MY PHYSICIAN TOLD ME I SHOULDN'T STRENGTH TRAIN

We have an injury and we receive the well-intended advice to "discontinue strength training.” This recommendation is rooted in the very genesis of strength training as a form of exercise.  When the average doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist (and let’s face it, anyone for that matter), thinks about the true roots of strength training, they think power lifting or Olympic weight-lifting.

Fast Food & Fat Loss; Can they go hand in hand?

Improving body composition, defined as the percentage of our body weight that is comprised of muscle versus fat, is a paramount goal for the clear majority of exercisers. Two primary interventions drive body composition improvement: 1. Strength training in order to increase lean muscle tissue; and 2. Nutrition intended to lose body fat (and support increased muscle tissue). With so much misinformation and wasted effort in our pursuit of improved body composition, I thought I would share a success story that illustrates an evidence-based, albeit unpopular approach to improving body composition. 

Great Workouts for the Business Traveler and some advice for making it work on the Road

Like so many of our clients, I’m on an airplane at least once per week. Completing quality workouts while on the road can be a challenge. I encourage you to adopt the following mindset and to try the following workouts during your next extended travel. 

Great Abs: Refocus on what works

The fitness topic that garners the most confusion and outright misinformation continues to be the quest for improved abdominal appearance. Interestingly, the effect of exercise on abdominal appearance is one of the most thoroughly studied and understood areas in all of exercise science. Alas, this is not reflected by the average fitness enthusiast’s approach to achieving six-pack abdominals (or, perhaps, less ambitiously, simply losing fat from the midsection). A survey of health clubs, gyms, home exercise DVD’s, and studio concepts around the world indicate that we are truly in the stone ages when it comes to effectively improving abdominal appearance. Let’s address an evidence based approach to improving abdominal appearance.   

Correlation vs. Causation

A failure to recognize the difference between correlation and causation is perhaps the number one culprit precipitating virtually all fitness myths and misconceptions. We observe that a training “intervention” (a mode, variable, or style of exercise) is correlated with some physiological outcome or phenomenon and our brains almost unconsciously assume a cause and effect relationship. For example:

Where to Focus During Your Workout: New Research on Mind Muscle Connection

Authors of a brand-new research study published in the European Journal of Sport Science sought to determine where we should be placing our focus during an intense set of resistance training. They designed a study in which one group of trainees adopted an INTERNAL focus, meaning they focused on contracting and “feeling” the working muscle, while another group adopted an EXTERNAL focus, meaning they focused on moving the weight from point A to point B and “completing the rep.” 

Learning from Two Lower Back Luminaries

In the last month and a half, I've had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with two luminaries in the field of low back pain management and prevention.  Last week, I toured the campus of Medical Exercise Associates in Daytona Beach, Florida and met for a few hours with the founding physician, orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Fulton.  About thirty years ago, Dr. Fulton discontinued performing low back surgeries in favor of using clinical strengthening tools designed by MedX to restore patients to normal low back function.
 
Nearing the twilight of his career, Dr. Fulton's message was clear: For the clear majority of manifestations of low back pain, isolated strengthening of low back muscles is more effective in mitigating and managing low back pain over the long haul then surgery or passive modalities. 

The Best Workouts I've Ever Had Shared these Common Factors

I've been reflecting on my personal workouts over the last 19 years and I've started to think about the common factors among the best workouts I've ever been through.  By "best" I mean those workouts that stand apart from the rest in terms of intensity, challenge, focus, and fatigue.  The list below sheds light on the commonalities in most of the best workouts I have ever experienced.  Collectively, they serve as a guideline for productive training not only for me, but also for almost anyone interested in engaging in intense, evidence-based resistance exercise.  Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list of evidence-based exercise tenets, but guidelines to maximize one's individual workouts.

Strengthening the Knee: Interesting Research on a Controversial Topic

The prevailing recommendation from orthopedists, physical therapists, and exercise professionals concerning the strengthening of the muscles that surround the knee is this:  “Closed chain” exercises (these include squats, leg presses, lunges, step-ups) are preferable to “open chain” exercises (these include leg extensions and leg curls) for individuals with knee pain or individuals who have undergone knee surgeries.  Some practitioners have gone so far to suggest that open chain movements such as leg extensions should be avoided completely as they may contribute to knee pain.  Investigators of a research study sought to answer the question: For patients with prolonged knee pain (patellofemoral pain), which form of exercise is more effective?  A team of researchers from Ghent University in Belgium hypothesized that the long-term benefits of closed chain movements would be more pronounced than opened chain movements.  Researchers separated individuals who had experienced long-term knee pain into two different groups: closed chain and open chain.  After a 5-year follow up, researchers were surprised by the results; patients performing open-chain exercise faired either equally as well or better than the closed chain group.  The researchers concluded that the prejudice toward closed chain movements is unfounded and recommend the inclusion of open chain exercises in order improve long-term pain reduction and enhanced functionality.  

The Most Important Question in Exercise

I will argue that most exercisers, even the most dedicated and hardworking fitness enthusiasts fail to ask a simple question before they commence an exercise program, an individual exercise, or a general mode of exercise.  

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