Iso, Tonic, Metric, Huh? Muscles in Action

There are three main types of muscle actions: isotonic (eccentric and concentric), isometric, and isokinetic.

Isotonic muscle action is constant muscle tension. Under this category you’ll find eccentric and concentric. Eccentric muscle action is when a muscle develops tension while lengthening. Force is produced, tension is developed, and movement occurs. Work is actually being done ON the muscle instead of the muscle doing the work. Eccentric motions move in the same direction as the resistance, it is like deceleration. During exercise this looks like landing a jump, or lowering the weight during resistance training. Eccentric motions are also known as “the negative”. Concentric muscle action is when the contractile force is greater than the resistive force, therefore shortening the muscle. This is like acceleration in the sense that the muscle is doing the work by producing the force.

Isometric muscle action is when the contractile force is equal to the resistive force, and shows no change in muscle length. You can see isometric motion when you pause (or hold) during resistance training in between the lifting and lowering phases.

Isokinetic muscle action is when the muscle shortens at a constant speed over the full range of motion. Tension in the muscle is at its maximum throughout the whole range of motion. This can improve strength, endurance, and neuromuscular efficiency. Typically these types of movements are seen in rehab clinics because of the required training equipment.

If you want to take your training to the next level you have to do more than just “lift things up and put them down” try incorporating some of these movements into your current routine!

WTF is a Macro? Bioenergetics & Metabolism

First, lets review some key words so all of this science makes sense. Bioenergetics is the study of energy in the human body. Since we need energy to sustain life, exercise, and recover from it, this is kind of important! Metabolism refers to all of the chemical reactions that occur in the body to maintain itself. It is the process in which nutrients are acquired, transported, used, and disposed of by the body. Exercise metabolism is the relation of bioenergetics to the physiologic changes and demands placed on the body during exercise. Energy. The main energy sources are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (AKA Macros). Phew, onto the Macros…

Fuel for Energy Metabolism

When we eat food, it has to be further broken down into substrates before it can be used for energy. Carbs, fats, and proteins are the main substrates used to transfer energy to the cells.

Macronutrient #1 Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not just bread, bagels, or pasta. Carbohydrates are not the devil either. Carbohydrates are organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which include starches, cellulose, and sugars. Carbohydrates are a good source of fuel for the body during daily activities and exercising. Lack of carbs in the diet can cause fatigue, poor mental function, lack of endurance, and lack of stamina. Hang out with someone on a low carb diet and tell me how friendly they are after the third day. Once carbs are digested they produce glucose (a simple sugar). Glucose is then absorbed and transported in the blood where it circulates until it enters the cell, from there it is either used or stored as energy. Once it is stored it is known as glycogen. Glycogen is a string of glucose molecules that can be broken down and used for energy, especially during long intense exercises. Glycogen is stored in the liver and in the muscles.

Macronutrient #2 Fats. Eating fat will not make you fat… promise. Fat helps the body use vitamins and keeps skin healthy. They are also a great energy source. Triglycerides are the chemical or substrate form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. When excess calories are consumed they are converted in the body as triglycerides and transported to fat cells. Most people have a decent supply of fat, which can be broken down into triglycerides and used for energy (enter the Keto Diet hype).

Macronutrient #3 Protein. The beloved protein. Brotein. The bodybuilders BFF. Protein doesn’t actually supply much energy during exercise and isn’t a significant fuel for energy metabolism. Protein only becomes a significant source of fuel when the body is in starvation. If calories are restricted too much amino acids are used to form glucose, this is known as gluconeogenesis.

Energy During Exercise

Intensity and duration of exercise are inversely related. Immediate energy systems are for a very short-duration exercise, here,  the main fuel source is stored ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and phosphocreatine. When the duration increases (longer than 2 minutes) the main fuel source becomes glucose. When the duration increases even longer, the main fuel source becomes glucose AND fat. After 90 minutes of exercise glycogen stores are basically depleted. When glycogen is used up, the fuel source switches over to fat. Long story short, energy from ATP is limited, energy from carbs (glycogen) is limited, but energy from fat is almost unlimited. Your body needs energy for exercise. Your body needs the correct ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins to function optimally. If you’re overwhelmed by all this crazy science, you’re not alone. There are many personal trainers and dietitians that are able to provide you the correct Macro Ratios to match your goals.

How Do I Train My Clients?

When you train with me we will use all forms of training as a progressive system to  progress you to reach your goals. Three reasons I cycle you through different forms of training are:

  1. Physiologic Benefits
    • Improves cardio respiratory efficiency
    • Enhances hormone and cholesterol
    • Increases metabolism
    • Increases bone density
  2. Physical Benefits
    • Decreases body fat
    • Increases muscle
    • Increases strength in muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  3. Performance Benefits
    • Strength
    • Power
    • Endurance
    • Flexibility
    • Speed
    • Agility
    • Balance

Each form has a purpose that gives you a systematic approach for reaching your goals.

Phases of Training

I use three different levels of training which are stabilization, strength, and power. Within each level there are smaller divisions of training phases.

Level 1 Stabilization Level:

The main focus of this form of training is to increase muscular endurance and stability while developing optimal neuromuscular efficiency (AKA Coordination). The difficulty is increased by challenging your balance and stabilization systems, rather than just increasing the load you’re using.

  • Goals for clients at this level are toImprove muscular endurance
    • Enhance joint stability
    • Increase flexibility
    • Enhance control of posture
    • Improve balance, stabilization, and muscle coordination
  • Training Strategies for clients at this level areTraining in an unstable, yet controllable environment
    • Low loads (weight) and high repetitions

Level 2 Strength Level:

The main focus of this form of training is to increase muscle size (hypertrophy) and lifting heavy (maximal strength). The goal is to enhance stabilization endurance while increasing prime mover strength. Within Phase 2 you will use supersets, where you will perform two sets of similar exercises back-to-back without any rest time in between them. The reason for this is because we want to work the prime movers in the first exercise to elicit prime mover strength, then immediately follow that exercise by challenging the stabilization muscles. Clients who are working in Phase 3 will focus primarily on muscle growth, such as bodybuilders. Clients who are working in Phase 4 will focus on Maximal Strength Training by lifting heavy.

  • Goals for clients at Level 2, Phase 2 areImprove stabilization and increase muscle strength
    • Enhance joint stabilization
    • Increase lean body mass
  • Training Strategies for clients at Level 2, Phase 2 areModerate weights and repetitions (8-12)
    • Supersets (one strength exercise followed by one stabilization exercise)
  • Goals for clients at Level 2, Phase 3 areAchieve optimal levels if muscular hypertrophy
  • Training Strategies for clients at Level 2, Phase 2 areHigh volume, moderate to high loads, moderate to low repetitions (6-12)
  • Goals for clients at Level 2, Phase 4 areIncrease motor unit recruitment
    • Increase frequency of motor unit recruitment
    • Improve peak force
  • Training Strategies for clients at Level 2, Phase 4 areHigh loads, low reps (1-5), and longer rest periods

Level 3 Power Level:

This level of training focuses on the development of speed and power. The goal of this level is to perform a traditional strength exercise with a heavy load and superset it with a power exercise with a lighter load as fast as possible. This trains the muscles to exert maximal amounts of force in a minimal amount of time (rate of force production).

  • Goals for clients at Level 3, Phase 5 areEnhance neuromuscular efficiency
    • Enhance prime mover strength
    • Increase rate of force production
  • Training Strategies for clients at Level 3, Phase 5 areSupersets (one strength exercise followed by one power exercise)
    • Perform all power exercises as fast as can be controlled

Let’s recap!

3 Levels: stabilization, strength, and power.

Level 1 is comprised of Phase 1: Stabilization Endurance Training.

Level 2 is comprised of Phase 2: Strength Endurance, Phase 3: Hypertrophy Training, and Phase 4: Maximum Strength Training.

Level 3 is comprised of Phase 5: Power Training.

This type of training program provides an easy to follow, systematic approach that minimizes injury and maximizes results. It ensures that you will be properly and safely progressed to reach your goals!

Is Your Routine Helping You or Hurting You? Benefits & Barriers of Exercise

Do you want to better your mood? Reduce stress? Improve sleep? Reduce depression and anxiety? Then exercise! We’ve all heard the hype about the health benefits of exercising regularly, but let’s take a closer look at what those benefits actually look like.


Promoting Positivity

No, you don’t need to channel your inner yogi for this one. Many people report feeling good after a workout. Feeling good can mean different things for different people. Feeling good can give you satisfaction, make you feel energized, give you a positive outlook, enhance your alertness, improve your focus and concentration, and even promote relaxation.

Reducing Stress

Stress can manifest itself in many ways either physically or emotionally. Either way, exercise has been shown to reduce stress and provide immediate and long term results. Ask yourself “What time of day would be the most beneficial time for me to exercise and reduce stress?” For some people, exercising in the morning might prepare them for the day ahead. Some people find exercising during their lunch break helps disperse the stress throughout the day. Others find that exercising at the end of the day decreases their stressors and leaves them feeling refreshed by the end of the day. Exercise should reduce your stress, not increase it due to scheduling. Case in point, find what works best for you!

Improve Sleep

Exercise has the ability to help people fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and feel more refreshed in the morning. By getting better sleep you’ll experience a higher resistance to stress-related illnesses, have higher immune function, and feel energized and refreshed in the morning.

Reduce Depression and Anxiety

Worry, self-doubt, and fear, these are the feelings of anxiety. Whether you experience trait anxiety (a personality trait) or state anxiety (a temporary feeling), exercise has been shown to decrease these feelings. Hopelessness can accompany the feelings of anxiety and lead to depression. “Research has shown that regular exercise has the greatest impact on depression and is comparable in effectiveness to psychotherapy and medication for mild to moderate depression” according to the National Academy of Sport Medicine.


So now that you know how your lifestyle can help you, let’s examine how your lifestyle can hurt you. Do you have a busy schedule? Do you want shredded abs by next week? Do you sometimes have low self-confidence? Is working out inconvenient? All of these are potential barriers when starting out on your fitness journey and can be avoided.


Time is the most widely used excuse for not exercising. If you have time to watch TV, scroll through Facebook, or browse Pinterest, then you have time to exercise! Take a step back and ask yourself “How much time am I really spending on these activities?” and “Where can I cut back to make more room for working out?”

Unrealistic Goals

You can’t make up for days, weeks, or years of not exercising by jumping into an intense exercise program to “undo” the damage. You will end up starting way too fast, and create way too many unrealistic goals, leading to lower motivation and a decreased self-esteem. Hiring a personal trainer can help you create SMART goals, and set up a plan to reach your goals in a realistic and healthy way.

Social Physique Anxiety

You’d be surprised to learn how many gym goers overemphasize the difference between their body type and the body type of the people working out around them. So, if you’re feeling more out of shape than the person next to you, chances are they’re thinking the same thing. Try finding a gym partner so you have someone there to support you. If you don’t have a gym partner, try to meet people with similar body types who you’re able to relate to.


Sometimes a gym may be out of reach for people due to their physical location or their financial situation. Examine all options available and then decide what your priorities are. Would you rather exercise at home? Invest in an at home workout routine designed by a personal trainer. Would you rather spend money at the bar or put that towards your health by hiring a personal trainer? For this barrier, ask yourself “Are these barriers real, or am I making excuses?”

Block your barriers so you can bring on the befits!

What Phase of Life Are You In? The 5 Phases of Change

Change goes against what is familiar, stable, and routine. For most people, change is uncomfortable, scary, and unpredictable. This is why, unless there is a really good reason to change the behavior, most people do not change. When there is a good reason (AKA a problem) the change process can begin.

Phase 1: Precontemplation

People in this phase do not exercise, and do not intend to start. People in phase one may have negative thoughts about exercise and believe many myths about exercise. If you are in this phase ask yourself “How do I feel about exercise?” and “Why do I feel this way?”

Phase 2: Contemplation

People in this phase do not exercise, but they are considering it. Misconceptions about fitness may still be present. People in this phase of training should ask themselves “What are the pros of exercise?” and “What are the cons of exercise?”. People in this phase should also ask themselves “What motivates me to become more?”

Phase 3: Preparation

People in this phase exercise occasionally, but are planning to begin a regular exercise routine. They believe in the benefits of exercise. If you are in phase 3 ask yourself “Are my goals and expectations realistic?” and consider building a social support network to help keep you motivated on your new journey.

Phase 4: Action

People in this phase are active, and have started keeping a regular exercise routine. If you are in this phase ask yourself “Do I have a plan to overcome any barriers or disruptions?” some examples of this are a fat loss plateau or a muscle gain plateau, even time can become a barrier. Figure out what you need to do to be successful! Hiring a personal trainer can help redesign your exercise program in this phase.

Phase 5: Maintenance

People in this phase are active and have been active for quite some time. Some may be tempted to return to old habits. If you are in this phase ask yourself “Do I have a check-in plan to monitor my progress?” and “Am I changing up my workout plan?”. If you are struggling in this phase, consider hiring a personal trainer to strengthen your motivation, provide social support, and design a program to fit your personal preferences.

So figure out your starting point and get ready to get after it!

Why Hire a Personal Trainer? The Essential Eight

My goal as a personal trainer is to design safe and individualized programs for each person. I consider your goals, needs, and abilities to design a program that will get you there in a systematic way. I want to provide you support so that you are able to self-manage a healthy active lifestyle. My “Essential 8” reasons to invest in yourself and consult a personal trainer are:

  1. Safety. Hiring a trainer will help you learn the proper form and technique. A personal trainer can also assist, and correct you during your workouts.
  2. Individualized Programs. What works for others may not work for you. A personal trainer will provide you with a fitness program tailored specifically to your goals, needs, and abilities.
  3. Set Goals. Learn how to set goals and create a dialed in vision to achieve success!
  4. Needs. Do you need to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle? Do you need to rehab an injury? Working with a personal trainer can insure you stay on the right path.
  5. Abilities. Not sure where to begin? Being assessed by a personal trainer can get you started on your fitness journey by measuring your true abilities.
  6. Systematic Approach. Maximize your time in this crazy world by performing workouts designed for you to reach your goals quickly and efficiently.
  7. Support. A personal trainer is not there only to take care of the outside, but to also take care of the inside by offering emotional support, companionship, and information.
  8. Self-Management. Learn to manage your own energy, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to change whatever is not working for you!