Monthly Archives: April 2013

Fitness in Ancient History

The Paleolithic Era (about 2.6 million years age) eventually inspires the Paleo Diet and workout programs.


776 B.C.  First Olympic Games recorded. The Pentathalon, Wresting, Pankration (Forerunner of Mixed Martial Arts) and Equestrian Events have been recorded as the first sports of the games.  It has been revealed that wrestling is being considered for removal from future Olympic Games.


460-370 B.C.  Hippocrates drops health knowledge bombs that have truly stood the test of time.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

“Walking is man’s best medicine. ”

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest 
of human blessings, and learn how by his own 
thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”


431-404 B.C.  Sparta rises to dominance.   Inspires Frank Millers and Lynn Varleys acclaimed 300 Graphic Novel, Eventually leads to The Spartan Race (2001), cinematic adaptation (2007) and 300 Workout.

Image4th Century B.C.  “Marketing” of Olympic Athletes begins.  This sets the stage for Wheaties and all other forms of endorsements.  Amazingly, little is known about nutrition during this period.

350 B.C.  First evidence of hunter-gatherer tribes found in Colorado.  The original organics!

341-270 B.C.  Epicurus, Greek philosopher, original “Dr. Feelgood” and proponent of “No Pain- NO PAIN!” speaks on the importance of positive thinking.



Protein Quality, Quantity and Timing

Originally posted 26 Apr, 2013 – NASM Monthly Insider


By Fabio Comana, MA, MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES
NASM Director, Continuing Education

Proteins are both a source of interest and controversy amongst athletes and individuals seeking to improve performance and overall health.  Although there is much to discuss with respect to protein and health (e.g., gluten, soy, etc.), our goal is to address proteins needs for the active individual.  For these individuals, perhaps the most frequently asked question is whether they require additional protein in their diets?  While the research is somewhat inconclusive, support does exist for additional protein for endurance and resistance-trained individuals considering how more protein feeds into the energy pathways (approximately 5 – 10 % of total kcal versus 1 – 5 % for the average adult), and how much more proteins are needed to synthesize muscle tissue.

While the current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight (0.364 g per pound), average protein intakes for American males and females are estimated at 1.15 kg and 0.94 grams per kilogram of body weight respectively (44% and 18% more than the recommended guidelines).  For inactive individuals, this poses some health concerns with the liver and kidneys, with dehydration, and with potential calcium losses from the bones.  In 2009, however, a joint position statement by the American Dietetic Association (now known as Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), Joint Dietitians of Canada and American College of Sports Medicine made the following recommendations for active individuals:

  • Endurance events (training or engaging in 10 hours or more of more vigorous weekly exercise): 1.2 – 1.4 g per kilogram of body weight
  • Resistance training (training for muscle hypertrophy or strength): 1.4 – 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

ü  National Strength and Conditioning Association position statement recommends 1.5 – 2.0 g per kilogram of body weight.

Protein synthesis rates generally increase by 100 % over resting rates during the post-exercise period (recovery), enhancing our opportunities to build muscle.  Research demonstrates that consuming proteins within 30 – 45 minutes after exercise can increase protein synthesis rates by 150 % over resting rates, but feeding quality proteins (6 grams of essential amino acids – EAA, plus 35 grams of carbohydrates) within 60 minutes prior to exercise further increased protein synthesis rates.  Six grams of EAA is equivalent to approximately 15 – 18 grams of a quality whey protein isolate, and while perhaps not as effective as amino acids, whey powders are more accessible and convenient.  Furthermore, although the inclusion of carbohydrates with protein may facilitate amino acid uptake in cells (enhanced insulin function), their consumption close to exercise and consequent insulin response may compromise performance (lowering blood sugar and inhibiting fat mobilization temporarily).

Do alternative whole foods exist that provide this same amount of amino acids?  Consuming two hard-boiled eggs, one small chicken breast, three cups of cooked white rice, or six slices of wheat bread can all provide approximately six grams of amino acids, but one must consider the feasibility of ingesting this amount of food inside of 60 minutes of exercise.

Read the ingredient label on some protein powders and you might get easily confused by the various types of proteins listed.  Although egg and other protein powders are available (e.g., soy), milk-based powders are the most popular.  Milk protein consists primarily of casein and whey with casein accounting for approximately 70 – 80% of cow’s milk protein while whey accounts for approximately 20 %. When milk coagulates (curdles), the translucent-white liquid created is rich in whey, while the curd is rich in casein.  Whey protein contains high amounts of branched chain amino acids (BCAAS) that are important to protein synthesis (especially leucine).  When dried, this white liquid forms whey powder, which is often used as a food additive.  However, further removal of fats, milk sugars, minerals and ash, spurred the growth of protein supplements to what we now call whey concentrates (cheapest), whey isolates and whey isolate hydrolysates (most expensive).

Component Whey Powder Whey Concentrate Whey Isolate

Protein %

11 – 14.5 %

25 – 89 %

> 90 %

Lactose %

63 – 75 %

10 – 55 %

< 1.0 %

Milk Fat %

1.0 – 1.5 %

2.0 – 10 %

< 1.0 %

Casein forms a gel (clot) in the stomach thus slows gastric emptying and amino acid uptake into the body to build tissue. Whey on the other hand empties rapidly from the stomach and is quickly assimilated into the body.  Given this information, whey is therefore a better source before and immediately following exercise.  Casein on the other hand provides a sustained, slow release of amino acids into the blood, sometimes lasting for several hours.  This may be the better choice several hours following exercise (to continue muscle synthesis) or perhaps at night before bed (in smaller quantities) to reduce potential negative nitrogen balances that often occur during an overnight fast

Hiring a Personal Trainer 101

Today’s post is my 101 guide to hiring a personal trainer.  Hiring a trainer is an investment and I fully belief that everyone would benefit from having a personal trainer, even if only for a brief period.  That said, not all personal trainers are created equal, nor are they necessarily well-qualified or experienced to do what they are being paid to do.

The two main types of trainers  

Gym Staff Trainers.  These men and women are employees of  the gym and are paid a portion of whatever you are being charged for personal training services.  These trainers can only work within their own franchise gym, and sometimes only at a certain location within the franchise.  They are usually not allowed to train clients outside of the gym.  The credentials and experience level of these trainers varies widely.

Independent Trainers:  These men and women are self-employed and may work out of the same gyms where staff trainers are employed.  Generally the independent trainer pays the host gym either a percentage of each session or pays a flat monthly rent fee.  These trainers generally have the freedom to work at multiple locations.  The credentials and experience of these trainers also varies widely.

In my opinion, the honesty and transparency of the trainer, results their clients achieve, experience, education and professionalism are the main points I would look for when deciding on hiring a personal trainer.

Questions to ask a potential trainer (Staff or Independent)

Q1. What is your educational background and credentials?   While I have stated before that a credential is only as good as the trainer that holds it,  there is also the fact that not all credentials are created equal.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are all well-regarded credentialing organizations .  The credentialing exams for these organizations are known for being highly difficult and several of their areas of specializations require a minimum of a bachelors degree just to sit the exam.

Below is a short list of the more prestigious credentials under each organization:



Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP), Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES), Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT), Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET) and Health Fitness Specialist (HFI – sometimes shown as HFS.)



Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) and Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)

NASM also offers credentials in Fitness Nutrition (FNS), Weight Loss (WLS), MMA Conditioning (MMACS) and special populations (Children, Senior Citizens and Female specific training.

NSCACertified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Some trainers will only hold the CSCS designation as the CPT is not an entry requirement.  Current CSCS graduates must hold a bachelors degree in any field of study in order to sit for the exam.  Previous CSCS graduates were required to hold a bachelors degree in an exercise related field.  NSCA also offers the Certified Special Populations Specialist (CSPS) and Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) credentials.

My follow-on questions would be “How long have you been certified?” and “How long have you been employed/working at this gym?”

By no means am I purposely excluding other organizations and the trainers they produce. There are trainers with far less prestigious credentials that are exceptional at their craft.  The three organizations listed above have historically been recognized as the top three within the industry.

Other certifications of note: USA Weightlifting Coach (USAW Coach), Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC), Medical Exercise Specialist/ Post Rehab Conditioning Specialist (AAHFRP MES/PRCS) USA Triathalon Coach, SEALFit Coach and the ISSN CISSN Sports Nutrition certification.

Gym owners can choose any certifications they want to hire.  Some are highly selective and others are not.  In some cases there are people hired as trainers that are not credentialed, accomplished, experienced or formally educated currently working as personal trainers.  While I personally value both experience and accomplishment, they have  to be something that can be verified.

Q2:  Is your certification current?   Yes, some trainers let their credentials lapse.  Either the gym or the trainer should be able to furnish proof of certification via hard copy,  phone number or internet link.   If the certification has elapsed, I wonder what else this trainer is not paying attention too.


Q3: Do you have current CPR/AED/Basic First Aid Certification?  Ask to see proof! Yes, there really are (somehow) ways to “earn” CPR qualification online.  ACSM, NASM and NSCA all require valid CPR/AED certification prior to taking their exams along with most other accredited certifications.  Most, not all.  Furthermore, not all gyms check.

Worst case scenario: Can this person save your life, or at least sustain it until more qualified help arrives?  This is of double importance if you have a chronic disease, disability, frail or are highly deconditioned.

Q4: Do you have current liability insurance?  Independent trainers only- Ask to see proof.  Gym trainers are usually covered under their employer, doesn’t hurt to ask the gym manager to clarify.

Q5: What is your experience working with clients with the  same (or similar) needs/age as myself?  I have a good friend  that is a trainer at another one of our gym locations that  has been a top-5 national level bodybuilder for the past several years.  By his own admission he knows little about corrective exercise and rehab.

I hold a specialization in corrective exercise, but have very little knowledge of bodybuilding, save for how to build muscles.  Although both of us can help someone get in better shape, we each have areas in which we specialize and are inexperienced.  Neither of us would try to pass ourselves off as experts in something that we are not.

Q6: Do you have any current clients I can speak with that can testify on behalf of your skills (and cost) as a trainer?  Ideally, you would be able to have a face to face meeting with the client.  There is NO GUARANTEE the phone number the trainer gave you is ACTUALLY A CLIENT.  You could have been slipped the number for a friend of theirs.

Q7: What is your availability?  You want a trainer that can accommodate your days/times.  Unlike the trainer, your life may not revolve around fitness.  That said, a highly qualified and capable trainer that you get along with is worth moving a few things around for.

Q8: What are your session rates, forms of payments, session lengths and cancellation policies?  Most of this falls under independent trainers.  Gym staff trainers are held to a standard session lengths with the gym receiving the monthly personal training package money and a portion given to the trainer per session trained.   Gym staff trainer pay varies from company to company.

Q9: What is the trainers fitness philosophy?  I believe that any trainer with their salt (and your $) should be able to answer this question quickly and truthfully.  If they BS’d you, it will certainly be revealed during your training sessions.

Bad Trainer


My follow on question to this is “What is your fitness background?  This by itself may not be that important, but it would be nice to know where your trainer is coming from in their line of thinking and training.

Q10: What if I am unhappy with you as my trainer?  As the customer, you have the right to fire your personal trainer.  In the case of gym staff trainers your contract is with the gym, not with a particular trainer.  If you feel that your trainer is not serving your best interest then see the gyms fitness manager or general manager.  I make this point quite clear during my initial assessment and first training with new clients.   I don’t take it personal and certainly don’t hold any hard feelings over it.

Not getting along with your gym trainer, or not getting a particular trainer of choice (due to the trainers lack of availability) is generally not considered grounds to terminate your personal training contract.



Being a Green Athlete

Allow me to preface this blog by saying that although I am a meat eater I think being green is cool.

Hippie green

According to a 2008 Vegetarian TImes survey there were 7.3 million people that considered themselves vegetarians in the United States, approximately 1 million of which considered themselves vegan.  

With the abundance of food in the U.S, vegetarianism is generally considered a choice, typically for health, religious, environmental or ethical reasons.

Confusion exists over the true benefits of vegetarian diets, especially when it comes to athletic performance. Although these diets generally promote improved health, they also pose some legitimate health concerns. Vegan diets tend to be low in iron, zinc, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin D and B12, and possibly protein, all nutrients necessary for overall health and performance.  As these nutrients are readily available and absorbed efficiently from animal sources, vegetarians who include animal products in their diet do not need to be concerned.

Perhaps the most important and possibly misunderstood concern lies with protein quantity and quality.  While athletes require more protein, the average American female and male consume approximately 19 % and 44 % more protein respectively than the recommended daily allowance. But do vegetarian athletes consume adequate quantities of protein to sustain tissue maintenance, growth and repair?

Vegetable protein sources, with the exception of soy, are absorbed less efficiently into the human body, and almost all lack or are deficient in one or more of the essential amino acids needed to build cells and tissues. Consequently, vegetarian athletes need to pay particular attention to both protein quantity and quality.

Vegetarian/Vegan Sources of Protein

Low Carb Flat bread,  Kidney/Baked Beans, Avocado, Soy Milk/Tofu, Nuts/Nut Butter.Dried Apricots.Quinoa, Tempeh, Meat Substitutes, Eggs, Rice/Hemp protein supplement powders.


Vegetarians can’t be athletes!

Your typical meathead will think…and will often spout that meat is needed….or else you will look like this guy:

vegas and meat eaters

Yes…you an be a vegetarian/vegan and NOT look like “twig boy” and excel in athletics.

Bill Pearl-4x Mr. Universe,  Joe Namath-Legendary Football Quarterback, Prince Fielder-Major League Baseball, Dave Scott-Iron Man Champion, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King-Tennis, Robert Parrish-Basketball, Gogen Yamaguchi-Karate Master, Carl Lewis & Edwin Moses-Olympic Track and Jake Shields-MMA are all examples proving otherwise.

My personal favorite, the baddest man on the planet, actor and noted vocalist Iron Mike Tyson committed himself to a vegan diet in 2010.






50 Shades of Trainers – Part 5

For those visiting for the first time, I cordially invite you to read the previous 4 parts of my 50 Shades of Trainers series.

and now, the long awaited conclusion…..

41.  Unless there is something going on that will endanger the lives or safety of others, your trainer should only be looking at you.

NEVER like this:


ONLY like this: Hawk

42.  Fitness is a way of life. This includes resistance training, Cardiovascular training, stretching/joint mobility, nutrition and fun. A single path will get you far, but the collective brings about the greatest results.

Booze Workout

43.  Clients: Your trainer should not be afraid of answering your questions.  That is part of the reason they were hired.   That said, asking too many questions will cut into training time,  Personally I love it when a client asks questions, especially when I don’t know the answer.  This prompts me to locate the answer, digest it and be able to provide an explanation in lay terms.


44.  Trainers:  If your client asks you a question that you honestly don’t know the answer to then tell them the truth, look it up and get back to them with the answer.  DO NOT LIE or try to BS your way through it!  

45.  Crossing your arms while your client is working out, not paying strict attention to the client or standing  around with your hands in your pockets are sure fire ways of marketing yourself as a trainer people will not want to hire.  Seriously, when have you ever read a job advertisement that read

“Personal Trainer sought for employment with a high clientele gym.  Applicant must possess a smug look. impatient personality, keen inattentiveness and generally unprofessional appearance.”

46.  Trainers: If you want to be the best, treat every client as if they are your only client, continually learn from the best and be honest about your strong and weak points. Do not fall prey to complacency, continually educate yourself.

47.  Trainers: Clients are not your test subjects.  Just because you learned a new technique 3 a.m the night before does not give you the go-ahead to try it on your clients.  How can you prescribe something that you don’t fully comprehend?


“Nope, nothing unsafe here..maybe I can add a hop!”

48.  Clients: If your trainer fires you as their client, it is most likely because (1) You have missed too many sessions without giving them any sort of notice.  (2) You have not made a single effort on your side of the training (extra sleep, proper food intake, showing up for training sober etc.)  or (3) You are always behind in your payments.  Aside from getting you nowhere towards your goals, these actions are harming your social credit.  Do you honestly believe a higher-end trainer would be willing to risk their reputation or free up time on their schedule for someone that is not committed to fitness or is financially unreliable?

49. Trainers: Firing clients is a necessary evil from time to time, but this must be the absolute LAST option, not the first pick.  While I fully understand the importance of time=money and our image being reflected in the results of our clients, I ask you why did we enter this profession in the first place? To help people.  Sometimes we as trainers need to help people help themselves.  Please realize there are a few clients that we simply can’t help, or perhaps you are simply not the trainer that can help them.  This is life.

50.  Clients and Trainers:  Find the joy in your client-trainer relationship.  Both of you should be happy to see each other every session and you both should appreciate the results earned.  One rep, One Inch, One ounce, One set, One pound, One muscle and One drop of Sweat…they are all results, they are all earned, One percent at a time.


50 Shades of Trainers – Part 4


31. The skills a personal trainer possesses could be likened to tools in a professional contractors tool belt.  Each skill represents a tool, each tool has its proper place, several tools are multi-purpose and several tools are limited or even single purpose.

32.  A professional maintains and sharpens existing tools, upgrades tools as needed (or as can be afforded) and invests smartly.  

33.  The professional presents his or her skill may enjoy using just a few of their tools the most.   They may even elect to specialize in the use of 1-2 tools.  This does not mean they forgot how to use the remaining tools. 

33.  Some trainers only have a single tool…which happens to be the hammer.


34. In any relationship there has to be some form of chemistry between the two people in order for things to work.  This holds true between client and trainer.

35. Honesty and Trust are the roof and foundation of any relationship  Defects will eventually show up in the results no matter how well covered up.  Even if you used 50 shades of paint to cover it up.

36.  No, squats are NOT a method of punishment, even if one variation is called “Prisoner Squats.”



37. Beware the trainer that seems to favor the hip adduction machine as a warm-up, mid-session and cool-down thing to do…..every session.


38.  Beware the trainer who talks AT you like this….all the time*.



* “all the time” are the key words.

39.  I personally believe there should be some element of fun in a workout.  It need not be prominent, just that it is there.  


40.  There are others that think workouts should not be fun. During my years as a competitive athlete I will state that every training session I attended was demanding and focused, but even the most grueling and painful sessions still had a sliver of fun to them.  Why? because I was doing what I loved and reminded in what areas I was improving, and where I honestly needed to improvement.

50 Shades of Trainers – Part 3

For those of you just joining the 50 Shades series, I invite you to the visit the previous blogs located here :

and here:

now on to part 3…..

21.  Trainers: If you are not motivating, dependable or care about your clients results then you don’t belong in this career field.

22.  Clients:  If you are going to frequently no-show on your trainer without giving notice then you can expect a few outcomes: (1) Every workout session you DO make will be legs day.  (2) Your trainer won’t bother putting together any long term programming for you, and simply make up your workouts on the spot.   (3) The trainer might fire you. (4) You won’t see results. (5) If your a member of a box gym, your trainer will warn other trainers about your flakiness.

23, Adding visual emphasis to #22, Personally I consider you lucky if all you get is leg day workouts.  This is better than the other possible outcomes.  That said, you will wish you had one of these installed in your home:

Post Leg Day

24.  I’m convinced that one of the secrets to an effective workout is “looking cool.”    By this I mean lifting something or performing an action that is within your physical limitations and with proper form.  In my opinion, this young lady looks pretty cool:

SkirtSports_Gym-1024x1024While this man looks decidedly uncool:

back leg press



26.  A good trainer will keep #’s 24 and 25 in check, provided they are #21 and you are not #22.   Pretty cool how I linked those bits together huh?

27.  You trainers job is to motivate, educate, innervate and eventually graduate you into a lifestyle of fitness.  Their job is not just to “deliver a workout” or “scare your fat into a coma.”

28.  A good trainer knows when you truly need assistance, and when you need to accomplish something on your own.

Light weight baby

29.  There are, and always will be overly chatty people at the gym.  While I have nothing to support my belief, I firmly believe this is where the idea for noise cancelling headphone technology originated.  Overly chatty clients are something a good trainer can control, Overly chatty trainers cause me concern.   During my private workouts I try to focus on my own work and prefer the least amount of distractions possible.  There have been days I truly felt like this:


….and I know that I’m not alone in this sentiment.

30.  Your trainer should not be trying to sell you supplements beyond what has been medically proven as safe.  The list is fairly short: Protein, Creatine, Branch Chain Amino Acids, Multi-Vitamins and Fish Oil.

BudWhey frabz-I-clearly-dont-lift-But-lemme-tell-you-what-supplements-to-take-e7681f