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Total Results Blog

When Was the Last Time You Failed at Something?

In our society, the word failure has been given a negative connotation. One definition I looked up stated that failure is "lack of success." I believe that is a rather simplistic explanation of the word, and that an accurate examination requires context. What exactly were you trying to achieve when you failed? Was it something positive or something negative? Did you give your best effort, or did you not try at all? When it comes to Total Results exercise, most of our clients understand that the answers to those questions make all the difference in the world in terms of achieving a proper exercise stimulus. In our world, failure is a huge part of success.

It is far better to try and fail than to not try at all. Thomas Edison successfully patented 1,093 inventions, which means he endured countless failures in the process of procuring those patents. Striving to achieve something great means having to push yourself, and failure is a very real possibility when one stretches their limits. Artificial intelligence researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky said the following about pushing yourself: "If you never fail, you're only trying things that are too easy and playing far below your level...If you can't remember any time in the last six months when you failed, you aren't trying to do difficult enough things." This mindset can be applied to any endeavor; if you give your best effort but still come up short, you may be disappointed in the results, but you can be satisfied that you gave it all you had. The process is often more meaningful than the end result. Legendary coaches John Wooden and Bill Walsh rarely, if ever, talked to their players about winning or losing. They talked about the importance of preparation and giving the effort they were capable of giving, and if that happened the scoreboard would take care of itself.

Our main objective on each exercise of a Total Results workout is to reach momentary muscular failure. This is the point where forward movement of the machine's movement arm is no longer possible in good form, and it means that you have done everything in your power to produce a positive outcome, which is an exercise stimulus. But how is reaching failure a positive outcome? It seems like an oxymoron, and it can initially do a psychological number on some clients. This is why the first several sessions are very learning-intensive, and a large part of that is geared toward emotionally preparing the client to deal with reaching muscular failure. Once a client can psychologically come to grips with the fact that they are pushing or pulling with every ounce of effort they have and the movement arm won't move, that emotional hurdle has been overcome.

Picture this scenario: you achieve six repetitions in perfect form on the Pulldown and get halfway toward completing a seventh, but fail. Your instructor will still give you credit (in terms of time under load) for that repetition you attempted, but did not complete. You may be disappointed that you didn't finish that last repetition, but you gave a terrific effort that stimulated a large amount of muscle. The fact that you did not quit speaks volumes about your drive and mental toughness in the face of significant exertional discomfort. By the conventional definition, you "failed", but you attempted something great and pushed yourself. There is a very good chance that the next time you perform that exercise (assuming you meet your body's requirements for nutrition, hydration, time, and sleep) you will surpass your time under load from the previous workout or inroad just a little deeper. This will show that you have gotten physically and mentally stronger.

The pursuit of perfection is what is important; achieving perfection is impossible. As long as you give your best effort for the twenty minutes of your workout, you have done all that you can possibly do to accomplish something mentally and physically positive. If this were easy, everybody would do it, but Total Results clients are dedicated people that are capable of and have achieved extraordinary things. If you would like to push yourself to heights you didn't think were possible, schedule an initial consultation today.

Posted May 13, 2021 by Matthew Romans

How Important is Cadence Counting During Your Workout?

The Total Results exercise protocol is predicated upon a slow and controlled speed of movement, with an additional emphasis on a precise change of direction on each repetition. This is done to maximize muscular loading, which will result in a more effective exercise stimulus. We aim to have the client raise and lower the resistance in approximately ten seconds, but will accept anything between eight and twelve seconds in each direction. This gives clients plenty of leeway, and at the same time, allows us to standardize for record keeping purposes. Some clients have a natural knack for maintaining a smooth and continuous movement, while others need a little more guidance. Over the years, I have found that utilizing a cadence count is an effective teaching tool to help clients get the most out of each exercise, and it is something that I have found myself using more frequently with trainees of all levels of experience.

Pacing is just as important as your overall speed in an exercise; not all ten seconds are created equal. Let's say you are performing the Lumbar Extension exercise. Most clients start the exercise in the bottom out position at 50 degrees on the protractor, and finish at 0 degrees in the most contracted (extended) position. If you achieve the 15 degree position in three seconds, you are going too fast, and will have to slow down significantly in order to meet the proper standard for speed of movement ( I do not count any repetitions completed in seven seconds or less). This means that your pacing is off target; what we are looking for is a smooth and continuous movement, with a rate of acceleration of about one inch per second. Going too fast can unload the musculature and increase the risk for injury, while going too slowly can actually give you a respite. Our goal is to systematically and safely inroad (fatigue) the muscular structures in order to create a stimulus, and utilizing proper speed and pace helps us to achieve that end. This is where cadence counting becomes very helpful.

Ken Hutchins, who is the founder of our exercise protocol, used to discourage instructors from using a cadence count beyond a certain point of a client's development. He thought it could be considered a crutch that would actually impede clients from getting a better feel for speed of movement. I disagree. I believe that cadence counting is actually very important to use with clients regardless of whether they are a novice or very experienced, and it is very helpful at both the beginning and at the end of an exercise, particularly as momentary muscular failure looms.

The cadence count is introduced during the initial consultation, and I often demonstrate the bicep curl exercise to illustrate how it works. I start with my arm straight and count from zero to ten until I get to the most flexed position. This can be applied to any exercise. Although the range of motion can vary from one exercise to the next, cadence counting helps to standardize pacing. I often use the cue with clients to "think of yourself as a human metronome", meaning that the desire should be to perfect each and every repetition. That being said, trainees should avoid counting to themselves during every exercise. This can cause segmentation of the movement, which is a form discrepancy. Instead, focus on going as slowly and smoothly as you can, with an emphasis on precise turnarounds, and I encourage them to use my cadence count as a reference for their speed. There are other benefits to using a cadence count as well. It can help the client to stay focused and keep their mind on the task at hand, and it helps to keep movement smooth, while also allowing the client to get into a proper rhythm of free and continuous breathing. When the exercise becomes more demanding and movement slows to a crawl, actually think about going faster; your speed will probably be right on target. Lastly, it's important to realize that I will not cadence count on every repetition; I still need to be able to quickly correct form discrepancies and give other instructional cues. However, I will use the cadence count when necessary to help bring each exercise to its desired conclusion, which is momentary muscular failure and a thorough inroad.

This is another example of the attention to detail and level of forethought that Total Results provides, and it's something you can't find in other exercise philosophies or in a commercial gym. Total Results is your accountability partner in terms of your health and fitness, and we will continue to work to give you the best exercise experience money can buy. We value our clients, consider them as family, and will continue to serve your needs to the best of our ability. Our mission is your amazing!

Posted April 22, 2021 by Matthew Romans

"Evil Medicine" - A Book Review

A trusted colleague recently recommended that I read the book "Evil Medicine" by Richard Dennis. The book was originally published in 2005 and it covers a lot of ground in 109 pages, particularly about the pharmaceutical industry, prescription (and over the counter) medications, and the potentially negative effect they can have on your health. The author is a reporter and has written several other books besides this one, and he shares a few personal stories about the damage that prescription drugs can do. Mr. Dennis also takes a closer look at the bureaucracy of the Food and Drug Administration, and he details how political connections have exponentially increased the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.

The title of this book sounds alarmist, but it's important to understand the intended and unintended effects that medication has on your body. Any medication that you take is ostensibly ingested in order to combat a certain physical symptom that you experience. If you are diabetic and have high blood sugar, you will likely be prescribed metformin (or something similar) in order to reduce the amount of sugar your liver releases into your blood. The problem is that prescription drugs don't cure anything; they actually interfere with the body's normal processes and metabolism, which is why many people that are long term users of prescription medications are severely nutrient deficient. Modern medicine in the United States has largely devolved into a doctor seeing a patient for less than five minutes and writing a prescription. Physicians today generally treat symptoms rather than solve the underlying problem. Think about it: diabetic patients that simply take metformin do not cure their diabetes, they are merely managing the disease. It is far more lucrative to physician's practices and pharmaceutical companies to simply treat the symptoms rather than cure the patient. Have you encountered a physician who has counseled a diabetic patient to practice intermittent fasting, go on a low-carb diet, and regularly perform high-intensity strength training? That would go a lot further toward curing diabetes than by simply taking metformin every day.

Dennis says that when it comes to prescription medications, cause and effect are largely misunderstood. He states, "Every symptom comes from one cause: being out of homeostasis. If you don't address the problem nutritionally, you don't address the problem." Doctors usually think the answer to the problem is to prescribe medication, but they are thinking reactively rather than proactively. Rather than think about what caused the problem, they treat the symptoms. This is particularly the case when it comes to antibiotics. There are certain situations when an antibiotic must be prescribed, particularly in the case of a life-threatening infection. The problem is that doctors are now inclined to prescribe them when a person gets a minor sniffle; this leads to antibiotic resistance. Worse yet, according to the author, "Antibiotics also deplete B vitamins, necessary for hundreds of biological processes, including proper nervous system functioning." We often think of antibiotics as being very targeted, but as Dennis illustrates, "Antibiotics aren't a smart bomb, either. They kill the good guys, the bacteria necessary for proper digestion, the bacteria that eat up toxins in your system."

I think this book is especially pertinent to the world we currently live in, in which you can hardly go a single TV commercial break without seeing at least one advertisement for a prescription medication of some sort. It is especially topical considering the recent rollout of the Covid vaccines on the market. We need to understand the role that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has in dealing with the pharmaceutical companies. At the time of the writing of this book, "Researchers estimated that 106,000 Americans die from appropriately administered, FDA-approved prescription drugs. That's more deaths than the annual total for AIDS, suicide, and homicide combined." If the FDA is supposed to be a watchdog over the pharmaceutical industry, how can this happen? The FDA's safety budget is a small fraction of the marketing budget of the major pharmaceutical companies; there is simply no way they can effectively police the industry. In addition to that, the drug companies fund the vast majority of the clinical trials for medications waiting to be released to the market. Data can very easily be manipulated to make a drug seem far more safe and effective than it truly is (think Vioxx). These are some things to consider if you are debating whether to get the Covid vaccine.

If you don't want to be on a steady cocktail of prescription medications as you get older, what can you do? First of all, it's important to have the mindset that your health is your responsibility. The drug companies, government, and medical industry can't do it for you. Consume a diet that largely consists of single-ingredient, whole foods, and avoid sugar. Practice intermittent fasting for 14-18 hours a day, at least a few times per week. Hydrate well, and moderate consumption of alcohol. Sleep for 7-9 hours per night. I also recommend supplementing with Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and possibly fish oil. If you have to take prescription medication, be sure to increase your nutrient intake while on the drug. Finally, lift heavy things once in a while! Perform one or two Total Results workouts per week to increase muscle and bone mass, improve your resistance to injury, and keep your metabolism and cardiovascular system running in top form. None of these are new ideas, but they have stood the test of time.

One last quote from the author: "The average number of prescriptions per person in the U.S. increased from 7.3 in 1992 to 10.4 in 2000." I suspect that number is even higher in 2021. Every drug that you take to deal with one ailment creates another problem. You don't have to be a slave to the pharmaceutical industry. Educate yourself and take charge of your health, starting today!

Posted April 06, 2021 by Matthew Romans

Is Fitness Testing Really Necessary?, by Matthew Romans

As a part of my efforts to further my education, I recently finished taking an exercise science course online at Maryville University. The course covered a wide variety of subjects, from athletic training to sports and exercise psychology, and while I disagreed with most of the other students as far as exercise philosophy and methodology are concerned, I got a lot out of the course. One unit that was covered during the semester had to do with fitness testing. After going through that unit and participating in assignments that had to do with the subject, I thought it valid to question whether fitness testing is really necessary. It was a good exercise for me to go through the testing, so that I could make up my own mind and share my thoughts with Total Results clients and regular readers of our blog articles.

I performed the following fitness tests over the course of one week: the Stork Balance Stand Test (https://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/balance-stork.htm), the Cooper 1.5 mile Run Test (https://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/2-4-km-run.htm), the Rockport Walk Test (https://exrx.net/Calculators/Rockport), a push-up test (maximum number of push-ups completed to muscular failure), BMI (body mass index), and a couple of different step tests. For the tests that are designed to measure aerobic fitness/endurance, we were required to calculate our VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen the body is able to use during exercise) based on things like body weight, our scores on the tests, and mathematical formulas we were given. Based on age, we would reference our scores on a norms chart to see how we compared with our peer group.

I scored extremely well on a few of the tests (the run test, the walk test, push-ups, and the aerobic step test), did fair on the anaerobic step test, and scored poorly on the balance test and BMI. Some of the results were not surprising, but other results were; what could all this mean? The result of the balance test was unexpected. This requires you to place your non-dominant foot on your dominant knee, and stand on one foot with your heel raised for as long as you can. I had a difficult time performing this task for longer than ten seconds, even though I have no difficulties with balance in performing everyday activities or things that are sport-related. Balance skills tend to be specific in nature to the activity you are doing, and if you practice those specific skills, your balance will improve. People who perform this test as a means of evaluation don't get to practice the test ahead of time, but I suspect they would perform better if they practiced it before being evaluated again on their performance.

As for the tests in which I performed well, the run test and the push-up test stood out to me. I was not surprised that I did reasonably well in the push-up test, but I was surprised that I was able to complete as many as I did (over 50). I have not done regular push-ups in many years, so it's not as if my skills were particularly sharp. The run test really blew me away. I have not run (outside of participating in sports) specifically for distance in over twenty years, yet my mile time was 4:45, and I completed the entire run in 7:19. How can this be explained? My current exercise regimen consists of one Total Results strength training workout per week, and outside of occasional hikes and walks all I do in terms of physical activity is the active nature of my job as an instructor. I perform no specific "aerobic exercise", yet my VO2 Max numbers were extremely high. I believe that I am physically fit, but I am also of the opinion that VO2 Max as a measuring tool is completely worthless. It is a test that was originally designed to measure the minimum oxygen uptake in comatose patients, but has been twisted around to supposedly measure something completely different. Even the late Michael Pollock, PhD, who performed more research with VO2 Max than anyone before him, said that, "Maximum oxygen uptake testing is not a test of anything. Any variable data from this test is almost entirely a genetic aberration." If that is the case, why is VO2 Max still held in such high esteem in the exercise physiology community? My theory is that many in that industry use VO2 Max and many of the established fitness tests to make themselves feel more important and to justify the expense of their education. I believe that these results also underscore the fact that regular high-intensity weight training is the most effective means of keeping the cardiovascular system functioning at peak capacity, and that running is completely unnecessary in order to achieve this end. It is also worth noting that I scored poorly on the Body Mass Index test. Based on my height and weight (6 feet, 190 lbs), which are the only things measured, I am considered pre-obese. This test does not take into account lean muscle versus fat mass, so it is rather arbitrary. I am certainly not a ripped Adonis, but I'm nowhere close to being obese. I had long suspected that BMI was of dubious merit, but this confirms it.

Is fitness testing necessary? For the purposes of the Total Results exercise philosophy and our clients, I believe the answer is no. The exercise physiology community considers body composition to be a form of fitness testing; we perform body composition measurements on most of our clients within their first few sessions, but we don't look at it as testing. Rather, it's an opportunity to establish a baseline in order to get on the right path toward fat loss, and we use it as a measurement of progress. We can learn more about a prospective client by going through health history paperwork, asking questions, and putting them through a couple of exercises during their initial consultation than by having them do a series of tests that are very skill-specific. It is unnecessary for people to stand on one foot, run, or step up and down on a bench in order to gain insight as to their baseline level of conditioning. All of that may look impressive to the casual observer, but none of it means very much. Many of these fitness tests carry a high risk of injury, and that runs counter to the Total Results mission. We want to help you to achieve maximum physical improvements safely and efficiently.

Our exercise philosophy is the same today as it was when we opened nearly twenty years ago. We will continue to work every day to improve and give you the best exercise experience money can buy. Our mission is your amazing!

Posted March 22, 2021 by Matthew Romans

My Experience at DiLorenzo Chiropractic, by Matthew Romans

I am currently taking an exercise science course online, and one of the course requirements is to complete ten observation hours in an exercise science-related professional setting. I completed my hours at DiLorenzo Chiropractic, which is located just up the street from my house in Leesburg. Dr. Matt DiLorenzo and his wife Mandy own the practice; they are long-term clients of our exercise studio and have referred several of their patients to us over the years, so I was somewhat familiar with Dr. DiLorenzo's philosophy. Dr. DiLorenzo is the sole chiropractor in the practice, and Mandy runs the office, takes care of scheduling appointments, handles payments, and communicates with the insurance companies. Dr. DiLorenzo treats patients with a wide variety of injuries and ailments, and some of his patients have worked with him for many years.

One of the key components to Dr. DiLorenzo's chiropractic treatment protocol is to understand the nature of subluxations. These are changes to spinal and postural alignment which can irritate nerves and cause pain. As Dr. DiLorenzo says, "The structure of the spine dictates the function of the nervous system", so he performs adjustments on his patients in order to restore proper alignment and relieve pain. He believes in sticking to the basics, as his practice is not a rehabilitation or physical therapy clinic. The specific nature of treatment will depend on the individual patient he is working with, but with new patients he will perform an initial consultation in which he learns as much as he can about a patient's medical history. He takes a series of x-rays on new patients (which is done on the premises), and prepares an oral report to explain the nature of the patient's structural problem. Although this rarely occurs, Dr. DiLorenzo can also prepare a written report upon request. Treatment frequency can vary, depending on the patient. Dr. DiLorenzo generally recommends that patients receive treatment twice per week for six weeks to start; by this point they should start to feel some relief and get an indication that the treatment is working. Beyond that point, patients might come more or less frequently. Some of the patients I observed come once per week, every two weeks, or even once per month.

Education is a very important aspect of the treatment philosophy of DiLorenzo Chiropractic. Dr. DiLorenzo talks at length with patients about the importance of supplementation, diet, and exercise, in addition to regular movement. He makes book suggestions and usually gives educational handouts about chiropractic treatment to his patients each week. I am very impressed at the rapport and the connection that the DiLorenzos have with their patients; they are well-liked and well-respected, which is one reason why so many of them are long-term patients. Dr. DiLorenzo talks to his patients throughout their treatment sessions; this helps to keep the patients at ease and feeling comfortable, even when they are in discomfort. I was slightly surprised at how brief each treatment session typically is, but Dr. DiLorenzo is very efficient at diagnosing where the patient is misaligned, and he is able to restore function and relieve pain very quickly.

I learned quite a bit during the time I spent at DiLorenzo Chiropractic. As I said, they have both been clients at my studio for over a decade, but I confess that prior to this experience, my knowledge of their practice was quite superficial. I had an opportunity to take an x-ray of Dr. DiLorenzo's knee (he is scheduled to have a meniscal procedure shortly), and he showed me how to do it. That was a great experience for me. He also went over patient x-rays with me, as well as strategies that he would implement to help restore function and relieve pain. I was given much reading material, and even got a few excellent book suggestions. I have a better understanding of the nature of Dr. DiLorenzo's chiropractic treatment, and feel even more confident in referring clients to him. Mandy was very generous with her time and knowledge as well, especially in discussing with me all that is involved with running the office on a daily basis, challenges that they face, and the most rewarding aspects of owning this practice.

Working with the DiLorenzos helped to reinforce my belief in what I am doing. The DiLorenzos and I share a similar outlook on life, and believe many of the same things that I believe, and I think it's important to have allies in life as well as in business. We had many discussions about things going on in the world and the challenges that come from running a business in the current political climate.

I am grateful to Matt and Mandy for being so generous with their time and knowledge, and for making me feel welcome at their office. I hope to return for another visit in the future. If you suffer from joint pain, headaches, or other maladies, I highly recommend you check out DiLorenzo Chiropractic.

Posted March 05, 2021 by Matthew Romans