Monthly Archives: February 2012

Is Your Workout Causing Poor Posture?

Okay, I am certainly not discouraging anyone from participating in an exercise program but let’s think this through.  Most gym-goers have adopted a program that includes the wrong exercises, particularly if you have a desk job.  The three worst moves are bench press, biceps curls and the stationary bike . . . “wait, that’s my whole workout!”

Here’s the problem: When sitting at a desk all day, the position results in shortened hip flexors, shortened pecs and shortened biceps.  Let’s think about the posture . . .  hips are flexed, arms are bent and shoulders forward. So much neck and back pain result from this same posture.

When you go to the gym, the objective should be to reverse the hours of seated posture.

What’s the solution?   Do more exericses that focus on the posterior muscles (e.g. rear shoulder and back.  Rowing-type exercises would be better than pressing exercises.  Next, stretch out the muscles in the legs, especially the hip flexors.  Lastly, make sure all of your arm work is performed through a full ROM.

The take home message:  One of the goals of any exercise program is to reverse the effects of aging. A forward head posture and rounded shoulders are not an accident. They are a result of our lifestyle. The truth is that people will not stop bench pressing, curling or riding a stationary bike.  So, all things kept in perspective, make sure you perform at least one set of rows for every pressing set that you perform.  After the stationary bike, stretch out those hip flexors or try running.

The key is to understand what you are dealing with. The muscles that you cannot see in the mirror are the ones that can keep you upright and not like Quasi-moto.

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT, SPARQ certified


Unleash the Power of Water

When you think about plyometric exercises, you likely picture athletes bounding across a field, hopping over cones and hurdles, or jumping on and off plyo boxes. You probably do not visualize or think any of the exercises being performed in a pool. That may soon be changing.

Aquatic plyometrics give athletes the opportunity for an explosive workout with less of the impact. What does this mean? They can work harder for longer, with less risk of injury than on dry land.

One drawback to performing plyometric exercises on dry land is that the impact forces are relatively high. The impact forces or too many foot touches can result in increased muscle soreness and greater risk of injury. Performing plyometrics in water will greatly reduce the impact forces without compromising the strength gain opportunities. The water will not affect the gains because viscosity and drag provide resistance, forcing athletes to work hard through the movements.

What also decreases is the restrictions on the number of foot touches in a given week, because of the lower impact in the water.  The decreases in impact forces are caused by the fluid density and buoyancy of the water. Buoyancy opposes gravity, so in waist-deep water, body weight is supported during the eccentric or loading phase of a lower-body plyometric movement, significantly reducing impact.  Approximately 50% of an individuals’ body weight is supported in waist-deep water.

Because water reduces impact, athletes or individuals with joint, muscle, or tendon pathologies who cannot withstand forces on land can participate in aquatic plyometrics without exacerbating signs or symptoms. For the same reason, aquatic plyometrics can be particularly beneficial for heavier athletes in sports like football or a deconditioned individual.

An aquatic plyo program can also enhance joint awareness and proprioception by providing a sensory awareness that cannot be matched on land. The sensation of water against the skin allows athletes to be more mentally and physically aware of where their body parts are and how they are moving. This is especially true as they are moving through the water since athletes can feel their limbs and body placement during activity.

When an athlete’s performance goal is to develop explosiveness, plyometrics in general are a great tool to help them achieve it. Dry-land plyos have been shown to increase acceleration, power, vertical jump height, and leg strength, all while increasing athletes’ joint awareness and overall proprioception. The same has now been proven with the use of aquatic plyos.

Any power-based movement consists of an eccentric muscle action, an amortization phase, and a concentric contraction. The elastic energy stored during the eccentric action provides the force needed for the concentric portion of the movement. The goal of training with plyometrics is to shorten the amortization phase–to train muscles to more rapidly load and contract. This allows the movement to be completed in a shorter amount of time, thus leading to increased power and explosiveness.

Water offers new and different variables to training that work as a motivational stimulus for athletes and increases the potential to improve performance quickly. Athletes and individuals can become bored with their usual weight room programs, so why not have them jump in for not only a great workout but some fun, too?

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CT, SPARQ certified


By Dr. Michael Miller & Dr. William Holcomb. Michael Miller, EdD, ATC, CSCS, is a Professor and Director of the Post Professional Graduate Athletic Training Program at Western Michigan University. He can be reached at: William Holcomb, PhD, ATC, CSCS*D, FNSCA, is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He can be reached at:

Take it to the Next Level with Metabolic Training

Looking for a new type of workout or something to just break away from the stale weight room program . . . . Try metabolic training! It is not new, just has been given a different name. In the past you have heard the names interval training or circuit training. All three can be classified in the same family of workouts. These types of workouts have been proven to generate faster results for muscle gain and fat loss.

A quick definition of metabolic training is completing a series of compound exercises with little rest in between exercises in an effort to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout. Yes, that is correct . . .  calorie burn after your workout. This process is called, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), in layman terms, “after burn”. The highest calorie burn is up to three hours and then declining up to 38 hours.

FYI, your metabolism (aka resting metabolic rate – RMR) is how many calories your body burns at rest.

Metabolic Training Uses Large Muscle Groups-Compound exercises are types of exercises that require a maximum amount of effort and energy and cross-over multiple joints, like a Squat with a Press. Sitting down and doing a biceps curl is the exact opposite of high intensity metabolic training.

Metabolic Training is High Intensity-Metabolic training is high intensity form of anaerobic training that leaves you breathless. If you are performing a metabolic workout and you are not breathing hard and sweating, something is wrong. The ideal program should have you lifting as heavy as you can and resting as little as possible between sets.

Metabolic Training Makes You Feel the Burn-A metabolic workout will create a “burn” in your muscles as you are working out. The “burn” or soreness is not as deep a feeling as a bodybuilding program where you focus on one muscle group the entire workout, it’s still significant.

Metabolic Training Benefits

●Improved cardiovascular capacity

Even though metabolic training is not “aerobic” (i.e. going for a jog), some studies have shown anaerobic exercise such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can cause an increase in V02 max beyond that experienced by exercisers following an aerobic program.

●Improved hormonal profile

Many studies have shown that hormones that promote fat loss, specifically testosterone and HGH, increase as a result of high intensity strength training.  Strength training in general has been shown to help improve hormonal profile, and metabolic training is arguably the most effective type of strength training to produce the most powerful hormonal response.

●Calorie burn

The calorie burn during a workout is approximately 500 calories for a 30 minute workout, but remembers it increases the EPOC, so your metabolic rate rises anywhere between 10% to 25% for up to 48 hours. This equates to hundreds of extra calories, which over the course of a few workouts can become significant.

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT, SPARQ certified

Treadmill and Elliptical Research

Many people are trying to stick to their new years resolution of losing some of that holiday weight. For those of you looking to exercise at home, Consumer Reports has new treadmill and elliptical ratings for home cardio equipment. If you have plans to buy some home cardio equipment, they rated over 35 treadmills and 18 elliptical machines. Categories that they used to rate these cardio machines are ease of use, user safety, available exercise intensities, correct exercise ergonomics for a variety of exercisers, and sturdiness of construction.  Treadmills were broken into 2 categories folding and nonfolding.

The top non folding treamdill model is the Precor 9.31 which retails for $3500-4000. This model had extremely high ratings in construction, user safety and ergonomics but at a little higher price tag. For a more economical choice easier on the budget, the consumer ratings chose the Sole S77 model which retails around $1900. This model had very similar ratings in all categories except construction. It does however come with a 2 year moving parts warranty and optional extended warranty. A poll showed that less than 3% used their extended warranty and purchasing it probably isn’t worth it.

For those individuals that were looking to save a little space, there were also ratings on folding treadmills. The top 2 models were LifeSpan TR4000i and Smooth 7.35 models which retail for about $1700 and $1600 respectively. Both of these treadmills come with heart rate monitoring, however if this option was not desired the Horizon T202 and NordicTrack C900 are more wallet friendly. Both of these budget friendly treadmills can be found under $1000 and have very similar ratings in ease of use, user safety and exercise intensity settings. One caution when buying a folding treadmill is to test the ease of folding before buying as some are easier to fold than others.

Elliptical training is becoming increasingly popular as it simulates jogging with less pounding on the joints in the legs. Consumer ratings top ranked elliptical is the Octane Fitness Q37ci and Smooth CE3.6 at $3100 and $1300 respectively. The Octane Fitness model had the best rating on ease of use of any elliptical but had similar rankings in all other categories to the Smooth model. Whatever model you choose remember to exercise safely. Monitor your exertion level and slowly increase your resistance and exercise time. If you have any concerns, contact a health professional.

By: Chris Athos, MPT