The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2009 issue 2



Power vs Strength

The term "power" is often misused or misunderstood.  The true meaning of power is the ability to generate as much force as fast as possible.  A golf tee-off, a vertical jump, an Olympic clean and jerk, or swinging a softball bat are all examples of power.  Basically, if you do these things slowly, they just won't work very well.

Strength, on the other hand, is the ability to generate as much force as possible with no concern for the factor of time.  A 1RM (1 rep max effort) bench press or deadlift are examples of pure strength movements.  It doesn't matter how long it takes to complete these tasks, all that matters is that it gets completed.  Doing it slowly doesn't take away from the success of the exercise.

Power is often referred to as "speed-strength" and is an important factor in sporting activities.  However, power is also used in everyday activities such as moving fast, running up a flight of stairs, or just keeping up with your kids.  Power exercises offer benefits such as increased caloric expenditure, increased work capacity, and increased overall body strength.

There are simple equations to determine the strength and power in a specific exercise:

Strength (work) = mass x distance
Power = work / time

For example, for a 300-pound bench press that moves 2.5 feet there would be 750 units of work (300 x 2.5).  If the same exercise takes 3 seconds to complete, there would be 250 units of power generated (750 / 3).

In comparison, a 100-pound power clean that moves 5 feet and takes 1 second to complete would be 500 units of work (100 x 5) and 500 units of power (500/1).  Power exercises will always have higher amounts of power units than traditional strength exercises regardless of loads simply due to the time factor.

How did the bench press become the ultimate measure of strength?  Besides the aesthetics from a bodybuilding (hypertrophy) perspective, there is only so much we can do with the strength that we develop from a bench press.  Who is stronger, the guy who can bench-press more than 400 pounds or the guy who can do 100 pushups nonstop?  How about that guy that can squat 500 pounds versus the guy that can do 10 perfect single leg piston squats?  This is not always a fair question since there are variables of strength, endurance, and balance that create different stress levels on the muscles.  The relative measure of strength really depends on the training goals, performance goals, and/or enhancement benefits desired.

ref. Power Training, Men's Health

Extreme Makeover:  Health Edition

Not everyone needs an EXTREME makeover... but there are plenty of people that do!  The word "extreme" alone should tell you that it's not going to be easy.  There are often obstacles that stand in your way that will need to be side stepped, gone around, or simply smashed through. 

Change is required to design your makeover, and resistance to change is the primary obstacle that creates difficulties for people seeking to improve upon themselves and turn things around.  Look at your habits and decide which ones are good and which ones are bad.  As I've said before, in order to make real, lasting changes to your health and body composition, you have to make permanent changes to your lifestyles and habits that you have. 

Diets are BAD.  They typically signify a temporary change and goal.  Well once you reach your goal, go off your DIET, and go back to eating crap... what do you think is going to happen?  If you're serious about making a change... here's my recommendation:  Take one full week and write down EVERYTHING that you drink or eat throughout the day, the portion sizes, as well as any exercise that you do.  At the end of the week, have a look at this log, or if you get really ambitious, take it to a dietician.  For the most part, you should be able to see where you have room for improvement whether it be needing to drink more water, cut out the soda, ditch the French fries, shrink your portions, or get some time in on the treadmill.  So the next week, make a change that you can keep up with for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!  Not easy I know, but you're worth it : )  Ease into it if you have to... instead of having that soda or bag of chips everyday, make it a point to only treat yourself on Saturday with these guilty pleasures.  Just keep in mind what you are working towards and that the sooner you get on track, the sooner you will see results.  The bottom line is that you want these to be lasting results and not just a DIET that will come an go (along with the success that the diet yielded).

My friends and family that have known me for a while can tell you what a slug that I became after managing a restaurant for a few years.  I was over 225 pounds, sedentary, and it showed!  I knew that I had to take control of my life in order to see real change and that's what I did.  I'm fairly confident that if I chose to go the diet route when I was facing the challenge, rather than making a complete lifestyle change, I would not have been as successful in keeping the weight off.  After all, why would I want to go back to my old habits if that's what got me that way in the first place!

Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!


Mommy!  That's what you'll be saying if you try these without being used to doing ab exercises.  The pike-up is a classic abdominal exercise that requires a strong stomach and a lot of control.  I personally like doing them on the stability ball, but I've recently tried them on my new "power wheel" which is no picnic either.


Target:  abs (rectus abdominus)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Start by lying on your stomach on the stability ball and walk your hands out to a push-up position with your shins on the ball.  Keeping your knees straight, crunch your abs while keeping a straight back and pull your feet forward as far as you can before returning to the push-up position.

Interval Training Increases Metabolic Rate

Both continuous, over-distance training and interval training are used by coaches and athletes to build aerobic capacity.  While continuous over-distance training is running a specific distance without stopping, interval training is repeated bouts of high intensity exercise interrupted by short rest periods of low to no intensity.

Australian scientists, in a study comparing interval training and over-distance workouts with the same average metabolic load, found that interval training produced the highest levels of peak oxygen consumption.  They concluded that interval training was a more powerful stimulus for increasing aerobic fitness.  Canadian studies found that short bouts of maximal-intensity exercise built high levels of fitness quickly.  Six sessions of high-intensity interval training on a stationary bike increased muscle oxidative capacity by almost 50 percent, muscle glycogen by 20 percent, and cycling endurance capacity by 100 percent.  The subjects made these amazing improvements exercising a mere 15 minutes in two weeks.  Interval training will improve fitness quickly, but it isn't pleasant. (Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport)

Interval training is also recognized as one of the most beneficial cardio workouts for fat loss.  The whole idea around this is that because you are taking breaks in between bouts of high intensity, it allows you to workout at this higher intensity (elevated heart rate) and sustain it for longer periods.   I've been doing intervals on my elliptical for some time now and I can definitely see a difference in my conditioning.  I also find it is easier then the typical steady-state programs that I had been used to.  I typically do a variety of intensity and rest periods that range from 30 seconds to a minute each for about 35 minutes total (30 seconds high intensity, 30 seconds lower intensity, 1 minute high, 30 seconds low, 30 seconds high, 1 minute low, etc... I recommend a heart rate monitor for these types of workouts so that you can monitor your intensity level and maintain a safe yet effective target heart rate.

Dehydration Decreases Muscle Strength

The body is approximately 70 percent water, but even a small water loss impairs metabolism and cardiovascular function and decreases performance.  Researchers from Chicago State University, found that dehydration (3 percent) induced by treadmill exercise in the heat increased the perception of fatigue by 70 percent and decreased upper and lower body power by 7 percent and 19 percent.  They concluded that dehydration decreases performance in power sports and increases the risk of injury.  Good strategies for improving exercise performance in the heat include maximizing physical fitness, taking regular water breaks, training during cooler times of the day and drinking water before exercise begins.  A good fluid replacement beverage should be cold and contain energy (7 grams carbohydrate per hundred milliliters of water) and electrolytes.

- Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 22: 455-463, 2008

It's Go Time!

Wanna bet?  That's what my wife and a bunch of people where she works are doing.  From what I understand, they have teams of people that are weighing in at the beginning of February and then again 3 months later to see which team has the most combined weight loss.  While I'm still not firm believer in weight loss (versus body composition), the whole biggest loser competition thing is both a fun challenge and very productive.  The more hype the better... in their case, each team came up with a team name and they are providing updates via email.  I'm always looking for success stories for my newsletter, so let me know if you have any to share and I'll look to provide some updates to my distribution.

Oh yeah... I almost forgot... stick with the flowers and jewelry for Valentine's day this month.  Those chocolates aren't gonna help anyone ; )

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

Success is the maximum utilization of
the ability that you have

youtube video of the month -->
The New "Rudy"

Rudy is one of my favorite sports movies, however, check out this inspirational clip that gives Rudy a run for his money! | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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