Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

October 2019

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 Matthew Romans

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 Matthew Romans

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 Matthew Romans

The Perfect Day

How can you have The Perfect Day? I am not talking about the day when you meet your soul mate, or win the lottery, or get a new puppy, although those would be good days. I am talking about any day when you feel great physically, have lazer focus for whatever tasks you are undertaking, appreciate the people around you and the places you visit, and you are able to remain positive and energized all day.

1. The first thing you must do if you want to have perfect day is to start the night before:

You should eat a modest sized and healthy final meal of the day and try not to eat or drink anything else. My best practice is to stop all eating and drinking, with the exception of some water as needed, by 7pm. This leads to the next step: go to bed early!

I know different people are on different schdules and bed times can range from 9pm to midnight or later. I recommend you take your wake up time and get in bed at least eight hours before then (ex. if you wake at 6 a.m., be in bed by 10pm, even if you have to read for a bit before you are tired). By eating early and light and going to bed early you are giving your body it's best chance for a restorative, full night of sleep. Your hormone levels will balance, your brain and body will be rested and refeshed, and you will be ready for your perfect day.

2. Upon rising in the morning, there are several easy, quick steps you can take in the first hour of the day to set yourself up for perfection.

First, a few minutes of stretching is very beneficial to work out any tightness accumulated from the previous day and night, and get your blood flowing. I prefer a few modest yoga-type stretches, like an upward dog, downward dog, a pushup position bringing alternating legs forward for a stretch, and a standing position with arms straight above the head and palms together. I do each of these stretches for 10-20 seconds and that it all it takes to work out the kinks. Notice there is no hyperextenstion, no headstands, no unilateral loading of one side of the body. These are all easy to do and safe and you can do them in your own bedroom (or bathroom in my case) and within your own ability level.

Second, take a few minutes for quiet reflection or meditation. This can be in the shower, or sitting at the kitchen table with your coffee, or even better, getting outside for a few minutes. I am not good at meditation. I can't block all conscious thougths or come anywhwere close, but I don't think that matters as much as just having a few minutes of calm and quiet, where you are not driving, talking, working, exercising or are otherwise engaged. I find when I do this that I am more patient with myself and others as my day gets started.

Third, but still within the first hour of waking up, you have to move your body! I always stress that we move our bodies a lot, all day long, and first thing in the morning is no exception. Walk your dog, take a brief bike ride (even on your trainer), take a swim if you have a pool, etc. It does not have to be intense or exhausing at all. To the contrary, it should be an invigorating and energy building activity. The point is to get your blood flowing, heart pumping, joints moving, and brain working at an optimal level for the rest of the day.

The final first hour action you should take is to hydrate. This can be anytime in the first hour. Drink at least 8 ounces or more of filtered water. You have slowly dehydrated over the previous 8 hours and to be at maxmimum function, you have to rehydrate. I like drinking my water before I start my coffee, but you can do it right when you get out of bed, or on your way to work or anywhere in between.

3. Ok, we have taken the right steps the previous night and in the morning to have a perfect day. What can you to do to keep it going throughout the next 15-16 hours?

Eat right. Consume plenty of protein (fish, beef, poultry, eggs). Eat your vegetables. Minimize sugary food and drink. This can help mitigate blood sugar spikes which result in the secretion of hormones like insulin and cortisol gyrating wildly. Continue hydrating throughout the day. Try to stick with coffee, tea and water.

Get some sunlight if at all possible. Sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D which is critical for optimal functioning. Many millions of you are walking around deficient in Vitamin D. If you can't get sunlight, consider supplementation. I prefer Carlson's Vitamin D gels in the winter months.

Move about, at a low level, constantly! Most of you work at a desk much of the day. This is bad for your health. Get up every 30 minutes and walk around. Go outside. During lunch break or after your work day, play something, whether it is a roud of golf, a tennis match, climbing a tree, tossing a frisbee, ride a bike, etc. All these activities require movement, which is good for us mentally and physically. We evolved to move about at a low intensity much of the day, yet we spend countless hours sitting in front of a computer or television.

Once or twice per week, exercise intensely, then use the remaining days to recover and build. This will help make all your days easier. Easier to move around; easier to climb stairs; easier to bend; easier to lift things; easier to sleep, easier to slip up a little on your eating and moving.

Finally, spend quality time with people who bring you joy and less time with those who bring you down!

If you follow these steps, you will be able to have The Perfect Day, day after day! Start today!

Posted October 04, 2019 by Matthew Romans

Exercise: A Requirement for Life! by Matthew Romans

Most of us desire to live a long, productive, and prosperous life filled with rich experiences. We want to be able to enjoy our kids, grandkids, and maintain our health and vigor as our years advance. Unfortunately, many of us are not living that way. As of 2015, over 30 million Americans had diabetes, and an additional 1.5 million people are being diagnosed each year. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in 2015-2016 45.8 percent of Americans used prescription medication in the past thirty days. Go to any large gathering (sporting event, concert, etc.), and you will probably see a significant number of people who are obese and/or using mobility aids. Dr. Doug McGuff, who is an emergency room physician (and owner of an exercise studio with the same philosophy as Total Results) says that "now the bulk of emergency medicine became a matter of dealing with exacerbation of chronic illness and pulling people from the brink over and over again." It seems as though, despite the increasing profitability of the pharmaceutical industry, we are getting sicker rather than healthier.

It's important to understand the concept of physiological headroom. This can be defined as the difference between the most that you can do and the least that you can do; in Western civilization that is decreasing at an earlier age. While it was once accepted that you reached your physiological peak in your late 20s and early 30s, an increasing number of young children are being diagnosed with Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Dr. McGuff says that in his emergency room, more than half of the patients in their twenties need assistance in sitting up after being examined in a lying position. When there is no difference between the most you can do and the least you can do, that's called death. I'm not painting a rosy picture, but there is hope.

Exercise is the key. While the medical establishment and the TV talking heads say that we need more exercise, they are grossly ignorant of what real exercise is. When I say exercise is key, I mean brief, infrequent, and intense Total Results exercise. One or two Total Results workouts per week is your best weapon for staving off the "diseases of modern civilization", such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer (these diseases are virtually absent in hunter-gatherers and other non-westernized populations). As Dr. McGuff points out, "all of them (diseases of modern civilization) seem to be related to muscle loss that occurs with improper aging." This is also known as sarcopenia. Regular Total Results workouts help you to maintain your insulin sensitivity (diabetes), improve bone mineral density (osteoporosis), build lean muscle mass (sarcopenia), lower blood pressure and improve cardiac output (heart disease), and can even improve your mood (depression). Total Results workouts can also enhance your flexibility without additional stretching, protect against injury, and improve certain autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Maintaining strong muscles, bones, and properly functioning vital organs is key to our survival and our ability to move. Once we lose the ability to move, death is not far behind.

It's never too late to start. We have had two nonagenarian clients that began working with us fairly late in life, but partly due to the strength they gained were still very vigorous and active until just before they passed away. Our current oldest client is 88 years old and has been working with us since 2003. She exercises briefly, but intensely, and is still mentally sharp, very mobile and independent.

As far as chronic illnesses are concerned, the medical and pharmaceutical establishment are more focused on treatment rather than prevention. With the costs of medical care, prescription drugs, and health insurance skyrocketing, it makes sense to do whatever is necessary to stay out of that system. So many people using walkers, canes, and wheelchairs could greatly enhance the quality of their lives by regularly strength training. One or two twenty-minute Total Results workouts per week, combined with adequate sleep, proper hydration, a sensible whole-foods diet, and optimal vitamin D intake are all that is required to maintain a high physiological headroom into your 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Start living your best life today!

Posted October 01, 2019 by Matthew Romans