Is a Personal Trainer Worth It?

Is a personal trainer worth it?

We lay out all of the research-backed facts, so you can decide for yourself.

Female Personal Trainer with real female client

The hardest thing about starting a fitness journey is simply starting. The second hardest? Knowing what to do to actually get results.

Part of this struggle comes from seeing social media feeds with workouts, meal plans, and transformation photos – not to mention a million diet products being marketed to us all day, every day. It’s confusing.

The other part is trying to do it alone.

Every fitness journey is unique, but one major catalyst to achieving desired health and wellness results is having someone to coach you- a personal trainer.

You may ask yourself, is a personal trainer worth it?

In this article, we talk about the research-proven advantages of working with a personal trainer and why it's absolutely worth it.

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7 Benefits of Working with a Personal Trainer

Studies comparing people working with personal trainers versus people who trained themselves found that working with a professional trainer offers the following benefits:

7 Benefits of Personal Training Infographic

1. Better Workout Quality

Too many of us know firsthand that it's possible to work out – a lot – and see no results.

The “magic” of strength training is a result of a few ingredients, including choosing the right resistance for each exercise and putting in enough effort.

Research shows that when not working with a personal trainer, only 9-34% of trainees choose weights that are challenging enough to provide great results (Dos Santos et al., 2020).

People also generally fail to work hard enough without a trainer. In one study, about 57% of people without a trainer failed to push to complete exhaustion (“Muscle Success”) on ANY exercise (Dos Santos et al., 2020).

Whether you get results is entirely up to you and the effort you put forth. But a Personal Trainer has the knowledge and passion to help you give it your all.

Research shows that supervised exercise leads to achieving more strength, muscle growth, and weight loss (Mazzetti et al., 2000).

Two separate studies by Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., and one study by Ellington Darden, Ph.D., demonstrate that slow-motion strength training produces 50% to 59% faster improvements than regular weight training.

Any challenging workout, like slow-motion strength training, is a physical and mental feat. This makes it incredibly easy to talk yourself out of giving your best effort when the exercise becomes tough and your muscles start to burn.

A Personal Trainer is the coach in your corner pushing you to give your absolute best. They become the voice you need when your own starts to deceive you.

2. Exercise Safety

Working out alone? It’s easy to perform exercises incorrectly without someone watching your form or correcting bad habits. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know and could be exercising with incorrect form every time you’re in the gym.

Working out with a friend? Having a workout buddy can be great because it increases your chances of sticking with it. But taking direction from someone who is not Certified is like having your friend “crack your back” instead of getting adjusted by a Chiropractor. Despite the good intentions, relying on someone other than a trained professional could do more harm than good.

A Certified Fitness Trainer should have extensive education on how to safely coach others through an effective workout.

At The Perfect Workout, our certification goes beyond books and heavily involves hands-on training with real people. We test our trainers’ knowledge and expertise with numerous written and practical exams. All Personal Trainers are AED/CPR certified and are required to complete continuing education as part of their employment with The Perfect Workout.

Real Male client testimonial

3. Staying Motivated, Consistent, & Accountable

Exercise helps with health and longevity, but it doesn’t work if people don’t do it consistently.

Only one in five adults in the US consistently reach the recommended amount of weekly exercise (Harris et al., 2011).

When starting an exercise program, about half quit within six months (Larson et al., 2018).

The vast majority of people don’t hire personal trainers. Looking at the data, this approach isn’t working.

Considering about half of people quit workout programs within six months, strategies to stick with exercise are critical to reaching one’s fitness goals.

Studies show that people who work with personal trainers are more likely to develop a better attitude towards sticking with exercise (McClaran, 2003). In addition, people are also more likely to develop strategies for overcoming obstacles that would otherwise cause them to quit.

If that’s not enough, hear what some of our clients have to say about how we help with consistency:

  1. “I can do anything for 20 minutes, twice a week.”
  2. “20 minutes, twice a week made it easy to stick with it.”
  3. “I look forward to my personal training sessions.”
  4. “I see the benefits and I’m getting results, so I know it’s working.”
  5. “My trainers encourage me when I want to give up.”
  6. “It’s a great routine to start out the day.”
  7. “I like having an appointment on the books. It helps me stay accountable.”

Working with a trainer provides an additional level of accountability that is likely needed by most people.

Chances are you don’t bail on your doctor when you need a checkup, but it's really easy to bail on your workouts when you’re doing them on your own.

Why is that?

Because when you have an appointment on your calendar and another human on the other end of the appointment counting on you to show up, you do it.

By keeping you accountable, they ultimately keep you consistent and consistency breeds results.

Real client's personal trainer testimonial

4. Professional Guidance

Believe it or not, there is a method to exercising safely and effectively. A Personal Trainer will analyze your ability and your performance to decide how to continually challenge you.

This includes how to properly adjust your body to workout equipment, whether or not to increase or decrease range of motion on an exercise, to lower or raise the weight, etc.

The results are in the details, and a Personal Trainer knows what to look for.

Playing the role of a professional for our own needs benefits us by saving money. We trade our time to learn and develop skills to save the cost that comes with hiring a professional.

Besides coaching and providing accountability, working with a personal trainer makes sense for several reasons. We are limited by time, having only 24 hours each day to sleep, eat, work, spend time with family, manage our homes, etc.

We simply don’t have the time to be “professionals” in many areas. Outsourcing that responsibility to a professional saves time. It also ensures that we’ll receive more educated and experienced guidance with in-session coaching and overall workout program design.

But many people try to serve as their own personal trainers.

People design their own workout plans, coach themselves through their training sessions, and guide their own long-term fitness journeys.

Unless you’re a doctor, a physical therapist or you’ve been in the fitness industry before, chances are a Personal Trainer knows more about health and fitness than you do.

You wouldn’t try to clean your own teeth instead of going to the Dentist. So why would you try and improve your physical health on your own?

In addition, you learn new things about your body, your health, and your habits when you work with a Personal Trainer. And the more you know, the more opportunities you have to make changes you may need to reach your goals.

5. Workout Customization

A Personal trainer makes your workout personal. Everyone’s body, fitness level, and abilities are different.

A good trainer will not have the 45yr old man who wants to lose 30lbs do the same exact thing as the 77yr old woman who wants to reverse osteoporosis.

It's necessary to tailor any exercise approach to the individual’s goals.

Although group classes or follow-along- guides can be fun, you don’t get the customized approach. You don't have someone completely focused on you to see if you’re doing an exercise correctly, doing it safely.

A video, guide, or group fitness instructor doesn’t know your goals, your injuries, limitations or how you tend to hold your breath a little before you hit muscle success.

At The Perfect Workout, your first session with a Personal Trainer dives deep into your goals and health history so we can best help you achieve your health and fitness vision.

6. Judgement-Free

Walking into a big box gym can be an intimidating experience. You may think others are watching you workout, judging how you look, or why you’re lifting weights that way. This makes exercise an uncomfortable experience.

A Personal Trainer is devoted to helping you look and feel your best. You don’t have to worry about what you look like, how little you know about exercise or how many times you’ve failed your diets in the past.

This is a safe space where you can share your fitness needs and ask your trainer all kinds of questions, even ones that you might feel silly asking.

At the Perfect Workout, you’ll work with a Trainer every single workout and will always be in the comfort of a semi-private environment.

Real testimonial from Female client, who is with her dog

7. Support System

When you work with a personal trainer, you sign up for an overall transformation. Losing weight and gaining strength are common reasons people start a new workout program. However, gaining confidence, improving mental health, and learning to love their bodies, are some of the biggest and best benefits of working with a Trainer.

A Personal Trainer is your built in support system for this journey you’re on and at The Perfect Workout, you’re never at it alone.

So... IS a Personal Trainer Worth It?

Working with a personal trainer has tremendous value. A trainer’s supervision leads to more effective workouts. It helps us stick with a fitness program. Ultimately, a personal trainer’s help greatly increases the chances that we’ll reach our health and fitness goals (Losch et al., 2016). .

Bias aside, we’d say a personal trainer is definitely worth it. 😏

  • Dos Santos, W. M., Junior, A. C. T., Braz, T. V., Lopes, C. R., Brigatto, F. A., & Dos Santos, J. W. (2020). Resistance-trained individuals can underestimate the intensity of the resistance training session: an analysis among genders, training experience, and exercises. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
  • Harris, C.D., Watson, K.B., Carlson, S.A., Fulton, J.E., & Dorn, J.M. (2011). Adult participation in aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities — United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(17), 326-330.
  • Larson, H.K., McFadden, K., McHugh, T.F., Berry, T.R., & Rodgers, W.M. (2018). When you don’t get what you want–and it’s really hard: exploring motivational contributions to exercise dropout. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 59-66. 
  • Mazzetti, S.A., Kraemer, W.J., Volek, J.S., Duncan, N.D., Ratamess, N.A., Gomez, A.L., … Fleck, S.J. (2000). The influence of direct supervision of resistance training on strength performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(6), 1175-1184.
  • McClaran, S.R. (2003). The effectiveness of personal training on changing attitudes towards physical activity. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 2(1), 10-14.
  • Losch, Sabine et al. “Comparing the Effectiveness of Individual Coaching, Self-Coaching, and Group Training: How Leadership Makes the Difference.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 7 629. 3 May. 2016, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00629
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

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Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Female Lifting weights with full range of motion

Strength training isn’t simply “lifting things.” In fact, there’s a science to strength training. When that scientific approach is used, great results are achieved.

One of the pillars of exercise is effectiveness – and one science-backed way to ensure exercise is effective is to lift challenging weights using full range of motion movements. (Pushing or pulling a weight as far as you can possibly go on an exercise.)

Unfortunately when many people do lift challenging weights, they sacrifice range of motion.

  • Examples of shortcutting range of motion include:
  • Leg Press: Beginning with the thighs far away from the body instead of closely, leaving very little room for movement.
  • Leg Curl: Not pulling the heels all the way back on the leg curl, past 90 degrees.
    Biceps: Curling the weight 90 degrees or less before lowering the weight.

This is concerning as full movement is key to achieving the benefits of strength training!

Full and Partial Range of Motion
Source: Health Fitness Club Connect

Why Do People Lift With Limited Range Of Motion?

Before we get into the benefits of full movement, why do people lift with partial ranges of motion? There are a few reasons:

  • Lack of awareness of good form. We’re not all exercise professionals. Many people we’ve seen in public gyms simply might not know what full range of motion is, or they don’t know it’s value.
  • Strengthening a part of a movement. Our muscle strength varies in an exercise. On the leg press, we are weakest at the start and strongest when our knees are almost straight. Some use partial reps in the weakest part of the movement to gain more strength. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to modify an exercise and help reach your goals.
  • Limited joint movement. For older adults, people with arthritis, or people who had periods of severe inactivity (i.e. bed rest), joints may be very stiff. Thankfully, for those of you who fall into this group, strength training will help you increase range of motion by lengthening muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing synovial fluid, an oily substance made by the body to lubricate joints (Interdisciplinary Toxicology). In fact, a research article featuring 11 studies and over 450 people concluded that strength training is just as effective as stretching for improving joint movement.
  • Injury/pain. If you have a joint which was previously injured, has pain, or is arthritic, it’s possible that you are performing a partial range of motion in some exercises. This is a wise approach as it’s better to move in a limited but pain-free range of motion than to avoid the exercise entirely. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to personalize the exercise to your body’s needs.
Partial Range of Motion Infographic

Benefits of Training With Full Range of Motion

Unless pain, injury, or joint stiffness limits movement, The Perfect Workout’s trainers coach lifting through a full range of motion on each exercise. This is intentional and one of the important ingredients in The Perfect Workout formula.

There are a few benefits to training with a full range of motion:

  1. More strength gained. People who train with a full range of motion gain more overall strength than those who train in a partial movement.

  2. More strength at all angles. If you only perform only half of the leg press movement, your thighs and butt will only become stronger in that half of the movement. Therefore, training through a full movement leads to greater muscle strength at all angles of a joint’s movement.

  3. Additional muscle size growth. In almost every study comparing full versus partial movements, using a full range of motion led to superior muscle gains.

  4. Increased flexibility and reduced stiffness. Using as much range of motion as possible in a strength training exercise will help lengthen muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing natural joint-lubricating synovial fluid in the body (Interdisciplinary Toxicology).
Benefits of Strength Training with Full Range of Motion

How to Find Your Ideal Range

Not everyone’s range of motion is going to be the same. Finding your ideal range of motion on an exercise may require a little bit of trial and error in the beginning. Your trainer will adjust every exercise to your body’s needs, including range of motion, using a combination of “adjustment points,” “axis points,” “hole gaps,” and other seat settings.

Adjustment Points

Adjustment points help to… that’s right, adjust parts of the machine to properly fit your body. Whether you are long in the torso or short in the legs, your trainer will use adjustment points to align your joints to the right place and help find your perfect seat setting and range of motion.

Most adjustment points are easy to find on machines because they are often brightly colored handles or pins. Look for yellow dots or handles on our Nautilus machines.

Axis Points

Some machines also have what we call axis points, or axis of rotation. These are typically seen on isolation exercises where one muscle group is targeted and one joint is used, like on our Preacher Curl machine.

Think of these axis points as guides to be lined up with the joint used during the exercise. On our Preacher Curl there is a red dot that serves as an axis point for the elbows. Ideally, you want the elbow joint lined up with this point the entire exercise to allow for proper extension and flexion during the range of motion.

Most adjustment points are also brightly colored and just as easy to find on machines. Look for red axis points on our Nautilus machines.

Axis points for finding your range

Hole Gaps

Hole gaps help increase or decrease the distance of an exercise’s starting point (and therefore the total distance traveled in an exercise) by inserting a pin to hold a gap between a weight plate or set of plates in a weight stack. For instance, someone with shorter arms using a Compound Row machine would want to increase the hole gap to bring the handles closer to them so that they can reach the handles at the beginning of the exercise.

Your trainer may also increase a hole gap to create an easier range of motion at the beginning of an exercise, or decrease a hole gap to make the exercise more challenging.

It may feel a little bit like musical chairs when trying to figure out your ideal range of motion and seat settings. Get in the machine. Get out. Make an adjustment. Repeat until you find your sweet spot. Luckily, all trainers at The Perfect Workout are experts and finding this for you and can do so quickly.

Hole Gaps for finding your range

If you are reading this but use partial movements due to past injuries or pain, don’t stress. You can still gain strength and muscle in a partial range of motion.

Ideally, your joints will become stronger and healthier over time. As this happens, you and your trainer will increase the range of motion until eventually reaching a full movement.

Client Testimonial from The Perfect Workout

Training through a full movement leads to better results. The Perfect Workout’s trainers will ensure that you are safely lifting as far as you can during each exercise. As a result, you’ll become the strongest and fittest “you” possible.

  • Afonso, J., Ramirez-Campillo, R., Moscao, J., Rocha, T., Zacca, R., Martins, A. … Clemente, F.M. (2021). Strength training is as effective as stretching for improving range of motion: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • Pinto, R.S., Gomes, N., Radaelli, R., Botton, C.E., Brown, L.E. & Bottaro, M.J. (2012). Effect of range of motion on muscle strength and thickness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2140-2145.
  • McMahon, G.E., Morse, C.I., Burden, A., Winwood, K., & Onambele, G.L. (2014). Impact of range of motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols on muscle size, subcutaneous fat, and strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), 245-255.
  • Schoenfeld, B.J. & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: a systematic review. SAGE Open.
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

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Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed - Featured Blog Image

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a person has suffered a significant loss of bone mass because their body can’t produce enough new bone to keep up with old bone loss. “Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and is replaced” (Mayoclinic.com). With this disease, bones become hollow and carry a high risk of fracture. About 10 million people in the US have osteoporosis and many others are at risk.

In this article, we talk about how to identify your risk for osteoporosis and share four strategies that can increase bone density.

Osteoporosis & Fall Risk Facts

As we age, we focus more on preventing falls for older adults, and that’s with good reason.

Over 300,000 adults ages 65 and older experience a hip fracture each year, 95% of those fractures resulting from falling.

Those hip fracturing-falls have severe side effects, too. Only half of these adults regain their quality of life after the fracture.

About 20% move into assisted living communities afterwards. And about one in every four older adults die within a year of having a hip fracture.

Hip fractures are a big concern for both men and women. However, falling and breaking a bone isn’t the only cause of this issue. Having weak bones is also a key underlying factor, just like with osteoporosis.

Data from the CDC shows that 48% of older adults have low bone density, usually in the most common locations: hip and lower back. For adults with osteoporosis, bones are fragile and susceptible to breaking when falls or other high-risk incidents like car accidents occur.

Osteoporosis Stages - 4 Stages of Bone Density Loss

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

While it’s easy to associate osteoporosis with older women, the process of bone loss starts well before 65 years old. People generally start to lose bone density in their early 30s. They’re at an increased risk for fractures after age 50.

Additional risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Being female – This can increase risk of osteoporosis because of the lost estrogen during menopause, which can contribute to bone loss.
  • Having a smaller/thinner frame – This means someone already has less bone mass in their body to begin with.
  • Past fractures – These are a sign that your bones are more fragile than normal.
  • A family history of osteoporosis – This may mean you’re already predisposed to develop the disease.

How to Assess Your Bone Strength

Osteoporosis is diagnosed through a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. A DEXA scan is a quick process (less than 20 minutes) where a person lies face up while a low-level x-ray scans down and then up the body. They use an even lower level of radiation than standard X-rays, so they’re very safe.

These bone density test results provide an accurate assessment of bone density, muscle tissue, and fat tissue. “Where a regular X-ray can show changes in bone density after 40 percent bone loss, the DEXA detects changes as small as 1 percent.”

You can find a DEXA scan by using a search engine like Google and typing in the keywords “DEXA scan near me”. DEXA scans are recommended at a frequency of every 1-2 years starting at the age of 50 if someone has risk factors for bone loss, especially for women during or after menopause.

Dexa Scan for Osteoporosis Infographic

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

We know that about half of older adults have low bone density, this increases the risk of experiencing a fracture, and that people start losing bone strength in their 30s.

Unfortunately, once you have osteoporosis, it can’t be fully reversed or “cured.” Thankfully, you can strengthen your bones at any age and there are proven methods for reducing the risk of a fracture. Below are four effective strategies for reversing bone loss.

4 Strategies for Strengthening Bones

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, increases calcium absorption from the food we eat. It also promotes calcium uptake in bones. Supplementing with vitamin D3 can decrease the risk of fractures in the hip and spine, and can increase bone density.

2. Magnesium

A two-year study of menopausal women taking a magnesium supplement showed an increase in bone density while also reducing fracture risk. Healthy magnesium levels are shown to enhance the function of bone-building cells and sufficient levels of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D (both of which regulate bone homeostasis).

3. Calcium

When thinking of bone strength, it’s common to think of calcium first. Research shows calcium consumption isn’t the silver bullet for strengthening bones that we might think it is. However, meeting a minimum amount of recommended daily consumption (2,000-2,500 mg/day according to mayoclinic.com) is critical to maintaining bone health. Also, supplementing calcium can reduce the risk of hip and spine fractures. However, some studies suggest that taking calcium supplements can decrease absorption of other nutrients like iron and zinc, so be mindful of your supplement intake and, as always, consult with a physician to be sure you’re taking the right supplement combination for your needs.

4. Strength Training

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Is It Safe To Exercise With Osteoporosis?

The risk of fracture is serious, but there’s no reason not to exercise safely.

The National Institute of Health said it best:
“No one who has broken a bone wants to revisit that pain and loss of independence. However, living your life “on the sidelines” is not an effective way to protect your bones.”

Staying active with a doctor-approved program like slow-motion strength training can not only help you stay healthy, it’s also the best way to build bone density and strengthen your body to stay upright and active.

Next Steps

If you are currently strength training and are looking to enhance your bone density, examine your diet. Check to see if you are lacking regular consumption of the vitamins and minerals above, and look for ways to increase daily consumption.

Strength training will ensure you won’t lose bone density going forward. If you are not currently strength training, talk with your doctor and get started as soon as you can. Combining that with adequate levels of vitamin D3, magnesium, and calcium can make substantial improvements in your bone strength.

  1. Bolam, K.A., van Uffelen, J.G., & Taafle, D.R. (2013). The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: a systematic review. Osteoporosis International, 24(11), 2749-2762.
  2. MacLean, C., Newberry, S., Maglione, M., McMahon, M., Ranganath, V., Suttorp, M., … Grossman, J. (2008). Systematic review: comparative effectiveness of treatments to prevent fractures in men and women with low bone density or osteoporosis. Annals, of Internal Medicine, 148, 197-213.
  3. Nickols-Richardson S.SM., Miller, L.E., Wootten, D.F., Ramp, W.K., & Herert, 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Schnell, S., Friedman, S.M., Mendelssohn, D.A., Bingham, K.W., & Kates, S.L. (2010). The 1-year mortality of patients treated in a hip fracture program for elders. Geriatrics Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 1(1), 6-14.
  6. Soijka, J.E. (1995). Magnesium supplementation and osteoporosis. Nutrition Reviews, 53(3), 71-74.
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5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Medical Diagram for Fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia can feel like a battle to ease pain and chronic fatigue. Finding a solution to treat fibromyalgia while staying healthy and active can also feel like a never ending challenge. In this article, we’ve compiled 5 natural remedies for fibromyalgia and the treatment of symptoms.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Body stiffness
  • Difficulty with thinking or focusing
  • A “foggy” memory
  • Struggles with sleeping

If you went to the doctor with any one of these issues, your doctor would likely think it’s a valid issue and worthy of further examination.

Imagine having most of these issues…or all of these issues!

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Infographic

Adults with fibromyalgia don’t have it easy. Not only do symptoms of fibromyalgia manifest in any of the above list, there isn’t a universal test to diagnose all cases. 

Fibromyalgia can’t be measured with numbers on a scale, unlike most other health conditions (blood pressure, diabetes, etc.). Looking for sensitive “tender points” in certain locations of the body is the most common diagnostic test, but that’s not comprehensive enough to identify all people who have the condition. 

Unfortunately, this lack of a clear diagnostic test leads some people to question whether fibromyalgia is real. However, 4 million US adults and about 3-6% of the world’s population can attest to the existence of the disease. 

Fibromyalgia has no known cause, which also makes it challenging to manage. A few proven methods do exist, though. Strength training is one of these methods.

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

Before getting into the methods for disease management, let’s look a little deeper at the disease. Risk factors for fibromyalgia include being female, having lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, suffering from a traumatic event (e.g. car accident), having a family history of fibromyalgia, and being obese. 

It’s most commonly diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia pain spots are the jaw, chest, neck, upper back, and hips.

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia

Pain relievers and antidepressants are the most common fibromyalgia treatments. They aren’t the only treatment options, though. There are natural remedies for fibromyalgia. These research-supported methods have shown some relief from fibromyalgia symptoms:

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia Infographic

1. Vitamin D supplementation

A vitamin D supplement might ease fibromyalgia-related pain. In response to sun exposure, the human body creates vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be increased through the use of supplements or certain foods such as:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified cereals and juices

2. Massage therapy

Massage can help provide temporary relief from the muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia by relaxing tendons and muscles, increasing blood flow, and improving psychological comfort. While types of massage can range in style and purpose, massage benefits can include:

  • Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
  • Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension
  • Improving circulation, energy and alertness
  • Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improving immune function

3. Acupuncture

Similar to massage, this could provide temporary pain relief. Acupuncture is a technique that involves inserting very fine needles into your skin at very specific locations on the body that potentially balance energy or impact neurological function. Acupuncture, derived from traditional Chinese medicine, is most typically used to relieve pain. This alternative medicine is increasingly being utilized for overall well-being, including stress reduction.

4. SAM-e

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a naturally occurring compound produced and consumed by the liver that regulates hormones and maintains cell membranes. As a dietary supplement, it’s shown the ability to reduce pain and fatigue with those who have fibromyalgia. (For those with fibromyalgia, discuss this with your doctor to determine if and how much of SAM-e you should take as there are some side effects with excess amounts).

5. Strength Training

People with fibromyalgia might initially wonder whether they can safely exercise with their level of pain and discomfort, but research also points to strength training as an option for those with fibromyalgia. Three studies with over 100 women found that strength training 2-3 times per week offers some promising benefits:

Bonus Tip, 5 Extra Benefits Of Strength Training

  1. Overall well-being. Following strength training, women with fibromyalgia felt substantial improvements in their own wellness. 
  2. Physical functioning. Strength training led women to feel more capable of handling their normal activities. 
  3. Pain. Women felt noticeably less pain following the training program. 
  4. Tender point reduction. Strength training decreased the amount of active tender points.
  5. Strength. As you would expect, training led to big strength gains for women with fibromyalgia. 

The results above were obtained in about 4-5 months of strength training. (It’s possible the benefits could be noticed sooner).

Real People With Fibromyalgia

The study results support our experiences working with many clients who had fibromyalgia. As is typical with fibromyalgia cases, the fibromyalgia symptoms were different from client to client.

  • One woman struggled to sleep well and had various pain spots. Within two months of starting, she was sleeping better and had less pain.
  • Another woman had chest and arm pain along with general fatigue. She experienced pain reduction and felt more energetic throughout the school day after a few months.
  • One man, age 68, experienced fibromyalgia and arthritis in his hips and knees and wanted to get through his long workdays without feeling exhausted. Not only did he accomplish an energy boost, he also lost 11 lbs.
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia helped this client

Being that fibromyalgia manifests in such different ways from person to person, it requires consistent communication between the trainer and the client. If you have fibromyalgia, talk to your trainer about what you feel during and after training. 

Your trainer at The Perfect Workout will work with you to find the right combination of exercises to help you have no negative sensations after while making progress.

Fibromyalgia doesn’t have to stop you from living a high quality life. Feel less pain, gain more strength, and feel better about your health with two short strength training sessions per week.

  1. Busch, A.J., Webber, S.C., Richards, R.S., Bidonde, J., Schachter, C.L., Danyliw, A., … Overend, T.J. (2013). Resistance training (such as weight-lifting) for fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12 (CD010884).
  2. Center for Disease Control. (2020). Fibromyalgia. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
  3. Iliades, C. (2018). Easing the pain of fibromyalgia naturally. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/8-natural-fibromyalgia-treatments/
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

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How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to keep Cholesterol in Check
plaque in artery headed to heart

In this article, we explain the importance and the potential dangers of cholesterol. With a simple solution, you will find out how to keep your cholesterol in check, in just 4 weeks.

 

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” – Aesop

Too much water.

Too much sun.

Too much exercise.

And your body would say this is also true about cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that our body uses to develop other necessary substances like hormones, vitamin D, the membranes of cells, and bile.

We need cholesterol. 

Too much of it can be dangerous though, hence why cholesterol-controlling practices such as strength training have become so highly sought after. 

Going back to the concept of too much of a good thing becoming bad, an excess of cholesterol is considered a “risk factor.” 

In other words, when high levels of cholesterol exist, people are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or develop diabetes or heart disease. 

A 2020 study published in the journal Circulation estimates that 38% of US adults — about two out of every five people — have high cholesterol! When you combine that with the prevalence of heart disease, which kills over 600,000 people annually in the US, it’s clear that keeping cholesterol in check is a national health concern.

How Much Cholesterol is Too Much?

There are a few measures used to determine whether you have a healthy level of cholesterol or too much of it. (Technically, the ways in which we measure cholesterol aren’t directly measuring cholesterol itself. We measure other particles that relate to cholesterol.) 

Keep Cholesterol in Check Infographic

The following are the most common measures of cholesterol:

  1. HDLs: high-density lipoproteins. These are commonly referred to as the “good cholesterol.” This is the only measure of cholesterol that we want to increase to improve health. 
  2. LDLs: low-density lipoproteins. These are referred to as “bad cholesterol.” 
  3. Triglycerides: these are particles of fat which are found in the body and blood stream. 
  4. Total cholesterol: a total number that includes LDLs, HDLs, and a fraction of the triglyceride total. This is the most comprehensive assessment of cholesterol quantity. Total cholesterol can be skewed by any of the lipoproteins and triglycerides, so if you have high “good cholesterol,” your total cholesterol can also appear high when “bad cholesterol” is normal.

Ideally, we want high HDLs and low LDLs, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

How to Control Cholesterol

How do we accomplish that and minimize our risk of having heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

how to keep cholesterol in check with diet and exercise infographic

Diet to keep your cholesterol in check

A few dietary approaches are shown to work:

  • Eliminate the consumption of trans fats. Trans fats are artificially created fats found in some vegetable oils (try olive oil or avocado oil instead!), baked goods, and non-organic peanut butters.
  • Eat more fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the foods we eat. Foods high in soluble fiber include black beans, lentils, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dried fig, and dried prunes.
  • Consume whey protein. Whey supplementation can reduce triglyceride levels.

Exercise to keep your cholesterol in check

In addition to dietary strategies, another success method is…strength training!

Strength training is a well-established way to manage cholesterol levels. In fact, a research article which tallied the results of 29 studies and over 1,300 adults concluded that strength training reduces total cholesterol, LDLs, and triglycerides. 

These changes could happen after as little as four weeks of training.

Researchers noted that strength training is additionally helpful for controlling cholesterol when people consistently attend their workouts, lose weight, gain muscle, or lift very challenging weights. 

If improving cholesterol levels is important to you, consider combining strength training with some of the dietary approaches listed above. 

Having high cholesterol is an indication that you might be headed toward heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US. 

Fortunately, you have a large say in your own outcome. You can keep your cholesterol in check with a few simple diet changes and a strength training program. 

A single month of strength training with The Perfect Workout can make a significant positive change in your cholesterol… and overall health.

  1. Kelley, G.A. & Kelley, K.S. (2008). Impact of progressive resistance training on lipids and lipoproteins in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Elsevier, 48, 9-19.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
  3. Sarin, H.V., Ahtiainen, J.P., Hulmi, J.J., Ihalainen, J.K., Walker, S., Kuusmaa-Schildt, M. … Peltonen, H. (2019). Resistance training induces antiatherogenic effects on metabolomic pathways. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(9), 1866-1875.
  4. Virani, S.S., Alonso, A., Benjamin, E.J., Callaway, C.W., Carson, A.P. … Tsao, C.W. (2020). Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 141(9), e139-e596.
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

High-Intensity Training

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Live Longer And Pain-Free: Strength Training

Can Strength Training Help You Live Longer And Pain-Free?

Woman holding neck wanting to Live Pain Free

Accepting illness and physical deterioration used to be the norm because we just didn't know any better. It was all just a part of getting old. 

But now that we know better, we can do better. Our health is in our control even as we age.

The same is true for health. Pain, independence, and premature death are common age-related concerns for many adults. These concerns, though, are just that: concerns. They aren’t guaranteed. 

In fact, there are specific approaches you can take to avoid these side effects of aging. In this article, we’ll address how strength training is one of those approaches.

The Most Common Age-related Concerns that can be avoided with Strength Training

Living With Pain.

According to the CDC, 49.6% of seniors have diagnosed arthritis. This produces a number of side effects, which can vary depending on what joints have arthritis. Common side effects are issues with walking form, limited range of motion, limited function, disability, and pain.

Losing Independence.

About one in every 14 seniors require personal care assistance, according to the CDC. About one in every six adults age 85 years and older live in a nursing home. 


The loss of independence is due to a few factors. Arthritis and other sources of pain limit physical abilities and could lead to relying on others. Strength is one of the biggest factors in determining how well we can physically function.

We lose about 3-8% of our strength per decade, which adds up when reaching our older years. Independence is also lost when major injuries occur and the individual never fully recovers. 

About a third of older adults suffer at least one fall every year. The CDC states that 20-30% of falls lead to injury. Some injuries, such as hip fractures, lead to the permanent loss of independence

Premature Death.

The average adult lives 79 years in the US. However, many don’t reach this point for a variety of reasons: 

the onset of chronic disease, a lack of exercise and overall movement, and many other reasons. 


(If you’re reading this and are thinking, “This is bringing me down.” …keep reading. There’s a happy ending.)


As noted at the beginning, you have a lot of control in what happens with your life. You can take actions to improve your health and longevity. Starting and maintaining a strength training program can prevent or decrease pain, maintain independence, and lengthen your life.


Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s look at the research:

    • Arthritis/Pain. A few months of twice-weekly strength training substantially reduced arthritis pain, disability, and improved joint range of motion. Training also led to big improvements in strength for the muscles that support the arthritic joints.
    • Fall Risk. A research review which included over 100 studies showed that strength training decreases the risk of falls for older adults.
    • Physical Functioning. As little as 12 weeks of strength training can increase strength and balance in adults between 85 and 97 years old! The increase in strength translates to greater ease with general daily activities: walking long distances, walking upstairs, carrying groceries, etc.
    • Longevity. People who strength train are more likely to live longer lives. A 15-year study of adults 65 years and older showed that strength training at least twice per week was connected with a 46% reduced risk of death. In other words, strength training was linked to one in every two adults living a longer life.

If you take anything from this article, remember this: many side effects of aging are optional. You have control over how you age. You also have an influence on how long you live. 

As the research showed, strength training twice a week can reduce pain, enhance overall function, add strength, build balance, reduce the chances of falling, and might increase your life expectancy.

With slow-motion strength training, we can revolutionize the way people exercise… and live! Share with a friend today,

New to The Perfect Workout? Get a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Baker, K. R., Nelson, M. E., Felson, D. T., Layne, J. E., Sarno, R., & Roubenoff, R. (2001). The efficacy of home based progressive strength training in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Rheumatology, 28, 1655–166.
  2. 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. Age36(2), 773-785.
  3. 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. Bmj347, f6234.
  4. Foroughi N., Smith  R. M., Lange, A. K., Baker, M. K., Fiatarone Singh, M.A.,  & Vanwanselle, B. (2011). Lower limb muscle strengthening does not change frontal plane moments in women with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Biomechanics, 26, 167-174.
  5. Kraschenewski, J. L., Sciamanna, C. N., Poger, J. M., Rovniak, L. S., Lehman, E. B., Cooper, A.B., … Ciccolo, J. T. (2016). Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults. Preventative Medicine, 87, 121-127.
  6. 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.
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

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More Exercise Isn’t Better. Better Exercise is Better.

More Exercise Isn't Better. Better Exercise is Better.

Are you eating less and exercising more but gaining weight?

Spending longer hours at the gym, but can’t get rid of that tummy?

Signing up for more workout classes, but don’t have time to do the things you really want?

In this article we address a common belief that “more is better” when it comes to exercise. You’ll learn how taking a smarter, “less is more” approach to exercise can produce better results and save you time.

Eating more and exercising more isnt better, slow motion strength training is better

How to Get Stronger in Under 20 Minutes

Most people spend an hour in the gym for a strength training workout. Did you know strength can be maximized with workout sessions lasting less than 20 minutes?

One study (1) experimented with individuals who strength trained for two months. All participants in three different groups performed the same full-body workout but with different workloads.

  • GROUP 1: performed one set per exercise. (7 total sets per workout)
  • GROUP 2: performed three sets per exercise (21 total sets) 
  • GROUP 3: performed five sets per exercise (35 total sets)

** All sets were performed to muscle success (aka. Temporary muscle fatigue)

The secret to a successful workout

All groups gained strength, but the strength tests which included a bench press and a barbell squat showed no statistical difference in strength gain for each group. 

This is significant when considering the amount of time spent exercising:

 

GROUP 3 averaged 68 minutes per workout
GROUP 2 averaged 40 minutes per workout
GROUP 1 trained for just 13 minutes per workout

 

Therefore, training intensely for 13 minutes can produce similar strength gains compared to training for 68 minutes. You get a five-fold return on your time investment. 

The 13-minute routine used in Group 1 is similar to a typical session at The Perfect Workout: 

 

  • one set per exercise
  • seven exercises total
  • each set performed to “muscle success”
  • each workout targeting all major muscle groups

 

This similarity is not a coincidence. Our method is designed to help you become strong, healthy and able-bodied without wasting your time. In fact, you get your time back.

Exercise Everyday? Not Necessary

A common misconception about exercise is that we need to exercise almost every day, if not every day of the week.

This approach to exercise can actually hinder results.

In another study (2), 72 women between the ages of 60-74 were tested before and after a 16-week exercise program. There were 3 groups:

*Aerobic workouts were cycling/treadmill for 20-40 min at 80% of max heart rate

**Strength training workouts- each set of repetitions was taken to the deep fatigue point of “muscle success”

1+1 Group:

Performed 1 low intensity aerobic workout per week

1 high intensity strength training workout per week

2 total workouts per week

2+2 Group: 

Performed 2 low intensity aerobic workouts per week

2 high intensity strength training workouts per week

4 total workouts per week

3+3 Group: 

Performed 3 low intensity aerobic workouts per week

3 high intensity strength training workouts per week

6 total workouts per week

Results measured included: total number of calories expended per day (TDEE), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), and fat loss.

 

1+1 Group:

  • increased their NEAT by 57 calories per day
  • increased their TDEE per day by an additional 30 calories
  • averaged 2.2 lbs of fat loss. 

2+2 Group: 

  • increased their NEAT by 200 calories per day
  • increased their TDEE per day by an additional 195 calories
  • 2+2 group lost the most fat, dropping 4.4 fat lbs

3+3 Group: 

  • decreased their average daily NEAT by 150 calories. 
  • decreased their TDEE per day by an average of 63 calories, despite the extra activity level of working out six days per week.
  • averaged 1.1 lbs of fat loss. 

 

The group that spent the most time exercising wound up burning fewer calories and losing less fat than both of the other two groups. 

This study is evidence that more exercise doesn't necessarily produce better results.

In fact, too much physical stress (including exercise stress) can cause the body to react in unfavorable ways. You want just the right amount of high-intensity exercise stress for optimal improvements, and no more.

If you want to get optimal results you need to value resting and recovering from your workouts

More is not better quote from Alex Stefan

Learn to Work HARDER, Not Longer.

A typical slow-motion strength training workout generally consists of 7-8 exercises per session. This may vary slightly depending on a number of factors: once or twice a week, injuries, limitations and individual goals.

 

In theory, you can hit all major muscle groups with just 4 exercises:

  • Leg Press: Glutes, Quadriceps, Calves(or Squat for Virtual)
  • Chest Press: Pectorals, Shoulders, Triceps (or Push-up for Virtual)
  • Lat Pulldown: Lats, Biceps, Abdominals (or Superman for Virtual)
  • Leg Curl: Hamstrings (same for Virtual)

 

Depending on the individual, we can also incorporate other machines to target specific muscle areas, including:

  • Leg Extension: Quadriceps (same for Virtual)
  • Preacher Curl: Biceps, Forearms (or Bicep Curl for Virtual)
  • Tricep Extension: Triceps (or Tricep Dips for Virtual)
  • Hip Abduction: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minor, TFL (or Fire Hydrant for Virtual)
  • Hip Adduction: Inner Thighs (or Pillow Squeeze for Virtual)
  • Compound Row: Trapezoids, Rhomboids, Biceps (often interchangeable for Lat Pulldown) (or Row for Virtual)
  • Abdominal Machine: Abdominals (or Crunches for Virtual)
muscles worked on exercises

If you look at the first list, you’ll notice the entire body can be targeted with just four exercises, making it simple and efficient to get a full-body workout.

More exercises can be added to further fatigue smaller muscles that may have not achieved muscle success on bigger-muscle machines. 

For example, the biceps are the secondary muscles used on the Lat Pulldown. The Preacher Curl can be added to further fatigue them.

 

This does not mean it is necessary to do all machines and exercises in every workout.

In fact, having the ability to easily complete 11 slow-motion strength training exercises is a good indication that the intensity level is not high enough. 

Think of your workouts as a short sprint, not a mile-long race. The reason there isn’t a mile dash in track & field is because nobody can sprint that far, or work that hard for that long. 

 

Since intense effort is what stimulates best results from the muscles (and the body), demanding slow-motion strength training workouts have to be brief.

If you feel like you can perform slow-motion strength training exercises for more than 20 minutes at a time, you can probably improve your results by increasing the intensity and learning how to work harder.

 

This applies to every single exercise too.

An appropriate weight will allow you to maintain a slow speed while eliminating any momentum. Therefore, slow lifting makes greater demands on the muscles, and provides a more effective stimulus for the muscles. 

An ideal exercise should take about 1-2 minutes to hit muscle success. Anything over 2 minutes indicates the weights may be too light for you, thus making the exercise less efficient.

Rest AFTER the Workout

Have you ever thought, ”Why doesn’t my trainer give me any breaks between exercises?!” 

 

One reason is minimal rest between exercises improves the cardiovascular impact of the workout. 

The only way to “get at” your cardiovascular system during exercise is to make the muscles work hard. We achieve that by hitting muscle success. Slow-motion repetitions make your muscles work much harder than most exercises which puts a greater demand and stimulus on your cardiovascular system.

your heart and eating less and exercising more
Image Source: Cybex

Little to no time to rest between exercises quickens the process of getting to muscle success, making the overall workout more efficient. 

While strength training in general provides several improvements to the cardiovascular system, many benefits are received or amplified only when training to muscle success. 

Another Area to Avoid Resting is Between Repetitions.

One study (3) observed what happened when two different groups strength trained. Resting was compared against not resting between repetitions:

 

  • GROUP 1: lifted continuously from start to finish in each set (we use this in our protocol)
  • GROUP 2: took a short break in the middle of the set. 

 

When muscle biopsies were taken from the quadriceps, the fibers from GROUP 1 had grown 13%, whereas GROUP 2 only grew 4%. 

Keeping your muscles continuously loaded without any rest (as we employ with our slow-motion repetitions) yields the best results.

Save the rest & recovery for after your workouts. You’re going to need it!

Need Proof 20 Minutes is Enough?

We’ve helped over 40,000 clients improve their bodies and health over the last couple of decades with our 20-minute, twice a week protocol.

Here are just some of their success stories:

Over a 20-day period in May 2020, we measured just how long it takes for an average client of The Perfect Workout to complete a workout and the amount of time spent on each exercise. This is what we found out:

These are the people seeing significant results… And they are doing it with two workouts a week, for 20-minutes.

Now That You Know...

At the end of the day, we want to spend time doing the things we love, and there’s no reason for exercise to get in the way.

Now that you know:

  • You can get the same strength gains, if not more, in 13 minutes than you can in 68 minutes
  • More workouts per week can actually hinder your results
  • Doing more exercises than needed in a session is an indication the workout may not be intense enough and you can be working harder
  • You can get a full body-workout in with just 4 exercises
  • More rest in a workout can reduce muscle growth and cardiovascular impact

If you could save hours each week doing more of what you love, would you?

What you get working out with this method is not only guaranteed results, but also your time back!

We know you value your health and exercise should be at the top of your priority list, but it doesn’t need to fill up your calendar.

Imagine what you could gain from saving time in your week getting a more efficient workout.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, carve out more time to play golf, or simply keep up with the grandkids, all you need is 20 minutes, twice a week.

  1. Schoenfeld, B.J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2018). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
  2. Hunter, G. R., Bickel, C. S., Fisher, G., Neumeier, W., & McCarthy, J. (2013). Combined Aerobic/Strength Training and Energy Expenditure in Older Women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (Published ahead of print).
  3. Fisher, J., Steele, S., & Smith, D. (2013). Evidence-­‐based resistance training recommendations for muscular hypertrophy. Medicina Sportiva, 17(4): 217-­‐235.

Decreased Risk For Fall: Improving Balance for Seniors

Decreased Risk For Fall: Improving Balance for Seniors

The Perfect Workout Client happy that she improved her balance

How Beth Decreased her Risk For Fall in 6 months

A progressive neurological condition that affected Beth Johns’ coordination and balance was slowly increasing her risk for a harmful fall.

As she approached her 60s, Beth stopped trying to manage her health and fitness alone and sought out an exercise program at The Perfect Workout.

Beth lives with a condition called Ataxia.

What is Ataxia?

“Ataxia describes a lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements, such as walking or picking up objects.” (Mayo Clinic)

This condition can cause:

  • Poor coordination
  • Balance problems
  • Unsteady walk and a tendency to stumble
  • Difficulty walking in a straight line
  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as eating, writing or buttoning a shirt
  • Change in speech
  • Involuntary back-and-forth eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Difficulty swallowing

Beth in particular, would often feel unsteady on her feet and easily lose her balance. 

“I've fallen a few times and was really worried and discouraged that my condition was progressing much faster than I had expected it to. The more I worried about it, the less I felt like doing.”

Beth was approaching her 60th birthday and knew she needed to take a different course of action. 

She tried doing strength and balance DVDs on her own but found it was hard to stay motivated. 

Beth knew that joining a gym wouldn't work for her because she really needed the one-on-one support. She needed someone there to guide her, teach her how to exercise correctly, and keep her accountable.

Woman Celebrating International Ataxia Awareness Day

After doing her research, Beth found The Perfect workout. She felt reassured when she saw people her age improving some of her same areas of concern, like falling

The idea of being able to see results in 20 minutes, twice a week without having to be in a public setting was very appealing. 

In November, 2020 Beth joined the Southwest San Jose studio and began her training program.

Beth’s goal was to strengthen her core and increase her overall strength to decrease her risk of falling. She had also recently had been diagnosed with osteopenia and knew it was important to do weight-bearing exercise to improve her bone density

Within 7 months, Beth has noticed significant improvements.

  • Gained strength
  • Back isn’t stiff in the morning anymore
  • Improved her posture and has good balance on her feet
  • Can squat down and stand up without falling over
  • Physical therapist says she’s improved a lot in the past year.
Testimonial Improved Balance From Wife with Husband

“All of the trainers I've worked with have been wonderful. Patient and encouraging. They've pushed me to do much more than I thought I was capable of. Candice got me started. Maria and Kylie have definitely kept me going!”

 

Feeling physically stronger and steadier makes Beth feel like she’s taken charge of her Ataxia and has greatly improved her mental wellbeing. She now sees that Investing in her physical health is an investment in her future, especially as she gets older, and encourages others to do the same.

 

“Friends that I haven't seen in a while say that I really look great! I definitely feel more confident. I know that it's only going to get better.”

 

The Perfect Workout is for regular people, just like Beth. It's not intimidating. It's a personalized experience and the trainers are there to help support your success. And it’s possible to see results in just 20 minutes, twice a week.

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

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The Secret to A Successful Workout

The Secret To a Successful workout

Woman experiencing muscle failure

The secret to a successful workout is…

NOT the equipment.
NOT the cold water in between exercises.
NOT even the incredible Trainers. 😲

Though all of those things can vastly improve the quality of your workout, the true secret to getting everything you want out of a training session is this-

Muscle Success.

In this article we discuss the necessity of achieving temporary muscle failure in your workouts and why it's the ultimate goal of every exercise you ever do.

“Muscle Success” should be your goal every time you workout.

By muscle success you might think I mean better tone, firmer muscles, greater strength, or more lean muscle tissue that burns extra calories. Each of those certainly represents a type of success, but I'm referring to something else by the term “muscle success.”

So what do I mean by “muscle success”?

You're pushing or pulling as hard as you can, and the weight refuses to budge even a fraction of an inch because your muscles have become so fatigued. You're attempting to make the weight move, but it's momentarily impossible for you to do so.

If you continue maximally pushing or pulling for several more seconds to make sure you're really at this point of muscle success, you'll have achieved deep momentary fatigue in the targeted muscles. 

Play Video

Why is Muscle Success Important?

It’s when the greatest benefits for your body are stimulated. This deep momentary fatigue in the muscle sends a strong signal to your body that it needs to get stronger, improve muscle tone, and increase your metabolism.

Within certain limits, the deeper you momentarily fatigue your muscles, the greater the changes you stimulate in your body.

But this isn’t exactly easy to achieve on your own. It's certainly a lot easier to quit each set of repetitions before you reach muscle success. Which is why working with a Personal Trainer is so beneficial.

Fatiguing down to this success point during a set of repetitions is not fun while you're actually doing it. It's uncomfortable. Your muscles often vibrate and burn. But it's the best thing you can do to generate results from your training.

The fun part is that each full body workout is only 20 minutes and results that are stimulated from achieving muscle success on each exercise are enormous: 

  1. Greater strength 
  2. More endurance 
  3. Additional calorie-burning lean muscle tissue 
  4. Reversing age related muscle loss (sarcopenia) 
  5. Increased metabolism for how many calories 
  6. Improved fat loss 
  7. Stronger bones 
  8. Reversing aging of muscle cells (express younger DNA in the nuclei) 
  9. Improved cardiovascular fitness 
  10. Improved cholesterol levels 
  11. Lower blood pressure 
  12. Improved low back pain
  13. Better blood sugar control you burn even while you're resting 
  14. Improved immune system 
  15. A number of other benefits 
reasons why muscle success, Man experiencing muscle failure

Even more benefits

I’d like to discuss two benefits of muscle success which aren’t talked about as often: cardiovascular health and an objective way to track your progress. 

The Journal of Exercise Physiology examined the same topic which looked at 157 studies, focused on the cardiovascular benefits provided by strength training to muscle success. 

While strength training in general provides several improvements to the cardiovascular system, the authors noted that many benefits are received or amplified only when training to muscle success. 

For example, after three months of training, men and women of various ages had enduring improvements in overall blood flow due to muscle success. Training to complete exhaustion increased artery size in another study. This is positive as larger arteries are less likely to experience a heart attack-causing blockage in the same way that adding lanes to a highway reduces the chances of having a traffic jam. 

Pushing to muscle success also increases the ability of arteries to expand when blood flow increases, which reduces the stress experienced by artery walls. 

Training to muscle success benefits your health in ways that may not occur if you train with lower intensity and don’t reach that point. 

Muscle Failure infographic

performance tracking

Also, you gain the benefit of an objective assessment of your performance. 

If you reach muscle success when lifting 200 pounds in 60 seconds on the leg press, we have measures of your current ability in regards to your leg and hip strength. 

If you arbitrarily stopped at 60 seconds (sick of feeling “the burn,” bored, etc.), the time you lifted for doesn’t provide us with any objective information. 

Who knows how much longer you could have performed the set for? 

If you train for 70 seconds the following session, we cannot say it’s an improvement – you may have been capable of that performance during your previous visit.

As you see, in addition to improvements in strength and appearance, muscle success stimulates greater changes in your cardiovascular system and gives you a way to objectively measure your progress. Therefore, the next time you encounter the discomfort of the last few reps, keep pushing. I promise: the extra effort is worth it. 

Muscle failure workout data
muscle failure graph for chest press

the magic happens at fatigue

I've experienced firsthand the difference that achieving muscle success can make. Prior to stumbling upon slow-motion strength training in 1992, I used to exercise with traditional methods of weight training for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week – 12 total hours of exercise per week. 

I would rarely (if ever) fatigue to the point of muscle success on any of my exercises -lengthy workouts require pacing yourself with a lower level of effort, which reduces how intensely you're able to train. 

When I tried slow-motion strength training I learned to fatigue all the way to muscle success on every set of each workout, and my results improved dramatically as a result. 

Muscle Failure-Matt Hedman Founder

My superior results were because I'd learned to make my muscles work harder. The higher intensity-pushing harder at the end of each exercise stimulated much better improvements in my body. And because my effort and intensity were significantly higher than before, by necessity my workouts had to be shorter. 

I advocate moving very slowly during every weight training repetition (approximately 10 seconds to lift the weight on each rep). But for results, fatiguing to the point of muscle success is actually more important than how slowly you move. 

Moving slowly during strength training is beneficial for great results too. It's just that reaching muscle success plays an even bigger role for results. Ideally you want to both achieve muscle success and move very slowly on every exercise. 

On each of your exercises as you near muscle success and your repetitions start to get challenging, try to cultivate a mindset of looking forward to the burning and shaking sensations you're experiencing. It’s where the magic happens!

Reference 

Steele, J., Fisher, J., McGuff, D., Bruce-Low, S., & Smith, D. (2012). Resistance training to momentary muscular failure improves cardiovascular fitness in humans: a review of acute physiological responses and chronic physiological adaptations. J Exerc Physiol15, 53-80.

Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

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It is possible for an individual to exercise too much

Is it Possible to Exercise Too Much?

Shifting the Paradigm Around Exercise

it is possible for an individual to exercise too much, woman ab crunch

“Physician tested, approved.”

“_______ are just what the doctor ordered!”

“The Doctors’ Choice is America’s Choice.”

These slogans came from advertisements during the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. Do you know what product they are referring to? No, it’s not broccoli. It’s not exercise, reading, or meditation, either. Those ads are referring to…SMOKING CIGARETTES! 

Yes, you read that correctly. From the 1930s to 1950s, cigarettes were advertised as healthful. Yes…”healthy” was used to describe the same cigarettes that can cause lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma, birth defects, a stroke, heart attack, and many other types of cancer. 

This was a widespread belief. Some cigarette companies acknowledged causing a little “throat irritation,” but they were otherwise considered beneficial. 

While the cigarette being healthy is an extreme example, it illustrates a bigger point: beliefs generally held as dogma are often incorrect. 

Other popular examples include Pluto being a major planet in the solar system, humans using only 10% of their brains, and a human’s urine relieving the pain caused by a jellyfish sting (I hope you didn’t learn this firsthand). 

Here’s another example: more exercise is better. Said differently, the belief that people should perform long, intense workouts every day is a common but misguided belief.

And often we get the question – Am I exercising enough? When it’s just as important to ask whether or not it’s possible for an individual to exercise too much.

Joint Health.

We’re all aging, but not necessarily at the same rate. A study out of the University of California at San Francisco assessed the rate at which the knee joint wears down over a four-year period. 

The participants were middle-aged men and women with a large range of exercise habits. The researchers wanted to see if exercise habits were tied to the rate of arthritis development. 

What did they find? People who exercised a moderate amount were the most likely to preserve their joint health. The people who did little to no exercise AND the people who exercised a large amount both had more cartilage breakdown. 

The results indicate that people who don't exercise and people who exercise very often are on a quicker track to arthritis.

Knee Arthritis from too much exercise

Weight and Metabolism.

Our bodies are clever machines that have “negative feedback loops.” These feedback loops work to counteract some kind of stimulus. For example, when our blood sugar is excessively high, we produce more blood-sugar lowering hormones (insulin). 

A negative feedback loop also occurs when we exercise very often

One example was in a study from Laval University in Quebec. Young men exercised intensely on a daily basis for a few months. At the end of the study, the participants’ metabolic rate decreased by eight percent. The men also experienced a reduction in several hormones, including a thyroid hormone (T3). 

decreased Metabolism from exercising too much

The University of Alabama at Birmingham published a study that showed a similar effect. Older women exercised anywhere from 2-6 days per week for four months. Women who did 2-4 days of strength training and other activities (e.g. walking) per week actually became more active outside of their workouts. (Maybe they gained more energy?). 

Women who performed six days of exercise and activity per week were less active outside of their sessions and lost less weight than the other groups. Learn More about how to lose fat and only fat.

The takeaway: the body seems to fight back when pushed to exercise intensely on a daily or near-daily basis. Perhaps the body is trying to tell us something?

Strength.

You’ve likely heard at least one member of The Perfect Workout family say that the results happen between the workouts. The workouts are actually only a stimulus for change. The stimulus translates into change as you rest between your workouts. 

This is not a lie. Multiple research reviews, which make recommendations based on the findings of many studies, suggest 72 hours as the shortest possible rest period between training sessions on the same muscle groups. 

When training after a shorter rest period, muscles are actually weaker in the second workout. Why? They haven’t recovered yet from the first workout.

Don't exercise too much, rest between workouts

You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing.

Exercise is one of the most healthy habits we can practice. However, similar to a medication or a supplement, there is a healthy amount and an excessive amount. Intense exercise on a near-daily basis can lead to counter responses from our body and limit strength gains.

It’s time to shift the paradigm on how we see exercise. It’s a potent habit that is best applied briefly and infrequently to maximize your health and fitness.

Valuing your health and exercise should be at the top of your priority list,  but it doesn’t need to fill up your calendar.

Imagine what you could gain from saving time in your week getting a more efficient workout.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, carve out more time to play golf, or simply keep up with the grandkids, all you need is 20 minutes, twice a week.

  1. Hunter, G. R., Bickel, C. S., Fisher, G., Neumeier, W., & McCarthy, J. (2013). Combined aerobic/strength training and energy expenditure in older women. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(7).
  2. Kraemer, W.J. & Ratamess, N.A. (2004). Fundamentals of resistance training: Progression and exercise prescription. Physical Fitness and Performance, 36(4), 674-688.
  3. Lin, W., Alizai, H., Joseph, G. B., Srikhum, W., Nevitt, M. C., Lynch, J. A., … & Link, T. M. (2013). Physical activity in relation to knee cartilage T2 progression measured with 3 T MRI over a period of 4 years: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 21(10), 1558-1566.
  4. Tan, B. (1999). Manipulating resistance training program variables to optimize maximum strength in men: A review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13(3), 298-304.
  5. Tremblay, A., Poehlman, E.T., Després, J.P., Theriault, G., Danforth, E., & Bouchard, C. (1997). Endurance training with constant energy intake in identical twins: changes over time in energy expenditure and related hormones. Metabolism, 46(5), 499-503.
Trainer coaching woman on the Lat Pulldown machine

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