Below you will find ten basic tips that will help you get the most out of your strength training program.

1) Train with a high level of intensity.

Intensity is not yelling loud, rather it is the ability to exert maximal effort, and focus on each repetition. At times this may require the ability to train past your comfort zone.

2) Attempt to increase the resistance used or repetitions performed every workout.

This is the application of the Overload Principle. The muscles must be challenged gradually and consistently in order to grow stronger.

3) Ideally, perform one set of each movement to the point of muscular exhaustion.

(There is very little evidence to suggest that multiple sets of each exercise are superior to a single set for strength gains.)

4) Reach concentric muscular failure within a prescribed number of time / repetitions.

If you reach failure well below the recommended time / repetition range the weight is too heavy, and potentially dangerous, it should be lowered on the next workout. If you reach failure above the time / rep range the weight is too light and you should gradually increase the resistance on the next workout.

5) Perform each repetition with proper technique. (see four rep rules)

The workout is only as good as each individual repetition. For maximum muscle-fiber recruitment and safety you should use a slow and controlled rep speed. We recommend a minimum 3-5-second concentric movement (raising) and 3-5-second eccentric movement (lowering). Note: Slower rep speeds are acceptable, and may be quite effective for some.

6) Strength train for no more than thirty minutes per workout.

We find it counter-productive to train with high levels of intensity for over 30 minutes.

7) Strength train 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days.

To keep the body fresh and to avoid over-training you should take time to recover. As long as your strength continues to increase your rest is adequate. Should your strength plateau or slip you may need additional rest, not additional work. Counter intuitively stronger athletes require more rest than beginners.

8) Keep accurate records of performance.

This is the only way we can determine your gains in strength. This also is how coaches can help you individualize the workout for you, as no two athletes are exactly alike.

9) Safety above all things.

We are in the weight room to supplement your athletic skills with strength training. We do not want to risk an injury preparing for our sports. Non-athletes also do not want to risk injury in the attempt to improve their overall heath. Rule of thumb: If a movement is too fast or unorthodox do not perform it

10 To gain weight, consume more calories… to lose weight consume less.

Obviously the calories you put into your body should be healthy ones and the calories you cut from your diet should be done gradually. If you are serious about this concept please contact me for safe tips on weight gain and loss.

*THE FOUR rep rules.

Rule # 1 – Raise and lower the weight through the muscles full range of motion.

Rule # 2 – Eliminate momentum during the raising phase of each exercise.

Rule # 3 – Pause momentarily (stop for a count of 1001) in the muscle’s contracted position and then make a smooth transition to the lowering of the weight (no sudden drop).

Rule # 4 – Emphasize the lowering of the weight (take longer to lower the weight).


The above inspired by the excellent work of the folks at www.strongerathletes.com


I have mentioned all of the books on this list at one time or another, but decided they were so good that they deserved a single post where you can find them all. Just as my previous post about coaches I admire and appreciate, these books are presented in no particular order. Although this list is not a top ten, for aspiring strength coaches I would highly recommend the work of my friend Tom Kelso as an excellent starting off point.

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This Three-Volume set contains Nautilus Training Principles: Bulletins No. 1, 2 and 3. These high intensity training classics by Nautilus inventor Arthur Jones cover every aspect of training from the specifics of exercise performance to the general principles of program design.

Drew Baye combined and edited these with Arthur Jones’ permission (October 11, 2006) to improve readability and created one table of contents and index for each of the three Bulletins.

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or just want to lose fat or improve your general health and fitness, the information you need is covered here.

e-book: FREE

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4th edition by Matt Brzycki

About “A Practical Approach” 4th edition

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


 TAKU’s NOTE: I have several copies of Matt’s (3rd edition), and it is one of my favorites. 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. The new fourth edition is not merely a slightly revised update, but a totally new book which is even more comprehensive then the last edition. Matt, you did what you set out to do. Well done. Thanks!

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is a collective effort of more than thirty leading experts in the strength and fitness field. These respected professionals share their insights on a variety of topics and issues related to training and exercise, including:

  • The history of strength training
  • Program design
  • High intensity training (HIT)
  • Motivation
  • Strength training for specific populations (including women, older adults, and prepubescents)
  • Bodybuilding
  • Powerlifting
  • Flexibility
  • Nutrition
  • Steroids

Maximize Your Training is for fitness enthusiasts who want to gain the knowledge, understanding, and insight necessary to achieve a competitive edge. This book is an important tool for anyone who takes bodybuilding, sports performance, and athletic training seriously.

TAKU’s NOTE: As mentioned above, I own several books by Matt Brzycki, and they are excellent. Maximize your training should be on every Strength and Conditioning coach’s top-10 book list. It is loaded with valuable information on evidence based exercise programs, and will assist those interested in how to design, implement, and update comprehensive strength programs for any goal. Although this book has been around for some time, I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy today.

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“The Path Of Most Resistance” by John Turner. Although this book is only 126 pages, like many great books it makes up in valuable information what it lacks in length. As the sub-heading says, this book is loaded with everything one might need to achieve physical superiority. There is nothing which is of no use.  Mr Turner shares his unique perspectives garnered from years of personal exploration. Those who take the time to read, absorb, and most importantly apply the lessons contained within its pages, will be rewarded (perhaps for the first time) with real results for their efforts.

In The Path of Most Resistance, Turner has the answers you’ve been looking for – – blunt, hard-hitting, honest advice including:

Full-Range Exercise

The Human Powertrain

Winning The Exercise Lottery

How To Achieve Physical Superiority

TAKU’s NOTE: I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in exercise history, Arthur Jones, Nautilus equipment, and real training information, pick up a copy of this book A.S.A.P. Read, pay attention, apply what you learn, and most importantly work hard. The results will most likely surprise you.

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UE-1 (Ultimate Exercise Bulletin #1)

UE-1 is Dr. Doug McGuff’s first published work on high intensity strength training. Read the groundbreaking book that introduced the concepts of the dose-response relationship of exercise, time under load, stoicism in training and other insights that forever changed the field of exercise.


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Body By Science, written by Doug Mc Guff and John Little, is one of best books I have encountered 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 author’s 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


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 personally experimented with this style of training with myself, and my clients. I find it to be both extremely efficient, 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.

Three of the best books I have come across all come from the same guy. His name is Tom Kelso and he is at the top of a very short list of coaches and trainers who I have found to be the best in the business.

The three books are:



The Interval Training Manual is a book I wish I had when I was just getting started. it is loaded and contains:

*132 different interval running workouts
*4 levels of difficulty each
*14 different running venues
*All target and recovery times included
*Design your own intervals using enclosed percent speed and recovery time charts.



The Strength Training Workout Encyclopedia was inspired by the question every good coach hears thousands of times during his/her career “Can you design a workout for me?” Tom went above and beyond and created a tool for both athletes and coaches alike.  There are literally thousands of workouts in almost every style you could ever need or want.

Image result for “Truth, Myth & Reality: What Can and Cannot be Done in a Strength & Conditioning Program”.

Finally there is Tom’s e-book “TRUTH MYTH & REALITY: What Can and Cannot be Done in a Strength & Conditioning Program”. This book is based on Tom’s own research and 30+ years of “down in the trenches” experience.  If you are someone who not only welcomes the truth but DEMANDS it, then this e-book is definitely for you.

TAKU’s NOTE: After twenty-five plus years of working actively in the fitness industry I have gained some insight into what works and what doesn’t.  If you are a strength coach or an athlete, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of these three books. You can find links to all of them by visiting:  http://www.tomkelso.com/

Well, there you have it. As far as I am concerned after literally reading hundreds and hundreds of books, and articles over the years these books should be on the shelf of every strength coach.




For many years I have been recommending effort based training systems which are built around Brief, Intense, Infrequent training sessions. This style of training has proven itself to be safe, efficient, and effective. Although this style of training has been around for at least 40 years, it is still somehow not always embraced by the mainstream. Some coaches like to claim that athletes do not use this style of training. This is totally false as approximately 50% of the NFL trains using this style of training as well as numerous other professional and college programs, and even Olympic athletes. Click the link below to see some examples of teams that utilize this style of training:


Research showing the benefits of this style of training has also been around for years. Just recently some interesting studies have been released showing the positive results of various effort based training systems. Click the links below to see some current research on this topic:



If you search through my archives you will find hundreds of articles explaining how to design and implement effort based training programs for yourself and others. You will also find many examples of ready made workout plans. Copy a few of them and insert them into your training regimen for a nice change of pace.

Here is a video showing one example of a challenging, total-body effort based workout:


Finally…Based on current research here is a list of seven straightforward guidelines which have been shown to work. These recommendations make sense for just about everyone.

(Parenthetical comments are clarifications.)

1) Select one or two free weight or machine exercises for each muscle group. (Exercises may be changed from time to time.)

2) Lifting duration should be consistent with good form throughout each repetition. (Not too slow or too fast)

3) Range of repetitions can be from 3 to 20, which may vary from exercise to exercise or workout to workout.

4) Strive to do as many perfect reps as possible with the weight selected, stopping only when it becomes difficult to maintain good form. (Continue each set until volitional fatigue. for optimal strength gains.)

5) Do one set of each exercise. (There is very little evidence to suggest that multiple sets of each exercise are superior to a single set for strength gains.)

6) Rest long enough between exercises to allow proper form for each exercise. (Don’t rush or rest longer than necessary.)

7) Train each muscle group 1 to 2 times a week, depending on individual recuperation and response.


Remember it’s not the quantity, but the quality of your training that boosts your results.





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.

Every Gym Needs One!

I have written several articles about the importance of training the neck. After attending the Legends of Strength clinic last month in Ohio, I feel even more strongly that everyone should be training the neck. It is clear that it is equally beneficial for athletes and regular folks.

Rather than re-write a bunch of stuff, I am only going to compile some links to other great neck training info, as well as links to some neck training machines. If you are lucky enough to have access to one, USE IT! If not, then I suggest you read the articles here, and then bug your gym until they get one. Click on the link below, and then click on the article of the same name.

Article: Neck Priority

Neck Machines: My top 4 favorite Picks

1. Pendulum 5-Way Neck

2. Med-X 4-way Neck

3. Nautilus 2ST 4-Way Neck

4. Nautilus X-Pload 4-Way Neck



Combining Strength Training and other activities

Question: What is the optimal way to combine strength training with training for other specific sports, to achieve the best results?

Answer: Under ideal conditions sport specific training sessions such as sprinting or MMA would take place in the morning and strength training would occur in the afternoon. There should be approximately a four hour break between the morning skill session and the afternoon strength session. Follow each training day with a full day’s rest.*

An example would be to wake after a good nights sleep at 7:00 – 8:00 am. Eat breakfast. Take care of business. Perform your sport specific training between 10:00 and 12:00. Eat a light lunch at 12:30 pm and strength train around 4:00 – 5:00 pm. The following day would be a rest and recovery day which may consist of light activities such as, working on strategy, tactics or polishing sport specific mechanics. Stretching is also recommended.

This type of every other day schedule produces excellent results across broad populations by allowing intense training combined with a great deal of recovery. Most people however, due to the inconvenience of training twice in one day, would rather practice or play their sport on one day and strength train and condition on the next. Some will try to do both activities in the same day but without adequate rest between sessions. Neither of these methods has proved to be superior with regards to results, when compared to the first method discussed above.

*As noted in the example session above, active recovery on rest days is a good idea as long as intensity is kept very low.




Step up to the Bar

Part One: Back to Strength training basics

One bar, ten exercises, two workouts a week; this workout is about as basic as they come. Do not be fooled by the seeming simplicity. Like most good programs this one is capable of delivering powerful results.

Workout 1. (Tuesday) 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Rest 90 seconds between sets.

Bench Press
Bent-Over Row
Calf Raise
Full Contact twists

Workout 2. (Friday) 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Rest 90 seconds between sets.

Standing Press
Close Grip Bench
Standing Curls

You can use this workout to accomplish just about any goal from getting a little toned to improving your performance in athletics or perhaps the development of raw, brute strength.

Although this workout may seem to lack variety the fact is that other then using a single Barbell for every exercise there are almost no limits. Each of the movements selected has at least 3-5 versions to choose from which means over the course of a year you could create hundreds of different workouts using this same basic template. Add to this that the set and rep schemes can also be varied over a broad continuum and you can see the power of this routine.

Tune in soon for Part two: Adding conditioning to your plan. Till then enjoy your strength training the way it was meant to be, pure, simple and productive.

PAU for Now