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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2010 issue 12



Twitch Performance

Have you ever looked at a muscular athlete or bodybuilder and asked yourself, "What does it take to look like that?"  A big part of the answer is having the right parents.  Your genes determine important pieces of the muscle building puzzle.

Your maximum number of muscle fibers.  Here's something to contemplate the next time you stumble across one of your baby pictures:  The squishy little diaper-loading machine in the photo already had all the muscle fibers you're ever going to possess.  Those fibers became bigger as you grew, and they can become bigger still if you give them sufficient exercise.  Conversely, if you don't exercise them enough, they may become smaller- and possibly disappear altogether.  It's generally believed, though, that they can't increase in number.  However many muscle fibers you're born with, it's too many to count, so there's no way to know exactly how you compare with other guys.

Skeletal muscles are composed of fibers that have markedly different morphological and physiological characteristics.  The most common approach to classify muscle fibers according to twitch time, employing the terms slow-twitch and fast-twitch fiber.  Because a motor unit is composed of muscle fibers that are all of the same type, it can also be designated using the same classification.  A fast-twitch motor unit (Type II) is one that develops force rapidly.  It also relaxes rapidly and thus has a short twitch time.  Slow-twitch motor units (Type I), in contrast, develop force and relax slowly and have a long twitch time.

The contrast in mechanical characteristics is accompanied by a distinct difference in the ability of their fibers to demand and supply energy for contraction, and thus to withstand fatigue.  Type I fibers are generally fatigue resistant and have a high capacity for aerobic energy supply, but they have limited potential for rapid force development and low anaerobic power.  Type II motor units are essentially the opposite, characterized by fatigability, low aerobic power, rapid force development, and high anaerobic power.  Type II fibers can be further subdivided into other categories, Type IIA and Type IIB being the most frequently mentioned.  These subcategories deal mostly with their capacity for aerobic-oxidative energy.

Your percentage of Fast-Twitch and Slow-Twitch fibers.  A fast-twitch fiber can't turn into a slow-twitch fiber, and a slow-twitch fiber can't become a fast-twitch.  Because you're born with all the fibers you're ever going to have, you're also born with a predisposition toward either endurance-type activities or strength-and-power sports, depending upon which type of fiber is predominant.

The shape of your muscles when they're fully developed.  If your father or mother had beautifully rounded biceps after a few years of strength training, chances are you can develop some nice-looking, beach-friendly muscles, too.  If Dad trained diligently for years only to look like a big ol' dump truck with teeth... well, maybe you can do something about the "dump" part.  The idea that muscles can be shaped -- as opposed to developed to their full genetic potential -- is yet another topic.  Let's just say that the eventual shape of a muscle is determined by sperm and egg first, barbell and dumbbell second. 

ref:  The Book Of Muscle, 2003
ref:  Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2nd Edition


Get Lots of SleepWhile you sleep, amazing things are taking place in your body. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair.  This is a necessity for resistance training in order to recover from a workout and continue to progress.  Sleep deprivation resulting from chronic sleep issues (apnea, insomnia, etc..), excessive work, or partying have been shown to increase abdominal fat, have a negative effect on performance, and promote obesity and diabetes.  It is also linked to heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.

In general, one or two nights of poor or little sleep won't have much impact on performance, but consistently getting inadequate sleep can result in subtle changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery and mood. While no one completely understands the complexities of sleep, some research indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), decreased activity of HGH, and decreased glycogen synthesis.

Lack of sleep alters ghrelin and leptin, which are important regulators of appetite and energy expenditure and critical for maintaining a healthy weight.  Nighttime snacking is common in overweight people with sleep disorders.  The body produces powerful signaling chemicals during sleep deprivation that promote overeating.

Sleep deprivation causes decreased reaction time and diminished ability to sustain attention. These skills, called psychomotor vigilance, are needed for not only sports performance but also everyday activities such as driving. They are highly sensitive to sleep loss, often experienced by athletes on road trips, particularly after they cross multiple time zones.  Other studies link sleep deprivation with decreased aerobic endurance and increased ratings of perceived exertion.

Chronic sleep restriction has serious adverse consequences for physical and mental performance. The most important aspect of the body's homeostatic regulation of sleep is that sleep loss is cumulative.  When total nightly sleep is reduced by exactly the same amount each night for several consecutive nights, the tendency to fall asleep in the daytime becomes progressively stronger each day.  Some experts call this phenomenon "sleep debt." The brain records as a debt every hour of sleep that is less than a person's nightly requirement. This snowballing debt may include an hour of sleep lost a week or month ago, as well as the hour lost last night. A large sleep debt can be reduced only by extra sleep.

America is a high-stress society in which in which people don't get enough sleep.  It's crazy that many people function off less than 5 hours sleep per night meanwhile 7 is already cutting it low. Body recovery in general needs proper sleep never mind those who are working hard in the gym as well.  A healthy sleep pattern and lifestyle change may also be a factor but is well worth it as it can add years to your life, not just help with fitness gains.

ref:,, Fitness RX


Partner Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Gator Walk


Wheelbarrow races used to be a favorite competition at picnics, field days, etc... way back when kids were active.  Besides the competition part, they forced the down person to tighten up their core while getting an excellent upper body workout!  The Gator Walk is a slightly different spin on the classic wheelbarrow in that you add a staggered pushup in between each step with your arms.  Unlike the wheelbarrow which can incorporate the speed component, I recommend the Gator Walk be performed in a slow and controlled motion, paying particular attention to tightening your core and preventing your back from swaying towards the ground.  In the example above, I use a Power Wheel rather than a partner to demonstrate how this can be performed solo.  Gonna pump you up! 


Target:  chest, shoulders, arms, core (pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps brachii, rectus abdominus)

Count:  6 count

Description:  Down person starts in a plank position (the top part of a push-up).  The partner then grabs the down person's ankles and stands up.  ** It is important for the partner to keep their arms straight at their sides while holding the partner's ankles so that the incline is not so severe as to stress the down person's shoulders.**  The down person will set the pace while the partner follows slowly.  Keeping a rigid body, the down person will take a full step forward with one hand and do a staggered push-up.  They will then repeat this action with the other hand.  This exercise can be performed for distance, static time, or for desired repetitions.

A Gift from TODAY! Fitness

I'm a big fan of the holiday season and decided that I wanted to do something special and motivational this year in the interest of health and fitness.  Soooo, for the month of December, I decided to provide a FREE, Confidential, Body Composition evaluation for my readers that are local (to Bear, DE) that want to get an accurate starting point before attacking that New Year's resolution J

As you may have heard before, the scale does not tell the whole story!!!  Muscle weighs more than fat and when you first start working out, it is not uncommon to gain a little weight, or have minimal losses, due to building muscle while losing fat.  If anything, you should be infinitely more concerned with how your clothes fit, than what those digits on the scale are telling you!

The session is only about 30 minutes and will include a 3-site skinfold caliper test, and body circumference measurements of 9-sites.  You should wear shorts and a short sleeved t-shirt under your sweats, although this is not an exercise session.  The best way to track your progress is to get a good baseline first.  I recommend waiting for 3 months before checking these measurements again.

Besides developing a firm understanding of your body weight and composition, these measurements will help you to set weight loss goals that make sense based upon body fat rather than weight.

Once completed, you will be mailed the summary report which will include:

  • Percentage Body Fat vs. Percentage Lean Mass

  • Fat Weight vs. Lean Weight

  • Estimated fat loss goal in pounds and percentage based upon recommended health standards.

Soooo, for those of you that are interested in taking me up on this offer, you can Click Here to contact me via email so that we can set up an appointment.    Happy Holidays Everyone!

It's Go Time!

I think for Christmas this year I'm going to ask for a set of guns and a washboard.  I know, judging by the look of Santa, I'm not sure if he knows where to find stuff like that : )  That's ok... I do.  However, if you're looking for the same type of stuff, you'd better be prepared!  There's typically a waiting list to get them, and they aren't available on any store shelves.  To further complicate things, you have to do tons of manual labor, regularly, in order to stay on the waiting list.  And, if that's not bad enough, you have to continue with the regular manual labor after you've received them or you will be forced to return them!  Now how is that fair?  Still... these items have been extremely popular for years and they really retain their value... especially during the summer : )

As we roll into the final month of 2010 I'd like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!  Now is the time to set your goals for 2011... and by setting them I mean WRITE THEM DOWN!  If you have some really big and serious goals, take some before pictures and log your numbers to track your progress.  Stay motivated, work hard, and have some patience.  Good things come to those who wait... but you better be busting your @$$ during that time!  Good Luck!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"Being average means you're as close to the bottom as you are to the top" - John Wooden

youtube of the month --> Beyond Burpees
This is a really old video that I've always liked.  Not much on quality but some great ideas for an awesome exercise! | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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