Wednesday, April 14, 2021

5 Healthy habits to improve your life

Man with a backpack facing mountains

This article is written by Sparkle Purpose. Follow Sparkle Purpose on Twitter and Pinterest.

5 habits that can improve your health 

There are certain things that we never think of. We are so busy scrolling through the screens of social media on our smartphones that we never realize we have a body and we should take care of it.

You can simply take good care of your body by adding these simple habits to your daily routine.

What is a habit?

A habit is a routine or behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously over time. When you do something over and over again, your mind thinks of it as an important task and it happens automatically.

How do you create a new habit? 

Adopting a habit is a challenging task, but it is not an impossible task. It begins with a thought that you want to change. Anything is possible if you have a desire to accomplish something.

Anything is possible if you have the right habits in place.

Here are some healthy habits that you should adopt:

1. Wake up early

Waking up early is one of the most challenging tasks that I see people face. It’s not easy to leave your cozy bed and all your dreams - especially when it’s winter. You don’t want to leave your blanket.

If you want to be successful in your life, you need to get up earlier. We are more likely to be productive in the earlier hours of the day and we are more likely to do unhealthy or destructive things late at night.

The Bible says “He who loves to sleep and the folding of hands, poverty will set upon you like a thief in the night." (Proverbs 24:33-34)

How can you wake up earlier?

I am here to tell you the easiest way possible. I will not ask you to set an alarm for 4 AM or 5 AM in the morning.

Let’s suppose you go to bed at 1 PM and wake up at 9 AM. All that you have to do is set an alarm of 10 minutes earlier than you usually do.

This will save you 10 minutes. Do this every day. You’ll see that you are getting up earlier without any trouble. 

It may be possible that you fail at some point. That’s OK. Don't criticize yourself. Just move on and focus on the next day.

Remember that failure is a teacher. Try to learn from the mistake you’ve made and try not to repeat it again. This will help you to improve a little bit every day.

Waking up early has many benefits and it will keep your body healthy. You will see that you are being more productive and more successful in your work after a few days.

We are more likely to be productive in the earlier hours of the day.  We are more likely to do unhealthy or destructive things late at night.

2. Exercise everyday

As you already know, exercising is very important for your physical health. Exercising has many benefits. Exercise everyday if you don’t want to go to the doctor too often.

Exercise will keep your bones, heart, lungs and all internal organs healthy.

The best time to exercise is in the morning after waking up. If you can't do it in the morning then you can do it in the evening.

I encourage you to exercise every day. Some people start exercising but they quit because it hurts at first. I know that it hurts at first. Remember that the pain is temporary. It will last for a day or for a week but quitting lasts forever. The more you sweat the better.

3. Drink fresh fruit juice

There are amazing benefits to drinking fruit juice like detoxification, weight loss, vitamin and mineral consumption and prevention of unhealthy cravings.

It can be any fresh fruit juice like orange juice, Aloe Vera juice, lemon juice, kiwi juice, cucumber juice and many more.

Try to make it a habit to stay healthy. If not every day, then try to have fresh fruit juice at least 3-4 times a week.

4. Drink water while sitting

I see a lot of people drinking water while standing. Drinking water this way can be harmful.

Since the water moves directly, the required vitamins and minerals don’t reach the liver and digestive tract. This also disturbs the oxygen levels and you risk placing a burden on your heart and lungs.

It is better to drink water while sitting. Sip on it slowly to reach maximum hydration. We should drink 2-3 liters of water every day. Drinking room temperature water is recommendable over cold water.

It is easier for your body to absorb water and hydrate itself when you are seated. Relaxed muscles are more open to hydration.

5. Schedule your time 

If you want to be productive, it is necessary that you manage your time well. Doing the same good things at the same time everyday will increase your productivity.

When it’s the time for lunch, you should do lunch. When it’s the time to rest you should rest.

This brings efficiency in our work because our body gets familiar with it. Your body will adapt to your schedule and prime itself for digestion at lunch time. Your brain will prime itself for relaxation if you relax at the same time every day.

Try to plan your schedule to get the best out of the day.

Thanks for reading! I hope it helps you.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Body awareness during strength training

Man focusing hard during a bicep curl

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

If it's burning, it's working

If it’s burning its working is a phrase we often use at my gym. In fact, we even have it printed on the back of one of our shirts.

We want to teach our clients that it’s what we feel in the gym that is important. It’s easy for some people to get into a checklist mentality when they workout. They go to the gym with the exercise, sets, and reps that they are supposed to achieve written out or in their mind and they go through their list.

You can watch people going through the motions like this at the gym. In fact, we even see some of our clients getting into a mindset like this. They look at you for the next item on the list. We always remind our clients to not address their work out like a list but to be very mindful as they work out.

It’s especially important to be body aware. I try my best to put whatever I have on my mind on hold when I work out.

It’s not easy. Distractions like to come into the conscious mind. In fact, it’s very normal for the brain to try to anticipate what is next. It’s part of our biology. We need to counter that and really put our mind on our bodies as we work out to get the best results.

If it's burning it's working.

How present are you during your workouts?

It’s important to become body aware.

Very often we’ll ask a client where they feel a particular exercise. In some cases, the person does not really know for sure but just states that they feel an overall, general fatigue. What's the point of exercise if it isn't causing any changes in your body?

In some cases, there can simply be a form adjustment or form tweak to solve the issue. In other cases, the person is simply oblivious because they have not focused on the feeling of the set.

If that happens, it is our fault as trainers as well. Before we begin a set, one of the first things that I’ll do is remind a person where to put their focus. It really, really helps.

In my experience, there seems to be two types of people in the gym: those that are body aware and those that aren’t. I’m sure that there is probably a middle ground somewhere, but I haven’t seen it too often.

I’ve seen people that are totally body aware. They can tell you what they feel and where they feel it. There are others that seem like they don't have a clue.

I think that this is, in part, from early learning. Those that have had some yoga training appear to be far more body aware. Those that have had a coach or trainer that was all about getting the work in seem to have very little body awareness - and they are also the ones that are the most extrinsically motivated.

As trainers we want to teach all of our clients to be body aware and learn to become intrinsically motivated. It’s about the feel.

The feeling that your body gives you during exercise is a powerful motivator.

How to be body aware while strength training

The first thing we must do is know exactly where we are supposed to be feeling the exercise.

Body building should be about the feel. Don’t let the term body building throw you. If you are trying to get stronger and add muscle of any kind; you are building your body, hence, body building.

Many trainers teach the acute program variables. These variables for strength training are the exercises, sets, reps, load, rest, and tempo. They are all important.

Where we put our focus during a workout is equally important. For example, I personally believe that if you grabbed any light weight, did a particular exercise, and stayed laser focused the entire set and did it until you no longer could; you would get more out of that than a person that did 3 sets of 12 reps with the ideal weight but did it mindlessly. Fight me on that!

The best thing to do is get the acute program variables set up for your goal and do it with complete body awareness.

Get more out of every rep by focusing on how your body feels during the movement.

Determine which muscle is working during each exercise

The first thing to do when you want to be totally body aware during a set of exercise is know exactly what part of the muscle you are working.

For example, you may be working the deltoids - but where in the deltoids is the exercise targeting? Is it the anterior, medial, or posterior? Put your mind there. Touch it first. Put your finger on the part of the muscle that you plan on targeting and contract it.

Next, make sure that you know what the full range of motion is. Too many people end up doing partial ranges of motion because they have never been taught how to go through the full range of motion.

Make sure that you really know the proper form before starting. Make sure that every other muscle that is supporting you stays tight. If you are standing, for example, engage your core so that you are keeping your spine in the correct alignment.

A lot of times, people are completely unaware of their posture. Before you start, check your posture.

Use the right weight

Next, use a weight where you can really stay focused on the exercise. A lot of times, trainees use too heavy of a load and they can only focus on that. It's better to use a lighter load and do it right than it is to go heavy and not target the area you are trying to work.

Weight is subjective in many ways. What is heavy to you might be light for another and vice versa. Just use the right load for you so that you can zero in on the muscle.

Use the weight that makes you focus on the movement.

Speed determines success

When you lift, make sure that you go at a tempo where you can stay focused on the movement. On the negative or lowering portion, go slower than on the lifting portion and really ensure that you are going to your full range of motion.

I say your full range of motion because it is slightly different for everyone. What do your joints allow? Fuller is better if you don't have pain in the joint.

Focus on squeezing the muscle

As you start the lifting portion of the lift, make sure that you squeeze the muscle that is being contracted all the way through. For example, make sure that you squeeze the biceps as hard as you can like a body builder doing a biceps pose as you curl the weight during bicep curls.

When you get to the top of the movement, squeeze before lowering. As you lower, feel the negative all the way down. Don’t just let the weight down. Make sure that you feel the load going down slow. Get the full range of motion at the bottom and do it all over again.

Mindful exercise is extremely effective

Focus on your breath

This focus is hard. We all get sidetracked and lose focus. The key, just like meditation, is to get the focus back.

Another way to become more body aware when lifting is to focus on your breath. Breathe in through the nose on the eccentric part of the lift which is the lowering portion. Blow the air out through the mouth on the concentric portion of the lift which is the lifting portion.

This also helps keep you in a nice rhythm.

Breathe in through the nose on the eccentric (lowering) part of the lift. Exhale through the mouth on the concentric (lifting) part of the lift.

If it’s burning, it is working. Body building is as much art as science. Yes, we know the ins and outs of the science well in 2021.

I’m an exercise physiologist and I’ve seen the science. We know what paper says are the best exercises, sets, reps, and loads for a particular goal, but we must stay focused if we want to get the most out of it.

The body really reacts to where we put our focus. I believe that 100%. I have a psychology degree as well and psychology is as important (or even more important) when it comes to exercise.

Can you focus on what you are trying to accomplish or are you daydreaming? Daydreaming while working out is still better than not working out, but my suggestion would be to really take advantage of your time in the gym. Get body aware.

Give yourself that nice break from your mind going off in different directions. Not only will you get more long-term benefits down the road from doing that, but you will also leave the gym in a better mood.

Focus on your focus and the body will follow.

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Plant based eating

Vegetable casserole dish

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Plant based eating

Let me start out with stating that my way of eating is plant based. I have been this way for several years. I have been going in this direction for over a decade.

Vegan and vegetarian diets

In the past decade we’ve gone from calling this lifestyle vegetarian and vegan to plant based.

As you may or may not know, a vegan is a person that doesn't eat any animal products at all. A vegetarian does not eat meat but may consume some other animal products. There are several types of vegetarians. I won’t go into all that. Let’s talk about plant-based eating.

A plant based diet

I like the term plant based. It is what it says it is: plant based. It doesn’t state never or always. It states based.

That is hard for a lot of people to grasp. In short that means that most of my diet is plant based. For some that are plant based, they may be pure vegans. For others, they just make plants the majority of their diet.

A plant based diet means that your diet is focused on plant foods.

Why I eat a plant based diet

It works for me. For me it’s a matter of animal welfare, environmental reasons, health and taste.

I can say that it hasn’t been too difficult for me because I really don’t like the taste of any kind of meat including chicken, turkey, or beef.

When I was body building in my 20’s I ate so many chickens that I think I just developed an aversion to it. It’s disgusting to me.

For me to think it tastes good, it must be fried or doctored up in a way that is super unhealthy. I just don’t eat it. I feel the same with fish.

At times I’ll have a little dairy and at times I’ll have some egg whites but primarily I eat what grows in the ground.

The protein myth

The protein myth is one of the things that hold people up when it comes to plant-based eating.

Americans eat more protein than any other nation. We eat too much of it. Protein is considered the miracle growth food for body builders and many other athletes. We need it, but not as much as we have been led to believe.

Protein is the repairing macro nutrient. This means that protein is needed to help repair something when it is broken down.

We just don’t need as much as many proclaim. Carbohydrates and fats are the macronutrients that we use for energy. When we do more physical activity, we need more carbohydrates and fats to carry out the activity - especially carbohydrates.

Athletes need a little more protein than sedentary people - but the amount is just a little more. I've heard of athletes taking 3-4 times more protein than they need. That’s not only a waste but it’s unhealthy.

We've been led to believe that we need a lot more protein than what we actually do.

Keep protein in balance with carbohydrates and fats

All diets should be balanced. I call a balanced diet 20% protein, 60% carbohydrates, and 20% fat. The carbs can be decreased a little if you are very inactive or increased a little if you are highly active.

The protein should remain mostly the same. When a person is active and wants to gain muscle and/or strength, they need more calories in general (more food). They should keep the balance the same.

Studies show that we can only digest around 25 grams of protein in a sitting anyway. When more is taken in, it either gets wasted or stored as fat.

Think about that when you see those giant jugs of protein that brag about having 50 grams of protein per serving. Your body can’t even metabolize that. It is marketing and it’s a waste.

Around 60% of your food should be in the form of carbohydrates. 20% should come from protein and 20% should come from fat.

You can get all of the protein that you need from plants

Another myth that people use to argue against plant-based eating is the idea that you can’t get your protein from plant sources. This is a flat out lie.

There are many plant-based foods that are loaded with protein such as beans, quinoa, and soy.

There is something called “mutual supplementation” that states that if you combine certain plants such as beans and rice; you have a complete protein with all the amino acids (building blocks of protein) present.

It is very possible to get the protein that you need from plants, but you must plan accordingly.

You can get all the protein that you need from plants.

You can still be unhealthy on a plant based diet

Eating a plant based diet shouldn’t be an excuse to eat a lot of non-animal foods that are simply calorie dense.

Some people brag about being plant based while eating primarily crackers and chips.

Sure, those foods are not loaded in saturated fats; but please don’t think that they are healthy! Processed carbs that aren’t animal based doesn’t mean they are good for you.

Being truly plant based means eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, grains, and oats. The more whole you eat them; the better they will be for you.

A plant based diet is healthy when you eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and grains. Avoid processed carbs.

Plant based versus animal based

I’m an exercise physiologist and a sports nutritionist. I’ve seen so much research. I know that research has been argued on both sides. I’ve seen both.

I’ve seen some studies out there that are the opposite of plant based and it’s being pushed on culture. I can assure you that those types of modern day “Atkins” are not good overall.

At the same time, I'm not going to tell you to not eat meat. I don’t tell my clients to not eat meat. If they want a meal plan, I'll make them either a plant based or a non-plant based plan. I believe both can be made to be healthy.

I’ve seen research (most notably, the China study) that shows how much better it is for us to not eat meat regarding chronic diseases, inflammation, moods, and hormones. The research is solid and clear.

I have seen research suggesting that lean meat is fine for us too. Who do you believe? That’s up to you.

For me, I choose to go plant based because I do believe that research and it’s worked very well for me.

Whatever you do; choose healthy, pure foods. Listen to your body afterwards. How does your body feel when you eat something? Do you feel bloated? Do you feel swollen?

Choose healthy, whole and pure foods.

If you want to try plant-based eating; start slow. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start to try certain plant-based foods and see how you like it.

Some people try a meatless Monday. If you don’t want to, that’s okay too.

Just do your research on protein. You will find that those pushing mega protein are either clueless without much education or they have an agenda. Too much of anything is not a good thing!

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Strength training prevents injuries

Rack of dumbbells at a gym

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

The gym is where we prevent and heal injuries

Personal trainers all have pet peeves. I have a few. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear a person say that they don’t want to do a certain strength training exercise because they don’t want to get hurt.

I’m all about form and safety, don’t get me wrong, but the implication that you will get hurt on a chosen exercise with a qualified trainer while watching correct form is not only off base, but even disrespectful.

If a client has told the trainer about a certain chronic injury, then the client needs to trust that the trainer knows what they are doing. If they don’t trust the trainer, the relationship should have never progressed.

I get that there are trainers out there who don’t know what they are doing, just like with any profession. I'm in the personal training industry and there are many. That is also on the client for not doing their homework while choosing a trainer.

When it comes to my training and my gym, we know what we’re doing. If you want to get better, listen. Trust us. As I've heard in the past, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.

Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.

Bad form causes injuries - not exercise or load

The other reason why people may think that they are going to get hurt on certain exercises is because they have read about certain gym injuries or have seen them.

Again, it comes down to trust. There is no doubt that you can get hurt while lifting weights - just like you can get hurt walking to your mailbox.

We don’t get hurt by exercise choice - or even load for that matter.

We get hurt in the gym by using bad form - which is totally on the client to not do. You need to make sure that you use the correct form when doing strength training.

A personal trainer will show you how to do a certain exercise. They are not trying to make the exercise harder. They are trying to make sure that the muscles move the weight - not the bones, joints or tendons.

You can get hurt while lifting weights - just like how you can get hurt walking to your mailbox.

Trust the experts

This type of scenario where the client tries to dictate their program doesn’t happen too often. I will nip this one in the bud quick.

Typically a person that tries to dictate their program, whether they are rehabbing an injury or simply don’t want to do a certain exercise, is a control freak.

They will try to dictate their program. You won’t get far if you are that type of client. At our gym we don’t allow it because we respect what we do.

If other trainers allow it at other places, it won’t work long term either. If you knew so much about getting yourself better, you’d be doing it on your own. That mythology is weak.

I’ve hired professionals myself for many things. I remember when I hired a swim coach to help me get better at swimming.

I'm an exercise physiologist and know a lot about body mechanics. What if I were to sit on the deck and challenge everything this swim coach was trying to teach me? Do you think I’d get better? I wouldn't.

I didn’t challenge my coach. It would be a waste of money if I did. I did whatever they told me to do and I improved. Taking lessons, I was finally able to complete a flip turn! That was huge for me.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't give your trainer feedback

Feedback is good, but telling your trainer what you think you shouldn’t do is disrespectful and silly.

I’ve had clients demonstrate fear before doing a certain exercise. That can be understandable.

Let’s take squats for example. The client may be nervous because they thought that it can be hard on the knees or back (which isn’t true at all when done correctly).

Fear is appropriate feedback and I’ll calm their fears by giving them the education that they need. In these scenarios the client does the exercise and is glad that they did it later.

Showing trepidation isn’t bad. It’s normal. It’s dictating your program that is off base.

Squats aren't bad for your back or knees!

Bad form causes injury

If we get hurt in the gym, it’s due to poor form and/or lack of focus. We get hurt in the gym by using poor form, period.

We can get hurt by using 3-pound dumbbells if we throw them around. The gym itself is the place where we get better. Exercise selection and load get falsely blamed for a lot of injuries.

Load or weights get blamed the most. I hear people say that they are afraid to go heavier because they don’t want to get hurt.

Stating your fears is okay. We want to hear that, but the fear needs to be explained away. The heavier we go, the slower the lift is. It’s science. You can’t push a heavier load quickly. The slower we go the less likely we are to get hurt.

Don't use bad form, get an injury and then blame the exercise or the load.

You can get an injury from the wrong load

Can a person get hurt by trying a near maximum weight one time? Of course you can.

Why would anyone other than a strength athlete try that? One rep max is not overly beneficial and has no place in a typical personal training gym.

Again, a good trainer should select a safe and effective rep range. If you go heavier in that range, the trainer sees that you can. If the trainer is effectively adding 5-10% increases and you keep the same form, you will not get hurt!

We get hurt by using bad form. It's plain and simple. If we throw a weight around and do it mindlessly, we are far more likely to get hurt than if we go heavier.

You can get hurt from low weights if you do them mindlessly.

Exercise selection and injury

The other myth is exercise selection. A good trainer knows what exercises you need. If you are recovering from an injury, they know what exercises are the best to rehab you.

Yes, feedback is great. A certain exercise may impact your injury. You may feel pain while doing it. Tell the trainer. A modification should be made - and a good trainer will make one.

Saying, “I shouldn’t do that”, means that you don’t trust the trainer. The reality is that if we continue to back away from exercises that will get us back to our best self, we will never get better.

Let’s look at squats again. They are a foundation for exercise. If we continue to avoid every version of them because they scare us, we will not be able to get better. The squat motion is the same as getting out of a chair.

If we avoid squats to such an extent, doesn’t that mean that we will have challenging times getting out of chairs one day?

Again, good trainers know how to modify. The squat motion should be part of any knee and/or back rehab program. It needs to be implemented when ready and increased when ready. The trainer knows how to do that. Trust them.

Squats should be a part of any knee or back rehab program.

Strength training prevents injury by strengthening muscles and joints

Strength training is the best way to prevent injuries. The weight room is the best place to rehab them.

When we strengthen our muscles, we strengthen the muscles that surround a joint.

  1. If we strengthen our biceps and triceps and forearms, we strengthen the elbow joint.
  2. When we strengthen our deltoids, chest, and upper back muscles, we strengthen the shoulder joint.
  3. When we strengthen our trap muscles, we strengthen the neck.
  4. When we strengthen our abdominal, obliques, and lower back muscles, we strengthen the spine and lower back.
  5. When we strengthen our glutes, we strengthen the hips.
  6. When we strengthen our quads, hamstrings, and calves; we strengthen our knee.
  7. When we strengthen our calves, we strengthen the ankle.
Strengthen the muscle to strengthen the joint.

The muscles that are around these joints are what strengthen these joints. When we strengthen these muscles, we also strengthen the tendons that connect those muscles to the joints.

If these muscles are weak, the joint is weak.

The shoulder is completely held together by the deltoid muscles and the rotator cuff muscles. If they are weak, I’ll bet the farm that the shoulder will get hurt.

The gym is the best place to rehab the joints and prevent injuries. Strengthen the muscle to strengthen the joint.

Strength training prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances

The other way that strength training helps to prevent injury is by fixing muscle imbalances.

If you do a sport, you are using the same muscles over and over again. This will make them dominant. This will create a muscle imbalance and a muscle imbalance can create an overuse injury.

We see this all the time. It doesn’t even have to be a sport. Let's say you work at a computer and you sit leaning over the computer all the time. This can develop what we call kyphosis (hunch back) which means that the anterior (front) shoulder muscles are dominant and your shoulders roll forward.

This can cause shoulder and neck pain. The way to combat this is through proper strength training and working the opposite muscles like the posterior delts (back shoulders) to balance it out.

We can all have muscle imbalances. They can all be corrected in the gym.

Kyphosis x-ray

Trust us! We want to make you better. That’s our job and we want you to be better as much as you do. We know what we’re doing. Don’t be afraid of the gym and check your ego at the door.

State your fears and I’m sure that you will feel better once you understand the goal. We want you to be able to tackle the basic, fundamental, strength exercises so you can get back to everything that you enjoy.

We all must modify an exercise of sorts. We are all built differently, but we should all strive to get stronger and use perfect form in the gym so that we can get better.

Strength training is the way to avoid injuries and to heal our injuries. Our bodies will thank us when we do it!

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Straight sets, supersets, compound sets, giant sets, pre-exhaust sets and breakdown sets

Bodybuilder using the bench press at the gym

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Different types of sets to intensify strength training

1. Straight sets
2. Super sets
3. Compound sets
4. Giant sets
5. Pre-exhaust sets
6. Breakdown sets

As we start to advance, there are ways that we can change the way we do sets.

You may need to be more efficient, you may want to add different angles of similar exercises or you may simply want to find a way to add more intensity.

In my case I like to do various kinds of sets because I get bored doing the same thing all over again. Change is exceptionally good for your body.

I want to teach you different sets you can do and why to choose each one so that you can add some diversity to your workout. The different types of sets I’m going to go over are straight sets, supersets, compound sets, giant sets, pre-exhaust sets, and breakdown sets.

One of the first things that you learn is how to organize your workout when you start working out with weights. The exercises are chosen or picked for you. The number of sets, reps, and load are then chosen as well.

Straight sets, Super sets, Compound sets, Giant sets, Pre-exhaust sets, Breakdown sets

1. Straight sets

Use the same weight for one type of exercise with rest between each single set.

The most traditional way to begin a workout program regarding set programming is typically doing what we call straight sets.

An example of straight sets would be doing 3 sets of 10 reps. You can do 10 repetitions with the same weight 3 different times with a rest in between each.

It’s a terrific way to build initial strength.

2. Super sets

Follow one set of exercises with another set of exercises before taking a break. This is a single super set.

Supersets can be done in two separate ways.

Do super sets with antagonist muscle groups

The first way is to do the agonist exercise back-to-back with the antagonist. Agonist means the prime mover and the antagonist opposes the prime mover. All muscle groups have pairings such as these.

An example would be doing a biceps curl exercise followed by a triceps extension exercise. The triceps oppose to the biceps. It's the opposite motion.

A superset performed this way would be to do a standing bicep curl and superset it with a tricep press-down.

If you did 3 sets of 10 this way, it means that you do 10 reps on the curl and go immediately into 10 reps on the press-down with little to no rest.

Rest and repeat the entire cycle two more times for three total sets. 

Super set upper and lower body parts

Another way to do a superset would be to pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise.

For example, you can do a barbell squat for your lower body and pair it up with a bench press for your upper body. You would do this the same way you did the above superset.

Benefits of super sets

1. Saves time
2. Maintains blood flow in a specific area
3. Adds intensity, endurance and strength at the same time

This type of set programming is great if you want to spend less time in the gym. One area is working while the other is resting. It cuts down on rest time.

It is also good to keep blood flow in the area when it comes to doing the agonist and antagonist type of super set, which helps the muscle to grow.

It’s not good if you work out in a crowded gym and can’t dictate having two exercise areas open for you. If you can arrange the gym to your liking, you might as well cut down on some time.

Use super sets to save time and ramp up the intensity of your workout.

3. Compound sets

Compound sets work the same muscle group in back-to-back sets of different exercises before taking a rest.

I love compound sets. Compound sets work the same muscle group in back-to-back sets.

For example, if you are working your biceps you can do a set of barbell curls and go right into dumbbell curls.

Like any other type of these sets, you can arrange the reps and sets to match your goals.

For example, if you do 4 x 8 on a compound set of biceps you would do 8 barbell curls and go right into dumbbell curls. You would repeat these three more times.

This is an extremely popular training method among body builders that are trying to add muscle (hypertrophy). It’s a great “mass” exercise. It is effective because you can train the muscle at more angles and you can cut down on time at the gym due to decreasing rest time.

You will have to use less weight when you do compound sets to reach your set and rep goals. That’s okay because your body only knows fatigue - it can’t really determine weight very well.

If you are an ego person and the weight is the reason you lift; it may not be your best strategy.

Again, like above, you will have to make sure that you have a gym that you can occupy two areas at once.

Compound sets attack the same muscle to a whole new level of fatigue.

4. Giant sets

Do three or more sets in a row before taking a break.

Giant sets are great! They are a lot like compound sets, but you add at least one more exercise to the mix of the same muscle group. Giant sets are defined as training more than two exercises within the same muscle group in succession.

An example would be if you are training chest you could do the bench press, followed by the incline press, followed by the fly.

If you do 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each this means that you simply do 12 of one and go into the next and then the next before taking a break.

It’s a terrific way to keep more blood flow in the area that you are working - and you can train the muscle at more angles.

Naturally, like all of these, it cuts down on rest time so it’s more efficient.

The only drawback is that you would have to be able to pull this off in your gym space wise and you wouldn’t be able to use as much weight as usual. If you are training for size and tone, that should not matter as much to you.

Giant sets use three exercises on the same muscle group before taking a break.

5. Pre-exhaust sets

Exhaust a specific muscle before doing a compound exercise that uses that same muscle.

Pre-exhaust sets are defined as doing the primary exercise of a muscle group just prior to the compound movement.

For example, if you did a leg extension that isolates the quads and go right into a squat exercise which is a multi-joint exercise for the quads, you are doing a pre-exhaust set.

This is ideal for strengthening muscle groups that are being neglected because weaker areas are fatiguing before the area that you want to work fatigues.

As an example let's take the squat again. For many people, their lower back gets fatigued before the legs do. If you did a pre-exhaust set before you squat for your quads, you can make sure that doesn’t happen because the area you are trying to target is already fatigued.

You would have to do the second exercise (the compound exercise) much lighter. The only downside to this is that you must make sure the gym you are training at has the space for this and that you are getting to the second exercise as fast as possible.

Like with any of these techniques, you don’t want to exclusively do this for all of your training.

It is intense and you do not want to over train. You should mix in any of these techniques as you see fit, but keep in mind that they are more intense.

Pre-exhaust sets fatigue a specific muscle before doing the main exercise.

6. Breakdown sets

Do an exercise until failure and then do it again at a lower weight immediately.

Breakdown sets are a little different because you don’t leave the exercise. There are a couple of ways that you can do this.

They are done by taking the first set that you do to muscular failure and then dropping the weight and doing more reps.

There are two basic ways this can be done (and you can invent your own!).

Do 3-4 breakdown reps at 30% less weight

One way is to go to failure and then drop the weight by only 30% and try to do 3-4 more reps.

An example of this would be the cable chest fly. Let’s say you do 3 sets of 10 with a breakdown of 30%. You do the first set of 10 to failure and lower the weight by 30% and strive for 3-4 more reps. Rest and do this again two more times.

Try to do the same amount of reps for 50% of the weight

Another way is to go to failure, drop the weight by 50% and then try to match the reps that you did on the initial set.

In the second example you do 2 sets of 8 with a breakdown. For the chest press you do 8 reps at 50 pounds. You hit failure and drop the weight to 25 and do 8 more. Rest and do this again. Notice that I dropped the sets from 3 to 2. As you do more volume (reps and sets), you’ll want to make sure that you take this into consideration to avoid over training.

These are best done on weight machines since you have weight stacks that you can easily adjust.

Breakdown sets add intensity without using more equipment

This is a terrific way to add intensity to a workout without having to monopolize more than one area of a gym.

It also helps to work on form. When you drop the weight you can focus a little more on your form.

Be warned though that dropping the weight does not make it easier! It’s a very intense way to train.

Work till failure. Perform a breakdown set immediately afterwards by decreasing the weight.


All the above techniques are great. I’ve used them all at various times with myself and with clients.

I suggest that you use the ones that are most appropriate for you and don’t overdo them. You don’t have to apply them to all your sets.

Still use straight sets and find ways to incorporate the advanced sets that grab your attention. Try different ones on different exercises and see which ones you feel more.

For me, I like changing it up. I like doing different training styles.

If you train with good form and have a balanced program, you will see results.

The idea behind these techniques isn't to make you think they are the secret weapon! There is no such thing. Only consistency will bring results.

The idea is to give you diverse ways to train so that you can stay fresh and enjoy your training.

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

How heavy should you lift?

Weights on the floor at a gym

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

How heavy should the weights be?

I have covered how many sets to do, how many reps to do and what tempo the reps should be done at. Now it is time to talk about load. How heavy should you go? This, like the other acute variables, is a highly talked about subject matter as well.

"Heaviness" was my first introduction to working out. I can remember being in junior high and one of the ways you could establish perceived dominance over your peers was to have a superior bench press - or tell people how much you could bench because I am not so sure what we did and said were the same thing.

I know for me it was my first big goal. I wanted to be stronger and I wanted to bench more! I remember when I first did 100 pounds as a kid. I was immensely proud. I also remember when I got stuck working out in my garage by myself bench pressing and having to maneuver the weights off my chest. Load does matter.

There is an inverse relationship between reps and weight

When I was discussing reps before, you may remember me stating that there is an inverse relationship between reps and loads. This is a fact.

You aren't going to be able to do lots of reps on a heavier load. You can do lots of reps with a lighter load. That is a fact.

Heavier weights call for fewer reps. Lighter weights call for more reps.

Load is subjective

Load is also subjective - at least when we talk about heavy, moderate, and light. Heavy to one person might be a warm-up set to another.

So one of the first declarations I will make about load is this: Do not compare yourself to other people. It is really a waste of your time and energy.

We know this: The heavier the load, the stronger you will get if you keep your form good and compare apples to apples.

When I was a young teen and wanted to increase my bench press, I was not going to get stronger if I did not add load.

We know that increasing loads will make us stronger. We also know that increasing load (weight) when the form is poor and the goal is different is not very productive.

You waste precious time and energy when you compare yourself to others.

How heavy should you go?

In exercise physiology worlds, heaviness means load. What is the load? Like I said above the actual loads are very subjective. You cannot call a certain weight heavy. It may not be.

Did you mean hard? Hard is achieved in many ways and it is all supposed to be hard. I have seen people use 100-pound dumbbells for lying chest press and do multiple reps. They would not call that heavy while others would not be able to move one of them out of their way to get to a machine. It is subjective.

What is heavy to one is not heavy to another if you are talking pure loads. What is 50 pounds? It is 50 pounds. That is all that it is. It can be thought of as light or heavy depending on what you are doing.

Weight is not the best definition and level of hardness is not the best definition of load - so what is?

Three ways to determine the best load

In the training world there are three ways to decide how much load to use.

1. Percentage of 1 rep maximum

2. Rep Maximum

3. Wing it

Let me review these three.

Determine the best weight to lift at the gym

1. Percentage of 1 rep maximum

In the strength and conditioning world of sports, the percent of 1 rep maximum is the most used. There have been quite a few studies that show that it is accurate. There are also quite a few studies that show it is a little bit wrong, but the concept is good.

What it means is that you can take a certain percent of the maximum a person can lift a weight ONE time and use it as a training prescription.

It looks something like this:

  • If you use 85% of the person’s 1 Rep Max you will build maximal strength
  • 70-to 85% of the one rep max is best for hypertrophy and general strength
  • Lighter than 70% is ideal for muscular endurance

There is some credence to this. There have also been many studies that show that it is more exercise specific - so it is hard to say that that is the ideal way to go across the board.

I will say for maximal compound lifts that you would use in athletics it is an incredibly good ballpark.

The percentages are then mixed to a rep range.

Greater than 85% is associated with 6 or fewer reps. 70 to 85% ranges are associated with 6 to 12 reps. Less than 70% is associated with more than 12 reps.

One rep max measurements

2. Rep maximum

The second method, Rep Maximum, is a little more practical. All that it means is that you use the maximal load you can use for a given rep number.

So, if you are supposed to be doing 12 reps then you use the maximum weight that you can use for those 12 reps in good form. That would be called 12RM.

When you look at the above paragraph and you see that the percent of 1 Rep Max is associated with a given rep range then you can see that this is a perfectly accurate way to go.

If it is going to go back to the reps anyway than why not just go to the reps? It is accurate.

It hammers home a crucial point and that is that you should be using the maximum load YOU can use for a given rep number.

3. Wing it

The final way of “winging” it is part joke, but it is the most common way that people choose the loads in a gym - or they simply pick an easy load.

I am a big believer in biology and human nature. Wait, is that the same thing? Anyway, people will go by the path of least resistance. No pun intended.

So, if you just tell a person to pick a weight, they will be shortchanging themselves.

Rep Maximum is a way for you to push not to do that. If you know that you should use the best load for a given rep and set count, you will use a more appropriate weight because you are being more objective.

Once that gets into your mindset and you really buy into it, winging it will work better.

The closer you get to exhaustion, the more your body will respond to exercise.

So how heavy should you go?

The best and shortest answer is to use the heaviest load that you can use for a given rep amount while maintaining good form.

We must remember at this point that there really is not a magic rep number. We know that if we are doing lower reps like 6 or less and using the appropriate weight for that 6 then that is going to work more on maximal strength.

And if we are using the appropriate weight for 12 reps then that is going to work more on hypertrophy, tone and general strength - but all will bring results.

Getting remarkably close to fatigue is the big key whether you are doing high reps or lower reps.

Studies show that good things happen at both ends. You must use appropriate load though. Common sense tells us that if a bodybuilder is going to do 30 reps pump sets than he/she will use far less weight than if they are doing sets of 6.

Both sets can be highly effective if the set feels “hard” and the muscles are being worked to exhaustion or close it.

For some general guidelines, “heavy” is considered anything that is the Rep Max for 6 reps or fewer, “medium/moderate” is anything that is Rep Max for 8-12 reps, and “light” is a load that is Rep Maximum for a load that is being used in 12 or higher reps.

Lower reps (6 or less) work more on maximal strength. 12 reps work more on hypertrophy/tone/and general strength.

A big key that I want to go back to here is do not confuse “heavy” for hard or “light” for easy - or, my favorite, “okay” for “medium.” It is all supposed to be hard!

In fact, any experienced lifter will tell you it is far harder to do light/high rep sets (when done correctly) than heavy/low rep sets done correctly. It's all supposed to be hard.

It is easy to grab some “light” dumbbells in your estimation and do 15 “easy” reps, but that is pointless. And if you say that is what you heard builds “tone” then I will throw my computer mouse at you, somehow!

Tone is built by having hard muscles under lean skin that came about from working out and proper diet.

There is no such thing as spot reduction. The only way that that scenario is productive is if you are rehabbing an area and doing those “easy” sets for rehabilitation.

We should always be striving for rep maximum. And look, we can all do that. It is very subjective. If you feel like the best you really can do is a certain load for a certain number of reps, then who can dispute that?

Use the maximum weight that YOU can use, in good form, for the prescribed reps. I cannot say it any clearer than that.

Lighter reps don't tone your muscles. Add size and look after your diet to tone your muscles.

Dynamic Constant External Resistance

How many reps should you do? Do your best. Strength training done in gyms using weights, bands, machines, etc. is called DCER—Dynamic Constant External Resistance.

This means that you move the joint (dynamic means moving), you are holding constant tension on the muscles and you are using External Resistance through the “normal” range of motion. The Resistance is the load and the EXTERNAL means weights, tubes, or machine plates. It is not internal. There must be an outside load. So if you want the benefits of strength training (or if not, why would you be doing it), then you need to use the best External Load that you can.

This article is written by Rob Maxwell (learn about his education), M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My Education - by Contributing Author Rob Maxwell

Rob Maxwell

This article is written by Rob Maxwell, M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.

It all started when I was a counselor

I was working at Stewart Treatment Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. It later became Stewart-Marchman Treatment Center in the 1990’s. I was body building and living that lifestyle. I was working on my degree in Psychology and finished with it around that time.

I majored in psychology in college and I am extremely glad that I did. I loved the field and I still do. I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do with it, but I know that I always enjoyed taking psychology classes in college. I worked at Stewart off and on for several years.

Stewart Treatment Center was a drug and rehabilitation center. I worked in the RAP Department - which stood for Residential Adolescent Program. I was first an assistant counselor and later become a lead counselor. I really did enjoy the job.

I believed in what they were doing. I still believe in what they do to this day. I struggled with drinking too much in college so I could really relate to the residents. I felt like I had a lot to offer.

The light bulb moment

One day, while working, one of the kids came up to me and asked me something like, "How did I get big" or "How did I get a strong bench press". I really do not remember what he asked exactly, but I do remember that it had nothing to do with drugs and/or alcohol and everything to do with fitness.

This was a common occurrence. I answered him as I always did and I found myself very engaged in the answer. A light bulb went on in my head at that very moment and I remember driving home thinking that I wanted to be in the field of fitness. I thought that I wanted to be a personal trainer.

The field of personal training was brand new at the time. The "fitness industry” was not even really an industry yet. There were a couple of guys doing personal training at World Gym where I worked out. The field was in its infancy and that was good. It was a very pure profession then. People were only in it if they really had something to offer and if they knew what they were doing.

Choose your career based on passion, not the industry. Industry dynamics change all the time.

Even though I had a lot of personal experience, I had to have the education to really break into the industry. I respected the field too much. Could I have just made some business cards and made a go at it? Probably, but I did not want to do that. I really wanted to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. I was not big on getting parallel degrees. I always wanted to move upward.

I was brainstorming on my way home from work that day. I was excited. I felt like I really knew what I wanted to do. It all made sense. I was fired up! Fitness was my true passion. I remember that when I dropped the weight in high school, I thought to myself that one day I want to work with kids and teach them how to get into shape. I feel like it was the move that I was supposed to make.

When I got home, and all of the rest of the week, I called around to find out who had the program that I was looking for. I did not know exactly what it would be. Keep in mind this is long before the day of the internet. You had to call or go by! Those were better times about getting details.

I started with UCF which is where I got my first B.S. degree. They had what I was looking for. They had a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Wellness. Wellness was hot then. It was a big part of where everybody thought the industry was going. It never did move too far into that direction.

After making my call to UCF, I got my next steps regarding what I needed to do. I was told to make an appointment with the heads of the program. I did. I met with Gerald Gergely first. He became a significant role model for me later on. The other department head was Dr. Frank Rohter. Both men became instrumental for me. I remember meeting with Mr. Gergely. He told me that to be in the fitness profession you must love it.

It is not the profession to get into if you want to get rich. I said that I did love it and that it was not a problem. He then said that in this industry you must learn to be all things to all people. He asked me if I could do that. I said yes. We hit it off very well.

He told me the steps that I would need to complete to get into the program. I had the GPA already. I worked extremely hard in college and made A’s. The next thing I would need to do was take the GRE (graduate record exam). I signed up for that. I took the prep classes and later got the score that I needed on the GRE. After this hurdle was out of the way I gave my score, filled out the official application and waited. Sometime after that I received my approval. I was so excited to be accepted into the program and the way of life that I so loved.


I could not have asked for a better learning environment than the one that I got at UCF. It was casual but exactly what we needed. Our professors wanted us to research much of what we were learning for ourselves. We had to do many presentations. They were teaching us to be leaders. That is critical in the fitness industry.

People who you help need to be led. I once heard that leaders help people to do what they do not want to do. That is true.

I often hear “I can’t do that” from people when what they mean is that they do not want to do it. They often end up doing whatever it is - and they are glad that they did it.

True leaders get people to do what is best - regardless of whether they want to do it at first.

I learned the essentials of what I needed to know in graduate school and, most importantly, I felt the confidence of learning what I needed to learn so that I could feel good about what I wanted to do.

I, again, never wanted to be that guy who just worked in the field because I had some personal success. I heard a statement along the way that said, “You can’t ask a racehorse how it got fast”. That is so true.

Often people do not realize that there is a genetic component. They do not understand that what worked for them may not work for another. That is why you need the science.

What works for you might not work for the next person.

I started coining “where training is science” early on in my business. It is important for me to use science in what I do. Opinion and experience do matter, but I always want to back it up with scientific reasoning.

I graduated with a 4.0 from graduate school with a degree in Exercise Physiology and Wellness. I am proud of that. Getting a 4.0 was no different from what I learned about getting in shape. It is the work that I put in. I am not a big believer that some are simply good at this or that. There are some genetic things that go on, but I really believe that if you put in the work at anything, you will get the outcome.

It's not about how good you are at something naturally. It's about how much work you put in.

More on education

My education never stops. Why would it? I really love learning more. I picked up different certifications along the way. I waited years just because I put in so much more stock in a college education than a certification. I still do.

I was teaching a sports medicine program at a college and it was in their curriculum that they received a certification - so I decided to do it too. My first certification was the Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine. That is supposed to be the best. It is good.

There are only 4 personal trainer certifications that are respected: The ACSM CPT, the ACE (American Council on Exercise) personal trainer, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) personal trainer, and NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) personal trainer.

These are accredited. This means that they all follow scientific guidelines and a separate agency makes sure that they fall in line. This is important.

You cannot simply go online and take one of these certifications. That is all that you must do with most other “certified” personal trainers' certifications. They are a joke. It is really embarrassing in my industry. An education is still far better because these take some brain cells to pass. In fact, I know many that failed them.

Your education is as good as the effort that you put into it.

The CSCS by the NSCA

Along the way I picked up a couple of others but the other one that I am proud of is the CSCS by the NSCA. That stands for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

I am proud of this one and I am proud of this agency. You must have a bachelor's degree in exercise science to even sit for this exam. That is important. It is one of the few certifications in my industry where a degree is required.

I feel quite passionately that anybody working in my field should have a degree. Most do not.

I am proud of this qualification. It is authentic. It was not easy to pass. I studied hard. I still stay up on this one as well as my ACSM CPT to this day. I think that they are both exceptionally good organizations.

Education, experience and passion

You need a combination of education, experience, and passion to be the best at what you can be in this industry. You need them all.

I feel like I have them all. I am not being overconfident. You see that I simply love it. If I were not getting paid, I would still be talking about fitness all the time. I feel like I am good at it. I fell into it. I hit the street running once I did.

There are too many people in the field that do not have all of these things. I do not think that that is right.

Nothing beats education, experience and passion.

You deal with people's lives in the fitness industry

I work with people with a lot of different health issues in my industry. We have our clients that are simply fit and want to be fit, but we deal with special populations mostly. Special populations are groups that have things that you must take into consideration. It can be as simple as being a senior citizen or it could be somebody in a declining, diseased state.

Through the years I have worked with so many special populations that I cannot count them. Some people really need our full awareness.

A trainer should know how to work with a hypertensive client on beta blockers. A trainer should know how to read blood sugar levels and know what to do. How do you train a client after a hip replacement? We do that all the time.

Personal trainers can become certified without a degree. I don't think that is right, but it is what it is. This won't happen with me. I need to know what to do.

Personal trainers deal with the physical lives of others. They should know what they are doing.

Current licensing laws for personal trainers

Right now there is not licensing where I live in the state of Florida. It has entered certain states for the fitness industry. It will come to my state.

I think that it will not matter for me. I have what I need and it would not change my practice. It could put others out of business or make them pony up to get what they need. I think that our industry needs that.

Do you realize how many people I know that are in my field without proper credentialing? There are too many.

What I hear all the time is “I heard that I’m supposed to do this”. 100% of the time they heard this from a trainer that really does not have the credentials to talk about what they talk about.

I correct a lot of unhealthy habits - whether it is exercise, form or simply program design - for people that worked with a trainer that does not have the qualification that they should have.

You shouldn't take advice from a personal trainer who hasn't invested in their own proper education.

Education matters. It shows seriousness too. You would think that you would take every step to be the best at what you want to do if you really are serious about helping people and getting into the fitness field.

Too many people want the title of a personal trainer - or they think that they can make a quick buck working in a gym. It shouldn't be that way.

I used to ask my students, “Do you want a job or do you want a career”? That sums it up.

Experience is important

You must have the experience too. I think that if you get the degree and have the passion, you will get the correct experience. I feel like I am so much better now at 55 than I was at 27.

I think that I have mellowed some, but that is okay. I have gained so much experience that I know what will work with some people and what will work with others. I have seen so many types of cases that I now can pull it out of my mental toolbox and know how to handle it.

You cannot teach experience. I am sure that my clients over the years have taught me as much as I have taught them.

You cannot teach someone experience.


You must have passion in the fitness industry. You are trying to fire somebody up to do what they do not want to do. How are you going to fire someone else up if you cannot fire yourself up?

You can't. You must have passion. I do. I love fitness. Can certain clients get on my nerves? Of course they can. I think that being authentic with people is part of it too. Good relationships have conflict. If you are not correcting your client or getting on them for what they are not doing, you do not care. That comes along with passion.

When I see bad form, it is like nails on a chalk board. In my mind I scream “WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU MORON!” And at times that may come out of my mouth! I will always correct it. That is because I care. I care about the industry.

I care about the people that I am trying to help and I care about the industry too. There is a right way to do things. If I don't correct somebody, I disrespect my industry. I do not want to do that. It means too much to me.

I used to tell my students that if I stop correcting them, they know that they lost out because I just gave up and do not care anymore. I cannot do that with my job.

I have had many trainers through the years and the topic of the “un-correctable” comes up. Yes, there are clients that you can show how to do something 100 times and they simply cannot or will not do it right. Still correct them. You owe it to the industry.

Passion changes people's lives.

My education continues

I am still learning. I continue to take CEC’s (continuing education credits). I read good books that come up. I still get science journals on a regular basis. I still look at documentaries. I go to workshops. I love to learn. I really do. I know what to look for.

If it is fitness-related, I want the author or speaker to have his CSCS that I spoke of earlier and an advanced degree. If they do not have at least that, I will not read it.

Our local paper has an article every week of a “personal trainer” who shows an exercise. They show some lame certification next to their name and it drives me nuts.

We are dealing with obesity and heart disease here and you cannot even highlight a person who has the right credentials!

To get your nails done the person doing them has to have a license but if you are morbidly obese, diabetic, and have hypertension it is okay to have a “trainer’ who did a weekend workshop? That does not fly with me.

Often I do not read what is out there. I don't give any respect to the experts on social media that simply look good and know how to do a lunge - and they want to change your life?

When looking for an expert to read, follow, or listen to; make sure they have a degree in health and fitness. Make sure that they have one of the reputable certifications that I mentioned above. If they do not, keep scrolling. I do not care what they look like!

Education matters – especially when it comes to people’s health.

You cannot ask a racehorse how it got fast! I can be a fast racehorse, but thankfully I took the time to figure how I improved scientifically.

It is a balance of education, experience and passion.

This article is written by Rob Maxwell, M.A. Exercise Physiology, CSCS and ACSM CPT from Follow him on Twitter.