The Future of Fitness and Personal Training in Erie

Posted: November 16, 2012 by dannytwoguns in Articles, Personal Training

Here at Twoguns Training Systems our goal is to change the way personal training in Erie, Pennsylvania is done. Gone are the days where clients warm up on the treadmill, do crunches as “core” training, sit on machines as any form of exercise, we lack assessing and corrective exercises, random programming or “muscle confusion” and single set exercises such as a set of an exercise, rest, set of same exercise, rest etc.

If you are or even worse your personal trainer is having you do any of those things, you need to ask yourself why you arent doing the things that new research as well as trial and error real world experience have shown to be superior. The industry knows better and you deserve better.

The industry has grown more in the past three years than it has in the 10-15 years that preceeded them. And yet, people are still training like its 1995 with group exercise and machine training as the pillars of their routine or the old school muscle magazine body part split that says to isolate muscles. All of these are outdated and shown through research to be ineffective for fat loss and performance goals, which 95% of the population has. Worse yet, they’ve not only shown to be ineffective, but they’ve shown to be detrimental as well.

You might be asking, “Well you’ve told us what we shouldnt be doing, what should we be doing instead?” I’ve got you more than covered…

Warming Up On The Treadmill

It used to be thought that simply walking at a moderate incline at a steady pace was enough of a warm up for your workout. I’ve been guilty of it in the distant past, as has the vast majority of trainers and a lot of which are still doing it.

The limitation with the traditional treadmill warm up is that it essentially only accomplishes two things – slight elevation of heart rate and working the lower body in a “front to back” or sagittal plane. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to, your workout isn’t going to just slightly elevate your heart rate and work your lower body in one plane of movement, so why warm up that way?

The answer is found in the “dynamic warm up”. The goal here is to cover not only elevation of the heart rate but also to address range of motion (everyone could use more hip flexor stretching/mobility), corrective exercises, activation of major muscle groups, and movement preparation in all major planes of movement (front/back, side/side and rotational).

It may seem like a lot but realistically that 5-10 minutes that was spent on the treadmill is spent on this all-encompassing warm up in that same 10 minutes. Someone deconditioned or new to lifting might need 15 minutes because of added corrective exercises but even then, this is the part of the workout that shouldn’t be cut on but rather emphasized. All clients at Twoguns Training Systems start their workouts with a total body dynamic warmup.

Say “No” To Crunches

I’m not going to spend too much time on this one because it’s one that everyone should know by this point. Dr. Stuart McGill has done a lot of research on how not only are crunches an inefficient move for hitting the musculature of the core but they are actually detrimental to the discs of the spine due to constant, high frequency flexion of the spine.

There are three primary ways to train the abdominals and “core” safely and effectively. The first is an anti-extension (resist the spine from extending) exercise like a plank. The second is an anti-rotation (resist the spine from rotating) exercises like the side plank or pallof press variations. The third is an anti-lateral flexion (resist the spine from rotating laterally or “side-bending”) exercise like an off-set farmers walk.

There are also hip extension with a neutral spine exercises that are a suitable core exercise in replacement of a crunch. The main problem I’ve found with those is that unless working with a good trainer, the majority of people turn them into a crunch with a rounded spine and defeat the purpose.

Say “No” to machines

Machines gained popularity because they are easy not because they are effective. The industry is finally moving away from the “I’m going to do it because it’s easy” mentality to the “do something effective and challenging” mentality and machines have no place in it.

I tell this story fairly often but it bears repeating. I was waiting between sessions of clients at the front desk of Nautilus and a member walked in and I greeted her with a “Hey, how are you?” to which she replied, “Better now! I’ve been at work for almost ten hours and sitting at my desk for about nine of them. I can’t wait to work out and loosen up.”

I told her that’s the right attitude and to have a good workout. The funny part of the story is that her workout was a circuit of seven machines… all of which were seated. She had good intentions but was rather misguided in the application.

Doesnt look like something that would make someone move better standing on their feet...
Not the best for your back or bang for you training buck

Functional training has kind of gotten a bad rap being related to standing on a bosu ball and doing squats (Why?) but the reality is it (in its actual definition) is the future of the fitness industry and hopefully already the present. If the exercise doesn’t look functional, athletic or look something similar to what you’d do it real life it probably isn’t an ideal choice. We want to move our bodies through space while forcing our body to stabilize the loads.

Having to pull your bodyweight up during a TRX suspended row at varying angles is going to give you a lot more bang for your buck than a seated chest-assisted cable row on a machine where you are sitting and the weight is stabilized for you as you flail around and round your back to move the weight. The same applies to a push up or TRX chest press yielding better results than a seated chest press with a machine doing half the work and all the stabilizing for you.

“If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing”

That is a great quote from one of my mentors and developer of the Functional Movement Screen, Gray Cook. I’d take it one step further and say not just any assessment will do. You need a measurable and effective method you can start with and come back to, to gauge progress.

In comes the Functional Movement Screen. I’m one of only three certified Functional Movement Specialists in the Erie area and it is a shame because it really is the only high quality screening tool there is out there.

For more information check out

The Functional Movement Screen is a ranking and grading system that documents key movement patterns broken down into mobility, stability and functional movement patterns to screen how well a person moves and which movement patterns need to be avoided, which need assistance and which can be trained fully without limitation.

It also has corrective exercises used to correct the certain screens in which the client tested/scored the lowest or needs improvement on the most.

It’s an invaluable tool we use at Twoguns Training Systems with each client. Without an effective and thorough assessment there is no roadmap for your training, so get assessing so you aren’t guessing in your programming.

Random programming and/or “muscle confusion”

Both of these concepts took the basic fitness philosophy that if you continually do the same thing over and over your results will stagnate and took it to a ridiculous, fad laden extreme. P90x and a popular, though dangerous and ineffective training franchise have popularized this training method and it is simply bad programming. Just because something makes you tired or vomit does not mean you got a good and effective workout, it just means you got tired.

Dan John, strength training guru wrote in his book, Never Let Go when speaking of his experience, described the popular random programming franchise with…

“Both excessive and deficient exercise ruin physical strength.”

You have to be getting better at the foundational movement patterns and exercises to yield consistent and quality results. Research has shown that the body only adapts to a certain workout after 4-6 exposures. So that means on a 3-day a week template, hitting those three workouts hard for 4-6 weeks will yield the best results.

Hopping around between exercises and workouts will cut your results short (whatever yours may be). This doesn’t mean do the same exercise for the same weight and reps each week, you have to be getting better at each one but you also have to know you’re getting better and randomly throwing exercises together doesn’t accomplish that.

You don’t need to do three different kinds of triceps extensions to “blast your triceps from all angles” or work out until you are sprawled out on the floor panting to get an effective workout regardless of what catchy marketing and cult followings will have you believe.

Single, straight set exercises for fat loss or performance

In fat loss, athletic development training and performance training, there rarely ever calls for straight sets. They do have their place but should make up the minority of your workout. The majority should be spent doing supersets or sometimes “metabolic circuits”. Both allow significantly more bang for your training buck.

If you could superset non-competing exercises such as a bilateral squat variation and an upper body pull variation, why wouldn’t you? The first exercise doesn’t affect the strength of the second and you’ve double the amount of muscles you’ve targeted.

The density of your workout increases dramatically. Especially when the goal is fat loss, supersets and metabolic circuits are really the main way to go. Strength is still emphasized but we want the body to always be in a metabolic disturbance of sorts and never fully rested so we can get the most benefit possible.

This isn’t an all-encompassing list but it definitely covers a lot of ground on where the fitness industry is going and where your training should be headed if it isn’t already.

Feel free to email me at twogunstrainingsystems[at] if you have any questions. And if you would like updates of the latest in fitness, programming, nutrition and everything health related, be sure to enter your email below to subscribe to the Twoguns Training Systems newsletter. We’re changing the way Erie does personal training and fitness.

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