Call/Text: 512-627-6681

Personal Trainer Certification School


PFTA Personal Trainer Certification School

Exercise Blog

Do you have a passion for fitness and nutrition? Do you love helping others? Click HERE for your FREE catalog on Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer!

Rest Between Sets

rest between sets pfta schoolsHow much rest do you need between sets?  Very few people actually time their rest periods. Most people just guess or start the next set when they feel rested.  But recently, studies have shown that there is actually more science involved than we actually first believed.  The amount of (or lack of) blood lactate concentration dictates the physiological changes in the muscle.

For increased muscular endurance, you should rest about 30 seconds between sets.  Also, circuit training or boot camps are similar to this style: lots of work and very little rest.  On the other hand, if your training goal is hypertrophy (an increase in the size of a muscle), then resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets would be optimum.  Multiple sets of the same exercise along with 2 or more exercises targeting the same muscle group will effectively produce hypertrophy.  Finally, a training goal of strength/power would require even more rest. It normally takes 3 to 5 minutes for complete ATP restoration so that is about the time you should rest between sets if strength/power is your goal.  As with all exercise, beginners should exercise with caution.  Always listen to your body and take some extra time if necessary.  Happy health and happy lifting!!

Exercising for Stress Relief

personal trainer certification school stressFeeling a little stressed at the start of 2018?  You're not the only one.  Many Americans feels stress this time of year.  So from now on, forget the comfort foods and start exercising.  Comfort foods will only make you feel worse down the road.  Instead, put aside your worries for 30 to 60 minutes and get involved in some type of physical activity. There have been well over 100 scientific studies on the effects exercise has on anxiety.  The type of exercise that has shown to have the most positive effect is a low intensity, aerobic type exercise. 

Moreover, there are 4 main reasons why exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety: (1) rhythmic nature of exercise, (2) thermogenic effect of exercise, (3) a diversion or time-out from daily concerns, and/or (4) the sense of accomplishment. For those athletes who prefer a high intensity workout, there have been studies showing that a high intensity workout will also alleviate stress for similar reasons, especially the accomplishment of a very challenging workout goal.  So put down the ice cream and head to the gym or go outside for a great stress relieving workout that won't leave you bloated with junk food calories   Happy Health!!

Train Like a Super Hero

personal trainer certification school periodizationMore and more actors are training like athletes to give them that superhero body which is ideal for the big screen.  Like many athletes, these actors use a workout strategy called linear periodization.  They will also incorporate supersets, compound sets, and circuit training to achieve the exact look they are looking for.  Many athletes utilize these types of techniques to bust through plateaus and peak and the right time whether it's for the super bowl, NBA championship, a boxing match, a bodybuilding show, or the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Moreover, linear periodization relies on an old technique where the intensity increases as you get closer to your scheduled event; but, as the intensity increases, the volume of the workout will decrease.  You can easily do this with your own workouts.  For example, pick out a big muscle, multi-joint exercise like squats, bench press, or lat pulldowns.  This month, you will choose a weight that you can handle for 15 reps.  Next month increase the weight (intensity) to a weight you can lift for 10 reps.  On the 3rd month, choose a weight you can lift for 5 reps.  Repeat every few months with a higher intensity or until it's "showtime."  With the proper diet to go along a periodized program, you should have a superhero body in no time!  Remember, Knowledge is Power!  Happy Health and Happy Lifting!!

The Science Behind the Front Squat

personal trainer certification school front squatAre you using front squats in your exercise routine?  Some fitness enthusiasts don't utilize the front squat because they feel as if they can't lift as much weight as a regular back squat; from a biomechanical viewpoint, that assessment would be true.  There are many variations of the front squat but one thing is certain, the front squat puts more emphasis on your quads than your glutes and hams.  Furthermore, the barbell back squat forces you to bend slightly forward which puts the center of gravity more forward therefore requiring more recruitment from your glutes and hams.

On the other hand, if you're looking to target more quads, the front squats may be what you're looking for.  The barbell on your anterior deltoids requires your spine to remain more upright moving the center of gravity back toward your hip joints.  This position forces your quads to get more involved and produce more force.  This position also puts the glutes and hams at a different angle which minimizes their force production; thus, athletes can NOT lift as much weight as they would lift on a back squat.  The barbell back squat is a great exercise to recruit glutes, hams, and quads; but, if you're looking to really kill those quads, give front squats a try.  Remember, Knowledge is Power!  Happy Health and Happy Lifting!

Functional Training

personal trainer certification school functional trainingMore and more people have goals of improved everyday life rather than big gains in size and strength.  A new style of training includes exercises that mimic everyday movements called "functional training." Most traditional exercises involve single muscle groups in a single plane.  Functional training utilizes more muscles groups in several different planes.  While traditional training will enhance absolute strength and hypertrophy, functional training will improve functional strength, stability, and coordination. For example, high cable chops (pictured) mimics the downward movement of a golf swing.  This exercise will add strength, coordination, balance, and power to the subject's golf swing.

Moreover, you can combine traditional exercises with functional exercises to design a well-rounded routine.  For example, a back squat followed by asymmetrical step-ups OR bench press followed by one-arm cable press.  Just remember, when performing functional exercises, always progress from a more stable environment to a less stable one. For beginners, some of these "functional movements" may initially seem awkward; but, after repeated bouts of the same exercises, your muscles will coordinate and adapt to the challenge of functional training.  As always, Knowledge is Power!  Good luck and happy training!

The Best Biceps Exercise

personal trainer certification school inclined curlsAs personal trainers, we are always looking for the best exercises to attack each muscle group.  For the biceps, a study was done to show the differences between three popular dumbbell exercises: the standing dumbbell curl, the sitting inclined dumbbell curl (pictured), and the preacher curl.  According to a recent publication by Liliam F. Oliveria et al, the standing dumbbell curl and the inclined dumbbell curl had more bicep activation for a broader range of motion as compared to the preacher curl.  Although all three exercises seem to elicit a good bicep recruitment, the preacher curl had a shorter range of motion thus ranking third among the three bicep exercises for effectiveness in this study.

So which is the most effective exercise for biceps?  We believe the most effective exercise has to be the inclined dumbbell curl due to it's larger range of motion.  The bicep is primarily responsible for elbow flexion and forearm supination.  The bicep is also an assistor with shoulder flexion. Therefore, one could argue that the inclined dumbbell curl with a 1/4 twist as you flex your elbow and flex your shoulder should be the most effective bicep exercise because the bicep's range of motion is the largest we could create in the gym.  Remember, Knowledge is Power!  Happy Lifting and Happy Health!

Suspension Training with TRX Bands

personal trainer certfication school trx bandsSuspension training is a revolutionary form of bodyweight exercise training.  The most popular suspension training device is TRX Bands.  These new devices have many benefits over traditional types of training.  The equipment is easy to pack and light to carry so it makes the training area very portable.  You can set it up just about anywhere including homes, parks, and other gyms.  Because of it's unique setup, other benefits include agility training and balance training.  Moreover, proper technique ensures that you will also improve the strength in your core.

Furthermore, there are dozens of exercises you can perform with TRX Bands: squats, rows, curls, crunches, and chest press are just a few of the many exercises you can perform with suspension training.  Many trainers use TRX bands for total body conditioning.  You can perform a total body routine in less than 30 minutes.  You can do so many exercises in so little time because the transition time is a mere seconds.  In conclusion, suspension training is a great tool for trainers to change things up so your clients can break through plateaus and keep the workouts from getting stale.  Remember, Knowledge is Power!  Good Luck and Happy Health!

Barbell Squats Still The King

Squats vs. Leg Extensions?  The debate continues on which exercise is best for quadriceps.  A recent study has proven once again that the barbell squat is still the king when it comes to quadriceps development.  A study done by Signorile et al (1994) compared the EMG activity of the quadricep muscle while the subjects performed barbell squats and knee extensions. The data showed that there was more electrical activity in the quadricep muscle during the barbell squat exercise than the leg extension exercise.  Furthermore, proper technique should be used when performing a squat regardless of the weight.  A shoulder-width stance with your toes slightly flared out is best for full lower body development including glutes, quads, and hams.  You should also keep a neutral spine during the movement to prevent any lumbar injury.

In conclusion, the barbell squat should be included at least once a week if you are trying to increase leg strength. Moreover, if you choose to include the leg extension machine, make sure you are using proper technique to minimize stress on the knee ligaments which means do NOT lock out the knees on knee extension and do NOT go beyond 90 degree knee flexion for optimum safety.  Remember, knowledge is power!  Happy Health and Happy Lifting!

Exercising the ENTIRE Deltoid Muscle

personal trainer certification school deltoidsThere are many muscles that comprise what we call the "shoulder."  The largest and outermost muscle is the deltoid.  The deltoid muscle is divided into three parts: the anterior head, the middle head, and the posterior head.  For complete muscular balance, you should exercise all three heads throughout the week.  One exercise can NOT possibly work all three heads effectively; therefore, you must attack them from differnt angles.  For example, you can target the anterior deltoid with front raises (left picture).  It is best to do front raises with a neutral grip to minimize shoulder impingement at the top of the movement. 

Also, the middle deltoid can be worked with lateral raises using dumbbells or cables.  Almost everyone includes these with their weekly routine.  Lastly, the posterior deltoid can be exercised with bent lateral raises or reverse pec deck (right picture).  Focus on moving your arms back while squeezing your shoulder blades together.  This movement will also help prevent rounded shoulders and other postural issues in the future.  You can have a shoulder day and exercise all three heads on the same day OR break them up and hit them on separate days.  Remember, knowledge is power!  Happy health and happy lifting!

Dips with a Purpose

personal trainer certification school dipsDips have become a very popular exercise.  You can do dips just about anywhere.  Did you know dips emphasize different muscles depending on your set-up?  It's true!  As with a lot of different exercises, set-up is super important!  If you're trying to emphasize more chest, you should lean slightly forward as in picture A.  Leaning forward will create a different angle on your body which will allow for more shoulder flexion thus allowing for a broader range of motion for your pectoralis major - especially the upper portion known as the clavicular portion.

However, if you're trying to emphasize more triceps, then you should keep your torso more vertical as in picture B.  Keeping your body more vertical will allow for more elbow extension and less shoulder flexion.  The elbow extension allows your triceps to execute the movement through a greater range of motion.  As always, ask your instructor or your trainer if you need help with dips or any other exercises.  Knowledge is Power!  Happy Lifting!

Training Upper and Lower Abs

personal trainer certification school absWe all know that training our abs will strengthen our core and minimize back pain but should we try to isolate lower abs and upper abs?  There have been numerous studies that tried to answer the same questions for years.  Most studies agree that every abdominal exercise excites the muscle fibers of the entire ab wall, both upper and lower, equally.  For example, a study by Clark et al (2003) tested the upper abs and lower abs from 8 healthy subjects.  Using electrode placement on upper and lower abs, the results showed no significant difference between upper abs and lower abs on six different ab exercises.

On the other hand, a study by Willet et al (2001) reported small differences between lower abs and upper ab activity in their study.  In the study, the curl-up and reverse curl exercises both produced similar results for the upper rectus abdominis; BUT, the reverse curl seemed to excite the lower rectus abdominis more than any other exercise.  Therefore, if you want to play it safe, doing both ab crunches and reverse ab curls will ensure your entire ab wall is strong and mobile.  Remeber, Knowledge is Power and Happy Health!

Choosing the Right Personal Trainer

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolA personal trainer's first priority is creating a safe and effective workout for his or her clients.  The workout should also be fun but challenging.  You want to feel like you got something accomplished.   A skilled trainer will design a program that involves all the joint actions and major muscles in your body.  Failing to execute all the joint actions may create muscular imbalances.  Furthermore, knowledge, experience, and a personality that is compatible with yours is very important in choosing a personal trainer.  A knowledgeable, experienced trainer will keep track of your workouts on a workout log; you'll usually see them carrying a clipboard.  A successful trainer will perform some type of fitness assessment for baseline measures and then again to highlight your improvements. 

At PFTA Personal Trainer Certification School, we will provide you with all the tools to be a successful personal trainer.  You will be able to perform fitness assessments and then design workouts and meal plans to target your client's needs.  You will also learn how to properly use all the equipment in the gym the correct way so that you and your clients don't get hurt!  Good Luck and Happy Health!

Preventing Shin Splints

personal trainer certification school shin splintsIf you love to run, sometime in your lifetime, you may develop medial tibial stress syndrome also known as shin splints.  Most of the time the injury is caused by overuse of your lower leg muscles.  This happens when you add to many miles too quickly to your exercise program, improper foot wear, muscular imbalances, and/or not warming up properly.  Once you develop shin splints, it is best to rest, massage, apply ice when necessary, and start a strength training program.  Work your way back up with short walks before you start running again.

But once you start running again, there are things you can do to prevent shin splints in the future.  One of the things you can do is strength training for your tibialis anterior.  The tibialis anterior is the muscle on the front side of your lower leg, opposite of your calves.  A great exercise for your T.A. is toe taps.  Take turns tapping your foot/toes on the floor while your heel is elevated.  Start with three sets of 20 to 30.  You should feel a slight burn on the front of your lower leg which means it's working!  Also, don't forget to properly warm-up before exercising and just as important, don't forget to stretch after each workout session.  Don't get discouraged; you're doing great so far!  It won't be long before you'll be running again!

Train Like a Wolverine

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYou may have seen a shredded Hugh Jackman play "Wolverine" in several X-Men movies the last few years.  Hugh has worked very hard to portray the character as a leaner, more muscular wolverine than the earlier movies.  Like many athletes, Hugh Jackman uses a workout strategy called linear periodization.  Many athletes utilize this type of technique to bust through plateaus and peak and the right time whether it's for the super bowl, NBA championship, a boxing match, a bodybuilding show, or the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Linear periodization relies on an old technique where the intensity increases as you get closer to your event; but, as the intensity increases, the volume of the workout will decrease.  You can easily do this with your own workouts.  For example, pick out a big muscle, multi-joint exercises like squats, bench press, or lat pulldowns.  The 1st month, you will choose a weight that you can handle for 15 reps.  The 2nd month, increase the weight (intensity) to a weight you can lift for 10 reps.  On the 3rd month, choose a weight you can lift for 5 reps.  Repeat every few months with a higher intensity or until it's "showtime."  With the proper diet to go along a periodized program, you should be shredded like the wolverine in no time!

Leg Press Tips and Techniques

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThe Leg Press is one of the most popular machines in the gym.  It is a single plane machine which means it really targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings if used properly.  To use all three big muscle groups, your feet should be placed near the center of the plate.  If your feet are placed too high, you will recruit more glutes and hams than quads.  If you place your feet lower on the plate, you will recruit more quads than glutes and hams.

Another important facet to the leg press is the lower back.  As with most exercises, it is very important to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.  Some exercisers will lower the weight too fast causing their lumbar spine to curve.  Make a mental note to keep your low back on the pad.  A curved lumbar will produce a posterior pelvic tilt which may lead to low back pain or injury in the future.  So next time you're at the gym and the angled leg press machine is available, try experimenting with foot position.  High on the plate for glutes/hams, low for quads, and wide for adductors.  But regardless of your routine, make sure you maintain proper form to prevent injury.  Happy lifting!

Setting Goals for 2017

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolDo you have health and fitness goals in place for 2017?  If so, now is the time to take action to ensure success.  The best thing to do to ensure success is to utilize S.M.A.R.T. goals and write them down.  That is be SPECFIC.  Don't be vague and settle for "losing weight" or "getting in shape"; write down a specific goal like losing 10 pounds, dropping 2 dress sizes, or performing 50 push-ups.  Make sure your goals are MEASUREABLE.  Pounds, inches, sizes, push-ups are measureable goals that you can strive for while "toning up" is more of a subjective observation that's difficult to measure and sometimes impossible to attain.

Furthermore, have a plan of ACTION.  Surround yourself with a great support team and write down your goals.  How many times will you work out?  What will your workouts consist of?  What type of diet will you follow?  Also, make sure your goals are REALISTIC.  Losing 50 pounds this month is unrealistic and quite frankly...unhealthy.  Try 10 pounds per month or 2 pounds per week.  Assign a TIME to each goal so you can challenge yourself.  Set up short term goals that line up with your long-term goal.  Hopefully, with these goal-setting tips, you can make 2017 your best year yet!!

Preventing Osteoporosis

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEveryone knows that resistance training is very beneficial for muscles; but, did you know resistance training is also very beneficial for your bones? Many studies have proven that weight training builds stronger bones especially in beginners and older adults.  Although most of the studies have been conducted for older adults and the prevention of osteoporosis, everyone should be engaged in some type of resistance training.  In fact, bones that undergo resistance training become denser and stronger regardless of age; while bones that do NOT experience exercise stress become weak and brittle.  Your bones will adapt to the weight training the same way your muscles do.  The stress of the exercise signals your body to make changes or adapt.  In this case, resistance training will bring about a positive change to the bone structure.

Furthermore, a proper diet plan which includes calcium and vitamin D will further assist in building stronger bones.  These strong bones are the key to preventing osteoporosis as we get older and minimizing fractures at the more common sites like the hip, spine, and wrist.  Moreover, bone density is site specific; which means runners and walkers may have strong tibias (lower leg bones), but they may have weak bones at the hips, spine, and arms.  Therefore, everyone should participate in some type of weight bearing exercise for all the major muscles and major bones of the body in order to obtain a healthy body including a strong skeleton!

Performing the Seated Row

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere are two effective ways to perform the seated row.  One way is to start the movement with your elbows low and follow through with a shoulder extension like the picture.  It will feel like you are bringing your elbows down and back.  Try to relax your lower arms so they don't fatigue prematurely.  This row will emphasize the utilization of the latissimus dorsi along with the teres major and long head of the tricep.

On the other hand, another very popular row begins with your elbows high and proceeding with the scapular retraction movement.  This second type of row will emphasize more rhomboids and trapezius especially the mid-traps.  Also involved will be the posterior deltoid because of the second joint action which is the horizontal shoulder abduction movement.

As with all new exercise programs, make sure you have medical clearance before you begin.  Mixing in both movements throughout the week will ensure you have a strong back.  Finally, contact a personal trainer if you have questions on these two exercises or any others.

Rest Days Between Workouts

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolEach muscle requires a certain amount of time to recover and rebuild.  The amount of rest needed depends on the intensity of the workout.  A heavy workout would require at least 72 hours of recovery.  If your muscles are still sore after 72 hours, you may need additional rest.  A heavy workout with some eccentric training causes more soreness referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) than any other type of workout. A more moderate workout will require about 48 hours of recovery time while a light workout requires at least 24 hours of recovery time.

Another method of resting is linked to the size of the muscle.  Some experts believe that larger muscles like leg muscles require 4 days of rest, chest and back muscles require 3 days of rest, and smaller muscles like deltoids, biceps, and triceps require only 2 days of rest.  The most important thing to remember is listen to your body.  Your body will tell you if you had a light, moderate, or heavy workout.  Of course, any workout for a beginner may seem like a moderate to high intensity workout.  Therefore, beginners should initially workout 1 to 2 times per week and rest 2 to 3 days between workouts.  Once a person becomes more advanced, resistance training workouts can increase to 3 to 5 times per week.  Happy Lifting!

Working Out the Tricep 

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThe triceps brachii consists of 3 heads: the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head.  Along with the anconeus, the triceps brachii is primarily responsible for elbow extension.  All 3 heads of the tricep are active during all tricep exercises; but, there are some exercises that seem to emphasize one particular head over the other two. In order to emphasize the lateral head of the tricep, perform a tricep pushdown with an overhand grip on the bar with your elbows remaining by your side.  If you would like to emphasize the medial head, perform the same exercise with an underhand grip. When trying to emphasize the long head, you must move your elbows anterior to your spine, such as an overhead tricep extension exercise, a skull crusher, or a French press.

Adding these 3 exercises to your tricep routine should improve the effectiveness of your tricep workout.  Like all other tricep exercises, try and exercise through a full range of motion, and especially fully extend the elbow at the end of the movement.  Try doing 10 to 12 reps to failure to really add size or 15+ reps to tone your arms.  Happy lifting!!

Lat Pulldowns: Anterior or Posterior?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolThere is an ongoing debate whether we should perform lat pulldowns in front of our heads or behind our heads.  Personal trainers should always consider the safety and effectiveness of an exercise before they include it in a resistance training program. A study by Signorile et al (2002) compared muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi using different hand positions and techniques. EMGs were connected to 10 subjects using 4 different hand positions: wide grip anterior, wide grip posterior, close grip, and supinated grip.

The study concluded that the wide grip anterior (front of the head) grip produced significantly greater muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi than any of the three other grips. Furthermore, there was more activity in tricep, teres major, pec major, and posterior deltoid during pulldowns in front of their heads than behind their heads. Also, most experts believe that anterior pulldowns are safer than posterior pulldowns concerning neck and shoulder joints.  Therefore, it is concluded that anterior pulldowns are not only safer, but this study has proven that anterior pulldowns are also more effective in recruiting latissimus dorsi and other muscles than lat pulldowns behind the head.  Happy Health!

Diabetes in Texas on the Rise

personal trainer certification school texas diabetesToday, 2.2 million Texans have been diagnosed with Diabetes according to the Texas Health Institute which is about 1 out of every 12 Texans. However, a recent report predicts that the number will reach 8 million by the year 2040 if things don't change for the better. The main reason for the high diabetes rate is "obesity."  Currently, 29% of Texans are obese and that number is supposed to increase to 43% by 2040.  As the obesity rate continues to rise so will diabetes. In fact, the report also predicts that Texans will start developing diabetes at earlier ages.

On the other hand, the report concluded with possible solutions and hope for the future. One of the solutions is to increase physical activity along with physical education in middle schools and high schools. The sooner we get involved with preventative measures, the sooner we can help decrease the number of Texans being diagnosed with diabetes.  At PFTA, we are still hoping to makes positive changes in the world with respect to health and fitness. The staff and students at PFTA continue to educate and train adults and children alike.  If you'd like to make a difference, contact the nearest school to suit up against a battle we can easily win!

Balance and Stability Training

personal training certification schoolBalance represents an ability to stabilize and maintain a desired body position.  A balanced body is thought to represent a correct or efficient positioning of a body part or entire body.  Balance training has shown not only to improve balance but also strength.  With improvements in strength come improvements in sports performance. Furthermore, balance and stability training continues to grow and is a mainstay as a cutting edge method in conditioning and performance training programs.  

There are many ways to incorporate balance training into your fitness program.  You can warm up with a few balance movements, use them throughout, and/or finish your workout with balance training.  Always start with easier movements and progress as your neuromuscular system improves. Moreover, once the body is properly balanced, movements are more energy efficient, safer, and feel more natural.  Studies have confirmed more muscle activity in more muscles during balance training with equipment such as the Bosu Ball and stability ball.  Everyone gets benefits from balance training especially the elderly and those just beginning a fitness program.  Good Luck and Happy Health!

The Benefits of Stretching

personal trainer certification school stretchingEveryone loves to see the benefits of weight training and cardio exercise but most people forget about stretching.  Some athletes skip this part of the workout because they don't see the benefits in the mirror like they would for weight training and cardio.  Nevertheless, stretching is important as it can improve sports performance and reduce the risk of injury.  Stretching doesn't have to take a lot of time; in fact, you can get a lot of benefit from just 10 minutes of stretching 3 to 5 times per week, but preferably after every workout.

Moreover, a recent study published by NSCA shows a 30 second stretch after each workout will bring you flexibility benefits after just six short weeks while another study proved that stretching for only six seconds brought no flexibility benefits to the test subjects.  Therefore, reserve the last 10 minutes of your workout for stretching.  You can stretch 15 to 20 muscles in those last 10 minutes if you stretch each muscle for 30 to 40 seconds.  If you are like most Americans, the muscles that require the most attention are the pecs, lats, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and low back.  Pick out a few more of your favorite stretches and you are on your way to a healthier, more conditioned body!  Happy Health!

Improving Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) 

personal trainer certification school agility drillsIf you or your clients are looking to improve speed, quickness, and agility, you may need to add hip flexion exercises to your leg routine. Most athletes know to train their glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves; but, many athletes forget to train the hip flexion muscle group which includes the psoas major and iliacus. Dean et al (2005) showed that subjects improved both 40 yard time and shuttle times after an 8 week hip flexion resistance training program. There were no improvements in the control group. Results were published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. A simple hip flexion exercise is lying leg raises or full sit-ups.

Moreover, you can add agility equipment to your workouts like cones and agility ladders (pictured).  Make sure to tackle these exercises before any heavy lifting...while your muscles are still fresh.  These exercises will improve your speed, quickness, and agility while burning a few extra calories as well. In summary, everyone should follow a total body, all joint action, exercise routine. If you are missing a few joint actions in your weekly routine, you may be shorting yourself athletic improvement or even worse, creating muscular problems that may lead to injury down the road.  Happy Health!

Shoulder Press for Deltoids or Traps?

personal trainer certification school shoulder pressShoulder press does not always target your shoulders.  In fact, most people in the gym keep the movement too high to stimulate the deltoids but rather work out the larger trapezius muscle instead.  The primary action of the middle deltoid is shoulder abduction up to 90 degrees. In other words, your deltoid is almost completely contracted when your humerus (upper arm) reaches 90 degrees which is about parallel to the floor. In order for your upper arm to move any higher, the movement has to be completed by the trapezius muscle.  If you keep the movement above parallel like the shoulder press pictured to the left, most of the work will be done by your trapezius muscle, specifically your upper trapezius.

Therefore, lateral raise is a better exercise for stimulating your deltoid while shoulder press, especially above parallel, is better for your traps. On the other hand, if you perform the shoulder press through a broader range of motion, one where your upper arm dips down below parallel and also well above parallel, you would have stimulated both the deltoid muscle and the trapezius muscle. Another alternative to working out your deltoids and your traps is to super set them with lateral raises followed immediately by shoulder presses.  Happy health and happy lifting!!

Kettlebell Training

personal trainer certification school kettle bell trainingThe Kettlebell is an old Russian training tool that has been recently re-discovered for full body conditioning.  Kettlebell workouts are said to improve strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance.  But does a kettlebell workout provide enough resistance to improve strength over traditional weight lifting?  Does a kettlebell workout improve cardiovascular endurance better than traditional cardiovascular exercise?

The American Council on Exercise did a study on the workout intensity on kettlebells versus treadmill running.  As expected, the kettlebell workout was intense.  Heart rate and oxygen consumption increased rapidly.  The results indicated that although the volume of oxygen consumed wasn't as high as treadmill running, the kettlebell workout produced cardiovascular gains as well as strength gains for most beginners.  However, experts agree in order to improve strength and power for your experienced athletes, traditional weight training may be more beneficial.  Furthermore, you will have to incorporate other traditional exercises to target some muscles that kettlebell exercise don’t fully incorporate.  In conclusion, if you are looking to change up your routine, kettlebells will give you some strength benefits along with very good cardiovascular benefits.  Happy Health!

Six Pack Abs with the Russian Twist

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYour abdominal muscles are responsible for core stabilization and several trunk movements.  You probably remember to exercise your abs with crunches and leg raises, but are you doing trunk rotations to activate even more core muscles?  One of the best exercises for trunk rotations is the Russian twist with a medicine ball as demonstrated by the picture.  Beginners should start with their feet on the floor while rotating their trunk for assisted stabilization.  Advanced clients can raise their feet a few inches from the floor to activate for core muscles caused by increased instability.  A common error is moving the arms side to side instead of rotating the trunk.  Concentrate on rotating your chest cavity and bringing the medicine ball along for the ride.

Furthermore, core muscles are predominately endurance muscles so the best way to fully activate their potential is to perform endurance sets.  Beginners should start with 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps while advanced clients can perform 3 to 5 sets of 20 to 30 repetitions.  Because these are endurance sets, rests between sets should be only 30 to 60 seconds.  Be creative and have fun on your next core session!

Resistance Bands and Tubing

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolAre you incorporating bands or tubing?  They're a great way to change up your routine or take exercise on the road.  You can easily pack them in your suitcase for travel and you can do exercises in the car or in your hotel room.  If done correctly, there is tension throughout the exercise, therefore you have to stabilize your body which helps with coordination, balance and it also helps you involve more muscle groups.  There are many popular band or tubing exercises but some of the most popular are squats, lunges, chest press, rows, curls, triceps presses, lateral raises, internal/external rotations, and crunches.

Furthermore, they're very inexpensive.  Bands range anywhere from $6 to $20, depending on how many you get and where you buy them, which is nice for the budget-conscious exerciser.  They're also great for all fitness levels.  Depending on how you use them, bands can be great for beginners as well as more advanced exercisers. You can use them for basic moves or to add intensity to traditional moves.  Bands and tubing come in different tension setting which are usually noted by a color.  Most importantly, have fun using different types of equipment!  Happy health!

Boost Your Metabolism

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMany people have decided to lose weight this year.  Most of you all have chosen a diet to reach their weight loss goal.  Some of you all have chosen to began an aerobic exercise program.  But if you really want to boost your metabolism and reach your weight loss goal, it's time to incorporate resistance training into your diet and cardio plans.

Resistance training is NOT just for bodybuilders.  Resistance training is for anyone who wants to improve their overall health.  A proper resistance training program will develop muscular strength, improve muscular flexibility, enhance bone health and bone density, strengthen tendons and ligaments, improve your posture, and develop muscular endurance.

As an added bonus, a resistance training program will also boost your metabolism.  It has been well documented that a pound of muscle burns 80 to 100 extra calories per week while a pound of fat only burns 3 to 5 calories per week.  Thus one pound of muscle will burn over 10 fat pounds per year. With all the benefits of resistance training, the only question is why aren't more people doing it?!

The Secret to Six Pack Abs

personal trainer certification school absEveryone is looking for the secret to six pack abs.  The truth is, everyone is born with six pack abs but many people choose not to show them off.  I don't mean they choose to conceal their six pack abs with clothes; I mean they choose to conceal their six pack abs with a layer of fat.  If you can't see your six pack, you still may be able to feel it beneath your layer of skin/fat.  Many people falsely believe that doing hundred....even thousands....of sit-ups per day will result in six pack abs.  But the truth is, sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and other ab exercises are great for increasing core strength but hardly do much for producing six pack abs. 

On the other hand, think of your fat as stored energy.  If you want to see muscle definition, you have to use up that stored energy surrounding your muscles!  Therefore, if you're looking to shed that layer of fat covering your abs, it's time to concentrate most of your efforts on energy consuming exercises while limiting the amount of energy you consume.  In other words, less crunches and more cardio.  Combine your cardio effort with a good diet and you shall see your hard earned sick pack ab wall in no time!  Happy Health!!

Running For Your Health

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolHappy National Running Day!  On the first Wednesday of June, many runner across the United States celebrate National Running Day.  Many running clubs designated this day for experienced runners to reaffirm their love for running and for beginners to start a running program with a local running group.  Whether you are training for a marathon or running down the street for the very first time, we hope you enjoy your love for running on which is usually and nice summer day!

Moreover, running has become the cardiovascular exercise of choice for many fitness enthusiasts.  Most people choose long, slow distance (LSD) running because it's easy and very relaxing.  It definitely helps you lose weight, improves your cardiovascular system, and also de-stresses you.  On the other hand, if you want a more challenging and a more productive workout, give sprints a try!  Running sprints at or near 100% VO2 max will really give your cardiovascular system a boost.  Furthermore, many health experts believe that sprints will preserve more muscle than LSD running; therefore PFTA recommends changing it up.  Schedule some sprints along with your long runs throughout the week!  Happy Health!

Exercise Benefits for Seniors

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolYou just turned 40! or 50! or 60! or 70! get the picture.  Getting older doesn't mean you have to stop exercising; in fact, many experts believe that seniors will see the biggest gains among all age groups once they begin exercising.  A healthy heart is important thus including cardiovascular exercise such as walking into your daily routine is pertinent.  Furthermore, many doctors advise their senior patients to include resistance training in their weekly activities.  This will ensure that seniors keep their bone density at optimum levels and reduce the  risk of osteoporosis.

Also, studies have shown that seniors have improved confidence because of exercise.  This improved confidence negates their fear of falling and breaking a bone.  This is true not only because a senior who exercises has improved bone strength, but a senior who exercises also has better balance and coordination than a senior who doesn't exercise.  Moreover, it's inevitable, starting as early as 25 years old, our metabolism begins to slow down at least 2% per year.  Exercising will slow down this decline and in some cases, actually boost your metabolism.  So getting older doesn't necessarily mean you have to only enjoy water aerobics, you can also continue or start an advanced exercise routine.  Happy Health!

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolIt's no debate that most Americans gain weight this time of year; heck even Santa puts on a few pounds.  But how much do we really gain?  And more importantly, can it be avoided?  Many experts believe we gain anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds from Halloween to New Year's Day but the good news is there are things you can do to limit or avoid any weight gain during the holiday season.

Hopefully you are not still eating Halloween candy; but, if you are, it's time to get rid of it. Take it to the office, have your kids take it to school, or give it to our homeless Americans. Furthermore, remember Thanksgiving DAY is only one day.  No need to stuff yourself like a turkey for more than 1 day or more than 1 meal for that matter. Third, Christmas is the holiday for giving...not for eating. Granted there will be lots of delicious goodies at your disposal; but, just remember to taste everything but don't indulge on anything!

Exercise is also important during the holiday season. Most gyms are still open around the holidays. If you don't have a gym membership, I believe it's still free to walk around your neighborhood. What great weather we are having this fall! As a bonus, exercise has been proven to reduce holiday stress and control blood sugar if you have eaten too many sweets.

Moreover, New Year's Eve is just not about consuming adults beverages; it's also about setting new goals for 2014. What a great way to start off the year with an exercise session on January 1, 2014.  Have a great holiday season and get ready for 2015!!

What is Metabolic Training?

become a certified personal trainer at pfta personal trainer certification schoolMetabolic Training is used more and more by personal trainers and athletes alike.  The name comes from the stress the training puts on different energy systems particularly the ATP/CP and Glycotic energy systems which creates an abundance of lactic acid.

There are several key factors to Metabolic Training.  One, this type of training requires the recruitment of large muscle groups.  That means you'll need to design a program that recruits legs, chest, and back muscles and less concern with biceps and triceps.  A great combo is squat presses followed up bench press and a barbell row superset!  This will really get your metabolism going!!  Second, your rest periods should be short while your intensity is very high.  Keep pushing yourself to your body's limits.

This type of training will produce incredible benefits including improved cardiovascular efficiency, improved hormonal profile, increased metabolism, and superior fat burning.  In summary, make sure your workouts are geared toward your training goals.  Good luck!