Monthly Archives: January 2017


Preface: I’m sure there are some good trainers putting out quality information on Instagram. There are some on YouTube for that matter as well.

The odds of randomly landing on a good one (as in good for you) is astronomically low.

A long distance friend of mine sought my opinion regarding an exercise program she found on Instagram.

A little background on her:  32yo F, healthy weight and waistline measurement. Her goal is to lose a little more weight. She has a lengthy injury history involving both knees (different injuries) and her lower back. She has a modest training history, no athletic background and a fulltime deskbound profession.

Her injury history is particularly key.

The program being I was tasked to investigate called for the following 6 days per week

10 min Cardio warm up
Burpees. x50
Air Squats. x100
Box Hops. x100
1 Leg Squats. 50 R/50 L
Burpees. x50
30 min Cardio cool down

My readers digest review: None of this looks like good choices for someone with a history of low back and knee injuries. More isn’t necessarily better.

On the severe end of things exertional rhabdomyolysis cannot be ruled out as a risk factor when considering the individuals training history vs the demands of the session.

We have no idea if the Instagram trainer has done this routine herself, if she made it up on the spot (because it looks tough?) or copied it from somewhere else.


We don’t know if the Instagram trainer is using her real photo, has blessed genetics or convincing Photoshop skills. She could be more CGI than human.

We have no idea what this workout is supposed to do for someone. Fat loss? Muscle-building? Cardio Conditioning? Strength? All I know is that it was called “Legz and A$$”

We don’t know if the 6 days are consecutive or split up. Recovery is key, and quite frankly this routine could prove very challenging to recover from.

There were no instructions or even basic tips on how the exercises should be performed,regressed, alternated or who should NOT be doing these exercises (for example someone with poor knees and injured lower back.)

The 10min Cardio Warm Up and 30min Cool Down gave no indicators as to what to do. Warm Ups and Cool Downs serve purposes, the former to prepare the body for the training and the latter being the first step in the recovery process. Heart rate monitors can be handy in these cases.

Assuming one did the workout exactly as written it would amount to 400 mostly lower body exercises.

Air Squats are a fundamental exercise and not without challenges or technical requirements. The number of people that cannot squat very well during movement screens is particularly high even for those without histories of lower body injury.

100 repetitions of anything might be too much for a beginner. The management of the exercises tolerable depth and biomechanics is key, even with unloaded squats.

I’m not sure if these were Box hops (fast hop up and hop down) or Box Jumps (fast jump up and step down). Box Hops/Jumps are both plyometric exercises. This typically requires the development of (a) Strength and Speed (which creates Power) and (b) Instruction on the landing mechanics.

Putting this into context, Westside Barbell suggests 24-40 jumps done 2-3 times per week for athletes needing to improve their general fitness and explosive strength.

Translation: These are for people that are already strong and have developed athletic skills, a person with a body that can tolerate the training demands and benefit from it.

No advice was given regarding a suitable box height, or the numerous warning orders assigned to Plyometric exercises.

SIDENOTE: Female athletes present a few differences in training from Males, increased risk of ACL injury during menstruation being one of them. That also was never mentioned.

Plyometrics do have a role in ACL injury prevention program, but typically not in the beginning.

One Leg Squats (Pistol Squats) are awesome unilateral exercises. They’re also devilishly difficult. Remember when I said the air squat was difficult for a lot of people? Subtracting a leg doesn’t make things easier.

Pistol squats require a person to have very good strength,joint mobility, stability and flexibility to perform.

Even with the foundation to perform a solid pistol squat, you’d likely be massively fatigued after performing the previous volume of Air Squats and the nervous system hit of the Box Hops. Minimally your strength would have been sapped to the point where the exercise becomes even riskier to execute.

While not the fairest example, note the difficulties elite CrossFit games competitors (the top % of all CF athletes on the planet) have performing Pistol squats under fatigued conditions.

Burpees are a full-body exercise,however doing 100 of them in a single session is murderous. CrossFits “Ryan” WOD is considered brutal even by CF standards. It features 105 Burpees with a jump to a specified height following each repetition.

Unlike the Instagram workout, it is the only demanding lower body movement in the routine. Furthermore,you don’t do six Ryan’s in a week.

Burpees were originally prescribed in the military as an efficient full body exercise that don’t take up much space. 20-25 were typically the maximum given in the worst of situations. The inventor of the Burpee wasn’t a fan of using it for high volume work.

Remember, these are healthy young men and women that built up to this level over a period of weeks.

SIDENOTE: My interpretation of the “Humane Burpee” bears a slight resemblance to original. In my case the reps typically stop at 10 and attention to the movements form is emphasized and I’m perfectly cool with a person performing them slowly.

To say that I’m not a fan of the Instafool trainers workout would be an understatement, and I’m not alone in my opinion. Here are an six additional opinions from veteran coaches around the world…


Robert Pingatore, Strength Matters Kettlebell Instructor and NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator.  Foothill Ranch,CA

1. What is a “cardio warmup?” If we’re box hopping, burpeeing, and single leg squatting, and the client thinks, “Okay, I’ll get on the elliptical for ten minutes,” there’s ten completely wasted minutes that have skipped the prime movers in those movements and they certainly won’t be prepped for the stuff to come.

2. What exactly s the goal of this session? It’s obviously the “trainer’s” and not the client’s. These movements would make sense in a structured session that included them, but as the sizzle, not the steak, in just about any program I could nightmare up.

3. Has this moron “trainer” even HEARD of the endocrine system? Aside from a brief mention in high school biology, I mean.

3.a. Has this “trainer” even HEARD of energetics, or considered the art and science of energy system manipulation?

3.b Has this moron “trainer” even HEARD of nervous system activation, engagement, and over-stimulation?

4. Why a 30 minute cool down?

Mind, I haven’t gone into active rest & non-session recovery, nutrition, lifestyle, allostatic load, or any of the other umpteen elements we take into account when designing a program.

All in all, this whole thing reeks of rank amateurism and is proof positive that the more the professionals learn, and the better we become at our craft, the more strikingly obvious it is that we need to do a better job as an industry of putting quality content out in the world.

And it makes those IG trainers look all the worse.


Sheri Kaminski StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, Las Vegas,NV

That is crap. Please quote me! Your friend with back and ankle problems will most likely get hurt trying to do Burpees (that were invented as a screen NOT as an exercise by Mr. Burpee in the first place…) She probably can not squat safely, and what is a “cardio warm up”?? GAH!

A few more…

“The exercises provided are either not full-body, are high-risk/low-reward, or do not allow to accomplish as much work as other simpler exercises. Additionally, the exercises are not arranged intelligently, do not progress, do not allow for adequate recovery, are not safe for the average beginner and there is no mention of nutrition.”  Omaha,Nebraska

“Remember the goal is that workouts are sustainable, repeatble, can be incrementally and safely progressed. Smashing a client in one workout is throwing a hail mary on the first quarter and hoping to win the game”  Manila,Philippines

“This workout is clearly for someone who has already developed a good deal of strength and endurance, not a beginner. Also, this “program” is pretty much all lower body movements. What about training the rest of the body?

It looks like they found someone’s description of a workout they did posted online and thought it was a “program”. Who trains at that level of intensity six days a week just to get in shape? #wastedeffort

It might be a fun challenge for the sufficiently masochistic, especially if they’re being timed, but otherwise it’s rubbish.”   Eagen,Minnesota

“This so called “trainer” needs to find a new career.”  Tramore,Ireland

Choose your fitness professionals wisely.



Time Travel II (2017-1985)

I had a lot fun writing the blog Time Travel (1985-2017) I decided to write part II.  Today I go back in time to my early years in the land of Bro’s,Aerobic Thongs,Short Shorts and no Bosu’s.


     A trip back to 1985 would be a trip in more than once sense.

Muscle and Fitness was one of the major sources of information.
For better or worse, its sales eclipsed many other magazines of the era.


A first generation pull-over machine.  I have to admit I rather miss this unit.

I would realize how Machine focused things were back then, even in gyms with well equipped free-weight sections. I would further recall how BIG some of those machines were even by todays standard.

Nautilus is still in business.

SIDENOTE: I’m not a heavy machine user in most of my programming. That said, there are a few items from 1985 I would love to bring back.

For cardio (lol) there were largely only two choices: The treadmill or the bike. The elliptical,recumbent bike and steppers hadn’t come out yet and the arm and floor bikes were still in the Physical Therapy worlds. Today there are a multitude of options including my favorite “lift the weight faster.”


The Aerobics boom had started thanks largely to the movie “Perfect.” In turn, this brought us the widely popular but short lived aerobics workout thong.

SIDENOTE: Aerobics history would repeat itself in 2013 when a young lady asked me to scare away a notorious slow blinking window fogger from staring at the ladies butts in Zumba Class. This event may have been the origin story of the Belligerent Bro.


Thanks to Rocky IV, interest in minimalist training began a slow comeback, and it didn’t require one to move to Russia to gain the benefits.


Long before Original Strength, Ground Force Method,Ido Portal or Training for Warriors featured crawling methods, Rocky IV was putting in work.


Men’s gym shorts were pretty darn short. It only took one bad 1985 gym experience for me to realize the importance of selecting spotters based on both competence AND the wearing of track pants or longer shorts to spot me during Bench Presses.

A lot equipment I currently use would be nowhere to be found: The Concept II Rower,
Assault/Airdyne Bikes, Kettlebells,Indian Clubs,Maces,Safety Squat Bars,Buffalo/Duffalo Bars,Earthquake Bars,Reverse Hyper machines,TRX,Prowlers,Plyo Boxes,Speed Ropes and resistance bands were either considered outdated relics or hadn’t been invented or improved upon yet.


Neither had the Bosu Ball, but I don’t give a crap about that.  Really, where does the laughs end and tears begin with this gem?


I would LOVE to have the Planet Fitness Lunk Alarm pulled on me…. but I’ve been refused entry when attempting to get a day pass.  Yes, I was carrying a gallon jug,wearing a tank top and do tend to grunt during lifts.

It would be another seven years before the seeds of what would become Planet Fitness sprouted, and another few more years before the monthly bagel and pizza days became frequent comedy material.  Matter of fact, I believe my entry was refused on a Pizza day.

There were very few NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists or Certified Personal Trainers, making the odds of finding one very difficult.

The Idea Foundation had formed in 1985, later changing its name to the American Council on Exercise…which I feel was a good idea as the former sounds really nerdy.

It would another 2 years before NASM was formed, and despite being founded in the mid-50’s, it would be another 20 years before an ACSM CPT would show up…


I still own the 3rd Editions of ACSM and ACE’s texts as well as NASM’s 4th and NSCA’s 2nd CPT and 3rd CSCS books.  It’s not considered hoarding when it comes to books.


Because crash weight gains sound like a great idea.

Protein supplements tasted like t̶o̶t̶a̶l̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶p̶ chalk,but it was the secret sauce to how Bro’s got their gains. Creatine Monohydrate was not to make a significant appearance for another 7 years (1992 Olympics) and Amino Acid supplements were literally zoo sized pills.

1985 was a different world, and I’m very happy to have been part of it.

Time Travel (1985-2017)

(R) Steve Rogers(Captain America): The uniform? Aren’t the stars and stripes a little… old-fashioned?
Agent Phil Coulson: With everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned.

I’ve made some negative comments in the past regarding commercial trainers.Trust me when I say there will be more in the future and that I am sticking with my 1-2 out of every 10 being good opinion. The fact is I happen to personally know several young trainers (5yrs or less experience) who show so much promise, and I have such big hopes for them. Today’s blog (after a one week hiatus) was inspired over a thought I had the the other day.

Is it really that bad?…or am I just being a mean old b̶a̶s̶t̶a̶r̶d̶ goat?  Perhaps I’m behind the times, and not willing or able to adapt, or perhaps I hold some attachment to the way things used to be, and am old fashioned.


The look on my face while observing stupid trainers do stupid stuff.

Personal Training is actually a fairly new industry. I’ve been part of it before my credentialing agencies were formed which means….gasp and swoon… at one time I was one of those uncertified trainers.


Over the decades I’ve bore witness to so many things within the United States and abroad. If I were to time travel 1985 me to the modern day, would I be pleasantly surprised by what I saw?

Would I necessarily think things are that bad?

I would say things heavily depends on the gym, but in many ways the trainers of today could be considered better than those of the mid to late eighties.

Education has become so commonly available that it’s accessible within a few clicks. Numerous educators have gained international renown. Unfortunately not all information is reputable and it can be a challenge to separate fact from fiction. This hasn’t changed.

Equipment quality and designs have improved. There has been plenty of items that have come and gone that may initially have seemed like a great idea, only to fail when it came to actually doing anything for you…just like the eighties.

Programming and training special populations has expanded greatly. We have benefitted from lessons passed down from Olympic Coaches, Eastern Bloc training methodology and Physical Therapists.

CrossFit came along and changed the industry like nothing before it. Personally I see more positives than negatives with this.

On the negative side, a number of the lesser quality things have also managed to remain nearly intact.

Pin setters are still taking clients though a mindless cycle of machines. While machine circuit training isn’t the worst thing one could do (and for some people it’s one of the better options) it shouldn’t be the Alpha and Omega of all training. The upside is pin-setters are less frequently seen than compared to the Nautilus heyday.


Pin Setter:  A pejorative term given to a person employed by a commercial gym that simply changes the weights pin setting on every machine the client is put through.  

BroScience is still being spouted. The funniest being when someone manages to get their BroScience wrong or cross breeds different BroScience topics.  Some of the driving ideas behind BroScience have been validated, others debunked and others partially proven true…but not for the reasons why the Bro’s initially thought.

If there’s any doubt that BroScience doesn’t exist, look no further than a well-known fitness Guru who claims that women shouldn’t lift weights over 3lbs/1.4kg as it will make them bulky.

SIDENOTE: Ask a natural bodybuilder male  (someone who intentionally trains to gain muscle) how hard it is to gain 3lbs/1.4kg of muscle.  Then subtract the loads he typically uses, his training intensity and frequency and nearly all of his testosterone.

Dinky weights won’t put on appreciable mass, and even relatively heavy ones won’t create bulky females.  They may be the starting point for a total beginner and all that an elderly or post-rehab can tolerate, but a healthy adult needs progressive overload.

Although not the best comparison, consider the physiques of the light-middle weight Powerlifter/Olympic Lifter and Crossfit female athletes.  They all lift heavy things and yet none are bulky.  At the non-Olympic level there have been plenty of ladies with less than exceptional athletic genetics that gained impressive physiques as well.

Becoming a trainer actually became somewhat easier. You don’t even necessarily need to know how to exercise. Trust me when I say I’ve seen this first hand.

In the eighties you had to be one of three things:

Somebody that looked like they knew what they were doing. This was usually the Bodybuilders, Powerlifters or the biggest/strongest/fittest people in the gym.

Somebody with a competitive background that proved they could do something.

Somebody that might not look the part or formerly was the part, but PRODUCED people who did.  These were the thinking trainers of their day.

I originally fell somewhere between the first two categories. Neither of which means you can actually train someone else but it doesn’t mean you cannot either.  I later fell forward into the third category after making a lot of early mistakes…and that was before I sat for a CPT exam.  I still consider myself a student and was surprised there was no practical evaluation of my skills needed to be a trainer.


Top Right: The Instagram Fitness Guru. Bottom Left: Fanboys/Followers/Sheeple. Bottom Center: Someone that follows the Instagram Fitness Guru’s advice and gets hurt in the process.

In Social Media The pendulum swung the other way. It appears that anyone with some good genetics, possible photoshop skills,the ability to give themselves a fancy title and post inspirational memes can be a fitness guru. Just within my local area I know three “National Master Trainers” that meet this criteria, and I wouldn’t trust them to train a dog.

I believe time traveller me would be pleasantly surprised at the amount of information available and diversity of fitness offerings within the reach of most people. I’d be happy to see that there is year around opportunities for trainers to educate themselves and that social media could be helpful in this regard. I’d be happy to know that old school iron and chalk is still practiced and people still train with a purpose.

I’d be happy that Yoga increased in popularity along with growing interest in other older training methods (Calisthenics,Gymnastics,Indian Clubs,Kettlebell et al).

I’d be real happy knowing that I’m still in the gym with a thriving load of athletes, still able to make a difference in peoples lives and still have the desire to grow professionally.

Agent Coulson was right, people might just need a little old-fashioned.