Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Correction


I have to write a correction to a previous article in which I stated I had never received a serious injury from lifting.

I have a friend who was not getting the results they were after for one main reason-they were afraid of injury. They simply did not attempt the more difficult exercises, did not use enough weight and performed far too many reps to gain strength.

I explained that (1) I had never had a serious injury from lifting, (2) lifting had greatly aided in recovery and long term stability from all the injuries I had incurred outside the gym and (3) being stronger at the time of my injuries may have prevented my injuries in the first place.

On the very next day after this conversation I incurred my first semi-serious injury from lifting!

And the injury was entirely my fault. I wasn’t over-reaching, I wasn’t showing off, I wasn’t pushing for a personal record, I wasn’t using bad form or “cheating” on my form.  I wasn’t even close to my normal maximum for that lift. I was on the vertical leg press and was more than 200 pounds below my max.

I was injured because of something you should never do. I lost concentration. I was careless. I let my mind wander.

A close relative was in the hospital after surgery with a serious illness and things had not gone as planned. I was worried and distracted. That is not an acceptable excuse.

You should concentrate on every rep of every set regardless of how much weight you are using. If you are distracted and lifting heavy, pack up and leave the gym. Having several hundred pounds on the bar  is not the time to get careless or lose concentration. Believe me, I will follow my own advice from now on.

My injury was not terribly serious (a cracked rib) but it could easily have been much, much worse.

SEND YOU QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll find someone who does.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Throw away your scales


Why do you insist on stepping on your bathroom scales every morning? Scales lie!

First of all, many are terribly inaccurate. They rely on metal springs which expand and contract with temperature and humidity. So every time the temperature changes you might just get a different reading.

Second, your body changes from day to day depending on:
·        Stomach contents-Some foods digest slower than others so the contents in your stomach can easily add a pound or two.
·        What you ate the night before-Large pasta dinner last night? Carbs are first stored in your cells as glycogen (fuel!) But glycogen also attracts about 3 x its own weight in water in the cell
·        How much salt you had in the last 48 hours
·        Changes in your stress levels
·        What you drank the night before or the morning before you weigh-One liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds
·        The time of day you step on the scale

These are just a few of the reasons. Physiologically, there are many more.

It’s estimated that more people get discouraged and stray from their plan because of their scales than any other single cause.

Scales Lie!

Let’s say you lose 3 pounds of fat but gain 5 pounds of muscle. What does the scale tell you?

I’m not telling you to not track your progress. Keeping track of your progress is vital. Just don’t rely on scales.

Government Body Mass Index (BMI) tables are no better. For one reason, the BMI tables require you to use scales. Weight is part of the formula. But the main reason is they are adjusted for “average” Americans. BMI is a ratio of weight to height-not fat. Nor does it distinguish between visceral fat (the fat around your organs that causes most health problems) and normal healthy fat.

A recent study by the International Journal of Obesity  found that men with a BMI of 25 (the cutoff for being overweight in men) had actual body fat ranging from 14 to 35!

According to government charts, the gentleman in the top picture ( Vin Diesel ) is overweight and the gentleman in the bottom picture (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is obese (BMI=37.4). Do you want to be the one to tell them?

Here’s another telling picture. Five pounds of fat next to five pounds of muscle.

 So how do you track your progress?

·        Another way to judge your progress, though impossible to track accurately, you already have; a mirror. But if you’ve ever watched some of the people walking around Walmart you know that mirrors must lie too. 

·        Photographs- Take 3 pictures (front, side and back) back at least monthly and compare. Try to take each set under the same circumstances; lighting, time of day, distance, camera angle, etc. For some reason we have a more realistic view of ourselves in photographs than in a mirror.

·        A simple seamstress tape (about $1.19 at Wal-Mart)But, to be honest, it’s hard to get an accurate measurement on yourself.
        Build a simple excel spreadsheet or just a notebook and record your         measurements at least monthly. To be accurate ask someone else to take the      measurements. (spouse, workout partner, friend)
Record the following measurements: 
Neck                                                   chest                                                 
left upper arm                                     waist
Left forearm                                        left thigh                  
right upper arm                                   right thigh
right forearm                                       left calf
Right calf                                             Hips

These measurements won’t give you your body fat percentage but will help you track you progress.

Be sure to try to take the measurements at the same location each time.

·        If you don’t minding spending a little more you can purchase scales that will give you your weight, body fat percentage, lean mass percentage, and water weight by sending a small electrical current through you feet (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis). They are battery operated and you can’t feel the current at all. Cost has come down lately ranging from $29 to $69. I can’t suggest any particular brands. The one I have is several years old. Many gyms have these on site.

·        More accurate than the scales is a system called EIM (Electrical Impedance Myography). It works similar to the electronic scales mentioned above by measuring electrical impedance at several locations on the body thus eliminating much of the error inherent with measuring impedance through the feet alone. Currently, the devices are more expensive than the scales. (Around $200)

·        To get a fairly accurate measurement of your body fat you can purchase an inexpensive set of calipers complete with instructions and charts at
Record your caliper measurements according to the instructions that come with your calipers. You’ll be taking measurements on several parts of your body. For more detailed instructions see
Don’t buy the most inexpensive (about $4). Spring for the $15-$30 choices. Accuracy is still dependent on you being able to measure at or close to the same point each time. But calipers are much more accurate than the tape. (The best option in my opinion)

·        A very accurate method to determine body fat percentage is immersion-they put you in a tank of water. (Hydrostatic weighing) I doubt the increase in accuracy would be worth the additional cost. Up to $75 for each visit

·        Dexa-scan. A type of x-ray and most accurate of all but with a cost of up to $150 per scan.

Accuracy is important. But for our purposes the change from week to week is much more important.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find someone who does.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Organic Junk food

Organic junk food is still junk food, Hipsters.
                              Chris and Dani Shugart

Thursday, July 23, 2015



Over training is a condition in which the body sort of rebels against further training. The trainee may begin to feel lethargic, appetite may decline, trouble sleeping may become a problem, and loss of interest may develop. Severe overtraining may lead to sloppy form and make the trainee more injury prone. Hypertrophy (gain in muscle mass) may stagnate or even become negative. Strength may also stagnate or even decline. 

Is over training real or imagined? Fact or myth? Many fitness professionals disagree.

On the myth side, many say overtraining is not a real phenomenon. They believe the human body’s ability to adapt is far greater than most realize. They say that the problem is not with the amount you train or the duration of your training but with the trainee’s nutrition program or with the trainee’s recovery habits (or lack thereof) or that the trainee is just lazy and looking for an excuse. I agree SOMETIME.

On the factual side, many say over training is a real phenomenon. They believe the body can take only so much training before needing a “vacation”. I agree SOMETIME.

My opinion is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. My opinion is based on the fact that every trainee is different. With different recovery rates, different habits, different training styles and different stress levels.

If you start to experience any of the aforementioned symptoms the first step is to try to find out why.

Review your nutrition plan. Just because your present plan worked six months ago doesn’t mean it still on point. If your weight has changed, your training program has changed, your stress levels have changed, or other habits have changed your nutrition may need to be adjusted.

Review your recovery plan. If the recovery plan is the same one you used fifteen years ago you’re going to need to change! Review recovery in the same light as your nutrition plan. If something has changed your ability to recover may have changed, too.

Are you bored with your present program? Then maybe it’s time to change things up. A program should be followed for a minimum of twelve weeks.  (With some minor tweaks every three or four weeks) NOT TWELVE YEARS! Yes, I have seen people follow the same program for years and wonder why they stopped progressing. If you stick with a program for twelve weeks and you are still progressing in growth or strength or both don’t make major changes. DO try a few minor tweaks. By minor, I mean try some of the following:
·         Throw in a few drop sets or rest-pause sets
·         Do your same series of movements but change your foot or hand position slightly
·         Change your tempo-slow the eccentric (lowering) portion of the reps to say a 3 or 5 count instead of a 1 count.
·         Do some of your movements as unilateral (one hand or one foot at a time instead of the usual two)
·         Add a “pump set” as your last set. Lower the load and increase the rep count to, say, double your regular rep count.
·         Change up the order in which you do your exercises. (But keep the heavy multi-joint lifts at or near the beginning of your workout)

You get the idea.

NOTE: There is also a major debate on whether or not you can”confuse” your muscles.
                But that’s a subject for a different discussion.

Some professionals suggest that a week or more off from your workout is the solution. I disagree.
My reasoning is simple; too many people pig out during their weeks off or they simply don’t come back!
Just as some “cheat meals” turn into “chest weeks”, some”time off’ turns into “never come back”.
If you are going to use this method I suggest time off be scheduled in advance. Coinciding with you family vacation or the holidays for example.

My favorite solution (after trying to find the root of the problem) is called Deload.

Periodically, on a schedule or when it becomes necessary I will simply reduce the weight I normally use (by say 25%) or reduce the volume I would normally do. (Say, 4 sets to 3 or even 2 sets on heavy compound lifts)
This method keeps you in rhythm, keeps you from battling a major case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which you may face after a week or two off, and keeps your schedule on track. It also gives your joints and any minor injury some time to recover.

Another major positive; I often find that after a Deload cycle my hypertrophy and/or strength takes a jump of much more than my normal progression would have been.

My opinion on over training: It depends on the definition. I have experienced firsthand the effects of “over training”. At least by my definition. Which is: A general feeling of overwork or over stress related to my workouts. Maybe it’s my nutrition, my recovery, my stress level or something else entirely. The symptoms are the same no matter what you call it. So why quibble over the definition. Just try to find the problem and fix it!

All that being said, don’t be too quick to jump into time off or deload.  One or two bad workouts or an achy joint doesn’t mean you’re “over trained”. Often its right after a couple of bad workouts that you body gets its second wind.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find someone who does.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Myth of Spot Reduction


Spot reduction is the act of reducing the fat in a particular area of the body (usually the mid-section) by working or otherwise stimulating only that area.

I would have thought that the myth of spot reduction would have died decades ago. But no, the myth still hangs on. Spot reduction is a fairy tale. It does not work. It never has and it never will. It does exist scientifically speaking but the benefits are so infinitesimal as to be non- existent.

I still see people in the gym doing dozens and even hundreds of crunches and sit-ups, not so much in an effort to strengthen their abs but to lose fat. I still see advertisements for devices to “melt fat away” by wrapping the midsection in various belts and wraps. Ads for devices to “stimulate fat loss using electrical shock”.  Cheaply made home devices to “turn fat into pure muscle”.  (By the way, you cannot turn fat into muscle and muscle does not turn to fat if you stop working out)And otherwise intelligent people still buy this junk!

They are all the equivalent of “snake-oil”. You might want to also get a foil hat to protect you from alien mind control. The same companies that sell the devices above probably have the foil hat too.

Strengthening your abs and the rest of your core with exercise is a noble goal. Working you abs to reduce the fat around your midsection is foolish. (“Love handles” and thighs are another popular area the snake oil salesmen like to exploit)
You may develop “abs of steel”. But until you lose the fat covering them no one will ever see them.

Visible abs (the proverbial “6-pack”) are born in the kitchen.  If you want those strong abs to show you have to get leaner all over. There simply is no other way. Fix your nutrition first, increase your metabolism with resistance training to increase you muscle mass and burn fat calories.

If you insist on spending your hard earned money on snake oil and wasting your valuable time I can get you a really good deal on a foil hat. Your choice of color and size. Only $19.95 plus shipping and handling.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find someone who does.

Monday, July 20, 2015



Progression (or Progression Overload) is the concept that makes this whole fitness thing work.

 Your body is one of the most adaptable mechanisms in the word. Introduce your body to a new form of stimulus and it will adapt in a matter of days or weeks. It’s called Adaptive Response

Your body is also one of the most efficient mechanisms in the world. It will find a way to use the least energy possible for a given task.

In fitness, progression is, well, … you progress. Whether your goal is strength, mass, speed, stamina or weightloss.

If you’re not performing more total work compared to the last time you lifted, then you won’t produce positive physiological or neural adaptations.

In its simplest form progression means when your body reaches a certain level you have to raise the bar. Otherwise, improvement (fat loss, strength gain, muscle gain or stamina, speed) stops or even declines.

The average period it takes your body to adapt is less than 4 weeks. Longer for some (especially beginners), less for others. But, at some point, you body adapts to the stimulus and gains stop and eventually regress.

The most obvious form of progression in resistance training is adding weight to the bar. If you set/rep scheme calls for 3 sets of 10 for a given exercise and you hit that goal you increase the weight. But there are others:

·        Increase the volume –More sets and/or more reps, drop sets, rest-pause sets
·        Slow the tempo-increase the time lowering the weight(Eccentric phase) For example, 3 seconds instead of 1 second for each rep
·        Change the angle of attack-change your grip (hand placement) or your stance
·        Shorten the rest period between sets-say, from 1 minute to 30 seconds
·        Change the order of you exercises within your program

There are others. But you get the idea. Anything to make the lift more difficult fights the adaptive response of your body.

So, if your goals are any of those mentioned above, progression must take place or your progress will stall. But there’s more…..

After 12 to 16 weeks (give or take) you’re going to have to do more to fight the adaptive response. Why?  (1)You can only add so much weight to the bar. If you weigh 120 pounds you are not likely to be able to dead lift 300. (Though it’s not impossible-I’ve seen it done). And (2) your body begins to actually anticipate what you’re going to do! That’s how efficient your body is. When that happens you will likely start to regress.  As Captain Picard says, “There is no maintenance phase”.

At 12 to 16 weeks it’s probably time to change your program. A major overhaul may be required. Not to worry, there are thousands of good, effective, workable programs.

One of the most successful methods to beat the adaptive response long term is called Periodization.

We’ll take up that subject in a future post.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO . If I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find someone who does.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Favorite things are too easy

Some of your favorite things to do in the gym are your favorite things because they're easy. Do harder stuff. Or learn to make your favorite things more brutal. 

Dani Shugart

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Myth of Steady State Cardio and Fat Loss


MYTH: Steady state cardio helps you lose weight and burns fat.

Definition of steady state cardio (taken from a web site advocating steady state cardio)

“Steady state cardio is simply a cardio workout that is a continuous, steady effort, …… Any cardiovascular/aerobic activity that is sustained for an extended time (usually starting at about 10 to 15 minutes for beginners and 20 to 90 minutes for more fit athletes) at a fixed intensity qualifies as steady state training.
 Gradually increase your steady state training to a 20 minute cardio routine, eventually going up to 30 to 90 minutes. Engage in a cardio program three to five times a week for ultimate heart health.”
(To their credit, the article quoted above makes no claim that steady state cardio aids with weight loss or fat loss)

Up 90 minutes? 3 to 5 times a week? Really?

Let me begin by saying I have no objections to steady state cardio. “Cardio” refers to your cardiovascular system which begins (and ends) with the heart. Cardio is good for the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system. Do cardio to your heart’s content (pun intended). Will it help you lose fat? As a rule, for the first 30 minutes of steady state cardio you will burn no fat.

My objections to steady state cardio is that’s it’s misused.

I can’t count the times I’ve heard “I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight. I stay on the treadmill (or elliptical, or stationary bike, or my new Bogus Snake-oil Machine) and hour a day and still can’t lose weight. It must be my genetics”.

I am fed up with the TV commercials selling some cheap “revolutionary” device with (paid) models proclaiming “I lost 50 pounds using my revolutionary new ‘Bogus Snake-oil Machine’ in only 10 minutes a day” 

It ani’t gonna happen, folks!”
Steady state cardio makes you good at one thing: steady state cardio!

Why doesn’t it work?
The short answer: “Adaptive Response”. The body is one of the most efficient and adaptive “machines” in existence. It responds to mechanical stress extremely fast and finds the most efficient way to deal with it. In this case, steady state cardio, being fairly low on the physical stress scale, is not much of a challenge for the body. It simply adjusts quickly to steady and predictable.  Lower heart rate, very, very minor hormone adjustment (if any) and Boom! Your body says “I’ve got this”. So quickly, in fact, you may actually gain weight doing steady state.
Remember, too, your body fights very hard to not use fat stores-its fuel of last resort.

How to use cardio correctly to lose weight and Fat

Make it harder. Confuse the adaptive response. The best and most flexible method is called High Intensity Interval Training (HITT).

HITT is simply mixing short bursts of high intensity movements with periods of rest and/or lower intensity movements.  We’re talking seconds of each phase, not minutes. Depending on the intensity, and the program you are using, you can burn more fat in as little as 4 minutes than you can with 30 minutes or more of steady state!

Two Sample Programs

“High Intensity” means all out effort. As hard and as fast as you can go!

PROGRAM (Courtesy of Dr. Jim Stoppani, PHD. Published on THE BEGINNER-TO-ADVANCED 8-WEEK HIIT
Dr. Sroppani holds a doctorate in exercise physiology.

The following program can take you from HIIT beginner to HIIT stud in 8 short weeks.
§  It starts with a work:rest ratio of 1:4 in Phase 1 for a total workout time of just under 15 minutes.
§  Phase 2 bumps up the amount of time in the "work" phase, bringing the ratio up to 1:2 and the total workout time to 17 minutes.
§  In Phase 3, the rest ratio is cut in half, bringing the ratio up to 1:1. The total workout time increases to 18.5 minutes.
§  Finally, in Phase 4, the rest ratio is cut in half again, raising the ratio to 2:1 and the total time at 20 minutes. This will put you in the advanced ranks for HIIT.
The suggested time of each phase is just that—suggested. If you need to spend more than two weeks at a particular phase before moving up, go for it. Ditto if a phase seems too easy and you want to jump right up to the next phase.
You can do these workouts using tools, such as a jump rope, or simply doing jumping jacks, or sprinting, or working on a stationary cycle. Use your imagination. Just follow the work-to-rest intervals as indicated.

PHASE 1 (1:4): WEEKS 1-2
§  15 seconds: High-intensity exercise
§  60 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise
Repeat another 10 times, followed by a final 15-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 14 minutes
PHASE 2 (1:2): WEEKS 3-4
§  30 seconds: High-intensity exercise
§  60 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise
Repeat another 10 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 17 minutes
PHASE 3 (1:1): WEEKS 5-6
§  30 seconds: High-intensity exercise
§  30 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise
Repeat another 11 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 18.5 minutes
PHASE 4 (2:1): WEEK 7-8
§  30 seconds: High-intensity exercise
§  15 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise
Repeat another 25 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 20 minutes

TABATA (developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata)

A  Tabata routine works much the same as the above routine by Jim Stoppani but is usually only 4 minutes in duration once you are able to get to the point where you can actually last for 4 minutes!(8 cycles)

Start out doing 10 seconds of high intensity and 20 seconds of low intensity/rest. Repeat for 4 minutes total.

Once you can do that for 4 minutes raise the intensity cycle to 15seconds and lower the rest cycle to 15 seconds. Repeat for 4 minutes total.(8 cycles)

Progress to 20 seconds of high intensity cycle and 10 second rest cycle. Repeat for 4 minutes total (8

Note that any HITT program can be used with any number of exercises- Tread mill, bike, sprinting, rowing, resistance training (called HIRT), body weight, elliptical, etc.

Arnold was supposedly ask what he did for cardio. He replied “Lift weights faster”.


2001 8 week study indicating HIIT program subjects reduced body fat by 2% while steady state subjects had 0 % reduction in body fat.

*Australian study on female subjects in a 20 minute HITT program lost 6 times more body fat than subject who followed a 40 minute cardio program at constant intensity of 60% of maximum heart rate.

Numerous studies that subjects doing a HIIT program burned 10% more calories in the 24 hour period following exercise than subjects doing a steady state program.

New Zealand study of competitive cyclist in a 4 week HIIT program of 30 second sprints/30 second rest.
Both groups followed the same time cycles but one group used maximum resistance as well while the other used lighter resistance. The high resistance group increased testosterone levels by almost 100% while the lower resistance group only had testosterone level increases of 60%

Another study found that subjects using a high-intensity lifting program (emphasis added) burned 450% more calories than those using a standard program.

1.       Boutcher, S. H. et al. The effect of high intensity intermittent exercise training on autonomic response of premenopausal women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39(5 suppl):S165, 2007.
2.       Gorostiaga, E. M., et al. Uniqueness of interval and continuous training at the same maintained exercise intensity. European Journal of Applied Physiology 63(2):101-107, 1991.
3.       King, J. W. A comparison of the effects of interval training vs. continuous training on weight loss and body composition in obese pre-menopausal women (thesis). East Tennessee State University, 2001.
4.       Meuret, J. R., et al. A comparison of the effects of continuous aerobic, intermittent aerobic, and resistance exercise on resting metabolic rate at 12 and 21 hours post-exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39(5 suppl):S247, 2007.
5.       Paton, C. D., et al. Effects of low- vs. high-cadence interval training on cycling performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(6): 1758-1763, 2009.
6.       Smith, A. E., et al. Effects of ?-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6:5, 2009.
7.       Talanian, J. L., et al. Exercise training increases sarcolemmal and mitochondrial fatty acid transport proteins in human skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab IN press, 2010.
8.       Paoli et al. “High intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIRT) influences resting energy expenditure and respiratory in non-dieting individuals.” Lipids in Health and disease 2013. 12:131 (3 September 2013)

9.       Talanian, J. L., et al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology 102(4):1439-1447, 2007.
10.    Tjonna, A. E., et al. Superior cardiovascular effect of interval training versus moderate exercise in patients with metabolic syndrome. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39(5 suppl):S112, 2007.
11.    Trapp, E. G. and Boutcher, S. Metabolic response of trained and untrained women during high-intensity intermittent cycle exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Dec;293(6):R2370-5.
12.    Treuth, M. S., et al. Effects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 28(9):1138-1143, 

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find someone who does.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I need to get in better shape before I go to a gym


I’ve been told this before. More than once.  And I’m 100% sure many other people have thought it.

I understand. A gym can be intimidating to individuals who have never been to a gym. But think about it. How many times have you heard someone say “I feel too bad to go to the doctor? I need to wait until I’m better” or “I’m bleeding too much to go to the emergency room. I’ll go when the bleeding stops”?


What they are really saying is “I feel too overweight to be seen in the gym” or just as often “I feel too weak (or too skinny) to be seen in the gym”

In many cases the fitness industry has created this problem for themselves. The public sees too many fitness magazines, brochures, and articles showing perfectly chiseled men and perfectly shaped bikini models…. on the cover, in the articles and in the ads.

News flash folks! Those guys and girls in the magazines are not real!  They are photographed after weeks of preparation by the models. The lighting is professionally done, extensive make up is applied to face and body and they are all photo shopped.  No one looks that way every day! Even though they make their living posing for those shots. Even professional body builders only look “stage ready” for a few weeks out of the year. Any longer looking “stage ready” and their health begins to suffer.

The Solution

Simply pay a visit to your local gym. Ask to be shown around the facility. They will be happy to assign a staff member to show you around. Don’t just pay attention to the facility. Also pay attention to the members.  Sure, you’ll see a few hard core gym rats sporting tank tops and big arms. But you’ll see many more ordinary people just like you at various stages of their fitness journey.

Note that different facilities have different personalities. If you are uncomfortable you may want to stick to the friendly local gyms or the big box gyms as opposed to gyms with names like “Junk Yard Dogs” ”Prison Yard Strong” or “Curl ‘till You Puke  Fitness and Dance Studio”.

Pick your fitness center the same way you do your family doctor or your mechanic. Recommendations of people you trust, reputation, and your own comfort level.

One caveat; look for a gym where you can actually work on your goals and work hard. Some are nothing more than day care centers for adults who offer you tootsie rolls, free pizza and free donuts. I’m serious! Oh, and they’ll kick you out if you grunt.


Another problem can be vast array of shiny, complicated looking, and BIG equipment.  As physiology becomes better understood the number and variety of equipment and machines has multiplied.  I can show you 18 different machines or apparatus on which to do the equivalent of a bench press. A big box gym may have dozens of different machines and hundreds of pieces of other various equipment.


The staff will be happy (in fact they will probably insist) that a staff member or trainer show you how to use all the various pieces of equipment. Most are fairly simple despite their appearance. Any time you want to use a machine you are not familiar with. They have staff to assist you. Don’t try to fake it.

The fitness industry has their own rules of etiquette. But so do most other social venues. Classrooms, waiting rooms, restaurants, business meetings, and almost everywhere else you go. Gym rules are fairly straight forward and based mostly on common sense. For example; Don’t start a conversation with someone while he or she is holding 200 pounds of iron above their head. Don’t do barbell curls standing on a moving tread mill. Don’t spit in the water fountain. You get the picture….. 

I’ll post a list of rules of etiquette in a future article. Some are actually quite entertaining. On some, you’ll scratch your head and wonder why anyone even needs to state that rule. But think about some of the warnings on common household products: “Do not take these suppositories orally”,  “Do not use this hairdryer while sleeping”, TV antenna-“Do not attempt to install while drunk, pregnant or both”, baby clothes-“Remove child before washing”.


A misconception regarding the cost of gym membership can also be a deterrent (or excuse).


The old long term non-cancellable contracts sold to a third party finance company (or loan sharks) are a thing of the past.  I haven’t seen one of those for many years.  The business model has totally changed and competition has increased by leaps and bounds. For many gyms now, membership can be as little as $10/month with a minimal or no sign up fee. In my town there are at least 4 gyms within a five mile radius with monthly fees of $10/month with a sign up fee of $39 or less. And there is often at least one running specials with no sign up fee.

More and more health insurance companies, including Medicare Supplement companies will cover your cost of membership. If the tight fisted insurance companies think getting you more fit is in their best interest, how can argue with the fact that it’s in your best interest!

The best reason to go: Strong people live longer!

SEND YOU QUESTIONS TO  If I don’t have an answer find someone who does.