Monthly Archives: June 2012
Chick Pea Salad (Garbanzos Peas) – serves 6
1 (16 oz.) Chick Peas, drained and rinsed (I use Low Sodium Goya peas)
½ Cup Chopped Red Pepper
1 Small Red or Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 Medium Cucumber, Chopped
1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
3 TBSP Olive Oil
¼ Tsp each, garlic power and oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together, chill and serve.
Here’s a quick look at the last two weeks of my training as I remember it….
Thursday – June 14th: Full-body workout, 50′s day plus a 2 mile run
Friday – June 15th: Indian Club mobility work
Saturday – June 16th: Interval Training
Sunday – June 17th: Upper Body Only (50′s day)
Monday – June 18th: Off
Tuesday – June 19th: 9 mile bike ride – average speed around 17mph
Wednesday – June 20th: Indian Clubs
Thursday – June 21st: 25 mile bike ride – average speed between 16-17mph
Friday – June 22nd: Indian Clubs
Saturday – June 23rd: Full-body workout with 10/5 rep speed…multiple sets of bdwt chins and dips…low reps
Sunday – June 24th: 25 mile bike ride -average speed between 16-17mph
Monday – June 25th: Indian Clubs
Tuesday – June 26th: Full-body workout with 10/5 rep speed….low reps
Wednesday – June 27th: Indian Clubs
Thursday – June 28th: Full-body workout….very high rep sets, 1 set to failure
With my schedule over the next few days, I anticipate an off day tomorrow with maybe some Indian club work, Saturday either Intervals on the beach or another workout but upper body only and Sunday I hope to get in a long ride again……we will see.
Serves 8 – 10, but the rub can be used on any lamb cut, such as a rack or lamb chops.
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped ( can use 1/2 tbsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (can use 1/2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsps fresh mint, chopped (can use 1 tbsp dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds boneless, butterflied leg of lam, trimmed.
Combine all ingredients except lamb, in a bowl. Roll out the lamb and rub mixture over the lamb, both sides. Let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour.
When you exercise, muscles work dynamically and statically, therefore muscles are worked directly and others indirectly, so understanding “what’s what” is very beneficial in devising and executing a strength and conditioning program.
For example, a barbell curl done the way I prescribe not only works the front of the upper arm (the bicep), it also has a tremendous effect on the forearms, the hands, the abdominals, the trapezius muscles, the hips and the upper back – not to mention the chest and deltoids. Hell, ask any of my clients and they might even say that they felt their ears working during one of our sets of curls! So training specific movements in a specific manner can provide great carry over to other muscle groups and yield different results – again if specific parameters are met.
When developing a program, a person must know why they are doing what they are doing, what muscles are being targeted and what they are trying to achieve by selecting the movements they select. That’s why, when we train, there isn’t a huge requirement for many exercises of sets to achieve the goals we are trying to achieve. When we factor in “carry over” from certain exercises, we can easily break out a routine that will enable a person to train 3 times a week, stimulate all the major muscle groups AND never have to do the same exercise twice.
In my next installment, I will discuss some of these carry overs in training and the reasons one would or not have to include specific movements each and every time they work out.
This helps take the place of those of you who are on a grain-free eating plan.
A handful of your favorite nuts lightly crushed (I use organic almonds and walnuts) – option: seeds can be added also
Organic berries, banana or diced apples
1 tsp of organic or local honey
2 tbsp of organic shredded coconut
Top with organic coconut milk.
Makes for great snack – especially at night when there’s a need for comfort food.
I’m not one for following “optimal” recommendations as I feel that I tend to enjoy the process of gathering information, experimenting and ultimately, developing my own analysis. In addition to that, after doing so much research on various aspects of health and fitness over these many years, I can assure you that there are very few “exacts” out there. The fitness industry is wrought with opinions and even science and research can be speculative at best due to the parameters used when studying specific protocols.
With that said, I tend to lean towards the concept of it all can be beneficial and take a broad spectrum of ideas and blend them together for no other reason than “why the hell not”. For instance, ideas that I’ve read reveal through studies that 10 seconds of an all-out sprint done 4-6 times three times per week can improve VO2max and other research has shown that one-minute intervals with three minutes rest done at 80-90% maximum effort is very beneficial to improving lean body mass. I could list more examples because there are thousands out there, but I’m sure you are getting the picture.
I love to do sprints on the sand (the softer the better) because it allows me to have a high output of energy with a lower risk of injury. If I were to do an all-out sprint on flat ground I would be running at a pace that doesn’t exactly agree with my body so having some non-impact resistance (soft sand, grassy hills/inclines, etc.) is beneficial to me for achieving that cardiorespiratory elevation I’m looking for. For those of you who are interested in interval training, I will share my top secret scientific method that I use on occasion. This is highly thought out on my part by the way because I could use many methods and this one seems to work for me because I don’t have to think.
Depending on which beach I run on, I will either use trash cans as my mark or even seagulls at times (see, I told you it was highly scientific). My method is simple: the beach is lined up with many trash cans and I use them as my marks. I start by taking a light jog and when I’m ready, I sprint from trash can to trash can then walk trash can to trash to recover. Someday’s I will be every other trash can for a hard run then walk the same distance. If I had to venture a guess it probably is a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio of work/rest. Now, the next important scientific factor to consider – how many intervals? Honestly, as many as I feel like doing. That can mean anywhere between 5-15, depending on how I feel and what I am after for the day.
So, to recap….I perform interval training once a week usually following a very natural path of exercise that feels natural to me in a manner that suits my physical, mental and emotional needs for that day. Try the non-scientific approach once in a while and let me know what you think.
This fourth edition of A Practical Approach to Strength Training is a long-awaited update of the classic book that has been a widely used resource in the fitness industry, selling nearly 35,000 copies. Many of the chapters have been overhauled with the latest information on strength and fitness; new chapters have been added, including ones on flexibility training, anaerobic training, metabolic training, power training, weight management and several on nutrition. The book contains more than 300 photographs and describes nearly 100 exercises that can be done with free weights, machines and manual resistance. The year 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of its initial publication.
Matt Brzycki has authored 8 books, co-authored 7 books and edited 2 books. In addition, he has authored more than 465 articles/columns on strength and fitness that have appeared in 45 different publications. He has nearly 30 years of experience in collegiate strength and fitness. Currently, Matt is the Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, Fitness atPrincetonUniversity. Also, he’s a coadjutant in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies.
Fred: Matt, welcome. As many readers may already know, we have been friends for several years and have co-authored two books together, but what some may not know is that your newest book, A Practical Approach to Strength Training (4th edition) has been a project that’s been near and dear to you for some time. First though, tell us how the first edition came to be.
Matt: Well, I started writing articles for magazines in 1984, mostly for the Athletic Journal – which was later acquired by Scholastic Coach which, in turn, later became Coach & Athletics Director – and then other publications like MAT Magazine, Wrestling USA and Wrestling Masters. After 28 years, I actually still write for Wrestling USA.
After a while, my plan was to write articles such that I could later re-write them as chapters and then organize them into a book. By 1988, I had stockpiled enough articles to form the backbone of a book. Around the middle of the year, I sent a book publisher a proposal for A Practical Approach to Strength Training. I soon learned that getting an article accepted for publication in a magazine was much easier than a book. My first proposal was rejected. So was my second. And so were my next three. In late January 1989, I stumbled across a small publishing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, named Masters Press – small meaning that they only published 10 or 12 titles a year – and sent them a proposal. If that resulted in my sixth rejection letter, I figured that a book simply wasn’t in the cards. I sent Masters Press a proposal on a Monday and on Thursday, I received a phone call from the publisher, Tom Bast, asking me for more details. He accepted my proposal over the phone. The next day, I started to re-write the articles that I had into chapters and come up with new chapters to fill in the holes.
It’s a good thing that I had a head start with all those articles that I had done because the contract called for me to deliver the manuscript to them by June 1. So I only had about four months to pull everything together. The book was printed in November 1989.
Fred: When did you get the desire to do a fourth installment of the book and why?
Matt: In 1991, I wrote a second edition. Frankly, it wasn’t much of a change from the first edition. I wanted to re-write some of the content and correct a few mistakes. I did add some new material but, again, it wasn’t much of a change. Although the first two editions sold nicely and were generally well accepted, they were criticized by some for being too anecdotal without much in the way of scientific support. In 1994, I decided to answer the critics with a third edition that focused on the relevant research. That edition – published in 1995 – was quite different from the first two. First, the dreadful cover was changed. The first two editions had a bare-chested guy – a professional model, I’d guess – doing a bicep curl with a barbell that looked like it came from set that was purchased in Sears. The dude had about three chest hairs. It was pretty embarrassing. Second, the third edition was much larger, in format as well as content. Third, there was a huge emphasis on research. Too huge, though. In retrospect, the book was so research-based that it was difficult to read. Nonetheless, the third edition sold well.
Over the years, Masters Press was bought by Howard W. Sams & Company which was bought by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group which was bought by McGraw-Hill. So the book went from a small-time company that published about a dozen books a year to a big-time company that publishes what must be hundreds of books a year with thousands of books in their inventory. After being acquired by McGraw-Hill, my book got lost in the shuffle and sales went south fast. Then it simply went out of print.
In 1990, I taught a seven-week course at Rutgersfor Exercise Science and Sports Studies majors called Strength Training Theory and Applications. I used A Practical Approach to Strength Training as the text. In 2000, after 10 years of teaching the course as many as three times a year, I had to stop due to other obligations. In 2011, I was given the opportunity to teach atRutgers again. My old course had been named as Principles of Weight Training and I was assigned one section. In preparing to teach the course, I started pulling together a variety of articles that were written by some of the big-timers in the fitness industry like Ken Mannie, Wayne Westcott, Ralph Carpinelli and others. My intent was to organize their material into a reading list but soon realized that it was looking like a hodge-podge of material. Plus, I wasn’t sure about copyright restrictions.
I felt strongly that the students needed some type of reading material so I decided to write something on my own. Not too long after starting that project, it occurred to me that this would be pretty involved and decided that if I was going to spend a ton of time writing material for the course, I might as well turn it into a fourth edition. Another driving force, to a smaller degree, was the fact that 2014 would mark the 25 anniversary of the book’s initial publication.
Fred: Well, working with you on past projects I know how diligent you are so it’s no surprise that you were going to make this book one of your best works. I imagine revamping this book was a huge undertaking – especially since there is so much more research information available, along with hordes of anecdotal opinion that needed to be addressed. How did you sift through all of that and what was your ultimate objective in writing this book? I thought that was pretty cool.
Matt: Yeah, you’re not kidding, Fred. It was a major project, taking about 12 months to write. A lot has happened in the industry since that third edition came out 17 years ago. Actually, it’s 18 years since I wrote that edition the previous year. So I had nearly two decades of catching up to do. But it wasn’t like I spent the last 20 years sitting around doing nothing. I wrote some other books and a lot of articles. Also, one of the great things about working at a university – at least from my perspective – is free, on-line access to dozens of peer-reviewed journals. Having this type of research literally at my fingertips was a tremendous help.
So this edition gave me the opportunity to fill in the gap, so to speak, with everything that’s gone on in the fitness industry during the past 20 years or so. Plus, it allowed me to correct what I thought was a huge shortcoming of the third edition and that was the style. This fourth edition is a much easier read with a more conversational tone yet still has the strong reliance on the scientific research.
Fred: I have the third edition actually. Albeit a bit dated, it was extremely thorough and very informative, so I’m looking forward to the latest and greatest. Speaking of which, where can someone get a copy of the fourth edition of A Practical Approach to Strength Training?
Fred: Matt, thanks for your time. It’s always a pleasure talking with you and good luck with the new book.
How much is good health worth? How much would you pay to stay healthy? Would you do anything that would sacrifice you health? These are questions I ask my clients during our initial evaluation before we start training. Almost everyone has the same response, “my heath is a top priority” or “staying healthy is priceless”. Of course, most people would not do anything to intentionally sacrifice their physical health but many do due to the lack of exercise, which of course is not helping matters any.
Now here is where I start to get concerned. When I ask if staying healthy is so important, why has it been so long since you last exercised? The common responses are, “I don’t have enough time”, “work has been hectic lately”, “I mean to exercise but something else always seems to come up”. I’m not saying that commitments such as work, family and social obligations should be shunned aside; however taking the time to exercise is a great step in continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is not anything new or revolutionary.
A majority of people would tend to agree that staying physically fit is extremely beneficial in promoting good health. The fitness boom of the seventies and eighties did a wonderful job of promoting and establishing the long-term benefits of leading an active lifestyle. The next hurdle we face as fitness enthusiasts is the public’s persona on how much time is needed to become and stay fit. Let’s face it, we live in a time-starved society, where “there never seems to be enough time to get anything done”. Walk around any office building and you will hear sayings like this all the time. Compound that with the exercise protocols that state, for improved health one has to perform cardiovascular exercise 3-5 days a week for 20-60 minutes in addition to strength training 2-3 times a week with multiple sets in order to keep the muscles and joints strong. If you were to add up all that fitness activity that is “required” to stay healthy, it would be between 3-5 hours a week or 100-200 hours a year! With that kind of time commitment required, no wonder people can’t find the time to exercise. So, the common misconception is if an individual can’t commit to exercising at least 3 days a week for an hour than they can’t be fit. This is simply not true!
To address this problem, let’s for a moment leave the realm of fitness and enter the financial world. This is a tactic I have found very effective when dealing with my clients. For this experiment view time spent exercising as money and you want to invest this money in order to get the greatest return. Rather then spending countless hours a year performing all different types of fitness activities such as steady state cardiovascular exercise to strengthen you heart, strength training to improve muscular function, static stretching to improve range of motion etc., what if we were able to invest our time more wisely and still improve our fitness? This point is illustrated in Arthur Jones’s “Total Fitness- The Nautilus Way” and “Nautilus Bulletins 1&2” Even more specifically, the West Point Study where it was determined that weight training activities performed at a relatively high intensity can produce increases in muscular strength, cardiovascular conditioning, AND flexibility. The study pointed out 3 days a week of high intensity strength training, 10-12 exercises for 1 set each, rarely lasting more then 40 minutes will improve all variables of physical fitness, not just muscular strength.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but for many 3 times a week is still a large time commitment. Since it was never stated or proven that 10-12 exercises performed 3 times a week was the “secret” to improving fitness, working hard with a high level of intensity is. What if rather than 10 exercises to address the entire major muscle structures, the volume was limited to only 5-7 performed twice a week? Based on the overload principle, as long as the exercises are made progressively more challenging, then the body will adapt and become stronger, regardless of the volume. The exercise selection could be as follows:
Multi joint leg exercise (squat, leg press, deadlift, lunge)
Multi joint pushing exercise (chest press, overhead press, dips, push-ups),
Multi joint pulling movement (chin-ups, lat pulldown, seated row)
Round out the program with an abdominal and a lower back exercise and either grip/neck or calf work.
All exercises are done with a high level of intensity (until no more repetitions can be performed with good technique). The time between exercises should be minimized (30-60 seconds) so that the heart rate can stay elevated. This adjustment in volume and frequency will reduce the amount of time invested from 4 hours a week (208 hours a year with traditional guidelines) to 1 hour a week (52 hours a year). This reduction in the amount of time needed to become physically fit should have a great impact on how people view exercise and hopefully lead to another “fitness boom.” I am not saying this is THE best method of exercising for everyone; some may enjoy performing more activity and that’s fine; the main goal is realizing the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle and making time to pursue it.
For many people, a strength training session done 2-3 times per week could have substantial impact on one’s strength and health, given that the right parameters are met. Those parameters as I teach them are easily defined, yet not as easily achieved. They are in the order I present them as:
- having controlled movement while executing each repetition. Essentially, form is first and foremost important. After 36 years of training I still work on my form each time I train. The mind-muscle connection is vital in tapping into each and every repetition. Consider a meditative approach to each rep and you will feel a world of difference (and most likely need to lower your weights).
- using high level of effort/intensity while using controlled movement. Effort is key. Whether you choose to use one set or three, you must make a strong effort to improve when you train. *Note: Once form is understood and intensity is then thrown into the mix, new things happen and therefore form and controlled movement take on a whole different approach.
- take as little rest between exercises as needed. Once parameter one and two are met, we focus on the third. This is a critical part which builds off of one and two, just as parameter builds off of one. This is where the fitness/cardiovascular component take on a whole new look.
All the “other stuff” (exercises, routines, sets, reps, etc) are somewhat incidental if the parameters aren’t met. Once those parameters are understood and digested, planning a routine, if you will, is quite simple. I will discuss “carry over” and putting an exercise program together over the next couple installments. If anyone has any questions/comments, please feel to post them and if I can address anything in the posts to help out, I will.