21 rewards of exercise…

By Steve McKinney

Today I offer an excellent list of 21 rewards of exercise…

1. You’ll reset your body: Exercise has been described as a giant reset button. A good workout will block appetite swings, improve your mood and even help you sleep. Image result for reset button

2. Your clothes will fit better: Consistent exercise will tone and tighten your body, causing your clothes to not only fit better but to also look nicer. Also exercise ensures that soon you’ll be trading your clothes in for smaller sizes. Image result for before and after weight loss clothes

3. You’ll be less stressed: You have enough stress in your life—it’s time for a break. A good workout invigorates your muscles, leaving you relaxed and less stressed.

Image result for be less stressed:

4. You’ll have more energy: WebMD tallied research studies and concluded that 90% prove exercise increases energy levels in sedentary patients. Next time you feel fatigued, fight it with the most powerful tool available: exercise.

5. You’ll be stronger: Exercise improves muscle strength and endurance, two things that you use throughout each day. When you exercise consistently you’ll be pleasantly surprised when difficult tasks begin to seem easy.

6. You’ll be less likely to binge: Exercise has a powerful anti-binge effect on the body. This is due in part by an increase in sensitivity to leptin, a protein hormone, which has an appetite-taming effect.

7. You’ll burn calories: You know that excess body fat is made up of stored and unused calories. Fight back by burning loads of calories with fat-blasting workouts.

Image result for burn calories

8. You’ll be more confident: Who doesn’t wish they walked and talked with more confidence? A consistent exercise program will do just that. As your body becomes more fit, watch as your confidence sky-rockets.

9. You’ll have fun: Believe it or not, exercise can be extremely enjoyable. Remember how fun it was to run around as a child? Tap into your inner child as you find a mode of exercise that gets you excited.

10. You’ll reduce your blood pressure: Exercise has been proven more effective than medication in reducing blood pressure to normal levels. A single workout has been shown to reduce blood pressure for the day and regular exercise reduces overall blood pressure in the long run.

Image result for reduce your blood pressure

11. You’ll lose the jiggles: Regular exercise tightens flabby arms, legs and waistlines. So wave goodbye to the jiggles with a solid exercise program.

12. You’ll increase insulin sensitivity: Researchers at Laval University in Quebec discovered that exercise improved insulin sensitivity dramatically. Peak after-meal insulin levels dropped by more than 20 percent after as little as 3 weeks of consistent exercise.

13. You’ll sleep better: Do you toss and turn for hours before falling asleep? Exercise is a powerful sleep aid. Your tired muscles encourage your body to quickly fall asleep so they can get their overnight repair work done.

Image result for sleep better

14. You’ll lower your risk of heart disease: Regular exercise strengthens your heart and makes it more resilient against disease. A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for heart disease, so rest assured that consistent exercise is your ally against disease.

15. You’ll feel great: Vigorous exercise releases natural endorphins (happy hormones) into your blood stream that dissolve pain and anxiety. You’ve probably heard of ‘runner’s high’, this can be achieved by any great workout.

16. You’ll lower your risk of diabetes: Studies show that exercising as little as half an hour each day can dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes. If you are at risk of diabetes, or already have diabetes, regular exercise is the most effective treatment for reversing the disease.

17. You’ll meet cool people: You could benefit from a group of new, energetic friends, right? Gyms, bootcamps, workout centers and even the jogging trail are all great places to connect with fun new friends.

18. You’ll improve your BMI: You know that maintaining a healthy BMI is key in disease prevention. Exercise is the best way to keep your BMI under control.

19. You’ll increase your endurance: Do you ever get out of breath when walking up stairs or through the mall? Regular exercise builds your endurance for everyday activities.

20. Your doctor will be impressed: How many times has your doctor given you the lecture about losing weight and exercising more? Exercise regularly and get your MD off your back!

21. You’ll look amazing: Are you happy with the shape and size of your body? Regular exercise works wonders on your physique. Within a few weeks you’ll see shape and tone in all the right places.

This article comes courtesy of my friend Steve McKinney of Fitness and More.



Product SPOTLIGHT: Solo Strength



This week I want to shine my spotlight on a very cool product I recently discovered, SOLO STRENGTHSoloStrength is an innovative device designed to allow the user to do a wide array of body-weight exercises. The SoloStrength is built to last and easily adjustable for a wide variety of exercises as well as to allow for all fitness levels from beginner to elite.

With the addition of a few simple tools such as resistance bands or a suspension training device, one could have nearly limitless exercise options. Add to this the ability to do maximum static contractions across various ranges of motion and one can see how this device can easily build maximum strength in minimum time.

Check out the videos on YouTube and give them a call to find out more.





Using a sled for training is a topic that appears on many discussion boards. Most, usually want to know where to buy one. If you look you’ll find a number of places to buy some real nice looking sleds and harnesses. The problem is that they must be made of gold or some other precious metal. I’ve never found one for less than $100.00 plus shipping.

What I did was get an old garden wheel barrow, take off all the hardware, so just the tub is left. I drilled two holes in the front, put a 2X6 inside the tub up against the front and screwed two large screw eyes from the front side into the wood. This is where I hooked a plastic covered wire strand dog tie out onto. (They have metal snap hooks on each end) The handle is made of a 2 inch piece of PVC (I don’t like harnesses) But you could use a harness or tie a rope from the tub to a lifting belt. I put several 12 ½ and a couple of 25 pound Sears plastic weights in the tub. (Admit it you have some) Then I picked up some Kwik Crete (2-80 pound bags) and mixed them onto the weights already in the tub. When finished the sled weighs in at 190 plus pounds. If I pulled it on the driveway or road it would probably move pretty well. But I do it in the back yard and its soft back there and sometimes very hard to do multiple pulls. This suits me fine because I don’t want to spend a bunch of time getting in a workout (remember High Intensity Training?)

For added weight I put a pipe in the wet cement so I could put extra plates on and not worry about them sliding off. In the past I’ve used the sled and 2 45’s. And sometimes had my Grand Daughter ride on it. Lately it works well just as it is. Several people have pulled it and so far all like the big handle for hand comfort. I also built another one for those that can’t possibly pull the “stone cold sled.” For that one I went to Home Depot and picked up the mid size plastic cement mixing box.  If you look for them they are black plastic boxes and will be near the cement bags. I also picked up a couple of large screw eyes and screwed them through the front of the box into a 2X4. This way when you pull you won’t pull out the front of the box. I hooked a rope through a metal pipe for a handle. With this sled I can just add the desired weight into the box. This sled slides real well in the back yard and usually is pulled by female clients.

As far as technique goes, I don’t run with the sled. I just pull or drag at a steady pace for as many 50 yard trips as I can make. Great conditioning tool and the “stone cold sled” is also a damn good strength tool. In the Florida heat it becomes a test of will. Helps flatten out the bumps in your back yard too. 

I don’t have any certain times I pull it. I just fit it in whenever I feel like it. Some weeks I do it daily. Some weeks I don’t pull at all. And instead do rope climbing or another outdoor activity. I saved a bunch of money on this. I only had to buy two screw eyes, two bags of cement, and a plastic mixing box. The rest I had laying around.

Jim Bryan

Bryan Strength & Conditioning
TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Jim for always sharing some great stuff with us here at Hybrid Fitness. We have a “Poor Mans Pulling Sled Video on our YouTube Channel as well. Check it out HERE:



At Hybrid fitness we recommend brief, intense, infrequent strength training workouts as the foundation of a total fitness program. This style of training is safe efficient and effective for everyone.

Often women will avoid strength training with weights for fear of bulking up or sometimes because they just don’t realize the benefits to be gained. With this in mind I offer the following information with regards to the many benfits of strength training before and during menopause:

Reverse Genetic Markers of Aging –It’s a generally established medical fact that the benefits of brief effective strength training are a practical fountain of youth. Strength training delivers the health benefits that no other form of exercise will.


Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis – As we age our bones naturally get more porous and less dense. That makes them more brittle and prone to breaking. Brief effective strength training reverses this process and adds density to bones.

Improves Cholesterol Profile – Brief effective strength training exercise lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol. These are two key markers of heart disease that are improved by Brief effective strength training exercise.

Positively Impact Hormone Profiles – Brief effective strength training causes your body to produce more of its own, natural growth hormone. Increased HGH is known to boost libido, improve your sleep, improve memory and decrease the wrinkles in your skin!


Boost Metabolism and Increase Fat Loss – Adding muscle to your body increases your Basal Metabolic Rate which means you will naturally burn more calories and lose fat 24 hours a day. Adding just 5 pounds of new muscle will burn off 20 to 30 pounds of fat annually.


More Energy – Having more muscle means that every activity throughout the day is less taxing. That means having extra energy left over to enjoy life more.

Look Better – Strength training changes the composition of your body in two very positive ways. It increases lean body mass and decreases fat. In short, strength training makes you look younger and more fit.

Positive effects on depression – Regular strength training exercise improves cognitive function, enhances mood and promotes daytime alertness and restful sleep. Brief effective strength training will increase endorphin levels which are the bodies’ natural pain relievers.

A high intensity, no momentum workout program is the safest and most effective means to achieve muscle strength and endurance, reduced body fat, higher metabolism, increased bone mineral density, and improved cardiovascular fitness.

Now imagine getting all those benefits by performing perhaps one or two brief, effective strength training workouts a week. The point is that greater strength equals greater health. Now is the time for you to become your best. So what are you waiting for, get started on your strength training program today.



Overcoming Procrastination

According to a study published by University of Calgary Professor Piers Steel in the Psychological Bulletin, 26 percent of Americans think of themselves as chronic procrastinators. Should we be surprised? We truly have many weapons of mass destruction when it comes to killing time. If we are not watching TV, we have You Tube. When that gets tiresome, we Google up anything we can imagine. When we leave our home or office, we have cell phones, iPods and BlackBerrys to distract us. According to Professor Steel, “It’s easier to procrastinate now than ever before. We have so many more temptations. It’s never been harder to be self-disciplined in all of history than it is now.”

In addition to temptations, I believe we procrastinate because of Too Much Information (TMI) and misplaced fears. I will get to TMI a bit later, but let’s talk about misplaced fears…

In the ten + years that I have been a Personal Fitness Trainer, I have worked with a couple of thousand people who have asked me various questions about my experience in losing almost 200 pounds. The top two questions are:

“Did you have a bunch of loose skin after you lost the weight?

“How long did it take you to lose all that weight?”

Notice that NONE of these questions actually pertains to how I lost the weight rather they reveal the fears of the person asking the question. My standard response to the skin question is for the person to worry about saving his/her own skin first. Loose skin is a minor problem compared to an early death. When I tell someone that it took me four years to lose all my weight, I often hear, “I can’t wait that long!” To that I reply, “If you don’t start now, where will you be in four years?”

TMI is also a common cause for procrastination. People often tell me that they won’t do aerobic exercise because they just bought a heart rate monitor and they aren’t sure at which heart rate zone they should be exercising. (See my website http://www.xbigman.com/faqs/faq_05.html for a short discussion of heart rate zones).

Do you recognize a pattern here? Our misplaced fears and TMI are causing us to put the cart before the horse. We need to be the horse and gallop into action.

I procrastinated myself into a 368 pound body more than 16 years ago. With each “wait,” I gained more weight. I could feel my life flowing out and my body shutting down. What finally gave me the courage to act was the realization that any move I made would be an improvement over what I was not doing.

Mark before the transformation

I bought a stationary exercise bike and struggled to ride it for two minutes. Rather than get discouraged and procrastinate, I got back on the bike and rode it the next day. Each additional minute I could ride was an immediate triumph that fueled my determination. That simple action of riding a bike for two minutes led to a four-year campaign to reclaim my life and gain an even better life.

A few years back, on February 12, I celebrated my 50th birthday and I was truly thankful that I took that two-minute ride. That ride let me stick around long enough to find a beautiful wife, have two beautiful daughters and find my calling as a Personal Fitness Trainer. I am just getting warmed up. I know there are other people out there that are desperately seeking the courage to start their own ride and find the joy that I have been able to find. To these people I say if I can do it, anyone can!

Mark finishing Florida Triathlon

If you are one of these people who struggle to get started, remember that any small step is a step in the right direction. Doing nothing will always get you nothing.

Here are a few suggestions to get started:

Get a check-up from your doctor.

Once your doctor has cleared you for exercise, get started now!

Exercise can take many forms and does not have to be at a gym.

Walk rather than ride a car (or park farther away so that you can walk).

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Start keeping a food journal listing what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat and what you are doing while you eat. (A dietary log can be found in the “Downloads” section of hybridfitness.tv)

This information will help you discover triggers to overeating and what I call “leaks.” A leak is consistent consumption of high caloric, low-nutrition foods and beverages. A classic leak is sodas and alcohol. A person who gives up one soda or alcoholic beverage per day can actually lose approximately ten pounds in one year.

That’s it for now. I have yet another AARP application to turn down!

To Victory!

Mark “XBigMan” Davis

“It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abraham Lincoln (Abe and Mark share the same birthday).

TAKU’s Note: Thanks to my friend and colleague Mark “X-BIG MAN” Davis for sharing some of his experience with us here at Hybrid Fitness. I know that procrastination is something I fight with every week.  Now turn off the computer and GET TO IT!!

© 2006-2009 HybridFitness.tv. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.

The State of the Union (Part I)

By Mark Asanovich

Please allow me to preface my remarks — I don’t presume to have all the answers. Rather, I am just a dumbbell coach, who after thirty years in the profession, is just beginning to ask some of the right questions. In Metaphysics II, Aristotle said:

“Those who wish to understand … must first ask the right preliminary questions.”

In other words, to understand HOW to develop something and/or HOW to measure something, first requires an understanding of WHAT is to be developed and WHAT is to be measured.

It is in understanding the WHAT that will determine the HOW’s of your program prescriptions. As professionals and as a profession, it behooves us therefore to take a critical look at the industries definitions of EXERCISE.

The point I am trying to make is that regardless of how you define the different aspects of exercise (i.e. strength, flexibility, cardio-respiratory fitness, etc.) the current reality in the profession is that there are NO one generic/universally accepted definitions industry wide. Consequently, there is NO one generic/universally accepted way to develop/measure fitness. Therefore, as health & fitness professionals, to say that we exist, work and make a living in a precariously tenuous position is an understatement – but that is the HARD reality of the situation.

Given that hard reality, it comes as no surprise to me that there exists controversy, disagreement, dissention, and downright personal animosities in this profession. To be a health & fitness professional in this day and age is to be by definition (or lack thereof) — to be misunderstood …, crazy, or insane or whatever you want to call it. Rambling as I am, that is the state of the union of the health & fitness profession as this one dumbbell coach sees it.

Having stated that, I do not want to sour you on the profession. Health & Fitness is a great profession that has many rewards. However, with respect to being a practitioner, you need to not only understand the realities – but you need to embrace them. The field needs individuals that are passionate, professional and principled. Having “thick skin” may be another requisite characteristic.

So what’s the answer? I emphatically DON”T KNOW! What I do know, however, is that as a profession we do need to start taking a critical look at asking the RIGHT questions with respect to defining outcomes before we begin discussing the cause/effect relationship of developing those outcomes. So where do we begin? In the next series of articles, I will ask some of those questions — beginning with “WHAT IS STRENGTH?” In doing so, it will provide a forum for professional dialog that will initiate the steps in coming to a consensus understanding on “HOW TO BEST DEVELOP?” and/or “HOW TO BEST MEASURE?” the outcomes we all seek to develop. And in the end, it is my hope that in the asking it will provide a higher level of service in those who have entrusted their health to us.

TAKU’s NOTE: For the next few weeks I will be featuring a series of articles by Mark Ansanovich. I have had the privaledge of hearing Mark speak on several occasions. He is without a doubt one of the best S&C coaches in the busniness. I featured some of Marks words of wisdom back in July of last year. Chek that out here:

For those who don’t know Mark, here is a bit more info about him.

Mark Asanovich

Recently completed his fifteenth season as a Strength & Conditioning Coach in professional football with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League (UFL). A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Asanovich was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars on February 1, 2003 after spending six seasons as the Strength & Conditioning Coach for Head Coach Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2002 season as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to that he served as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Vikings in 1995.

Product Review: “ A Practical Approach To Strength Training”

“ A Practical Approach To Strength Training”
4th edition by Matt Brzycki
In the 70’s I was training with Arthur Jones at the Quonset Hut at Deland High School . I had met Arthur (“Art” at the time) at the Teen Age Mr. America Contest held in York Pa. After much urging and prodding by Arthur I started making the trip up to Deland and Lake Helen , Florida 1-3 times a week. I was living in Winter Haven , Florida and it wasn’t a short drive. I had an opportunity to go to work for Arthur on the ground floor of the new Nautilus operation. I chose, instead, to go to work elsewhere. I went as often as I could and became friends with many of the people that came and went. With Arthur’s recommendation I started working for POLK Jr. College ( Now POLK College ) as a Strength Coach using a full line of new Nautilus and some Universal equipment. I wasn’t able to go up and train as often once I started with PJC but felt I had what I needed to train well. As time went on Nautilus grew and then exploded! Nautilus was everywhere and was killing the competition.
Fast forward a few years and I had gotten busy and Arthur was really busy. We had less contact, except for a phone conversation now and then. I had fallen out of the loop. I got a computer and started looking around for training info. Fortunately “Cyberpump” was one of the sites I found. On Cyberpump were many articles by Matt Brzycki. I printed everything by him I could find, also everything by Dr. Ken. What they were writing about was what I remembered when I was going to Deland. My interest in “High Intensity Training” had peaked again. On a vacation to Naples , Florida , I took a stack of articles to read by the pool. While reading the articles I found out about the first edition of “A Practical Approach.” I dropped everything and went looking for a bookstore. I found the book and went back to the Ritz Carlton and immersed myself in this book. I was hooked. During this time I was asked to write some articles about my experience with Arthur. I called him and asked his permission and he said “Do what you want.” That is how I got involved with sharing my “HIT” experience, Matt along with Dr. Ken, were the catalyst. Thank you Cyberpump and Bill Piche.
About “A Practical Approach” 4th edition
I thought the first edition was good but this new one is far better. It has much, much more information on many more subjects, with up to date, current information. It is now a complete manual on Strength Training and Conditioning, on several methods, levels, and subjects. Like the title says it’s “A Practical Approach.” Matt has a great deal of experience as a competitor, Coach, Trainer, and speaker, years of it. We first met at a Tampa Bay Bucs Clinic, where he was one of the main speakers. We both got bored at the same time and met in the lobby and had a nice talk.  He reads all the research and unlike me, actually understands it. Combined with all this experience and all his contacts in the Strength Community, we are the ones that benefit, anytime Matt starts writing.
From the Inside Flap:

1 Basic Anatomy and Muscular Function
2 The Physiological Basis of Physical Training
3 Genetics and Strength Potential
4 Strength Training
5 Strength Training for Females
6 Strength Training for Youths
7 Strength Training for Older Adults
8 Free-Weight Exercises
9 Machine Exercises
10 Manual-Resistance Exercises
11 Designing and Varying the Strength Program
12 Rehabilitative Training
13 Flexibility Training
14 Aerobic Training
15 Anaerobic Training
16 Metabolic Training
17 Power Training
18 Skill Training
19 Nutritional Training
20 Nutritional Supplements
21 Nutritional Quackery
22 Weight Management
23 A Primer on Steroids
24 Strength and Fitness Q&A
Appendix A: Summary of Free-Weight Exercises
Appendix B: Summary of Machine Exercises
Appendix C: Summary of Manual-Resistance Exercises
Chapters 18 through 23 were very much of interest to me as well as Chapter 3. I really enjoyed this book!
From Matt:
In 1984, I started writing articles for magazines. After a while, my plan was to write articles such that I could later re-write them as chapters and then organize them into a book. By 1988, I had stockpiled enough articles to form the backbone of a book. Around the middle of the year, I sent a book publisher a proposal for A Practical Approach to Strength Training. I soon learned that getting an article accepted for publication in a magazine was much easier than a book. My first five proposals to publishers were rejected. In late January 1989, I sent out one more proposal. I decided that if it resulted in a sixth rejection letter, there would be no more attempts. The proposal was accepted and, as they say, the rest is history. In 1991, I wrote a second edition which wasn’t much of a change from the first edition. For the most part, I re-wrote some of the content, corrected a few mistakes and added a little new material but, again, it wasn’t much of a change. Although the first two editions sold nicely and were generally well accepted, they were criticized by some for being too anecdotal without much in the way of scientific support. In 1994, I decided to answer the critics with a third edition that focused on the relevant research. That edition – published in 1995 – was quite different from the first two. For one thing, the third edition was much larger, in format as well as content, going from 7 x 10 and about 40,000 words to 8.5 x 11 and about 90,000 words. Second, there was a greater emphasis on research. Unfortunately, the book was so research-based that it was somewhat difficult to read.
A lot has happened in the industry since that third edition came out 17 years ago. So I had nearly two decades of catching up to do. One of the great things about working at a university – at least from my perspective – is free, on-line access to dozens of peer-reviewed journals. Having this type of research literally at my fingertips was a tremendous help in doing the fourth edition.
This new edition has given me the opportunity to fill in the gap, so to speak, with everything that’s gone on in the fitness industry during the past 20 years or so. It has also allowed me to revise old content, add new content and correct what I thought was a huge shortcoming of the third edition and that was the writing style. This fourth edition is a much easier read with a more conversational and less “militant” tone yet still has a strong reliance on the scientific research. And despite what the title suggests, this book goes way beyond strength training; it’s really more of an all-around fitness book.
Matt, you did what you set out to do. Well done. Thanks!
TAKU’s NOTE: I have several copies of Matt’s book (3rd edition), and it is one of my favorites. Like Jim, I am a big fan of Matt’s work and have read everything of his I can get my hands on. He is a masterful writer with an excellent grasp on the intricate workings of Evidence based strength and conditioning protocols. I am really looking forward to picking up a copy of this book.




All strength and power athletes know there is “good pain and bad pain” and I’m sure any athlete that pushes their body to it’s max also understands that.  When I start a beginner in weightlifting I always tell them to expect a fair amount of discomfort.  They may want to call it pain, but I tell them weightlifting is just uncomfortable to various parts of the body at times.  I’m just trying to let them know that there is pain in weightlifting and in any physical activity that you want to excel in.   The “good pain” is basically soreness while the “bad pain” is usually an injury.

So, what is good about pain?  Well, there are many good things about pain, number one, it is a warning that something might be going wrong with your body which could lead to a serious injury.  Number two, it tells you when you aren’t in shape for certain activities.  Number three, it tells you when you are ready to resume an activity.  Number four, it tells you that you are doing your activity incorrectly.  Number five, it tells you when you are overtraining.  Number six, it tells you an old injury isn’t healed or if it is being re-injured.

What’s bad about pain?  Well, it means you are injured and can’t perform to your ability or at all and that’s our worst situation.

So, what’s this about “good pain and bad pain”?  It takes experience to know the difference, but the sooner you learn the difference and understand it the better you will be able to push yourself to your limits.  The “good pain” is the yellow cautionary light that tells you to stop or back off what you are doing so as not to do serious damage.  When you feel the “good pain” you back off your exercise or workout and let your body adapt to the stress you’ve put on it.  Maybe it’s just a few minutes or a day or two or you lighten up your training for a few workouts.

Also, there is the “good pain” or soreness after a maximum lift, workout or competition where your muscles, joints, and body in general feels beat.  This type of pain feels good because you know you pushed your body to it’s limit and maybe a little beyond and you feel good because of accomplishment.  You walk around feeling the soreness or pain and it feels good because it reminds you of your successful maximum performance.

The “bad pain” is an injury that hurts a lot and means you won’t be able to perform your lifts for awhile or maybe longer.   It might be a flair up of an old injury, which will be a set back in your program.  It is usually accompanied by sharp pain, swelling and is sensitive to touch,  “Bad pain” at its worst is a serious injury, a tissue tear.  If after 2 to 3 days you are still feeling what you think is “good pain”, it may be “bad pain”, get it checked out.

That’s why we say “it hurts good”, meaning we have some pain and soreness, but it is the result of a good workout or competition and that it isn’t an injury that will sideline us.   Usually after a great lift, workout, or competition you feel so good you don’t feel any pain.   That’s why I always ask my lifters after a competition or maximum workout,  “how do you fee, do you hurt good”?  Know your pain!

TAKU’s NOTE: Jim Schmitz has been an Olympic weightlifting coach since 1968, and during that time coached 10 Olympians. He’s written a book and developed a DVD on weightliting, and does coaching clinics and seminars. You can connect with Jim to learn more about Olympic weightlifting via his website at physiquemagnifique.com.

Bilateral and Unilateral Loading

by Brian Jones

One of the more enduring debates in the strength and conditioning field is in the relative value of bilateral (BL) versus unilateral (UL) loading. Like many other debates coaches’ opinions can become quite polarized and as usual the truth is probably somewhere between the extremes. This purpose of this article is to analyze these methods, describe their benefits and limitations, and allow the readers to develop their own reasoned ideas on how to best implement them in their own training.


First let us define our terms. BL loading is defined as the simultaneous loading of both limbs (either both arms or both legs) during an exercise. Examples of this include the barbell bench press and the barbell back squat. During these movements, force and power are generated by the combined efforts of both limbs working against a single load. A common point of confusion is the case of dumbbells (or kettlebells). A standard flat dumbbell bench press or two kettlebell overhead press is a BL exercise. The term bilateral refers to the limbs rather than the implement used.


UL loading is defined as the loading of one limb (arm or leg) during an exercise movement. Defining UL loading is a bit trickier because the other limb may indeed be moving, even under load, but not in the same direction. Let us take the case of the UL flat dumbbell bench press. There are several ways to perform it. You could lie on the bench while holding only one dumbbell and perform the lift or you could hold two dumbbells and keep one side stationary in either the bottom or top locked-out position while the other side moved. Finally you could perform the exercise in a see-saw fashion with one arm pressing while the other arm lowered. Lower body exercises can also be somewhat difficult to categorize. Obviously a single leg pistol squat is UL, but what about the standard front lunge. In most discussions the lunge would also qualify as UL. Although both legs are contributing to the movement, the lead leg does most of the work.



Rather than presenting a list of benefits and limitations for each type this section has been arranged thematically. The intention is to highlight major differences and points of contention in the debates about BL and UL. Each discussion concludes with a few suggestions on how the concepts should impact training.

Core Work

In BL both limbs exert force at the same time and thus the absolute load per rep will be greater than that of a similar UL exercise. The greater load will force the core muscles to work harder to stabilize the spine. This is the case for both upper and lower body exercises. There is however, another factor to consider. Even though the absolute load may be smaller in UL work, loading only introduces a rotational component not present in BL movements. During the concentric phase of the lift, core rotation may be employed to assist the lift. In the isometric and eccentric phases the core activates to resist rotation.

Practical Applications

  • BL provides the greatest stimulus for core stability under heavy loads.
  • The core stress imposed by BL may be too great in the case of injury or fatigue and could become a limiting factor in the training of the limbs. UL training may be used to help deload the core while keeping the training intensity for the limbs high.
  • UL work can allow for a greater degree of trunk rotational training if that is a program goal.

Bilateral Deficit

The phenomenon of bilateral deficit is well-documented in the exercise science research literature. The BL deficit appears when the force that can be generated with both limbs simultaneously is lower than the sum of the forces that can be generated with each limb individually. Although present in most people to some degree the deficit is most pronounced in those who do little bilateral activity or training. The exact cause is debated but it is thought to be due to incomplete motor unit recruitment. Research also shows that BL training can overcome the deficit. Athletes who regularly trained bilaterally had a much lower deficit than those who did no BL training.

One question that comes to most lifters when they first hear about the BL deficit is “Why then, if I can press 200 lbs on a barbell bench press cannot I not press 100 + lb dumbbells for the same number of reps?”. The research studies on this topic used a specialized machine that required no stabilization. Dumbbells are inherently more difficult to keep in the groove and this limits some of the force that can be applied in the direction of movement.

Practical Applications

  • It can be assumed that all trainees will have some degree of BL deficit. The degree of the deficit will be directly related to the amount of BL training.
  • All sports training programs should include both BL and UL work. The precise amount will depend on the sport and the training goals.
  • For athletes who are not competitive lifters (weightlifting or powerlifting) dumbbells or kettlebells are recommended for the majority of upper body BL training due to the greater stabilization component.


The term ‘functional’ is so overused in discussions of physical training as to be almost meaningless. All that functionality means is that the training method or exercise is useful in training some specified activity or goal. So in truth all training is functional in some sense. Even the exercise machines that are so often attacked as worthless for athletes can stimulate hypertrophy in bodybuilders and bestow health benefits to non-athletes.

So how do BL and UL training stack up in terms of functionality? For beginning trainees it makes little difference. There are advantages to sticking with BL training when building up base levels of strength including core stability and overcoming the bilateral deficit. In addition imitating UL sport movements is not recommended by novices. Due to their lack of basic strength, the loads they can handle on such specialized exercises will be too low to stimulate any real gains.  After establishing basic strength, more UL becomes more functional.

Practical Applications

  • Beginners should focus on BL bodyweight and dumbbell exercises until a basic level of strength is achieved.
  • When developing UL exercises make sure the exercise difficulty does not preclude using a moderately heavy load. A good rule of thumb is to keep loads at or above 25% 1RM of biomechanically similar standard BL exercises.

Brian Jones, MS, CSCS

TAKU’s NOTE: Brian has a masters degree in exercise physiology and is currently pursuing an PhD at the University of  Kentucky. In his experience as a personal trainer and strength coach he has helped athletes and non-athletes of all levels achieve their goals. Brian teaches Brazilian jiujitsu and judo and specializes in getting fighters and grapplers in competition shape. He has written for numerous print and online periodicals, is a regular contributor to MILO, and has published two books (The Complete Sandbag Training Course and The Conditioning Handbook: Getting In Top Shape) available at Ironmind.com.

High Blood Pressure a.k.a the Silent Killer

By The Viking

Blood pressure is the term referring to the pressure of blood in the arteries and is broken down into two separate readings, systolic and diastolic.  Systolic refers to the highest pressure in the arteries, which occurs during the beginning of the cardiac cycle.  Diastolic refers to the lowest pressure in the arteries, which occurs during the resting phase of the cardiac cycle.


High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as a blood pressure consisting of a systolic reading equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg.  High blood pressure has been shown to directly increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).  CAD can lead to heart attack and stroke, especially in the presence of additional risk factors.  Hypertension is as also known as the Silent Killer because it has no real symptoms  It’s something that nearly 1 in 3 American adults is affected by, but one third of those people have no idea the problem even exists.  Those most at risk tend to be adults over the age of 35, but other factors such as high salt intake, obesity, old age, heavy drinking and birth control pills can increase the prevalence.  African Americans also tend to be more at risk.

The chart below, courtesy of the American Heart Association, details the various levels of hypertension and at what pressures they onset.

American Heat Association recommended blood pressure levels*


Blood Pressure Category                  Systolic                                 Diastolic
(mm Hg)                      (mm Hg)

Normal                                                   less than 120         and         less than 80
Pre-hypertension                                 120 – 139                or            80 – 89


Stage 1                                                   140 – 159                or            90 – 99
Stage 2                                                   160 or higher         or            100 or higher

Courtesy, American Heart Association  www.americanheat.org

Hypertension comes in two “forms” – primary (a.k.a essential) hypertension and secondary hypertension.  Primary hypertension is the more common of the two, accounting for 90 to 95% (or approximately 75 million cases).  The causes of primary hypertension, despite years of research and countless pages of data, are not definitively known.  Secondary hypertension, accounting for the remaining 5 to 10% of cases, is caused by underlying, yet often identifiable and treatable factors such as renal failure, hyper/hypothyroidism and obesity, among others.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or simply want to change your daily habits to conform to a more “blood pressure friendly” lifestyle, here are some things you can do:

  • Reduce dietary salt/sodium intake
  • Limit saturated fat and cholesterol intake
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce/limit alcohol consumption
  • Follow healthy dietary habits
  • Adhere to a consistent exercise program
  • Manage daily stress
  • Get regular physical check-ups

Of course, there are a number of pharmaceutical solutions to treat high blood pressure.  First and foremost, get a checkup and blood work lab from your doctor.  If anti-hypertensive medication is your best option, your doctor will inform you.

Even if you don’t have hypertension, the above factors will help you develop better living habits and may help solve many more heath factors other than high blood pressure.  Remember, if you suspect you may be at risk for hypertension, the worst thing you can do is wait and take no action at all.

Websites referenced: