerting exercises to random extremities and haphazard parts of the body!  HAZARD being the operative word here–much akin to that other stupid contemporary practice of training your legs first rather than last during a full-body workout, supposedly because your larger leg muscles should be worked early because they demand more energy than smaller upper body muscles to work!
Folks, there’s one and only one LOGICAL order in which to work your muscles during a full-body workout and that’s from top to toe–progressively, with rather than against gravity!
Your legs–your body’s largest and strongest muscles–are required to form a strong foundation of support for your upper body workout.  So every time you fatigue your support foundation first, making it weak and wobbly, you’ll never be capable of putting out your maximum effort for working your smaller upper body muscles.
By working your smaller rather than your larger muscles first, working your legs near the end of your training, you warm up and increase your circulation gradually by performing exercises that won’t overload your system too quickly.
About 80 percent of your blood’s located in your legs and glutes already.  So once you work your legs first you draw even more blood down into those lower extremities–drawing it away in turn from your smaller upper body muscles.  Once you begin working your smaller muscles, making your body draw your blood back to your upper body, you’re forcing your body to pump large amounts of blood against gravity–making for both an unnecessary and undesirable demand on your system.  If you really want to maximize the results of your full-body workouts then always begin with your smaller upper body muscles and then work down to your legs–with, not against gravity!  It’s the only sensible, LOGICAL approach.
Another prime example is the sorry spectacle of these so-called "certified" fitness trainers compelling clients to perform the excruciating, knee-stressing mal-practice of doings leg lunges–either in place, or moving across the floor, with or without dumbbells–mis-instructing them to take short steps without letting their lead-leg knee bend past their toes whilst keeping their lagging leg bent with the knee dropping down to the friggin’ floor!  Soundly stupid–and painful!
Folks, if you really want to get the most out of your leg lunges then do them correctly: keeping your back straight, step forward with your lead leg about a full two feet–it’s a lunge, not a Texas two-step!  Keeping your back leg as straight(not bent)as possible, bend the knee of your lead(lunging)leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor.  And then you won’t whine about your knees being hurtfully stressed as witless victims of that stupid contemporary practice typically do.    
Such subtle nuances in training can make all the difference between undertaking superior, results-effective workouts and those that are at best abysmal, inferior, mediocre and utterly ineffectual in their results.  There’s a whole host of such subtle nuances in training, ranging from the duration of pause between reps to complete contraction and extension to proper grip placement, that you just can’t get out of mis-informative and mis-leading fitness trainer manuals, but that impact most vitally on your training success versus its potential failure.
The bottom line is: being "IN-CRED’I-BLY ED’U-CA’TED" according to the empty, superfluous standards of the ROSANNAs of the EMBARCADERO YMCA typically amounts to being as paper thin as the fitness trainer "certifications" they’re based on!

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