Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

February 2020

Would you rather look like a Sprinter or a Marathon Runner? by Matthew Romans

Our modern society often uses pictures of athletes to depict how the ideal physique should look. "ESPN the Magazine" dedicates one issue per year (called "The Body Issue") to showing pictures of semi-nude athletes striking various athletic poses. Whether this is done in good or poor taste is debatable; everyone has their own opinion. One can also question the wisdom of using a genetically superior, but infinitely small percentage of the population as the gold standard to achieve. However, if you could wave a magic wand and magically transform yourself into one of two types of track athletes, which would you choose? Would you rather look like a sprinter or a marathon runner?

Let's get some historical context. In the 1940s a classification system was designed to classify three body types known as somatotypes: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. The ectomorph described a body type that was skinny, weak, and usually tall. The mesomorph was classified as hard, muscular, and thick-skinned. Finally, the endomorph characterized a person who was short, fat, and had trouble losing weight. While most people were not purely one somatotype or another, most people were thought to show more characteristics of one particular type over others. It should be noted that these somatotypes are very rarely used anymore. That being said, if you were to stand a sprinter and a marathoner side by side, you would see a stark contrast in their body shape. Why are these two athletes so different?

Some basic muscle physiology is helpful here. For the sake of simplicity, there are three types of muscle fibers in the human body: slow twitch, fast twitch and intermediate. Slow twitch fibers fatigue slowly and are low on force production; fast twitch fibers fatigue quickly and produce high amounts of force; intermediate fibers share properties of the two. The bodies of sprinters tend to have a higher preponderance of fast twitch muscle fibers than other athletes.

Of course, there is such a thing as selection bias, which means that people seek out activities or sports at which they excel and are most physically suited. Mesomorphs likely select sprinting, weight lifting, etc. Ectomorphs would typically select distance running. You don't start looking like an Olympic sprinter just by running sprints, just as you don't get taller by playing basketball. Both elite sprinters and distance runners are incredibly genetically gifted. Just because we may look physically similar to one or the other doesn't mean that we can do what they do.

Activities that are of lower intensity, but longer duration (like distance running) use a greater percentage of slow twitch fibers. Events that are of higher intensity, but shorter duration (like weight training) will use more fast twitch fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more prone to growth than slow twitch fibers.

Why is Total Results exercise superior as a form of exercise? Regardless of what activity you pursue, muscle fibers are recruited sequentially based on demand. If the activity is of low intensity, only the slow twitch fibers will be recruited. Generally, only slow twitch, and possibly some intermediate twitch fibers will be involved in steady state activities like walking and jogging. If the demand is high, then slow twitch fibers will be recruited, followed by intermediate twitch, and finally fast twitch fibers. Fast twitch fibers have the greatest capacity for growth, and going to momentary muscular failure with Total Results exercise protocol is the most effective way to inroad all of your muscle fibers and grow larger, stronger muscles throughout your body.

Muscle is the type of tissue that has the greatest positive impact on your body's shape. The Total Results exercise protocol will also boost your metabolism and your immune system. On the other hand regular steady state activity can compromise your immune system and lead to low-level infections. Regular jogging or distance running also promotes sarcopenia, which is muscle wasting (note: this is why champion marathon runners look so frail). This loss of muscle leads to a decrease in basal metabolic rate, which can lead to the body storing fat. It also leads to a decrease in functionality and a greater risk for injury. With regular steady-state activity, it's not really a question of if you're going to get injured, but rather, when.

Which of the athletes looks healthier to you: the marathoner or the sprinter? Marathoners often look emaciated and sickly; sprinters usually look muscular and powerful. While the vast majority of us do not have the genetics to be either elite sprinters or marathon runners, you can maximize your genetic blueprint and your lean muscle mass with regular Total Results exercise. You will build muscle, lose body fat, protect against injury and ward off chronic disease with less than one hour of exercise per week. Why put it off?

Start your journey today.

Posted February 25, 2020 by Matthew Romans

Manage Your Emotions to Maximize Your Results, by Matthew Romans

Proper exercise can bring about a wide range of emotions in people. I've seen clients exhibit everything including fear, panic, anger, and frustration, sometimes all within the same workout! All of these are normal human emotions, but succumbing to them can make it incredibly difficult to maintain your focus and give your best exercise effort. At Total Results, our goal is to give you the best exercise experience possible; one key to unlocking your body's potential is to be able to manage your emotions.

It is best to keep a calm demeanor during your workouts. Try to avoid giving in to your instincts. Remember, instinctive behavior is normal, but it is not involuntary. By giving in to feelings of anxiety or panic, you can burn off energy that can lead to premature fatigue, thus lessening the exercise effect. This can also lead to form discrepancies that can greatly increase the risk of injury. Above all else, the safety of the client is paramount.

The Total Results exercise studio is designed to be the ideal exercise environment. We have eliminated distractions and maintain a private workout area in order to foster concentration and encourage calm. The client should strive to keep his or her emotions in check so that they can process and execute instructions during each exercise. As instructors, we do not raise our voices, shout, or bark commands. Doing so could put clients on edge or make them anxious. Instead, we use a firm tone but keep our voice volume at respectful levels.

The most important time to keep your emotions in check is when momentary muscular failure approaches. This is when the exercise is uncomfortable, and when you're most likely to experience anxiety or panic. Remember that the primary objective of each exercise is to inroad the musculature, not complete a certain number of repetitions or move a certain amount of weight. It's very natural to have the mindset of "beating the machine", but this means you are fixated externally rather than internally. Remain calm and focus on the targeted muscle; once movement has stopped, just continue to breathe and push for another few seconds until your instructor tells you to ease off the effort. This ensures that you have achieved the best exercise stimulus possible.

What proactive measures can you take to keep your emotions in check before and during a workout? One good strategy is to take a few minutes prior to the workout to clear your head. Don't let work or other distractions interfere with your workout. Try to shut everything else out of your mind for the next twenty minutes, and focus on giving your best possible effort. Second, while exercise is important, don't put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you have a subpar workout due to external stress or lack of sleep, it's not the end of the world. All you can do is your best. Finally, realize that you are in a very safe environment under the supervision of an instructor that won't let anything bad happen to you. Total Results exercise gives the body the impression that it is under some sort of external threat, but the reality is that you are safer here than most other places. Even though the discomfort is real, it is temporary. As my friend and former colleague Al Coleman once said, "Don't run from the discomfort, chase after it." If you go into each workout with the understanding that it will be intense but brief, you will be much better able to avoid fear and panic.

Let Total Results help you gain the right exercise mindset. Schedule a consultation or workout today.

Posted February 20, 2020 by Matthew Romans

Common Obstacles to Sustained Exercise Progress, by Matthew Romans

If you ask your friends, family, and coworkers whether they want to be stronger, fitter, and more resistant to injury and chronic disease, they will undoubtedly say yes. The question is whether they are willing to take the actions necessary to achieve these goals. Some are, but many are not. I have written before about the so-called "six week syndrome" that is prevalent in the mainstream fitness industry after the start of each calendar year. Total Results has been very successful at maintaining a loyal and long-term client base; we have many clients that have been with us for over a decade, several that have been with us for over fifteen years, and our longest tenured client has been with us for nearly eighteen years. However, not everyone who comes through our door sustains their initial level of success over the long term. I would like to discuss the most common obstacles to long term participation and sustained progress.

Attitude. There are a lot of things in life that are outside of your control, but your attitude is not one of them. In the book "Man's Search for Meaning", Viktor Frankl (a survivor of four Nazi concentration camps) says that, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Having the right attitude about exercise means having the mindset of a learner, since the Total Results protocol is something that is new and unfamiliar to most people. This needs to be something that is important to you, so that you will give your best effort in each workout and be accountable to yourself and to your instructor. It also means that you want to set high but reasonable goals, as unreasonable expectations can set you up for disappointment. Attitude is everything.

Excessive physical activity. There is a reason why our clients perform no more than two sessions per week. It is because the body has finite recovery resources, and exercise has a narrow therapeutic window. This means that there is a fine line between getting enough exercise (to stimulate physical improvements) and overtraining. Just like with medication, there is a dose-response relationship in exercise; not enough exercise provides minimal stimulus, and too much exercise can have a toxic effect. We want the minimum dosage of exercise necessary to stimulate improvements without causing harm along the way. If you are performing excessive amounts of physical activity between Total Results workouts, you are setting yourself up for a compromised immune system, a slowdown or reversal of progress, or an overuse injury. We keep detailed records on each client's workout spreadsheet, and if we see that progress is stagnating or going backward, we often will reduce a client's training frequency to one session per week. While there are many benefits to some forms of physical activity (such as getting up and moving, getting outside to get adequate Vitamin D, recreational activities, etc.), no other activity comes close to providing the physical benefits that Total Results does.

Inadequate sleep. According to Matthew Walker, PhD., author of the book "Why We Sleep", most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for optimal function. Common sleep mistakes include not setting consistent sleep and wake up times, excessive exposure to artificial light, eating too late, and sleeping in too warm a room temperature. As far as exercise is concerned, adequate sleep is required to allow the body to repair the muscle tissue that has been broken down during the workout. You cannot perform at your best if you are in a sleep debt, and this leaves you more susceptible to low level infections (colds, flu).

Poor Nutrition. You need to eat primarily whole, single-ingredient foods, eat plenty of protein and saturated fat, and drink plenty of water (stay away from sugary drinks and moderate alcohol consumption). If you are eating too many sugars and processed foods, or if you never take a small break from eating (ex. Intermittent fasting) you will have more glycogen (stored form of carbohydrate) to burn off and a harder time maintaining insulin sensitivity. This can lead to obesity and Diabetes.

Inconsistent schedule. We realize that there are a lot of different things competing for your time (work, travel, family, etc.), but regular workouts need to be a priority as well. If you want to maximize your exercise progress, then this needs to become a part of your routine. We generally recommend that new clients start exercising twice per week. Part of the reason for this is that we want to maximize skill as far as form and speed of movement are concerned, so that we can achieve a maximum exercise stimulus. The other reason is that we want to create good habits; research shows that it takes 66 days to create a habit. In order to maintain that habit and achieve maximum benefit, your workouts should occur at least once per week. We are happy to reschedule your workouts when things come up, but if it happens consistently it may be time to reexamine your schedule and find a better solution.

Inadequate intensity. The body is fairly resistant to change, and requires a very good reason to make physical improvements. Pushing to and beyond momentary muscular failure on each exercise is critically important. This is the stimulus point that sets the table for the body to start making physical changes, such as building muscle and bone, strengthening connective tissue, improving cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and maintaining insulin sensitivity. All of these changes require tremendous effort from the body, but they will only be achieved if there is a significant stimulus and adequate rest, nutrition, and hydration. There are only two accurate measurements of muscular effort: zero and 100 percent. While we still do not know what the ideal percentage of muscular effort is to stimulate muscular growth, we do know that zero effort will not accomplish anything of value. Pushing to and beyond momentary muscular failure ensures that we have used up all of the muscles' momentary effort for that particular exercise. That is the stimulus that is required. While going to muscular failure is demanding and uncomfortable, the workouts are brief and infrequent. You are capable of extraordinary things if you have the right mindset.

At Total Results, our goal is to help you to achieve maximum sustainable physical improvements, safely and efficiently, for the long term. Our exercise protocol is the one that is most consistent with the classic sciences, and we continue to improve our knowledge to give you the best exercise experience possible. We want you to realize that you are capable of achieving extraordinary things with the right dedication and mindset. If you can avoid the common obstacles to success, sustained progress is within your reach! Let us help you get there.

Posted February 13, 2020 by Matthew Romans

Lifespan - a book review by Matthew Romans

An interesting book came out in 2019 called Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To. The co-authors are David A. Sinclair, PhD, and Matthew D. LaPlante. Sinclair is a tenured professor of genetics at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, and is also the co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging Research at Harvard. LaPlante is an associate professor of journalistic writing at Utah State University. Dr. Sinclair is best known for his research on genes and small molecules that delay the aging process such as sirtuins ( a class of proteins that influence cellular processes), as well as touting the benefits of supplemental NAD+ (which is a coenzyme that affects hundreds of metabolic processes).

Dr. Sinclair's thesis is that most of us simply accept the fact that aging is inevitable, as is the physical decline that goes along with it. He believes that a great failure of the medical system is that it too often takes a myopic viewpoint, rather than seeing the big picture. At this point aging is still not considered a disease, even though it fits all of the criteria. The medical establishment tends to treat one disease at a time, rather than treating aging as a whole. If measures are taken to treat aging, the rates of individual disease should decrease. The authors believe there is no documented evidence supporting the accepted wisdom that aging and a loss of function are inevitable.

The book is divided into three sections: What We Know (The Past), What We're Learning (The Present), and Where We're Going (The Future). In section one, Dr. Sinclair says that there are two types of information in biology: digital and analog. DNA is digital; it's a reliable way to store and copy information. Your epigenome is analog. These are traits that are heritable, can turn genes on or off, and control the production of proteins in particular cells. According to Dr. Sinclair, "Aging, quite simply, is a loss of information." He also says "Unlike digital, analog information degrades over time....worse still, information is lost as it's copied." This contributes greatly to our quality of life, as well as our lifespan.

In section two, Dr. Sinclair discusses the benefits of doing things that cause a little bit of adversity for our bodies and the importance of cellular stress. He says, "A bit of adversity or cellular stress is good for our epigenome because it stimulates our longevity genes." Specifically mentioned are intermittent fasting, periodic exposure to both heat and cold (such as sitting in a sauna or taking a brisk outdoor walk in the winter), avoiding processed foods and sugars, and exercise. According to Dr. Sinclair, "Exercise, by definition, is the application of stress to our bodies. It raises NAD levels, which in turn activates the survival network, which turns up energy production and forces muscles to grow extra oxygen-carrying capillaries." While he wasn't specifically referencing our exercise protocol, this is what we have been saying at Total Results for years. The authors also make reference to some of the lifestyle practices of people in the so-called Blue Zones, where a significant part of the population lives into their 90s and beyond 100.

In the third section of the book, Dr. Sinclair discusses what may come in the future. While the average life expectancy in the developed world is around 80 years, he believes that reaching the age of 100, 120, or beyond is not out of the realm of possibility in the near future. One reason for this, Dr. Sinclair says, is that "...every day the odds increase that even more effective molecule or gene therapy will be discovered&" Later in this section, questions are asked about where the planet is headed and how large a population the earth can reasonably sustain. There are reasons for optimism as well as reasons for concern, and he does an excellent job of mentioning some potential unintended consequences of a longer lifespan, certainly from an economic and ethical point of view.

I agree with the book's sentiment that we as individuals have the power to improve our quality of life and increase our lifespan. We need to take control and not wait for someone else to do it for us. While it may seem crazy to think that 100 or 120 can be the new 80, as Dr. Sinclair points out, people thought the Wright Brothers were nuts before they actually took flight. All the things that can improve our quality of life and maintain our functional independence are within our grasp. To illustrate this point, I will end with a quote from Dr. Sinclair himself: "Spend a day in a nursing home every few days like my wife does. Go feed people who can't chew. Wipe their bottoms. Bathe them with a sponge. Watch as they struggle to remember where they are and who they are. When you are done, I think you will agree that it would be negligent and cruel for you not to do what you can to combat your own age-related deterioration."

Posted February 07, 2020 by Matthew Romans