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Total Results Blog

Customizing Your Workout by Matthew Romans

The Total Results exercise philosophy is based on the classical sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as concepts of motor learning and biomechanics) and involves brief, infrequent, and high intensity weight training workouts that use a slow and deliberate speed of movement. While we have a sound and consistent foundation in place (and have followed it for nearly twenty years), it's important to understand that ours is not a cookie cutter approach. Two clients' workouts may be similar in how they are structured, but we see each client as a unique individual, and we tailor our instructional approach, selection and sequence of exercises to help each client achieve optimal success. I like to think of this as customizing your workout.

If you have paid attention to the mainstream fitness industry over the years, trends and fads come and go. Most other exercise protocols and philosophies are pragmatic; they will incorporate whatever seems good at the time, whether it's "functional" training, balance training, or any other notion with or without a scientific basis. We don't operate that way. Everything that we do has to be consistent with our exercise protocol that was refined over many years, and we are very serious about staying true to our roots.

There are plenty of ways that we can customize your workout. After a client completes an initial consultation, we select the exercises that make up a beginner or generic workout. This usually consists of the exercises that are the most important and easiest to learn, and usually include (among others) the Leg Press, Chest Press, and Lumbar Extension. These are the exercises that a large portion of our client population can handle without too much joint irritation.

-We usually stick with a sequence of exercises for the lower body before the upper body; however, in situations involving exercise-induced headache or nausea we may need to reverse that order to work around the potential problem.

-Dynamic movements are preferred most of the time, but we can also use Timed Static Contractions, and in some cases, Negative-Only protocol in order to best meet the needs of the individual and work around a joint issue or injury.

-Substituting one machine for another might be required. A shoulder problem might make the MedX Overhead Press machine a better option than the one made by Super Slow Systems, and the MedX Row might be better for someone with elbow issues than having them use the Super Slow Systems Compound Row. In some cases, neither option is the best fit, and they may need to do a modified Pullover to avoid the elbow joint entirely.

-To alter the range of motion on exercises like the Chest Press and Leg Curl, we can "gap" the weight stack, or move the movement arm a notch or two forward before putting in the selector pin. Our equipment is easy to adjust, and we can accommodate people with varying heights and limb lengths. We can also provide elevation pads, hand cushion and grip-assisting hooks to make you more comfortable.

One of the characteristics of a good exercise instructor is the ability to adapt, sometimes on the fly, to whatever a client needs. This holds true for how we instruct each client. One of the things that makes exercise instruction such an interesting and rewarding profession is that each client is unique and has his or her own personality and temperament. Some clients may need more teaching and prompting than others, and some will require very little instruction at all during each exercise. As a general rule, an instructor should say as little as possible so as not to pose a distraction during the workout, but we will give whatever coaching is needed to help you get the safest and most effective exercise stimulus that you can.

Exercise volume and frequency (dosage) also needs to be customized so that the client can achieve safe and long-lasting progress without the risk of illness or injury due to overuse. While we could make more money if our workouts were longer and more frequent, it's our duty to do what is in the best interest of the client. Sometimes this means reducing one's training frequency and volume of exercise; many of our longer-tenured clients exercise once per week.

As you can see, ours is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We can customize your workout experience to work around nearly any injury, condition, or joint issue, and we can do so while staying true to the exercise philosophy that is most congruent with the classic sciences. Regardless of your age, personality, experience level, or health history, we can find the proper blueprint to deliver the best results in the least amount of time. Come see what makes us different from the rest of the industry.

Start today!

Posted November 15, 2019 by Tim Rankin

The Power to Change, By Matthew Romans

Dr. Martin Seligman is a psychologist and author, and is one of the most respected people in his field. I recently read his book "What You Can Change, and What You Can't," and he discusses various aspects of one's life that can be changed and those that are fixed, particularly as it pertains to psychological topics like addiction, phobias, depression, anger, and many others. While there is a section in the book that discusses the pros and cons of dieting (he's not particularly optimistic about its success rate), he doesn't really discuss exercise, per se. While I got a lot out of the book, this is not a book review. Instead, the book's title and content led me to think about how this can relate to exercise, and it made me consider how much power we have to create positive physical and mental change through regular Total Results weight training.

We know that there are certain physical traits that are fixed. What can't you change?

VO2 Max. This is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during intense exercise. It is usually measured by a machine called a Breckman cart that attaches a hose to your mouth to measure your oxygen uptake during a treadmill run. It is largely predetermined by birth and cannot really be changed. The good news is that VO2 Max testing isn't a valid test of anything, and is not really important anyway (despite what most exercise physiologists will tell you).

Limb length. This is also genetically predetermined. While longer limbs create certain leverage advantages for certain activities or sports, it's not something you have control over. It's no accident that taller people gravitate toward sports like basketball and volleyball, largely due to selection bias (meaning they are drawn to be good at sports in which they are physically suited).

Tendon insertion point and muscle belly length. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and they also stabilize joints. While tendons do not have the same elastic properties as muscles, tendons can stretch a little to help facilitate muscular contraction. The muscle belly is the part of the muscle between its tendon attachments that contracts and produces force, thus enabling movement. The longer the muscle belly, the shorter the tendon attachment, and the greater force producing capacity the muscle has. This is something that Mother Nature decided for you, and that you have no control over.

Family medical history. Again, this is genetically predetermined. As the saying goes, you can't pick your parents (or grandparents, for that matter). But while you can't pick your genes, it's important to realize that not everyone with a family history of a certain disease ends up getting the disease simply because they are predisposed to it. Your lifestyle (which includes, diet, sleep, stress management, etc.) is something that you absolutely have control over.

Now that we have seen what we (largely) cannot change, what are some things that we have the power to change? This is where we can really take control and start living our best life, and it will take a lot less time than you think.

Attitude. This shapes your life philosophy and helps you to determine your course of action. Having a positive mindset means that you believe that you can accomplish anything if you are willing to invest the effort in doing so. Without it, nothing exceptional can be accomplished. As the saying goes, attitude is everything.

Knowledge. This ties in with one's attitude. Education should be lifelong, no matter what your interest or occupation. Always strive to learn. While I have said this before, at Total Results, we see ourselves as both learners and educators. We strive to keep learning and searching for a way to be better instructors, and we pass along what we have learned to you. As a Total Results client, having the mindset of being a learner will help pave the road to success.

Strength, metabolic, and cardiovascular conditioning. Skeletal muscle is one of the most plastic tissues in the entire body, meaning that it has a great capacity for positive change. The skeletal muscles are the only type of muscle tissue in the body that is voluntary; smooth and cardiac muscle, while very important, are involuntary. The skeletal muscles are the engines of the body; they enable movement and have the most impact on our body shape. High intensity Total Results weight training is the most effective way to increase your strength, which will also result in improved metabolic and cardiovascular conditioning.

Mood. Regular strength training has been shown to elevate mood and improve depression. Increased strength, ease of everyday tasks, and improved body image can and usually does lead to greater self-confidence.

Health care and insurance costs. While I don't see the the insurance and medical industries getting less expensive anytime soon, there are things you can do to lower your monthly and yearly health expenses. Regular Total Results exercise helps to protect against injury, lowers blood pressure, increases cardiac output, improves insulin sensitivity, and aids in combating the "diseases of modern civilization." The stronger and healthier you are, the less your insurance and health care costs, and this will help you to stay out of the system.

You have the power to change. While certain physical attributes that you have are fixed, others can be significantly improved. Total Results can be a major catalyst in creating a stronger and better you, and it takes less than one hour per week. While you may not have been given the genetic advantages to be an elite athlete, you can maximize your own genetic blueprint with Total Results. Take your first step today.

Posted November 05, 2019 by Tim Rankin

Inroading vs Outroading - The most important aspect of your workout - by Matthew Romans

Most of my friends, family, and business acquaintances know (or think they know) what I do for a living, so the topic of exercise regularly comes up even when I am not in the office. I talk about exercise at networking events, social functions, and even at the dentist's office. While I talk freely about exercise when I'm networking, in most casual and non-work related situations I rarely bring up the topic, and will only discuss it if someone else brings it up. The reason for this is that most people who have never set foot in our Total Results studio (or a studio with a similar philosophy) have a very misguided idea of what exercise is, and can often be as emotionally attached to their fitness regimen as they are to their religious or political views. The Total Results exercise philosophy is based on the classical sciences and can be largely summed up by one very important word: inroad.

What is inroad? It is the process where the musculature is systematically fatigued deeply enough to create a stimulus for the body to make improvements. Inroading is deliberate, mindful, purposeful, and rational. As instructors, we often make the distinction between the assumed exercise objective versus the real exercise objective. Inroad is the real objective. Since the human body is fairly resistant to change, we have to give it a very good reason to make the physical improvements that are very metabolically expensive. This is why it is important to push to and beyond momentary muscular failure on each exercise, as this is the stimulus that our body interprets as a threat to its well-being. This perceived threat is what stimulates the body to increase muscle and bone density, improve cardiac output and metabolic conditioning, and maintain insulin sensitivity. Because the exercise stimulus is so intense, it's very important to regulate the volume and frequency of exercise so that you do not exceed your body's capacity to recover and make improvements. Exercise has a "narrow therapeutic window", and too frequent or too high a volume of exercise can lead to overtraining, illness, and injury.

Outroading is the opposite of inroading, as you might suspect. It is instinctive, irrational, and largely unconscious. While many gym rats and bodybuilding/fitness enthusiasts purposely perform a higher volume of activity to avoid intense exercise (and delude themselves into thinking that they're really doing more), some knowledgeable trainees are guilty of outroading as well. Outroading behaviors are those behaviors that bring uninvolved musculature into play and inhibit the exercise stimulus. These behaviors can include excessive gripping, facial grimacing, Valsalva/breath holding, shifting and adjusting while under load, off/oning, and unloading the musculature. It must be noted that most trainees do not purposely commit form discrepancies; these are largely natural urges done to make things momentarily easier. While these may momentarily make things somewhat easier, they divert your focus from the primary objective (inroad), and can also increase your risk for injury. Grimacing, gripping, and Valsalva can spike your blood pressure to dangerously high levels and also lead to an exercise-induced headache. Shifting, wiggling, and adjusting while under load can unevenly load your pelvis and spine and lead to a multitude of injuries. Speeding up your movement can unload your musculature and increase the force placed upon your muscles, connective tissue, and joints (remember, force=mass x acceleration). In order to maximize benefit and minimize your risk for injury, we need to avoid outroading behaviors.

What can you do to maximize your inroad/exercise stimulus?

First, remain calm. One of the most important duties of an exercise instructor is to help the client keep their emotions in check. It's very natural to have feelings of anxiety and panic once the exercise becomes difficult, but this can often lead to unsafe behaviors or even stopping the exercise prematurely. Even though the body interprets intense exercise as a threat, it's actually performed in a very safe and controlled environment.

Second, keep an open mind. When the above scenario occurs and panic sets in, your mind closes up and you are unable to process and execute instructions. No matter how uncomfortable the exercise becomes, keep your wits about you and think through the process.

Third, don't run from the discomfort, chase after it. This is a phrase that I've borrowed from our former colleague Al Coleman, and I think it speaks volumes. Much of the anxiety that clients often experience comes from the muscular discomfort they experience toward the end of an exercise, and it can do a psychological number on you if you allow it. Don't give into the fear; once things become uncomfortable, embrace the struggle and what you're accomplishing. If you have that mindset, you'll find that the burning sensation you experience is not nearly as bad as you thought, and that it's only temporary.

Fourth, breathe freely. Not only is free and continuous breathing essential for maximizing your inroad, it gives you something else to focus on besides exertional discomfort. Breathing freely enables you to get oxygen to your working muscles, and it also allows you to blow off carbon dioxide and keep the pH levels in your muscles from becoming too low (this can induce muscular failure prematurely).

Finally, focus on one repetition at a time. Try to make each individual repetition your masterpiece. Strive for flawless turnarounds and a consistent pace and speed of movement at all times. Don't worry about the next exercise, or how many repetitions you complete. Stay in the moment.

This is where working with a Total Results instructor is critically important. We can correct form discrepancies, find the optimal exercise dosage, keep you in the proper frame of mind, and help you achieve a more effective exercise stimulus than you can get anywhere else. While our workouts are intense and uncomfortable, they are also brief and infrequent. Let us show you the way.

Posted October 29, 2019 by Tim Rankin

Check Your Ego at the Door, by Matthew Romans

I recently read a book titled "Ego is the Enemy" by Ryan Holiday. The author discusses personal experiences and historical examples of how ego can get in the way of learning and growth, blind us to our faults, and lead us to be our own worst enemy. This often results in future problems. While the author didn't specifically mention the field of exercise, I couldn't help but notice some parallels to my own experiences instructing clients over the years.

When performing Total Results exercise, ego is definitely the enemy. Ego can lead to poor form, injury, cessation of progress, and quitting the exercise program altogether. An unchecked ego is often what leads to mistaking the assumed objective for the real objective. The assumed objective is that you want to perform as many possible repetitions with as much weight as you can. This is a mistake, and once you take on an incorrect mindset you're starting down a dangerous path. The real objective of exercise is to inroad (fatigue) your musculature thoroughly and efficiently enough to stimulate a growth mechanism. This is what prompts the body to make improvements. The amount of weight that is used on a given exercise is not nearly as important as using perfect form. While we certainly want to progressively overload the musculature (i.e. - to periodically add resistance to the weight stack) in order to give the muscles a reason to get stronger, it is far better to use less weight and stricter form. This translates into a far more effective stimulus. One of the most important duties of an exercise instructor is to help the client stay calm and keep their emotions in check during the most intense portions of a workout. This allows them to maximize their exercise experience.

Some clients will take on the mindset that exercise is a competition. This can happen in a few ways. One, they may have a spouse or a friend who is also in our program, and might feel as though they have to compete against them. Two, they may feel as though they are competing against the machine, especially as momentary muscular failure approaches. Three, they could place an inordinate value on their time under load (TUL), and get discouraged if they do not increase that TUL on every exercise of every workout. These are all examples of ego rearing its ugly head.

Exercise is not a competition!

Two different people participating in our exercise program have completely different body proportions and leverages, so there is no valid basis for comparison. I would recommend encouragement rather than thinking of it as a competition. Trying to "beat the machine" is a bad idea, because it can lead to poor form and injury. Finally, don't worry so much about TUL. It's a measurement that we record and keep track of, but it is only one criteria for determining your progress. If you perform an exercise for 1:40 TUL in perfect form, that translates into a far more effective stimulus than an exercise performed for 2:00 in poor form. If you really must have a competition mindset, think about competing against yourself to give your best effort possible, regardless of weight and TUL.

What can you do to keep your ego in check?

First, be a learner. This is something that we tell prospective clients during their initial consultation, as they are about to undertake something that is very different and new to most people. Ego needs to be taken out of the equation before true learning can take place. This holds true for novice as well as experienced trainees. No matter how long you have been doing something, there is always something new to learn. More than a decade into his career, basketball great Kobe Bryant sought out fellow great Hakeem Olajuwon to teach him how to improve his post moves. Bryant was a veteran of 30 years old and had already won four NBA titles and numerous individual awards; his legacy was secure. So why did he seek out Olajuwon's help? Because he wanted to continue to learn and improve as a player. Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won one more NBA title the following season, and he thanked Olajuwon for his help after his last game in 2016.

Second, be humble. Celebrate your accomplishments, but keep an even keel, and don't get discouraged if you have a less than optimal workout. Strive to put forth a maximum effort every time out, and be satisfied in knowing that you have done your best. Remember that when you have reached the physical goals that you have set for yourself (fat loss, muscle gain, etc.), there are many more unseen benefits that come with regular proper exercise (maintenance of insulin sensitivity, metabolic/cardiovascular conditioning, bone remodeling, resistance to injury). You can always set new goals for yourself as you go along.

Finally, keep your ego in check by working with a Total Results exercise instructor. We can teach you the things that you need to know and show you how to get the most out of your exercise experience. We keep our egos in check by being lifelong learners; we read and study everything that we can get our hands on and solicit advice and knowledge from other sources in our field that we respect.

Experience the Total Results difference today!

Posted October 15, 2019 by Tim Rankin

No Excuses, by Matthew Romans

If is very easy to think of reasons not to do things that can benefit you. The book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is a riveting and important historical account that we can all learn from, but how many people do you know that have actually read all of it? Probably not very many. Why? The book is over 1,200 pages long, and that alone is intimidating enough to make most people not want to read it. Your car's check engine light has been on for a few weeks, but you haven't made a service appointment. How come? It's a hassle to take your car to the shop, and it might be an expensive repair. Humans have the ability to rationalize and make excuses for lots of decisions or non-decisions in life, but ultimately we are responsible for what happens as a result.

There are a myriad of reasons many people give for why they don't undertake a comprehensive exercise program: not enough time/too busy, it's too expensive, it's too hard, it's not fun. These are just a few of the many that I have heard over the years. This thinking is very shortsighted, because chronic disease is largely a result of poor lifestyle decisions that add up over time (poor diet, bad sleeping habits, stress management, lack of proper exercise). The good news is that there is something that can make a world of difference in your health and well-being, and it requires less than one hour per week: Total Results exercise.

In order to stimulate body improvements and start to reverse the effects of chronic disease, inflammation, and poor mobility you need to perform intense mechanical work with the skeletal muscles. Our workouts are brief, intense, infrequent, and most importantly, safe. As instructors, we supervise every repetition of every exercise in every workout, and our job is to educate you and put you into a position for success. Total Results exercise is not fun; we would never tell you that it is. The fact that our workouts are not fun is not a valid excuse to not do them. I don't particularly enjoy brushing my teeth, cleaning the house, or shopping for groceries, but if I don't regularly do these things there are negative repercussions. The fun part of exercise occurs when you're able to fit into clothes that used to be too tight, are able to participate in activities that you once could not, or when you get excellent feedback from your doctor at your annual check-up. That is the payoff.

According to a CBS News report, in 2018 Americans spent $535 billion on prescription drugs. That is an alarming statistic, and it doesn't even get to the root of the problem, as it's more profitable to drug companies to treat conditions rather than cure them. All the money that we're spending on prescription medication isn't making us healthier, it's making us sicker. Total Results exercise is an investment in yourself, and it's an investment on the preventative side of health. You can pay a little now, or you can pay a lot down the road in the form of higher insurance premiums, medication, and health care. This doesn't even take into account things like the loss of mobility and its negative impact on your quality of life, which are difficult to quantify.

Everyone has different things competing for their time, such as their job, family, and various extracurricular activities. If you value your health and your quality of life, less than one hour of exercise per week should be manageable. Don't make excuses; Total Results exercise is critical for your health. You can't afford not to do this!

Posted October 14, 2019 by Tim Rankin