Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

April 2020

The Importance of Strength Training in your 70's and Beyond, by Matthew Romans

We have written at length about the many benefits of strength training for people of all ages. Regular Total Results exercise can help children and teens can get on the right path to a healthy and active lifestyle, help athletes and weekend warriors improve their performance and reduce their risk of injury, and help middle-aged adults ward off the onset of chronic disease with just one or two 20-minute workouts per week. We have clients of all ages come through our doors, and the progress that they make is nothing short of amazing. However, the age group that has the most to gain from consistent Total Results exercise is the population above the age of 70. In my opinion, working with this population has been the most rewarding part of my job as an instructor.

It sometimes gets lost in the shuffle how much we call upon our muscles on a daily basis. Muscles are what produce human movement, so any movement we do, big or small, requires the use of muscles. Typing an email requires the use of small muscles of the fingers and hands, while getting up off the sofa uses the larger muscles of the lower body. These are things that many younger people take for granted, but can be more difficult and require more effort if you are in your 70s or older. We have had clients in their 70s (and even older) come through our doors who have never weight trained in their lives, and are skeptical that it can be beneficial for them at their age. In order to keep down medical costs and maintain functional independence, strong muscles are absolutely essential.

What are some of the important benefits of Total Results exercise for the senior population?

Improved balance. While balance skills are specific to the nature of whatever activity you're doing, you are going to have better dynamic stability if you have greater strength. If you are stronger, you will be less susceptible to falls and injuries around the house and be able to maintain independence..

Improved golf game/athletic activity. This obviously goes hand in hand with working to keep your swing and other golf skills sharp, but being strong will help you hit the ball further off the tee and give you the endurance to play for eighteen holes, rather than having to head into the clubhouse earlier. Also, golf can lend itself to repetitive stress injury (see Tiger Woods injuries), particularly to the lower back. Regular Total Results exercise can keep your trunk muscles strong and reduce your risk for injury. It's hard to enjoy golf if you're injured.

Recover faster from joint replacement surgery. Medical advancements have made it more common for people to undergo joint replacements at younger ages, but some people are still waiting until their 70s to have them. The stronger and better conditioned you are, the easier the surgical and recovery processes will be. The more muscle you have, the less time it will take to return to your pre-surgical levels of strength.

Greater ease of going up and down stairs. Knee issues (such as arthritis) are not exclusive to the senior population, but they do increase in likelihood as we age. In fact, most people with knee issues have a greater difficulty going down stairs rather than up because of the body's greater reliance on static stabilizers (tendons and ligaments). Total Results strength training helps to strengthen the connective tissue as well as the muscles, and will also lead to a greater release of synovial fluid inside the knee, which helps to lubricate the joint.

Improved immune system. While low-level infections might not be serious in younger populations, in older populations they can be deadly (as we are seeing with COVID-19). Regular Total Results exercise will help you to maintain insulin sensitivity, which is essential in warding off chronic disease, and being stronger and better conditioned will leave you less susceptible to respiratory infections. In conjunction with regular exercise, it's important to get proper sleep, manage stress, drink plenty of water, and eat a whole-foods diet that minimizes sugar intake.

The more strong and fit you are in your 70s and beyond, the higher your quality of life. This will enable you to travel, play more actively with grandchildren, and do all the things you have always wanted to do but didn't have time for. The two oldest clients we have had at Total Results both lived into their early 90s, and each of them was very active until their late 80s and beyond (one of them still did all of the maintenance on his boat until he was about 87). Our current oldest client is 88; she is mentally sharp, very strong and fit, and works extremely intensely in her workouts. These are just a few of our success stories, and there are many more. If you or someone you love fits into this age category, please have them contact Total Results to schedule a consultation. It's never too late to start!

Posted April 27, 2020 by Matthew Romans

Embrace the Challenge, by Matthew Romans

We face many challenges during the course of our daily lives. These can include raising children, excelling at one's occupation, or learning to speak a new language. If you have a growth mindset, life will always present challenges; only those with a fixed mindset are content the way they are. If you have a desire to improve your health and fitness, then it's important to have a growth mindset and formulate a plan of action of how to achieve your goals, but it's also necessary to understand that nothing of value comes easily. You must be willing to embrace the challenge.

Proper exercise is supposed to be demanding. Simply put, it's expected to be hard, not easy. Your body is a very efficient and logical entity; it will do everything that it can to maintain the status quo and conserve resources. This means that in order to elicit physical and metabolic improvements, a very intense stimulus needs to be provided to the body. The Total Results exercise protocol is the most intense form of exercise on the planet, yet it is also the safest and most efficient way to stimulate positive benefit while avoiding injury. This is the stimulus that we need.

If you have ever been in a commercial gym, it's interesting to observe how most people perform weight training exercises. Most bodybuilders and gym rats do not work very intensely. They usually move with a fast rate of speed during each exercise, spend long periods of time between each set of exercise, and workout far too long and too frequently. Subconsciously (or because they have been misled by the wrong information) they think that a greater volume and frequency of exercise will make up for a lack of intensity of effort. They couldn't be more wrong. Most bodybuilders are very genetically gifted; they look the way they do in spite of their training habits rather than because of them. They are not ready to embrace the challenge! This approach won't work for the vast majority of people; trying to train using conventional methods will usually lead to stalled progress, frustration, illness, and injury.

It is much more challenging (and beneficial) to utilize the Total Results exercise protocol that emphasizes complete focus of mind and body, slow speed of movement, and careful change of direction, with the goal of achieving momentary muscular failure on each exercise. Having the necessary focus is difficult, but you only need to maintain that focus for twenty minutes per workout. You can do it; just take it one repetition at a time. Focus on the present rather than the future, and try to shut everything else out of your mind during your workout. While only masochists would truly enjoy the discomfort that comes with intense muscular effort, try to embrace and celebrate the accomplishment that this discomfort symbolizes. Your mental toughness will improve, as your tolerance for discomfort will increase over time. There are not many things in this world that are more physically demanding than the Leg Press exercise.

Weekly Total Results exercise is a challenge, but one that is extremely worthwhile for your mind and body. Twenty minutes, once or twice per week, can change your life and give you a level of confidence that you never thought possible. Embrace the challenge and commit yourself to giving your best mental and physical effort each and every workout. Your success is truly up to you!

Posted April 14, 2020 by Matthew Romans

The Importance of Standardization in Exercise, by Matthew Romans

In any endeavor, there needs to be a certain uniformity in terms of language and methodology, otherwise confusion can occur and best practices cannot be achieved. That is the case in the medical field, computer programming, and in criminal law. Standardization helps to ensure that everybody involved is on the same page, and it also allows the best opportunity to arrive upon an optimal outcome. At Total Results, our goal is to give you the best workout experience money can buy, and we are obsessive about the little details that make that possible. Standardization is one of many things that sets us apart from the rest of the industry.

The most important things to standardize are form and speed of movement. This is critical certainly from a safety perspective, but it is also necessary to ensure proper loading of the musculature. In order to achieve a proper exercise stimulus, momentum must be minimized (if not eliminated) by keeping the movement slow - between 8 and 12 seconds on both the positive and negative phases of the movement. When momentum is introduced into the equation, there is little to no mechanical work being done by the skeletal muscles. Remember, we want to fatigue the musculature thoroughly enough to stimulate a growth response by the body. We will be able to more effectively achieve this end by moving slower rather than faster.

What is meant by proper form? Certainly speed of movement is a factor, but it's more than that. Proper form means that we not only want a slow movement on each repetition, but a smooth and evenly-paced movement as well. We want to perform turnarounds (change direction) without firing out or unloading the musculature. It's important to avoid form discrepancies such as ratcheting, breath holding (Valsalva's maneuver), and movement of the head and neck (to avoid exercise-induced headache and potential neck injury). Form discrepancies should be acknowledged and corrected right away, to reinforce good habits and prevent bad habits from gaining a foothold. Perfect form is the ideal and the standard that we measure ourselves against. While we strive for perfection, we expect that we will fall short, but achieve excellence and positive results along the way.

Everything that we record on a client's chart during the course of a workout is considered data. This includes order and selection of exercises, machine settings, weight, and time under load (TUL). If we deviate in terms of order and selection of exercises (or time in between exercises) from one workout to the next, we cannot make a reasonable comparison of progress. While some variety of exercises can be a good thing, it is not absolutely necessary. Most of my twice per week clients perform an "A" and a "B" routine; this helps us to cover some of the smaller muscles that do not get as much involvement in larger compound exercises. However, I keep the order and selection of exercises in each routine the same, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as injury or exercise-induced headache.

We generally record TUL rather than number of repetitions because I believe it is a much more precise measurement of how one performs on a given exercise. Counting repetitions is a step function; you may complete five repetitions and get halfway through a sixth, but by this measure you only get credit for the repetitions you finished. With TUL, you would get credit for the time you spent working on that sixth repetition without finishing it. In my opinion, this paints a more accurate picture. In the case of negative-only or manual exercises, we do record the number of repetitions, simply because it is most feasible. In addition, standardization of language and chart notations is helpful when and if you need to work with a different instructor. This makes the transition seamless.

Why don't other exercise protocols and instructors require this level of detail? One reason is that many other instructors don't take safety as seriously as we do, and they are also ignorant of the fact that muscles are unloaded with faster speeds of movement. The instructor certification for our exercise protocol was the most demanding and detail-oriented in the industry, and we have an obligation to our clients and to ourselves to continue to meet the highest standards in the field of exercise. We will continue to educate and improve ourselves to show that we are worthy of your business. Twenty years of excellence at Total Results is an accomplishment we are proud of, and we look forward to serving you in the future!

Posted April 07, 2020 by Matthew Romans

Time to get in The Best Shape of your Life!

Due to the COVID-19 Crisis, many more of us are working from home. Others, like me, are unable to work now due to State or local orders. Still others are just staying put out of concern for their health or that of a loved one. We are not traveling for work or pleasure. We don't have obligations to take the kids all over creation. There are no live sports to watch or attend. Most of us have some extra time on our hands (less commuting time, less shower and make-up time, less travel time).

Why not use this time to get in the best shape of your life?

Although you don't have access to our studio at Total Results or your local fitness facility, there are still a ton of things you can do in order to get healthy, become younger biologically, and improve your immune system.

  • Get 30 minutes more sleep. The benefits of more sleep are many, including helping your immune system, optimizing your hormone levels, increasing your energy, repairing cellular damage, and more. Go to bed a little earlier and wake up a little later. Just do it. You will thank me.
  • Walk more every day! Up your daily steps. If you average 5000, up it to 10,000. If you are a professional who works at a desk all day, get out first thing in the morning for a two-mile walk. Low level activity like walking, weeding the yard, bike riding, or cleaning the house is great for your health, both mental and physical. Getting outside gives the added benefit of absorbing the sun's rays which will increase the Vitamin D production in your body and benefit you in many ways, including a stronger immune system.
  • Exercise at home! By exercise I mean a few minutes of intense muscular effort, once or twice per week. How can you do this at home? Pushups in your bedroom, chin-ups on your back yard swing set, squats or wall sits using your dumbbells as extra resistance, etc. Do these exercises slowly and safely until you can't complete another repetition. You need some intense effort like this every week in order to stimulate the muscles, enhance your cardiovascular system, and perhaps most importantly to improve your metabolic processes, which are critical to your health (ex. Flushing the glycogen out of your muscles which helps maintain insulin sensitivity and prevent Diabetes).
  • Cook and eat like a top athlete. How? It's easy, really. Eliminate junk food. Use fresh ingredients. Limit drinks to coffee, water, and tea. Minimize alcohol. Get adequate protein (eggs, fish, poultry, beef). Complement that with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, etc.). Here is a great sample day: Breakfast - egg scramble with spinach, bell peppers, and cheddar cheese, plain organic yogurt with blueberries added; Lunch - leftover protein and veggies from last night's dinner or salad with various greens, turkey or chicken, avocado, olive oil, balsamic vinegar; dinner - grilled salmon filets, cubed potatoes cooked in air fryer, brussel sprouts cooked with bacon (bacon makes everything better!)
  • Relax. Stress kills. I know this crisis and the repercussions on our lives are a huge stressor. However, increased levels of stress will lower your immune defenses and increase the inflammation in your body. How can you mitigate this stress? Practice relaxation and breathing exercises and techniques. Try some brief yoga poses. Listen to or watch some comedy programs. Read some meditation books. Anything that helps you remain calm and centered in the face of our current situation will help your health and fitness on both the short term and the long run.

At some point this crisis will end. When it does, many of us will be thrust headlong back into commuting, travel, kid taxi duties, and more. At that point it will be more difficult, but not impossible, to become the best physical specimen you can be. Since we have this temporary slowdown in our lives, use it to your advantage. Follow the above steps to get in the best health and shape you possibly can!

Posted April 02, 2020 by Matthew Romans