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April 5, 2016

Swinging in Stapleton

We’ve all heard it before….. “There’s a lot of swinging going on in Stapleton…..” We often shy away from this subject because it’s uncomfortable, and people who don’t do it look down on it and view it as cheating. That being said…. I would like to address the subject of swinging, and whether or not it’s ok to “swing” your weights while working out. Wait….. You thought I was talking about something else? Oh….. OH!!!….. GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER! THIS IS A POST ON FITNESS!! 🙂

In this post, I will be addressing swinging your weights, as well as some other FAQ’s that consistently come up in my experience as a professional fitness trainer. Here we go…

Is swinging your weights ok?

In the past, swinging of weights has always been viewed as cheating. And it is…if you are swinging on every rep. I am very conscientious of form with my clients. Proper form is very important to prevent injuries and muscle imbalances. Lets take a very basic exercise, such as a standing bar curl, for example. In this scenario, I can probably get 8 reps with perfect form. In an ideal world, I would have a spotter following me around the weight room but that’s not realistic. That spotter would help me get 2-3 more reps with his/her assistance, that I couldn’t get on my own. But in this scenario, which is usually the case, I don’t have a spotter. After my 8th perfect rep, I am almost depleted and cannot get another rep. So I swing the weights a little to gain momentum and get 3 more “imperfect” reps. Now I have been able to go past muscle failure without the help of a spotter. In this scenario, I tore down my muscles more than the guy next to me who did only 8 perfect reps. This being said, I am not condoning unsafe form, such as that back wrenching arch that we’ve seen others do. I am talking about a sway to get the bar moving, a rock to the tip toes, or even a slight arch in the back. Safety must always be of upmost consideration. There are also several “lifts” that I would not condone swinging because they are too dangerous, so this advice does not apply across the board. But swinging can be used within reason during many lifts to go past muscle failure to get the most out of your workout.

Will I get bulky?

Many of my female clients, and even some of my male clients worry that weight training will make them get bulky. They worry that every set needs to have high reps to stay away from getting too big. While there is always the exception, this is usually not the case. The huge people that we see in fitness magazines have gotten that way through unnatural means. Even in “natural” bodybuilding competitions, pro hormones are usually considered ok even though there is nothing natural about them. And while I’m going off on a tangent here, the reason I bring this subject up is to support my point that getting large muscles is actually very difficult! It takes persistence and intention to do so! Again, there is always going to be the genetic freak that can build muscle by simply driving by the gym, but those people are few and far between. And there’s even better news for those who fear the fast gain. No matter what, it won’t happen over night! If your legs are starting to put on a little more mass than what you’d like from doing fewer reps, tone it back a few notches, and do higher reps. You won’t wake up with some irreversible, bulky muscle gain. In fact, with fitness, so much of it is trial and error, i.e. finding out what your body responds to the best. Either way, you have the ability to make changes along the way to get the results that you want.


I have a personal trainer, so now can I eat whatever and whenever I want?

Umm…… NO! The workouts you are putting in are just one portion of the pie (sorry to use the word pie when it comes to diet). As a personal trainer, I can help you build an amazing physique, but shedding the layers that are covering that physique takes putting some personal skin in the game! This means you will have to take ownership of your diet, as well as other fitness aspects apart from seeing me. And believe it or not, I want you to get the results you want just as badly as you do! But like anything in life, good things do not come easily and they take work and preparation. To see what it looks like when clients not only train hard, but clean up their eating habits, take a look at my Stapleton Personalized Training Facebook page. I am so proud of my clients!


I want to get a six pack! If I do enough sit-ups, will I get a six pack?

The answer is yes and no, but mainly not at all. Does that make any sense? Here is what I mean by that. Fat loss is not site-specific. When I get a new client who wants to lose weight, and we get going on a dialed-in program, his or her stomach is usually not the first place I see change. And that stinks, but it’s just the way it is. In fact, what I’ve seen over many years is that the first phase of weight loss shows up mostly in the neck area as well as the extremities. Bummer! But there is a silver lining to this. Those are just the most noticeable areas, and your body does lose weight as a whole unit. And the majority of us have our clothes on when we’re with other people (back to that heading that roped you into reading this!) so people might notice your weight loss sooner as that collar becomes a little loose. All of this is “mostly” irrelevant though, without a proper diet (see paragraph above). The only way you would get a six-pack from doing sit-ups (or core-only training) would be if you trained your core so intensely that you burned enough calories to see a difference. But even then, you’re usually not going to see those results in your mid-section first anyway.

I’ve heard of fasting cardio. What is it, and does it work?

The joy of being in the fitness industry is that there will be studies that support exactly what you want to hear, as well as studies that completely contradict what you want to hear. So everything that I am writing on this blog is primarily based on my own experience, although I do keep up on studies that are being conducted in the field. Back to the question above… When the body starts getting active, the first thing that it burns are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates happen to be one my favorite things to shove down my gullet, and also a good thing to minimize when trying to lose weight. Argh! After burning carbs, the body goes into fat burning mode. This is the zone you want to be in to lose weight. With this principle in mind, “fasting cardio” is doing a cardiovascular workout 10 to 12, or even more, hours after your last meal, or for most people, before breakfast. The theory behind it is that the last meal you’ve had was the previous night, so your body has burned through more carbs than if your last meal was a couple hours ago. Now you will enter that fat burning zone faster because your storage of carbs is already more depleted. I do fasting cardio when I want to cut weight, and it has worked well for me. It took me a while to get used to this because I never would have imagined doing a workout without a recent meal in my stomach. I would have compared it to doing a 500 mile car race and starting with a half tank of gas. But once I got used to it, I began to feel more efficient and lighter on my feet during the workout.

What is the best way to work out?

I get asked this one all the time, and there is just no short answer. But I can tell you a couple things that I do with my clients that I’ve found work very well. First off, I keep “switching it up.” Studies show that muscles need muscle confusion for optimum growth (I’ll explain this concept more in another blog). Plus, that same old workout will just get boring after a while! What I do with my clients, with some exceptions, is have them do two completely different workouts. It doesn’t matter if I have a client that comes once a week or 3 times a week. The 1st routine will be brand new, as well as the 2nd routine. The 3rd routine will be the same routine as #1, but now we have a baseline to improve upon, and my clients almost always do! The amazing thing is, they usually get further through the routine, and also get more reps in per set! And it makes it fun, because even those that think they don’t have a competitive bone in their body usually find they do! Routine 4 is the same as routine 2, and then I create 2 more brand new routines and we do it all over again. It’s quite simple and effective, yet I have not found another trainer who trains this way. I even have one client who told me she had been doing the same routine for over a year with her prior trainer! Ouch. There is another form of training I’ve created that I found caused my clients to get 20% more reps in during a session. But I’m going to leave that for my next post….

Thanks for reading! To see more, please go to the Stapleton Personalized Training Facebook page.  We’ve got a competition coming up that involves 1st, 2nd and 3rd place cash prizes! Who will the winner be? Joe? 🙂

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