Interval Training: More evidence that working out harder in shorter time periods is better for you than working out for longer time periods

The interesting NYT article below, about recent studies on the efficacy of intense interval training for weight loss and weight management, is well written. It clearly states that this study is preliminary, used a small sample of young males only, and so no long term conclusions for the general population should be assumed.

It also pointed out that these intense intervals (which many people erroneously conclude last 4 minutes or 7 minutes only) actually last 30 minutes alternating between short bursts of 100% intensity with longer intervals of low intensity activity in-between.

These conclusions are not new or earth shaking. Any track and field athlete or coach engaged in sprinting events could have told you most of what this study says. Read on.

NYTimes: How Exercise Can Help Us Eat Less

Strenuous exercise seems to dull the urge to eat afterward better than gentler workouts, several new studies show, adding to a growing body of science suggesting that intense exercise may have unique benefits.


Training Gimmicks and Training that Works

Training Gimmicks and Training that Works

Exercise should be fun is a common sentiment I hear all the time from clients, prospective clients, health club members, and trainers trying to build their client base, but should it be fun?

That depends on what you consider fun, I suppose. Some people love grueling hard work and find enormous physical efforts bordering on the impossible to be fun. Most people don’t.

The argument is often made that any activity that gets a person doing more than they normally would have, must also be beneficial; hence *exercise classes like Zumba and SoulCycle*

[Wendy Learns to SoulCycle – YouTube](

“Wendy Learns to SoulCycle – YouTube”)

that are only marginally more intense than a fast paced walk are promoted as fun alternatives to the harder workouts associated with traditional weight lifting, Spinning, running, etc.

On the other end of the exercise spectrum you have the *extreme intensity activities like CrossFit [What is CrossFit? – YouTube](

“What is CrossFit? – YouTube”)

[The Problem(s) With Crossfit – Gawker]( “The Problem(s) With Crossfit – Gawker”)

and all its derivatives*. These encourage you to workout at extreme intensities with no real specific goal in mind beyond getting better at doing those specific workouts, unpredictable body shaping results (maybe you’ll bulk up or maybe get skinny), no transferable improvements for sports or other athletic activities, and an extremely high risk of injuries.

Michael Boyle is one of the most highly respected strength and Conditioning coaches in the world of NCAA collegiate athletics and professional sports, with dozens of published books to his credit. This is what he has to say about CrossFit.

Members and inexperienced trainers often fail to understand that the chronically out of shape civilian has no concept of what exercise intensity means. They actually believe that coming to the gym 2 hours a week is a lot of work. They believe pushing 50 lb. on a leg press is tremendous, even though they might weigh 180 lbs themselves. It’s not their fault. They have no reference points at all. Also, they’re really not that interested in whatever goals they might tell you and themselves, they have. Anyone who really cared about fitness and athletics would likely have been engaging in fitness and athletic activities most of their lives to begin with. And then there is belief. Most of our clients don’t really believe they can get in shape. They don’t really have goals. They have fantasies that deep down they believe are impossible to achieve, and so undermine their own efforts every chance they get by consuming junk food or too much food or exercising without consistency or jumping from fad diet to fad workout to discouragement and abandonment of any effort.

Many believe it is just strictly the luck of good genetics or bad, and there is some truth in that. But good genetics that get you by when your 20 will fail you when you’re in your 30’s unless you take action. The sooner you start the better, but it’s never too late.

Photo 1

Photo 1

First, I’d like to thank Monica for the kind praise, as it was all her hard work and willingness to follow my slightly sadistic advice to the letter.

Monica isn’t an actress or professional model. She’s a “real” woman with a real job and has a real commitment to her workouts and getting the results that she wants. She doesn’t live in the gym 4 hours a day, and she knows that when it’s time to work out you work out damn hard and real smart (or hire a real smart trainer like me) and then you go home. I won’t be specific about her age, but she wasn’t a child when we started, and 10 years later she looks better than she ever did. Period.

Forget the trends. This isn’t rocket science. I’ve been at this for 29 years and the fundamentals haven’t changed. Do what I say you need to do in order to achieve your goals (or whatever shorter term measures I deem more appropriate for each individual) and you will.

Train smart. Train hard. Don’t be a mark for every con game that comes around.

See you in the gym.


18 June, 2013 07:14

Here we go. The New York Times getting lazy again. This article isn’t wrong in what it says, it’s just so vague and incomplete that someone who hasn’t ever engaged in regular exercise before but is getting ready to try is likely to make some terrible mistakes. Lets add just a bit of important detail.

First, everything the article says is correct…when talking about aerobic/cardiovascular exercise. You can train multiple days in a row, and such frequency can enhance the quality of your workouts as your practice develops better skills at that particular activity (running, cycling, even power walking have skills that can be improved).

The reason you can perform these activities multiple days in a row is determined by their nature, which is described in the category name AEROBICS. Aerobics refers to both a human energy system and a certain range of physical intensity.

Aerobic type exercise typically falls into a category of intensity between 60% and 85% of a persons theoretical max effort. At these ranges of effort, a person can continuously exercise for 15 or more consecutive minutes before becoming too fatigued to continue. Within this range the entire cardiovascular system becomes healthier and stronger, and that’s great. But it’s only half (some might argue 1/3) your fitness journey.

Anaerobic exercise is the other half of this very important fitness story. Like aerobics, the term anaerobic refers to both a human energy system and a range of physical intensity for the activity. In Anaerobic exercises, the intensity MUST exceed 85% of a persons theoretical maximum effort, causing rapid exhaustion (under 60 seconds, typically, but always under 2minutes). Training in this range improves the tone, and physical strength, of a persons skeletal muscular system, improving the bodies posture, appearance, resistance to physical injuries, and later in life, infirmity and osteoporosis. Can you walk up a flight of stairs when your 80? Can you tie your own shoelaces? Can you carry a bag of groceries or get up out of a cushy sofa? These are matters of physical strength in the geriatric community, and major challenges to millions of Americans.

Training at this intensity level can not be performed on consecutive days, because training at this level actually causes a temporary weakening of the skeletal muscles involved, and the following 24-48 hours are needed for the muscles to recuperate and adapt in order to become stronger.

The Times article correctly states that 72 hours between exercise bouts is too long to wait for any exercise, but fails to caution that certain kinds of exercise require a certain amount of days off before repeating.

I hope this helps. Good luck.
NYTimes: How Often to Exercise

Heart health

This is important. One of the main adaptations of intense cardiovascular training is a lowering of the resting heart rate. The heart is a muscle. It’s job is to keep a steady consistent flow of oxygenated blood flowing through your body. The more powerful each beat is, the greater the volume of blood that is circulated PER heartbeat. A strong heart beats with greater power, and beats less often to do its job. A weak heart has to accomplish the exact same task, or you die, so if it can’t push a lot of blood per beat, it beats faster to get the same result.

A good analogy:
A strong man goes grocery shopping, and fills 5 heavy bags of groceries. When he gets home he grabs all 5 at once and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment.

A weak man unloads his car of the 5 bags, brings them to his front stoop, and carries two bags up at a time. He has to make more trips to accomplish the same goal.

Now, imagine that both men had to accomplish that goal on the same amount of time, or they would lose the groceries to the other. Who would likely win?

We used to say that every heart has only so many beats in it. How true that sounds.

NYTimes: Heart Rate as a Measure of Life Span

A higher resting heart rate is an independent predictor of mortality, even in healthy people in good physical condition, a new study suggests.

Creatine Side Effects: The Truth About Creatine Bloating, Creatine Diarrhea & other Dangers of Creatine | Nick Tumminello Hybrid Strength Training & Conditioning | Ft.Lauderdale Personal Trainer | Sports Performance & Bodybuilding

Sports Nutrition is such a murky mess.  If there is any one area related to fitness that is almost hopelessly mired in superstition, lies, half-truths, and misinformation, it is sports nutrition.  It’s not surprising.  There are so many magazines and supposed experts, and mis-informed medical personnel who believe they are experts, but have never done any actual research, and have not really read a preponderance of the research, before making up their minds.  To many in the medical community, the whole idea of strength training is anathema!  Back in the 1940’s there was a study that showed that strength training enlarged the heart, which was associated with increased risk of heart disease.  It was also seen as a socially marginal and suspect activity; practitioners were usually assumed to be homosexual, at a time when that label was many factors more prejudicial than they are today.

The simple fact is, there have been few supplements as exhaustively researched as creatine monohydrate, and no legitimate peer reviewed research (hundreds of them) have ever shown any negative side effects of statistical significance.  What’s especially infuriating is when you read an actual research study that concludes it is extremely safe, and then the authors of the study still insist on including warnings of possible negative side effects that the study they just published refuted.  Thats how hard preconceived beliefs, biases, and prejudices can be, to overcome.

What creatine supplementation will do for the vast majority of users is the following:

  1. Increase lean muscle mass
  2. Increase in body weight (due to increase muscle mass)
  3. Increase muscular strength
  4. Increased recovery times during and post workout
  5. Increase in anaerobic endurance (more reps)

Anyone interested in increased strength, increased muscular development, and power output should probably supplement if their diet does not include foods naturally rich in creatine.  Creatine is stored,; and consequently found; in muscle.  Beef and fish contain the highest concentrations, but the more processed and cooked, the less creatine will be available for human absorption.

The human body is capable of storing approximately 5-10 grams of creatine at any given time, and we naturally produce about 2 grams from our own internal resources.  To fully saturate our cells we need to make up the difference with diet and/or supplementation.

Aerobic endurance athletes will see less benefit from creatine supplementation as creatine is primarily a source of anaerobic energy.  Likewise, aerobic athletes often benefit from being light weight, and creatine can cause actual weight gain from the increased muscle mass.  this needs to be factored into an aerobic athletes decision whether to supplement or not.  It should be noted, though, that even with supplementation, weight and strength gains will be non-existent to minimal if not accompanied by a program of rigorous strength training.  There is no such thing as magic.

Below are links to a true expert who performs and reviews real research on the subject.  An educated exerciser gets results.

Creatine Side Effects: The Truth About Creatine Bloating, Creatine Diarrhea & other Dangers of Creatine | Nick Tumminello Hybrid Strength Training & Conditioning | Ft.Lauderdale Personal Trainer | Sports Performance & Bodybuilding: “”


My training philosophy

People always ask me what training style I follow. My answer usually perplexes them…
“I’m not a yeller”, I might say, (my spinning adherents might disagree, but that’s a different environment).
“Whatever seems to suit your needs, if it’s within me”, is another common answer I give.
Or, “observational and fact based training”.
None of these answers is satisfying for most prospective clients. That want to know what kind of “system” I adhere to.
One certifying body; NASM (national academy of sports medicine) has actually created a rigid model they expect all trainers to conform to, and all trainees to accept. They are ridiculous, and their concept is ludicrous. That’s fodder for another posting.

Nick Tumonello, a fitness educator, has posted on his blog 7 tips from Bruce Lee that will make you a better trainer. These words of wisdom from the late martial arts master cut to the chase of my philosophical beliefs when it comes to training, and most other aspects of daily life. Click this to read more.

Results Oriented (Purposeful) Training

Over the years I’ve been asked to train people for almost every conceivable reason, but in general, most seem to fall into the following categories.  I plan on spending the next few weeks writing a post/week about each of the following topics with sample routines, that can be followed by those of you without access to me.  In the near future, I hope to be able to offer enhanced services, including personal, customized training routines for a nominal fee to individuals who are geographically, or otherwise incapable, of meeting with me in person.  Until then, the sample routines that will be posted in the next few weeks can be used and adapted as you all see fit.  Keep in mind, that you need to make sure you know how to perform each exercise movement properly.  The site ExRx is an excellent resource and has free to view video of most common exercises being performed properly.

The general main categories, and sub categories, as I see it:

1) General health and fitness for the sedentary  person: novice

  1. Youth

  2. Young adult

  3. Middle age

  4. Senior

2) Total Body Conditioning: intermediate to advanced

  1. Cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness

3) Body shaping: beginner to the advanced

  1. Weight loss

  2. Toning and Body Sculpting

  3. Body building

4) Power and strength training: advanced

5) Athletic performance: advanced, sports specific and functional training

  1. endurance

  2. Strength

  3. Speed

  4. Agility

Feel free to comment on the categories, and let me know if you feel I’ve left any out, or why you might not fit into any of the above.  If I agree, I’ll update my categories, or explain why I disagree.  Keep reading!