Nutrition: Two simple steps to improve your fitness program.

If you visit here often, then you should know how I feel about the importance of strength training. However, if you want to lose fat, nutrition is certainly something in addition to strength training to work on.

I’ve got personal experience in this area. Along with my multiple Strength and Conditioning certifications, I am also a certified sports nutritionist. Over the years I’ve designed, implemented and updated hundreds of fully customized eating programs for a broad array of fitness participants from elite athletes to average Joe’s. It’s beyond the scope of this article to get too in depth into the specific details of creating custom Personal Eating Plans, but I do want to mention a couple of very useful principles for nutrition if someone wants to get leaner and lose fat.

1. Cut out the sugar: Limiting simple carbs is the best place to start for almost everyone when creating a new Personal Eating Plan (P.E.P.). For many, just getting rid of all the sources of simple and or processed carbs in their P.E.P. will quickly see them dropping unwanted pounds.

2. Total calories do matter: Despite what many “Clean eating” diet guides recommend or suggest, total calories do matter. It is absolutely possible to over-eat on healthy food choices. If after eliminating the sugar from your P.E.P. you are still not losing body fat, (or not losing as much as you would like) then it’s time to actually pay attention to the total calories you are consuming. Keep in mind that as we age, total caloric needs often decline.

Where should you start? In my experience I’ve found that for those requiring reduced calorie intake the following guidelines were extremely helpful:

Nutrition Guidelines*

Moderate Calorie: 1500-1800 men; 1200-1500 women

High Protein: 1.5 grams protein x 50% ideal body weight

High Water: 1 oz. x 50% ideal body weight

High Vegetables: unlimited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Moderate Fruit: Limited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Example based on the above guidelines:

Female with ideal target weight of 130 pounds.

Protein = 100 grams minimum daily (1.5 grams x 65*)

Water = 65 oz. minimum daily (1 oz. x 65)

Begin with meeting protein intake requirements. Then add Fruit & Vegetable and friendly fat while remaining within daily calorie guidelines.



For those interested in fully customized Personal Eating Plans contact TAKU at: Put NUTRITION in the subject line.

*rounded up for convenience.

Simple Steps to Good Nutrition


Nutrition. Is there anything out there that is more confusing? High carbs, low carbs, good fats, bad fats, don’t eat at night, don’t eat anything but fruit until noon…It’s enough to make you scream. How can we possibly decipher all the nutritional mumbo-jumbo that is thrown around every day? Each time you turn around there is a new diet telling you what to eat and what to avoid.

Well, take a deep breath and let’s see if we can make some sense out of all this confusion. By the time your done reading, you’ll have at least a basic set of ideas that should work for you. It still won’t be easy. I have been training people for 25 years and I call nutrition, the ultimate discipline.

Let’s get some basics out of the way. We can break our food into a few basic components. Macro-nutrients (meaning Big stuff) and along with the big stuff we get Micro-nutrients (little stuff). Add water and you have your bases covered.

Foods contain calories in the form of the three Macro-nutrients, Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates. These calories provide energy for our bodies to move, grow, repair and maintain themselves. Both Protein and Carbohydrates have four calories per gram. Fat has more then twice as many calories with nine per gram. Foods also contain Micro-nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Micro-nutrients are important because they contribute to the many chemical processes that our bodies undertake for daily living. They do not however provide energy.

When we say energy as it relates to food it just means calories. All food has calories and all calories can be burned to provide energy for the body. When we see something in the store called an “Energy” bar or Energy drink, it really just means that the bar or drink has calories. There is nothing magic about them. Most energy drinks have not only calories in the form of simple sugars but are also loaded with stimulants such as caffeine, guranna (an herbal form of caffeine) or other similar substances. This is where the “energy” comes from in the Zero calorie energy drinks. The above mentioned substances are Central Nervous System stimulants and are providing energy through a series of chemical interactions in the body. If you like to get the buzzed feeling of caffeinated drinks, but don’t like coffee then these types of drinks will do the trick for you. Just remember there are no magic substances in energy bars and drinks that will do anything for you that good, whole food cannot. For the most part these bars and drinks are just glorified candy bars and soda pops and their manufacturers are trying to get you to feel good about eating and drinking them.

I know that nutritional planning is a bit confusing at times. How many meals a day should I eat? Do I need a certain percentage of my daily calories from one source or another? What should I drink and how much is enough? Well, that is what we are here to find out. So let’s set some guidelines that will help us get the most out our nutrition. Keep in mind that what most people lack when it comes to nutrition is discipline and consistency. The following guidelines are not new or magic, they are merely ideas to help you establish a framework from which you may create that disciplined consistency you currently lack.

1. Eat every 2-3 hours, no matter what. You should eat between 4-5 times per day. This does not mean eat giant meals every time you feed; this includes your snacks as well. Think of it more like grazing.

2. Eat some source of lean protein such as eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey and fish, at every meal.

3. Eat fruits and or vegetables with each meal. The more different colors and textures the better.

4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes primarily from fruits and vegetables.

5. Ensure that you get some fats every day. You want these to be primarily in the form of good or “friendly” fats such as those found from olive, flax seed and coconut oils, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, as well as fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines anchovy’s etc.

6. Drink primarily non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea. A good goal for water intake is about half your body weight in ounces a day. So, if you weigh 100 pounds, aim for 50 ounces a day and if you weigh 200, pounds aim for 100 ounces a day. (The rest of you can do your own math).

7. Eat mostly whole foods. This means foods found in their most natural state. There is no such thing as a donut tree and contrary to popular belief; nothing made out of flour (like bread, pasta and bagels) is a source of complex carbohydrates.

8. When you get off track, regroup quickly. Having one bad meal or snack here and there will not have a large impact on your overall success. What does negatively impact you is the snow ball effect. That common feeling of “well I screwed up lunch so I guess the whole day is shot”. Forget that stuff. Your next feeding is your next opportunity for success.

So what does this type of eating look like? Here is a simple way to think about it. To create a healthy plate meal, simply view your plate like a clock. Fill the position of 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock with colorful fruits and vegetables; fill the space from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock with carbohydrates like yams or sweet potatoes, and fill the area from 9 to 12 o’clock with lean protein  in the form of beef, chicken fish and so on.

Most of the time if you stick with just two sections, the fruit and veggie section and the protein section you’ll be doing just fine. If you do include starches, for best results don’t let that starch section get any bigger then about ¼ of your plate.

So, don’t I need to know how many calories I am eating and how much fat etc? The answer is yes and no. For the greatest long term success I would recommend taking a few days and figuring this stuff out. Working with a good nutrition coach can really help. The most important thing however is that you just start making some good simple choices right away. I think you’ll find that when you do, the rest starts to take care of itself.

Here is what a day of this type of eating might look like:

(I’ve included a few examples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

Meal Examples


1. Scrambled Eggs and Fruit. 1 whole egg. 2-3 egg whites. Tomato, peppers onions etc (your choice). 1 large orange.

2. Cottage Cheese and Fruit. 1-cup cottage cheese (low fat or non-fat). 2 cups Fresh or water packed Pineapple or Peaches. I Tbsp Almonds (raw).

3. Protein Shake. 2 scoops Protein Powder. 1 cup Strawberries, fresh or frozen. 2/3 cup peaches, fresh or frozen. 1-2 cups water. 1 -1/2 Tbsp Almonds or flax-seed oil


1. Tuna salad. 4-6 oz of Albacore Tuna in water (drained). 1-2 Tbsp of sweet pickle relish (optional). 3-5 Tbsp of celery (diced). 15-20 seedless grapes. 1-1/2 Tbsp Mayo (homemade or safflower). 2-4 lettuce leaves. 1 large apple.

2. Chicken Caesar salad. Romaine lettuce (3-4 cups). Chicken precooked and cooled (4 oz). Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp (grated). Caesar dressing (2 Tbsp).*

3. Cantaloupe Fruit Salad. ½ of a melon. I cup cottage cheese (low fat or non-fat). 5-10 seedless Grapes. ½ cup sliced Strawberries. 2 tsp Sunflower seeds.


1. Chicken salad. 4-6 oz chicken. 2 tbsp walnuts. 1 apple chopped. 1-cup grapes (cut in halves). 2 tbsp mayo (safflower or home made). 1-cup green beans.

2. Grilled Salmon and Vegetables. Salmon steak grilled (4-1/2 oz). Onions sweet large size (3 thick slices). ½ green pepper (sliced). 1 zucchini (sliced). Green salad (2 cups). I cup Peaches, fresh or frozen for desert.

3. Beef Tenderloin Dinner. 6 oz extra lean beef. Asparagus spears (10 – steamed). 3-4 cups green salad with tomato. Fresh fruit for dessert.


1. Cottage cheese with Pineapple. 1-Cup cottage cheese w/ 1-cup pineapple.

2. Hard-boiled Egg and Fruit. 1 whole egg. 1 egg white. 1 tangerine or orange.

3. String Cheese and fruit. 1-2 string cheese. 1 apple.

If you are serious about your health, you should be serious about your nutrition. Our health comes from the inside out. Feed your body good food, drink water and get enough sleep every day and you have gone a long way to insuring optimal health and high function for years to come. When we eat well it supports everything else we do. It makes it that much more likely, that you will achieve your athletic and aesthetic goals as well as perform at your best in the boardroom or on the mat. Remember, every time you go food shopping is a chance for you to make great choices. Now get out there and get to it.

Bonus Food Shopping List:



• Salmon

• Tuna

• Cod

• Trout

• Halibut

• Shrimp

• Scallops


Chicken breasts

Cottage cheese

Lean Red Meat:

• Flank Steak

• Ground Beef

• Top Round Cuts


Vegetables (not limited to):

• Broccoli

• Green Beans

• Spinach

• Lettuce

Mixed Beans


Fruits (not limited to):

• Berries

• Apples

• Oranges

• Kiwi

• Grapefruits

Grains & Starches

Oatmeal/Oat bran

Sprouted Flour-less Mixed-grain bread

Brown Rice


Sweet Potatoes



Flax oil/Flax meal

Fish oil (EPA / DHA)

Olive oil / Olives

Mixed nuts:

• Almonds

• Walnuts

• Brazil

• Pistachios


Coconut Oil

Butter (occasionally)

Macro Nutrient Servings:

Fruit. 1 serving =

1 medium sized fruit, ½ banana, 1-cup berries, ¼-cup dried fruit. 1-cup melon.

Veggies. 1 serving =

½ cup cooked or raw, 1 cup leafy.

Protein. 1 serving =

4-5 oz fish, poultry, pork or lean beef. 1-cup tofu, 1-cup cottage cheese.

Starchy Carbs. 1 serving =

½ cup cooked rice, pasta or grains, ½ cup cooked cereal.


*Caesar Dressing:

• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

• 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

• ½ Tbsp Lemon juice

• 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed

• ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

• ½ tsp anchovy paste

• ½ tsp dry mustard

• ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.




Resistance Training is Medicine:

By Wayne L. Westcott, PhD


Not long ago, the muscle-building activity known as weight training generally was considered to be the domain of exceptionally strong men who competed in sports such as powerlifting, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, and football. It was obvious that these athletes required high levels of strength and muscularity to excel in their chosen sport and that their mesomorphic physiques responded favorably to heavy resistance training with barbells and dumbbells. Average individuals saw no reason to engage in weight training, and participants in other sports typically felt that lifting weights actually would hinder their athletic performance.

As American lifestyle became more sedentary and heart disease became the leading cause of death, regular exercise was promoted for attaining physical fitness, desirable body weight, and cardiorespiratory health. However, the overwhelming emphasis was on aerobic activity with little encouragement for resistance training. More recently, attention has been given to age-related muscle loss and associated physiological problems such as bone loss, metabolic decline, fat gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and all-cause mortality. Given the serious problem of sarcopenia in an increasingly sedentary and aging population, and the accumulating evidence that resistance exercise promotes muscle gains in men and women of all ages, it is understandable that leading researchers have advocated a public health mandate for sensible resistance training.

The series of events that seem to be associated with a large number of illnesses, injuries, and infirmities are 1) muscle loss, 2) leading to metabolic rate reduction, 3) followed by fat gain that places almost 80% of men and 70% of women 60 years of age and older in the undesirable categories of overweight or obese. These percentages are based on body mass index calculations that do not account for age-related sarcopenia. It is therefore likely that an even higher percentage of the older adult population has excess body fat (above 22% for males and above 32% for females).

Muscle mass declines between 3% and 8% each decade after age 30, averaging approximately 0.2 kg of lean weight loss per year. Muscle loss increases to 5% to 10%each decade after age 50, averaging approximately 0.4 kg per year after the fifth decade of life. Skeletal muscle, which represents up to 40% of total body weight, influences a variety of metabolic risk factors, including obesity, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Muscle tissue is the primary site for glucose and triglyceride disposal, so muscle loss specifically increases the Muscle protein breakdown and synthesis largely are responsible for energy expenditure in resting muscle, which is approximately 11 to 12 calIdj1Ikgj1 of untrained muscle tissue. Consequently, muscle loss is the greatest contributor to the age-related decline in resting metabolic rate, which averages 2% to 3% per decade in adults. Because resting metabolism accounts for about 65%to 70% of daily calorie use among sedentary men and women, reduction of muscle mass and resting metabolic rate may be accompanied by increased fat weight.

Reversing Muscle Loss

Numerous studies have demonstrated that relatively brief sessions (e.g., 12 to 20 total exercise sets) of regular resistance training (two or three nonconsecutive days per week) can increase muscle mass in adults of all ages through the 10th decade of life. Many of these studies showed lean weight gains of about 1.4 kg following approximately 3 months of resistance training. A representative large-scale study with more than 1,600 participants between the ages of 21 and 80 years revealed a mean lean weight increase of 1.4 kg after 10 weeks of resistance training incorporating 12 total exercise sets per session. Training frequencies of 2 and 3 day / week produced similar lean weight gains, and there were no significant differences in muscle development among any of the age groups.

Recharging Resting Metabolism

Resistance training stimulates increased muscle protein turnover and actually has a dual impact on resting metabolic rate. First, as a chronic response, resistance training results in greater muscle mass that necessitates more energy at rest for ongoing tissue maintenance. A 1.0-kg increase in trained muscle tissue may raise resting metabolic rate by about 20 cal / day. Second, as an acute response, resistance training causes tissue microtrauma that requires relatively large amounts of energy for muscle remodeling processes that may persist for 72 h after the training session. Research has shown significant increases in resting metabolic rate (approximately 7%) after several weeks of resistance training. However, more recent studies have revealed a similar elevation in resting energy expenditure (5% to 9%) for 3 d following a single session of resistance training. Participants who performed a high volume resistance workout (8 exercises x 8 sets each) averaged an 8% (trained subjects) to 9% (untrained subjects) increase in resting energy expenditure for 3 d after the exercise session. Beginning participants who performed either a moderate-volume resistance workout (10 exercises x 3 sets each) or a low-volume resistance workout (10 exercises x 1 set each) averaged a 5% increase in resting energy expenditure for 3 d after their respective exercise sessions.

Based on the findings from these studies, regular resistance training may increase energy expenditure at rest by 100 cal / day or more. Reducing Body Fat Excessive body fat is associated with risk factors such as elevated plasma cholesterol, plasma glucose, and resting blood pressure, which contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In their review article, Strasser and Schobersberger concluded that resistance training is recommended in the management of obesity and metabolic disorders. With respect to overall body fat, several resistance training studies that showed approximately 1.4 kg of lean weight gain also reported approximately 1.8 kg of fat weight loss. With respect to abdominal adipose tissue, research has revealed significant reductions in intra-abdominal fat resulting from resistance training in older women  and older men as well as only one-third as much visceral fat gain in premenopausal women over a 2-year study period (7% resistance trained vs 21% untrained). Hurley et al. have identified increased resting metabolic rate, improved insulin sensitivity, and enhanced sympathetic activity as possible means by which resistance training may decrease intra-abdominal fat stores. Increased resting metabolic rate would seem to be a major factor in fat loss. A 20-min circuit resistance training program may require approximately 200 cal for every performance and may use 25% as many additional calories (50 cal) for recovery processes during the first hour following the workout . Furthermore, over the next 72 h, resting energy expenditure may remain elevated by 100 cal /day for muscle remodeling processes. Assuming two 20-min circuit resistance training sessions a week, the associated energy utilization would approximate 5000 cal /month (eight workouts / 250 cal + 30 days 100 cal).

Facilitating Physical Function

Aging is accompanied by a gradual reduction in physical function that negatively affects the ability to perform activities of daily living. Research has revealed that resistance training can reverse some of the debilitating effects associated with inactive aging, even in elderly individuals. In one study, nursing home residents (mean age = 89 years) performed one set of six resistance machine exercises, twice a week, for 14 wk. At the end of the training period, the participants increased their overall strength by 60%, added 1.7 kg of lean weight, and improved their functional independence measure by 14%. Other studies support resistance training by older adults for enhancing movement control, functional abilities, physical performance, and walking speed.

Resisting Type 2 Diabetes

As the obesity problem increases so does the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. It is predicted that by the middle of this century, one of three adults will have diabetes . In their review article on aging, resistance training, and diabetes prevention, Flack et al. concluded that resistance training may be an effective intervention approach for middle-aged and older adults to counteract age-associated declines in insulin sensitivity and to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. This position is supported by numerous research studies, including those demonstrating improvements in insulin resistance and glycemic control. As presented in the previous section, resistance training also has been shown to reduce abdominal fat, which may be particularly important for diabetes prevention. This is because insulin resistance seems to be associated with abdominal fat accumulation in aging adults. Based on their literature review, Flack et al. suggested that resistance training programs incorporating higher-volume and higher intensity protocols may be more effective for improving insulin resistance and glucose tolerance compared with lower-volume and lower-intensity exercise protocols. This recommendation is consistent with the resistance training guidelines of the American Diabetes Association to exercise all major muscle groups, 3 days / week, progressing to three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions at high intensity.

A meta-analysis by Strasser et al. revealed that resistance training reduced visceral adipose tissue and decreased glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in people with abnormal glucose metabolism. The review authors concluded that resistance training should be recommended for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders. According to Phillips and Winett, resistance training is associated with improved glucose and insulin homeostasis because of increases in muscle cross-sectional area and lean body mass, as well as qualitative improvements in muscle metabolic properties, including increases in the density of glucose transporter type 4, glycogen synthase content / activity, and insulin-mediated glucose clearance. There also is evidence that resistance training may be preferable to aerobic exercise for improving insulin sensitivity and for lowering HbA1c.

Improving Cardiovascular Health

A 2011 literature review by Strasser and Schobersberger concluded that, ‘‘resistance training is at least as effective as aerobic endurance training in reducing some major cardiovascular disease risk factors’’. The reported findings related to cardiovascular benefits of resistance training included improved body composition, mobilization of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat, reduced resting blood pressure, improved lipoprotein-lipid profiles, and enhanced glycemic control. This section addresses the effects of resistance training on three key physiological factors associated with cardiovascular health, namely, resting blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, and vascular condition.

Resting Blood Pressure

Approximately one-third of American adults have hypertension, which is a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Several studies have demonstrated reduced resting systolic and / or diastolic blood pressure following two or more months of standard resistance training or circuit style resistance training. One study reported resting blood pressure changes in more than 1,600 participants (ages 21 to 80 years) who performed 20 min of resistance training and 20 min of aerobic activity 2 or 3 dIwkj1 for a period of 10 weeks. Subjects who trained twice a week significantly reduced resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 3.2 and 1.4 mm Hg, respectively. Those who trained 3 days /week, significantly reduced resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 4.6 and 2.2 mm Hg, respectively. A study by Kelemen and Effron also demonstrated significant blood pressure reductions from combined resistance training and endurance exercise.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Kelley and Kelley concluded that resistance training is effective for reducing resting blood pressure. A more recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that blood pressure reductions associated with resistance training averaged 6.0 mm Hg systolic and 4.7 mm Hg diastolic and were comparable with those associated aerobic activity.

Blood Lipid Profiles

According to a recent report of the American Heart Association, approximately 45% of Americans have undesirable blood lipid profiles that increase their risk for cardiovascular disease. Several studies have shown beneficial effects on lipoprotein-lipid profiles resulting from resistance training, whereas other studies have not demonstrated significant changes in blood lipid levels. Some investigators have found that resistance training and aerobic activity produce similar effects on blood lipid profiles. A review by Kelley and Kelley reported modest improvements in blood lipid profiles resulting from resistance training, with the exception of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which did not change significantly. According to the American College of Sports Medicine position stand on Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults (3), there is evidence to suggest that resistance training may increase HDL cholesterol by 8% to 21%, decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 13% to 23%, and reduce triglycerides by 11% to 18%. In a study with elderly women (70 to 87 years of age), resistance training significantly improved triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol profiles. A 2009 review by Tambalis et al. revealed resistance training to be an effective means for reducing LDL cholesterol, but there is evidence that combined resistance training and aerobic activity improves blood lipid profiles better than either exercise performed independently. After a careful review of the research literature and their own studies, Hurley et al. suggested that lipoprotein-lipid responses to resistance training likely are to be genotype dependent, indicating that genetic factors may determine the degree to which resistance training influences blood lipid profiles

Vascular Condition

Vascular condition refers to the ability of arteries to accommodate blood flow, which directly affects blood pressure. Research studies are inconsistent regarding the effects of resistance training on vascular condition. Some studies indicate that resistance training reduces arterial compliance, some studies show no effect of resistance training on arterial compliance, while other research reveals enhanced vascular conductance and condition with resistance training.

As Phillips and Winett concluded in their literature review, further study is necessary to determine the relevant role of resistance training in vascular adaptations. Based on the research reviewed, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, as well as reduce the risk of predisposing metabolic syndrome. Although resistance training alone seems to provide cardiovascular benefits, a combination of resistance training and aerobic activity generally is recommended for healthy adults and for older adults. Resistance training also has been shown to produce positive effects in post coronary patients. Numerous studies indicate that resistance training is a safe and productive means for maintaining desirable body weight, increasing muscular strength, improving physical performance, and enhancing both self-concept and self-efficacy in cardiac patients.

Increasing Bone Mineral Density

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 10 million American adults (8 million women) have osteoporosis, and almost 35 million others have insufficient bone mass or osteopenia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 30% of women and 15% of men will experience bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Research reveals that muscle loss (sarcopenia) is associated with bone loss (osteopenia). Adults who do not perform resistance training may experience 1% to 3% reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) every year of life. Logically, exercise interventions that promote muscle gain also may be expected to increase BMD, and the majority of studies support this relationship. Several longitudinal studies have shown significant increases in BMD after 4 to 24 months of resistance training.

A meta-analysis by Wolfe et al. indicated that exercise programs prevented or reversed approximately 1% bone loss per year (femoral neck and lumbar spine) in adult and older adult women. A more recent review by Going and Laudermilk revealed that resistance training increased BMD between 1% and 3% (femoral neck and lumbar spine) in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Conversely, other longitudinal studies have failed to show significant increases in BMD following 4 to 32 months of resistance training. Cussler et al. have identified several possible reasons for the inconsistent study results, including small sample sizes, short intervention periods, low completion rates, lack of randomized exercise assignments, and different resistance training intensities. Other variables that may influence BMD research results are growth hormone administration in men, hormone replacement therapy in women, dietary protein intake, and calcium and vitamin D supplementation.

A 2-year study by Kerr et al. indicated that resistance training resulted in a 3.2% improvement in BMD compared with the control group. However, studies show that termination of the resistance training program leads to reversal of BMD gains. Although much of the research on resistance training and bone density has been conducted with older women, there is evidence that young men may increase BMD by 2.7% to 7.7% through resistance training. The range of BMD change is related to different responses in different bones because the musculoskeletal effects of resistance training relatively are site specific. The majority of studies in this area support the conclusion in Layne and Nelson’s review that resistance training appears to be associated positively with high BMD in both younger and older adults and may have a more potent effect on bone density than other types of physical activity such as aerobic and weight bearing exercise.

Enhancing Mental Health

According to a comprehensive research review by O’Connor et al., the mental health benefits of resistance training for adults include reduction of symptoms in people with fatigue, anxiety, and depression; pain alleviation in people with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and low-back issues; improvements in cognitive abilities in older adults; and improvements in self-esteem. While there is considerable evidence that appropriate resistance training reduces low back pain, arthritic discomfort, and pain associated with fibromyalgia, this section will address the effects of resistance training on cognition and psychological measures. Concerning cognition, much of the research has been conducted with older adults, and most of the studies have featured endurance exercise alone or combined aerobic activity and resistance training. However, studies using only resistance training interventions have shown significant improvement in cognitive abilities.

In a meta-analysis by Colcombe and Kramer, aerobic activity plus resistance training produced significantly greater cognitive improvement in inactive older adults than aerobic activity alone. According to O’Connor et al., self-esteem, as a global concept of one’s perception of himself or herself, relatively is stable over time and less likely to be affected by physical training than other psychological measures. Nonetheless, positive changes in self-esteem as a result of resistance training have been reported in older adults, younger adults, women, cancer patients, and participants of cardiac rehabilitation. With respect to other psychological measures, studies by Annesi et al. have shown 10 week of combined resistance training and aerobic activity to improve significantly physical self-concept, total mood disturbance, depression, fatigue, positive engagement, revitalization, tranquility, and tension in adults and older adults. Depression is a serious mental health issue that may be associated with decreased functionality, especially in older adults.

In their comprehensive review, O’Connor et al. noted that at least four studies have examined the effects of resistance training on depression levels in clinically depressed individuals, and at least 18 studies have examined the effects of resistance training on depression symptoms in healthy adults or adults with medical problems. Although these trials produced mixed results, the review authors concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support resistance training as an effective intervention for reducing depression symptoms in adults with depression .

Singh et al have researched the effects of resistance training on depression in elderly individuals. In a classic study, they found that more than 80% of the depressed elders who performed three weekly sessions of resistance training were no longer clinically depressed after just 10 weeks of exercise. Based on these studies, it would appear that resistance training is associated with reduced depression levels in older adults.

Reversing Aging Factors

Finally, some interesting research has been conducted on resistance training effects on muscle mitochondrial content and function. There is evidence that circuit (short rest) resistance training can increase both the mitochondrial content and the oxidative capacity of muscle tissue. Another study, using standard resistance training, showed a reversal in mitochondrial deterioration that typically occurs with aging. After 6 months of resistance training, the older adult participants (mean age of 68 years) experienced gene expression reversal that resulted in mitochondrial characteristics similar to those in moderately active young adults (mean age of 24 years). The favorable changes observed in 179 genes associated with age and exercise led the researchers to conclude that resistance training can reverse aging factors in skeletal muscle.

Evidence Based Exercise recommendations for resistance training.

Training exercises:
Perform 8 to 10 multi-joint exercise that address the major muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms, hips, legs).

Training frequency:
Train each major muscle group two or three non-consecutive days per week.

Training sets:
Perform two to four sets of resistance training for each major muscle group.

Training resistance and repetitions:

Use a resistance that can be performed for 8 to 12 repetitions (or 60-90 seconds of TUT).

Training technique:

Perform each repetition in a controlled manner through a full range of motion. Exhale during lifting actions and inhale during lowering actions.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend and mentor Wayne L. Westcott, PhD for this week’s article. The full article is titled: “Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health”. References and footnotes were removed for brevity.

Product Spotlight: BODY BY SCIENCE


This week I would like to highlight another excellent book covering evidence based exercise methodolgies. Body By Science, written by Doug Mc Guff and John Little, is one of best books I have ennountered for explaining the theory and reasoning behind Brief, Intense, and Infrequent training. This book is well written, informative, and goes into detail about the science behind the authors recommendations, as well as detailing exactly what to do and how to do it.

To order your copy of Body By Science please click here: Body by Science

Body by Science is not a book of “opinions,” but rather a review of peer-reviewed scientific literature and a discussion of the basic science that accounts for the literature’s findings regarding the role of exercise in human development, performance and longevity. And, for the first time ever, every point and recommendation is supported by the appropriate reference from the medical/scientific literature, all of which are referenced in the book. Body By Science is a book that will serve as the “standard” in the field for accurate, honest, verifiable exercise. A legitimate “must have” for anyone who takes both their time and their fitness goals seriously.


Body by Science challenges everything you thought you knew about exercise and takes you deep inside your body’s inner workings–all the way down to the single cell–to explain what science now knows about the role of exercise in human health. With the help of medical diagrams and step-by-step photos, exercise scientist Doug McGuff, M.D., and weight-training pioneer John Little present a revolutionary new workout protocol that fully leverages the positive effects of high-intensity, low-frequency weight training, while avoiding the negative effects of traditional aerobic-centric exercise.

By using a proper science-based approach to exercise you can be on your way to achieving the following in as little as 12 minutes a week:

  • Build muscle size and strength
  • Optimize cardiovascular health
  • Ramp up your metabolism
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve flexibility
  • Manage arthritis and chronic back pain
  • Build bone density
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart attack, and more.

TAKU’s NOTE: Over the last year or two I have perosonally experimented with this style of training with myself, and my clients. I find it to be both extremely effcient, and highly effective. Many of my clients are experiencing excellent results in both strength and fitness, while participating in only one or two very brief workouts per week. For more information about this type of training visit the BODY BY SCIENCE home page.



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.





1. The bottom line: if the total number of calories consumed is less than the number used to support basal metabolism, thermo-genesis and activity energy demands, weight LOSS will occur. Likewise, weight GAIN will occur if calories consumed exceeds energy demands.

2. Due to their various functions within the body, the time-proven breakdown of the daily recommended percentages of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates (40-55%), proteins (20-30%) and fats (25-30%) – is still reasonable advice.

3. You can’t go wrong if these are on your grocery list: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high-fiber foods, skinless chicken and fish, lean red meat and anything low in saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup, white flour and sodium. Attempt to emphasize complex carbohydrates over simple sugars and go for lean, unsaturated proteins over high-fat proteins.

4. Nothing beats plain old water. 70% of your body is water. Drink periodically to stay hydrated. It’s literally free, for Pete’s sake.

5. Eat breakfast! If you skip it, then eat lunch at noon, you will have gone 12 -16 hours without food from the previous day! Skipping breakfast slows your metabolism, lowers your energy level, hinders muscle weight gain for those attempting to build muscle and encourages binge-eating later in the day.

6. Excessive alcohol consumption = dehydration, increased fat storage, lower strength levels and a greater risk of a D.U.I. None of those options are attractive.

7. Pre- and post-exercise feeding: pre-exercise = complex carbs + low in fat. Post-exercise = simple carbs + protein.

8. If you are attempting to lose body fat, a) strength train regularly (to keep metabolically expensive muscle), b) eat fewer calories spread out over 5 to 6 feedings each day (speeds metabolism and creates a calorie deficit) and c) be disciplined not to eat if feeling hungry between feedings (indicates your tapping fat storage sites).

9. 5 minutes of bad eating can negate 30 minutes of traditional exercise. 6 x chocolate chip cookies = 300 calories. 150 lb. man jogging at 10 miles/hour pace for 30 minutes = approximately 300 calories burned above BMR. Message: if you spend time “working out,” be disciplined in your eating.

10. More bang for the buck: try circuit strength training. Rather than plod away at a low-level for 30, 45 or 60 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical machine or running track, a more time-efficient 20-30 minute strength training circuit will not only use more calories per unit of time, it will also increase calorie consumption post-exercise due to a greater recovery demand placed on the body. Physically demanding circuit strength training is the total package: more muscle contractions = more energy expended, more muscle fibers overloaded = better muscle tone / strength, and the higher the intensity of work = the greater the demand placed on the cardio-vascular system.

TAKU’s NOTE: This weeks article courteousy of my friend Tom Kelso.




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 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

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!!

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