Thursday, May 28, 2009


When I first started with kettlebells, after learning the basics I started doing something called High Octane Cardio (HOC). Invented (I think) by Mike Mahler, it alternated a kettlebell exercise with about 220 yd active recovery jog. I used to jog around my courtyard which is about 130yd and repeat for 40-75 minutes. Great way to play with kettlebells, experiment with exercises, get a great workout, and drop some water weight (esp. in the FL sun).

I recently got a Wii and Dance Dance Revolution and I love it. I decided to make up my own version of HOC with with Dance Dance Revolution instead of jogging. I alternate a kettlebell exercise with two songs of Dance Dance Revolution (HOC/DDR). I recently upped the ante by adding a weighted vest (HOC/DDR+), up to 26lbs. It is a great way to enjoy two things that I like doing.

Here are some observations after my latest incarnation:
* Two hours (lost about 7 lbs of water)
* Many double 24kg kettlebell exercise
* 32kg snatch variations (swing, dead, and hand snatches)
* 26lb weighted vest

* The weighted vest "encourages" efficient DDRing by penalizing excessive jumping or unnecessary body motion. Simple put, it enhances your biomechanics, it does not change them (translation: better carryover to unweighted).

* When you active recovery is burns more energy/unit time then the treadmill, you wonder why those things still exist.

* DDR forces you to move your body a different speeds, directions, rotations. Great for athletes. Simply put, it fixes movement imbalances.

* On expert level, you burn about 25 cals/song (or about 500 cals/hr). Similar to spin class, but w/o the ego, stiff hips, and immobility in the thoracic spine. Also, a lot more fun.

* Unlike normal HoC, the song does not slow down for you in the active recovery.

* I am going to add a snorkel to this. The snorkel cuts off oxygen and increase lactic acid tolerance (LAT), which is a form of resistance training. So it will be HoC/DDR/LAT+.

Other training notes:
* My snatch form is still off -- going to have to start using more volume.
* I got my weight down to 185.8 totally dry (I am started to see 176)
* Feeling a lot more swole
* I have been doing squats on an exercise ball. Great exercise of tension and control and breathing.
* If someone tries to get you to come down on your rate to train them, don't do it. They will quit and you will have wasted your time. If lack a scratch is an issue, work out a trade of services. Make sure your client has something invested.
* Going to start deadlifting again.
* While on vacation, I got an "A" on a DDR song while holding my 45lb nephew for the entire song. Wish I had video of that.

* Quite honestly I suck and it is because I haven't been practicing. Averaged 206 this year.
* I tended to have one shitty game every week (yesterday 176 (with one strike)-234-216 -- 626, too slow making the ball change)

Champions League Final - I did not see the first 15 minutes, but it was like men vs. boys. Absolutely an atrocious game. Anyone who says that this was a good game does not know anything about soccer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

4 minute fitness/power plates/Versa Climber/stupid treadmills.

In the town that I work in, I saw a billboard for a facility (Fusion Fit) that was promoting a 4 minute workout. Of course, as a personal trainer I was curious. When I got in there, I notice that they had a ROM machine ( - retail cost is just south of $15,000). I got to use the ROM machine, and here were some of my findings.
* I did both the 4 minute upper body and 4 minute lower body workout
* The machine itself is very well made. If you are using "flywheel technology", it has to be well balanced. Very sleek and smooth (like me, ha ha)
* There is a pacer on their that raises and lowers the pace (and in turn the intensity) during the four minutes.
* There is a resistance setting, so the machine is scalable to different people or improving abilities.
* From an experience, some similarities to Tabata (i.e., Hard, but it is over quickly)
* Similar to kettlebells, the ROM machine enables you to use more of your body (especially the upper body workout) at one time to enable you to use more energy before experience localized muscular fatigue. You really use your entire upper body and stabilize somewhat w/your legs and core.
* I was drenched in sweat afterwards, but in a good way.
* Unlike other cardio machines, don't even think about trying to watch TV or read a magazine, talk on your cell phone while you are doing this.
* The woman who set me up on the machine did a really good job of coaching me on how to get the best out of the machine. On the lower body portion, she force me to take full strides (unlike most retards who use a stair climber at the gym that take 2.5" inch steps - give me a break it is a "stair" climber not a "curb" climber).

==> My verdict on the machine:
1) Good machine, I certainly would not buy it for personal use at that price tag. After using it, I could see it as a good machine to add to a gym. I would certainly like to add one of those machine and get rid of three treadmills, bike, etc. for the same cost. Treadmills are:
* By far the most overused and overhype pieces of fitness equipment
* At about $6000 retail and probably $4000 whole, it is overpriced to. Now, we have to have cable TV for it to. For that price I can get about 18-22 kettlebells.
* Have probably contributed to more dysfunctional movement patters, muscular imbalances, and knee injuries. I bet it was invented by an orthopedist looking to drum up some business.

2) I could really see upper body workout being the best way I have seen to get people who have lower body injuries a way to work w/in the training zone. Certainly better than a hand bike.

3) If they had one in my gym, I would use it for both me and my clients.

They also had Power Plates and Versa Climbers. These are two other pieces of equipment that a gym could have and replace one treadmill.

The Versa Climber is a cheaper and more functional version of a stair climber (a machine almost always used incorrectly).

The Power Plate (low frequency vibrating platform) uses vibration to increase stimulation of the muscles. Research has show that vibration can increase muscle mass and decrease soreness. In fact, it was invented so a Russian cosmonauts can get a "resistance" workout in space (where there is no "weight"). I could see using it for:
* Post workout to help decrease muscle soreness by flushing lactic acid.
* Massage
* Breaking up scar tissue in certain areas (lower back, shoulders, hips)

Here is my final synopsis:
* While the equipment was good, for my sports I still need my free weights. This gym would be incomplete.
* Their members seemed very loyal. Many did not get results in a typical gym setting.
* The staff was very knowledgeable of body mechanics and energy systems. Unlike most gyms, I did not see any deadweight ass clowns.
* I am very disappointed to see that these machine are not incorporated in more gym, as they could be for NO INCREMENTAL COST. Get rid of 2 treadmills, and you have a much more functional and diverse gym.

A very good experience that I will remember a long time.

Why are people so "possessive" about their workout?

I have had a couple of experiences in the last few weeks that had me ask the question: "Why is everyone so possessive about their fitness?"

Here are the experiences that I refer to:

1) I was doing a fitness assessment for a potential client. Two things that I wanted to include in the assessment were and overhead squat test and a aerobic recovery step test. I went in the group fitness room and used one of the bars used for the group "weightlifting class" and used the steps for the aerobic class. There was a "Silver Sneakers" elderly group class waiting to start. By going into that room to do my assessment, which took all of 6 minutes, everyone stared at me like I had just kicked their collective dogs.

2) My boss teaches a spin class. She had a spot and asked if I wanted to give it a shot. I said sure. You should have seen some of the looks that I got. It was like a broke into an all-women private club. I can see them think to themselves "this is out spin class."

Most people are pretty cool when it come to working out, sharing the gym etc. But as group fitness become more popular there is a cliquish, snobbish, exclusive quality that is becoming more commonplace in the gym.

BTW, in case you were wondering I made it through the spin class just fine. It was not easy (esp. since I did squat's earlier that afternoon) but based on what others have told me about spin class, you would have though I had a better chance of scaling Mount Everest. I had people tell me:

* Spin class burns 900 calories/hr, kettlebells won't help you with that.

* Spin class will get your heart rate higher than kettlebell ever will.

* You are too bulky for spin class.

Let me tackle these ridiculous thought one at a time.

* As everyone should know, calories are "units of energy" > You use "energy" to do "work". I know that in my training is do a few things that really bump my "capacity to do work" (MaxVO2, Tabata Protocol, Tire Flips, etc.). One of the reason that kettlebells and tires flips translates to "work capacity" training is that on a bike I cannot move my legs fast enough to generate the maximum amount of work possible. Both KBs and Tire Flips use the entire body, not just the legs. This is why I can generate for work with those than the spin class. In class, my wind wasn't taxed, but my legs were as a combination of the class itself as well as the fact that I did heavy leg presses and squats 6 hours before.

* Similar to the point above. Heart rate is proxy measure for how much "oxygen debt" that you are in (this may not be medically correct, those incline feel free to critique that statement). The more work you do, the higher the heart rate. I get my heart rate up much higher while doing KB, tire flips, tabatas so my heart rate was just fine.

* As for being too bulky. Let me make the distinction between "big" and "bulky". I certainly am a big guy, at least relative to the general population and certainly relative to those taking a spin class. I would not say that I am bulky because my muscles are relatively "dense" for my size (most people are surprised at how little much I weigh, especially relative to how much I lift). I think that the people who are more bulky are those that are < 10% bodyfat but still can do less then 20 pushups. When you watch them do pushup, it literary looks like they are carrying their muscle. They have the muscle, they just aren't using it. While to some I may look bulky, I am certainly not too bulky for a spin class. Also, my extra weight did not seem to hurt me when we got off the seat during class. I was more than able to support my weight.

I am sure that I will take another spin class, but I certain would not schedule my life around it like some people do. People show up half-hour early for a popular Zumba class so they get the preferred spot in the room. Most of these people would benefit from some strength training. I have a client in said class, and she said that weight training gave her something that Zumba never did. I told her to absolutely continue her Zumbaing, but that Zumba as a stand alone program is incomplete.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Weeks Workouts

I ate a lot of this weekend. On Monday I felt almost bloated. Well guess what -- whenever I get the feeling I usually have my strongest workouts.

Monday (Leg Day):
Leg Press: 540, 720, 900 x 1 x 10; 1140 x 1 x 12
==> Had four people watching me, so I added more weight

Good Mornings:
135, 225, 275, 315 x 1 x 5; 355, 375 x 1 x 3

Abductors/Adductors: Stack x 2 x 20 (really strong)

Some hip flexor, lunges, leg curls, and leg extension, and assisted pistols

Went to Fusion Fit and tried their ROM machine, versa climber, power plate and their version of an elliptical. Will have a separate blog post on this experience.

Tuesday: Back Day
Pulldown (palm is): Worked up to Stack x 10
Barbell rows: Worked up to 275 x 3
Single arm cable rows: worked up to Stack x 15
Machine rows (palms down): 4 plates x 12; 5 plates x 12

Evening: HoC/DDR+: 1:35 of a Kettlebell Exercise followed by 2 songs of Dance Dance Revolution (Dropped 4 lbs. or water).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mullet Moments

I work in a gym now that is populated by mullets. Mullets are not just bodybuilders, but people who just don't act logically in a gym.

1) Someone asked my what "muscle I was working" while I was trying to release my piriformis with a foam roller.

2) While doing box squats, someone with a NASM certification (not that I have anything against NASM, but this asshat threw it in my face) said that you don't need to go parallel to "maximize the hypertrophy of the quadriceps". This is the same retard that wrapped his knees up like it was Christmas to do half-reps on the leg press. Knee wraps on lockouts, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I swear the next time I see knee wraps is the squat rack/leg press without getting to parallel, I am going to go Tonya Harding on them. HELLO McFLY: If you can't get to 90 degrees, the knee wrap ain't doing anything.

3) I see the same groups of people doing walking lunges around the gym when:
* They can't get anywhere near the "two 90 degree angles" for a solid lunge (if you can't get to a lunge position - you have absolutely no reason to make an arse out of yourself by doing walking lunges with an exercise ball over your head)
* If you can't do a lunge without having your knee going past your toe, your are destroying your knee
* For some unknown reason, every other trainer makes their clients do walking lunges on their first session. I think the personal training industry has a referral relations with the orthopedic industry to destroy as many knee as possible.
* Lunges are a great exercise, but a far as working large groups of muscles, they don't even come close to the squat, deadlift and good morning. If I do lunges in a workout, it is the the 5th or 6th exercise that I do. If you can't bodyweight squat to parallel w/o your feet coming off the ground, you have absolutely no business doing lunges. All my clients learn to squat first.

4) I continually have people that I meet that consistently think that only cardio equipment (bikes, stair climbers, treadmills, ellipticals) burn bodyfat. NEWSFLASH: All physical activity needs calories expenditure to support it:
* I still don't realize how the the state of FL (where 60F is a cold day) you can have a gym that has 2 squat racks and 60 cardio machines. I see people get in their cars to drive a half mile to the gym to walk on the treadmill at the "speed of stupid" then drive back home.
* There is a guy in the gym that spends 6 hours a day doing cardio and farting around and hitting on all of the girls. I told him the following.
- You don't meet girls in the gym. They don't want you to talk about them in the locker room. At least I have not met one in the 17 years that I have had a gym membership.
- Once you hit on one, they will warn about you to everyone else.
- I know your testosterone is high, you need a cold shower.
- I gave him the following suggests, everyday walk into two business and introduce yourself to someone. This will get your sorry ass out of the gym. You will learn what works for you as far as meeting people. You may actually meet someone that can give you a job so your grandmother doesn't have to schlep you to the gym and back. And last, you are not around so much that people can talk about you.
* My clients pay me for my time. If I have them ride a bike, it is interval cardio. I can usually do 6 minute interval session on the recumbent bike that will get someones heart rate to 150-170 (depending on age).

5) If you see a personal trainer that starts are workout with bicep curls, RUN and don't WALK. Most bicep growth is systemic rather than specific anyway.

6) If you see a personal trainer provide assisted stretching to a client and they ass stick out, do not let them touch you. They are pushing your muscles rather than stretching them.

7) If you are in the gym for over 1.5 hours, you are in there too long (unless they are paying you). If you eat meals there you seriously need to get a life. If you have to pack a bag like you are going on a three day weekend...sigh.

8) Most (not all) guys should not workout with your girlfriend/wife/etc. If you think that this makes you look stronger - videotape yourself as you will most likely see that this makes you look like an ass. Also, the amount of improper technique and spewing of training myths increases exponentially the longer they are in the relationship. (Before I get flamed, I know there are exceptions to this). Most times this just results in lower T-levels.

9) I recently was asked what I did for cardio (this was by a personal trainer, no less) since she noticed that I lost some weight. I said that I was working with my kettlebells and played Dance Dance Revolution. She said "No, I mean cardio machines did you use." I was speechless.

10) I see men that have sub-10% bodyfat that can less then 20 pushups. How the fork is that possible. It is like, I have muscle, but I just carry it around.

11) I see people on Bosu ball this that they are working their core. When I use it and take whatever exercise to the limit, it hurts my feet more than my core. Here are the two ways to work your core:
* Lift something heavy while standing
* Lift something assymmetrically (Turkish Get Up, Renegade Row)
==> it ain't that difficult

12) I recently has a very overweight client say that "I don't have any limitations." I then (as I do with every client) asked he if she got on the floor could she get up, and the answer was no. I just hope she does not go anywhere by herself.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today's Workout

Chest/Triceps/Shoulder (yes, I am officially a mullet)

Incline Dumbbell Presses: 55, 75, 90 x 1 x 12
Machine Flye: Stack x 1 x 10
Upward/Downward cable crossovers
Decline Press
Shoulder Presses: 35,55,75 x 1 x 15
Close-Grip Bench Press: 135,155,175,195 x 1 x 5
Single Tricep Pulldowns: 3 x 15
Tire Flips: 1 x 20
KB Swings: 48kg x 8 x 12

1 total hour of DDR

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The weight keeps coming off...

I now weigh in at 189. Lost 14lbs since NYE with no loss of strenght. Want to be 176 by Sept TSC.

Here is what I have been doing:
* I am a personal trainer now, so I get a lot of extra work in. Often do cardio/core work with clients.
* Dance Dance Revolution (about 1 hour/day)
* My weight training program is a Back/Bi, Legs, Chest/Shoulders, Triceps split. I have been added 10-30 minutes of KB training 3x/week
* A good but not great diet. Focusing on intelligent carb cycle. Energy is better.

To get to 176 I will have to be strict. I notice a 4 pack and my chest is coming out more. Also, my traps are more pronounced and I can take off my jeans without unbuttoning them.

Training Update....

After torching my shoulder in March, I recently began snatching again. It feels pretty good - recently got:
Max VO2:
24kg x 20 x 8 (:15on/:15off)
24kg x 20 x 7 (:15on/:15off)
==> Not near the elite, but getting there. Looking to do the TSC/Elite in Sept.
==> I am able to do overhead squats below parallel with 155lb.

I was able to do close grip benches again with minimal pain (195 x 5). I will not do regular benches anymore. For chest, I am doing a lot more fly (horizontal adduction) movements.

My legs are really coming together. I am leg pressing 10 plates/side pretty easily and box squatting to parallel with 285. My legs are starting to get cut. Need to start deadlifting again. Would like to get 515 at the TSC, but 480 is more realistic.

Before work, I often do 10 minutes of TGUs, or 20 minutes of DDR, or 10 minutes of top of the minutes swings. All are great for people on the go. With the TGU, since my gym does not allow kettlebells in have done:
* TGUs and armbars with the 75lb short barbell
* TGUs and armbars with and 80lb dumbell
* armbar presses up to 60lb (good lat activation teacher)

Personal training business is taking off. Adding more private clients and my schedule as Family Fitness lets me leave by 2:00 PM everyday. I am going to make this business happen.

One of my online clients finished in 5th place in the TSC. Only the winner beat him in all three events. Jamie improved his deadlift by 60lb and is looking for another 40lb improvement for the Sept TSC elite. If you want to know how he did it, without gaining weight or sacrificing performance the other events = it was product of his effort and the design of the training program. I love performance-based training.

I will tell you things that I did NOT do:

* I did not have him deadlift more than 6 times during the 13 week cycle (i.e., no PttP). PttP is not bad, but it is a low volume protocol and we were doing high volume baby.

* I did not have him do a single 5 minute snatch session. What we did do was (*Proprietary Information Alert*)...

* I did not have him max out pullups ever....

==> If you are looking for similar improvements in your TSC scores, contact me. I warn you, I am easy but I am certainly not cheap.

Another trainer where I work was instructing a spin class and she asked me to take up a free spot. I did and finished the class. I would love to quote the "What the Hell Effect" of KBs and say it was a piece of cake, but it was not. I did make it trough (and this was after LEG day) and was even able to bowl a 630 afterwards, but it was not easy. I can this: My training allow me to do your workout, does your training allow you to do mine? I don't think so. Try DL 2+ times bodyweight, flipping tires 3x your bodyweight, etc.

I see a lot of people that feel they have to do everything on a bosu ball (thankfully not Family Fitness). I have two things to say about this:

* If you really want to work your core, lift something heavy. BTW, the black 14lb exercise ball is not heavy.

* Balancing on soft objects works by muting the strength of your muscles. Good for balance, sucks for everything else. Instead, try wobble boards or even asymmetrical exercise like the Renegade Row if you really want to work balance/core without weakening you body.

I recently taught my last two Kettlebell clients how to snatch in about 10 minutes. I did this using building blocks (i.e. teach clients sub-moves and put them together into the full movement). Here were the building blocks:
- Swing (the power source)
- The punch through (i.e. hold the kettlebell bottoms up, the punch through).
- The high pull (as an extension of the swings). I know the SOP is to teach the "high swing" (in fact that is how I learned it, but not how I learned to teach it), but I am going with what works. I am about 8 for 8 so far.

I am setting up two boot camps in the Tampa area. Hopefully, I can get these big enough so that I can make it my primary source of income.

Dance Dance Revoluton update

I have not blogged in a while, but I do have a lot to say. Rather than come up with a huge post with all of the different topics, I will break each post down and limit it to one main topic.

I have been playing about 1 hour of Dance Dance Revolution, and fitness wise DDR ranks right up there with the following influences in my life:
* Westside Barbell/EliteFTS conjugate training method (for powerlifting) - 2000
* Earning Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) certification - 2007
* Earning my ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) certification - 2008

Since trying DDR around Thanksgiving of 2008, I have lost about 13 lbs with no loss of strength (and I consider myself pretty strong). I can literally take off my jeans without unbuttoning them now. DDR is so much RIDICULOUSLY better than "cardio" treadmills and exercise bikes for the following reasons:

- You actually move you body while doing it. You move left, right, forwards and backwards. You jump in those same directions. You move rhythmically. You need to not only move, but it also encourages hip rotation. This movement of your whole body means that: 1) you burn more calories, and 2) you are moving like a human being instead of a hamster (if you think that I am being flip, go to the gym and watch the treadmillers actually try to walk - they walk like apes.

- It improves reaction time/reflexes

- This is one of the few things that feels like a sport. I really felt this when I was playing the game at Gameworks and had about 7 people watching me.

- The song does not slow down because you are tired. You are forced to keep up.

- You proficiency is measured quantitatively and objectively. Each step is graded on a scale of (Marvelous, Perfect, Great, Good, Almost, and Boo) and point are accumulated and records for max combos and total points are recorded. Also a letter grade (AA,A,B,C,D,E) are given. DDR has not problem telling you that you suck (unlike the rest of our PC world). Some of my most defining moments in my life have come from someone (parents, soccer coach, boss, friend) telling me that I suck.

- DDR encourages "efficiency of motion". Because the song comes at you, you are rewarded for minimizing wasted motion. Examples are: 1) Trying to keep your feet "under" your shoulders. 2) Trying to keep your feet as low as possible. What is funny about this is that these are the exact two things that I learned as a soccer player about 30 years ago.

- The jumping and frequent change of direction work your calves like nothing else. It works the calves and tibialis anterior in all direction and planes of motion (i.e., no shin splits)

I am now playing on EXPERT level and can keep up with most songs on DDR/Hottest Party. Here are the songs that I got an A on:
* Black or White
* Makes Me Wonder
* Tribulations
* Come Rain Come Shine
* I Ran
* Nite-Runner
* Umbrella
* Don't You Forget About Me
* Escape

I also have 11 songs with a "B" grade and I am on the cusp of getting more As.

Here are some parting final observations/notes:

* I recently included the "Marvelous" rating

* I scaled the arrow speed up to 1.5. I noticed that because there was less arrows on the screen, I danced more "instinctively" and my scores went way up. I mention this because in personal training you should try to initially position the "athlete" (not hamster) so that they instinctively do the exercise correctly. This is how you create that "aha" moment that has closed a lot of my recent sales (both inside and outside Family Fitness)

* I would like to get a glass dance pad. I am not a huge guy (about 5'6"/188), but I am killing that dance pad.

* I recently place the game where I kept my legs together except if there were double arrows. This meant that I needed to hop from arrow to arrow in all different directions. Best calf workout imaginable.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Way too long....

I have putting in a lot of long days at the gym and adding a some private clients as well. Things are looking up -- I am starting to get pretty good at this personal training thing. I do realize that I do need to spend more time marketing my business.

Here is a summary of all that is going on.

1) Personal Training business: I have signed up a number of infrequent clients, but a couple of my longer engagements have just ended. So right now I am about treading water. I have added a couple of clients outside of my gym wrote a couple of personal training programs, so I am expanding my "sphere of influence". I am will also start doing some Kettlebell Training at Flex One Fitness in Trinity, FL. It seems like one of the private gyms that is honest and does not cycle through a bunch of trainers -- I am going to start marketing this hard.

2) Bowling: Banged out 2 700 series, and received my 290 plaque. The average is up to 207 and would like to bowl one PBA regional this year.

more later.....