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Dr. Sol Finkelstein has lost 44 pounds since last August! The other doctors call him “Skinny”!

dr-lost-40-lbs-training-beforeafterDr. Finkelstein (shown far left in August 2013, and on the right in March 2014) has lost six inches off his waist, dropped 44 pounds and put on muscle. He explains, “I have biceps that I never used to, stronger abs, and I leg press over 500 pounds.”

When you practice family medicine at a large medical center in San Diego, you don’t have much time to exercise. A couple years ago Sol Finkelstein wasn’t feeling very healthy. His back hurt, he wasn’t working out, and he realized that he was more overweight than he wanted.

“I was always aerobically active,” says Sol. “I was in a running club during college and medical school, but didn’t incorporate weight training. I flirted with it, but got bored really easily.”

At one point back in the mid-80’s his weight went from 175 all the way to 250, then he lost it and kept it off. Beginning in the early 90’s until a few years ago, it slowly increased each year until he was getting close to his peak weight again.

His accountant had told him about slow-motion strength training, and when Sol saw the ad for The Perfect Workout, he decided to finally do something about it. “It was a combination of things. I liked that it was short, just 20 minutes, and intense. My time is so valuable. I thought I’d give it a try.”

Sol says he felt somewhat better right away. “Even though I was still overweight, I could get up the stairs easier. After two to three months, I started getting stronger. I have biceps that I never used to, stronger abs, and I leg press over 500 pounds.” In spite of the strength gains, however, he hadn’t changed his eating habits, so he wasn’t losing weight. On August 17, 2013, he got serious about that, too. He started walking for an hour at lunch time, and he started keeping very close track of what he ate, without giving up the things he loves. “I never want to go on a diet where I can’t have my two glasses of wine,” he says.

Monitoring his caloric intake, walking daily, and slow-motion strength training produced tremendous results. Since last August Sol has dropped from a 42 to just under a 36-inch waist, and lost 44 pounds, down to a lean 187. His back used to hurt all the time and now it doesn’t at all. He credits his trainers, Keith at Rancho Bernardo, and Justin at Mission Valley, with getting him to this point.

“You couldn’t do it all by yourself,” he says. “You’d get bored, quit, or wouldn’t show up. It’s like walking on a treadmill. After 20 minutes you’re bored. On my own, I’d stop too early. Having a trainer keeps me going. They seem to care, and they really get excited when you do well. The one-on-one aspect is great.” Sol also likes the safety of slow-motion strength training. “As a doctor, I see people overdo it and get hurt. You’re not going to hurt yourself with this.”

After seeing Sol’s great results, his wife joined him at the Mission Valley studio, and she’s gotten stronger and lost weight, too. They noticed it recently on a trip to San Francisco. “My seven-year old granddaughter wanted to race me, so we ran up the stairs. The other grandparents walked up slowly, out of breath.”

Now that Sol is back in shape like his younger days, the other doctors have started calling him “Skinny”! He’s not all the way there yet. He’d like to get down to 180 in the next couple months, just in time for his 64th birthday in July and his retirement on July 31. Sol and his wife both plan to continue at The Perfect Workout. “It’s a quick 20 minutes. It’s not a burden on our schedules. I wouldn’t spend the money if I didn’t think it was worthwhile.”

Differences Between Women and Men

For a long time, many people viewed strength training as an activity performed by men for purely aesthetic reasons. Thankfully, strength training is now well-known for providing health benefits and is also popular with women. In addition to aesthetic improvements, strength training is often performed by women to maintain physical function and bone density with age, build strength and endurance, prevent heart disease, and improve athletic performance. Many men strength train to achieve the same goals. Obviously men and women have many varying physical characteristics and their results from strength training can vary as well. In this article, we’ll look at some of the inherent differences and how this can influence how to look at strength training.

The average adult man is stronger than the average adult woman, although it’s an unfair comparison – the average man is 10% taller and weighs about 24 lbs. more [1]. Size and weight correlate with strength, meaning that larger people generally carry more muscle tissue than smaller people. This is true in the case of men versus women. The average man has about 40 to 48 lbs. additional fat-free mass (muscle, bones, water, etc.) than the average woman [2].

One factor connected to adding muscle tissue is testosterone production. On average, women have half to two-thirds the amount of testosterone that men have. Testosterone does increase as a result of strength training (which helps in the process of of adding lean muscle tissue), and men and women have similar gains in testosterone when factoring in their sizes.

As far as overall strength, women are generally about two-thirds as strong as men. With regard to specific strength differences, women’s lower bodies are proportionally stronger than their upper bodies. Lower body strength in women is about 75% of that found in most men, and the upper body strength ranges in women are 43% to 63% less than men on average. However, when adjusting for the differences in fat-free mass between men and women, overall strength is approximately equal between the two genders. In other words, saying men are stronger than women is similar to saying three-story houses have more rooms than two-story houses.

Finally, the ratio of muscle fiber types is typically equal in men and women. Muscle fibers can be categorized as either fast-twitch or slow-twitch. Fast-twitch fibers produce the most strength, are larger, and fatigue quickly. Slow-twitch fibers have great endurance but provide less strength and size. These fibers vary in their amounts from person to person, dictating what sports they are naturally built for (i.e. great distance runners naturally have a higher-than-average amount of slow-twitch fibers). The average ratio of slow to fast-twitch fibers does not differ between men and women, meaning one sex is not generally built to have more strength or muscle than the other (after accounting for body size).

There are some important inferences from these similarities and differences between men and women. For starters, the vast majority of women should not worry about “bulking up” as a result of strength training. Both men and women typically have amounts of lean muscle tissue that are relative to their overall size. A 5’5” woman growing the same amount of muscle from strength training as a 6’1” man would be an anomaly.

Second, on average women are proportionally on par or are stronger than men when it comes to lower body strength. However, average upper body strength is lower. So, it’s a good idea for many women to make upper body strength exercises an important focus of their exercise program. Keep in mind that muscle function wanes with age, so upper body strength will only get worse if strength training isn’t regularly performed.

Overall, our strength is connected to our muscle size. Men and women contain about the same amount of strength on a pound for pound basis, but men are simply larger (on average). This means you shouldn’t see your own sex as an advantage or hindrance to training. Train consistently with every set fatiguing to the point of “muscle success,” and you’ll see benefit relative to your own body.

By Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout


References

1. Holloway, J. B., & Baechle, T. R. (1990). Strength training for female athletes. Sports Medicine, 9(4), 216-228.

2. National Strength and Conditioning Association (1989). Position paper on strength training for female athletes. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, 11(4), 43–55; 11(5): 29–36.

Abby is Keeping Strong!

Abby Eller was in good shape when her husband, a “health nut,” told her about The Perfect Workout. At age 63, she wanted to get in even better shape. “I was guardedly optimistic,” she says. “I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.” She belonged to other gyms in the past, but didn’t like working out on her own, and didn’t like the obnoxious TV’s everywhere. The idea of working with a personal trainer piqued her curiosity, and she hoped it would yield better results and be safer. In February of 2013, Abby began slow-motion strength training. She doesn’t sugar coat the experience. “The workouts were challenging!”

The big reason slow-motion strength training is so much more effective than traditional weight lifting is because of the “muscle success” effect. That’s the point at which your muscles become so fatigued that completing another repetition isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible. You’re pushing or pulling as hard as you can, and the weight refuses to budge even a fraction of an inch. At this point it’s important to continue pushing or pulling for several more seconds to achieve deep muscle fatigue in the targeted muscles. Most clients say they couldn’t possibly get to this point working out on their own, and Abby agrees. “Having a personal trainer challenges me up to my limit. At the same time it prevents injury.” It’s safe and controlled because you’re using an appropriate amount of weight with an expert at your side who carefully watches your form.

The payoff? Over several months, Abby felt more energetic, and she had an improved sense of mental and physical energy. “That’s the main reason I continue to go,” she says. “My muscles have gotten stronger, and my abs especially needed conditioning.” Here are Abby’s top three tips for maximizing slow-motion strength training:

  • “You have to take this seriously and stick with the regular workouts. No skipping, no canceling.” Even though it’s only two 20-minute workouts per week, it still takes discipline. Abby has only missed two sessions in the past year.
  • “No holding back. You must concentrate. You must make a full effort. Get used to being uncomfortable.” The mental concentration required by the workout isn’t easy, which is why working one-on-one with a personal trainer can help you push through it when it gets challenging.
  • “Keep in mind the marvelous vitality you’ll get from this. Not right away, but at about six months you will see a benefit.” It’s not a quick, overnight fix, but results will come.

Stick to the workouts, make a full effort when you’re there, and have a long-term vision for what you want to achieve. Do these things, and no matter what your age or level of fitness, you’ll get in even better shape. As Abby says, “Use it or lose it.”