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


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

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

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:





An often over looked area of the body by weightlifters is their hands.  Now Milo readers know how important the grip and the hands are, but many weightlifters take their grip and hands for granted.  I guess this is due to using the hook grip (wrapping the thumb around the bar, then grabbing the thumb with the fingers), using straps, or just not lifting enough weight where grip is an issue, thinking the grip will just get stronger as the lifter gets stronger.  To some extent this is true.   I’ve seen many lifts missed due to hand problems, from losing the grip to tearing a callus.  Two situations I think can be avoided.

I will deal with the care of the hands first.  The first thing beginners and those coming back from a long layoff notice is how tender and soft their hands have become.  So, just as the body has to get back in shape, so do the hands.  So, the light weights your using will toughen up the hands as your body gets stronger, but your hands will hurt some and be a little sore just as your body will be.  The first thing you’ll notice is the build up of the calluses on your hands and this is good, but you have to take care of them so they don’t get too big because then they will tear and that’s painful, bloody, and a big distraction to your training.  After you’ve torn a callus you have to tape the hand in order to continue lifting and most people don’t know how to best tape an injured hand or have a trainer around to do it for them.  After you’ve taped the hand the bar just doesn’t feel right for the next few lifts.  So, we want to prevent callus tears.  First, have some nail clippers in your training bag and a file or emery board.  You want to file your calluses down before they get too big.  However, if you do tear, then you need the clippers to trim away the torn skin.  Another thing that contributes to tears is chalk (magnesium carbonate), it dries out the hands too much for some people.  So, I recommend not using chalk for your light weights and when you do use it use it sparingly, just enough to get the job done.  And after each workout use a medicated hand lotion and rub it into your hands thoroughly.

The next part of hand care is strengthening them.  Yes, they will get stronger from just lifting the weights.  A gym owner once told me you don’t need to work your forearms because every time you grab a weight you are working your grip and forearms.   Well, I don’t think that is enough for anyone who wants to be real strong and lift real big weights.  Now you Milo crushers have super grips because you work at it, so weightlifters must do the same.  I recommend wrist curls, pinch gripping plates for time, hanging from a thick bar for time, and working out on grippers, ones that you can only do 5 reps initially and building up to sets of 10 reps.

Two great demonstrations of grip strength that I witnessed were, 77 year old Karl Norberg pinch gripping a York 45 pound (20.5 k) plate by the hub with three 10 pound (4.5 k) plates placed between the rim and hub and lifting the 75 pounds (34 k) from the floor and placing it on a bench press bench.  The other was Bruce Wilhelm pinch gripping a pair of Eleiko 25 kilo plates by the rim and curling and pressing them overhead.

So, take care of and strengthen your hands, don’t neglect them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Jim Schmitz for his excllent areticle this week.

The 4-Minute Peaceful Warrior Workout

Product Spotlight:

This week I want to let people know about a brief and effective fitness program that I have personally used for years. It’s called the Peaceful Warrior Workout.

The Peaceful Warrior Workout was developed by my friend Dan Millman, Dan is a former world-champion gymnast, coach, martial arts teacher, and the author of 15 books including the timeless classic “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”

The Peaceful Warrior Workout program draws on Dan’s  years of experience as an athlete and coach, and combines elements of Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts, and Gymnastics, to create a simple but effective, total-body exercise program.

As I said above, I have personally used the Peaceful Warrior Workout for years. I have used it as a stand alone program, but most often use it as a daily part of my total-fitness plan. I also find it works extremely well as a dynamic warm-up series before more intense activities.

In our modern society time is at a premium, while the need for exercise has never been greater. Learn how you can bring the joy of exercise into your life in just minutes a day.

Read a little more below.

Many of us want to develop a regular exercise routine to relieve stress and feel lighter, clearer, and happier — if only we could find the time in our busy schedules.

Now you can jump-start your day (and your life) with a powerful 4-minute workout that you can enjoy in the comfort and privacy of your home, apartment, or hotel room when traveling. This is the same efficient routine that Dan himself has done each and every day for the past 27 years – at home or on the road.

Visit the link and get started today.




Sportband Appreciation

By The Viking

We call this “Sportband Appreciation” because sportbands are an easy and effective training tool. They’re very inexpensive, you can pack them anywhere and they work for everyone. If you’re never worked with sportbands before, give them a try.

This workout is very basic, but depending on the resistance and intensity you use, it can be very challenging. Go through all the exercises once, then repeat if you feel up to the challenge.

The resistance for these exercises is determined by the size of the band you use. Start light and move up accordingly.

Intensity may be increased in a number of ways:

1.) Using heavier resistance

2.) Limiting rest time between sets

3.) Increasing repetition speed

NOTE: Limiting rest time includes the time between switching sides, if applicable, as well as switching exercises.


Sportband Horizontal Rows

Right Side: 15 Rows

Left Side: 15 Rows

(Rest :45)

Sportband Chest Press

15 presses (both arms simultaneously)

(Rest :45)

Sportband Squat (band supported behind the neck, across the shoulders)

15 Squats

(rest :30)

15 Squats

(Rest :45)

Sportband Overhead Press

Right Side: 10 presses

Left Side: 10 Presses

(Rest :45)

Sportband Deadlift

15 Deadlifts

(rest :30)

15 Deadlifts


At Hybrid Fitness, we’ve always been a big fan of Iron Woody sport bands ( We’ve been using them for years and discovered a few things…they’re incredibly durable, guaranteed for a year and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate ANY level of strength. Iron Woody has a lot of other great gear so check them out and see what you find.

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

Variety is the Spice of Life (Part 2 – The Un-Routines)

In part one of this article, we talked about the need for change in our fitness routines in order to spark new progress as well as keep motivation and enthusiasm at a high level. Let’s create some simple plans that will allow us to randomize our workouts a bit. I’ll tell you some of the things I have done and perhaps you can incorporate some or all of these ideas into your own approach.

1. Create 4 to six different strength routines and then alternate them regularly. We’ll call them A – B – C – D-etc.


On week one you will do Routine A on Monday, B on Wednesday and C on Friday. On week two do Routine D on Monday, A on Wednesday and B on Friday. During the following weeks just keep rotating the different routines in and out of your schedule. Never do the same routine two times in a row.

2. “Run the numbers”. This is a really simple way to inject much needed variety into your strength routine.

Let’s say you have about 10-12 exercises in each of you’re A-B-C-D routines. Instead of always doing them in a specific order say 1 through 12, or always starting with Squats, each time you go to the gym you start with the next number in the order. So the first time you do Routine A you go from exercise 1 to exercise 12. The next time you do Routine A you go from exercise 2 to exercise 1. This way you are always starting your workout with an emphasis on a different movement. This coupled with the fact that you are already rotating through 4 separate routines will keep your body guessing for quite some time.

3. Try varying your rep ranges and or rep cadence.


If you always train the classic 5 x 5 (five sets of five reps), keep things spicy with some different rep ranges. Week one do sets of 4-6 reps. Week two do sets of 6-10 reps. Week three do sets of 8-15 reps. You can also vary your rep cadence, (the actual speed that you raise and lower the bar) I recommend 3-5 seconds to raise the weight and 3-5 seconds to lower it. If you are used to always moving the bar as fast as possible this decreased speed can really up your intensity and provide your muscles with a new and different challenge.

4. Cycle your intensity

At Hybrid Fitness we believe in training intensely. We also recognize that to avoid over training and reap the rewards of long term progress one must remain keenly aware of when it is time to push hard and when it is time to back off a bit. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of over training so you can cycle effectively and make uninterrupted progress from month to month.

5. Change the order and or intensity or your “Cardio”.

If you always do Cardio training before strength training, then try doing them in the opposite order for a nice change of pace. Also as stated in part one of this article, you’ll get far more from your cardio training if you up the intensity instead of adding to the duration. So remember to challenge yourself.

6. Change the days you train.

Too many of us are stuck in a rut that is run by the calendar. If you have some flexibility, add it to your workout routine. If you always train on Monday-Wednesday and Friday and are feeling bit burnt out, train once every three days instead. If you are feeling extra fresh and want to step it up try three days on, one day off. Do a different routine or class each day that you go to the gym but just keep to this three on, one off, approach. Example:

Train on Monday doing a long cardio session. On Tuesday do some heavy weights and some sprints. On Wednesday try a Total body conditioning class. Take Thursday off and on Friday start the whole cycle over again.

The ultimate randomization tool.

As you can see at Hybrid Fitness variety is a key component to how we help our athletes stay fresh and continue to make progress for long periods of time. If you are looking for a simple tool to help you add fun and variety into your training routine check out our “Card P.T.” program. To find out more go here.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully by now you not only recognize the value of adding some variety to your fitness plan, but have gained some simple ideas about how to make changes that will not only see you making new and continued improvements but will add some much needed spice to an otherwise dull routine. As always if you have questions or feel you need more help with this or any other subject you find here please feel free to contact me at

*Example Strength Routines A-B-C-D

For each workout below, do one set per exercise. Vary reps as needed, for desired results. Rest 30-90 seconds between sets.

Routine A

1. Leg Curl

2. Leg Extension

3. Squat

4. Calf Raise

5. Overhead Press

6. Pullover

7. Dip

8. Bent over row

9. Triceps extension

10. Biceps Curl

11. Bent kneed sit-up

12. 4-way neck

13. Shrug

Routine B

1. Bent Over Row

2. Negative Pullover } Giant set

3. Pulldown

4. Incline Press

5. Bent armed Fly } Giant set

6. Push-up

7. Negative Chin-up

8. Negative Dip

9. Shrug

10. 4-way neck

11. Leg Curl

12. Leg Extension

13. Hip adduction

Routine C

1. Leg extension } Pre-exhaust

2. Leg Press

3. Deadlift

4. Leg curl } Giant set

5. Stiff-Legged Deadlift

6. Calf Raise } compound set

7. Seated Calf raise

8. Hip Abduction } Compound set

9. Hip Adduction

10. Lateral raise

11. Pullover

12. Bench Press

13. Biceps Curl

Routine D

1. 1-1/2 rep Dip

2. Triceps Extension } Giant set

3. Negative Dip

4. 1-1/2 rep Chin

5. Biceps curl } Giant set

6. Negative Chin

7. Wrist curl

8. Reverse Wrist curl

9. Leg Press

10. Leg extension

11. Leg Curl

12. Lateral raise

13. Hanging Knee raise