Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis

With multiple sclerosis (MS), it can feel like your life is out of your control. People with chronic diseases like MS are two-to-three times more likely to suffer from depression. And although feeling discouraged when dealing with a chronic health issue is understandable, studies show that mindset can play a powerful part in the journey to managing a disease like MS. 

Those who feel like they have control over their health often have better health outcomes. This isn’t just a testament to the power of positive thinking; people who believe they have control are more likely to regularly participate in healthy behaviors. Those behaviors can influence factors such as lifespan, quality of life, and whether the condition progresses.

Multiple sclerosis is no exception. While it can be a daunting condition, health habits have a large impact on how – and if – the condition progresses. One of these health habits is strength training.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Before getting into the benefits of strength training, let’s talk about Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects about a million Americans and over 2.3 million people worldwide. 

The affected population is growing too, with an increase over 300% since the 1990s. There is no known cause of MS. Genetics and environment both play a role in the risk of developing the disease, with family members and those in locations with less sunlight seeming to be at the greatest risk. Women are also at a greater risk, with diagnosis most commonly occurring between 20 and 50 years old.

MS features lesions on the myelin sheath, which is a tissue that covers nerves. The sheath helps with delivering messages quickly to other parts of the body. When it’s damaged, the ability of the central nervous system to communicate with other parts of the body is affected. 

 

People with MS experience a number of potential challenges as a result: 

  • Difficulty with walking
  • Fatigue
  • Strength loss
  • Heat intolerance
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Difficulty with precise movements and other symptoms.
How can Strength Training help Multiple Sclerosis Diagram
mage source: Healthline

Strength Training and MS

The symptoms and MS’s progression are not guaranteed, though. An article authored by researchers in Denmark detailed the results of 16 strength training research programs for those who are living with MS. A number of benefits were observed. 

Strength training leads to a reduction in fatigue, one of the most common MS symptoms. Strength training enhances overall mood, lower body strength, and balance. Perhaps stemming from the increase in strength and balance, training led to more ease with daily activities. These activities include walking long distances, standing from chairs, and stair-climbing. The majority of studies showed these benefits were obtained from training twice per week.

All of the above benefits are meaningful contributions to quality of life. There might be a more important benefit, though. Strength training might stop MS progression. Those who strength trained for six months experienced a lack of lesion growth during that time. The researchers also observed that strength training might even help the brain tissue regrow!

Is Strength Training Safe for Those With MS?

These benefits all sound promising, but there’s an important question to ask: Is strength training safe for those with multiple sclerosis? 

In the 16 studies discussed in the Danish research article, workout session attendance ranged from 90-100%. Drop-out rates ranged from 0-13%. No major injuries or side effects were reported in any study. In short, people with MS made almost all of their workouts, the vast majority of people finished their workout program obligations, and no major issues occurred. 

The Perfect Workout is uniquely advantageous for people with MS. As noted before, those with MS often have an intolerance for heat. The Perfect Workout studios are clinically controlled environments, keeping the temperature between 65-68 degrees and fans that can be used upon request. All studios have water coolers with available cold water. (Even if you’re Virtually Training, the brief nature of the 20-minute workout leaves little time to work up a sweat.) In addition, every client has a dedicated Personal Trainer who tailors the workout to the client’s needs and challenges.

If you have MS, don’t let the disease control your future. Control your own future. Strength train twice per week to reduce fatigue, enhance strength and balance, make daily activities easier, and possibly halt the progression of MS.

  1. Helgeson, V.S. & Zajdel, M. (2017). Adjusting to chronic health conditions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68(1), 545-571. 
  2. Kjolhede, T., Vissing, & Dalgas, U. (2011). Multiple sclerosis and progressive resistance training: a systematic review. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 0(0), 1-14. 
  3. Kjolhede, T., Siemonsen, S., Wenzel, D., Stellmann, J.P., Ringgaard, S., Pedersen, B.G., …Dalgas, U. (2017). Can resistance training impact MRI outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis? Multiple Sclerosis Journal, DOI: 10/1177/1352458517722645.
  4. Cobb-Clark, D.A., de New, S.C., & Schurer, S. (2014). Healthy habits: the connection between diet, exercise, and locus of control. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 98, 1-28.   Link: https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/6789/healthy-habits-the-connection-between-diet-exercise-and-locus-of-control
  5. Berglund, E., Lystsy, P., & Westerling, R. (2014). The influence of locus of control on self-rated health in context of chronic disease: a structural modeling approach in a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health, 14, 492.      Link: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-492
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know What is High-Intensity Training? High-Intensity Training is doing one set of

Read More »

Strength Training: Exercise for ALL Ages

Strength Training for all Ages

Women sitting down after strength training session

My friend recently decided to “retire” from playing full-court basketball. Since his 43rd birthday, he’s suffered a few aches, pains, and minor injuries after each day of full-court games with younger friends. He is now going to opt for half-court games with friends, which involves much less running. “Full-court basketball is a young man’s game,” he told me. “I had to stop playing at some point.”

Full-court basketball, all-nighters, dying one’s hair pink…there are some things that we enjoy in our teens and early 20s but aren’t a good fit for adulthood. Strength training…is NOT one of those things.

Strength training is a lifelong exercise choice. It’s safe and effective, regardless of age. The goals people have for strength training generally change with age. However, the probability of reaching those goals doesn’t change. Whether 35 or 95 years old, strength training will improve your health and fitness.

A Workout For All Ages

Whether you're a busy mom looking for something quick and efficient, or a senior in need of a safe way to exercise you age, we have a program for you. While each body is unique, our principles of exercise remain the same – this allows us to serve people of all ages and abilities. Select your age range below to learn more about The Perfect Workout for you.

Before we get to talking results, let’s talk safety. Strength training, especially using The Perfect Workout’s slow-speed method, is extremely cautious. Injuries in exercise and sports are caused by an excess of force on tendons, ligaments, bones, or other tissues in the body. The lack of bouncing, jumping, and rapid movements make strength training an activity with very little force, even when a very challenging weight is used. While the exercises are challenging, they do not put an extreme level of stress on the body. 

If strength training was dangerous, the highest risk population for experiencing injuries would likely be older adults. Therefore, let’s look at the injury rate for older adults who strength train. A research article published in the journal Sports Medicine discussed the results of 22 studies with adults, 75 years old and older. Out of the 880 older adults who strength trained in these studies, only one person had a negative health experience. Just one person! The conclusion: strength training is very safe and highly unlikely to cause injury. 

Safety is important, but we also want results. Strength training leads to many health and fitness benefits. The needs and goals for strength training often differ with age. Let’s discuss what strength training offers people at the various stages in their lives.

Strength Training in Your Twenties and Thirties

Strength training provides a range of benefits for younger adults. Men and women can gain strength and muscle within two months. That muscle also enhances male and female attractiveness, according to studies on physical characteristics that men and women find appealing.

Adult athletes also benefit from strength training. Long distance times, sprint speed, and vertical jump all improve after a few months of training. In addition to performance, athletes also become more resistant to injury.

Strength Training in Your Forties and Fifties

The same athletic benefits apply to adults in their 40s and 50s. In addition to the aforementioned running benefits, men and women can improve their golf game through strength training. Three months of strength training increases driving distance by seven percent while also reducing the risk of common golf injuries (i.e. lower back pain). 

Reducing or preventing lower back pain, plus enhanced strength and muscle, are benefits for all adults in this age range. Other important benefits are preventing age-related weight gain, improving sleep quality, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases that often occur in this age range. Examples of those diseases include heart disease, many types of cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

young man strength training with dumbbell

Strength Training in Your Sixties and Afterwards

Muscles aren’t a “young man’s game.” Men and women of all ages can gain both strength and muscle. The previously mentioned research article from the journal Sports Medicine showed that just 1-3 days of strength training per week led to big improvements in strength and muscle size for adults who are 75 years old or older. Other benefits frequently experienced by those 60 years or older are stronger bones, improved balance, a lower fall risk, enhanced memory and focus, reduced blood pressure and blood glucose, and increased protection against the development of many chronic diseases.

man strength training with a dumbbell

Strength training offers a wide array of benefits, for fitness and health. While you might eventually retire from all-night parties and playing full-court basketball, there’s no need to retire from strength training. Strength training is safe and healthful exercise for life.

Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know What is High-Intensity Training? High-Intensity Training is doing one set of

Read More »
  • Alvarez, M., Sedano, S., Cuadrado, G., & Redondo, J.C. (2012). Effects of an 18-week strength training program on low-handicap golfers performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(4), 1110-1121. 
  • Grgic, J., Garofolini, A., Orazem, J., Sabol, F., Schoenfeld, B.J., & Pedisic, Z. (2020). Effects of resistance training on muscle size and strength in very elderly adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sports Medicine, 1-17.
  • Nickols-Richardson, S. M., Miller, L. E., Wootten, D. F., Ramp, W. K., & Herbert, W. G. (2007). Concentric and eccentric isokinetic resistance training similarly increases muscular strength, fat-free soft tissue mass, and specific bone mineral measurements in young women. Osteoporosis international, 18(6), 789-796.
  • Paw, M.J., Chin, A., Van Uffelen, J.G., Riphagen, I., & Van Mechelen, W. (2008). The functional effects of physical exercise training in frail older people: a systematic review. Sports Medicine, 38(9), 781-793.
  • Sell, A., Lukazsweski, A.W., & Townsley, M. (2017). Cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men’s bodily attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284(1869).
  • Singh, D. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(2), 293-307.
  • Winett, R.A. & Carpinelli, R.N. (2002). Potential health-related benefits of resistance training. Preventive Medicine, 33(5), 503-513.

Exercise vs Recreation? (Need to Know)

exercise or recreation? why you need to know the difference

Personal Trainer Newport Beach CA

If you’re new around here, there’s a chance your fitness routine might include more recreation than actual exercise. 

When our founder, Matt Hedman first read Ken Hutchins’ “Exercise vs. Recreation” article in 1996 his paradigm of exercise was forever changed.  

These principles of exercise vastly improved his quality of life and chances are they will for you too.

 

Exercise Vs. Recreation

Exercise is an activity that is performed to improve the body physically – increase strength, endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, help with fat loss, preserve or increase bone density and lean muscle tissue, etc.

Recreation refers to things that we do for fun and enjoyment which are psychological purposes.

In his essay on the subject, Ken identified 5 key differences between what appropriately qualifies as “Exercise” and what qualifies as “Recreation”:

 

Exercise is Logical. Recreation is Instinctive.

Recreation is whatever you feel is fun for you whereas proper exercise results from a logical approach of looking at how to efficiently, effectively, and safely load the muscle and joint functions of the human body.

The principles of Exercise are Universal. Recreation is Personal.

The muscle and joint functions of the human body are essentially the same for everybody, so the requirements for effectively loading the muscles to provide effective exercise is universal. Recreation, on the other hand, is personal. What your neighbor likes to do for fun may be very different from what you enjoy.

In a sense, effective exercise is the same for everybody. We make exercise available for everybody too- try Virtual Personal Training.

Exercise has General transfer to other activities. Recreation is Specific.

The benefits of exercise - stronger muscles, more endurance, better cardiovascular efficiency, etc.- will enhance your ability to perform any physical task like running a race or carrying groceries from your car to your kitchen. Recreational skills are specific to that activity itself, and the motor skills learned from one task don’t transfer well to other activities. For example, learning the skill of swinging a golf club will do little to enhance your bowling game.

The purpose of Exercise is Physical. The purposes of Recreation are Mental.

The fundamental purpose for exercise is to improve the body physically. Recreation is for fun, leisure, relaxation, etc. (i.e. mental and psychological reasons).

Proper Exercise is Not Fun. Recreation is Fun.

Recreation had better be enjoyable for you – that’s the whole reason for doing it! Exercise is all about loading the muscles of your body in a demanding manner, and that is not fun when you’re doing it effectively. How much fun is that last, impossible repetition on the leg press? The results and benefits of exercise are certainly fun, but if the process of exercising is fun, chances are it’s not challenging enough for the muscles to qualify as meaningful exercise. Get started with Personal Training.

What Now?

Now that you know the difference between exercise and recreation, how does this information shape the way you exercise?

Only certain versions of strength training (including slow-motion strength training) qualify as “exercise.” And it’s not useful to consider other activities as “exercise.” That doesn’t mean other activities are “bad.” It just means they’re not useful for exercise.

Significant problems often occur when people mistakenly confuse and mix exercise with recreation. 

For example, Matt Hedman used to play a lot of basketball both because it was fun and also because he thought it was good exercise. Now, we can see that compared to proper strength training, basketball provides haphazard, inefficient, and often low intensity muscular loading.

 

Strength Training Newport Beach CA

Also, the high-force pounding the joints experienced from thousands of hours of running and jumping resulted in him starting to feel the effects of osteoarthritis in his knees at age 23. Read more about his story.

Instead of an improved body, basketball had given him the exact opposite result as far as his prematurely worn out knees were concerned.

He would’ve been better off if he’d separated exercise and recreation, stimulating change in his body from proper strength training, and only played basketball to the degree that it was fun for him.

When Matt became convinced of Ken’s ideas on the subject and quit all the non-strength training activities he’d previously considered to be “exercise,” he didn’t get stronger or weaker, and he didn’t get leaner or fatter after ceasing those activities. 

The only difference was his knees started feeling better after eliminating the pounding they were taking from the jogging and other similar things he’d been doing. 

Exercise for him now is safer and more effective, and the things he does for recreation are more fun because he does them for fun and not because he feels like he needs to do them for exercise.



Exercise to Improve Your Body

Our recommendation is to perform sensible strength training for exercise to improve your body physically, and then make great use of your fitter body to enjoy all of the other activities you like to do for recreation – whatever they may be, including swimming, basketball, running a marathon, badminton, etc.

If you mix exercise and recreation, exercise is less effective as well as more dangerous, and recreation is less enjoyable. 

Keep them separate, and you’ll be better off.



Share on email
Email
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Benefits of Ab Crunches: More Than Just A Six Pack

for more than just a six pack: get to know the ab crunch

Personal Training Carlsbad CA

The Ab Crunch is a client favorite when it comes to exercises.

Sometimes it’s because of a misconception about what it can do for belly fat.

Other times, it’s because clients know how it can help their mobility goals.

Let’s dig into what the Ab Crunch can do for you…

Muscles Used

The rectus abdominis, or “abs,” are the muscles many of us would like to display in a bathing suit. Besides the aesthetics, they’re an important muscle group for function.

The Ab Crunch machine trains the abs as well as another pair of important muscles. However, performing this exercise requires attention to detail. There’s a small difference between proper execution and lower back strain with the ab crunch. We’ll discuss all of those details later in the article.

The rectus abdominis starts at the bottom of the sternum (chest bone) and the front of the ribs. It runs down to the top of your pubic bone (part of the pelvic girdle), which is just above your genitals.

The main function of this muscle is to pull your spine into a ‘C’ shape, bringing your chest and midsection closer together.

Fitness Trainer Carlsbad CA

Of course, the abs are most known because of the “six pack.” A “six pack” has that appearance because of connective tissue.

As the abs flow from the ribs to the pelvic girdle, there are three segments of connective tissue in the middle. This where the “six pack” gets its upper, middle, and lower portions.

Also, a sheet of connective tissue (linea alba) runs vertically, splitting the abs in half and causing it to look like there are six muscles instead of three.

Secondary muscles in the ab crunch are the external and internal obliques. The obliques are located in the area that many refer to as their “love handles.” (We’re covering all of the fun stuff today.) 😉

How It Works

Regularly performing the ab crunch to the exhaustion point of “muscle success” will strengthen your abs and obliques and possibly make them more aesthetically noticeable. However, I have to warn you: Seeing your midsection muscles is largely a result of low body fat levels.

The less fat between your skin and your abdominal muscles, the easier it is to see definition in your abs.

And losing body fat is mainly a result of positive dietary changes. Wanting to see your abs may beckon a change to your diet more than the use of the ab crunch machine.

Believe it or not, the rectus abdominis does not exist only to make you look good in a bathing suit. It is also functionally significant. The abs are critical muscles for respiration and childbirth.

In addition, they are major stabilization muscles.

Every exercise or sports movement focuses on a small group of joints. For example, throwing a baseball mainly involves the elbow and shoulder joints. For this to occur with optimal efficiency and effectiveness, muscles in various parts of the body (like your abdominals!) contract to hold other parts of your body relatively still.

Personal Trainer Carlsbad CA

Performing the exercise looks like this: 

I mentioned previously that the abs work to pull your chest and midsection closer together, causing your spine to curl into a ‘C’ shape.

The proper range of motion for the ab crunch is small compared to most exercises. The exercise may include only four or five inches of movement in each direction. It’s common to exceed this amount, and that’s where some problems occur.

To avoid overextension problems that can lead to discomfort or targeting the wrong areas, follow these simple steps:

  1. In the ab crunch, as you “curl” downward, your lower back should press into the lower pad. (Your upper back should also stay firmly pressed into the upper pad.)
  2. If your lower back is about to peel off the pad, this is a cue that you’re at the end of the range of motion and need to reverse direction and begin returning to the starting position.
  3. When the lower back is removed from the pad, the midsection and thighs are now moving closer together. This motion is a hip-based movement called “hip flexion.”
  4. Hip flexion uses other muscle groups, and these muscle groups exert some force on the lower back. Examples of exercises that use hip flexion are sit-ups and leg lifts. While the abs assist in these exercises, the hip flexors are the dominant muscles.

In summary, “curl” down on the ab crunch machine no further than the point where you feel your lower back will start leaving the back pad.

Using the ab crunch will strengthen your abs and obliques, muscles that not only help you look good on the beach (with proper nutrition) but also with critical life functions.

Strength Trainer Carlsbad CA

Maximize Your Ab Crunch in 2 Minutes or Less

In order to get the most out of your 1-2 minutes on the Ab Crunch, your coach will guide you through these four things:

  1. Full Range of Motion (and no further!): Full range of motion helps avoid shortcutting the targeted muscles. Think “ribs to hips” and “belly button to spine” to squeeze your abdominal muscles properly.
  2. Relax Your Feet and Hands: Avoid letting your hands or feet take over carrying the weight to “muscle through” the movement. You want the primary contraction to live in your abdominals. The goal isn’t to get as far as you can. It’s to let the targeted muscles reach muscle success.
  3. Neck Relaxed: Try to keep the neck as static and relaxed as you can to keep the tension in your abdominal muscles and not in your neck.
  4. Muscle Success: How could we leave this out?! Achieve muscle success and thoroughly fatigue your abdominal muscles to help build your strength.

Strengthen your abdominal muscles and work toward visible abs with a 20-minute workout.

How to Build Strong, Defined Thighs

how to build strong, defined thighs

Personal Trainer Mill Valley CA

Want firmer thighs and a lifted booty? The Leg Curl is an exercise you don’t want to skip. If you’ve been training with us, you know our 20-minute workouts target the entire body including one of the biggest muscles- the hamstrings. If having a strong, firm thighs and a lifted backside is something you’re striving for… keep reading.

The Muscles Used

The hamstrings are large muscles that make up the back of your thighs and are the primary movers worked in the Leg Curl. In addition to the hamstrings, this power exercise also targets the calves. These main muscles targeted by the Leg Curl are largely responsible for the appearance of your thighs and lower legs and train the muscles that are responsible for running speed. To learn how to target the hamstrings along with your buttocks, read our article on the Leg Press.

How it Works

The hamstrings contract to provide knee flexion, which is the technical name for the movement performed during the Leg Curl.

Each hamstring is a group of four muscles that start on your pelvis (around the bottom of your buttocks), cover the backs of your thighs and attach to the lower leg, just below your knee.

The hamstrings have two major functions: to flex your knee, and pull your thigh backward (hip extension). Performing the exercise looks like this:

  1. The Leg Curl (seated in particular) begins with you seated and legs stretched out in front of you in between two pads.
  2. Your feet are flexed with toes pointing straight up to engage the muscles in the back of the leg and upper body is upright and relaxed.
  3. As you begin to move the weight, you’re trying to pull your heels close to your buttocks, keeping your toes pointed up throughout the entire range of motion.
  4. Once you have reached your full range of motion- you’ve brought your heels back as far as they can go, you want to squeeze your hamstrings in the contracted position for approximately 3 seconds and slowly resist the weight back to the beginning position.

Like all exercises, you avoid resting in between repetitions and slowly push yourself to reach Muscle Success.

Why Do It?

Building the muscle fibers in the hamstrings can provide a firm appearance to the backs of the thighs, and can also create an ovular shape. This can be seen if you look at the back of someone’s thighs from a side view.

The Leg Curl is a very efficient exercise, in that the calves (gastrocnemius) assist the hamstrings in flexing the knees. Many women wear high-heeled shoes because the elevated heels force the calves to contract, making the leg look more defined and shapely. Using the Leg Curl can create that same muscularity in the lower legs without needing the shoes.

Hamstrings in Day-to-Day Function

The hamstrings are a major muscle group responsible for pulling the leg down after the knee rises.

The foot drives into the ground and propels you forward. The acceleration comes from the leg and foot being pulled down as fast as possible. The faster the foot can move downward, the greater the acceleration.

For any athlete who sprints, such as those playing baseball, softball, and football, the Leg Curl trains a muscle that is critical to maximizing acceleration. You don’t need to be an athlete or play competitive sports to benefit from this exercise. Performing the Leg Curl regularly will help to improve leg strength and overall mobility for anyone.

Maximizing Your Leg Curl in 2 Minutes or Less

In order to get the most out of your 1-2 minutes on the Leg Curl, your coach will help you achieve these three things:

  1. Full Range of Motion: A full range of motion helps to give a thorough workout to the targeted muscles. Think “heels to butt” and give those hammies a big squeeze as you strive for each repetition.
  2. Flex Your Feet: A fuller range of motion can be accomplished when the ankles are dorsi flexed, meaning the tops of your feet are pulled towards your shins. If your toes are pointed down as you flex your knees, your calves will be multitasking with two responsibilities, and they will do poorly in each. Keep your toes up to make sure your calves can do their best in flexing your knees.
  3. Muscle Success: You knew it was coming! Achieving muscle success by fully fatiguing the hamstrings will help you build the strength you’re looking for.


Whether you desire firm, rounded thighs or to run faster during your favorite sport, the Leg Curl is a quick & efficient way to achieving strong and sexy stems. Strengthen your legs and define your entire body with a 20-minute workout.

Exercise for Seniors: A Workout you can do!

finally, a workout you can do for the rest of your life

Male personal trainer with female member working in studio

Strength is the underlying factor in independence.

It’s a well-known fact that strength, along with muscle, decreases with age.

As our strength drops below the level required to perform daily activities, we cross the threshold of independent to dependent.

One way to avoid dependency in old age is to strength train.

When it comes to strength training with the elderly, though, some people may have some concerns. In this article we will dive into how older adults can benefit from slow-motion strength training and why it's a workout you can do for a lifetime.

how old is too old for strength training?

Researchers in Denmark set out to answer this question with a study that split 23 men and women, between 85 and 97 years old, into either a strength training or control group for 12 weeks. The participants were mainly living in nursing homes or at their own homes, although just about all of them were dependent.

The strength training routine was performed using heavy weights on the leg extension only, which trains the quadriceps. Training sessions occurred three times per week, and the load used was adjusted every two weeks to stay at 80% of the latest one-rep max.

In addition to the one-rep max test, the training men and women performed pre- and post-study tests for isometric strength at four different knee angles. Muscle biopsies were also used to see the change in muscle fiber size.

The results were as follows:

  • Isometric knee strength increased at all four positions, with an average increase of 37%.
  • Overall muscle size increased 9.8%.
  • Type 2 muscle fibers increased 22%.
  • Also, no injuries were reported during the training.
  • The control group (who didn’t perform any strength training) experienced no changes in strength or muscle size.
arx adaptive resistance exercise

the importance of type 2 muscle fibers

Type 2 fibers produce the greatest amount of strength and power. For athletes, type 2 fibers are the ones responsible for producing efforts such as sprinting, swinging a golf club, throwing a ball, and jumping.

In people who struggle with daily activities, these fibers provide the power necessary for getting out of a chair, holding a bag of groceries, or even holding an arm up to blow dry or comb hair.

Research has consistently shown that aging causes type 2 fibers to deteriorate quicker and to a greater extent than type 1 fibers (which perform basic high endurance, low strength tasks like standing, walking, etc.).

Increasing type 2 fiber size is of greater need for seniors.

As a result of strength training for 12 weeks, men and women with an average age of 89 years gained significant strength and increased muscle tissue while no injuries were noted.

How old is too old? Here’s a quote from the researchers:

“We believe that it is never too late to improve muscle function and increase muscle mass and therefore recommend that greater focus should be placed on heavy resistance exercise training in the future rehabilitation and preventative treatment of the elderly population.”

arx fitness locations Menlo Park

reverse the effects of aging

Two studies, performed by separate groups of researchers in Spain, provide hope that even some of the oldest adults can reverse some of the effects of aging to improve their independence and functional abilities.

The participants in these studies performed two to three months of strength training and benefited by gaining strength, muscle mass, balance, and became more capable of performing basic living activities… and just about all of these individuals were in their 90’s and lived in nursing homes.

“Sarcopenia” is the term for muscle atrophy (losing or shrinking muscle size) and strength as we age. The average strength loss is about 15% by our 65th birthday.

arx fitness locations Menlo Park ARX

In 2014, 13 men and women, with an average age of 93 years, completed about three months of twice-weekly strength training along with balance and gait training.

At the conclusion, these individuals were quicker to rise from a chair, were able to stand from sitting more frequently within a small period of time, demonstrated better balance, and became stronger and more muscular.

Strength gains were noticed in the upper and lower body, including muscles that move the knee and hip joints.

Another study, published in 2011, featured eight weeks of only strength training for men and women between 90 and 97 years old. In this study, the participants trained three times per week. Lower body strength increased about 17%, or an increase of 23 lbs. in the maximum amount they could leg press.

When looking at these results, it’s clear to see that we have a choice in how we age. Our actions play a role in how much muscle mass and strength we have as well as how functionally-able we are in our older years. Strength training provides us with an opportunity to control those factors for the better, even in our 90’s! I think the researchers in the 2011 study summarized the point well in their final statement:

“These findings support that regular physical training, with a special focus of resistance exercise, is feasible and useful over the entire lifespan.”

Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age, 36(2), 773-785.

Serra-Rexach, J. A., Bustamante-Ara, N., Hierro Villarán, M., González Gil, P., Sanz Ibáñez, M. J., Blanco Sanz, N., … & Lucia, A. (2011). Short-term, light-to moderate-intensity exercise training improves leg muscle strength in the oldest old: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,59(4), 594-602.

Kryger, A. I., & Andersen, J. L. (2007). Resistance training in the oldest old: consequences for muscle strength,fiber types, fiber size, and MHC isoforms. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 17(4), 422-430.

Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know What is High-Intensity Training? High-Intensity Training is doing one set of

Read More »

Bye Bye Flab! One-Stop-Shop for Sculpted Back & Arms

Bye Bye Flab! One-Stop-Shop For Sculpted Back & Arms

Bye Bye Flab! One-Stop-Shop For Sculpted Back & Arms

Want a better upper body?

One brief exercise could be your ticket to more defined arms, sculpted shoulders, and a leaner looking waist.

If you read our leg press article from a few weeks ago, you’ll recall that the leg press is the one-stop shop for just about all lower body muscles.

When it comes to the upper body, the Lat Pulldown is the one-stop shop.

Fitness Trainer Carlsbad CA

The Muscles Used

In one set of the lat pulldown (LPD) – roughly 1 to 2 minutes – you can train pretty much all of the major muscles in the upper body.

These muscles are the prime movers in the lat pulldown.

  • Latissimus Dorsi (the “lats” or wings of the back)
  • Trapezius (“traps” or upper back)


In addition, there are other major muscles involved:

  • Pectoralis Major (chest)
  • Posterior Deltoids (shoulders)
  • Biceps brachii (front of upper arm)
Strength Trainer Carlsbad CA

How it Works

With the LPD, you start seated in the machine with your arms raised in front of you, holding onto the handles. As you pull the handles down toward the ground, your shoulder blades are also pulled down, and the lower traps perform that action. As your upper arms come down, your elbows flex (or bend), bringing your wrists closer to your shoulders.

This is where your biceps come into play. Your forearms are heavily utilized in the LPD as well. The forearms have the most fundamental role in the pulldown: maintaining grip of the handles. And finally, your abdominal muscles are used significantly to stabilize your torso during the exercise.

how LPD blasts flab & sculps

You might be wondering how does this exercise eliminate a flabby upper body and leave me looking sculpted?

Training the lats improves the shape of your back. As lean muscle tissue is added to the lats, it gives a ‘V’ shape to your back. If you feel you have “love handles,” gaining muscle in your lats might help them become less noticeable.

The pulldown also helps improve aesthetics with your arms. As mentioned, your biceps and shoulders are key players in this exercise, and this exercise will help make your upper arm muscles more defined.

Fitness Training Carlsbad CA

do the LPD, But do it right

To get the most out of the LPD, work with one of our Trainers to get proper coaching and guidance at any of The Perfect Workout studios.

In the meantime, here are some helpful tips:

When performing the pulldown, don’t think of the main goal as pulling your hands or the handles down. Focus mainly on pulling your elbows to your sides. The lats are the main muscle group used, and focusing on your elbows and upper arms can assist you in becoming more aware of the lats as you train.
As you transition from the positive (pulling down) to the negative (slowing letting your arms up), your shoulders will subconsciously rise (or shrug). Pull them down, or “unshrug,” This action will force your back muscles to work harder.
Fatiguing your muscles to “muscle success” is where you'll receive the most value with the LPD.

In just one short set performed one or two times per week, you are training the major muscles of the upper body while improving the shape, tone and strength of your back and arms.

Stay Upright to Stay Alive. STRENGTH TRAIN

Stay upright to stay alive. Strength train

Fitness Training Mill Valley CA

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from one (CDC).

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

To avoid battling the trauma of a fall, strength training is the solution. Here’s how…

Older adults who strength train, even for as little as two months, are less likely to fall.

This is likely due to the importance of strength itself, which is a large underlying factor in

Balance.

The Center for Disease Control states that one in every three adults at least 65 years old fall every year. About 20-30% of these falls lead to injuries of some kind. When considering these statistics, it’s no surprise that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults.

Part of the reason why falls are so dangerous for older adults but less so for middle-aged adults or children is due to bone density.

Osteoporosis, a disease of low bone mass, is most common in older adults, especially post-menopausal women. Men and women generally start losing bone density in their mid-thirties but this trend doesn’t become significant until around 55 years old.

Strength Trainer Mill Valley CA

As bone mass decreases, bones become hollower and break easier, even with a soft fall from a standing position. Effective strength training can slow bone density loss, and even reverse the process and increase bone density in many people. Strength training can prevent falls from occurring too.

Two studies focused on adults between 85 to 97 years old strength training and measured rate of falls before and during training. One study, published in 2014, noticed an increase in balance and a lower rate of falling during 12 weeks of strength training when compared to the months prior to training.

In a 2011 study, older adults who strength trained experienced an average of one less fall during the eight-week training period when compared to a control group that only performed stretching. A 2013 research review of 107 fall prevention studies showed that strength training led to lower fall rates 70% of the time.

The participants in both groups experienced another benefit which may explain why balance and fall rates improved: they gained strength in muscles that control their knee and hip joints. Strength dictates the ease of the body to move, especially when overcoming obstacles such as walking on unstable surfaces or over objects.

Fitness Trainer Mill Valley CA

The worst kind of Fall

There’s a condition which is responsible for taking the lives of about one of every four people who suffer from it within one year of developing it. It is something that we’ll all face the risk of, and it affects both men and women as we age. It’s not heart disease. It’s not diabetes. It’s a hip fracture. 

About 1.6 million hip fractures occur yearly, a significant increase from the early 1990s. Hip fractures largely happen as the result of falls along with osteoporosis. In other words, hip fractures are merely the awful consequence of two ongoing issues: poor balance and weak, hollow bones. Balance is largely an issue of weakness.

A collection of 30 studies found that adults, 65 and older, were at a much greater risk of falling when having very little strength. The individuals with the weakest lower body muscles were 76% more likely to suffer a fall. For all individuals who did suffer a fall, the ones with the weakest legs were three times more likely to fall again!

Strength Training Falls Church

Does strength training reduce all risks?

You might be wondering, does strength training address ALL areas that contribute to fractured hips? Does resistance exercise improve bone strength, balance, muscle strength, and reduce fall risk? Researchers from the Netherlands and Belgium assessed 28 studies using strength training or various types of activity to see what practices are effective for reducing falls and fall risk factors. Twenty of those studies focused on strength training. Here are the key results:

  • People who strength trained gained strength in every study that measured strength.
  • Those who strength trained improved bone density in the lumbar spine, hip, and thigh in most cases.
  • Strength exercise also led to improvements in walking speed, static balance, and balance while moving.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, fall risk decreased. Two of three studies showed large reductions in the rate of falling when comparing strength training towards other programs.

Hip fractures are a common and life-threatening concern. They happen as a result of several issues: weak bones, poor balance/a high risk of falling, and weak muscles. Strength training reduces the overall rate of falling and bone fractures because it increases the ability to balance, increases muscle strength, and makes the bones stronger and more resistant. Stay upright. Stay alive. Strength train today.

  1. Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age, 36(2), 773-785.
  2. El-Khoury, F., Cassou, B., Charles, M. A., & Dargent-Molina, P. (2013). The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Bmj, 347, f6234.
  3. Serra‐Rexach, J. A., Bustamante‐Ara, N., Hierro Villarán, M., González Gil, P., Sanz Ibáñez, M. J., Blanco Sanz, N., … & Lucia, A. (2011). Short‐term, light‐to moderate‐intensity exercise training improves leg muscle strength in the oldest old: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,59(4), 594-602.
  4. International Osteoporosis Foundation. (2017). Facts and statistics. IOF. Retrieved from https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics
  5. Moreland, J.D., Richardson, J.A., Goldsmith, C.H., & Clase, C.M. (2004). Muscle weakness and falls in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 52(7), 1121-1129.
  6. De Kam, D., Smulders, E., Weerdesteyn, V., & Smits-Engelsman, B.C. (2009). Exercise interventions to reduce fall-related fractures and their risk factors in individuals with low bone density: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporosis International, 20, 2111-2125.
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know What is High-Intensity Training? High-Intensity Training is doing one set of

Read More »

The 2-Minute Leg Exercise that Reshapes Your Body

The 2-Minute Leg Exercise That Reshaped Your Body

Personal Trainer Carlsbad CA

If you could spend two minutes doing something that had the power to drastically reshape your body, would you do it?

We’re talking about the Leg Press. But not just any ol’ Leg Press….

Slow-motion strength training leg press.

how it works

The Leg Press Machine is an incredible piece of equipment because it allows you to fully target the biggest muscle groups in the body, the legs and glutes.

Like all slow-motion strength training exercises, you only need to perform it for about 1-2 minutes, assuming you are working with an ideal amount of resistance needed to achieve muscle success within that time frame.

There are more exercises involved in a full workout, but the leg press is the best investment of your workout time.

Why?

Because the leg press addresses all major muscles in the entire leg in one brief exercise.

These muscles are the prime movers in the leg press.

  • Gluteus (the buttocks)
  • Quadriceps (front of thigh)
  • Hamstrings (back of thigh)


In addition, there are major lower leg muscles involved,

  • the gastrocnemius (calves)
  • tibialis anterior (front)
Fitness Trainer Carlsbad CA

Before you start the exercise, your Trainer will assess your form checkpoints and the weight you’re pushing to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Upon beginning, you’ll slowly push through your heels, keeping your buttocks down in the seat, pushing each repetition to the point just shy of locking out your knees…check, check, and check.

The exercise progresses and fatigue starts creeping in. This is a good thing!

Your thighs and buttocks are working hard to get the weight to move slowly on the lowering phase of the repetition. You’re putting in at least 90% of your maximum effort to produce movement on the lifting phase of the last one or two reps.

Then it happens – movement stops. Even though you’re pushing as hard and as fast as you can, your current repetition ceases to move. Muscle Success. You ease the footplate back until the weight returns to its home on the weight stack, and your leg press set is over. You’re out of breath and your legs are momentarily a little unstable to stand on.

Exercise complete.

Strength Trainer Carlsbad CA

well, if it's that easy...

Woah, woah woah.

The exercise is simple, but we never said it was easy.

In fact, any slow-motion strength training exercise is very challenging and should be if we want it to be effective.

One of the hardest hurdles to overcome with SMST, especially the Leg Press is “the burn.”

This is what’s called lactic acid buildup- a totally normal sensation during weight training.

It’s Worth the Burn.

When training to muscle success, the leg press maximizes the amount of muscle fibers that can be used in the exercise. Other leg exercises in your workout simply serve to complement the leg press by putting extra emphasis on individual muscles.

It’s the leg press’ efficiency that leads to the need for so few lower body exercises. Many people who workout in other “regular” gyms commonly spend 45 minutes to an hour on “leg day,” but the leg portion of a workout at The Perfect Workout often takes less than 10 minutes, largely due to the efficiency and effectiveness of a challenging set on the leg press.

Strength Training Carlsbad CA

who doesn't want a better backside?

As far as aesthetics go, the leg press gives shape to two of the most aesthetically driven areas: the thighs and butt. The quadriceps are the main thigh muscles used in the leg press. When you add lean muscle to your thighs, the quads give your thighs an ovular shape.

The largest buttocks muscle is the gluteus maximus, which is used significantly in the leg press. It covers most of the distance between the bottom of your butt and the lowest point in your lumbar spine. When adding lean muscle to your gluteus maximus, it gives enhanced shape and an improved profile view.

Personal Training Carlsbad CA

it's improving the inside too

As far as bone density, the major sites of concern for osteoporosis are the hips and lumbar spine. These are the common sites of fractures in seniors.

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at bone density changes in women between 65 and 75 years old following a year of strength training.

During the study, the trend of bone loss that comes with age not only stopped, but also reversed.

The leg press was the only major lower body exercise performed. In addition, it was credited with helping the lower back, as no direct exercise was performed for the lower back muscles. By improving bone density, the leg press reduces the risk of fractures in high-risk populations.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the benefits associated with the leg press. For example, regular leg press performance has improved athletic measures, quality of life, and decreased arthritis pain in other studies.

The leg press provides as much or more bang-for-the-buck as any one exercise does.

If you take anything from this article, let it be this: embrace the leg press. Work until muscle success every time you get on the machine, and think of the intense effort it requires as a medium to get a plethora of desired benefits.

  • Rhodes, E. C., Martin, A. D., Taunton, J. E., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., & Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British journal of sports medicine, 34(1), 18-22.

Training: At-Risk of Heart Disease & Diabetes

Strenght Training for those at-risk of heart disease & diabetes

strength training for those at high risk

Over 18 million US. adults have Heart Disease,

34.2 million have diabetes.

There are countless medications out there to treat them both.

We're prescribing a “medication” for those who are at risk of developing either one.. and it may not be what you think.

“Metabolic syndrome” is a phrase health professionals and researchers use to classify people who are at risk for developing heart disease or diabetes. While it’s not something that requires medication to treat, it’s a status that needs attention. A person with metabolic syndrome has unhealthy levels in most of the following: lipids (cholesterol) and triglycerides (fats) in the bloodstream, blood glucose, blood pressure, and waist size.

There is a “medication” that can improve all metabolic syndrome measures (and I think you know where I’m going with this): strength training…and specifically using The Perfect Workout formula!

slow speed, ideal intensity, muscle use

Researchers from Seoul, South Korea, tested this in a study published in 2016. Adults with metabolic syndrome participated in time-efficient strength training sessions twice per week. The workouts required 30 minutes or less. (Does this sound familiar?)

Before and after, the researchers measured all factors related to metabolic syndrome in these people labeled as high risk. Here’s what happened:

  • Triglycerides decreased by 25%.
  • HDLs, or good cholesterol, increased by 5%.
  • Waist size and systolic blood pressure both decreased by 4%.
  • Blood sugar, which was at a healthy level to start with, dropped by 3%.
  • Grip strength and muscle mass were both enhanced, with muscle mass increasing by about 10%.

Furthermore, the training was safe. 94% of the original participants completed the entire program, and no injuries were noted.

While not all of the changes were large, changes in all of those important health measures accumulate to a meaningful change in health risk. Reductions in triglycerides, waist, blood pressure, and blood glucose, with an increase in HDLs, are likely to significantly reduce the overall risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Also, the training led to desirable side effects: more strength and muscle!

male client with female trainer doing a leg press on a machine

If you or your loved ones have seen elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, or waist measurements in recent years, these could be signs of being on a path towards disease diagnosis. The research results show a clear option to reverse course: strength train twice per week for less than 30 minutes per workout.

Yoon, D.H., Song, H.S., Hwang, S.S., Son, J.S., Kim, D.Y., & Song, W. (2016). The effect of circuit training and workplace improvement program on the prevention of metabolic syndrome and the improvement of physical function in office workers. Korean Journal of Health Promotion, 16(2), 134-143.

Diabetes Research Institute Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know High-Intensity Training: Everything You Need to Know What is High-Intensity Training? High-Intensity Training is doing one set of

Read More »