Pilates vs. Yoga

by Kathy Smith

When people speak of the physical benefits of exercise, they tend to focus on the three S’s: strength, stamina and slimming. With this in mind, their training programs usually consist of weight lifting to build muscle, with some form of aerobic activity to build cardiovascular endurance and burn calories. But there’s a second tier of benefits we’re starting to value. These include flexibility, coordination, posture and stress relief.

It’s not that these secondary benefits weren’t always important — it’s just that they’re more in the spotlight these days thanks to the growing popularity of so-called “softer” training modalities. Two of the most popular of these are yoga and Pilates.

Yoga, of course, has been popular in the U.S. for decades. I started practicing yoga more than 20 years ago and it’s still one of my favorite ways to tone my body and calm my mind. Pilates though is a newer trend that apparently still has many people baffled. I often get letters inquiring about the difference between Pilates and yoga and asking which I recommend. As with most “which do I recommend” questions, the answer depends on your physical goals. Simply put, the difference between yoga and Pilates is that between East and West. Both systems build strength and flexibility; the difference between them is not so much physical as it is philosophical.

A Tale of Two Workouts

Let’s take yoga first. Yoga is based on the Eastern idea of moving energy through your body. The more freely the energy flows, the healthier and more energetic you feel. Physical tension hinders the flow; over time, areas of tension in your body can become tight and rigid, even painful. The goal of yoga is to keep the body supple through movement and stretching. But there’s another dimension. Yoga is a holistic spiritual discipline with its roots in Eastern forms of meditation. The physical postures, although they condition the body, are really aimed at the mind. They symbolize the goal of living your life in a state of balance and composure. When I spend an hour in a yoga class, I melt into a kind of meditative state and emerge wonderfully relaxed and refreshed.

Pilates on the other hand is physical conditioning first and foremost — and there’s nothing quite like it. Its creator, Joseph Pilates, was looking for a way to rehabilitate injured soldiers after World War I. He developed an assortment of curious machines with names like the “Reformer” and the “Cadillac.” Using cables and trolleys and unusual body positioning, Pilates exercises stretch and strengthen and are unique in their ability to encourage coordination between the muscles that stabilize the body.

Pilates techniques quickly became a hit with dancers, who found them a highly effective way to improve body awareness and alignment and promote graceful, fluid motion. Machine-based Pilates actually has more in common with weight training than with yoga since it involves moving against resistance (provided by springs) with the aim of overloading the muscles. In particular it resembles functional strength exercises such as squats or cable pulls. There’s also a new form of Pilates, the Pilates mat class, which relies more on callisthenic-style exercises and stretches. This form is physically more similar to a yoga class though the emphasis is still on physical change rather than on spiritual development through postures and breathing.

The Choice Is Yours

Generally speaking, I think it’s fair to say yoga is more about how it makes you feel while Pilates is about how you look — how you carry yourself and move. So if you’re looking for a limbering, rejuvenating workout that will provide as much of a lift for your brain as your body — and you’re not too concerned about building muscle –I’d recommend yoga. If you’re interested in a more dynamic system of muscle conditioning — or if you just want to try something new and different — Pilates may be the answer.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. After all, no single training system can give your body all the types of conditioning it needs. That’s why my week includes a variety of activities, from weight lifting to hiking, running, yoga and more. My best recommendation is to try everything — experience it all — and see what works best for you. East or West, the important thing is to explore!

The Power of Pilates

An estimated 6 million people across the country are now strengthening their bodies and minds, and losing weight, with the help of pilates exercises, the fastest growing fitness trend in decades. Among the Hollywood celebrities publicly touting its benefits, Goldie Hawn, Candace Bergen, Brad Pitt, Ben Afleck and Matthew Broderick.

Thanks to the Method’s popularity, a growing industry has emerged. More than 11 thousand people in the U.S. now claim to be pilates instructors, but according to the Pilates Method Alliance, (PMA), the international, not–for–profit, professional association that establishes certification and continuing education standards for Pilates professionals, at least 25 percent of them have not been properly trained.

“If you are working with an instructor who doesn’t have adequate training, you run an incredible risk of getting hurt,” says Kevin Bowen, co-founder of the PMA. “Pilates isn’t something you just start doing one day. You have to make sure you have an instructor who understands the Method and how to make the exercises work for you.”

If done correctly, pilates exercises strengthen, tone and stretch the body, encourage proper breathing and facilitate good posture. Here are 10 important questions you should ask an instructor before signing up for their class:

#1 What kind of training did you go through and where?

#2 How much time was spent in your original training?

#3 How long have you been teaching?

#4 Did you only learn the mat work or was your program comprehensive in nature, teaching you pilates exercises on the pilates equipment? #5 Do you understand the body, have basic knowledge of kinesiology and understand fundamental biomechanics?

#6 Do you understand the aging process?

#7 Do you pay close attention to safety and guidelines?

#8 Does the facility where you teach practice safety standards for group classes?

# 9 Do you have a commitment to continuing education?

#10 Are you affiliated with a professional organization like the Pilates Method Alliance?

For help finding a pilates studio or instructor in your area, who is likely to answer these questions to your satisfaction, log onto the Pilates Method Alliance Web site at www.pilatesmethodalliance.org. Click on the link on the left hand side that says “Finding a Teacher.” That will take you to a page with a link to a searchable database.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Strength Training Is For Every Body

A visit to your local health club weight room will reveal a space filled with dazzling steel and chrome machines. Not long ago, these modern-day “torture chambers” were places for dedicated body builders, mostly of the male gender who had very little body fat and a whole lot of rather large, hard-to-miss muscles. There was a distinct aura to that room, a feeling of raw power and intimidation. The moment you entered, something told you to get out quickly – you didn’t belong there.

Not so today. Although the appearance of weight rooms today has remained somewhat the same, the game has changed and so have the players. Where once only getting “bigger muscles” was the goal of strength training and mostly men participated in the routine; today, women and men alike; young and old; thin and fat; healthy and not so healthy are finding their way into weight rooms and realizing the magic of strength training – beyond simply achieving a beautiful body.

Why all the sudden fuss about strength training? It’s really quite simple. Fitness experts have finally realized that there’s more to being “fit” than just cardiovascular strength. Muscle strength is an equally important component to overall health and fitness. According to Dr. Michael Pollock, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s position paper on exercise guidelines, “With society living long and longer, it makes sense to keep people functionally capable and independent.” Strength training is a means to achieving this end.

Although physical appearance is certainly a plus that comes with strength training as well as a motivation factor for a great number of people, “physique perks” are not the primary goal of strength training participants. There are three additional reasons every body can benefit from strength training, regardless of age.

It’s a fact. You will lose 1/2 pound of muscle for every year you age past 20, if you do not incorporate some type of resistance strength training into your exercise routine. Think about that for a moment. That means if you weighed 120 pounds at the age of 20 and you weigh 120 pounds now at the age of 40, you’ve replaced 10 lbs of muscle with 10 lbs of fat, even though your weight is exactly the same. Pretty shocking isn’t it?

We all recognize the health risks associated with excess body fat, but did you know that muscle actually burns more calories than fat? That’s right, one extra pound of muscle will burn 50 more calories a day, just at rest. On the other hand, every pound of muscle you lose will burn 50 less calories a day.

This may explain why you were able to eat more when you were young. And, since muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space (even though you weigh the same), your body doesn’t quite look the same and that size 8 is now a size 12.

Aerobic exercise will help burn the excess fat, but cannot delay the natural diminishing in overall body muscle tissue associated with the aging process. There are no magic pills or treatments…strength training is the only cure.

Skeletal muscles are the major shock absorbers of your body. Some of these muscles work up to 24 hours a day, such as the ones that help maintain your posture as you stand or sit. Muscles help protect your bones and joints every
time you take a step or dance during Jazzercise participation. lt’s easy to see how strengthening your major muscle groups (i.e., the shoulders, arms, legs, back, and abdominals), will diminish the stress of impact forces and lessen the
risk of exercise-related injury.

Strong muscles also help one to perform daily tasks with ease and efficiency. Activities such as climbing stairs, gelling out of bed, lifting groceries and children, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn all become easier to perform.

Although strength training cannot turn back the clock on osteoporosis once you have it, recent research indicates that regular strength training can help to maintain bone mass and reduce a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

There you have it – three excellent reasons to start some type of resistance strength training. What does it take to get those muscles in shape? Not as much as you may think. You can choose from a variety of resistance equipment. There
are weight machines, free-weight dumbbells, wrist/ankle weights, bands, balls, or even your own body weight with calisthenics. Naturally, your fitness level and goals will dictate what type of equipment is best for you.

In terms of recommended training routines…if you ask ten different experts, you’re likely to get ten different answers. There are numerous routines for increasing strength depending on your specific goals. Working out “hard” and “long” may elicit greater improvement in strength, but it also increases your risk of injury. So why not take a sensible,
yet effective approach.

After years of research, here’s what the experts have found:

  • Frequency of training: Minimum of two times per week.
  • Number of Repetitions: 8-12 per set
  • Number of Sets: Minimum of one set per muscle group.
  • Number of Exercises: 8-10 exercises which focus on the major muscle groups.
  • Movement Speed: Slow to Moderate
  • Amount of Weight: Enough to fatigue your muscles by the last few reps. (8-12 reps for strength training, 15-20 reps for endurance training.)

Isn’t it great! You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to significantly improve your strength. You can be in and out in as little as 20 minutes. Now, that’s a schedule we all can live with!

Remember, you don’t have to be in perfect shape to work with weights. Strength training is now considered an important component of a weight loss program;  along with diet, aerobic exercise, behavior modification, and is recommended for people suffering from certain types of arthritis and chronic back pain. Once believed dangerous for the elderly, research has confirmed that a low to moderate resistance strength training program is safe for the older population and people with high blood pressure or heart disease. Of course, if you happen to be one of those people in less than perfect shape, be sure to get your doctor’s “OK” before you start lifting away!

What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to turn your body into a strong and efficient, lean and mean calorie-burning machine. Strength training is for every body…start your program today!

Lift Weights To Lose Fat

Most people believe that if your goal is fat loss, you should start with aerobic workouts and lose the body fat first before adding weight training. That is a big mistake and here’s why: Obviously, weight training is the chief element in developing strength and muscle mass. What few people realize is that weight training can also increase fat loss dramatically, so by skipping the strength training in favor of aerobic-only training, you are not increasing your fat loss – you are slowing it down!”

Weight training is anaerobic and therefore burns primarily carbohydrates (sugar) during the workout. Cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, cycling, step classes, or stairclimbing are aerobic and therefore burn primarily fat during the workout. So it seems logical to focus on aerobic training for fat loss. What you’re missing if you skip the weight training is the benefits that accrue after the workouts.

Something interesting happens “beneath the surface” when you lift weights. Intense, progressive weight training increases your lean body mass – aerobic training does not. Excessive aerobics combined with low calorie dieting or aerobic training without weight lifting can even cause muscle loss. If you lose lean body mass, your metabolism slows down, and this makes it easier to gain fat and harder to lose it. If you increase your lean body mass, you increase your basal metabolic rate, and fat loss becomes easier. Best of all, you increase metabolism and fat burning even when you’re not working out…

Weight training provides an additional short term increase in metabolic rate after the workout, called “excess post exercise oxygen consuption” or EPOC for short. It’s a myth that “all exercise” keeps you burning calories for hours after the workout. Only high intensity exercise increases post workout energy expenditure substantially and weight training has the greatest effect of all. (High intensity cardio also has a high EPOC, but thats the subect of another article). This explains why bodybuilders, who train with weights religiously and have extremely high muscle to fat ratios, can stay lean year round without doing much aerobic work.

Losing body fat as quickly and efficiently as possible requires a three-pronged approach: (1) balanced nutrition from natural foods, (2) aerobic training, and (3) weight training. All three ingredients are essential. If you neglect any one of these components, it will compromise your results because you lose the “synergy” created from this combination.

In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Author Steven Covey wrote, “Synergy means that 1 + 1 may equal 8, 16, or even 1600. Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together they will hold much more than the total of the weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

When you include weights, cardio and balanced nutrition in your fat loss regimen, the effects of the three parts brought together are not linear, they are exponential. Each part complements the others and multiplies your results. You develop an efficient metabolism and a lean, muscular body that could not be achieved with one or even two of the components in isolation.

The best you can hope for from diet and aerobics alone is to become a “skinny fat person.” You may lose weight from diet and aerobics, but much of it will be muscle, your fat to muscle ratio will plummet and you will take on a “soft” appearance. It’s not uncommon for a woman 5 feet 4 inches tall to weigh 125 pounds and yet have 25-30% body fat. According to the Metropolitan Life height and weight tables, 125 pounds is ideal for a medium-framed 5’ 4″ female, but 25-30% body fat is extremely poor for anyone! Without the weight training, you will never optimize your muscle to fat ratio and you will always struggle to keep fat off permanently.

If you have extremely limited time, and your main priority is to lose fat, then you can keep your weight training brief – maybe 30 minutes 3 days per week – and spend the rest of your time concentrating on cardio. But never neglect the weights completely – always do both, and if possible, devote an equal amount of attention to each.

Last, but not least, don’t forget that weight training, not cardiovascular training, is “shapes” and sculpts your muscles. Simply put, lifting weights makes you look better! If you want a lean, hard, fat-free body, then get out of the aerobics studio, get off that bike or treadmill, and pick up some barbells and dumbbells! Lifting weights isn’t just for “muscle-heads” anymore.

By Tom Venuto, GHF’s Fat Loss Expert

Real Muscle – Real Fast

Adding muscle seems to be a mystery to most, yet if you pick up a copy of any fitness or bodybuilding magazine and you’ll almost always see a headline like this: “Gain 15 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks.”

If it were so easy you’d have millions of muscle-heads running around. Even though building muscle tissue can be a challenge, I’m going to outline some very specific principles that can pack on the muscle faster than you can throw away that copy of “Muscle and Fiction”!

Before we get started though I want to clarify a few points.

The ridiculous claims made by most fitness and bodybuilding magazines are only there to get you to buy that issue – nothing more!
If you are serious about strength training you need to be reading books and NOT cheesy fitness magazines
Ok… here we go.

In order to add muscle tissue you must force the body to add it. Your body won’t just add a pound of muscle just because you followed a 3-set workout that you read about in Muscle + Fitness. You need to give the body a reason to make improvements – in this case add muscle tissue.

You have to provide what I call a “stimulus”. This can be done in many ways and I’ll address a few in just a moment. Basically, you need to force the body to add muscle by subjecting it to levels of stress it is not used to. Some methods are more obvious than others but all can work. Here are a few examples of how this can be done effectively.

First, the basic and common methods:

Increase weight or resistance
Perform more repetitions
Perform more sets
Move the resistance slower
Rest less between sets and exercises
Now for the more advanced methods:

Pre-exhaust (perform an isolation exercise first and immediately continue with no rest on a compound movement. ex. chest flye and then chest press)
Static holds (hold the resistance in the hardest position of the range of motion. ex. the top position during a leg extension)
Partial reps in weak range (perform a portion of the rep where you are weakest. ex. the top half of a rep of leg extensions)
Strip-set (after a warm-up set, perform 3 sets back to back with no rest while starting with the heaviest weight possible and each time strip off some weight to allow you to continue)
1 ½ reps (perform one full rep and then on the second rep only perform half the normal range of motion and then return to starting position to begin the next rep. ex. one full rep of lat pulldowns, pull second rep all the way down, resist weight back up but only half way and then pull back down)
These are just a few examples of methods of increasing intensity to ensure progress. The key point to remember is that whatever you do it must be progressive in order for it to elicit a physical change. This is even more critical for those looking to add muscle size.

Although this article is geared towards individuals who are interested in gaining muscle size, the principles can also be used for individuals who want to build strength, increase metabolism, or tighten and tone muscles.

Here are some general recommendations for different goals…

If your goal is to tighten and tone muscles:

  • Focus on increasing reps, decreasing rest, and changing exercises frequently.
  • Train each muscle group twice per week.
  • Perform fewer sets of many different exercises (1-2 sets per exercise)

If your goal is to increase strength and power:

  • Focus on increasing weight
  • Train each muscle group once every 7-10 days
  • Perform multiple sets of each exercise (2-5 sets per exercise)

If your goal is to increase muscle size:

  • Focus on shocking muscles by changing variables frequently (exercises, set and rep schemes, rest time, etc)
  • Train each muscle group on a variable schedule (experiment by training a muscle group 3 times a week and then once every ten days)
  • Perform multiple sets for a while and the perform single sets for a week or two

Some final reminders:

The recommendations above are general and of course would need to be adapted and adjusted for your personal goals and experience. For those of you who are advanced and may be thinking there’s no way you can build strength by training once every 10 days I challenge you to try it for at least 4 weeks, or those of you who think that you need to stick to the same basic movements like bench to build size I challenge you to try shocking the muscles by changing the exercises you perform each week for 4 weeks, and those of you with little experience I hope that you’ll throw away the fitness magazines and learn what really works.

by Jesse Cannone

Four Keys to Successful Bodybuilding

Mental Attitude

As long as you have the desire to physically develop your body — that’s half the battle! How you feel about yourself is extremely important. Ask yourself how much bigger you’d like to be, then go after that goal! DO NOT let anything get in your way. Gaining muscular weight is very personal. Only you can put out the effort — and only you will get the rewarding results!

Your mental attitude is the first thing you should deal with — you not only have to prepare your body but, your mind too. Believe in yourself! There will be many times when a strong mental attitude towards yourself is just what you need to get you through a difficult day of training or perhaps keep you on that diet. Nothing at all will stop you from being successful. You are at the wheel — think positive — and follow this program and you’ll be amazed at the muscular weight you will see in a matter of weeks.Diet

You might think that gaining weight is now problem — you simply overeat! Right? WRONG! To increase your body weight as a bodybuilder means to increase your muscular weight. This makes a special nutritional diet extremely necessary. A DIET THAT IS BOTH HIGH IN CALORIES AND HIGH IN PROTEIN IS THE ONLY WAY TO GAIN SOLID BODYWEIGHT!

Many people who have failed in building their bodies properly were just not eating enough of the right foods. You can exercise, train night and day, but, if you are not supplying your body with proper building materials (nutritional food), then you are wasting your time.

The number one rule for your diet is to completely avoid “JUNK FOOD”. What makes a certain type of food junk? The fact that the nutritional value of its contents is ZERO!! In other words, it’s like eating dead food. It does absolutely nothing to increase the quality of your blood, heart, lungs and mind. Modern technology has promoted such food by demineralising, devitaminising, and bleaching food to the extent that by the time it’s available to the consumer — it’s absolutely USELESS!! In fact it does us more harm than good. The ice cream, cakes, candy, soft drinks, tea and coffee filled with refined white sugar decays in your body and clogs your vital organs with slimy, sticky poisons until those parts of your body can no longer function. Now, is this any way to build muscular weight?

Start your day off to a super start with a good breakfast. It should consist of eggs, and bacon, plus a protein drink made with milk. Avoid dry cereals no matter what the advertising tell you. Confine you meals to wholesome foods that will benefit you health and help you build strong muscular weight. Supplements are also very helpful. Take vitamins in tablet form and include wheat germ in your meals whenever you can. When you plan and prepare a meal think of the nutritional value first. The most important basic food items are: milk, eggs, lean meats, fowl and fish. These foods should be consumed in large quantities. Other important foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts and soups. They will round out your diet along with your vitamin supplement. Rest & Relaxation

Rest and relaxation is also an essential part of your bodybuilding program. Studies have been conducted which have proven that a loss of sleep results in loss of accuracy in perception, memory and reasoning. A late evening on the town, or perhaps just a sleepless night usually results in a very disorganized day after. You find it difficult to perform many tasks that require physical and mental co-ordination, and your endurance is greatly weakened.

Relaxation is of utmost importance in the field of bodybuilding. When you train and exercise, your muscles get quite a workout. That is why it is extremely important to learn how to relax those muscles, so they can look forward to a night of complete rest, which is necessary for tissue repair and growth.

Just because you spend 8-10 hours in bed, does not mean that you have relaxed your muscles for that period of time. In fact, even when you are asleep you are not totally relaxed. Tensions have built up through-out the day, and remain in the muscular system and these tensions result in sleep that is not beneficial.

Perfect relaxation is vital to increase muscular growth, so, if your job causes you many tense moments through-out the day, then, you must try to relax as much as possible in the evening. A high protein meal after a heavy training program (described later), is the most effective way to achieve complete relaxation.

Eating too much food before you go to sleep will make it extremely difficult to sleep, however, going to bed on an empty stomach could be worse. Each individual is different What you have to remember is that YOU ARE IN CHARGE of your own body, so, it’s up to you to find out what works best for you.

Try to control those late nights and you’ll find that adequate rest is not only important, but tremendously rewarding. If you get to bed about the same time every night and get at least 8 hours of good sound sleep, then, your body will thank you by growing strong muscular weight. Complete 100% rest at night will prepare you for a successful and fruitful training session the next day.Exercise

EXERCISE FOR ADVANCED TRAINING YEARS — AND HELPFUL HINTS FOR EVERY BODYBUILDER!! In order to get the most out of your exercise routine, you must provide your body with complete muscle stimulation. For this, heavy weights are necessary. You will perform all the movements in 5 sets of 5 repetitions, using the most weight that you can handle. Begin with light weights the first two sets of each exercise, this will enable you to warm up. The remaining 3 sets should be done quite vigorously in order to attain the best results. Approach those weights as if you are going to destroy them. TAKE CHARGE!! You are in control!!

You have probably read about bodybuilders who spend numerous hors training 6-7 days a week. Experts now recommend shorter programs for only 3 times a week or more (if you are on a split schedule). If your muscles disappear when you shorten your program — then — they weren’t worth having to begin with. Muscles that are well nourished — will not disappear in a matter of days or because you’ve cut down on the training time. The gains you make from this system will be the most effective and will stay with you a long time!!

Quality, not quantity is important. many bodybuilders work out too long, instead of working out for shorter periods and making every short minute count. In other words give it all you’ve got!! total effort and a positive attitude is how you should approach every training session — and it’s with this enthusiastic disposition that your results will appear much faster.

Follow program 1 for 4 weeks (3 times a week), then go on to program number 2 for the next 4 weeks. REMEMBER: to add more strength and muscle to your body you must add more weight to your exercises, eat good nutritional foods, and get plenty of rest and relaxation and you’re on your way to a stronger and larger muscular shape.




As many as you can do


As many as you can do


As many as you can do


As many as you can do





























Simple Proven Formula for Weight Gain

Get a physical check up before you begin a bodybuilding program. Make sure you have no internal problems or some type of physical flaw, that will prevent or delay you from satisfactory progress. It’s always wise to get advice fro a good medical doctor. If you are in good health, proceed to the next step.

Revise your diet so that it’s well-balanced — include 2 quarts of whole milk everyday as well as the necessary food supplements.

Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

Do not engage in any form of vigorous or competitive athletic activity.

Do everything to maintain a calm, pleasant mental outlook.

Train 3 times a week on alternate days, or use the ‘split routine’ — as suggested here.

The Functional Training Craze

By Jesse Cannone CPRS, CFT, SPN

In the past few years I’ve seen a huge
transition in the fitness industry. More and more people are using functional
training, and some argue it’s the only way to train. The purpose of this
article is to give people an understanding of what functional training is, and
what it does and does not do.First, lets look at what functional actually means.

Functional 1. capable of operating or functioning, 2. capable of serving the
purpose for which it was intended (Webster’s Encyclopedia 2nd Edition, 1996)

Based on that definition, you can draw many
conclusions as to what is functional. Depending upon who you ask, you will most
likely get a diverse variety of responses as to what is functional. All human
movement is a combination of various functions. Human movement cannot take place
without muscular function. According to the functional training “experts”,
functional training use s b ands, balls, free-weights, and plyometric exercises
in an attempt to condition the body in an un-stable environment. Many of the
experts feel that performing exercises that mimic activities or specific skills
is the most effective way to train, regardless of ones goal.

What is the safest, most efficient and effective way to optimize human

Factors Affecting Human Performance

In order to maximize human performance, you must have a good understanding of
what affects performance. The factors that play the greatest role in performance
are: Power (Strength and Speed), Agility (Flexibility/Mobility/Stability),
Cardiovascular and Respiratory Conditioning, Sport Skill (Neuromuscular
Coordination and Efficiency), and Genetic Potential.

Let’s take a look at each factor and determine which training methods are
going to deliver optimal results. By optimal results, I mean the greatest amount
of improvement, with the least amount of risk, and in the shortest amount of


Power = Force x Distance


Power can be increased three ways.

1. Increase Force (Strength)

What is the most effective method of increasing strength and/or muscle tissue?
In my opinion, High Intensity Strength Training is the most productive, safe,
and time efficient approach available. I am not stating that one set of each
exercise is the best choice. My definition of High Intensity Training is:
training to momentary muscular failure, with brief and infrequent workouts in
which all variables are prescribed based on the individuals: goals, age, current
fitness level, fiber types, personal preference, and past experience.

The purpose of strength training is to increase strength and lean body mass, NOT
for training a specific skill or movement—that’s called practice! People
strength train for many reasons and there are many methods that work. For years,
many trainers and coaches have had their clients and athletes perform Olympic
lift s b ecause they feel it will transfer over into the performance of their
skill. Numerous studies have shown that the neurological transfer of skills is
not optimal unless the skill is practiced EXACTLY as it is performed in
competition. Therefore, performing power clean s b ecause you play football is
NOT optimal. Performing power-cleans will only get you better at performing
power-cleans! Focus on increasing strength and lean body mass, and practice your
skill exactly as it is performed during competition.

2. Increase Speed

Increasing the speed at which a skill is performed is another great way to
improve power. Speed is primarily predetermined by the individual’s genetic
make up. However, that does not mean that you cannot improve speed by practicing
the skill EXACTLY as it is performed in competition. A great deal of focus
should be placed on perfecting the technique. By practicing the skill in this
manner, you will improve neuromuscular efficiency, which will result in faster
and more accurate performance.

3. Increase Distance (flexibility/range of motion)

Increasing flexibility is another way to improve power. By increasing
flexibility, you increase the distance that force is applied which results in an
increase in power.

The safest and most effective method to increase flexibility i s b y performing
full range of motion exercises and incorporating a sound stretching routine.


Improving ones agility is another way of optimizing performance. Agility drills
should be SPECIFIC to the activity or event. For example, having someone do
Plyometric jumps off of boxes is NOT specific to someone who plays basketball!
Yes, a basketball player jumps, but not off of boxes. Having the athlete
practice jumping from the floor would be much more specific to their sport.
Always ask yourself, “What is the goal?” “Is what I’m doing going to
give me the outcome I desire?” “Is it optimal?”

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Conditioning

Increasing cardio/respiratory output and endurance is another factor that has a
major impact on performance. This topic is one of such importance that it is
beyond the scope of this article. In general, if you increase the individual’s
cardiovascular and respiratory output and endurance, there will be a
corresponding increase in performance. Cardiovascular training should also be
specifically geared towards improving the individuals conditioning in the
metabolic pathway in which they compete or perform. For example, someone who
plays tennis should primarily train at a slow to moderate pace and incorporate
bursts of high intensity effort. Interval training would be a good choice for
this individual. Keep the training specific to the individual.

Sport Skill

This is an area in which there is a lot of confusion among many athletes,
coaches, and trainers. Skill acquisition and strength levels are two completely
different things. Therefore, they should be trained separately, and with
different methods. In order to optimize the performance of a specific skill or
movement, it needs to be practiced EXACTLY as it is performed in competition. It
ha s b een shown that each activity or movement has it’s own neuromuscular
pathway, and that just because a movement is similar does NOT mean there will be
a positive transfer or carryover of skill. In order to maximize performance the
individual should attempt to perfect their movement or skill with endless hours
of practice. The goal of practice should be to improve the technique, accuracy,
and increase the speed at which the skill can be performed. This topic was
addressed earlier in the section titled “Increase Force.”

Genetic Potential

This is the factor that I have found to have the greatest impact on human
performance. Genetic potential is something many people overlook. Regardless of
what methods of training I use, I will never be a world-class marathoner. I can
train twice a week or I can train 5 hours a day, it still won’t change the
fact that my body wasn’t designed to excel at endurance activities. I hear of
too many coaches and trainers having people follow dangerous training programs
in an attempt to drastically improve their performance. This is not to say that
you cannot improve performance. When training yourself or a competitive athlete,
always set realistic goals. As stated earlier, the best thing to do is utilize
the most effective methods available and work hard!

Difference s between Functional Training and Machine Based Training

Most, if not all of the so-called functional exercises, fail to supply constant
and variable resistance. Most quality machines supply constant tension and
variable resistance based on the strength curve of the particular muscle, and
track proper joint function.

For example, compare dumbbell bicep curls on a Swis s b all to a bicep curl on a
quality machine (such as Hammer Strength.) While performing the dumbbell curl,
there is no tension on the biceps in the bottom or top positions. The resistance
is greatest when the dumbbell is perpendicular to the floor. The amount of
stimulus is also decreased due to the fact that the individual must balance
his/her self on the ball. While using a machine, there is constant tension on
the biceps and the amount of tension varies during the exercise based on the
strength curve of the biceps muscle. Which is going to make the individual
stronger? Which is going to stimulate more muscle fibers in the biceps?

In my opinion, machine based training is by far superior if the goal is to
increase strength, and/or muscle tissue. Keep in mind that more muscle equates
to a faster, stronger, and better athlete, providing they practice their
specific skill or movement.

This is not to say that functional exercises serve no purpose. There are
benefits to functional exercise; just not as many as some people are lead to
believe. Exercise selection and the training methods used should be based on the
individual’s goals. Instances where functional training may be effective would
be in individuals who need to improve balance, stability, and neuromuscular

Below is a chart that shows the differences between Functional Training and Machine Based Training.

Machine-Based Training Functional Training
Provides constant and variable

Movement tracks proper joint function
Effectively overloads musculature (if
used properly)

Safer to perform
Many machines available to work every
muscle in the body
Very effective at improving
balance, stability, and coordination

Does NOT effectively overload target

Does NOT provide optimal transfer of
skill performance

Very difficult to measure and monitor

Higher chance of injury


Functional training obviously has some benefit, and can be a great addition to a
well-designed strength program. However, I personally feel it should never take
the place of a structured strength training routine. I recommend using a
combination approach, which utilizes machines, free-weights, bodyweight, balls,
bands, and anything that is going to deliver the desired results. Always
remember that training for strength and/or increases in muscle tissue and
training for skill are two completely different things. When designing or
assessing a training program the following questions should be asked. What is
the goal? Is it time efficient? Is it safe? Is it delivering the desired
results? Is it optimal?


1. Schmidt, R. A : Motor Learning and Performance – From Principles to
Practice. Human Kinetics Books; Champaign , IL 1991

2. Bryzcki, Matt : A Practical Approach to Strength Training, Masters Press;
Indianapolis , IN 1995

3. Magil, R : Motor Learning – Concepts and Application, 4th Edition, C. Brown
Publishing, Madison , Wisconsin 1993

4. Chek, Paul : What is Functional Exercise? (Article), C.H.E.K Institute

5. Calais-Germaine, Blandine : Anatomy of Movement, Easterland Press, Seattle ,
WA 1993

6. Tortora, Gerard, J : Principles of Human Anatomy, 5th Edition, Harper Collins
Publishers, New York , NY 1989

7. Stein, Alan : Improving Athletic Power (Article), Hard Training Newsletter

8. Manny, Ken : Skill Development : An Open and Closed Case (Article)

9. Kielbaso, Jim : Plyos – My Story (Article) www.cyberpump.com

Best results using Strength training

Whether you are a beginner at strength training (also referred to as weight training or weight lifting) or one who is already advanced, needing alternate exercises to add variety, increase intensity or overcome a frustrating plateau, a Strength Training program will help you develop your own program step-by-step, educating you in the safest and most effective ways to strength train.

Many people don’t realize the numerous benefits of a sound strength training program: increases in muscle size (if desired) and tone; increased muscle, tendon, bone, and ligament strength; increased physical performance and appearance; improved metabolic efficiency; and decreased risk of injury. A good Strength Training program provides clear explanations, exercise instructions, video demonstrations, and customized strength training programs that will allow you to achieve the results you desire.

A mans workout

If you’re a regular Aussie bloke looking to get in shape, we’ve got good news.

When it comes to shifting fat and gaining muscle, it seems men have won the lottery. Thanks to their physiological make-up, men (the lucky buggers) can do both quicker and with less effort than women.
This is largely due to the fact that women tend to store fat on their hips and thighs, while men more commonly put it on their middles.
A little padding around the butt and thigh area might not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it’s entirely natural. Women are designed (physically speaking) to bear children and that means they need to store a little excess fat to support a child if needed. Men have no physiological need to store excess fat. Accordingly they are able to shed it easier.
“It’s a scientific fact that a beer belly is easier to get rid of than thigh or bottom fat,” says Professor Stephan Rossner, director of the Obesity Research Program at Luddinge Hospital, Stockholm.
“A beer belly is easier to mobilise and responds more quickly. Women don’t have the ability to shift weight like men do. That’s just the way it is.”

thinking it through
Studies have also shown that men are one step ahead of women when it comes to sticking with a diet or exercise program. Why? Because once they decide to shed fat and gain muscle, they do it.
There’s also the fact that men have often been raised on exercise.
“Men are encouraged to get involved in sport when they’re young,” says Katy Try, head trainer at Golds Gym in Sydney.
“If people exercise when young it’s much easier to reactivate that when older. If you have had no exercise history it’s harder to get started.”
Unfortunately it seems that many Australian men (women too, but we’re not focusing on them today) are finding it very hard to get started. At this point in time about 65 per cent of men (and yes, 55 per cent of women) are considered overweight. If you’re a bloke, and you’re part of that group and would like not to be, don’t panic – there are ways and means. As we said earlier, being a man means losing weight and gaining muscle shouldn’t be that hard for you. If it does get tough you can comfort yourself with this thought – it’s harder for women!

making a move
Of course, even men need to do it right. That means watching what you eat and getting plenty of exercise. By exercise we mean cardiovascular workouts (think walking, jogging or playing footy) and resistance training such as lifting weights. If you can, you should get some cardiovascular exercise every day. Weights can be performed anywhere from three to five times a week.
But don’t get too caught up with exactly how much weight you’re lifting, says Try.
“Correct technique helps build the muscle, not just the actual weight,” she says. And for those blokes who worry only about the “mirror muscles” it’s time to rethink your workout. Your exercises should be more balanced. “Many men tend to worry about the muscles they can see and forget about the others, but that’s not a good idea,” says Try.
Kelly Baker is a fully qualified personal trainer.
hey fellas

10 reasons why men should be working out

  1. It will help lower your blood pressure.
  2. It will decrease your chances of coronary heart disease.
  3. Your energy levels will go through the roof.
  4. You can greatly ease lower back pain.
  5. Your body will be a lean, mean fighting machine (or closer to it anyway).
  6. Stress levels will drop.
  7. You’ll lose fat.
  8. You’ll build strong bones.
  9. You will rev up your metabolism, meaning you can get away with eating more.
  10. It’s fun. Really.


  1. Dumb-bell shoulder press.
    Hold a dumb-bell in each hand and sit on a fitball or bench. Plant your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Once you’re comfortable, push your weights up over your head until they almost touch. Slowly lower to about ear level and then repeat. Ensure you don’t lock your elbows at the top of this movement and keep steady. Form counts! 
    Gives you: sensational shoulders.
  2. Triceps kickback 
    Rest your left lower leg on a weight bench. Grasp a dumb-bell in your right hand. Lean forward at the hips and place your left palm on the bench. Bend your right elbow so your upper arm is parallel to the floor, palm facing in. Straighten your arm out behind you. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat. Don’t forget your left arm! 
    Gives you: buff backs of arms
  3. One-arm dumb-bell row 
    Stand with your right lower leg resting on a weight bench. Grasp a dumb-bell in your left hand. Lean forward at the hips and place your right palm on the bench. Drop your left hand down. Then pull your left arm up until your upper arm is parallel to the floor and your dumb-bell is near your waist. Gently lower and repeat. Both arms please!
    Gives you: Gorgeous upper back.
  4. Dumb-bell chest
    Press Lie on the bench with your feet flat. Push your weights up so that your arms are directly above your shoulders. Lower the dumb-bells until your elbows are just below your shoulders. Then, push the weights back up. Move with control and don’t allow your elbows to lock or your shoulder blades to come off the bench. 
    Gives you: an amazing chest.
  5. Ball crunch 
    To get in position, rest your back (all the way from shoulder blades to tail bone) on the round curve of the ball. Ensure your head, neck and also shoulders are above the ball. Your knees should be bent and feet flat on the floor, roughly hip-width apart. Once you’re ready to get going, cross your hands across your chest. Then, curl up and forward. Hold for a second at the top of the movement and then gently lower. 
    Gives you: killer abs.