The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2009 issue 6



Connective Tissue 101

Connective tissue is something I know something about.  Unfortunately that's mostly because I've beat the heck out of most of mine!  I've torn cartilage in my knees, strained ligaments, and ruptured a tendon.  Most of this abuse came from wrestling between high school and college... but given the opportunity, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!

So I'm sure you've heard all these terms as some point, but if you're like most people, you only have a general idea that this stuff is not bone or muscle.  Connective tissue is important for the functionality an protection of our joints so I thought I'd give you a quick run down on what's what.

Ligaments are fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones. They are sometimes called "articular ligaments", "fibrous ligaments", or "true ligaments".

Tendons are connective tissue that connect muscle to bone.  A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments except that ligaments join one bone to another. Tendons and muscles work together and can only exert a pulling force.

Cartilage is a type of dense connective tissue.  It is a remarkable substance—one thousand times more slippery than wet ice and able to cushion the weight of our bodies as it presses our bones together. Cartilage performs this difficult task better then any substance, organic or synthetic, known to man.  

Connective tissue injuries are common in athletics and can occur from running, jumping, impact, or any kind of physical activity or repetitive use.  Understanding the function of the connective tissue can help you to prevent injuries as well as to be careful about the ones that you have experienced.  A good rule of thumb is if it hurts, stop doing it!

According to sports medicine experts, the strength of the muscle groups surrounding the knee is key to knee health– the more support you’re able to generate in these muscle groups, the more stable the whole mechanism is, and the less strain there is on the joint itself.  A program of strengthening and flexibility for the muscles around the leg, is the single most effective preemptive strike you can make against knee pain.

The Pain of Getting Sloshed!

Here's another homemade piece of fitness equipment that you won't find at the local sporting good store.  Although slosh pipe training has actually been around for a little while, it's not exactly a mainstream type training technique.  Still, slosh pipe training offers some very challenging yet fun workout options to mix things up a little.

So what is a slosh pipe?  The one I have pictured below is made out of PVC pipe and is 2/3 full of water.  It's 9 feet long, 4 inches in diameter, and weighs about 40 lbs.  This is standard PVC pipe (with end caps) that can be picked up in most home improvement stores. 

The challenge of the slosh pipe is not in it's weight, it's due to the fact that the pipe is only 2/3 full of water.  When you pick this thing up horizontally, the water sloshes back and forth from one end to the other randomly, forcing you to adjust your body to compensate.

Although you can go to YouTube, search for "slosh pipe", and view a bunch of exercise videos with guys getting creative with slosh pipe training... I stick to a few basic movements at the end of my abdominal workout.

Holding the slosh pipe in "zercher" position (in front of the chest at the crook of the elbows), I like to start off by walking for a distance and then doing some forward and backward kayak paddling.  Because the slosh pipe basically feels like a living thing, the zercher walk itself can be a challenge!  By adding the kayak paddling from the zercher position, you get a real good oblique (sides) workout to finish off the job!

Like I said, in addition to the slosh pipe carries being challenging, they're fun too.  I made a couple of smaller slosh pipes also and brought them out in the yard.  It was funny how some of the kids in the neighborhood got a kick out of trying to out-do each other... and without even using a game console!


Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Plank to Bird Dog

Planks are a very useful yet underrated exercise.  There are a variety of front plank and side plank exercises that can be incorporated along with other movements, or performed by themselves.  This bird dog exercise can be performed from a plank, or from all fours.  From a plank position there is a focus on the abs in addition to the low back, whereas performing it from all fours is primarily for strengthening the low back, especially during rehabilitation or in the case of a de-conditioned person.  The focus should be on slow controlled movement.


Target:  abs, low back (rectus abdominis, erector spinae)

Count:  2 (up and down)

Description:  Start off in a plank position on your elbows and toes.  Maintain a rigid bodyline as you slowly extend opposite arm and legs.  Hold for 5 seconds before slowly returning to the plank position.  Repeat for repetitions on the same side, or alternate each side.

What is Fitness?

Webster’s Dictionary defines “fitness” as being “fit” and the ability to transmit genes to offspring... no help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little.  Worse yet, the NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a definition.

Although it may be difficult to realistically define fitness, there are ten recognized general physical skills.  They are as follows:

1. Cardiovascular respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered.

Improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training refers to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body.  By contrast improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice. Practice refers to activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system. Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Be that as it may, there are plenty of things that you can do to increase YOUR level of fitness.  You don't have to excel in each of the ten skills, nor do you have to work on each and every one of them all at once.  Any exercise that you do above and beyond that which you are doing now, if properly planned and executed, will contribute to improving your fitness... and this goes for pretty much everyone!  Women that participate in aerobics classes regularly can benefit from weight training.  Bodybuilders and power lifters that are pushing the heavy iron can benefit from yoga or other flexibility exercise.  There are plenty of opportunities to better yourself if you just keep an open mind, and even more so if you focus on your weaknesses.  This can be a humbling task that takes you outside of your comfort zone, but the benefits of increasing your overall fitness can certainly be worth the price of admission. 

It's Go Time!

Beach weather, pool weather, outdoor weather... this is the time to hopefully show off the physique that you have been working so hard to achieve! 

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror.  Are you happy with your appearance?  Do you look better, worse, or the same as you did last year?  These are all questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to take pride in your appearance and both feel and look good.  Based upon your honest answers, you may find it necessary to start developing an action plan to improve your situation.  Your action plan should be a specific checklist of things that you need to do to accomplish your goals.  Diet, exercise, or any kind of lifestyle change should be considered when putting your action plan together.  This is not something that you have to do alone.  An action plan is significantly more effective if you can get a partner in crime, be it family or friend, so that you can support and encourage each other towards achieving your goals.

Keep in mind that your action plan should be something that you plan to do... FOREVER.  I'm going to keep restating this fact.  Any changes that you make to better your situation, will not continue to better your situation when you stop... that makes sense, right?  Lifestyle changes are required for lasting impact and permanent changes to your well being.  Make it a priority and get it done!

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful"

youtube video of the month --> Hardcore Training
Compilation video from  Very inspiring guy that has some great workouts and training methods.  I have 2 of his books. | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




Get Toned!   Get Fit!   Lose Weight!   Feel Great!


TODAY! Fitness, LLC. , Bear, Delaware