I've been a big fan of
suspension training for the past few years. Gymnastic
rings, Blast Straps, TRX... there are quite a few options on
the market nowadays that will allow you to perform any of the
countless exercises that suspension training provides
(suspended pushups and inverted rows being among my
favorites). However, for those of you that know me, or
have been reading my newsletter, my first impulse when looking
at purchasing a piece of equipment is the "I can make that"
Much of the suspension
equipment out there is overpriced in my opinion. I did
an article back in 2009 about how I made my
Do-It-Yourself Blast Straps. Which are a
personal favorite of mine (over the TRX design) due to the
independent arm movement. The only drawback that I have
with the blast straps, or any of the other adjustable
suspension straps, is the need to adjust them. This can
slow things down when working with multiple people and I have
actually made multiple sets of blast straps just because of
I have been subscribed to
Bodyweightculture.com for a few years now and they have gotten
more and more attention lately regarding their version of a
suspension training device called the USA (Universal Strength
As you can see
from the picture, the USA has a series of rungs like a mini
ladder. This allows you to rapidly switch positions,
level, and resistance simply by grabbing a different rung of
the ladder. A very simple yet practical solution to my
The USA handles are designed to rotate freely which allows for
less friction on the skin, yet forcing fingers, wrists and
forearms to work harder than on a stabilized bar.
The unique design of the USA also allows for it to be used in
a non-suspended manner for both isometric and resisted
exercises as you fight your own body force.
I've actually made
my own agility ladder before and it was no picnic... a lot of
work involved with all the rope threading through the PVC and
knot tying. In looking at this design, the measuring
involved, and the stability that I would want the finish
product to have... I thought that the purchase of the USA was
justified. Bodyweightculture.com is running a special
currently for $79 (+shipping) and it comes with 3 DVDs (over 3
hours worth of exercises), 2 door anchors, 4 spring clips, 2
foot straps, and a mini zipper duffle... not a bad deal when
compared to the competition. I just received mine a week
or so ago and I do not regret it!
There are certain advantages to the USA
versus the competition:
- The USA can be climbed! Climbing
this thing w/o using your feet (you can put your feet behind
you or in front of you while climbing) is a really great
exercise. Just start on your butt and grab rung after
When two USA apparatuses are attached to one another in
series you get a total length of about 16 feet and 24
steps. That's a lot of climbing fun!
- No adjustments necessary. Beginners can do exercises (ie.
starting with higher rungs on the ladder. As strength builds
you can start going to lower rungs to make the exercise
harder. All positions (Easy/Moderate/Hard) are readily
available w/o any need for adjustment. BIG plus.
- With a novice client, most are unable to do chinups or a pullups.
The USA allows them to utilize leg assistance while
pulling up on the higher rungs or a bar the USA is
attached to. They can control how much leg assistance they
- Like rings, the USA is portable and anything that can be
done on rings can be done using the USA.
You can do Isometric training with the USA.
There are Two "Mastering
the Basics" DVD's included with the USA. The first disc demonstrate a variety of exercises
for different muscle groups. There are exercises for the
Chest, Back, Arms, Shoulders, Legs and Core. Each exercise
is demonstrated and explained exactly to which part of the
muscle group it targets. For example, lower part of the
chest or posterior parts of the shoulders. Disk one also
contains a variety of exercises specific only to the
Universal Strength Apparatus. Those exercises are muscle vs
muscle dynamic resistance exercises and quantum static
isometric resistance exercises. A large variety of exercises
is shown in each section. Disk two demonstrates the
training routines. You can choose a routine for conditioning
that hits the whole body in one workout or split routines.
There is also a promotion for you to choose an additional
DVD from the BWC selections at the time of purchase... not a
USA is a
MUST HAVE for people on the Go! It's
like having a GYM with you at all times that weighs less
Click here to view the USA
page on the BWC site, or if you are interested in ordering
Thin Does Not
Always Mean Healthy
I hear comments all the
time about being able to eat whatever I want just
because I'm in shape and workout all the time.
That is simply not the case. I'll be fighting
the battle with high blood pressure and cholesterol
for the rest of my life due to the family history.
Sure, exercise and eating right help... but that's
no reason to bypass regular doctor visits to keep
tabs on these things. So rather than judging a
book by it's cover... I found this interesting
article in my latest edition of the IDEA Fitness
Individuals with a thin physical appearance take
heed: Health is much more than skin deep.
A study done at the Medical Research Council in
Cambridge, England, discovered that some individuals
who appear to have low body fat may actually be at
high risk for health problems. The study is
published in Nature Genetics (2011; 43, 753-60).
scientists analyzed the genetic code of more than
75,000 people to single out genes associated with
lower body fat percentage. They located a gene
- IRS1 - that seemed to be linked with lower
subcutaneous body fat. However, individuals
possessing this gene also had higher levels of blood
glucose and cholesterol, as well as visceral body
fat. The authors posit that this is evidence
that individuals with the specific variation of the
gene store fat differently than those without the
particularly men, with a specific form of the gene
are more likely to be lean and to develop heart
disease and type 2 diabetes," warned the study
authors in a press release. "In simple terms,
it is not only overweight individuals who can be
predisposed to these metabolic diseases, and lean
individuals shouldn't make assumptions that they are
healthy based on their appearance."
authors added that these findings underscore the
importance of engaging in healthy lifestyle
activities, regardless of one's physical appearance.
Fitness Journal - Oct. 2011
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
Here's another exercise that I
recently became reacquainted with thanks to the P90X DVDs.
I like the deep prayer squat due to the simplicity of the
exercise while providing good targets for my clients to aim
for in order to keep their form in line. The exercise
itself is not very difficult, so I like to do sets of 50 or
more repetitions. Additional resistance can be added by
wearing a weighted vest such as the 40 lb one that I have on
in the picture above.
Target: legs and butt
(quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals)
from a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart
and toes turned slightly outward. With your head up and
back straight, squat down and place your palms together while
touching your elbows to the top or inside of your knees (this
requires you to push your butt backwards). Stand back up
while raising your hands up in a Y position. Repeat for
for Pre-Run Stretching
read more and more about the growing change in
opinion regarding the age old practice of stretching
before running... or before many other forms of
exercise for that matter. I'm sure that most
of us grew up touching our toes, doing the hurdler
stretch, or other examples of the standard
stretching that was so commonplace. However,
there have been quite a few articles published
lately regarding the belief about the need to
warm-up prior to stretching, as well as the
preference towards "dynamic stretching" (flexibility
during sport specific movement; aka ballistic) over
"static stretching" (slow, constant stretch
involving hold of the end position). The
following is one such article that elaborates on
this growing belief trend...
Here's another entry in
a growing list of studies that suggest that
pre-exercise static stretching may hamper athletic
performance. This current study, published in
the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
(2010; 24 , 2274-79), included 10 male collegiate
athletes who participated in a 60-minute treadmill
run on two occasions. One run took place after
16 minutes of static stretching of the major
lower-body muscles; before the other run,
participants simply sat quietly for 16 minutes.
Subjects were then instructed to run for as long as
possible without any knowledge of distance or speed.
The study authors found that "performance was
significantly greater in the nonstretching vs. the
stretching condition, with significantly greater
energy expenditure during the stretching compared
withh the nonstetching condition."
Why does pre-run
stretching hinder performance? "When you
stretch prior to exercise (or when you're not warmed
up), you stimulate the 'protective mechanisms'
within the muscle," states Jason Siegler, PhD, ATC,
FACSM, professor in the department of sport, health
and exercise science at the University of Hull in
England. "Depending on the level of the
stretch, you override the [muscle] spindles and
probably also inhibit some of the afferent neural
pathways to the brain."
In lieu of static
stretching, personal trainer and running coach
Meghan Kennihan of Chicago suggests incorporating
dynamic stretching techniques into a pre-run
routine. "With dynamic stretching you combine
the stretch and warm-up." Kennihan suggests
the following sample exercises to help your clients
prep for the long run"
- high-knee running
- butt kickers
- straight-leg march
- leg swings
IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2011
It's Go Time!
Shhhh... what's that? I heard something. Go run
downstairs and see what it is! What do you mean there is
nothing there? Go run downstairs and check again... and
while you're at it, throw in a set of burpees with those
stair-intervals! The scary thing is that it's as
simple as that folks... the next thing you know, you're
working out! It doesn't take much to get a workout in...
just some motivation to go do it! Now the motivation
part can be tricky, I know. We don't always have the
halloweenys ringing the doorbell to make us get off the couch
or zombie's chasing us down the street. Zombie's chasing
us down the street... now there's a thought. From what I
can tell, zombies aren't all that into cardio... or
flexibility for that matter. They're always lunging
around, stiff legged and gasping for air. Seriously, I
don't think I can help you much if you're worried about a foot
race with one of these guys!
I've been lucky so
far... my daughter actually isn't all that into Halloween
candy. Sure, she'll have a few pieces of something...
but most of it sticks around until the following Halloween!
I guess we set a good example in the house or something... or
my daughter is just unusual
any rate, everything in moderation! A piece here and
there isn't going to kill you, but don't get out of hand!
Oh yeah... one more thing... candy corn is NOT a vegetable
according to the food guide pyramid! Have a safe and
prior issues of this eNewsletter, to subscribe, or
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“My job is to not be easy on
people. My job is to make them better.” - Steve Jobs
youtube of the month -->
Universal Strength Apparatus
promo for the Mastering the Basics DVD that comes with the
Universal Strength Apparatus (USA).