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At 91, Esther is proof that it’s never too late to start exercising. “I’ve been transformed.”

esther-perfect-workoutSince joining The Perfect Workout 10 months ago, Esther is now stronger all over, down a dress size, and feeling younger and more attractive than she has in years.

“Compared to other women my age (and there aren’t a lot of them), I’m prancing around,” says Esther Gendel. In January she went on a strenuous safari. She zips around to the theater and other cultural activities. She still works, buying houses and getting them fixed up for her grandkids. “It keeps me active. I hang around with people in their late 60s, and I’m equal to them.” No rocking chairs, canes, or lazing around for this soon-to-be 92-year old. Not at all. Esther’s prescription for youthful exuberance carries no ill side effects: slow-motion strength training. Since joining The Perfect Workout 10 months ago, Esther is now stronger all over, down a dress size, and feeling younger and more attractive than she has in years. “At first, my arms were sticks,” she says. I couldn’t even push for one rep. Now I can do seven or eight. I’m amazed at myself.”

Working out at her age is remarkable, especially considering the fact that she went through a difficult time a few years ago. Her husband got Alzheimer’s and later passed away. Then she found out her knees had deteriorated, and her doctor told her she needed artificial ones. She said, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life? If I’m going to keep living, I don’t want to be a sickly person.”

When her husband was alive, he and Esther had a trainer, but she hated every minute of it. “I despised working out because it was too much time.” The Perfect Workout is not only quicker and more effective, it’s a lot more enjoyable. She attributes that to her trainer at the West Los Angeles studio. “I like to have fun, and Raymond doesn’t stick to a serious regimen. We sing through all the exercises, and I jog from machine to machine. He’s in tune with me. While he’s counting, I’m singing. I joke with him that my tombstone is going to say, ‘One, two, three…!’ It’s social for me as well as physical.”

After a few months of working out with Raymond, Esther’s friends asked her what she was doing. She was noticeably stronger, more toned, and could climb out of the car without assistance. Recently she got into a bathing suit and realized that she had a nice figure again. Good Russian genes may be part of it (her parents lived to be 90), and not missing any of her sessions all year helped, too.

A retired teacher with a Masters Degree in Earth Science, Esther has traveled the world over, and has no plans to slow down in the near future. When she’s not gallivanting around, she enjoys spending time with her nine grandkids and two great-grandkids, all in California. They say she does more than they do, and tell her she’s the funniest person they know. It’s a great combination – a regular physical routine along with a vibrant approach to squeezing the most out of life. Here’s to continued transformation, Esther, and many more years ahead.

Posted in The Perfect Workout

The Ab Crunch: Looks, Form, and Function

The rectus abdominis, or “abs,” are the muscles many of us would like people to see when in a bathing suit. And besides the aesthetics aspect, they are also 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 is a small difference between proper execution and lower back strain with the ab crunch. In this article, we’ll discuss all of those details.

The rectus abdominis starts at the bottom of the sternum (chest bone) and the front of the ribs in that area. 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.

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, causing the appearance of six muscles as opposed to 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.)

Performing the ab crunch regularly to the muscle exhaustion point of “muscle success” will help your abs and obliques become stronger and 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. Your desire to see your abs may beckon a change to your diet even 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 child birth. In addition, they are major stabilization muscles. In regards to stabilization, 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 contract to hold other parts of your body relatively still. Your abs are one of the most common and important stabilization muscles.

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.

In the ab crunch, as you “curl” downward, your lower back should press into the lower pad. (Your upper back should stay firmly pressed into the upper pad also.) 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.

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.” 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 make you look good on the beach but also help with critical life functions.

By Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Laura’s gone from a size 16 to an 8 and dropped 40 pounds!

laura-dropped-weightIn 3 months Laura Retana Shelp lost 23.4 pounds and 10½ inches off her waist with improved nutrition and two 20-minute training sessions a week at The Perfect Workout.

Laura Retana Shelp is a Registered Nurse, so when she first read the ad for The Perfect Workout, she was intrigued. She did some research online, read everything she could about it, and found that there was a lot of science backing up the concept of slow-motion strength training. Still, it took her a year and a half to make an appointment to check it out. When she finally went in to the Southwest San Jose studio, she was immediately hooked. “I loved it! It was incredible. I signed up that day, and for the next three months, I felt like a drunken sailor. My muscles were quivering every time I left.” She means that in a good way, of course, as The Perfect Workout reactivated her long-dormant muscles. But while it grew her muscles like nothing else ever had, Laura admits, “I wasn’t doing my part of it. You won’t lose weight unless you also change your diet.”

Ten years ago, Laura was a committed runner, putting in six miles a day. She also belonged to other clubs and purchased a StairMaster and treadmill for at home. Since then, life had gotten in the way of staying in good shape. She gained weight and started yo-yo dieting, never able to keep the pounds off. At her heaviest, she was horrified when the scale showed 171 pounds. For her 5’ 5” frame, that wasn’t good. “I had to go on a diet, but not call it a diet. I thought of it as a ‘lifestyle change.’ I needed to do something different,” she says. Laura and her husband both changed their eating habits. They got rid of processed foods like cookies and cake, and her husband’s favorite, bread and tortillas. They also started eating more fruits and vegetables and kept it simple, something they could live with. The first couple weeks they helped each other through it, and her husband actually lost weight faster.

The Transformation Challenge came along at the right time last February. Laura was committed to her lifestyle changes, and the slow-motion strength training had started kicking in, but she had a long way to go. She still had shortness of breath, couldn’t fit into her swimsuit, and had a hard time even reaching over to tie her shoes. During the Challenge, Laura continued eating well, and she and her trainer, Maria, went to work. “I had a trainer before who pushed me, but not like Maria does more helpful hints. She listens to me and knows me so well, and I give her everything I have. She makes each workout different, and always makes me go a little further. It’s a great connection, and I’m eager to come in and work out!”

After three months, the results were in. Laura’s consistency, hard work at every session, and lifestyle and diet change helped her lose another 25 pounds, gain all-over strength, and win the Grand Prize. “It was so uplifting. I was so excited, I went out and bought 10 swimsuits at Macy’s when they went on sale. It was so much fun, parading in front of my husband!” She’s down to a size 8, and still wants to lose another 10 pounds, to get down to 121. Her husband is a svelte 161 pounds now, and they’ve started dancing again. “We’ve reclaimed our lives,” says Laura. “It’s given us an opportunity to do the things we loved that we set aside for so long, and didn’t have the strength for. I’m going to be 59 in December, and I can see I need to do this always. It’s definitely a lifelong commitment.”

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Justin Dropped 4 Inches Off His Waist!

justin-before-afterIn 3 months Justin Brunette lost 4 inches off his waist and decreased his body fat percentage by 6.4% with effective nutrition and weekly 20-minute training sessions at The Perfect Workout.

Like a lot of guys in their late 30s, Justin Brunette had gotten so busy with work and family demands, he didn’t have time to work out. Persistent back problems and bone spurs in his elbow made him hesitant to do anything, so he started looking for the best way to get into shape safely. He discovered a book, Body by Science, by Dr. Doug McGuff and John R. Little, that advocates a form of slow-motion, high-resistance strength training. “For me, this was a new approach to lifting weights,” says Justin. “It was different from the mainstream. Completely different. It intrigued me.” It piqued his interest enough that he went out looking for a facility that could accommodate him. None of the regular gyms had it, but research turned him on to The Perfect Workout and he decided to give it a shot.

For Justin, it felt good to start getting back to where he was years ago. After playing baseball for San Diego State, he pitched in the big leagues with the Cardinals and Mets organizations, until Tommy John surgery ended his career. Over time he lost some of the fitness and strength levels he once had, especially since his work as vice president of an insurance investigations firm consumed a lot of his time. The 20-minute workouts twice a week were definitely a draw, but he was skeptical. “I thought doing more would produce more results. I was used to the traditional stuff. But after the first month I really started noticing differences.” Justin has since maxed out on some of the machines, his body fat percentage is down, and he’s constantly increasing the amount of time he can sustain each exercise. The quick progress surprised him. “I wanted to ease back into working out. I didn’t think I’d see the results I’ve had. You’re working on all key body parts. Everything gets stronger together.”

The hard work paid off earlier this year when he took the runner-up spot in The Perfect Workout’s three-month Transformation Challenge. A competitive guy, Justin says, “Once I saw the Challenge, I wanted to win it!” He credits his success to discipline (he hasn’t missed a week since he started at the Huntington Beach studio in January), the slow, controlled movements of slow-motion strength training, and a slight change in diet. Early on he restricted his calories a bit, and now he’s eating more protein, which has helped him add muscle. Justin also has high praise for his trainer. “Michael knows his stuff and really believes in the program. He’s positive, gets down to business, and asks me questions. He takes a personal interest in me.”

When he’s not running his business, Justin enjoys spending time with his wife and three and a half-year old son (with another one on the way), traveling and golfing. Going forward, he wants to continue to get stronger and stay injury-free. “I’m going to keep this in my regimen,” he says. And to anyone else with minimal time to spare who wants maximum results, Justin offers this advice: “Give The Perfect Workout a try. Believe in it and give it a go, especially the first few months. If you’re willing to do that, the motivation from there is seeing the results.”

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Column Image The Advantages of Machines

The strength training machines you see in The Perfect Workout studios are descendants of machines that were created by Nautilus, Inc. in the 1970’s. Arthur Jones not only originated the fundamental principles behind brief and intense strength training, he also invented the original set of Nautilus machines. Within a few years, machines from Nautilus and sprouting rival companies were in many public gyms as well as college and professional sports training facilities.

This led to one of the most famous on-going debates in the fitness industry: free weights or machines. In other words, is it more effective to use strength training machines or free weights, such as dumbbells and barbells? If you are reading this, you are probably aware that our studios are primarily filled with strength training machines. There are reasons for that.

While both options provide results when the user trains with a high level of intensity, we generally prefer well-designed machines for a number of reasons. Machines can be safer to train on than free weights, they allow for better concentration which can facilitate a higher intensity level, many machines provide resistance throughout each repetition’s entire range of motion, and there are several additional advantages of machines which I don’t have enough space to cover in this brief article.

If you recall the days when you first learned to drive, then you’ll probably remember someone telling you, “safety first”. The same recommendation applies to training. As you know, the goal of strength training at The Perfect Workout is to reach “muscle success”, the point when the targeted muscle is so fatigued that it cannot move the resistance any further. In many free weight exercises, training to complete exhaustion leaves the possibility that the weights may fall on the trainee afterwards. As we know, training to “muscle success” leaves our muscles with less control and fatigued for a few minutes afterward. If a person lost control of the weight when training on a machine, most machines are designed so that the weight would just fall on the weight stack (instead of on top of you!), so that’s one reason why machines can be safer than free weights.

As far as getting results, a necessary factor in successful strength training is mentally pushing your muscles to that very deep level of “muscle success” fatigue. This takes focused mental concentration, and each person has a limited ability to concentrate in any given moment. A well-designed machine can eliminate sources of distraction, enabling deeper concentration and a deeper level of fatigue in the the targeted muscles, and as a result help stimulate better improvements in your body. As an example, consider the leg press vs. a free weight squat (with a barbell on top of your shoulders). Both exercises are potentially very effective for improving the muscles in your buttocks and front thighs (and to a lesser degree the muscles in your rear thighs and calves). With the leg press, as you near “muscle success” all of your concentration ability can be used to push as hard as you can, helping you stimulate the big changes in your muscles and your body. You don’t have to worry about anything else other than pushing hard. In the barbell squat, if you approach “muscle success” fatigue levels, a significant portion of your concentration needs to be used to focus on balancing and avoiding falling down, and this reduces your mental energy available to make your muscles push hard. In this respect, the leg press has the potential to allow you to stimulate greater increases in the targeted muscles.

slide2-img2Another benefit of well-designed machines is resistance throughout the entire range of motion. A machine has the potential to better harness the power of gravity when compared with free weights strattera capsule online. For example, in a standing biceps curl with a barbell, gravity provides significant resistance to the biceps during the middle portion of each repetition. However, at the lower and upper ends, the exercise moves perpendicular to the force of gravity, basically providing rest for the muscles. Biceps exercises with machines usually feature a rotating wheel called a “cam” that varies resistance and enables constant work for the muscle throughout the repetition, and this can result in a more thorough workout for the muscles.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying dumbbells, barbells, and other free weights are not effective training tools. In fact, in 1992 when I first began using slow-motion strength training in my own workouts, I was training in a relatively primitive gym in which my initial routines involved many free weight exercises, and I still was able to make excellent improvements. If a person trains intensely, he or she will achieve great results, regardless of the equipment. However, we find that strength training machines help our clients train safely and effectively, and that’s what we’re all about.

By Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout


Posted in The Perfect Workout

Kelly and Richard Got Toned and Strong!

Strength training helped Kelly get toned, and Richard estimates that he got 50% stronger, improved his posture, and lost about 75% of the aches and pains that he had in his back and shoulders.

Kelly Alessandro doesn’t know how much time she has left. Not at The Perfect Workout, but in life. Two years ago she was diagnosed with sarcoma, a very rare form of cancer, and doctors initially didn’t give her a very good chance of survival. She’s gone through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Through it all, she has stayed mentally and physically strong. Kelly attributes making it this far in part to the fact that she’s in such good shape, thanks to The Perfect Workout. “I was able to recover so much better from all those surgeries because I had a strong core, because I was so strong,” she says.

The story begins before Kelly got cancer. About two

and a half years ago, she saw an ad for The Perfect Workout and decided to investigate slow-motion strength training. “I had no idea it was going to be as good as it was. Most people don’t get it. They think you have to spend an hour.” Kelly didn’t need to lose weight, she just wanted to “tone it up” and get stronger. Within a couple weeks she started seeing results, and she was hooked. Six months into her workouts, she got the bad news. She had surgery, then took five weeks off to recover. When she started her workouts up again, she was actually receiving chemotherapy at the same time, and feels like the workouts helped.

It was around this time that she finally got Richard to start working out with her. “Kelly kept nagging me,” he jokes. “I didn’t want to listen to her tell me I had to work out. She kind of shamed me. She just had major surgery, she was going through chemo, and she was still doing it.” Richard approached it with gusto the same way Kelly had, and made good progress.

Richard and Kelly agree that having a trainer keeps it safe and makes it fun. “The whole staff at Laguna Niguel has been great!” Richard is serious when he says, “I hate going! But the hate only lasts for 20 minutes. I just jump right in. I try to have fun with it. When I’m done, I’m done, and I go home and have my protein shake. The Perfect Workout is 1/335 of my week. For 1/335, I can do anything!” With everything they’ve been through together, Richard and Kelly have a remarkable sense of gratitude, and with some sarcoma experts they’ve just found, they also have a new sense of hope. Their trainers at the Laguna Niguel studio say, “Kelly’s spirit is always upbeat and positive. We’ve been honored to work with her and her husband, Richard, and their courage and determination has touched all of our lives.”

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Meet Emily Gaines Personal Trainer at The Perfect Workout’s Woodlands Studio

emaily-woodlands-trainerEmily says of her own transition from a regular workout to slow-motion strength training, “I thought, okay, this is very effective! I used to spend eight hours a week in the gym, now I’m spending 40 minutes a week working out.”

“I love being a part of something that makes my clients feel good!” That sums up Emily’s feelings on The Perfect Workout. Since coming on board as a trainer at The Woodlands in April, her enthusiasm for slow-motion strength training has been catching on. Clients love her firm yet personal and customized approach, and appreciate the fact that she challenges them. Emily is understanding, patient, and has a way of explaining things so they make sense. One of her favorite things to talk about with clients is nutrition because it plays such an important role in muscle growth and fat loss. “Muscles can’t grow properly if you’re not feeding them,” Emily says. She tells her clients to avoid drinking lots of calories, to read labels so you realize what you’re really consuming, to eat clean foods like lean meats and vegetables, and to exercise portion control.

Emily had taught a range of classes at another fitness center, and was always in pretty good shape. But the first time she tried doing slow-motion push ups (as part of the hiring process to become a trainer at The Perfect Workout), she realized it was far more challenging than anything she had ever done. “I thought, okay, this is very effective! I used to spend eight hours a week in the gym, now I’m spending 40 minutes a week working out.” Her arms are much stronger now, her shape has improved, and she’s gone from leg pressing 280 pounds to 400 pounds.

And just like she pushes herself, she loves it when clients push themselves. “They’re the ones who see the biggest results. They give me a hug and we celebrate together!” Emily has had a number of client success stories. One client recently lost 10 pounds to get in shape for her vacation. Other clients are losing weight, getting toned, and most important, doing something positive for themselves. In addition to training clients, Emily is also the Facility Manager, and has big goals to double her studio by October and help The Perfect Workout grow in the Houston area. “This is the best job I’ve ever had. It’s very motivational, there’s an
incentive to work hard.” When she’s not training clients or running the studio, she’s doing what she loves best, spending time with her daughter.

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Your Muscles – The Only “Window” Into Your Body

I first came across the idea that “muscle is the ‘window’ into your body” in Ken Hutchins’ SuperSlow Technical Manual. He attributes the quote to a former employee of Nautilus, Ed Farnham go to the website. It’s a brilliant metaphor. The idea is that essentially all physical improvements that can be stimulated by exercise are fundamentally caused by loading your muscles. Making your muscles work is the way you “get at” and stimulate not just your muscles, but the rest of your body’s systems too. Your muscles are a pathway to improving your cardiovascular system, lungs, endocrine system, immune system, general metabolism, and more.

For example, suppose somebody is climbing stairs for the purpose of exercise. This person’s body will temporarily burn more calories during the stair climbing session. It’ll also make her heart beat faster, and by doing so potentially place positive stress on her cardiovascular system to improve. And if the stair climbing is challenging enough, her leg muscles will fatigue somewhat as well. If her body isn’t already used to a more demanding stress than stair climbing (such as high-intensity strength training), her body will be stimulated to improve the cardiovascular system, her muscles might get slightly stronger, and other positive adaptations may occur in such places as the immune system and the endocrine system.

Note that each of those effects from stair climbing (burning calories, positively stressing the cardiovascular system, potential strength increases, and positive changes in the immune and endocrine systems) are caused by making the muscles work. Extra calories are burned only because the leg muscles are working harder from the activity. The heart starts beating faster to supply nutrients to the working muscles, as well to remove waste products from them. If an increase in strength is stimulated, it would be because the muscles have been loaded, fatigued, and stressed sufficiently. All the physical benefits are fundamentally caused by making the muscles work.

Demanding muscular loading is the fundamental cause for triggering a cascade of positive changes throughout your body. Even for the cardiovascular system, the stimulus is making the muscles work, and the cardiovascular system kicks into higher gear simply as a support system for the working muscles. (In other words, the heart and lungs can’t jump out of your body and hop on the stair climber to exercise themselves. The only way to “get at” your cardiovascular system through exercise is by making the muscles work.)

A big advantage of effective strength training when compared with other exercise methods (like stair climbing) is that strength training gives you the opportunity to make your muscles work much harder than stair climbing or other exercise choices. If you’ve ever trained your leg muscles to “momentary failure” on the leg press machine in slow-motion form, you know firsthand how strength training works your muscles hard! Since strength training can make your muscles work harder than other activities (like stair climbing), you can stimulate as good or better benefits in all of the body’s systems (including the muscles, cardiovascular system, lungs, endocrine system, immune system, and general metabolism) than you can with other activities.

In a previous article I mentioned that studies show that effective strength training produces positive benefits in the cardiovascular system. This is why. In some studies with very high-intensity strength training, the changes in the cardiovascular system from strength training are superior to even so-called “cardio” activities like stair climbing. The reason is you can only address your cardiovascular system by making your muscles work, and strength training gives you the opportunity to really challenge your muscles, and as a result many other systems in your body improve in addition to the muscles.

Making your muscles work hard during strength training triggers a “total body response,” including:

  • More strength
  • Greater endurance
  • More calorie-burning lean muscle tissue to your body
  • Reversed age related muscle loss (sarcopenia)
  • Increased metabolism and how many calories you burn even while you’re resting
  • Greater fat loss
  • Stronger bones
  • Reversed aging of muscle cells (expresses younger DNA in the nuclei)
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved low back pain
  • Better control of blood sugar
  • Improved immune system
  • A number of other benefits

When done properly strength training loads the muscles (your “window into your body”) much more effectively than other activities because strength training can load the muscles more efficiently, more intensely, and in a safer manner than other activities can.

The slow-motion, high-intensity strength training that we teach at The Perfect Workout is as good of a way as you will find at stimulating this “window” into your body, and as a result your whole body improves, not just your muscles. And all it takes is just 20 minutes, twice a week.

matt-perfect-workoutBy Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout

 

 

Posted in The Perfect Workout

Bill’s Love Handles Are Gone!

unnamed(1)Bill travels a lot as a defense contractor, so a time efficient workout is important to him. He explains the value of The Perfect Workout, “There’s no messing around. You’re in and out. This is very intense, and not for the person who’s not dedicated. You have to want it.”

Calling Bill Younis a fan of The Perfect Workout would be an understatement. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he was a paid staff member whose sole purpose was to sing the praises of slow-motion strength training. He’s not, of course. He simply can’t think of any better way to get great results in such little time. “This is the best thing that ever happened to me, workout-wise,” he says. You have to understand a few things about Bill. He doesn’t have a lot of time, he’s extremely disciplined, and he already belonged to an exclusive athletic club where he lives when he heard about The Perfect Workout.

He takes working out very seriously, especially after a heart attack when he was 54. After that, he knew he needed to make some changes. In a five-year period at his other club, Bill went from 256 pounds down to 210. He was religious about his workouts there, spending 90 minutes per session, three or four times a week.

Everything was great, but he hit a plateau, the equipment there was older technology, and there were a lot of needless conversations with other members, which stretched his workouts out too long. That was the biggest issue – time. Bill is a busy guy and doesn’t have time for social chitchat at the club. The workouts had to fit into his schedule since he travels a lot as a defense contractor.

His business partner’s wife told him about The Perfect Workout, and it seemed to fit what he was looking for exactly. “There’s no messing around. You’re in and out. This is very intense, and not for the person who’s not dedicated. You have to want it.” Bill credits the one-on-one personal training for a lot of his success. “My trainers, Soraya and Nicole, wring me out! It’s amazing what you can do in 20 minutes. I’m completely spent.” He says Soraya is encouraging, knows how to get the best out of him, and is great at communicating results to him after each exercise. “This is serious business. It reminds me of football practice. You live and die by the stopwatch.”

Bill loves that aspect of The Perfect Workout – the way he and his trainer can meticulously track all the numbers, including his weight, number of seconds on each exercise, amount of weight lifted, inches lost, body fat percentage, and more. He knows that his average weight now is 198.6, exactly where he was at age 28. His arms are looking good, his abs are carved up (going for the “six-pack” look), and that dreaded love handle syndrome? It’s pretty much gone. The results impressed his girlfriend so much that she’s planning to join now, too.

One thing that bothers Bill is how much people focus on the cost. “Everyone is so worried about the cost of a personal trainer. Think about it. If you’re doing 30-minute sessions at $50-60 each, three times a week, that’s far more than The Perfect Workout. And there’s no benefit to doing it more than two days a week. This is a very good value. When it comes to food and exercise, that’s not where you want to compromise. Money
is a non-issue. How bad do you want it?”

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Missing Workouts – What Happens?

If you train at The Perfect Workout and are like other human beings, you miss a session or two on occasion. You may be on a hot streak of attendance as you read this, but there are times of the year when life takes us away from the gym and into other places. Does summer ring a bell? How about the holidays? Even as president of The Perfect Workout, I too miss a workout here and there (in addition to my more-than-full-time job, I’m fortunate to have two young kids, a wife, and occasionally even enjoy a vacation).

How significant are these occasional lapses? If you miss a few weeks, should you just quit because the gains you made may have eroded? Thankfully, there is some evidence to shed light on this issue. Researchers from the University of Maryland found that even a hiatus for seven months does not completely eliminate the gains that younger (20-30 years) and older (65-75 years old) people received from nine weeks of strength training. In this study, the trainees (previously sedentary) performed intense strength training focused on their quadriceps (front thigh) in one leg. After nine weeks, all men and women ceased training completely. Then their strength was retested 12 and 31 weeks later.

After the initial nine-week training period, the younger and older adults gained 34% and 28% in strength, respectively. The tests at 12 weeks after no training showed that no real strength loss occurred. It was after this point when the losses started happening. Between weeks 12 and 31 of the detraining, the younger men and women lost 8% of their strength, while the older adults lost 14%. There were no differences in the strength lost between men and women of the same age groups.

There are three points that I want to point out from these results. First, many peoples’ bodies can hold the strength they initially build as beginners for up to three months after stopping training. (More advanced trainees will likely experience some losses in advanced fitness levels in less than 3 months.)

Second, even seven months after stopping training, the men and women in the study hadn’t lost everything that they gained from training! They trained for only nine weeks, and they still kept at least half of the strength they gained.

Finally, and this probably comes as no surprise to many, younger people are more adept at maintaining their gains from exercise. In the 31 weeks following the end of the strength training program, the younger group lost 24% of the strength they gained, whereas the older group lost half.

Let’s talk about what all of this means for you. It’s important for everyone to be consistent with their strength training program. Consistency is the only way to maximize gains in strength, health, and lean tissue improvement (muscle, bone, etc.). You won’t become stronger, fitter, or healthier unless you are actually working out on a consistent basis. However, all of us miss sessions from time to time. If you miss a few weeks, don’t become discouraged. Don’t quit. The study participants missed three months before their strength started eroding. You can miss a few weeks (vacation?) and may come back with little ground to make up.

Consistency is important for all of us, but especially for older adults. Fast twitch muscle fibers, which are the largest fibers and handle the greatest challenges in everyday life, atrophy quicker as we age. Older adults should pay extra attention to minimizing those necessary breaks from strength training.

The positive news is, once we gain some strength, our body appears to want to keep it. The study showed us a seven-month absence did not undue nine weeks of strength training! Imagine how long it would take to completely lose strength from months or years of training? I hope you and I never need to find out.

By Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout


Reference

Lemmer, Jeff T., et al. “Age and gender responses to strength training and detraining.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 32.8 (2000): 1505-1512.

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