So what is the flaw with many exercise programs?  They assume that you can do certain things.  Not to name any names (“Letter”90″X”), but the first workout is a bunch of pull-ups and push-ups.  Great body weight exercises that you all know that I LOVE.  But who’s to say that the person staring at the screen can even DO one, much less properly and well.  Why do hundreds of people get hurt working out each and every year?  Lack of starting strength.  But what is “starting strength?”  Starting strength is being able to perform basic mechanical movements.  And being able to do so without muscular compensations that show altered joint movement patterns (arthrokinematics).  Do your knees dive in when you squat?  Does your head drop when you do a push-up?  These are just a couple of examples of dozens of altered arthrokinematic patterns.  So what?  What’s the worst that can happen?  I keep telling you that you need to stay active.  Now, I’m going to be picky about how you do it?  Darn right I am!  What happens is that your body gets used to moving in an altered movement pattern.  Using muscles that aren’t necessarily supposed to be used for that job.  The strong get stronger and the weak get weaker.  Ultimately leading to pain and/or injury in the long run.  Any thoughts on how to fix it?  Work with a qualified, experienced fitness professional.  I know it sounds like I’m just beating the drum, but start to pay attention to your body.  I mean REALLY pay attention and watch yourself move.  See if what you’re doing looks the way that it’s supposed to.  And if you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like in the first place, that should be your first clue.  Now, once you’ve developed your foundation, THEN you can go on to all the hard stuff.  All the fun stuff.  But you want and NEED to make sure that your body is moving properly in the first place.  Your workouts will thank you!

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There is a reason that most of the most successful programs are what they are these days.  We are moving more and more away from muscle isolation exercises and into multi-joint, multi-planar movements.  Instead of things like bicep curls, we are rowing and pulling.  Instead of leg extensions, we are squatting, lunging and deadlifting.  These types of exercises provide SO much more benefit.  So much more bang for the buck.  The basic rule of the body is that the more muscles, systems and directions that you can use, the more benefit you will get.  More hormonal interaction.  More neural activation.  More calories burned, more weight lost, more muscle gained.  Isolation exercises originated with bodybuilders.  They became our first generation of personal trainers, because they were the only ones in the gym before that.  Therefore, not to knock, but they taught what they knew.  There is an old saying that goes “Do the best with what you have.  But when you learn better, do better.”  The fitness industry has fought that for years.  We are learning better, but people are still stubbornly hanging on to what is comfortable, because it’s what they know.  Don’t be that guy (girl).  You are learning better.  So therefore, do better.  Your body will thank you.  Not only in the long run, but in the short run, as well.

Strong is the new sexy.  Girls, who have for generations been afraid of lifting weights for fear of “getting man muscles” are taking to the gym in record numbers.  We as trainers, applaud this.  Strong is hot.  Strong is pretty.  Strong is strong.  Not the weaker sex or second to anyone in the gym.  Girls are tough and tough is good.  Strong muscles make good athletes and sickness resistant women.  Now if we could just do something about the nagging, we’d be all set.  Just kidding!!  Ha, I’m funny.  Have a great day, and a terrific weekend.

So, we’ve all heard the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Well, I have anyway.  Although, I could probably write a book with sayings that I’ve heard that my wife hasn’t.  She thinks I just put words together.  But that is another discussion for another day.  In the gym, we are all about “functional” exercises.  That word is thrown around more than anything.  It means exercises that apply to daily activities (The more things change….).  Yet, the basic measure of strength is still the basic bench press (The more they stay the same).  Now, to preface this, I have nothing against the bench press.  I like the exercise and perform it.  Not as often as most, but I do.  But really, what does my bench press tell me about my overall strength?  Much less what does it tell me about how I am better at living my life.  The answer is very little.  What the bench teaches is how to apply force against resistance.  OK, fine.  But when was the last time that you had to move something?  Furniture, appliances, small children, etc.  Did you take that object with a super wide grip and try to lift it that way, by only using your upper body?  Probably not.  Or, did you center it on your body (probably within your shoulders) and push the hell out of it?  I’ll bet that’s the way.  I know, because I’ve done it dozens, if not hundreds of times.  So even if the bench teaches us to, and helps us apply force, there is a right way and a wrong way.  And it kills me to see the wrong way done time and time again in the name of nothing more than vanity and pride?  The fact is is that most of us are NOT competitive lifters and have no real need for a maximal level bench press that tears the crap out of the shoulder when done improperly.  We need to apply force in the most efficient manner possible to aid us in our daily activities, which occasionally include moving heavy objects.   How much ya bench?  Just as much as I need to, thank you very much.