Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ab Training - 10 Overlooked And Misunderstood Facts Part 1

Part One

As a strength coach and personal trainer in Atlanta people come to me all the time with different theories about ab training, for the most part they are all wrong. Training people in Atlanta to have 6 pack abs takes lots of work and a smart approach. Take a look at the first part of this article on ab training.

By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS
Director, Staley Training Systems

Here are 10 of the most overlooked and misunderstood facts about abdominal training - some of these may fly in the face of what you THINK you know to be facts! Keep an open mind and read the explanations.

You may still not agree but it might just change your ideas on how your abs should be trained.

This is Part 1 - keep your eyes peeled for Part 2, coming soon!

1. Using A Belt Makes Your Abs Stronger, Not Weaker.

This is perhaps on of the most pervasive myths that people hold about abdominal training, and about training in general. Let's apply some simple common sense to the issue: if you can lift more weight with a belt than without (and virtually all people can), are your abs "asleep" as many people who have you believe? Or, are they working harder than they would be without a belt?

The reason you're stronger with a belt is that it gives your abs something to contract against. Imagine you want to train your legs and all you have is two primitive options:

1) You can "leg press" a heavy box by pushing against it with your feet while sitting on a slick floor. Or…

2) You "leg press" a heavy box by pushing it with your feet while sitting on the floor with your back against a solid wall.

Which option do you think will result in more tension for your leg muscles? Obviously the second option is far preferable, because by wedging yourself between an immovable object and a heavy movable object, you can create a high level of tension on the muscle's you're trying to train.

Using a belt during heavy squats, deadlifts, or Olympic lifts works the same way- by giving your abs something to push against, they can create greater intra-abdominal pressure, allowing you to 1) lift more and 2) lift more with less chance of spinal injury.

Just having a belt however, doesn't ensure success- you've gotta use it properly. The three key things to remember are:

1) Wear the belt high enough so your abs can exert pressure against it- many people wear a belt too low and rob themselves of the potential benefit

2) Don't wear the belt too tight- a looser fit allows your abs to get better leverage against the belt. And finally…

3) Get a high quality belt- some nylon/Velcro belts won't stand up to heavy use. Case in point: I recently purchased such a belt from my local Sports Authority and broke the buckle the first time I used it (must be my weakened abs from excessive belt use). Thinking it was a fluke, I returned the belt for a new one, and once again, broke it the first time I used it.

2. Having A 6-Pack Is About Diet, Not Training

You can train abs, all abs, nothing but abs, all the time, and still not have a six pack UNLESS- and here's the kicker- unless you're below 10% bodyfat. And probably you'll need to be below 8% bodyfat. The truth is you already have abs- you just can't see them. Since this isn't a nutrition article, I won't elaborate on how you should eat, so if you need help in that area, you might consider an expert nutrition consultation.

Now of course, you can drop bodyfat through training as well, but not "ab training per se:" instead, focus your efforts on challenging the largest possible muscle groups. My favorites include heavy weight circuits including a mix of Olympic lifts, power lifts, and strongman lifts.

3. The Main Function Of Your Abs Is Not Force Production

Although the abdominal muscles can and do function to flex and rotate the trunk, I'd argue that their primary function is to prevent unwanted motion. Specifically, strong abs help to protect the spine in two ways:

1) They create intra-abdominal pressure which helps to counteract compressive forces resulting from axial loading (e.g., squats, deadlifts)

2) They help to prevent forces that take the spine out of its preferred neutral position. More on this in the second installment next week….

Stay Tuned For Part 2!

About The Author

Charles strength/performance coach...his colleagues call him an iconoclast, a visionary, a rule-breaker. His clients call him “The Secret Weapon” for his ability to see what other coaches miss. Charles calls himself a “geek” who struggled in Phys Ed throughout school. Whatever you call him, Charles’ methods are ahead of their time and quickly produce serious results.

Click here to visit Charles' site and grab your 5 FREE videos that will show you how to literally FORCE your body to build muscle, lose fat and gain strength with "Escalating Density Training," Charles' revolutionary, time-saving approach to lifting that focuses on performance NOT pain.

Personal Training in Atlanta - Top Atlanta fitness trainer

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fat Loss Interval Workouts - 04/25/09

Thought I would share a quick clip of a friend of mine and one of his total body workouts.


I am a personal trainer in Atlanta, GA. If you would like other ideas or help with your workouts let me know and I will be glad to help.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just one of the many Exercises You Shouldn't Be Doing

Leg Extensions

Unfortunately this exercise is done all the time in weight rooms and fitness centers all around Atlanta and the rest of the country. Leg extensions seem to be a regular exercise in most leg training programs. One reason this maybe the case is that sitting down and pumping out reps of leg extensions are a lot easier than squatting. The front squat is an excellent choice for leg development but man, it sure is hard.

I know you feel a good "burn" in your upper thighs when performing this exercise, but it is not a very efficient leg exercise. It basically isolates the muscles above the knee, your quads.

A second reason to stay away from leg extensions while training at the gym is that they create a lot of stress an torque on your knees. You may end up hurting your knees in the long run.

The only time this exercise has much benefit is in a rehab setting where these muscles directly surrounding the knee need to be developed for stability and strength.

PS - Still skeptical you can lose fat without cardio?
I promise you don't need cardio machines to burn fat.

Grounded Personal Training, Atlanta's Fat Loss Solution

Friday, April 10, 2009

10 Best Fitness Exercises For Beginners

I have put together a list of the top 10 exercises. I am a personal trainer and strength coach in Atlanta, GA and feel these are the best exercises for people starting out in fitness and workouts.

  1. Push – Push Up
  2. Push – Dumbbell Front Press
  3. Pull – Inverted Row
  4. Pull – Pull Ups: negatives, assisted
  5. Legs – Basket Squats
  6. Legs – Lunge: forward, back, side
  7. Legs – Romanian Deadlift
  8. Core – Plank
  9. Core – Side Plank
  10. Core – Chop, high to low and low to high

Give the TRX a try for the inverted row and the pushups.

If you are looking for some of the best fitness training in the Atlanta area get in touch:

Gounded Personal Training Of Atlanta

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A little about Fat - The Skinny On Fats

Fitness author Jon Benson shared this letter with me and gave me permission to share it with you.

Let's get this one out in the open:
  1. Fats do not make you gain bodyfat.
  2. Fats do not put you on Heart Attack Row.
  3. Fats are not the enemy.

  4. We've been sold a bag of lies when it comes to fats.
    Fats are essential for your body's hormone production, skin health, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and even burning bodyfat.

    Yep... you need fats to burn fat.!

    Studies have been conducted to attempt to elevate cholesterol levels using high-fat diets. Most all of them have failed miserably -- in fact several "lowered" total cholesterol while raising the so-called "good" cholesterol (HDL).

    That being said, you don't need the following... 1. A lot of fats in your diet. Fats still contain over twice the calories per gram as carbs and protein. 2. Any kind of "fake fats" -- margarine or processed oils of any kind are highly dangerous foods.

    Here's my simple dietary fats solution:
    1. Eat fats as they occur in nature, but eat at least 80% as they "actually" occur in nature -- meaning from grass-fed and free-range sources. The extra cost is worth it. It tastes better and your medical costs will well offset the few dollars more per pound you pay.
    2. Cook with a combination of olive oil and coconut oil, but use both sparingly.

    3. If you are eating plenty of animal protein you do not need excessive fats... not because of 'danger' but because of needless calories. Not a good idea if you're wanting to keep your abs. But a bit of raw butter or olive oil can make bland veggies taste wonderful, so feel free. Also, omega 3-rich fats like olive oil and fish (and especially fish oil) help lower inflammation. That's the real culprit behind heart disease in most cases.

      3. Avoid a lot of fats at night. The night-time meals should be high in lean protein (tuna, tofu, turkey breast) with very limited fats if you are wanting to really get lean.

      If you are just trying to shed bodyweight slowly, it's okay to have some fats at night. Just do me a favor: If you are on the "Fats make you gain bodyfat and have heart attacks" bandwagon, jump off. We have consumed fat for countless thousands of years. Just consume it the way we always HAVE (naturally, not stuffed with hormones and cooked up in a lab) and you'll be fine.

      If you want a diet-solution that actually uses dietary fats to help you take off the bodyfat, then use this one: <--- Eat Fats, Burn Bodyfat!

      It's a real-world plan that allows you to eat your favorite foods and still shed the bodyweight you want. And yes -- that includes fats.