John Kelly's blog

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Strength training while undergoing radiation treatment

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Stan is 71 years old and has cancer. He was slated to undergo 70 straight days of radiation treatment along with estrogen therapy. He was told by his doctor that he would lose strength if he didn't exercise, and that the strength loss would likely be permanent. 
 
Stan began strength training. Stan's recovery abilities were already compromised from the trauma of the radiation. Strength training produces a stimulus. That stimulus is trauma to the muscles and to the entire system. As a result of the exercise, the body as a way of achieving self-preservation, makes a positive adaptation by becoming stronger.
 
 If the strength training trauma far exceeds the body's ability to recover the body can actually become weaker. We design our strength training program based not on how much exercise you can withstand but based on what is the least amount that will produce the most results – that

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Shoulder pain and referred pain finally disappears

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

I was sitting in the dentist chair getting my teeth cleaned, and I began to moan. Not because of a recent Achilles operation, not because of my teeth, no it was because of pain in both my shoulders.  In addition to pain in my shoulders, for weeks I had been having referred pain running down my arms, and numbness in both my hands down to my fingertips. It was intolerable. Sleeping was horrible. My range of motion was increasingly becoming restricted, and the outlook looked worse if I did not do something. One shoulder was well on its way to becoming frozen.

My doctor gave me a couple Cortisone shots, and I went to physical therapy.  The pain dissipated and I was discharged.  I was still somewhat restricted in my use, and I could see the possibility of the pain flaring up again. I began strength training again. My trainer restricted my range of motion to a pain-free range. The range was very small at first, but it increased over time. Each week he had me lift a little more. Slowly my range of motion increased and the last remnants of pain disappeared.  I did not have to get into a special position to sleep.  I just slept hassle-free.

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Exercise Intensity

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

What is exercise intensity and why is it important?

In simplest terms it is how hard an exercise is at a point in time.  It is the level of momentary exertion during exercise.  This can be quantified by measures such as a person's heart rate expressed as percentage of one's maximum heart rate or pounds of weight lifted expressed as a perecentage of one's one-rep maximum lift. Exercise of sufficient intensity is necessary to stimulate the body to make a change.  When the body is worked beyond what it is equipped to handle the body adapts as a form of self-protection.   The body will make a positive adaptation only if given enough time to recover from the exercise.  

How high should the level of exercise intensity be?

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Step away from that desk and get back into shape

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Steve liked his work, but it afforded him very little free time. He worked long hours, and he was at point in his life that he had invested so much in his education and his career that he really needed to follow through with this time commitment. Add to that the commitment to family, and he had little time or inclination to set aside time for exercise.  His situation was not all that uncommon. 

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Can trying to get one extra rep result in the set being less safe and less intense at the same time?

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

You got nine repetitions the last workout session. You sure would like to get that tenth rep.  As a result of getting the extra rep, and as a form of self-protection, the body will make a positive adaptation (become stronger). This is a protocol that works if it's done correctly.

The trouble is, in the process, corners are often cut, and the exercise can become less safe and less intense. If the work is not of a sufficient intensity there is no reason for the body to become stronger.  High-intensity work places place demands on the system that require the system to adapt positively to survive.

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What happens after an extended layoff - an observation

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina our clients began trickling back into town, and there was a return to normalcy. They began scheduling appointments again. Most had not exercised in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

I expected them to be weaker. I decided to conduct an experiment. I put them through their previous workout, and I did not lighten the weights. I did not offer them any added encouragement, I did not give them a target to reach, and I told them to stop at whatever point they wanted to.  It was a very interesting result.

Most all of the clients got all of their reps. Some were off a repetition, but that's about it. We were doing slow reps, so one repetition can take about 20 seconds. So in total they were off at most 20 seconds on a 90 to 120 second exercise. Within a workout or two they were totally back up to speed.

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The trainer said, "Just one more" six times

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In 34 my years in the fitness industry, I have worked at lots of health clubs and have seen a lot of things. Some things are amazing, some bizarre, and some just stick in my mind as a teachable moment for me. This is one of those memories.

The trainer said to her “Just one more" six times. By the third extra rep the client’s form was shot, and she was almost standing up in the machine. By the fourth rep she was clearly panicked. By the fifth rep she looked over at me as if to say WFT! I just shrugged my shoulders.

The trainer had no idea what the client was capable of or how fatigued she was on that particular set. If he did know he would not have had to say “Just one more” six times.

He wasn't aware. A trainers should do more that set the weights, count the reps, and say “Just one more’ redundantly until the client can't move anymore.

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