Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Always Knew

When I was 10-12 years old I knew that if I was stronger I’d be better. I tried Charles Atlas, bodyweight training, Calisthenics (PT), springs, and grippers, anything I could get my hands on. Instinctively I knew I had to lift weights. At that time there was very little information to guide me. Strength Coaches were unheard of and most Coaches were against weight training of any kind. I did know some Water Skiers that did lift and they encouraged me. I bought everything I could read or use and tried to apply the information as best I could. At 14 I was involved in a real bad motorcycle accident that almost killed me. As I was in the hospital and finally at home, I read everything. I started making plans to return to training. I already had a decent home gym for the time. One of my Doctors made a statement that stuck with me. He said “If you hadn’t been lifting weights you would have been crippled.” I had major back injuries, plus a bunch of other broken or cracked bones.

I started a list of things I would need for my gym. I had the Old York Courses and also Courses from Weider. Did them back to back without much rest. Slowly but surely I got stronger. Still unsure if I was “Strong?” While everyone else was out doing what young people do I was lifting weights in my home gym. I was still working for the Water Ski Dept. at Cypress Gardens and had several role models based on strength and the respect it brought. As most guys have gone through, I had a friend that also worked at C.G. and was a real good skier. He was about my age but he was very strong and in great shape (genetics). He also liked to “bully” me to show me who was the boss. I liked him but didn’t like being embarrassed by him. Most guys know what I mean. I lifted weights quietly and rarely missed a workout. I was feeling pretty strong and starting to show an athletic build.

One day he and I plus his sister and some friends were at his house and were getting ready to go somewhere. Everyone went out to the car and I stayed back and waited on my friend. On the way out to the car (still in his house) He decided I needed another lesson. He was going wrestle me into submission one more time. THIS TIME, I just picked him up and body slammed him. I was surprised how easy it was. I was afraid he’d want to fight now but he just got up and went to the car. We never said anything about it but that day I gained his respect. He never tried to “submit” me again. This was directly because of my lifting weights. Even though I was boxing later, most of the time in street fights I could pick my opponent up and body slam him and the fight would be over. For a young guy this was a good feeling. I just knew I was stronger than most of the guys then.

Even though I knew I was onto something with my workouts, many Coaches were against it. Except one. Coach Bill Duncan lifted weights and talked to me about it. He was my Coach in grades 10-12. I was more interested in the weights than I was in School Sports at the time. I started entering Contests (Olympic Lifting) in my junior or senior year of High School. I also came under the guidance Of Bill Lemacks and later Al Christensen. Coach Tom Bowman was a great help also. These guys really knew about weight training and it showed. These men confirmed something that somehow I already knew. Weight training works. It can build confidence and a stronger body. It can also help a good athlete become better. I’m glad that as a youngster I was fortunate enough to get involved with weight training and that I stuck with it. I always knew. - Jim Bryan

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow

As we age, some things become more apparent: we don't see as well as we used to, we don't move as quickly or gracefully and try as we might, we rarely remember where we put our keys. Coming to grips with the effects of aging is a process that some find debilitating, while others "absorb in step" and find ways of rolling with the punches and deal with their situation as need be. It's generally those people who keep up with life and will pursue incorporating fitness into their lives because they recognize the value of what a healthy and fit existence can bring them.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients regarding her "wake-up call". She recognized that as she approaches the "BIG 4 0" that she wanted to and needed to more than ever, address her health issues. More so than her impending age was the realization that she wasn't in control of herself. Her focus, like most people, was on life, you know - work, her significant other, socializing, family, friends, etc. but she was suffering because she was neglecting her health. She was tired of feeling out-of-shape, lethargic, weak and most importantly, bad about herself. She wanted to take back control - a control that she had given up for many years -and she did so when she stopped finding reasons not to address her health and made the commitment.

I could go on and on here, listing all the reasons why someone should exercise, but I feel it best to just remind those of you who are sedentary or inconsistent that you can make as many excuses as you want - you're only kidding yourself. Tell me why you can't just do 10 minutes of exercise each day? 10 minutes?!?!?!?!? Think about that for a moment. We are a culture of "multi-taskers" so put that skill to use. Why you're making dinner, waiting for the pot to boil so you can put in your pasta, do some bodyweight squats and crunches. Do you have enough time to catch the news on TV? No problem, at commercial breaks instead of going to the fridge for a snack do some pushups or plank holds. Do something at each commercial break and you've done 10 minutes of activity. Some may not find this approach "ideal" but a little of something is certainly better than a lot of nothing. Premiere Personal Fitness

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Word From Bud

Which is harder to do? 100 straight squats and 100 straight push ups, or 10 sets of 10 of each alternated with each other? The answer depends on how you look at the question. For pure muscular strength endurance it’s harder to do the reps straight. However for cardiovascular and general endurance (inclusive of some muscular strength endurance with higher heart and lung function). It’s harder to do the 10 sets of 10 alternated. Why?

Because the act of changing from one exercise to the other, changing direction and momentum requires more cardiovascular endurance. Also you force the heart and lungs to work harder by forcing them to pump blood and oxygen to different parts of the body alternately creating greater over all circulation. You also take advantage of the fact that from set to set, while your muscles are being worked they are still fresher and can move at a faster pace with cleaner reps and more speed. This is why conditioning routines like pyramids, circuits, intervals and things like the deck of cards routine are so effective in building endurance.

Your breathing and cardio goes through the roof and over the course of the entire workout, you’ve done enough volume to stimulate muscular endurance and hormonal and chemical change in the body. As a wonderful side benefit, you don’t effect your max strength as much as straight rep or long slow style conditioning workouts do. Because you can use faster pacing and in effect bursts of muscular effort, you’re still teaching the body to operate at a high level of strength, but now blended with endurance together.

Take this into account in your workouts. By all means, when you’re building a base of muscular and cardio endurance it’s okay and appropriate to do straight rep sets. Everybody should go though them at some point in their training career to build their benefits and build that muscular memory into your strength and endurance, but most of the time your endurance training should be on some type of an interval. The most bang for your buck, and the most change in your life. - Bud Jeffries

Monday, February 18, 2008

Creed vs. Drago

Rocky IV - It's Ivan Drago vs. Apollo Creed. Creed is getting the living hell kicked out of him. He's hurting big time - winning the fight isn't even a consideration - he just wants to try and stand up after the first round. He knows before he goes out for the next round that it will be his last. The bell rings and he knows he'll never see the round end. Rocky wants to throw in the towel but Creed waves him off - as if to say "let me die doing what I love the most". Creed dies - leaving behind a legacy, family and a memory.

Ok, we know this is fiction, but consider this for a moment if you are one of those people who "bang away at it" endlessly. What did he try and prove?

What was the point? What was his purpose for going out there knowing his fate - a fate that ended his life? Ask yourself these questions:

Do you really need to push the limits to prove something to yourself?
Do you do things that are hazardous to your health when ultimately your goal is good health?

Do you know when to throw in the towel and bow out gracefully before something disastrous happens to you?

Part of training to improve the body and mind is knowing what it is the body and mind need. - Fred Fornicola

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dumbbell Training Workout #20

The following workout , which was provided by Dr. Ken Leistner, is one of approximately 50 found in the book Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness .

All exercises are to be performed for one all-out set to muscular failure. The recommended repetitions are "goal" reps. If you can perform more reps than prescribed in good form, then go for it.

Total-Body Workout #20 (Ken Leistner)

Overhead Press - 1 x 12
Stiff-Leg Deadlift - 1 x 15
Bench Row - 1 x 12
Pullover - 1 x 15
Deadlift - 1 x 15 Upright Row - 1 x 12
Incline Press - 1 x 10
Bicep Curl - 1 x 12
Deadlift - 1 x 20

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Peripheral Heart Action (P.H.A.)

Peripheral Heart Action or better known as PHA is a “system” that was developed by Dr. Arthur Steinhaus and brought to the forefront of the muscle world by 1960’s legendary body builder and Mr. America/Mr. Universe title holder, Bob Gajda. The PHA method was specifically designed to keep the blood circulating throughout the whole body during the entire workout. The smaller muscles around the heart are worked on first before the larger muscles around the body's periphery. PHA sounds curiously similair to circuit traning or even GPP (General Physical Preparedness) but differs in that PHA’s emphasis is not in bringing a localized pump to the muscles. The approach is to choose exercises that will allow you to pump blood to extreme ends of the body so blood doesn’t localize and develop a lactic acid build up. This is where PHA differs in comparison to a circuit type training regimen. Herb April, a renown bodybuilder in his own right and a Gajda disciple had this to say in a correspondence with me regarding PHA traininig. “...Gajda always stressed that PHA was designed to "circumvent" the pump effect that bodybuilders are so beholden to." Bob did so because of long term health considerations as well as creating a training "atmosphere" that enabled one to progress "within" the workout without lactic acid buildup slowing one down or fatiguing one to the point where the workout became a survival "game." Done correctly, PHA training does indeed "circumvent" a massive pump in favor of enhanced circulation, and it does produce remarkable results despite that built in "pump circumvention."

A typical PHA workout has an individual using a handful of exercises that stress the upper and lower musculature, with the intention of alternating one exercise for the upper torso and one for the lower extremities or at least not in the same “area” as the previous movement. A “typical” PHA workout would emphasize using five to six movements for 5-6 “cycles”, with an increase of the weights for each cycle. For instance, here is an example of a PHA workout.

Standing Overhead Press
Standing Calf

Each exercise would be performed for 10-12 repetitions (more if you like) with the trainee moving swiftly from one exercise to the next – resting long enough to get to the next movement and increasing the resistance for each consecutive set. No sets are taken to fatigue/muscular failure and the last cycle should be challenging. This workout should last about 35-45 minutes, depending on your level of fitness and proximity of the exercises being used. For those of you who find 25-30 sets to be too much volume of work, an abbreviated version can be utilized. Again, using five to six select movements choose a weight that you can perform an all out set of ten reps with and use approximately 75-80% of that weight for three cycles. There is no “ramp up” and you can eliminate two of the cycles. Three “rounds” of six movements should take an individual 25-30 minutes or less to perform.

Of course, PHA can be very effective and convenient for the home user and the less crowded facilities but can be tough in a busy commercial environment. This is where mini cycles can be utilized. Take three movements that are close in proximity and perform three cycles then proceed to another three different movements for a second mini cycle. A mini cycle might look like this:

Standing dumbbell press
Calf raise
TRX Rows

With the second mini cycle being:

Bodyweight Squat
TRX Suspended Crunch

To employ PHA training (or any training for that matter) with conventional equipment only would be unnecessarily limiting your options. PHA can certainly go beyond the typical dumbbell and barbell and can be very effective when “odd” implements are incorporated. For example, a sand bag workout done in PHA fashion can easily be used. Here is a sample using only sand bags.
Standing Overhead Press
Front Squat
Bent Over Row
Romanian Deadlift
Upright Row

With an all dumbbell workout looking like the following:

Standing Overhead Press
Hammer Curl
Bench Press

The applications are endless. Variations with sled dragging, medicine balls, kettlebells, sprinting (running, bike, elliptical) and body weight applications are a fun mixture that can facilitate a fine workout that enables one to train their entire body in a single workout while achieving cardiovascular and strength benefits in a short period of time.
As this article is my own interpretation and may be found to some as a bastardization of the original, its intent is not to be disrespectful but to bring a different slant to a concept that may benefit many individuals and add a zest to ones training. - Fred Fornicola

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Quick Question

If we don't take good care of our body, where will we live? - Anonymous

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors

The long awaited, one and only "encyclopedia on bodybuilding" by Randy Roach is in its final stages and is scheduled to be available in the early spring. "Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors" Volume 1, will take you on an intriguing journey from the infancy of the sport of bodybuilding through its evolution over the many decades.
Randy has spent countless hours researching and documenting historical information on such a powerful industry and has revealed not only the glamorous but the "dark side" as well. With stories of honor and friendship, deceit and scandal and those who would rise and fall from grace, "Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors" will be THE resource for bodybuilding history with heavy emphasis on the sport's nutrition, supplements, and steroid insurrgence.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Motivation - By Jim Bryan

We all need it from time to time. From beginners, to me with over 50 years of training in every way known. Some trainees are natural “self starters” but most need encouragement. Making yourself go through the discomfort of training is hard on some, even though they know they need it for their health and well being. Women especially need to do weight bearing exercises to minimize muscle loss and to keep their bones strong. Later in life women suffer greatly sometimes because of bone loss. Men become fatter without some type of consistent training format. Men also suffer from muscle loss. It’s a “move it or loose it” proposition for both sexes.

You would think that most could grasp the reality that exercise is good for their health? A consistent training program along with reducing calories will add years of quality to your life. But some just can’t face the prospect of being uncomfortable while working out. I feel that training should be enjoyed not dreaded but I myself have times when I need more than coffee to get me going. I have been involved in serious and continuous training for over 50 years. How do I do it? I happen to like working out. I have been doing it since I was a preteen. I also read differing viewpoints on health and exercise. I like using weight training but I also use body weight training too. When it gets down to the nuts and bolts I feel that something is better than nothing. Get up, get out, and go for a walk! Take the dog with you, because if you’re not exercising I’m sure Fido isn’t either. Join a gym! Yes, I understand many gyms today are very intimidating. Find a park with pull up bars and fresh air! Find a Private Training Facility, One with one Trainer and one client. That way the gym is yours and no one is watching you. Look at training as part of your life, just as much a part as brushing your teeth, or finding food. The training should energize you, not leave you with a beat up feeling for days.

Not everyone should workout the same way. Some need hard training and some just need to move more. Bottom line is do it for you. If you have children let them see your involvement and dedication to being healthy. Children learn by observation, be a good example. Show them that it’s a good thing having energy, and enjoying life. You know, it is really a blessing to be strong and be able to move around! Don't let a full productive life slip from your hands, Get up! Live long, and live STRONG! - Jim Bryan