Traded Local Gym Membership for Private Training

Why He traded his local gym membership for private training

John Gilbert Featured Image

John Gilbert was a long-time member of a local Orange County gym chain. When the pandemic hit, he had to stop. 

But, when the chain was allowed to reopen, the thought of going back to the gym made him feel unsure and uncomfortable.  

It wasn’t staffed most of the time, and members could just badge in and out. And the hygiene program wasn’t super good there. I just didn't feel comfortable going back.”

Luckily, his wife had been training at The Perfect Workout’s Tustin studio for a couple of years, and she was a big fan.

So, he decided to take the plunge.

Carol Gilbert Quote

A Private, Safe Workout Space Curbed His Fears

Because the Tustin facility (and all 62 locations) follow strict CDC guidelines to keep the workout space clean and safe, John felt like it was time to make the switch from gym to private personal training.

Everything's clean. It's only you and the trainer in the studio… So, it's very safe compared to a free-for-all, members going in and out, without any staff and without any control over who touches what.”

He isn't planning on going back to his old gym because The Perfect Workout, for him, is literally perfect!  In just 20 minutes, he can get a good strenuous workout. Something which took an hour and 15 minutes to accomplish back at his old gym.

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20 Minutes, Twice A Week With A Trainer And He Feels Way More Energetic Than Before

After barely two months, John already felt like he had more energy than before. 

Each workout is a little different as Angela, his trainer, changes up the exercises and keeps the workout at an ideal intensity level.

Back at his old gym, he was doing the traditional way of weight lifting, doing three sets of 10 to 15 reps. Slow-motion strength training was completely new to him. 

“This is a lot more strenuous.”

One thing that he really likes about the private setting is working out with the guidance of a trainer and the focused attention he gets on each exercise. 

Back straight, drop your shoulders, engage your core, feet planted!” 

Previously, without a trainer, John admits he would normally stop when muscles were starting to fatigue.

“It was difficult to continue and push myself.” But with the help of his trainers’ coaching and encouragement, he’s able to push more than he ever thought possible.  

It's amazing that you can do so much more with somebody there.” 

At The Perfect Workout, you get the value of coaching and undivided attention of a Personal Trainer, whether you train in the studio or virtually.

You can expect to get:

  • Personalized instruction and guidance on how to do each exercise
  • Safe and challenging workout
  • Adaptations to the workout depending on your ability, environment, and desired intensity level
  • Accountability, expert coaching, and a friend throughout your fitness journey
  • Guaranteed results

Get help from a Personal Trainer…

Personal Training for Men vs Women

personal training for men vs. women

Men vs Women personal training

Everyone seeks personal training for a different reason. We surveyed some of our clients and found some trends for why men and women wanted to work with a Personal Trainer.

The MEN wanted:

  • Injury prevention
  • All the focus on them
  • Time efficiency
  • Personalized coaching
  • Evidence-based exercises

The WOMEN wanted:

  • Accountability to stay consistent
  • To be coached and led throughout the process
  • A customized workout tailored to their injuries or limitations
  • Someone/something to help improve muscle and bone strength


Though some of the initial reasons for them seeking a trainer overlapped, others varied. But this brought up more questions:

When men and women receive personal training, do their bodies respond to the exercises the same way? 
Should personal training for men vs. women be the same? 
Do men and women gain muscle the same way?
What should men and women look for in a Personal Trainer?

We uncovered answers below…

Are Men Stronger Than Women?

The average adult man is stronger than the average adult woman.

But it’s not an apples to apples comparison. 

Size and weight correlate with strength. Larger people generally carry more muscle tissue than smaller people. This is true in the case of men versus women.

The average man is 10% taller and weighs about 24 lbs more than the average woman [1]. 

The average man also has about 40 to 48 lbs additional fat-free mass (muscle, bones, water, etc.) than the average woman [2].

One factor that helps men produce more muscle is testosterone. 

Testosterone increases a little as a result of strength training (which helps in the process of adding lean muscle tissue), and men and women have similar gains in testosterone when factoring in their sizes.

But the average woman has half to two-thirds the amount of testosterone that men have. 

As far as overall strength, women are generally about two-thirds as strong as men. 

staying strong at The Perfect Workout Danville- Virtual Personal Training

When adjusting for the differences in fat-free mass between men and women, overall strength is approximately equal between the two genders

In other words, saying men are stronger than women is similar to saying three-story houses have more rooms than two-story houses.

So, short answer: Men and women typically have amounts of lean muscle tissue that are relative to their overall size. 

Should Men & Women Train Upper or Lower Body?

Women’s lower bodies are proportionally stronger than their upper bodies. Lower body strength in women is about 75% of that found in most men, and the upper body strength ranges in women are 43% to 63% less than men on average. 

On average, women are proportionally on par or are stronger than men when it comes to lower body strength. However, average upper body strength is lower. 

So, it’s a good idea for many women to make upper body strength exercises an important focus of their exercise program.

And men should most definitely not skip leg day… or at least the leg press.

Muscle function wanes with age, so strength will only get worse for both men and women if strength training isn’t regularly performed.

This means you shouldn’t see your own sex as an advantage or hindrance to training. Train consistently with every set fatiguing to the point of “muscle success,” and you’ll see benefit relative to your own body.

Does Strength Training Cause Women to Bulk Up?

The vast majority of women should not worry about “bulking up” as a result of strength training. 

Is it possible for somebody to get more muscular than they want to be? Yes, but it's highly unlikely that it can happen to you. 

In fact, studies indicate that adults who don't strength train lose on average at least a half  pound of lean muscle tissue each year starting at about age 25 (this part of age degeneration is called “sarcopenia”). 

So women (and men) are battling muscle loss most of their adult life, if not actively strength training. This makes getting “big & bulky” with muscle even more challenging.

There are rare individuals who inherit the genetic potential for their muscles to grow  excessively large from strength training (like professional bodybuilders do). However,  inheriting those genetics is RARE. 

Out of the tens of thousands of real life clients we’ve worked with over the years, we can count on one hand the number of individuals that we’ve seen even one muscle group get too muscular for their goals. (And in the rare case that a muscle  group becomes too large, it's a super easy problem to fix – just reduce the intensity of exercise on that muscle group.) 

What Should Men & Women Look for in a Personal Trainer?

There are a lot of myths floating around when it comes to male trainers vs. female trainers. Women are more caring, men push you harder, you should work with a same-sex trainer, etc. 

There are a number of credentials you should expect from working with a trainer, which we will outline below; but none of those myths are true and are generalizations that could prevent men and women from working with an ideal trainer.

So, what should men and women look for in a trainer?

One of the most important factors in your decision to work with one should be your comfort level.

You should always feel comfortable with someone you work with. Being able to trust your Trainer is important and below is a checklist of things you should look for when shopping for Personal Training:

What Have We Learned?

The principles of Personal training for men vs. women remain the same:

  • Exercise (for men and women) should be safe, efficient, and effective
  • Work with a Certified Personal Trainer to achieve the principles listed above
  • Men are generally stronger than women, but only because they are generally larger 
  • Women’s lower bodies are generally stronger than upper body
  • Men average more upper body strength than lower body strength
  • It is rare for women to get bulky as a result of strength training because of low testosterone production
  • Both male and female trainers can help you achieve your goals, and you should always work with someone you trust.
  • Know your goals and the science we’ve outlined above


Thinking about working with a Personal Trainer?

Let us help.

  1. Holloway, J. B., & Baechle, T. R. (1990). Strength training for female athletes. Sports Medicine, 9(4), 216-228.
  2. National Strength and Conditioning Association (1989). Position paper on strength training for female athletes. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, 11(4), 43–55; 11(5): 29–36  



Healthy Relationship with a Personal Trainer

what it takes to have a healthy relationship with a personal trainer

Gabriel Ferrer Featured Image

Have you ever worked with a teacher or a coach and felt like something was off?

Chances are something was missing in your relationship.

We sat down with one of our Personal Trainers from Chicago, IL to talk about how he’s helped people lose weight, gain strength and build confidence.

We uncovered two essential things he creates to be the best Personal Trainer for each client: Trust & Candor.

Naperville Trainer, Gabriel Ferrer began lifting weights in high school and bodybuilding around 24 years old when he became a full time police officer.

His passion for health and fitness hasn’t wavered for decades and motivated him to transition from police-life to being a Certified Personal Trainer.

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You Have to Have Trust

It’d be a little crazy to expect everyone to walk blindly into a workout with a Personal Trainer, knowing nothing about them or what they do, and trust them completely.

But trust is vital in getting results.

You want to be able to trust that what you are doing inside your workouts is going to yield results. If you’re new to slow-motion strength training, learn more about the science behind it.

And you want to be able to trust that your Trainer can safely and efficiently coach you to get the results you’re looking for.

One client Gabriel is particularly proud of is a woman named Leann and the trust they’ve built together. According to him, their personalities clashed in the beginning, making it a little tough to connect with one another.

Now, she’s one of his superstar clients. 

“I’m there to challenge her every day, constantly being kind and cooperative. I like trying to make it a teamwork thing every time she comes in. I always say, ‘What are we going to be able to do today?’”

By taking this approach to their 20-minute sessions together, Gabriel was able to earn her trust and show up for her, every workout. He has continually challenged her to make progress and meet her goals. 

“I would never say just trust me blindly. I want people to challenge what I'm doing, because hopefully, I'm good enough at what I do to where I can explain it or show you and get your buy-in through actually experiencing it.”

Gabriel Ferrer Photo

One of the advantages of working with a Personal Trainer is we are aware of how it feels to be in your workout shoes. And we're aware of the exact moment in a workout when it becomes challenging, when the body wants to cheat its way out of an exercise and when it's crucial to keep pushing.

Gabriel’s clients feel good knowing that somebody they trust is watching them go through that challenge, and keeping them on track safely.

“I think anybody who wants to be good at something is always going to be learning from somebody else. Having that objectivity of somebody that's not you, assessing the situation and guiding you, is invaluable.”

Just like Gabriel, we don’t expect you to trust us blindly either… Don’t just take our word for it. Hear what a few of our clients have to say about trusting their trainers…

Candor is Key

Another key piece of Gabriel's ability to build trust with clients is using one of The Perfect Workout’s core values: Candor.

Our trainers value speaking openly and honestly for the best interest of the client. 

And we aren’t going to promise what we can’t guarantee.

This is a vital component of the trainer-client relationship and achieving results in a realistic and sustainable way.

There is thought behind how we train you and how you progress. Being able to have an open dialogue about how that works and what it takes to meet each goal is important.

“One thing I always ask my first-time clients is, ‘Are there any questions, comments, concerns, or anything you want me to know?’”

One of Gabriel's clients had recently been trying to lose weight.

Each week the scale showed incremental progress, about ½ to 1 pound down at a time. 

All she could really see was the slight changes each week and didn’t seem too thrilled with the results. What she didn’t realize was from November 2020 to January 2021 she went from 160 lbs to about 145 lbs.

She lost 15 pounds.

Having a candid moment with this client, Gabriel was able to help her shift her paradigm and educate her on healthy, sustainable weight loss.

By the end of the conversation, she was actually very happy with her results and was excited to share the good news with her boyfriend.

“Having somebody there that you trust to coach you through this is invaluable. Which is why I'm a coach.”

We encourage you to ask questions, do your research, and challenge your trainers to be the best they can be! We are here to guide you, educate you, and help you get results.

Strong Bodies Are Built in 20 Minutes (age 66)

this 66 year old proves strong bodies are built in 20 minutes

Bob Jones, 66, was recently crowned “Client of the Month” at the Long Beach studio and the progress he made during 2020 (the craziest year ever) says it all.

Bob was referred into The Perfect Workout by his friend Cathy, a fellow client in November, 2019.

He came in with a vision to live a healthier life.

And the Long Beach team made that vision a reality through accountability, support, and a science-backed workout: slow-motion strength training.

Bob has been fully committed to his 20 minute, twice a week workouts. When his studio temporarily closed down during the first wave of the pandemic, he pivoted to Virtual Training with his trainers, never risking his health or his progress.

When the Long Beach studio reopened its doors for In-Studio Training, Bob hadn’t lost any progress. In fact, he was able to lift heavier on some exercises and his range of motion improved on others.

Bob joined The Perfect Workout to get healthier and improve his quality of life. Although there’s nothing stopping him now, we’re happy to say he’s hit some major goals in just one year:

  • he’s physically stronger
  • he’s lost 12 pounds 
  • has better endurance hiking and bicycling
  • has better posture and balance


“I owe this to my personal trainer Ray. He pushes and encourages me to do my best. I highly recommend The Perfect Workout.”

Living Longer Stronger: with Matt Hedman (Part 3)

Living longer, stronger & smarter with founder Matt Hedman PT. III

Patient: “I need something that is going to help me live longer, get stronger, become healthier, remain injury-free and help my brain stay sharp as I get older. Do you have something for that?

Doctor: “Yes!”

Patient: “Great! What’s this magic pill called?”

Doctor: “Slow-Motion Strength Training.”

If you have any desire to age with strong bones and muscles, feel healthy and alive, add more enjoyable years to your life… and get smarter along the way… You have to do slow-motion strength training, and here’s why:

Matt Hedman had a relatively severe shoulder problem that caused him a lot of pain prior to starting slow-motion strength training, and his knees were just sensitive.

“I was never able to do strength training and work my leg muscles as hard or as effectively as they could have been.”

Many of our clients come to us with a pre-existing injury, chronic joint pain or have been avoiding exercise in order to avoid further injuries.

One huge benefit of our exercise method is it allows him (and many others) to train all of his muscles, including those muscles that involve his “problem area” joints, the shoulder and knees.

Slow-motion strength training is safer than other methods for the joints and connective tissues because it minimizes the impact forces on the joints.

Newton’s 2nd Law helps to explain this: Force = Mass x Acceleration

How this applies to exercise:

  • Mass: the amount of weight you’re pushing or pulling
  • Acceleration: How quickly you’re moving the weight

Because Slow-Motion Strength training essentially eliminates momentum during lifting speeds, it slows acceleration and ultimately reduces force- or impact on the joints. Making it one of, if not the safest way to exercise for healthy and injured bodies.

Living with stronger bones

Matt’s grandmother passed away from the effects of Osteoporosis. (Read More about this story) So, Matt continuously encourages his own mother, and any other woman that is concerned about Osteoporosis, to do strength training because of the power it has to improve bone strength.

There are studies showing that effective strength training can have significant positive benefits on bone density, osteoporosis and osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis).

All adults, particularly those in their middle age or older, want to maintain their bone density because when you have too little, it's easier for bones to break.

Some studies actually show strength training reverses bone mineral density loss and over the years we’ve helped a number of clients to reverse their osteoporosis and normalize bone density levels.

Many of our clients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis also get prescribed medications and that's not something that they necessarily want to do. It often becomes a goal to either not have to take Fosamax (or other medic medications related to osteoporosis) or to get off of those medications.

Personal Trainer in Thousand Oaks

Strength training makes you smarter?

We know that strength training produces a lot of physical benefits such as increased strength and building bone density.

But what if it could actually improve your cognitive health? What if lifting weights made you smarter?

One study (1) done in 2017 looked at adults at least 55 years old, and had:

  • One group doing strength training
  • Another group doing some computer version of brain training (puzzles, sudoku, etc.)
  • Another group doing stretching, or something that hadn't been shown to improve brain function. (control group)
Personal Trainer Thousand Oaks

After six months, strength training by itself was the most effective intervention in all the major areas, including improvements in memory and improvements in Alzheimer's disease score- which predicts the risk for developing Alzheimer's.

You would think “brain training” would have been the winner, but strength training beat it. If you look at the evidence, it probably makes you a little smarter and, and less likely to develop Dementia.

And it only takes 20 minutes twice a week to be effective for this.

Living longer

“One reason why a lot of people exercise is because they think they're going to live longer. And, and with strength training, we may have some evidence for that.”

Penn State University did a 15 year study (2)on people 65 years or older who did strength training at least twice a week.

30,000 people were observed over 15 years, all 65 or older, and at the end of the 15 years, the people who didn't strength train twice a week were almost twice as likely to be dead at the end of the 15 years compared to the people that did strength training twice a week.

That’s a big deal.

Strength training was also shown to have significant impacts on some of the major causes of death. It was associated with preventing one in five of every cardiovascular deaths like heart attacks and every two out of every five cancer deaths.

That’s 40% less likely to die of cancer and 20% less likely to die of heart disease!

Fitness Trainer in Thousand Oaks

More healthy years of living longer

If you live longer but the end of your life is spent feeling sick and miserable, what’s the point?

If strength training can make your lifespan longer, we're even more confident it's going to make your healthspan longer. In other words, more healthy years of living longer.

How so?

Strength training improves a lot of disease markers, including for:

  • Alzheimer's
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Risk for Diabetes

Therefore, strength training not only improves your strength, it improves your overall health. So you can live a longer, healthier, more fruitful life.

How could you say no?

Not only do we have 20+ years of anecdotal evidence at The Perfect Workout with our own clients, we have some plausible evidence showing that slow-motion strength training is a resource for people that will:

  • Help you live longer
  • Reduce your likelihood to have a heart attack or die from heart disease
  • Reduce likelihood to die from cancer
  • Reduce likelihood to get Diabetes less likely to die from, you know, other factors as well.
  • Increase the healthspan and lifespan, giving you more enjoyable years of living
  • Probably make you smarter

“How could anybody say no to a longer and healthier life only takes twice to 20 minutes, twice a week?

The benefits are enormous.”

  1. Mavros, Y., Gates, N., Wilson, G. C., Jain, N., Meiklejohn, J., Brodaty, H., … & Baker, M. K. (2017). Mediation of cognitive function improvements by strength gains after resistance training in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: outcomes of the study of mental and resistance training. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(3), 550-559.
  2. Kraschnewski, 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.

Losing 50lbs: Founder Matt Hedman (Part 2)

Losing 50lbs and maintaining it for decades with founder matt hedman part III

Matt Hedman maintain fat loss

“I want to lose weight!”

We hear this every day in our studios, and chances are you’ve spoken those words too.

But have you ever said, “I want to lose weight, gain it all back and do it over and over again?”

Of course not.

Two of the most sought after goals our clients have are to: build muscle strength, and lose fat.

In fact, when Matt Hedman, the Founder of The Perfect Workout first began slow-motion strength training at the age of 20, his primary focus was to build bigger muscles, all while keeping his joints safe. But fat loss was a big part of his journey as well.

In Part II of this feature with Matt Hedman we discuss how he’s been able to safely and effectively build muscle and maintain a 50lb weight loss for decades.

fat loss & fat loss maintenance

One of the most common health and fitness goals in the U.S. and in our training studios is fat loss.

We’ve shared a lot of information on how our method, a form of High-Intensity Exercise is the most effective way to lose fat. But did you know it can be an extremely effective way to maintain fat loss too?

Losing fat can be a challenging feat, but maintaining the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose can be even more challenging.

In his early adulthood, Matt Hedman gained 50lbs, lost it, and has kept it off for over 27 years with slow-motion strength training.

“I have personal experience with this.

There was a brief period of time in the early 90s where I had 50 lbs more fat on my body than I do right now. One of the mistakes I made was force-feeding myself extra calories, thinking it was going to help me get more muscular. I got to the point where I was literally carrying 50 lbs more fat on me than I do today.

As far as exercise goes, these days strength training is all that I do. It’s been decades since I’ve done running in the name of exercise and I’ve been able to maintain the fat loss that I achieved.”

Matt Hedman the perfect workout founder

Doing aerobics or cardio exercises, like walking, jogging, bicycling, spinning or swimming are not necessary for fat loss, or to keep it off.

Many people enjoy doing these activities for fun. But if you’re a busy person like Matt, you may not be looking for extra activities to fill your time, especially if it doesn’t add much to your life.

“I’m not someone who can eat as much as I want whenever I want and not gain fat, because I have been heavier in the past. But really the hardest part is the maintenance and that’s been relatively easy for me.”

As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, a book by Ellington Darden made a significant impact on Matt’s fitness journey.

Another one of Darden’s books compared fat loss results over 8 weeks between one of his research groups with two of Wayne Westcott’s research groups. All three of the groups were, or were attempting to eat the same diet plan– the Nautilus Diet (which averaged 1500-1800 calories a day for males and 1200-1500 calories a day for females):

  • GROUP 1: Low Intensity Aerobics only, plus the Nautilus Diet (Westcott)
  • GROUP 2: Aerobics and strength training, plus the Nautilus Diet (Westcott)
  • GROUP 3: Strength training only, plus the Nautilus Diet (Darden)
Fat Loss Comparison chart - Nautilus and Darden

All three groups lost fat and the smallest amount of fat loss was in Westcott’s aerobics-only group, (and they also lost muscle mass!)
Westcott’s second group, the aerobics plus strength training, got better fat loss results and instead of losing muscle they gained a couple pounds of muscle during the 8 weeks.

Darden’s strength training group averaged 18 lbs of fat loss over 8 weeks, which is almost twice as much as either of the other two groups. In addition they added slightly more muscle gain than strength training and aerobics group.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it is possible to lose a significant amount of fat and lose it fast doing just strength training for exercise

justin brunette testimonial the perfect workout
pam oliva transformation the perfect workout

“But if a person’s going to do exercise, they’ll want to do strength training because it’s certainly going to give you the most bang for your buck, in my opinion, compared to low-intensity exercises, like walking and jogging.”

There are other things which strength training can do during the fat loss process as well, including helping with discriminate weight loss. Normally a person wants to lose weight, but they don’t just want to lose just any weight, they want to lose fat.

Like we saw in Darden’s aerobics only study, a reduced calorie diet plus aerobics only, resulted in [muscle] loss, and that’s what’s going to happen without strength training.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would do effective nutrition, number one, and number two– effective slow-motion high-intensity strength training. Those are the two big levers in my opinion.”

fight muscle loss strength train

strength & muscle Gains

Lifting weights helps people get stronger and add lean muscle tissue to their bodies, which is helpful in a number of different ways.

In slow-motion strength training, momentary fatigue in the muscles is really important. If you fatigue your muscles down to that point of “muscle success,” you’ve basically recruited all the different muscle fibers that are available.

If you do it well, you stimulate the muscles to get stronger and to add more lean muscle tissue to the body.

“That’s one reason why you don’t want to stop before you hit that muscle success point, especially if you got 90% of the way there, you might still be leaving some of that stimulus on the table if you quit at that point.”

We all want to add muscle to our bodies, but why is it so important?

The answer can be different for different people including their age, what they’re interested in, and where they are in their lives.

As people start to age, there’s something called age-related sarcopenia: the loss of muscle tissue.

Generally around the age of 25- 30, if a person doesn’t do effective strength training then they gradually start to lose muscle tissue. Some research states as we get into our 50s, 60s, and 70s, the rate of muscle loss can be faster.

That’s problematic for a number of reasons:

  • Getting weaker as you get older makes every-day activities more challenging
  • Frail bones can result in osteopenia or osteoporosis and your muscles lose the strength to push against heavier loads
  • Having to use walkers or canes, or having a hard time getting out of a chair, out of bed, or the car can result in losing independence

That’s something that all of us want to avoid.

Most people in our society are not getting smaller as they age into their 40s, 50s, 60s. People are oftentimes getting bigger. The amount of body fat gradually increases and the amount of muscle shrinks.

If your muscle tissue is shrinking over time, then your metabolism is shrinking too.

Therefore, if we’re not actively strengthening our muscles, we are losing them, and likely gaining fat.

Leveraging exercise to lose fat & build Muscle

Slow-motion strength training (SMST) is the second biggest lever, behind proper nutrition, you need to achieve fat loss and build muscle.

Matt describes the proper way to strength train on the Leg Press. This is one of the most impactful exercises we leverage in our studios.

LEG press the perfect workout

Once a trainer has assessed your body type and fitness level, he or she will decide the proper seat setting and weight to perform the exercise. Start with an Intro Session for this customization– it makes all the difference in the world, trust us.

  1. You want to start as slow as you can without stopping. Start pressing the foot pedal forward. It’s okay on that first repetition if it takes several seconds to gradually build up force against the foot pedal.

  2. Try to take two-three seconds just to do that first inch of the range of motion. In other words, being extra slow in the beginning, because that’s one common form discrepancy– to fire out of the start of a repetition.

  3. Once you've barely started moving, you want to keep going as slowly as you can without stopping, which on most exercises including the Leg Press is about 10 seconds.

  4. The Leg Press is an exercise where you’re going “turn around,” meaning reverse direction, before your legs straighten all the way without stopping. You want to avoid resting at the most extended position and take another 10 seconds to come back, about as slowly as you did on the way out.

  5. As you near the bottom, you want to try to slow down even a little more than you’ve already been going slow and ideally, barely touching the weight stack and trying to take another two or three seconds for that first inch of that repetition and go as slow as you can another 10 seconds on the way out until you get to the extended position where your legs are still bent. Then repeat that process for several repetitions. Each subsequent repetition will become harder as your muscles start to fatigue. You’ll likely get to a repetition where it takes almost all or maybe even all of your effort just to get it to move and complete a repetition.

  6. Then, barely touch and barely start, and attempt to complete another repetition. There’s a good chance on this next repetition you need to push as hard as you can, too, but this one might not actually move. You might get a little ways, it might move a little bit, or you might not be able to move it out of the start.

  7. You’ll get to the point where you’re pushing as hard as you can, trying, at this point, not to go slow anymore, but to go as fast as possible and it’s not moving at all. You’re recruiting all the muscles you possibly can for that exercise. Slow-twitch, fast-twitch, everything is being recruited to try and move and no movement is happening.

  8. Once you get to that point where you’re pushing as hard as you can but no movement is possible, that’s when you want to slowly back off and rest. But you want to make sure you’re there.”

Sometimes it’s easy to misjudge this. It might feel really hard on one repetition and you might think, “Oh, man, there’s no way I’m going to get another one,” but sometimes you can get the next one so you have to try as hard as you can. Even pushing for a couple or several seconds after it stops moving, just to make sure, can be a good idea.

“This point is called “muscle success.” Because fatiguing to that point is success. Once you achieve the fatigue of muscle success, you’ve done as much as you can to stimulate the muscles to get stronger and stimulate the muscles to, when they’re able to recover, to be able to add more lean muscle tissue to your body, and do all the wonderful things that strength training exercise can do!”

leaving fat loss & strength on the table

Think of hitting muscle success during a SMST workout as your ticket to winning the fat loss, strength gain jackpot.

If you don’t, you leave a lot of money on the table.

Misjudging whether or not you’ve hit muscle success is very common.

“In my experience, I’ve trained hundreds if not thousands of clients over the years. It might even be that most clients have trouble identifying that they’re there. They think they might be as fatigued as they can, when they might still be able to even finish a whole one or more repetitions.”

That’s where having a trainer right there to coach and encourage you is so valuable and so crucial.

It’s easy to misdoubt our own abilities. One of the most common things we’ve heard from clients over the years is, “My trainer pushes me [safely] to where I never thought I’d ever be able to go… beyond what I thought I was capable of doing.”

Again, that’s just one of the amazing things of having a coach right there telling you, “You’ve got a little bit more in you.”

matt's favorite & least favorite exercises

We asked Matt Hedman what his favorite and least favorite exercises were, and why. Being someone who strongly values efficiency and effectiveness, there were some compelling reasons for his choices, and to no surprise, they had to do with maximizing strength and fat loss.

The Favorite:

“The Lat Pulldown exercise. It’s my favorite I’ve ever used as far as the way the handles track and it happens to be one exercise where I’m pretty strong on.”

The Lat Pulldown machine primarily targets the Latissimus Dorsi muscles and another primary mover, the Biceps.

“Those would be the prime movers, but believe it or not your chest is involved. It’s a climbing muscle and it’s actually helping you pull your arm down when you’re doing it. It uses your forearms too because you’re gripping. And of course your abs are definitely involved on this exercise.”

To some degree this machine hits the vast majority of muscles in the upper body.

“I’m not saying it hits them all optimally, but all of them are involved to some degree.”

If you’re going to do an upper-body exercise, this would be one to maximize your efforts on. Think of it as the Leg Press (or squat) of the upper body.

The Least Favorite:

“A lot of people would disagree with this, and I’m totally fine with that… I personally hate doing abdominal exercises.”

A lot of people like abdominal exercises for reasons which aren’t actually happening on the exercise. They think it’s going to do something that it’s not actually gonna do at all.

For example, a lot of people will think it will lean out their midsection and make their abs look better. If you are lean enough then the abdominal machine can make your muscles a little bit larger, sticking through the fat a little bit more.

But unless the person already has relatively low body fat, it won’t do that.

The abdominal exercise itself won’t create the look of having “abs.” Overall fat loss in the body will.

“I make the argument that the leg press, a variation of a squat, or some lower body exercise which heavily involves the quads or gluteus maximus muscles is going to have the biggest impact that strength training can have on the person’s metabolism. These are the biggest muscles in the lower body, making the biggest impact on adding lean muscle to your body, and therefore the biggest contribution that an exercise program, or at least a strength training program, can make towards fat loss.”

What the abdominal exercise actually does is it makes your abdominals a little bit bigger, which, again, if you’re lean, it will make your definition a little better, but for folks which aren’t lean enough, it’ll just make those muscles a little bigger.

Most people like to include abdominal exercises because it doesn’t hurt anything and it makes those muscles stronger and firmer underneath whatever fat is there.

“For me personally, it burns so much for not a whole lot of good at least for what I’m going after.”

This doesn’t mean strengthening our abdominals is a waste of time or should be avoided. Having strong abdominals muscles can help to improve posture and help with low back pain, among other benefits.

So, if you love the abdominal exercises or want to incorporate them into your own routine, we’ve got the machine for you!

lose fat gain muscle

what you need to know to lose fat & gain muscle

It’s easy to over complicate the process of achieving your fitness goals. But if losing fat or gaining muscle are one of your goals, the solution is actually quite simple. Next time you feel frustrated or discouraged about your progress, remember these:

  • Slow-Motion Strength Training partnered with a diet geared towards fat loss is the most efficient way to lose fat, and maintain or gain muscle in the process
  • Matt Hedman maintained a 50lb weight loss for decades with SMST and it's possible for you too.
  • Achieving muscle success and focusing on big-muscle group exercises during your SMST sessions will greatly support your ability to lose fat and gain muscle.
  • Having a Certified Trainer to coach you through safe and effective exercises will keep you on track and help to maximize your workout efforts
  • Doing aerobics or cardio exercise are not necessary for fat loss, or to lose fat and keep it off.
  • You can achieve incredible results in just 20 Minutes, Twice a Week!

Depressed, Overweight & In Pain. (Now Pain Free)

He was depressed, overweight & in Pain. Now, He's conquering 500 mile bike rides- pain free

Doug with his bike living life pain free

In between choir sessions, scuba excursions and 500+ mile bike rides Doug McGrath is living the life of a strong and healthy 55 year old.

But Doug wouldn’t describe it that way 3 years ago.

In the years leading up to joining The Perfect Workout, his weight had been climbing, he didn’t feel good about himself and depression had set in. He knew a change was needed and he wanted something better for himself. So, Doug decided it was time to prioritize his well-being and turned it all around.

He stepped out of his comfort zone.

Doug was aware of The Perfect Workout for years before joining, but his conception of “the gym” made him hesitant to try it.

“I had technically joined a gym a couple of times, and I only went once or twice. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing and I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing when there’s other people watching. I felt uncomfortable and I felt awkward.”

Doug also felt like so much of the “gymlife” was a waste of time. Driving to the gym, getting situated in the locker room, spending an hour working out and waiting for equipment, then having to drive back home takes up a lot of time.

Being able to save time by only needing to commit to two, 20-minute workouts a week would be a big factor in Doug’s decision to join The Perfect Workout. And with the studio being 5 minutes away from his home… it just made sense.

But that feeling of being uncomfortable in the gym, not knowing what to do on the machines, that awkward vibe was still an obstacle for Doug.

Male client smiling

Finally, he stepped out of his comfort zone and came in for his Introductory Session where all of his worries were put to rest. The intimate environment and 1-on-1 coaching made it apparent that he never had to worry about other people watching him exercise, how to set up a machine or do any exercise correctly, and would always get guidance and coaching from his Trainer.

“When I snapped out of it, I decided I wanted to build something better, so I joined and LOVE it. It’s been fantastic. It’s been a perfect program for me.”

He saw and felt changes almost immediately.

Unlike many new clients, Doug had heard of slow-motion strength training before. And although the concept made sense to him, his results were what solidified his belief in the method.

“I could see differences after four workouts. I could see body changes in just 2 weeks. And other people noticed within 6.”

He was seeing and feeling BIG differences within 4-5 months, including improvements to injuries he had dealt with for decades.

“I have knee problems and their ability to work around that and still give me a good workout is phenomenal.”

30 years ago, Doug slipped on the ice while living in Kansas and had torn his rotator cuff. It has been a limiting factor even with light weights. His trainers have reworked his program to be able to perform the exercises to get his shoulder stronger.

“We spent a lot of time focusing on that and that’s made a big, big difference. It’s healthier for me too, because I’m not at risk of hurting myself.”

With his Trainer’s ability to tailor the workout to Doug’s needs, customize it, and personalize it as much as possible, he’s been able to put on a significant amount of muscle.

MAle client results from slow motion weight training

he conquered the hill that he struggled to climb 15 years earlier.

It’s been about 15 years since Doug completed his first AIDS Life Cycle, which is a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The training he did to prepare for that first ride was the only time in his life where he had a regular training regimen.

When he joined The Perfect Workout, one of his goals was to complete that same ride again.

Doug had a little over a year of slow-motion strength training under his belt when he tackled the 500+ mile bike ride again.

How did his performance differ from his first ride, 15 years younger?

“Having the extra strength in my legs really made a big difference. The hills were so much easier!

On day three of the ride, there’s a big hill called “Quad Buster” and everybody talks about it because it basically goes straight up for a mile and a half. Most hills flatten out a little bit and you have a break. This one does not, it just goes up. I was 40 [years old] the first time. I probably stopped every 15 feet to catch my breath, it’s that hard. This time around, I stopped twice in the entire hill.”

What made the difference?

Two, 20-minute strength training sessions a week.

Male client being active

he was noticing strength improvements everywhere.

Another one of Doug’s passions is scuba diving which can be very physically taxing.

The diving itself isn’t the challenge, but the steps leading up to the dive and after the dive are.

Scuba divers are loaded up with heavy wetsuits, awkward flippers, weighted belts and tanks as heavy as 35 lbs. When you’re on a boat, the boat is rocking, even when it’s anchored which makes balancing a task in itself, especially getting across the boat and into the water.

According to Doug, just to get across the boat and into the water is hard. Then after you’ve been diving for 45 minutes or an hour, you have to climb back on the boat, climb up the ladder and onto the boat with all the extra weight attached to your body.

On a recent trip to the Maldives, Doug noticed that the entire process was much easier for him.

“It’s a lot easier to pick up the tanks and get on and off and stand up, sit down. My balance was much better. I had more strength for it. I even think my oxygen or air consumption is better than it used to be because I always burn through air.”

The future suddenly looked promising.

Getting stronger and seeing physical improvements so quickly was exciting but a change that Doug unexpectedly felt one day, left him speechless.

“I had lived with low back pain for decades. It’s just kind of always there. One day about 3-4 months after starting the program, I was just standing outside with friends talking, and I realized that my back didn’t hurt. I started thinking and I realized it hadn’t hurt all week. I almost fell apart.

That’s a big deal not living with that pain. It’s always been there on a low level and not having it is phenomenal.”

Most of us enter a workout program or start a regimen with the hopes and expectations it will give us bigger muscles, leaner waists or more energy, but this– this was life-changing. After living with pain for so long, it's so easy to accept it as being normal and something you have to live with forever.

And for most people, that doesn’t need to be the prognosis. Slow-motion strength training has the power to improve so much of our physical health and alleviating chronic pain is one of those benefits.

Doug had visions of his 70-80 year old self hobbling around with a bad back. He felt like his back pain was only going to get worse as he aged. It had been on his mind since he was in his twenties.

30+ years of worrying about his senior years was resolved in a matter of months by strength training.

Incredible.

“Before I started the program, I would look in the mirror and I could see myself old. Honestly, I felt like I looked old at the time, or much older than I actually was and I just didn’t like what I saw. This is BIG.”

he's sticking to this new lifestyle no matter what.

Doug hasn’t been doing any scuba diving lately as we’ve all been quarantined at home, but he’s committed to staying strong by doing virtual training.

“I was skeptical. I was really like, ‘I don’t know how this is going to work.’ And I don’t have equipment here at home.”

If you’ve read about any of the other incredible clients we’ve featured lately, you know that having no equipment is no problem! Luckily Doug did have some of his scuba weights lying around, so Jeffrey (his trainer) and he put them to good use!

He’s found that adding 10lbs to a wine tote easily doubles as a dumbbell… and it works. Between that and using his body weight for exercises, he feels like the workouts are just as hard as in the studio and he’s improving his balance in the process.

“I’ve gotten used to [the difficulty] now. The fact that I’m getting used to it shows that I’m building my body in ways that I wasn’t before. I’m really impressed at how well it works and how much you can do with chairs and scuba weights in wine bags.”

he found his sanctuary.

“The rest of the world disappears when I go in to do the workout. Nothing else matters.”

We receive so much more than the physical benefits of a workout. It is an emotional and psychological experience… a truly positive experience walking out of a strength training session.

“Even though I’m exhausted, I feel good. I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Before The Perfect Workout Doug would describe himself as feeling “bleh.” His weight had been climbing for 4 or 5 years and none of it was muscle. His back was hurting chronically and the clothes he had been wearing for years didn’t fit anymore. He just didn’t feel good.

“I feel better about myself, about how I look, about how I feel.

Being a single, gay man at this age, there’s a feeling that nobody’s going to notice you. Definitely, people are noticing. So that’s been a big boost in my self-esteem. It’s definitely been worth every minute.”

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

dr. sol finkelstein has lost 44 pounds since last august! the other doctors call him "skinny"!

Before and After photos of a doctor who lost 44 pounds with strength training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differences Between Women and Men

differences between women and men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Dropped 37 Pounds!

don dropped 37 pounds!

don dropped 37 pounds

Don Reed is a common sense guy who knows what he wants and goes after it. He doesn’t have a lot of spare time, and at age 53, “didn’t want to go to a gym with a bunch of young muscle heads.” Like a lot of men his age, he also had a few pounds to lose, and higher than average cholesterol and blood pressure. So when he and his wife, Becky, came to The Perfect Workout’s Rancho Bernardo studio last May, they both signed up without any hesitation.

While most people who are trying to lose weight get on the scale daily or at least weekly, Don took a different approach. “I went in with a phased-goal approach, a three-month and a six-month goal,” he says. “But we ended up signing up for six months, so I purposely didn’t weigh myself for the first six months.” He was pleasantly surprised when he finally checked after six months: 37 pounds down. While Becky was getting a lot of definition, Don was losing weight and getting stronger at the same time, a good combination. He went from doing 15-pound dumbbell curls to 60 pounds on the bicep curl machine, increased his chest press from 65 to 95 pounds, and went from 210 to 385 pounds on the leg press.

What’s even more impressive is that he did all of that in spite of a bad elbow. As a child, Don had shattered and dislocated his elbow, and had five surgeries to repair the damage. The pain level was high, but he learned to live with it. Working closely with his trainer, Don was able to strengthen the tendons and muscles around the elbow joint, and within six weeks of starting slow-motion strength training, he noticed a difference. He hasn’t taken any pain medication for his elbow since, “a side effect I wasn’t expecting,” he says.

Don attributes his success to three factors. First, of course, is The Perfect Workout’s unique method of slow-motion strength training. The key to this exercise is performing the lifting phase of each weightlifting repetition in approximately 10 seconds, and the lowering phase in 10 seconds as well. Enough resistance is used so that deep muscular fatigue is achieved within just one to two minutes on each exercise.

Don says, “It’s worked for me because it’s only two days a week for 20 minutes. I travel a lot and it’s flexible. I’ve been able to not miss sessions.” Another factor is the one-on-one training. “They know how to increase the weight, and exactly how to position each exercise correctly. Katie and Donna are very energetic and constantly encouraging. And they’re always sneaking in extra weight!” The other big reason for Don’s weight loss? A simple change in diet. He quit drinking six cans of Coke or Mountain Dew a day and started drinking more water and sweetened tea. Don says, “That’s it. Everything else is due to The Perfect Workout.”

I decided to try to take phentermine and liked it! I have always been overweight; phentermine helped me to lose 7 kg for a month! It is unbelievable because I haven’t done any exercises. Of course, there were some food restriction, but they weren’t significant. The only negative effect was a strong thirst, but, on the other hand, it is an advantage. When you lose weight, you need to drink a lot of water. Overall, the results were good.

Now that they’ve seen great results, Don and Becky are excited to continue. They just signed up for six more months, and Don’s new goal is to lose 50 more pounds. Compared to working out at a regular gym, he says, “The Perfect Workout is the best return on investment for the time involved.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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