Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, “I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?”

Who was the first person to say, “See that chicken there? I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its butt.”

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Client Spotlight: Anne Chen

During a century bike ride, my best cycling outfit was shredded when I crashed and fractured the neck of my femur. After emergency surgery and spending over 5 months on crutches, I realized what a gift it is to be able to move freely without fear of injury. So as soon as my physical therapist gave me the green light to join Chris’ conditioning class, I jumped at the chance to rebuild my muscles. Since then, I have come to appreciate that the benefits of his training far exceeded my expectations. Chris’ classes and consultations have played an integral role in rebuilding my confidence with physical activities.
When Chris and I met for a personal fitness consultation, I told him that one of my main goals is to minimize the risk of serious injury while exercising or cycling. I also asked him to teach me how to run correctly and mentioned that my dream goal was to enter a bike race. Chris designed a perfect program for me to work towards my fitness goals. I have enjoyed every workout. Chris’ class combined with his training advice has been instrumental in my return to activities. I feel safe in class and much more confident in other physical activities.

As I returned to my previous fitness level on the bike, I crashed during a training ride and broke my scapula. It was amazing how quickly it healed, and I was able to get back to my usual physical activities in a short period of time in order to attend a training camp for cyclists. I believe this is partly due to the workouts designed by Chris, because a cyclist with strong, balanced muscles will fair better in the event of an accident.

Now my cycling workouts are planned around Chris’ classes, and I really look forward to working out with him. I love moving from exercise to exercise and working as hard as possible during the circuits. At the end of class, I feel exhilarated and a little sad that it’s over. I’ve come to realize that the workout is quite thorough and safe. One of the best features of the class is that people can work at different ability levels. In particular, the class has been invaluable for my return to more advanced impact activities. Thank you Chris for all the corrections on my landings, stances, and knee positions. And thanks for helping me achieve my dream goal: I entered a criterium bike race, and even though I was only in the lead briefly and my calves were cramping towards the end of the race, I stayed with the group. There were even a few moments when time seemed to stand still and I felt great, absorbed in the bright colors of the uniforms and the sounds of the spinning gears.

SPARQ Invitation Schedule for 2008

For those of you that are interested in heading to one of the SPARQ Football combines this year, take a look at the schedule (under the link) and get signed up. Coaches from all over the nation see the results.

Vizual Edge: Weight Training for the Eyes

Prevail Conditioning is committed to providing industry-best training tools and methods. The Vizual Edge Performance Training tool is something we’ve added to our offerings this past year. Take a look at their website for more information where you’ll find additional research and see the vast number of organizations that are utilizing this tool.
Read the most recent research study on the Vizual Edge performance training below:

Study by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Professors Confirms that Training with Software Enhances Hitting Skills
Islander baseball players show significant improvement in off-season tests

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A recent study conducted by a research team from the University’s Kinesiology Department demonstrated significant improvement in the hitting performance of Islander baseball players after enhancing their visual skills. The athletes trained their visual aptitudes with Vizual Edge, a commercial software program specifically designed to assess and train visual skills of athletes.

The research team is headed by Dr. Frank Spaniol and includes Drs. Bonnette, Melrose and Ocker, and graduate assistant Jeff Paluseo. The purpose of this study, which was a follow-up investigation conducted by Spaniol and Bonnette with the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, was to determine the validity of the Vizual Edge software in relation to improving hitting performance in baseball. Designed by Dr. Barry Seiller M.D., an ophthalmologist from Chicago, Vizual Edge was created to improve visual skills. The critical question was, “would improving visual skills using Seiller’s software actually translate into improved performance?”

According to Seiller, “Visual skills can be evaluated and trained…….Elite high school, university, Olympic and professional athletes now incorporate visual performance into their training programs.” Dr. Spaniol, who played and coached Division I baseball, concurs and states, “It makes little sense to waste valuable training time working on something if it doesn’t translate into improved on-field performance.”

After the fall 2007 Islander baseball season the research team tested the software’s viability. Utilizing a ‘pre-test, post-test’ design players were randomly selected for treatment and control groups. The treatment group trained their visual skill with Vizual Edge, while the control group did not have the benefit of using the software. Because the study was conducted in the off-season, players did not take part in any structured batting practice. At the onset of the study subjects from both groups were tested for visual skills to determine eye alignment, eye flexibility, visual recognition, visual memory, and visual tracking. After achieving a baseline score, the treatment group received training on the software three times a week for five weeks.

A composite VEPT score was also calculated for each subject, which was used to establish personalized training protocols for the treatment group. Batting performance was determined by measuring the batted-ball velocity of pitches delivered at 76-to-80 mph by a pitching machine to assure consistency. Each subject received two rounds of six swings for a total of 12 attempts. Data analysis included a t-test to assess whether the two groups were statistically different from each other, by comparing post-test batted-ball velocity data. Results determined a significant difference between the batted-ball velocities of the treatment group as compared to the control group.

“We’ve known from previous survey studies that professional baseball players believe that training with Vizual Edge enhances their performance. The results of this study confirmed that college baseball players who trained with Vizual Edge outperformed those who did not,” points out Spaniol.

SPARQ Training Hits Primetime

SPARQ Training is becoming more and more nationally recognized.

Becoming a better athlete is not as simple as adding plates to your squat and bench…it’s about the combination of Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness and movement efficiency. It’s about testing and training to be a better athlete.

Coaches from high schools and universities all over the country are tracking the SPARQ Testing and Combine Results.

Take a look at this recent national ad spot.

For more information about SPARQ Training for yourself or your team, contact me @ 925.285.0924 or

A Question for the Guru

Over the years I’ve worked out my chest like a mad man. In spite of a lot of hard work I can’t seem to see much development of my upper chest. I see growth in my shoulders, but I want boobs! Specifically, are there any exercises or that really target the Upper/Inner chest?


Okay, Vince, you asked for it so strap in because we’re gonna be here for a while. And no, I didn’t edit the question because…well…you needed to be exposed after asking a question like that.

Every man’s dream, big pecs and bis…the beach muscles. I hope you are frequenting the beach with skim board in tow again, otherwise what in the world are we talkin’ about?!

As always, I’ll offer a multifaceted answer since, as hard as I try to believe and follow the KISS principle, it is yet too lofty a goal.

Since I know and have worked with you on your program design over the years I can tell you that this is one of the simple reasons you (and many men) don’t perceive great pectoralis development, when in reality it’s already there. Slouching increases the kyphotic curvature (upper back) and, in essence, concaves your chest or anterior thoracic cavity. The good news if you find yourself in this situation?…you may be able to get a role as Quasimodo in local theater and pick up a few extra bucks. The bad news?…you look Pec-Less.

Ever watch bodybuilders pose (what am I saying…you own the “Pumping Iron: Special 25 Year Anniversary Edition”)? I’m guessing you’re familiar with Arnold’s infamous side chest pose. Notice the posture: excessively lifted chest, which is brought about by an increased lordotic curvature in the spine (low back arch). Yes they are all genetic freaks that use excessively too much “unnatural” assistance leading to ridiculously overdeveloped musculature. But the point is simple…they pose this way because it does increase the appearance of pectoralis size (see pics below).

Take a look at these Arnold pics. Notice that in an exercise that forces some pectoralis firing, it doesn’t look nearly as big as you’ve probably seen in other pictures. Why? Posture. Also, when he’s standing in what’s considered anatomical position and not excessively lifting his chest like in the picture above, his upper pec does not look nearly as developed.

Take Home Message: Stand up tall, use good posture. Increasing the strength and stability of your upper back (mid/lower traps, rhomboids) and all spinal erector groups will improve the appearance and perception of pec development (not to mention the health of your shoulders).

Most people don’t have as significant a number of upper pectoralis muscle fibers (clavicular area of pectoralis) as they do mid and especially lower pectoralis fibers (sternal area of pectoralis). Just the way we’re made. Why? Ask God. If you see the guys in the gym who have amazing upper pec development, first take a look at their posture. Good, right? Second, evaluate how big their upper pecs really are (or is it just posture?). If they have amazing pec development, you have my permission to hate them (I do). Somehow the wires got crossed and they got the pecs you ordered.

Again, take a look at bodybuilder pics. It’s reasonable to say that even they don’t all have amazing upper pecs, they simply have ridiculously low bodyfat and know how to pose; both of which increase appearance. The guy to the left does not have big upper pecs (more lower pec development than anything), but his pecs look big due to low bodyfat and posture.

Not enough variation in exercise/program design

Significant and common limitation. Simply stated, there is no best program…just better plans. Gotta be in it for the long haul, and in doing so it’s a necessity to constantly adapt program variables in order to stimulate muscle growth. I think you’ve made some great improvements in this area integrating Tudor Bompa’s periodization models. Just don’t stop there. Bompa is certainly one of the smartest guys in the business, but I don’t think he addresses exercise and tempo variations to a great degree. Keep in mind that he has primarily worked with athletes (who’s goals are not maximum hypertrophy but are more focused on hypertrophy in order to maximize strength and power; and yes, there is a difference).

Take Home Lesson: program/exercise/tempo changes are necessary for someone like you (more advanced lifter) on a more frequent basis. Small changes should be made weekly (subtle tempo, rep, weight alterations). More significant changes should be made every month to 3 months (exercise choices, exercise order/pairing, rep schemes). Remember, the longer you train, the more frequent variation you need to continue progressing.

Not enough isolated work negating closed chain movements
Isolated (or “biased” to be more correct) muscle work is a necessity for maximum hypertrophy.

Quick Exercise Physiology 101 review:
Isolated movements/exercises are those that are generally single joint or open chained exercises. Examples would include pec flyes and dumbbell chest press, respectively. It’s easiest to explain what an open chained exercise is by explaining what it isn’t. A Barbell Chest Press is a closed chained exercise (arms form a chain link with the barbell). Therefore, the dumbbell chest press is an open chain since it does not form a chain link. This explanation is oversimplified but will usually suffice. Going a bit deeper, in a closed chained exercise, movement at one joint forces movement at another joint.

Open Chained Exercises

Who cares, huh? Open chained exercises allow for more focused/biased muscle fiber work. Closed chain exercises recruit more overall musculature and may therefore not allow the emphasis necessary to bring up “weaker” or smaller muscles.

Sidenote: this is why you can always to more total weight with a barbell bench than a dumbbell bench.

Take Home Lesson: make sure you’ve got plenty of isolated/biased pec (and specifically upper pec) exercises in your program for at least 3-6 months of the year.

Not enough time under tension
Another program design variable. Refers to how long a muscle is working (maintaining tension) during a set. Research tells us that in order to achieve hypertrophy, the time under tension (TUT) for a muscle during a set should be at least 20 seconds and up to 60 seconds. This stimulates a variety of hormonal responses leading to muscle rebuilding and remodeling post muscle breakdown.

For this to happen you must perform either within a general rep range that best allows for this (which is why you usually see ranges of 6-12 or even 15 for hypertrophy) or slow down your tempo when performing less reps (which is why you may see 4-2-2 to 2-1-1 and everything in between).

Sidenote: the tempo delineation is read as follows…
First number is the eccentric (lowering) action of the lift
Second number is the pause between eccentric and concentric

Third number is the concentric (lifting) action of the lift

More exercises focusing on increased ROM
If you want to build more muscle then you’ve got to recruit more muscle fibers. Contrary to popular magazines and muscle head thought, you can’t work your “inner” pec (meaning the middle area near the sternum) by really squeezing the dumbbells together at the end of the pec fly. That’s ridiculous. Anybody who’s read basic muscle physiology knows that muscle fibers don’t contract in sections, they contract completely. It’s call the “All or None Principle.” Either a fiber contracts all the way or not at all.

The point? When you want hypertrophy it’s important to recruit as many of the fibers as possible. How? By pushing the muscle to greater levels of fatigue, allowing incomplete recovery between sets (short rest of 30-60 seconds), and making certain to include exercises that work a muscle through its maximal/safe range of motion.

Take Home Lesson: do exercises that allow the arms to move through full horizontal adduction (hands come all the way together in front of the body)…UNDER TENSION (this is the key). You can accomplish this with machines and cables but usually not with dumbbells. If you bring dumbbells all the way together at the top of the lift (like the tough guys do who like to slam them together each rep so everyone knows how much weight they’re lifting), you will most likely rest the muscle and lose tension on your pec since the arm is essentially in a balanced position (direction of resistance aligns with lever moving the resistance).

Under Tension (not resting)

Not under Tension (resting)

Not receiving enough frequency in program.
If it is a body part that is weak (compared to other musculature development in your body) then it needs priority in your program and must be targeted every 3-4 days. When focusing on “bringing up” a weak body part, it simply takes more time and priority in your program. That means other areas will have to be maintained while you attempt to increase pec size. There isn’t enough time in the week (or recovery ability of most people) to simply add more pec work into an already full workout program.

By the way, I didn’t mention that your exercises should be more of an inclined bench/fly nature in order to target the clavicular head of the pec…but did I really need to?

Hope that helps, Vince. And yes, you’re still my inspiration even though you made me write a lame bodybuilding blog.

Someday I’m sure you’ll look like this recent photo of me (I know I know…my upper pecs are still a little weak). Keep workin’ buddy.

*Pictures from

February Core Conditioning

Here is the February program for my Core Conditioning training class at Hayashida & Associates Physical Therapy Clinic. For those of you who are athletes, weekend warriors, or just looking for something different than the typical “gym” workout…put this into effect for a month and watch your agility, stability, balance, explosiveness and core strength improve. If you are an athlete, you can utilize this program as a pre-season, in-season or off season program for improving strength and power endurance.Variations and progressions exist with each exercise.
Holler with questions:

Dynamic Warm Up (5-10 minutes)

Core Circuit (2-4 Sets / 30 seconds each / 0-5 seconds between exercises)
Leg Raise Flutter Kicks
DB Stability Squat (uneven load)
Side Bridge w/ Acceleration or Max Velocity Leg Action
Repeat above (other side)
Standing BB Russian Twist
Bicycle Crunch / Prone MB Passes

Explosive / Balance Circuit (same sets/time)
Single Leg Ipsilateral BodyBlade
Kettlebell Swings (we used DBs)
Squat Push Lateral
Single Leg Balance and MB Slams
Jump Rope (vary pattern)

Agility / Lift Circuit (same sets/time)
Handstand Push Up
Partner MB Agility Tosses (one tosses while other squats)
Switch above role
Forward/Backward Walking Lunge (AC or MV Leg Action)
Shuffle 5 yards/Sprint 5 yds
Pull Ups or Alternating Lat Pulldown

Active-Isolated Stretching Cool Down (5-10 minutes)
Arm Hugs
Knee Hug Walks
Quad Stretch Walks
Straight Leg High Kick Walks
Piriformis Stretch Walks
Hip Circles

Make sure you can do exercises with perfect posture and landing technique prior to progressing to more difficult variations.


Consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program and stop at the onset of any pain or dizziness.

January Core Conditioning

Here is the January program for my Core Conditioning group training class at Hayashida & Associates Physical Therapy Clinic. For those of you who are athletes, weekend warriors, or just looking for something different than the typical “gym” workout…put this into effect for a month and watch your agility, stability, balance, explosiveness and core strength improve. If you are an athlete, you can utilize this program as a pre-season, in-season or off season program for improving strength and power endurance.Variations and progressions exist with each exercise.

Holler with questions:
Dynamic Warm Up (5-10 minutes)

Core Circuit (2-4 Sets / 30 seconds each / 0-5 seconds between exercises)
Swiss Ball Off Bench Obliques
Cable Squat w/no Rotation (arms at 90 flexion)
Cable Standing Y-T-W-L
Prone Bridge w/Acceleration Punch
Supine Bridge w/Acceleration Punch
Explosive / Balance Circuit (same sets/time)
Shuttle Repeat Jumps
Cable Lift Half Kneel (Explosive)
Fast Squat Progression (1/4, 1/2, Full)
1/4 Turn Jump & Stick (or in Agility Ladder)
Mountain Climbers on Slide
MB Tramp Side Toss
Agility / Strength Circuit (same sets/time)
Cable Squat and Chest Press (Jammer)
Agility Ladder (Push/Recover or 90 degree Hops)
Swiss Ball Leg Curl to Hip Lift
Squat – Bicep Curl – Shoulder Press
Figure 8 Runs (or use roller chair)
MB Alternating Lateral Lunge (or on Bosu)
Active-Isolated Stretching Cool Down (5-10 minutes)
Arm Hugs
Knee Hug Walks
Quad Stretch Walks
Straight Leg High Kick Walks
Piriformis Stretch Walks
Hip Circles
Make sure you can do exercises with perfect posture and landing technique prior to progressing to more difficult variations.
Consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program and stop at the onset of any pain or dizziness.

10 Minute Workouts

Chris, nice job posting some program design examples.

How bout a 10 minute workout? Can it be done?

Tim MacDonald

P.S. congrats on the M & F gig, well deserved.


I see more and more workouts that are published and advertised as such (10 minute workouts or less). I think they all got popular back when the good ol’ “8 Minute Ab” tapes hit the market several years ago.

Truth be told, everyone wants to get great results with minimal time–and perhaps effort (matter of fact, this is one of my client’s Mantras). While we’ve got to be realistic about this deal, the short answer to the question is, ‘yes.’

I am a firm believer in the adage “something is better than nothing.” I heard a trainer several years ago actually coin a “10 Minute Rule” for his client workouts. His point: if your clients can get in at least 10 minutes of activity, have them do it. Usually what happens is once you get in 10 minutes an individual is more likely to get in 5 or 10 more since he/she is already engaged. But even if they don’t, they’ve still burned more calories and gained health benefits they otherwise would not have.

Here are some guidelines for 10 minutes workouts:
1. Use the Tri Set/Mini Circuit Workouts I posted as a start.
2. Get in as much as you can in 10 minutes (don’t stop moving).
3. Get it in at least 4x/week.
4. Be realistic about the results. You will NOT get ripped in 10 days (or even 4 weeks) despite what the commercials hype…but you will get in better shape and maintain your health.
*By the way, if you DO get your nutrition in order, it IS possible to drop some great bodyfat and increase muscle in 1-2 months by implementing these simple workouts.

Thanks for the question, Tim. Hope that helps.

Prevail Conditioning