Monday, December 23, 2013


"The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together." 
- Kurdish Saying

Note:  The following article was composed by M Doug McGuff, M.D.  Although it may be somewhat technical for the reader, it offers an important view of "what works and why" 
in exercise. PB
Please review my summation and interpretation at the end of this article!
                                    by M. Doug McGuff, M.D.

For the past three decades the medical community has largely recommended aerobic exercise to patients as a means of improving their health. This emphasis on steady-state activity was largely based on the work of Kenneth Cooper, M.D. and a multitude of studies showing positive cardiovascular outcomes when performing aerobic exercise. Running, Jogging, and aerobic dance became national fads. Thirty years later, many of us are finding that the exercise rage that we helped create may have done more to destroy America's knees than it did to save America's hearts.

We must understand that aerobics is a word made up to describe a particular exercise philosophy. The word aerobic describes the subsegment of metabolism that involves the Krebs cycle and respiratory chain, which requires oxygen to function. During low level physical exertion, energy demands are met primarily by this metabolic pathway. At higher levels of exertion, other metabolic pathways predominate. The research that has been performed in the past has operated on the assumption that exercising to produce aerobic metabolic adaptations is most desirable. Measuring how aerobic a particular exercise is largely determined through V02max testing (maximal oxygen uptake). When exercise showed improvement in cardiovascular outcomes the link between aerobic metabolic conditioning and cardiovascular health was established. It then became a forgone conclusion that exercise that did not rely predominantly on the aerobic metabolic system would have no effect on cardiovascular health. Thirty years later, the literature is suggesting that we were wrong.

The Best Kind of Exercise

A review of the more recent literature seems to suggest that resistance training may be the best way to train the cardiovascular system. If you think about it, this makes sense. The only way we can get at the cardiac or vascular system is by performing mechanical work with the muscles. It only makes sense that the higher the intensity and quality of the muscular work, the greater will be the effect on those systems that must support the muscular work. If you think of exercise in biological terms, you will note that exercise is simply an irritative stimulus which acts upon the body (an organism); if the stimulus intensity is high enough, and the organism has the resources available (nutrition, rest) it will produce an adaptive response. By raising the stimulus intensity we can produce a more pronounced and well-preserved adaptive response.

How do we know that resistance training produces a strong cardiovascular effect? Most of us have been told that high muscular tension increases peripheral vascular resistance and traps venous blood, which inhibits venous return. These supposed effects act to decrease cardiac output (or so we were told). If you think about it, these arguments make little sense. Venous return is largely dependent on muscle contraction to move blood centrally. Forceful muscle contractions should enhance, not inhibit cardiac return. Furthermore, the release of catecholamines* during intense exercise causes gut vasoconstriction, but stimulates vasodilatation in the muscles, the net effect of which should be to decrease peripheral resistance. Decreased peripheral resistance combined with enhanced venous return should enhance cardiac output. Increased end-diastolic pressure should enhance coronary artery perfusion, making permissible meaningful exercise to even those with coronary artery narrowing. The argument seems logical, but until recently it has not been measured directly. An article from the June 1999 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology actually used right heart catheterization to measure hemodynamic changes during high intensity leg press exercise in patients with stable congestive heart failure. The measurements taken noted significant increases in heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, diastolic pulmonary artery pressure and cardiac index. Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in peripheral vascular resistance, an increased cardiac work index and left ventricular stroke work index, suggesting enhanced left ventricular function.(1).

The profound effect of resistance training on the cardiovascular system might make one worry that the demands are too great and resistance training may actually be dangerous to those with know or lurking cardiovascular disease. A review of the literature shows that we need not worry too much. A recent article in the March-April Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation examined circuit weight training at varying levels of intensity in patients with CAD. They actually noted a lower rate-pressure product when compared to treadmill walking and no subject displayed any ST-segment depression or angina during circuit weight training.(2). This parallels my experience training patients with known CAD. Despite training these subjects at very high intensity, taking every set to muscular failure, we have never had a subject experience angina. This is even true for subjects who have angina climbing steps or walking uphill. I believe that the augmented venous return improves coronary perfusion and permits a more meaningful level of exertion in these patients. Resistance training has even been shown to be safe early after myocardial infarction (again, I believe for similar reasons). An article from the March-April Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation looked at resistance training as early as 6 weeks post MI and compared it to more traditional aerobic-based rehab protocols. Amazingly, they noted "...30 of 42 subjects had one or more cardiovascular complication (arrhythmia, angina, ischemia, hypertension, hypotension) during the aerobic exercises as compared to only 1 subject with complications during resistive exercises". (3). Furthermore, it appears that we need not worry too much about the blood pressure response from resistance training. A meta-analysis from the March issue of Hypertension concluded that "progressive resistive exercise is efficacious for reducing resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults." (4). Another article confirms that resistance training does not exacerbate exercise blood pressure. (5).

Peripheral Effects

Despite its profound effects on the cardiovascular system resistance training still has its major impacts through peripheral adaptations, mainly in terms of increased muscle strength. We have all told our patients that just performing activities of daily life (walking, taking the stairs, yard work) can preserve our cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, the age-related loss of muscle (sarcopenia) can undermine our ability to carry out those activities. Resistance training can prevent and even reverse sarcopenia.(6). Furthermore, as a muscle becomes stronger, fewer motor units will have to be recruited to perform a given task, thus reducing the demand on the cardiovascular system. Clearly, the best kind of exercise is the kind that will tax the musculature the most, this will create a powerful cardiovascular stimulus, while producing hemodynamic changes that minimize the risk of cardiac ischemia and also produce the most profound peripheral changes in the form of muscle strengthening.

The Best Resistance Training

The best resistance training would be high intensity but of low force so that the beneficial effects can be obtained without the risk of injury. Heightened intensity would also be helpful because the duration of the workout could be shortened and the recovery interval between sessions prolonged. A brief and infrequent exercise protocol would go a long way toward improving long-term compliance with an exercise program.

At my facility we use the SuperSlow™ protocol which involves lifting the resistance over a 10 second time span and lowering the resistance over a 10 second time span. The very slow lifting speed provides two beneficial effects. First, by moving so slowly the weight cannot get moving under its own momentum and this enhances muscular loading and intensifies the exercise. Secondly, the slow movement eliminates acceleration. Since force=mass x acceleration, we can greatly reduce the amount of force that the exercising subject will encounter. The SuperSlow™ protocol was originally devised for use with osteoporosis patients.(7). The protocol is so effective at raising intensity that we find workouts of about 12 minutes to be optimal and a recovery interval of 7 days to be optimal for most subjects. We have been able to double subjects strength in about 12-20 weeks. Recent research performed by Dr. Wayne Wescott compared the SuperSlow™ protocol to standard repetition speed resistance training and noted a 50% better strength gain in the SuperSlow™ group.(8). The researchers were so astounded that they later repeated the study and were able to reproduce the results.(9).

So, it appears that exercise will make a paradigm shift in the new millennium. Aerobic exercise will fall into the background while resistance training takes center stage. If you want more information on these changes, consult your medline ( or feel free to contact me.

*  Catecholamines cause general physiological changes that prepare the body for physical activity (fight-or-flight response). Some typical effects are increases in heart rateblood pressureblood glucose levels, and a general reaction of the sympathetic nervous system


1. Meyer, K. et al. Hemodynamic responses during leg press exercise in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. Am J Cardiol 1999 Jun1;83(11):1537-43.
2. Degroot DW, et al. Circuit weight training in cardiac patients: determining optimal workloads for safety and energy expenditure. J Cardiopulm Rehabil. Mar-Apr;18(2):145-52.
3. Daub WD, et al. Strength training early after myocardial infarction. J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 1996 Mar-Apr;16(2):100-8.
4. Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Progressive resistance exercise and resting blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Hypertension. 2000 Mar;35(3):838-43.
5. Harris KA, Holly RG. Physiological response to circuit weight training in borderline hypertensive subjects. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987 Jun;19(3):246-52.
6. Rogers MA, Evans WJ. Changes in skeletal muscle with aging: effects of exercise training. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 1993;21:65-102.
7. Hutchins, K. 1992. SuperSlow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol. Media Support/SuperSlow Systems. Casselberry, Florida.
8. Wescott, W. Exercise Speed and Strength Development. American Fitness Quarterly 13(3):20-21.
9. Wescott, W. et al. Effects of regular and slow speed training on muscle strength. Master Trainer 9(4): 14-17.


M. Doug McGuff, MD is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. Dr. McGuff completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where he served as Cheif Resident. Dr. McGuff is currently a partner in Blue Ridge Emergency Physicians, P.A. in Seneca, South Carolina. Dr. McGuff also owns Ultimate Exercise, a licensed SuperSlow(tm) facility that provides one-on-one exercise instruction in a clinically controlled environment.
  • Doing aerobic exercising (using treadmills, bicycles, stepping machines, etc.) are not necessary.  Any exercise that is intense enough will have a positive effect on the health of the heart, circulatory system and muscles.
  • Resistance training using weights may be the best way to train the cardiovascular system.  The higher the intensity the greater the benefits will be if the trainee has adequate rest and nutrition.
  • Resistance training has been shown to be safe early after myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • The best kind of exercise is the kind that will tax the muscles the most, including positive effects on the heart.

Monday, December 16, 2013


"Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, exhale and relax.  Simply appreciate where you are and what you have"


Sarcopenia is characterized by a decrease by the size of the muscles which causes weakness and frailty.  This loss may be caused by different cellular mechanisms than those that cause muscle atrophy.  During sarcopenia, there is a replacement of muscle fibers with fat and an increase in fibrosis.  An excellent article from WebMD follows this introduction.

"From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss.
Although there is no generally accepted test or specific level of muscle mass for sarcopenia diagnosis, any loss of muscle mass is of consequence, because loss of muscle means loss of strength and mobility. Sarcopenia typically accelerates around age 75 -- although it may happen in people age 65 or 80 -- and is a factor in the occurrence of frailty and the likelihood of falls and fractures in older adults.
Although sarcopenia is mostly seen in people who stay physically inactive throughout life suggests there are other factors involved in the development of sarcopenia.
The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise. Specifically, resistance training or strength training -- exercise that increases muscle strength and endurance with weights or resistance bands -- has been shown to be useful for both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.
Resistance training has been reported to positively influence the neuromuscular system, hormone concentrations, and protein synthesis rate. Research has shown that a program of progressive resistance training exercises can increase protein synthesis rates in older adults in as little as two weeks.
For optimal benefits with minimal risk of injury, the proper number, intensity, and frequency of resistance exercise is important. For that reason, you should work with an experienced physical therapist or trainer to develop an exercise plan.
Although drug therapy is not the preferred treatment for sarcopenia, a few medications are under investigation. They include: 
Urocortin II. This peptide has been shown to stimulate the release of a hormone called adrenocoticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland. Intravenous urocortin II has been shown to prevent muscle atrophy from being in a cast or taking certain medications; it has also been shown to cause muscle growth in healthy rats. But its use for building muscle mass in humans has not been studied and is not recommended. 
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). When a woman's production of hormones is diminished at menopause, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to increase lean body mass, reduce abdominal fat short-term, and prevent bone loss. However, in recent years there has been controversy surrounding the use of HRT due to increased risk of certain cancers and other serious health problems among HRT users.
Other treatments under investigation for sarcopenia include testosterone supplementation, growth hormone supplementation, and medication for treatment of metabolic syndrome (insulin-resistance, obesity, hypertension, etc.).  If found useful, all of these would complement the effects of resistance exercise, not replace them."

Monday, December 9, 2013

"You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted"
- Ruth E. Renkl

What Happens When You Exercise?

There are times when you can take a very complicated subject like muscle physiology and metaphorically simplify it for "Dummies".  No, this isn't meant to be a degrading of any one's intelligence, but rather to create a means to memorize any subject easier, longer, and more comprehensively.  Let's get started.

An army is composed of soldiers and a muscle is made up of muscle fibers.  These are the basic units to start with in our discussion.  Some of the soldiers drive tanks, other's are in the infantry and some man anti-aircraft canons (or guns).  The soldiers are given specialized tasks.  Muscle fibers are grouped together to form different muscle bundles that also do specialized work.  The quadriceps extend the leg, and the hamstrings flex the knee joint while extending the hip joint.

Exercise is basically "medicine" for the muscles, but cause the muscles to respond differently than you may imagine.  Exercising does not build muscles, it causes a break-down process called catabolism.  There is microscopic bleeding, tearing, and irritation of the muscle fibers.  This process is magnified and enhanced during high intensity training (HIT).  When you leave the gym the muscles are repaired by nutrition and rest, especially sleep.  The results are in muscles that are enlarged (hypertrophied) and increased in number (more muscle fibers are formed; hyperplasia).  This process is a building stage called anabolism (as opposed to catabolism).

So if you want a strong army you need many soldier's that are trained, physically, to fight, endure, and "win the battle".  With exercise, you want to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible, train them, with the result of having a stronger, healthier and firmer body.  The human body is really a muscle machine designed to move.

There are specialized organelles, mostly in muscle, called mitochondria.  They are responsible for developing energy to move the body, run, stretch, play tennis, etc.  When people go on weight reducing diets, besides loosing fat, they also lose muscle tissue.  It's essential to exercise when going on a diet, as it is all the time during your life in your body.  If there is a sizable reduction in muscle substance, energy production is reduced, and can lead to a life of the "couch potato".

There are many other benefits of exercising and books have been written of this subject. Kinesiology is the study of muscular movement and physiology. It is a subject major in many colleges and universities.

Monday, December 2, 2013


"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last.  You can say, "I have finished".  There is a lot of satisfaction in that"

- Fred Lebow



By monitoring heart rate, the simple observation that the harder we exercise, the faster our heart beats is put to good use.  A heart rate monitor essentially measures your pulse rate, immediately and accurately, even during your exercise period.  You do not have to stop exercising to check your pulse in your wrist or by palpating your neck.  Professional athletes and amateurs alike have, for decades, been relying on the information provided by their heart rate monitor for the following reasons:

A heart rate monitor is like a rev counter, giving a precise measurement of exercise intensity. Training at your own ideal pace is made possible with a heart rate monitor. Direct measurement of heart rate during exercise is the most accurate way to gauge performance.Progress can be monitored and measured, increasing motivation. It maximizes the benefits of exercise in a limited amount of time.It introduces objective observation. Are you on the right track? Are you improving? It is a tool for regulating frequency and intensity of workouts. Because of the immediate feedback it provides, heart rate monitoring is an ideal training partner.

The heart moves blood from the lungs (where the blood picks up oxygen) to the muscles (which burns the oxygen as fuel) and back to the lungs again. The harder the training, the more fuel the muscles need and the harder the heart has to work to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. When there is a load placed on the heart, as in exercising, the rate of the heart beat speeds to a higher level and the monitor can monitor the progress of the heart rate.

There are some excellent monitors on the market and it’s important to know what to look for when you purchase one.  My suggestion is to look in sporting goods stores, compare one model with another and also be sure that you buy the kind with a chest belt rather than just a wrist monitor.  The belted types are more accurate.  Also, it’s important that you purchase a monitor that ‘blocks out’ stray electronic signals.  This requirement is called Coded Transmission by Polar.  Other manufactures have their own terms for protected transmission of your heart rate. You will be exercising in a gym with treadmills, bikes, etc., that have monitors built in, some television monitors nearby, and they can all affect the cheaper heart rate monitors.  Note:  I have noticed that many times while working out in a commercial fitness center, the reliability of the built-in heart rate monitors are not always accurate, and accuracy is very important when checking your heart rate.  Many times the built-in monitors do not work at all – get your own and learn how to use and benefit from it.
When you start your workout, your heart rate increases rapidly in proportion to the intensity of your training.  In Heart Rate Monitors, the transmitter belt, worn around your chest, detects the electrocardiogram (ECG - the electric signal originating from your heart) and sends an electromagnetic signal to the wrist receiver where heart rate information appears.
As you get fitter, your heart is able to pump more blood with every beat. As a result, your heart doesn’t have to beat as often to get the needed oxygen to your muscles, decreasing resting heart rate and exercise heart rate on all exertion levels.  In other words, it becomes more efficient and stronger.

Go to Google, type in ‘Heart Rate Monitor’s by Search, and see what’s available online.  I buy many things online, you can save money, and sometimes you can buy without paying for shipping or taxes.
You should get a monitor that has the following, as minimal requirements:
1.      Be able to set the parameters; high and low bpm (beats/minute) limits, and some units        have sound warnings when exceeded.
2.      Get one with ‘Coded Transmission’.
3.      It should give you the calorie expenditure for the time of your exercise period.
4.      The battery should be able to be replaced.
5.      It should have the total amount of time you exercised.
6.      Be sure you can read the face of the monitor while exercising.  Don’t buy one with tiny      markings!
7.      Check out the return policy and guarantee period.  When in the gym, check to see if the    heart rate is close to the monitors on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical trainer.

My personal choice and the one I use is a Polar Monitor FT7 but it’s relatively expensive and probably more than what you need.  Polar has been making monitors for many years and I think they make the best ones available.  Note:  I get no rebate for recommending this company and I do not benefit in any way in making the recommendation!  Also note that whatever type of activity you may be involved in, a quality monitor is worth what you pay for it.  Besides looking into a mirror to check your progress in exercising, a monitor can give you a pretty good idea of what your cardio-respiratory progress is.  You can check your VO-2 reading, a leading guide on evaluating your fitness.

Monday, November 25, 2013

 "With determination and heart, there's nothing you can't do.  I don't care how small you are, how skinny you are - I mean if you have the heart, and you have the drive, and you have the determination you can do whatever the hell you want!"

For The Beginner - Part 2

To do the various exercises, either have a personal trainer show you how and what to do to work your entire body or view the websites listed below.  If you look at a book or magazine you will probably see a view of the beginning and another view of the end of the exercise.  You need to know the rate or tempo of how fast or slow you do the movements and videos are preferred to fixed, stationary pictures.

By going online or using apps on a cell phone, you'll see how to do each exercise and often with an explanation of each movement.  Below are 4 websites showing exercises for the major groups of muscles and you can also check out apps for your smart phone.
  •    This website will show you exercises using a stability ball and they describe a 15 minute ball workout on a video.
Proper breathing during exercising is very important and you should practice on doing it correctly.  Inspiratory ventilation occurs in two forms: normal resting state (quiet) breathing and heavy (deep, forced) breathing.  The full breaths are those that will super-oxygenate your hardworking muscles and produce the most efficient workout.  These breaths are called "belly" breaths.  Many times during a workout, you may have a tendency to hold your breath.  Doing so can raise your blood pressure and strain other organs, particularly the heart.  Proper control of your breathing pattern keeps your blood pressure down.  It also keeps you more relaxed and focused.  As you contract (flex) your muscles, you should exhale and inhale upon relaxation of those same muscles.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Insanity;  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.- Albert Einstein

Training For Beginners

In this article on training we are concerned with bodybuilding with weights, barbells, dumbbells,
machines, benches, stability balls, and, sometimes, elastic bands.  There are many other forms of exercise and maybe weights will not be your forte over a period of time.  The advantage of weight training is that you can work the entire body, or parts of the body, and include the benefits of leaner muscles, strength increases, improvement in your metabolism, and reducing the chances of many debilitating diseases.  You can include exercises for balancing, core strengthening, flexibility, agility, and weight reduction.  As you advance in the training process, you will notice improvement in sleeping, energy, digestion, etc.  The list can go on and on!  You will come to the realization that the human being is a muscle machine designed for movement.  One gets in trouble by thinking rest heals all.  Usually exercise, rest, proper diet, and moderation in all aspects are the keys to healthful fitness - first & forever.

A physical exam in a good practice for all ages, and especially for seniors.  You should know where your body needs special attention, it's weaker areas, and limited movement locations.  If you have knee problems, arthritis, balance problems, as well as heart and lung limitations, your doctor can advise you as to what, where and when your body will need special considerations.
To save you time and money, have a certified personal trainer develop an exercise program according to your desires, capabilities, and general health.  Many, if not most, clients of a gym are poor exercise trainees.  Their form is incorrect, they train with distractions (conversations with others, cell phones, and wasting time resting between sets of exercises) to an extent that their progress is hampered and goals are not obtained.  Once you have experience training you can go on your own and whether you progress is up to you.  Remember this statement as it pertains to most everything you do in life..................It's not the time you put into this program as much as it is what you do during the time spent!  Review a previous article on "Movement vs. Exercise". To work the entire body usually means doing exercises that affect the larger muscle groups. They are as follows:

  • Legs (calves, quadriceps, hamstrings).
  • Back (upper and lower back - from the neck to the lumbar region).
  • Chest (pecs, over the head extensions on a bench, side raises with dumbbells, chest pressing with both dumbbells and barbells).
  • Arms, upper/lower including biceps, triceps, forearms, dips, curls, with dumbbells and barbells).
  • Abs and core exercises using benches, stability balls, crunches, etc.
  • Cardio training on treadmills, elliptical trainers, running, step machines, stationery bikes.

Usually a period of 1 hour for a workout is recommended and, if possible, 4 times/week.  If this requires more time than you want to devote to your exercise programs, do a workout 2 times per week.  You can start out with 1 set of each exercise and learn the proper form for each movement.  8 to 15 reps are usually suggested and as you progress you can do multiple sets of each exercise.  Also try to allow about 1 week of rest for each of the muscle groups.  Cardio can be done at the beginning or ending of each exercise period.

Do at least 10 minutes of cardio and use whatever machine you like best.  The exercises listed for the various areas can be divided by the number of times you wish to workout during the week.  

With regard to how to do each exercise, you now have the benefit of the Internet.  Apple and android phones, tablets, and computers have a lot of information on each exercise you may expect to do.  You can see videos, diagrams, and pictures of exercises, starts and finishes.  Check out the apps available for your type of phone.

The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato
An Addendum

The usual potato is planted into the ground, and given a delicious dose of fertilizer and water. They grow only in Idaho, and gradually turn into an oblong mass of carbohydrate.  They ripen in the sun to turn a golden brown color.

A couch potato is a different species of potato, and they come from a fertilized egg from the human female.  As a youngster, they cry, make pee-pee, poop and cause many sleepless nights all around the globe, even in Seattle.  After a while, they crawl, fall, and bawl.  As they age, they eventually learn how to balance on two legs, like little gorillas.  When they patrol their home they come upon a bed-like object called a couch.  The couch in most homes is within easy viewing distance of the television set.  Using their youth, strength, and growing legs, they perch themselves on the couch where they spend almost all of their life.  

The diet of the couch potato resembles that of their cousins as it is an offshoot of fertilizer called, trash.  It consists of sugar, sugar products, high fructose corn syrup, pastry, cake, cookies, etc., etc.  With the TV turned on they lay flat on the couch and stuff themselves with trash.  What little muscle they had before "couching", it atrophies, and their little hands can no longer hold their cell phones.  Soon, with little movement and a lot of trash, they "round out" and roll off the couch.  Eventually, they are involved with some chronic potato disease and succumb to it. 

The moral of the story is that you do not want to live like a couch potato, so get off your butt and move around.  Try good food and you'll live a happy, healthy life so  you can get to the gym more often!

Let him that would move the world first move himself.
- Socrates

My Opinion

Like so many other subjects, some say stretch before and others say after exercising.  Most of those that recommend stretching suggest to do it after exercising, when the muscles have been "warmed up" by the activity.  I used to stretch before or after exercising but no longer stretch during the exercise period. Why?  Probably because of the way I "warm up" for each exercise.  Example:  If deep knee bends are to be done the first set is using about 50% of what the maximum load will be.  Then another set using about 75% of the maximum load and both sets 8-15 reps are used.  Rather than doing fewer reps I prefer to do the exercises at a full range of movement, thereby utilizing the capability's of the joints, ligaments, and tendons involved.

The purpose of the multiple set "warm ups" is to work the same muscles as in the final set when I like to fatigue the muscles to failure.  After failure I do 1 set of drop downs (reduce the load as necessary to do another 5-8 reps).  Stretching is okay for those that like and think its beneficial to reduce post-exercise discomfort.  Personally, I think the procedure mentioned above is much more specific to the muscles being exercised than stretching.  

Monday, November 11, 2013


"One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life".-Edward B. Butler


This is an article published 5/23/2013 and composed by Andrew Weil, M.D.  My opinion of stretching follows his views:

Is Stretching Necessary?
What is your view of stretching before exercising? I've heard people say it is essential, while others say it is unnecessary and possibly harmful. If you don't stretch before a workout, how should you warm up?
Answer (Published 5/23/2013)

Stretching before you exercise is not necessary, and new research suggests that it may undermine performance, not only of competitive athletes but of amateurs whose workouts include distance running, cycling or even golfing. I first wrote about stretching on this site in 2004, when I reported on a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found that stretching before exercise doesn't help prevent workout-related injuries. CDC epidemiologists reviewed 350 earlier studies on flexibility, stretching, and injury prevention to conclude that no evidence demonstrates that stretching prevents injuries. Their study was published in the March, 2004, issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine.

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One of the latest reports of the effect of static stretching (defined as stretching in which the muscle's elongated position is held steadily, rather than intermittently) comes from the University of Zagreb. It focused on how static stretching affects athletic performance. The Croatian researchers examined data from 104 earlier studies that explored this issue and calculated that static stretches reduce strength in the target muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with even greater impact if stretches are held for 90 seconds or more. Stretching for shorter periods of time may diminish this negative effect but doesn't eliminate it, the researchers concluded. The analysis, published in the March 2013 issue of Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, also showed that stretching reduces a muscle's ability to produce force by about two percent.

A second new study, from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and published in theJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that after passive, static stretching, young men described as "moderately trained" were 8.36 percent less able to perform a single squat holding barbells than they had been earlier after warming up on resistance machines and with free weights. Incidentally, the researcher who conducted this study reported other results in the December, 2010, of the same journal showing that static stretching before playing golf worsened the game of test subjects, leading to significant decreases in club head speed, distance, accuracy and consistent ball contact.

No one knows exactly why stretching should have a negative effect on exercise. The authors of both reports suspect that the problem is the loosening effect of stretching on muscles and tendons, reducing their ability to store energy and spring into action.

Instead of stretching, the best way to warm up is to do a slower version of the exercise you're about to perform: if you run, walk, then jog to warm up. If you plan to walk, start off slowly. And if you're doing strength-training exercises, start off with lighter weights, using slow, deliberate form with enough repetitions to get used to each movement.

Stretching does have a role in fitness – it improves flexibility, lengthens muscle tissue, improves posture and body awareness and helps neutralize stress. For best results, stretchafter your workout when your muscles are warm and most elastic.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

"The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent."


Learn "Muscle Talk"

This is the basis of all exercise (arguably) and is not usually mentioned as something to learn.  Too bad, as all trainees of any sport are involved with this "language".  Listen up: The muscles have no brain cells, no hearing nerves, and the same goes for the smell, vision, speech and some of the other senses (up to 22 senses according to some scientists).  They don't know the difference between 8 reps, 3 sets, or a Cobb salad!  So if we want to develop our body to become strong, healthy, lean, and sexy, we have to understand ............MUSCLE TALK!

If muscles don't talk, how can you understand what they want, what bothers them and what they can do? Let's say someone or some where you were led to believe that you should  do a bicep curl for 10 reps and 3 sets.  That's nice but it means nothing to the force that does the curl.  The brain tells the muscles (via the nervous system) that you should pick up a dumbbell weighting 10 lbs and curl it 8 times.  If you are strong enough to do it, you will, and maybe you can curl more than 10 lbs.  How about 15 or 20 lbs?  Sooner or later you won't be able to budge the added weight, even though your brain told you to execute the movement.  What then?  In stead of what then, consider what is the dominant force that is doing the exercise.  The muscles told the brain to "Buzz off, we can't lift that amount of weight even for 1 rep" The muscles then prevail, right? So what this all means is that there is a final point in exercising that shows up when the muscles involved get progressively fatigued until failure of doing the curl.   Whoopee!  That point may be for 1 ,5, or 15 reps or whatever.  To read that you should use 10 lbs. for 8 reps is just a guess, by the trainee or trainer.

Note: Doing exercising until failure is not something the beginner should practice.  Learn how to do each exercise in good form for approximately 8-12 reps, and usually for 1 set. As your body responds to exercise wait for at least 1 month before increasing the intensity of the exercises performed.  In the near future a program for beginners will be given on this blog.  Also, it's advisable to have a trainer help you set up a program according to your condition, health and age.

The description of exercise then becomes the progressive fatiguing of the muscles involved until failure of the movement, and it is done under supervision.  The Supervisor then becomes the trainee's muscles.

Monday, October 28, 2013

To Succeed In Your Fitness Program

In your quest for fitness, strive for progress, not perfection.

 To Succeed In Your Fitness ProgramYou need to Motivate Yourself

 1. Set your goals
With paper in hand, write down reasonable goals to follow and date each goal in the future.  Example: Lose 10 lbs by (date), reduce waste measurement by 1 inch by (date).
2. This is your time - no interruptions by cell phone, conversations,  too little time.
Plan your workouts as time allows, but try so save one full hour for yourself.  If you're really serious about fitness, leave the cell phone in the locker with you being in the gym.  Concentrate  on what you're doing.  It's not the time that counts but rather what you do with it.  
3.  Have fun during your workout.
No matter what form of exercise you do, what do you like to do for the long run?  Perhaps you may consider one type of exercising along with another.  Example:  Jog three times a week and strength train for three alternate days.  Variety improves the attitude and interest in exercising.
4.  Consistency is the name of the game.
Plan your routine for long term practice.  If you stop or interrupt your fitness plan, how will you make up for the time you lost doing other things?  
5. Intensity training.
After a period of conditioning you should start increasing the work load you place on yourself to reach a higher level of development.  Let's say you are a beginner, deconditioned and somewhat of a couch potato.  If you are basically in good health and get check ups by your medical doctor as required, what was a little difficult to do as a beginner, became easier as you progressed in your fitness routine. All forms of physical exercise requires an increasing intensity to progress.  If you do the same type of exercise without pushing yourself, you remain in a static physical condition.  If you want to reach your goals, increased energy and effort is required.
6. Attitude.
Like everything we do in life, our attitude influences our happiness, smile (or lack of it), stress, work, workouts, and many other conditions. Strive to have a positive attitude.  If something bothers you, and you have no control to influence it's outcome, practice ignoring it.  Negative attitudes case stress without a payoff!
7. Keep an open mind and fill it with good information.
If you plan a fitness routine consider a variety of different exercises, working on the whole body and not only a selected area (abs as an example).  Look at fitness and exercise books, talk to trainers, and look in the mirror to see how you are progressing.  Check for flabby areas, pot belly's, weak muscles, poor balance.  Obtain and keep copies of your medical records and read them!  Check your blood counts and see if they are within normal limits.  Before visiting your doctor, make a list of questions you would like him to answer.  Bring in an updated list and amounts of all medications you take.
8. Year in - year out.
Please remember that you, and only you, live in your body.  Keep it healthy by good nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep and enjoyment in each and every day.  It will reduce your aches and pains, chronic disease, and medical bills.  Your fitness routine should be planned for day to day and year to year practice.  Enroll in Your College of Fitness.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life.  There are no limits. There are only plateaus; and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."
- Bruce Lee

A Cavity From A Dentist!

About a month ago I awoke in the early morning and it was very quiet.  No one was moving, not even a mouse.  It was dark and a good time to think.  What could I give to readers of this blog to help them to remember the essentials in a fitness program?  Here's what the final result was:
  • Attitude.  A positive attitude is an absolute necessity in any venture one enters.  If you don't enjoy what your doing the chances of continuing on diminishes and interest is lost.
  • Consistency.  A fitness program, to be effective, must be practiced daily.  Attention to diet, exercise, adequate sleep, should become second nature for you.
  • Variation.  Who wants the same routine day after day without some variation of the exercises, diet, and, perhaps, location?
  • Tempo.  Do slow movements while exercising and concentrate on form. Use less work load (weights) and speed up the exercising. Vary the tempo to increase your strength and endurance.
  • Intensity.  As you progress in exercising you have to increase the intensity of the various movements.  If you don't increase the intensity you enter the plateau zone.  Muscles respond to working harder and that's how the body becomes firmer, with less fat, stronger, and more youthful.
  • Year To Year.  If you are serious about your fitness program, plan on following it as if it was eating and sleeping . ...............for the rest of your life!
Take the first letter of the six "essentials", change their order, and you can get a 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Movement vs. Exercise


The secret of getting ahead is getting started

Movement vs. Exercise

For anyone that exercises or teaches exercise either as a trainer in a gym or as an instructor in a school, one has to know the difference between movement and exercise.  Unfortunately, too many who "exercise" do movements and think they are benefiting from it.  

It is not easy to find a definition of exercise and it usually is defined by its goals; provide increasing strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.  Exercise is really movement of one's whole body (as in running or swimming) or parts of the body (as in a bicep curl or as in a deep knee bend).  It starts with low effort and progresses to increased intensity and fatigue of the muscles being utilized.  The difference between movement and exercise is the extent of exertion and intensity that is involved.  Also exercise is performed with critical care in execution and form.  Movement is much less concerned in form, time, intensity, and concern about body changes over a period of time.
  • Exercise is movement - plus.  It involves the coordination of nerves, muscles, resistance, time, endurance, intensity and effort.  It starts with low effort and progresses to increased effort, intensity, and fatigue of the muscles being utilized.
  • Exercised can be characterized by an increase in breathing rate, heart rate, perspiration, energy expenditure (calories), and increased intensity of movement to the extent of failure to  perform more repetitions.  There are also internal changes within the body involving the nervous system, hormonal changes, chemical changes from the period food is eaten and all the way through the digestive track.  To get an idea of whats involved go to you browser, (google search, bing,) and post: Kreb's cycle with equations.  It will blow your mind!
  • An example is a walk around the block.  It is definitely movement of the total body but not necessarily to the extent of it being an exercise.  Realize that productive exercise is intensified movement characterized by what is mentioned above.
A beginner should learn what and how to do the movements to make them into an exercising procedure.  Like most everything else in life that is of value, one has to pay the price to advance to a goal.  In a workout, the results you get are totally dependent and propotional to the amount of effort you expend, but more about that in an upcoming posting.

How do you know if you are exercising enough or too much?  How do you feel when your workout period is over? How about the next day? If you feel like you put in a good effort, with increasing intensity, and follow through each exercise to fatigue and your last repetition is really your last repetition that you can possible do, you've done enough!  The next day you probably will feel stiff, have some muscle tenderness, may not be quit as limber, and may be sensitive to pressure on some spots around your body.  Good for you! You did it right the last time you worked out.  Give yourself a day's rest or work on different set of muscles in you exercise daily.

Too much exercise will reduce your progress and slow the attainment of your exercising goals.  If you exercise properly, eat intelligently with the consumption of a well-rounded diet, and get enough sleep and rest, you shouldn't run into any trouble.