300716 Aerobic Fitness

300716 Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic conditioning is your body’s adaptations to working continuously with oxygen or in other words with air. It is also known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic power. The word power indicates a strong response to imposed conditions.

Cardio work is a continuous activity that puts an increased demand on the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the body. Generally, large muscle groups of the body are involved for extended periods without a break, thus the term, ‘with air’. The original term “aerobics” came from the father of cardiovascular training, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, of the famed Cooper Institute.

It is a recognized fact that aerobic conditioning accomplishes all of the following:

  • It has the potential to increase life expectancy
  • Improvements occur in the overall quality of life
  • Overall improvements in health and well being
  • Reduces fatigue and increases the adaptability to meet the challenges of each day as they arise
  • It can improve appearance, posture, self confidence and self concept
  • Positive body composition changes occur with regular aerobic exercise
  • Muscular endurance and muscle tone changes are positive in nature
  • Stress maybe reduced
  • Improvements in relaxation ability and decreased sleep pattern disruptions
  • Positive cardiovascular changes and improved sport performance result from aerobic exercise
  • Reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol may result-studies indicate this to be true
  • Increased bone density due to the impact of the jogging or running
  • Seniors may become more independent
  • Finally, the ability to physically meet and hopefully overcome emergency situations

In preparing to aerobically exercise, remember that aerobics are only a part of a full conditioning program. Other necessary components include flexibility, strength and power, muscle endurance and a safe healthy body composition. In other words, be able to do the task at hand without carrying excess body fat around.

The keys then would be to follow this sequence before exercising for the first time.

  1. Complete a Physical Activities Readiness Questionnaire aka a PAR-Q
  2. Speak to a doctor before beginning any exercise program
  3. Begin slowly in your program-consult with a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) or a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
  4. Always warm-up prior to exercising, get the pulse up and the breathing rate increased to meet the demands of the upcoming exercise session. After exercising then cool down and stretch.
  5. Follow the fitness triad prescription of flexibility, strength and cardiovascular through out the week
  6. Don’t overexert but stay within the guidelines for your age and experience-see number three above for a CSCS or CPT recommendation
  7. If you are sick or injured, don’t exercise. You can however exercise common sense and prevent any further delays in getting better by taking it easy for a short time until you are well again.
  8. Select a NSCA certified trainer

Cardiovascular training

How hard should you exercise aerobically will be determined by your age and current physical condition. The Tanaka formula is the most precise for figuring out the target heart rate range.

Figure your target heart rate using the Tanaka formula.

  • 207 – 70% of your age = Maximum heart rate
  • MHR – Resting heart rate taken as soon as you awake = Heart rate reserve
  • Heart rate reserve X 70% + resting heart rate = Heart rate target range

So why are so many aerobically out of shape? Is it due to a lack of desire, lack of time, or a lack of motivation? The reasons are many but the truth of the matter is this; “in order to make changes change is necessary”.(1)

Research has clearly shown the benefits of increased cardiovascular health in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and other unhealthy heart and lung conditions. (2) Now is the time to make these positive life style changes.

Follow this sequence for a successful new beginning

  • Begin by seeing a doctor for an overall physical.
  • Set up your personal fitness goals
  • Dress for success. Wear good fitting walking, running or bicycling shoes. Dress in proper fitting clothing, layered in the winter and reflective in the summer.
  • Exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY by putting a check mark on the calendar to show yourself you CAN make the necessary changes to succeed.
  • Chart your progress everyday, write down how you did, how you felt. Make it your personal workout diary.
  • Drink enough to stay hydrated; your urine should be a pale yellow. If not and it is bright yellow and strong smelling then you are dehydrated unless you are taking in excessive vitamin B supplements
  • Progress slowly. Start out by walking, riding a bicycle and then finally by jogging and running. Vary the cardiovascular workout mode for added benefits.
  • Chart your target heart range and stay in it for the recommended amount of time for your age
  • Overload your body the correct way, i.e. don’t change any one variable by more than 10% each time. For example, if you are running for ten minutes add only 10% to the increase for the next level. In other words, add one minute. Gradually get used to the new time, or longer distance or faster pace, but only by 10% of the previous times, distance or pace.
  • Acclimatize your body to its new routine. Vary the load, intensity and frequency so your body does not become accustomed to these variables.
  • Make exercise a habit.

Safety cautions

  • Let someone know where you are going and for how long you will be gone
  • Exercise with a partner if you have a difficult time in remaining self motivated
  • Walk, run and ride in a safe legal manner, follow your state statues for engaging in these activities


Within the first SIX MONTHS, most people QUIT. Are you going to be one of them? Try these tricks of the trade to avoid dropping out of the exercise mode.

  • Make exercising FUN
  • Go at a comfortable yet challenging pace
  • Do more than just walk, run and bicycle. In other words, cross train.
  • Take music along with you. Just don’t have it blaring in your ears through an earplug. You cannot avoid danger if you can’t hear it coming.
  • Exercise the same time each day. Get it out of the way early or make it the last thing you treat yourself to at the end of the day. Make it natural and convenient. You will be better able to stick with it.
  • Keep records of your achievements each day

Follow the SMART goal setting method of:
S stands for specific
M stands for measurable
A is for achievable
R asks if it is a realistic goal
T indicates time ended.

In other words unless a goal is specific, measure able, achievable, realistic and time ended it is simply a dream with no starting or ending to it. Live your dream; don’t just dream of living it.

(1) Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS,*D
(2) Research and resultant international conference presentation titled “The effects of exercise on blood pressure” by the author. Presentation made July 03 in Ottawa, Canada.


250716 A beginning resistance training routine

250716 A beginning resistance training routine

A beginning routine is made up of large muscle group exercises featuring balanced applications of sets and repetitions for both agonist and antagonist groups. After a movement specific warm up where each exercise is performed ten to twelve times do eight to twelve repetitions at your workout weight for two to four sets. A set is one group of eight to ten repetitions.

Follow each set with a rest period of sixty to ninety seconds, depending on your present conditioning status and then begin the next set of the same exercise. Move through the list at a steady pace. You should not be in the weight room much longer than forty five to fifty minutes.

The decision to do them all at one time will be a personal matter, one that takes into consideration the time you have to exercise. The full body workouts are good at helping to improve your general physical conditioning. This schedule would be done on alternate days so you have a recovery period inter spaced between workouts.

If you make the decision not to do them all in one session then consider doing the upper and lower body exercises on different days. Following this exercise schedule allows you to exercise five days in a row with the weekend off for active recovery activities.

These are the essential ten and form the foundations of any strength program regardless of how you decide to do them.

  1. Military presses
  2. Chin ups or pull downs
  3. Bench presses
  4. Barbell rows
  5. Squats
  6. Dead lifts
  7. Curl ups or full range sit ups
  8. Back extensions
  9. Laterals
  10. Calf raises

Using the big ten exercises in your training program.

Start out with one set of eight to twelve repetitions and after a week or two add an additional set. Several weeks later add one to two more sets until you reach four to five sets of each exercise. Begin with sets of eight and as you get stronger and can tolerate the stress of lifting gradually add more reps until you’re at twelve repetitions for four to five sets.

After three to four weeks have elapsed on this schedule begin to dramatically increase or decrease the repetitions on one of the days each week. This will shake up your body and make it realize that every day will not be the same. This is how growth takes place.

Once at the five sets of twelve it will be time to drastically change your entire program. But that is not what this article is about so I won’t address it now. Suffice it to say this will be the time in your program that new exercises, new reps and set schemes and different work to rest ratios will be needed to up the intensity necessary to continue your steady progress towards greater physical fitness.

After the exercises have been completed it’s time to start the cool down phase of the session. This period allows your body to readjust back to its normal temperature, pulse and breathing rates.

Midway through this cool down process do one or two static stretches for the various areas you’ve just worked out. Avoid, if possible, doing the same stretches each time by selecting a different one from any of the vast movements that are available.

Several of my favorite books are the Stretching Handbook by Brad Walker, Stretching by Bob Anderson, The Whartons’ Stretch Book by Jim and Phil Wharton, Stretching for Athletics by Pat Croce and Sport Stretch by Michael J. Alter.

After you have cooled down then it’s time to replenish your muscles with fuel. Eat a protein and high glycemic carbohydrate snack to help get your muscles back into the positive growing zone.


Start out by learning how to do the exercises correctly, be consistent in your exercise sessions, maintain the intensity, stick with the basics and eat well.

There you have it; a full schedule to get you into shape safely and effectively. But don’t get in a hurry to leave the gym just yet because you still have to cool down

230716 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

230716 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

If you are using a pedometer, keep in mind that step counts are not particularly accurate when it comes to high intensity exercise measurements or of the quality of this type of exercise. You will be far better off getting a good heart rate monitor to track your exercise intensity. Once you have the monitor then set your sights on getting the necessary amount of minutes each day of cardio exercise.

The current recommendations of aerobic training are five days a week of moderate paced exercise for thirty to sixty minutes a day or at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week. On the other hand, if you are already doing this amount then up the ante and go for twenty to sixty minutes a day of vigorous-intensity exercise for at least seventy-five minutes a week.

180716 Developing your grip

180716 Developing your grip

The deadlift can add or subtract to your total in the sport of powerlifting. Pulling a ton with straps on means your lower torso is solid and strong. The problem arises when you get into a contest and can’t use your straps.  It doesn’t matter what you did in your gym with the straps because they aren’t allowed in any sanctioned event.

Now is the time to get a grip that will bring Hercules to his knees. And one of the easiest most opportune ways to do so is by using Olympic weight plates. Set two of them up side to side, facing one another, so the smooth part is on the outside, i.e. the part of the weight you are going to hold onto.

Without using chalk or other grip enhancing substance, grab the plates and start walking in your gym. Measure the distance you are able to go before the weights slip out of your hands.

Do the exercise one to three times and then let it set for a day or so and then do it again. In time your distance will increase as will your ability to handle heavier weights for longer distances.

Just be careful you don’t let them fall on your feet or worse yet someone else’s.

Isometric contractions for 5-6 seconds in various flexion angles building up the intensity over the session, i.e. one at 70% for 5 seconds the next series at 80% for 5 seconds. Work up to 100% for the full 6 seconds for three to four sets at a time. Then build up in the length of time holding at 100%-avoid the Valsalva maneuver during

Many can be done at home, as the required equipment is nil.

 Grip strengthening exercises.

The accompanying photographs show a great device for developing your grip. Each piece fits into the next larger one. The diameter of the handle can be made greater or smaller depending upon the level of difficulty desired. Naturally, the smaller the handle the easier will be the task of holding onto the resistance. Once the handle becomes over three inches, the ability to grip and lift becomes problematic. Slowly adapt your strength with each successively larger diameter handle.

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The grip is progressively challenged as the diameter of the PVC becomes larger.

Not only are these handles useful for simple lifting exercises but they can also be adapted to the pulley, band or elastic modes of resistance training as depicted in figures three through seven. In addition, the larger sized handles make chin up and pull up exercises much more difficult to accomplish. The latter are not shown.

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Here are few more ideas to try if you do not want to use the larger handles:

  • Start with one full newspaper and crunch it up into a ball with one hand.
  • Progress to more and more sheets of newspaper and make each of the increased layers into the smallest ball possible.

Rubber ball squeezes

  • Begin with a small dog or cat toy ball
  • Squeeze the ball for twenty five repetitions three times
  • Use a tennis ball for the same progression as above

Rubber band stretches and squeezes

  • Place rubber bands on each of your fingers, spread the fingers apart.
  • Place the bands on one opposite hand.
  • Attach one end to a finger of the opposite hand and move the fingers in the opposite direction as above

Other useful ideas for grip training

  • Bar hangs for time
  • Weight added bar hangs
  • Bar holds with ‘heavy weight’ be careful of low back injuries
  • Paper book rips
  • Towel twists
  • Medicine ball squeezes
  • Pellet bag holds for time or distance
  • Pellet bag holds while vertical jumping and maintaining the grip
  • Cement block hold and carry for distance
  • Garbage bags with weight-hold for time and distance
  • Plate hold for time
  • Plate hold with heavier weight for time
  • Plate hold with heavy weight
  • Band resisted device holds
  • Grip developer springs from Ironmind
  • Plate loaded grip device

Radial and Ulnar deviations

Equipment: Thors hammer

The Thors hammer is an adjustable dumb bell with plates added to one end only. Sledge hammers can be used in place of the dumb bell but minor adjustments of weight are easier if the dumb bell is used.

Begin holding the bar near the weight until you build up the strength to use the lever of the full handle.

Hold the non-plated loaded end as you would a hammer or in a handshake or neutral grip position at the sides of your legs.

Thors hammer front off load

The dumb bell plates will be facing forward with the bar horizontal to the ground. The motion is up and down using only wrist action.

The next movement is with the plates to the rear, again the motion is up and down.

Thors hammer start rear load

Begin the development of your grip by working on your endurance first then go to a strength-based program that employs heavy weights coupled with low reps.

Practice Isometric contractions for 5-6 seconds in various flexion angles. Gradually build up the intensity over the session, i.e. one set at 70% for 5 seconds the next series at 80% for 5 seconds. Work up to 100% intensity a full 6 seconds for three to four sets at a time. Build up in the length of time you are holding at 100% but avoid the Valsalva maneuver during these contractions.

Augment direct grip development by strengthening each motion or movement pattern of the wrist. Additionally work the fingers/thumb individually and as a group. Practice balance, coordination and agility as you work these smaller muscles of the arm and hand. Theraband soft weights work great for many of these exercises.


160716 This takes the cake, AKA stupid is as stupid does

160716 This takes the cake

We’ve all seen the pseudo trainers standing on a stability ball swinging something around in their hands.

Just when I thought I’d about seen it all, another screwball shows up with an even goofier exercise. This example shows a guy on a trampoline standing on a BOSU (1) with the rounded part facing the trampoline.

What is this for? Who knows; it certainly isn’t any that I train my athletes for in the gym. How many sports require this type of activity? NONE despite the trainers claims that it conditions the core and balance.

He must have a great liability insurance policy and is probably hoping the insurance company doesn’t see this photo of stupidity in action.

I suspect the people that do these things crave attention, negative in this case, because this is the only thing such a stunt could provide.

In the Explosively Strength Training programs, we NEVER stand on these types of gear. We are strong but not stupid.

(1) The BOSU looks like a stability ball cut in half with one side a flat surface and its opposite, the rest of the ball. It can be used with either side up or down for various exercises.

110716 Spotting the dumbbell bench press

110716 Spotting the dumbbell bench press

It is the duty and responsibility of the coach and the specific task of the designated spotter or spotters, to protect the lifter at all times during the lift, especially if the load is in the upper percentages of their one repetition maximum..

Stupid act number one

A trainer who has their trainees doing a bench press with their feet on the bench is placing that person at risk for an injury. The purpose of the feet being on the floor is to prevent the person from losing their balance and falling off the bench with a load on the bar. Having both feet on the floor contributes to a part of the five-point stance.

The five-point stance is established with both feet on the floor, the buttocks on the bench, the shoulders on the bench and the head on the bench.

Stupid act number two

Trainers standing or kneeling away from the trainee holding onto a clipboard

Any photo of a trainer or a trainer who is standing away from the lifter is in a poor position to spot the exercise. He or she is not anywhere near the area they need to be in order to protect the lifter from harm should they fail in the movement.

The correct position is either with his/her hands on his/her wrists or hovering on the outside of her wrists to prevent the dumbbell from coming back on his/her face if he/she loses the correct bar path while lifting.

Keeping both hands on the wrists is the safest way to spot the dumbbell bench press.

There are so many terrible examples of trainers training someone who has trusted his expertise to keep them safe as they lift showing up on YouTube; it is pathetic with a capital P.

I recommend finding someone who practices intelligent coaching, safe lifting, as well as safe spotting.



100716 What if you don’t feel like exercising today?


100716 What if you don’t feel like exercising today?

Putting a check mark on your calendar doesn’t mean not exercising, it means still going to the gym and lifting for at least 10 minutes. If, after the 10 minutes you still feel like passing on the day then move on to the rest of your day. At least you gave it a shot. It didn’t work out but you gave it a whirl.

Come back the next day with a new attitude and go at it again. If, however the same feelings of the previous day are still with you then it is time to make some drastic, wild changes in your exercise routine. Stop what you are doing and do something vastly different and give your body and mind a rest.

Instead of doing squats, do Bulgarian split squats, believe me your glutes and hamstrings will remind you later on of how you treated them. Use dumbbells rather than barbells, attach bands to the plates and do squats with swinging weights on the end of your bar, go into high reps, recall Bompa recommending rep ranges of up to 250 in a single set throughout the year on an infrequent basis as being conducive to further growth.

The idea is to move away from your normal exercise routine and get out of the rut you’ve created by not being creative with your schedule.