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Total Results Blog

How to Avoid Chronic Systemic Inflammation, by Matthew Romans

One phrase that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years is chronic systemic inflammation. Inflammation is a normal response by the body in an attempt to ward off an invader, whether the invader is a virus, a food you are allergic to, or a mosquito that bites you. These scenarios are examples of short-term or local inflammation (like the bump and redness that you get on your arm from the bug bite), but what is meant by "chronic systemic inflammation"? According to Wikipedia, it "Is the result of release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from immune-related cells and the chronic activation of the innate immune system." Your immune system defends you against infection, and some of its major components include the white blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus. In addition, your skin, lungs, and digestive tract function as another layer of defense against foreign invaders. If you experience chronic systemic inflammation, it's as if your body is in a perpetual state of "high alert", which is extremely stressful.

What causes chronic systemic inflammation? There are several contributing factors: genetics, stress, lack of restful sleep, improper diet, and lack of proper exercise are some of them. The danger of chronic systemic inflammation is that it can predispose you to developing the "diseases of modern civilization", which include diabetes, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases (when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells), and even some skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. Modern lifestyles and nutritional habits have exponentially increased the prevalence of these diseases in the U.S. over the last 30 years, and that trend doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. On the surface, the news sounds pretty bad.

Fortunately, there are simple things that you can do to reduce your systemic inflammation and ward off the diseases of modern civilization. These are not things that will require a drastic overhaul of your lifestyle or take up a lot of your time, but can be done on a daily or weekly basis to optimize your health.

Get plenty of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is critically important for the production of antibodies and for building and maintaining strong bones. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to Rickets and Crohn's Disease. Ample amounts should be acquired through direct exposure to the sun. I also recommend taking a supplement if you don't live in the tropics or work outdoors, at least 5,000 IU (international units) per day.

Eat single-ingredient whole foods. Most processed foods contain additives and ingredients that are completely unnecessary and in many cases harmful. Look at the packaging: if it has a bunch of words you can't pronounce, you don't need it. If you stick with whole foods, you know exactly what you're getting. Avoid sugars, breads, and pastas whenever possible.

Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Many Americans are carrying around a significant sleep debt. This leaves you feeling lethargic and less alert, but it also increases systemic inflammation. Try to set consistent times to go to sleep and wake up, and limit your exposure to artificial light in the hours before sleep. If you are able to wake up on your own, without an alarm clock and feeling refreshed, you have gotten ample sleep.

Incorporate meditation and/or mindfulness. Regular meditation, even for as little as ten minutes per day, has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It's a good way to refocus your mind and relieve stress that has accumulated throughout the day.

Perform regular Total Results exercise. Our unique exercise protocol will safely strengthen bones, joints, and muscles, improve your cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, reduce your risk for injury, and even help you maintain insulin sensitivity (and ward off Type II diabetes). It can also reduce your blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, and allow you to perform everyday tasks with far less effort. All of this takes less than one hour per week.

Try intermittent fasting. This involves reducing the time between your first and last meal of the day to around 8 hours (or less), and going without eating for longer periods of time (usually 14 to 16 hours or more). It's not as difficult as it sounds, and is much easier to do if you consume a higher percentage of your calories from saturated fat. Regular fasting helps facilitate cellular repair, increase gene expression, increase levels of human growth hormone (which is beneficial in fat loss), and regulates blood sugar and insulin levels.

Avoiding or reducing chronic systemic inflammation will leave you less susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections; it's hard to get the most out of life if you are frequently sick or injured. Adopting this approach to life will also help you to maintain functional independence, reduce your health insurance costs, and decrease your regular use of medication. The Total Results exercise philosophy is an important and effective way to help you to maximize your health and maintain your vitality for many years to come. Take charge of your life and start today.

Posted July 24, 2020 by Tim Rankin

The Stages of Learning Proper Exercise, by Matthew Romans

The Total Results exercise philosophy is something that is very new for most people who start exercising with us. Our methodology is more detailed than any other exercise protocol in the industry, so new clients should not be discouraged if they do not master the technique immediately. Everyone learns and acquires skill at a different pace, but the initial consultation and first few sessions are very important for establishing the proper fundamentals of speed of movement, pacing, turnaround technique, and breathing. The learning curve may seem steep at first, but progressing along that curve helps you to achieve the results that you desire. I call this the stages of learning.

There are stages of learning in any endeavor that you might pursue: playing a musical instrument, driving a car, or swinging a golf club. At Total Results we introduce new clients to the initial selection and sequence of exercises (or what we call the generic routine) over the course of the first few sessions. This is done so we can be thorough without overloading the client with too much information and detail. This is the first stage of learning. To maximize learning, it's generally recommended that clients start exercising twice per week, but that isn't written in stone. The generic routine usually consists of the following exercises: Leg Curl, Leg Press, Chest Press, Row, Lumbar Extension, and Abdominal (either manually-resisted or a Timed Static Contraction). This routine is the foundation for future success and more advanced exercise routines; these are also the easiest exercises for new clients to learn and master.

The Leg Curl serves two vital purposes: it effectively targets the hamstrings directly and helps to lubricate the knee joint.

The Leg Press is the most important exercise, in that it engages the greatest amount of muscle

The Chest Press and Row are included because we want to have an equal number of pushing and pulling exercises for the upper body.

The Lumbar Extension is a critical exercise for strengthening the muscles of the thoracic and lumbar spine.

We finish the routine off with an Abdominal exercise to make sure that all the major structures of the upper and lower body are addressed. If a client has knee issues, we will usually substitute the Hip Abduction and Adduction exercises in place of the Leg Curl.

The second stage of learning usually occurs around the six to eight week mark, or when enough proficiency has been attained to move on to the next level. For twice per week clients, this involves introducing several new exercises over the course of the next few sessions. These exercises can include Pulldown, Overhead Press, Cervical (neck) Extension, Hip Abduction, Hip Adduction, Bicep Curl, Tricep Extension, Calf Raise, and Linear Spine Flexion. At this point, we have clients perform an "A" and "B" routine that each consist of a separate set of 5-7 exercises. We often limit the performance of Leg Press and Lumbar Extension to one time per week, to enhance recovery. Clients who exercise once per week will generally keep a similar structure to their routine, but often alternate certain exercises from one workout to the next (such as the compound upper body exercises, or neck and low back movements).

A third learning stage often involves clients moving from two sessions to one session per week, in which case we would use a hybrid of an "A" and "B" routine. Clients reduce their training frequency for a few reasons: financial, limited time, or they are training intensely enough that they are exceeding their body's recovery ability by training twice per week. Recovery is dependent upon a number of factors, namely sleep, nutrition, stress management, and your activity level outside of your Total Results workouts. There are advantages to continuing at twice a week, certainly if fat loss, injury rehabilitation and metabolic conditioning are primary goals. While sometimes the learning curve is a bit steeper for those that start out training once per week, we have seen many of these clients obtain incredible results in short order. We can tailor our selection and sequence of exercises to meet the needs of the individual, particularly if there is an injury history or concerns of nausea and/or exercise-induced headache.

Your Total Results instructor will help you progress through the stages of learning and tailor your exercise routine to achieve maximum benefit in minimum time. The journey is hard: nothing of benefit that can be accomplished is easy. All you need is a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and an open mind. We can help you get there. Take your first step today.

Posted July 22, 2020 by Tim Rankin

"Plague of Corruption" , a book review by Matthew Romans

Dr. Judy Mikovits, together with attorney and science teacher Kent Heckenlively, have written a fascinating new book called "Plague of Corruption." The authors give their take on the current state of scientific research, and what its relationship with both the government and the pharmaceutical industry mean for us.

Dr. Mikovits is a very respected researcher who spent twenty years working at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and has co-authored more than fifty peer-reviewed scientific papers. Before her work at NCI, she spent two years working for Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, and after she left NCI she worked for several years as the Research Director at the Whittemore-Peterson Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Mikovits has a PhD in Biochemistry from George Washington University. Mr. Heckenlively is the founding editor of Age of Autism.

Dr. Mikovits has worked closely for over thirty years with Dr. Frank Ruscetti, who is one of the founding fathers of the field of human retrovirology. She did her doctoral thesis on HIV, and in fact defended her thesis a week after basketball star Magic Johnson was diagnosed with the virus. She correctly predicted that not only would Johnson not die of AIDS, he would never develop the disease, and that the antiretroviral drugs he had started taking would silence the activity of the virus. A retrovirus (which is what HIV is) is a type of RNA (ribonucleic acid) that inserts a copy of its genome into the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of a host cell that it invades. They can lay dormant for years before an immune response triggers action. This is what happens when you are given a vaccine. A vaccine works by "training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens."

The authors suggest science has been corrupted by jealousy, politics, and the growing influence of the pharmaceutical industry. This is contrary to how Dr. Mikovits has always looked at science. She says, "...I always figured a scientist was like an umpire in a baseball game, calling balls and strikes as he sees them."

The pharmaceutical industry holds great power, and stands to make large amounts of money from vaccines. However, not everyone is so enthusiastic. To quote the authors again, "What you do with a vaccination is you temporarily cripple a part of the immune system, as resources are diverted from protecting against other viruses to target the virus from the vaccine." This is magnified when multiple vaccines are given. Vaccines are grown in animal tissues, and it's unknown what viruses and pathogens are being transferred while receiving the vaccine. In addition to that, chemicals can be found in vaccines such as mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum, and polysorbate 80.

Through their research, Dr. Mikovits and Dr Ruscetti were able to isolate a recently discovered retrovirus known as XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus). This retrovirus has been associated with prostate cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, and possibly Alzheimer's disease. XMRV has been found in vaccines. A paper detailing their findings was published in the journal Science in October 2009. The doctors were pressured to retract their published findings, but they refused. Dr. Mikovits was later arrested and held in custody for five days without being charged with a crime. The police searched her house from top to bottom in order to find her research notebooks. Charges were never filed, and no trial was held. In fact, no prosecutor ever even looked at the facts of the case. She was eventually fired from her job at the Whittemore-Peterson Institute and forced to declare bankruptcy. Fortunately, Dr. Mikovits was able to rebuild her career and started a successful consulting firm with her mentor Dr. Ruscetti. Through all of this, she has remained an outspoken critic of the current state of public health, but is optimistic for the future.

Regardless of where you stand on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, this book is an important examination of the relationship between science, politics, and the pharmaceutical industry. It's important to never stop asking questions, and to never believe that we have all the answers. If we keep an open mind and explore theories and ideas from a variety of sources, we can learn a great deal about how to keep ourselves healthy and vital for many years to come. Education never stops.

Posted July 09, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Personal Trainers vs Health and Fitness Teachers, by Matthew Romans

Think back to your days of formal schooling. I bet you can remember the name of at least one teacher whose class you really enjoyed, or a teacher that had a significant impact on you. I was fortunate to have several coaches and teachers (particularly in English and History) that made a lasting impression on me and fostered some lifelong interests. The definition of a teacher is "someone who provides education for pupils or students." An effective teacher is someone who can hold a person's interest, spark an intellectual curiosity, and convey information in a way that can be clearly understood. There should be an underlying philosophy or system in place, but it's also important for the teacher to adapt his or her approach to meet the needs of each individual student. This may not be practical in many learning environments (particularly in most state-run schools), but it is what we do at Total Results.

John Wooden, the famed basketball coach at UCLA, always saw himself as more of a teacher than anything else. Before he led the Bruins to ten NCAA titles in twelve seasons, he was an English teacher. Legend has it that on his business card it simply read "teacher." Wooden taught his players about the smallest details, even going so far as to teach them how to properly put on their socks and tie their shoes to avoid getting blisters. At Total Results people often refer to us as trainers (I've never really cared for the term), instructors, or health professionals, but I consider us to be teachers above anything else. In order to take yourself to the next level in any endeavor, you need someone to teach you how to get there. Many people may think they know what constitutes safe and effective exercise but they will not be able to achieve optimum benefit in minimum time without an instructor to teach them. We cut through the misinformation and give you the truth about exercise.

The teaching process begins with the initial consultation, which is free of charge and lasts an hour. We give you an overview of our exercise methodology, learn about your medical and exercise history, go over preliminary safety considerations, and instruct a sample workout. Our philosophy is something that is very different for most people, so we explain the hows and whys of everything that we do. Once you officially become a Total Results client, we will gradually introduce the beginning sequence of exercises that you will perform for the first several weeks. All of our instruction is one on one, so that we can devote all of our attention and focus to you during your session. Feedback is critical to the learning process; we give cues and make immediate corrections throughout your session so that you can maximize skill and achieve an optimal exercise stimulus. We will make modifications and adjustments to your exercise program to best meet your individual needs.

How can you optimize the teaching that you get at Total Results? Be a learner. We talk about this during the initial consultation, that you are learning something that, for most people, is relatively new. If you want to master something, the key is to never stop learning. Randy Rhoads was the legendary guitar player for Ozzy Osbourne's band before his life was cut short by a plane crash. He had achieved international stardom, played sold-out shows, and helped write some amazing songs, yet he sought out guitar teachers for lessons in nearly every city that he played. He was a guitar teacher himself, and he had a growth mindset because he wanted to completely master the instrument and get the most out of his ability. In exercise, mastery of proper form, speed of movement, turnaround technique, correct breathing, and the ability to focus on the task at hand will translate into optimal physical improvements. You will maximize your genetic blueprint.

Teaching and learning are a continuous process, and we are never satisfied with the depth of our knowledge. We continue to read and study new advances in science, and search for ways to more effectively communicate. Whether you are a beginning client or have been with us for ten years, we will continue to apply what we know to help you achieve your goals. The payoff for us is in seeing our clients take our teachings to heart and achieve the results they have always desired. Start your journey today.

Posted July 08, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Pre and Post Exhaustion Techniques in Strength Training: Pros and Cons, By Matthew Romans

Intelligent effort and safety are the most important considerations when trying to stimulate positive physical change. The human body, left to its own devices, is very resistant to change and will usually do what it can to maintain the status quo, unless a significant stimulus is introduced. Many gym rats and weightlifting enthusiasts try to make up for a lack of exercise intensity (momentary effort) by increasing exercise volume and frequency, which frequently leads to overtraining, injury, and greater risk for illness due to overtaxing the immune system. There are a great many so-called "advanced training techniques" that have been used in gyms for decades by athletes and bodybuilders; most of them are pointless and provide very little benefit. A couple of techniques that do have some merit are pre and post exhaustion movements. How effective are they, and how frequently should they be used? Let's take a closer look.

A pre-exhaustion involves performing a single joint exercise immediately before a multiple joint exercise for the purpose of more deeply inroads (fatiguing) the larger or primary musculature. Often, the smallest muscle group in a compound movement becomes a limiting factor in terms of getting the most effective inroad. A good example of this is the Leg Press. The prime mover in the Leg Press is the glutes, but often the quadriceps fatigue before the glutes can be thoroughly inroaded. While the quadriceps is a strong and powerful muscle group, the glutes are even larger and stronger. However, by performing the Abduction exercise before the Leg Press, you can more deeply fatigue the glutes and achieve a more effective exercise stimulus. Pre-exhaustion can be beneficial if used sparingly and strategically, and is more feasible when used in certain combinations, such as Abduction/Leg Press or Pullover/Pulldown. We often have clients perform the Leg Curl exercise first in the exercise order just before the Leg Press. In some ways this could possibly be considered a pre-exhaustion, but not really. We do this more to target the hamstrings effectively, but the hamstrings are not a prime mover in the Leg Press. Also, performing a knee flexion exercise (Leg Curl) before performing a knee extension exercise (Leg Press) allows us to thoroughly warm up and lubricate the knee joint. This is beneficial for all clients, but especially those with knee issues.

A post-exhaustion entails performing a single joint movement after a multiple joint movement. Ostensibly, this is to more deeply fatigue a smaller muscle that may get overlooked in a larger exercise. A good example of this would be to perform a bicep curl right after doing a Pulldown or Compound Row exercise. Performing post-exhaustion can make your muscles feel more "pumped", i.e., engorged with blood, similar to doing pushups prior to going to the beach. Many bodybuilders strive to achieve this feeling because it feels good and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Post-exhaustion can also be very effective for correcting a muscular imbalance or helping to rehabilitate an injury, such as performing the External Rotation exercise for the small rotator cuff muscles after doing the Overhead Press. Speaking of the Overhead Press, in addition to the major muscles of the shoulder it also involves the posterior (rear) part of the neck, so performing a Cervical Extension exercise after the Overhead Press could be considered a pos-exhaustion for the neck musculature. Strong neck muscles are important for everyone, in order to prevent injury and improve posture.

It is very easy to take pre- and post-exhaustion too far, in my opinion. Exercise volume is like a dosage of medication; both have a narrow therapeutic window. Recovery ability can be fragile, especially if one is active outside of their Total Results workouts, so exercise frequency, volume, and intensity need to be regulated to avoid overtraining. Post-exhaustion is largely unnecessary, since it further weakens the already weak link in compound exercises. The slow movement speed and precise turnaround technique of the Total Results exercise protocol enable us to target the intended musculature much more thoroughly, so performing a pre-exhaustion is not required in most cases. Even Ken Hutchins (founder of our exercise protocol) wrote a chapter in the Super Slow Technical Manual titled "Where Pre-Exhaustion Went Awry." During Hutchins' time at Nautilus, his boss Arthur Jones became increasingly intrigued by the concept of pre-exhaustion, and had several Nautilus machines built to more efficiently accomplish this. After Hutchins left Nautilus and further refined our exercise protocol, he came to understand the dangers of too much exercise volume and largely moved away from the concept of pre- and post exhaustion.

In order to achieve optimal results, you need a balanced exercise protocol and routine that will stimulate positive change without damaging the body in the process. That's where Total Results comes in. We have studied exercise history, equipment design, anatomy and physiology, concepts of motor learning, and nutrition for nearly twenty years, and we will customize our selection and sequence of exercises to help you succeed without getting injured. Get Total Results today.

Posted June 30, 2020 by Tim Rankin