Exercise Selection: Risk vs Benefit

These days, many people get their exercise information from magazines, blogs, and YouTube videos. Some of these resources are great and some are the worst kind of schlock. The result of access to this information without the proper filter is ineffective to downright dangerous exercises being done by unsuspecting people trying to better their fitness levels. The filter that could help you figure this out is weighing the risk vs the benefit.

RISKY!!Every exercise carries some risk. It may be only of muscle strain or of dropping the weight on your foot, but there is some risk. Risk can be minimized by either not doing the exercise or by making sure that you have a safe, proper progression to the exercise. The choice of not doing the exercise is where you weigh risk against the benefit.

What is the benefit of the chosen exercise? Is the benefit something that will directly help you reach your goals? Is the benefit something you can accomplish with a safer exercise? (Why take the risk if you don’t need to?)

There may be times that you may need to do risky exercises, such as you are a circus performer and the movement is necessary to be able to do a skill in the performance. But many times you see people do dangerous things that have no real world purpose. They just look cool to do. If you think looking cool is worth the risk, knock yourself out (maybe literally).

walking_globeFor the sake of getting the most out of your workout as safely as possible, always weigh the risk vs the benefit. If you are unsure what those are, seek the advice of a certified personal trainer. Good luck in reaching your goals.


02/16/2014 at 7:57 AM Leave a comment

How Routine is Your Workout Routine?

As I looked around the club today, I saw members walking on the treadmill (same as they have for years), lifting on the weight machine circuit (same as they have for years), and doing abdominal crunches (same as they have for years). That’s great, right? Consistency? Well, not all of the time.

hamster wheelI have always told new clients that the best thing they can do is make their exercise program a routine or life habit. But, what I meant was that you want to get to the point where going to the club at ______ o’clock, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is a habit that you no longer have to convince yourself to do each time. It’s just what you do.

Where this goes wrong is when what you do in the club never changes. The exercises never change and you keep the same weights and/or intensity. This is when the plateau hits. What confuses me is that many will keep plugging away with their routine, never seeming to be phased by it. Is it me projecting my personal goals and hopes for them? Are they happy where they are?

If you’re one of those individuals that have been at it for a while and you would like to see more results happen, here are some tips on getting some variety and jump starting new results:

1) If you’re a class taker, take a different class. You may surprise yourself by how much you enjoy a new style and the people who are participating in it.

2) Change your strength training exercises. Focus on multi-joint (compound) movements to get more bang for your buck.

3) Change your repetition range. If you’ve been using a 10 rep set, try going for 15 at a slightly lighter weight or go heavier and shoot for 7 reps.

4) Raise your resistance more rapidly. Whatever repetition number you choose, 7, 10, 12, 15… it’s not about reaching it and staying there. If you can reach that number in perfect form, raise your weight! Not by a lot. But by the smallest increment you can. Then, next workout, if you can hit that number again (in perfect form), raise it again. The number is not a place to hang out. It is a graduation number. You do it, you graduate to the next level.

5) Cut your rest between sets down. While you may find that you are not as strong with a shorter rest, it will keep your metabolism higher, longer.

6) Superset. As with cutting down your rest time, supersetting (working one movement the immediately working the opposing movement i.e. a push followed by a pull) decreases the rest time and keeps the metabolism higher.

7) Work with a certified personal trainer. Of course this is the way to really get a workout that is customized to your specific needs and get you off that plateau. Don’t be afraid to try it.

So, if you want more results from your workout, it needs to change. The same workout you’ve been doing is not going to take you to the next level.

Let me know what you’re going change and how it works for you.


09/27/2013 at 4:30 AM Leave a comment

Falling Off the Fitness Wagon

Have you ever known someone that was working really hard to reach fitness goals, reached them and then fell off the proverbial wagon all to end up back where they started? You want to run up to them and ask what happened, but generally don’t because you know that they are likely to feel pretty upset by it being brought up. Falling Off the Wagon

As a personal trainer, I’ll bump into people where this has been the case. They are usually embarrassed or ashamed and will often try to avoid me. I don’t let them off the hook that easily. “We’ve missed you at the club.” “What have you been up to?” At that point they will usually fill me in on what upset the cart. It often is a very understandable event that threw them off and then the inevitable, “I’ll get back to it soon….”

This is the important thing to note, we all fall off the wagon at one point or another. That should be something for everyone to expect (although most do not). It will happen. But, don’t wait until you feel like you can stick to it before you start back up. Start back up again as soon as you can. Don’t worry about how long the attempt will last, just get back up on the wagon. The number of times you try and fail doesn’t count against you. In fact, you will be far better off by repeatedly trying, learning from your mistakes, making new plans, and trying again, than waiting until the situation is perfect before you restart. What’s past, is past. You can’t change it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Learn from it and move on. Start as often as you need and you will eventually succeed. Best wishes, Mark Nutting

07/28/2013 at 2:00 PM Leave a comment

Mind Mapping Your Fitness Plan

Continue Reading 07/20/2013 at 7:33 PM Leave a comment

Vision Quest

You want to lose weight, get in shape, get stronger, etc. You daydream about what it would be like, but have you actually ever written down your health/fitness vision. Research has shown that people that write down their goals are more likely to reach them and that, the more specific those goals are, the even greater the chance to achieve them.

Let’s go through an exercise. 3 years from now you have reached your ultimate health/fitness goal. Close your eyes. Take a moment and “see” yourself.
How do you look?
How does having reached your goals make you feel?
What do the people you care most for think about you in your vision?
How is your life different?
Write the answers to the previous questions down and be very specific.

Hold on to the vision. Is reaching this achievable? What will it take to make it happen? Is the amount of work that it would take worth the results? Why?
Write the answers to the previous questions down as well and again, be as detailed as possible.

Congratulations. If you have written this down, you are on your way. Now take this, your vision quest, and put it somewhere you can see it daily. It will be a constant reminder as to how reaching your goal will feel, how important it is to you, and what it will take to achieve it. If you think of other reasons why your vision is important to you, add them to the list.


07/11/2013 at 9:12 AM Leave a comment

“How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat”

This post was inspired by yet another advertisement selling the secret of getting rid of belly fat. Let’s get to the bottom of the secret. You can’t do it. That’s it, All these quick fixes are promising something they can’t deliver. Here’s why. You can’t reduce fat in any one area. There is no spot reducing.

Belly Fat

We each carry fat in a particular way. That is our fat distribution. Typically guys carry more fat cells around the middle (android) and women carry more around the hips and thighs (gynoid).

The myth that we can burn fat in any one area has led men to want to do ab work and women to inner thigh and outer hip machines. But, again, it doesn’t work that way.

Think of your body fat as being a big inflatable suit with just one spigot. When you do sit ups, you burn calories and open the spigot. The air escapes and the whole suit gets a little smaller, not just around your middle. You do the adductor machine… same deal, a little more air.

In order to get lean in our “trouble” areas, we need to reduce our overall body fat to a point where the whole body is lean. This is accomplished by, are you ready for the secret? Proper diet, exercise, and overall activity. I know… that wasn’t the answer you wanted to hear. but there you have it.

Focus on changing your behaviors and the results will come. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Good luck, Mark. mark@marknutting.com

06/26/2013 at 9:08 AM 1 comment

Tabata Training: What’s the Big Deal?

I posted about the Tabata protocol back in 2008, 2010 and thought it was time to revisit it.

The Tabata Method or Protocol isn’t new, in fact Tabata’s original research was done in 1996, but it seems to be getting more and more press of late, maybe because of the popularity of CrossFit, P90X, Turbulence Training, and other high intensity training methods. Well, what’s it all about, anyway?

TabataBased on the research of Izumi Tabata et al, (hence the name Tabata) at the Department of Physiology and Biomechanics, National Institute of Fitness and Sports, Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan, it is touted as “the best” way to up the metabolism and burn fat in the shortest amount of time. I don’t know if I’d say that any one thing is “the best”, but it is some pretty interesting stuff. The premis of the training is 20 second work interval to a 10 second rest interval that is done for a total of 8 repetitions (totaling 4 minutes). The original study was to compare moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity interval training and was completed on a stationary bicycle ergometer. To quote the abstract:
“…this study showed that moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.” Tabata Study

and all in 4 minutes. Who says you don’t have time to work out?

Now, from this and other research it has been extrapolated that this training, along with improving both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, also raises resting metabolism for an extended period of time and translates into greater fat loss. You can see any number of variations on the activities utilizing the Tabata Protocol from front squats to burpees. The key seems to be to make the activity involving large muscle groups and keeping the intensity “exhaustive” or an all out effort level. Now that’s to maximize your results, however, I’m also of the mind that even working at a highER intensity than you are used to will deliver additional benefits over your usual effort level. I use the Tabata protocol when training older adults.

Here’s an example (one of my favorites… Build-a Burpee):

05/31/2013 at 6:21 PM Leave a comment

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