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Total Results Blog

Accountability Partners, by Matthew Romans

In order to achieve great things, one must have accountability to perfect the process or system and stay on track. As James Clear says in the book Atomic Habits, "Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress." If you work every day to optimize your system, the results will take care of themselves. One's system should have a means of accountability built into it; this helps to keep you honest and under no illusions about how you are doing. Honest self-assessment is a sign of maturity and perspective; however, it's not always easy to do. Some people criticize themselves too harshly, while others give themselves too much slack. What if there were a way to get honest feedback that isn't overly critical but also acknowledges positive behaviors and accomplishments? Such a thing exists - it's called an accountability partner.

I first learned about the term accountability partner from my friend, colleague, and Total Results client Dave Jones. An accountability partner is someone you can trust who can objectively give feedback, offer suggestions, and is someone you look toward for guidance. Dave and his wife Pam have been two of the most successful realtors in the Washington DC area for many years, yet they still have a network of realtors across the country that they regularly check in with to discuss ideas and get feedback. Dave does this every week, and says it is a big factor in their company's success. People in a wide range of occupations have some form of an accountability partner: authors have proofreaders and editors, elite athletes have coaches, and musicians have producers and songwriting partners. Whether you meet in person, talk on the phone, or communicate via email and/or text, just having someone that you trust to bounce ideas off of and to provide feedback can make a big difference.

A Total Results instructor is your accountability partner for all things exercise, health, and nutrition. We are with you on every exercise of every workout, providing clear and concise instructions, giving immediate feedback, and motivating you to give your best effort every time out. Our workouts are incredibly challenging, but we help clients to understand that the discomfort that they are experiencing during a session is temporary and is simply part of the larger picture.

Just having a session scheduled can be a motivating factor. Many clients over the years have said that they probably would not regularly exercise if it weren't for having an appointment. Intuitively, most people don't want to let another person down, and having an appointment scheduled with an instructor provides additional motivation (and accountability). It can also act as a deterrent; if they know they have an early morning workout scheduled, most people will be less likely to stay up too late the night before. This is also a reason why we schedule weekly weigh-ins for clients that have a goal of achieving fat loss. If you know that you have a weigh-in scheduled in two days, you're less likely to overeat or consume the wrong foods.

While one's success is largely determined by their own actions, having an accountability partner can help you break through plateaus and inspire you to see things in a different light. In my opinion, if there is a spirit of accountability one is more likely to do what is necessary to achieve the end result. This is simply another way to improve the system that you are using. At Total Results, our passion is to educate people about proper exercise and help them to achieve things they did not think they could. We are constantly working to improve our system in order to help you improve yours. Call or email us to schedule a consultation and get started on your journey today.

Posted January 14, 2021 by Tim Rankin

Are You Prepared, by Matthew Romans

A new year has officially arrived, and I sincerely hope that 2021 brings prosperity and stability to all of us. There are reasons for optimism, but I believe there is also some uncertainty ahead. As the time of this writing there is still the matter of the unresolved Presidential election, and regardless of where you stand politically, I think it's safe to say that things are going to be very different in the upcoming year. In my opinion, there are many things to consider and some decisions to be made in order to maximize your health and quality of life. How you prepare yourself will have a significant impact on how effectively you handle the challenges that are on the horizon.

You can expect that there will still be some Covid restrictions in place for much of this year, such as mask requirements in public places, limits on the number of people allowed to attend gatherings and eat in restaurants, and decreased participation at sporting events and concerts. This is a continuation of policies that are already in place. Along those lines, I would not anticipate students in Loudoun County being able to attend school in person for the rest of the school year. One new development is that a Covid vaccine is already being administered to some, and may eventually be a requirement in order to get on an airplane or for the kids to be allowed back in schools. Congress has passed yet another stimulus package, ostensibly to help those who are unemployed, but that money has to come from somewhere. The President-elect is on record as saying that he will increase taxes, and in order to maintain a high standard of living for Americans in the midst of growing unemployment and shutting down of businesses, the Federal Reserve will continue to print money (referred to as Quantitative Easing).

What does this mean for us? The executive orders that have been in place are nothing new, but a Covid vaccine certainly is. The vaccine that is being rolled out has had mixed results in clinical trials, so it may or may not be as effective as we hope. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine from year to year can vary from 40 to 65 percent. Vaccines can also cause harmful side effects due to other substances being included in the vaccine, such as mercury and formaldehyde. Not everyone who is vaccinated will experience these harmful side effects, but enough people will have adverse reactions that you should really take the time to think about whether the vaccine is right for you. The government's economic policies will affect some more than others; fortunately the D.C. area seems to be less impacted in times of economic downturn than other areas of the country. However, inflation of the currency by the Federal Reserve amounts to a hidden tax on the public, as the greater number of dollars in circulation decreases the purchasing power of the dollar (the value of the dollar has dropped over 90 percent since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913). As a result, the cost of living goes up and the price of goods and services increases. With a new administration likely coming in, you can expect greater oversight in the realm of healthcare and medical insurance, which will empower Big Pharma to raise prices on prescription drugs and cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but history gives us a preview of what is to come.

How can you prepare for what is ahead?

-Don't rely on the government to take care of you. If you have ever seen how disorganized the Department of Motor Vehicles is, or looked at the balance sheet of the United States Postal Service, you realize that government services are rarely efficient. I'm not a financial advisor, but a good strategy is to produce more than you consume and save the difference. This will leave you less at the mercy of inflationary monetary policies.

-Stay out of the healthcare system if you can possibly do so. The U.S. healthcare system is very good for emergencies, but fails miserably for those with chronic disease and when it comes to preventative measures.

-Eat as if your life depends on it! Stick with quality, single-ingredient whole foods whenever possible and consume plenty of essential fat. Eat until you are no longer hungry, and regularly practice intermittent fasting for 14-18 hours per day (or more).

-Spend some time outdoors whenever possible (even in colder months) so that your body can be exposed to fresh air and sunshine.

-Supplement with Vitamins D and C, magnesium, and zinc, along with fish oil to optimize your immune system.

-Finally, strength train at Total Results once or twice per week. Regular high intensity exercise will increase strength and bone mineral density, enhance flexibility, maintain insulin sensitivity, improve cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and protect against injury. Pay a little now, or pay a lot later.

Don't let the authorities make you fearful; life is meant to be lived, not spent in isolation. There is a reason that prisons send inmates that misbehave to solitary confinement; prolonged periods of isolation are not healthy for the mind or the body. If you are sick or in the high-risk category due to age or health issues, by all means be smart and self-isolate as needed, but remember that this virus has a survival rate of well over 99 percent. As we have written about in previous articles, the unintended consequences of lockdowns (isolation, depression, etc) are just as bad, if not worse, than the effects of the virus. Be proactive in your health and prepare your body and mind to meet the challenges that lay ahead. Let Total Results help you get 2021 off to a successful start.

Posted January 06, 2021 by Tim Rankin

Farewell to 2020 - Here's to Prosperity Ahead, By Matthew Romans

December is winding down, and we are in the last few days of 2020. This has been an interesting and challenging year, to say the least. I find it useful to look back on the past year, as well as look ahead to what's in store for the upcoming year. Whether or not you believe in New Year's resolutions, the turn of the calendar year is an opportunity for a fresh start and to get off on the right foot come January 1st.

Thank you to our Total Results family for sticking by us during the government-mandated lockdown of our facility in March, April, and May. I'm sure that not being able to exercise during those months was just as difficult for you as it was for us to not be able to come to work every day. We definitely missed working with you! Without your support we may not have been able to remain in business during this challenging time. Tim, Ralph, and I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty and commitment to the Total Results exercise philosophy.

Many new clients (and even some former clients) came through our doors and started working with us after the shutdown because other facilities were not open, and because they recognized and appreciated our attention to detail, dedication to cleanliness, and constant study of the developments of Covid-19. That was a tremendous gift that we are thankful for. We found ways to adapt and accommodate clients who were slightly apprehensive about returning to exercise, while staying true to our core principles. This is something to be proud of.

Our commitment to education, learning, and instructing sound, scientific exercise, nutrition, and health principles has never been stronger. It is our obsession to find new ways to improve ourselves and to continue to give you the best exercise experience that money can buy. We will work relentlessly to help you achieve optimum health and fitness and accomplish your goals. Remember, education never stops!

Now is the time to think ahead to 2021. Renew your commitment to yourself, and take the time to really think about what you want to accomplish in the coming year and beyond. As I learned from reading the book "Atomic Habits", goals are where you want to go, but the process is how you get there. If you work to perfect the process, you will accomplish the end result. Total Results exercise is the safest and most effective process to achieve the positive body changes that you seek.

As we close the book on our 20th year in business, we thank you again for helping us get through 2020 and come out stronger on the other side. The journey toward 2021 and beyond starts now. Take your first step into the future with Total Results.

Posted December 29, 2020 by Tim Rankin

It's Supposed To Be Hard, by Matthew Romans

People are often skeptical when they find out that a Total Results workout only lasts about twenty minutes, and they think that very little benefit can occur in such a short time. Many clients who come to Total Results after participating in a variety of other fitness regimens are somewhat surprised at how demanding our workouts are. It's simply not what they are used to. Other workout philosophies are marketed as fun activities that you can do with your friends while listening to music. A Total Results workout is not fun; we would never tell you otherwise. It is a workout that is brief, infrequent, and intense, and these characteristics are in place not because we are masochists, but because they are necessary. In order to safely stimulate optimal physical improvements, the workout must be hard.

Intensity is defined as inroad (level of fatigue)/time. Many people equate intensity of muscular effort with behaviors that are often found in a typical gym (throwing and catching weights, grunting, grimacing, etc.) These demonstrations only serve to increase your risk of injury and minimize muscular loading; they are not to be confused with true intensity of effort. How many people do you know that proclaim to do a variety of activities on a regular basis yet never seem to look any different? Don't be fooled by the appearance of the people riding bikes in those Peloton commercials; those are not the vast majority of Peloton users, they are actors who likely look the way they do in spite of their workout, not because of it. The human body is resistant to change and wants to maintain homeostasis, and making body improvements like building muscle and improving bone mineral density requires resources that are metabolically expensive. This means that the body needs a very compelling reason to change, and that reason is a fairly severe exercise stimulus.

In order to stimulate these physical and metabolic improvements, we must cross over a threshold in the body that sets off internal alarm bells. This threshold is called the growth mechanism, and it is most effectively accomplished by taking each exercise to and beyond the point of momentary muscular failure. We are essentially fooling the body into thinking that there is an existential threat, and the body responds by diverting resources to meet this threat, much like an army sends troop reinforcements into battle. However, it's important to understand that the body is not really in danger, but rather is in a safe environment. There are only two fully objective measurements of effort: zero and 100 percent. Anything in between is not really measurable (ex. "50% effort"). Zero effort will not result in any tangible benefit, but 100 percent effort will. We still do not know the exact percentage of effort necessary to stimulate muscular growth, but pushing to muscular failure, where movement ceases, and continuing to push for ten seconds (note: this is what 100% effort looks like) will ensure that we have done all that we can possibly do for that moment in time.

Our workouts are brief for a reason. If you are exercising with a high degree of effort and moving purposefully between exercises, twenty minutes is about all that one can handle. This is not just something that we can get away with, it is actually a biological necessity. It is critical to regulate the variables of exercise frequency, duration, and intensity, and there is an inverse relationship between intensity and duration. The longer a workout takes, the less intense it becomes, as the body has protective measures in place to guard against injury. There are some days that a workout may feel harder than others, but that can be due to a multitude of factors, such as sleep, stress, nutrition, additional activity performed, and order/selection of exercises in the routine. We usually have clients perform the larger exercises (particularly those for the lower body) earlier in the routine because they are the most demanding.

No worthwhile achievement in life has ever been considered easy. Total Results exercise methodology is not the only way to achieve physical improvements, but it is the most effective way, and it's the exercise protocol most consistent with the classical sciences (biology, physics, chemistry, and concepts of motor learning). Our clients are a special group of people. They are mentally tough, independent thinkers who value their time and want to maximize their benefits in an efficient way, and they grasp exercise concepts that elude most of the population. They work extremely hard and spend a fraction of the time exercising that most other people do. As I mentioned above, Total Results exercise is not fun. The fun occurs when you experience the tangible benefits of your efforts which enable you to get the most out of life. Don't put it off any longer!

Posted December 22, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Should We Strive For A Signature Time Under Load? by Matthew Romans

Most Total Results clients and regular readers of our blog posts know that for every exercise of every workout (except for negative-only or manually resisted exercises) we record a client's time under load (TUL). TUL is a measure of how long your muscles are under tension and contracting against a meaningful resistance. We find that this is generally more effective than recording the number of repetitions completed, since counting repetitions is a step function. You might complete six repetitions in good form and get halfway toward finishing a seventh before reaching momentary muscular failure (MMF); if you count repetitions there will be no credit given for the effort that you made on that final repetition that was not completed, but if you record TUL that extra time spent will be included. We select a resistance that should enable the client to reach MMF between one and three minutes of TUL, and if failure is not achieved in that time frame we will arbitrarily stop the exercise and make a note to increase the weight for the next workout.

I am often asked by clients if there is a specific TUL that they should look to achieve, or if there is such a thing as a signature TUL. This idea theorizes that clients should or will achieve the same or similar TUL on each exercise of their workout, with one of the contributing factors being muscle fiber type. Dr. Doug McGuff, the owner of Ultimate Exercise (a studio very much like Total Results) in Seneca, South Carolina, wrote about this concept many years ago in his collection of articles "Ultimate Exercise - Bulletin Number One." Based on what we had read from Dr. McGuff and a few other sources, we looked to find a signature TUL in our clients and figured that if exercise frequency, intensity, and volume were standardized and if recovery, nutrition, and hydration were adequate that we would find a signature TUL that would enable the client to linearly progress in resistance.

It didn't take long to figure out that we were mostly wrong. I have found that a signature TUL rarely happens with most trainees, including myself. TUL can vary from one person to the next, and even for the same person it can be wildly different from one exercise to another. As I mentioned above, exercise frequency, volume, and intensity, as well as nutrition and hydration will have an impact on TUL, but there are other factors as well. Mental focus, the ability to handle exertional discomfort (burning), sleep, and how much additional activity you participate in will also have an effect on your performance. If you have slept poorly for a few days due to stress or too much caffeine, or if you played three hours of tennis just prior to your workout, there is a good chance that your TUL on the Leg Press exercise will probably be shorter than usual.

The primary exercise objective is to inroad (fatigue) the muscular structures deeply enough to stimulate body improvements in the forms of strength, cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, bone density, insulin sensitivity, an improved immune system, and protection against injury. We want to reach muscular failure between one and three minutes of elapsed time because this ensures that we are adequately tapping into the aerobic and anaerobic metabolic pathways; too short of a TUL means the weight is too heavy and the injury risk increases, and too long of a TUL means that the resistance is not meaningful enough to stimulate the growth mechanism. TUL is a good guideline to use, but it's merely one factor that measures progress. Pace and speed of movement matter, and if we do not meet our standard for speed (8-12 seconds in each direction) then TUL can get skewed and muscular loading can be less than optimal. The sequence of exercises performed in a workout can also affect TUL; if you normally perform the Leg Press second in your exercise routine but one day perform it as your last exercise, you will get a dramatically different result. To ensure accurate record-keeping, we would like to have as few variables as possible. The majority of our experienced clients tend to have a TUL on most exercises between 1:30 and 2:00.

Don't be overly concerned with achieving a certain TUL. Remember, your main objective is to create an exercise stimulus, not complete an arbitrary number of repetitions. Instead of worrying about how many repetitions you get, focus your attention on breathing properly, moving smoothly, and executing precise turnarounds. I would rather see a client perform 5 perfect repetitions with a thorough inroad at the end of the exercise than for them to complete 7 repetitions in poor form. Giving great effort and using perfect form are far more important than reaching a specific TUL.

Posted December 17, 2020 by Tim Rankin