Happy Moments

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Copyright : anyaberkut

All too often, we carry around feelings of negativity and allow them to color our days. If we are feeling anxious, dejected, or angry, then we will create that environment for the day. And then what happens? we may say, “well it figures” or “I knew this was gonna be a crappy day”, because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, we will have to deal with bad days every now and then, but if we can start every single day with good intentions and a positive mental attitude, we’ve won half the battle against challenges and upsets.

So this is what I want you to do today, especially if your day is especially frustrating or challenging:

I want you to call to mind one of the happiest moments in your life, a moment in which you felt pure joy, pride, elation. Bring it into view. Remember how you felt.

Now I want you to carry that memory with you throughout your day. Allow yourself to bask in that moment, to reminisce. See how it changes your attitude towards the day. Take note of how you respond to minor irritations today.

You know something? You can take that happiness, carry it with you every day. If your happy moment had something to do with an accomplishment, then allow that feeling of pride to shine through, to empower you today.

We all have the power to transform our days, our lives. Simply by harnessing positive, happy thoughts, we become powerful, we become strong.


How To Assess A Client For Body Asymmetries (repost)

Asymmetric Musculature

I originally wrote this piece for AFE and am reposting it here.

Fitness pre-testing is a valuable tool for evaluating movement patterns and assessing a client’s strengths and weaknesses. The information gathered from such testing can then be utilized to develop a customized program which addresses and corrects functional abnormalities. The more thorough the pre-testing, the better equipped a trainer is to help the client reach optimal potential within the training program, while also guarding against injuries which the client might be predisposed to as a result of compensatory patterns.

Many people have developed compensatory patterns over time. Sometimes structural abnormalities exist from birth, or develop in childhood, and often throw surrounding soft tissues and joints out of alignment. In other cases, injuries from sports or other activities can cause a person to begin favoring one side of the body in an effort to reduce the stress load on the injured side. The problem with these compensatory patterns is that they allow the weak or restricted side to become even worse over time. Because of this, functional weight training should always address these patterns in an effort to correct them.

How To Determine Asymmetry

One of the most valuable early tests for determining structural asymmetry is the single leg stance, in which the client’s ability to stabilize the trunk over the supporting leg is determined. Misalignments of the hips, knees, or ankles/feet can be detected easily with this screening tool. For example, if one hip joint is restricted or otherwise unstable, the client will shift weight in an effort to maintain balance. A trainer can then utilize the information gathered from the single leg stance test to focus on compromised function in a joint or extremity.

Clients will frequently exhibit asymmetries in strength, range of motion, or muscle recruitment which can easily be overlooked if a trainer doesn’t have a practiced eye. Because of this, a thorough assessment of the client’s posture, range of motion, and form should be implemented before training begins so that the trainer can identify and properly address compensatory movement patterns.

Let’s say a client exhibits poor movement while performing a basic bodyweight squat, the source of the dysfunction must be determined so that the trainer can correct it. Is the limitation is coming from the foot, the knee, the hip joint, the pelvis, or the sacrum? Is the issue one of limited mobility, muscle weakness, joint instability, or of poor muscle activation? The origin and the nature of the dysfunction will determine which corrective exercises should be added to the client’s program.

Sports and Compensatory Patterns

Asymmetries are especially common in people who engage in sports such as baseball, golf, soccer, football, and tennis, which rely heavily on one side of the body. Because of this, it is important to ask clients if they currently play sports or have played them in the past. It is also important to ask clients about any past injuries which may be contributing to current compensatory patterns. Compensation results from a number of factors, including muscle weakness, impaired joint mobility, musculoskeletal asymmetry, leg length discrepancy, previous injury, and even joint stress from obesity. Joints can become lax and unstable, forcing contralateral muscles to take the brunt of the movement in order to stabilize the dysfunction. What often results is overuse in the compensating region, which in turn adversely affects the client’s training, and also reinforces the asymmetry.

Offset Load Training

weight plates


Offset load training is a training approach in which different loads are used on the right and left sides of the body during an exercise, challenging the body to adjust. If you have ever dealt with clients who have demonstrated asymmetry in strength or power between one side of the body and the other, or who have visible differences in muscle mass when comparing each side, and have addressed their asymmetry solely with isolated unilateral movements, you can implement offset load training as a very effective way to break through training plateaus and to address accumulated asymmetry between the right and left sides of the body. Offset load training is not only more challenging than isolated unilateral exercises, it also results in more neural connections and greater kinetic efficiency.

Asymmetries in strength or muscle development most commonly result from natural dominance on one side, but they can also emerge as a result of injury. During bilateral training, the stronger side will always compensate for the weaker one by taking on more of the load, so the weaker side remains at a disadvantage. In contrast, unilateral and offset movements force each side of the body to bear the load fully and independently, effectively forcing the weaker side to work. Over time, differences in strength between each side are diminished as a result of this type of training.

Benefits Of Offset Load Training

One of the greatest benefits of offset load training is greater trunk stability and strength. Any time you perform a unilateral or offset movement (think of using a shovel), you activate your abdominal muscles in order to resist rotational forces and maintain a neutral spine. Another benefit of offset load training is that offset exercises challenge the nervous system to adapt to the unequal weight distribution by recruiting muscles in a coordinated fashion to maintain balance. You might be surprised by how much your client’s overall strength will increase as a result of improved conditioning in the smaller stabilizing muscles of the trunk. This is because enhanced balance and trunk strength stabilize the extremities and transfer power to them. In other words, if the muscles in the trunk are more efficient at stabilizing the spine, the limbs will benefit from greater power.

How To Add Offset Load Training To A Client’s Regimen

Offset load training works with most barbell and dumbbell movements and can be easily incorporated into a client’s training regimen. You can use this form of training as an adjunct to bilateral movements in a client’s plan. When selecting weights, make sure the difference in weights between sides is moderate, and keep the rep range around eight to twelve reps. Instead of handing dumbbells to your client, have the client lift them so that the muscles of the trunk will become activated even before the exercise is performed. If you are using a barbell, load each side with a different number of plates. If using the double cable assembly, set the pins at different weights. Be sure to monitor your client closely during this type of training, especially those relatively new to lifting weights who have poor balance and coordination.

Oil and Water: Is Crossfit Detrimental For Developing Aesthetic Muscle? (repost)

I truly enjoyed writing this article which was featured on Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide. You can see the published post here: http://sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/training/crossfit/item/1389-oil-and-water-is-crossfit-detrimental-for-developing-aesthetic-muscle#.V1HlOvmlyWg

Read on to find out what I think about Crossfit:

Could someone please tell me why this move is even necessary?  It's dangerous and incredibly damaging to the joints and soft tissues in the body.

Could someone please tell me why this move is even necessary? It’s dangerous and incredibly damaging to the joints and soft tissues in the body.

I will boldly state right now that I’m not a fan of Crossfit, and will be delighted when its novelty wears off. I’ve dedicated my life to supporting, empowering, inspiring, guiding, coaching and otherwise promoting any activity that gets people moving. This is one reason I waited to publicly write about my arguments against the principles of Crossfit. The other, more specific reason, is that it’s become more common to hear NPC and IFBB competitors ask if Crossfit will enhance their efforts to get into contest shape. If the latter is you, let me cut to the chase. Not only will Crossfit widen your waistline as a result of the constant heavy “functional” lifting, it will also cause cortisol spikes, which make your body hold onto belly fat for dear life.

Before I get into why Crossfit is counterproductive to developing aesthetic muscle, a word to those who have found Crossfit gets them active, and has not caused them injury. Keep it up. If it’s Crossfit you need to keep you moving and motivated to be fit, don’t stop on my account. If however, Crossfit just doesn’t feel right, or your goal is to create your best body, and give you the best chance to stay injury free, read on. You’ll find that you don’t have to become part of the latest fitness craze to reach all of your fitness goals and then some.

CrossFit’s Unnecessary Nine

We begin our class with a review of the nine fundamental exercises that CrossFit is built upon:

Air Squat
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Shoulder Press
Push Press
Push Jerk
Deadlift Sumo
Deadlift High Pull
Medicine Ball Clean

Oh boy, I can only imagine how many lumbar disc herniations have occurred in weekend athletes as a result of performing most of these movements, not to mention the rotator cuff strains and tears from the stress on the shoulders. First off, it just annoys me to know CrossFit renamed the free squat or bodyweight squat to Air Squat in an effort to be catchy and original. Then again, I see no point in getting a client to perform 200 or 300 “air” squats in a row, not unless your objective is to drive your client to complete exhaustion and overtraining. Based on what I have witnessed with the design of CrossFit regimens, exhaustion and overtraining is the inevitable outcome.

CrossFit routines also incorporate other exercises such as pull-ups and pushups. What bothers me here is that these movements are performed in a high rep range, to the tune of 100 or more. Then the client may be pushed to do tire flips or one of the Olympic lifts that CrossFit has managed to make faddish, even though they were developed over 100 years ago.

One of the calling cards to CrossFit workouts is training at “super high intensity”, which taken in correct doses are fundamental to conditioning. As it is used in CrossFit programming, the benefits are far outweighed by the negatives they incur. In CrossFit context, they tax the central nervous system to an excessive degree. Crossfit fanatics may love the feeling of being pushed to the limit, but this borders on being DANGEROUS. When the body is fatigued to the extent that it is in a Crossfit routine, the risk for muscle breakdown and frank rhabdomyolysis is considerable. No physical discipline is worth the risk of landing in the hospital.

I understand that Crossfit offers a great social environment and a feeling of camaraderie, but at what price? Every single person I know who is a fan of Crossfit has been injured while doing it. The suggested Crossfit regimen of 3 days on, 1 day off is too rigorous when you consider the fact that Olympic lifts are part of the core of Crossfit training. The body simply cannot repair itself in enough time. To fatigue a Crossfit client by having him/her do a WOD (workout of the day for those of you not familiar with Crossfit) and then stack on deadlifts for reps or 5 foot high box jumps is insane.

Benefits drop dramatically when the body is completely depleted like that. The Crossfit ideology of deplete and endure is BS. In contrast, bodybuilders and physique enthusiasts, train hard and heavy, and yes, they often train to depletion or failure, but they certainly aren’t going to attempt 100 pull-ups after destroying a traditional back workout. They understand the law of diminishing returns all too well.

Proponents of Crossfit often state that the training is functional and enhances the day to day activities which people perform. When was the last time you had to do a clean and jerk while on the job? Unless you work as a firefighter, stock room clerk or some other physically demanding work role, I seriously doubt that you are performing movements which mimic what happens while in a Crossfit box. Besides, if you’re injured as a result of Crossfit (or should I say WHEN), you can’t possibly perform any challenging physical movement which strains your injured body part.

For those of you who compete in the NPC or IFBB (or INBA, WBFF, etc.), don’t expect to be able to incorporate Crossfit into your contest prep training and sculpt your physique in the manner required for bodybuilding. I actually had a client who begged me repeatedly to let her do Crossfit two days a week despite my recommendation that she abandon it and focus on traditional weight lifting. I finally acquiesced, and allowed her to incorporate Crossfit as part of her training.

As I had predicted, she sustained an injury, her waist widened from all the heavy complex movements which made her midsection boxy, and she became soft as a result of the cortisol spikes which the high intensity Crossfit training created. After 3 weeks of seeing all her efforts from pre-Crossfit training unravel, I asked her to reconsider her decision to engage in Crossfit. As soon as she stopped doing Crossfit, her waist began to nip in, and her body began to tighten up again. Amen for old school weightlifting!

If it sounds like I am saying you will have to decide between doing Crossfit and competing in any of the bodybuilding divisions, I am. You simply cannot create the nipped in waist and beautiful taper that defines every single bodybuilding division. If you do Crossfit, you will create a strong body (plus some injuries), but you will also widen your silhouette and carry a layer of fat as a result of all that cortisol you will release from constant high intensity training. Look at a typical Crossfit athlete. Shoulders are broad, quads and hams are thick, and the abdominal region is thick and boxy. That is what happens when compound Olympic lifts are performed on a regular basis. If that is your aesthetic ideal, by all means knock yourself out with Crossfit, but you will be destroyed on a bodybuilding stage. On the subject of Olympic lifts, even power lifters have the sense not to rep out on these movements. Yet Crossfitters, blinded by the so-called warrior mentality that leads them to do stupid things that invite injury, will rep out on movements which recruit a tremendous amount of muscle fibers and hence tax the central nervous system. I am willing to bet that the Crossfit nation contends with adrenal burnout, permanent muscle damage, and repetitive tendon and ligament ruptures on a relatively consistent basis, and that such negative aspects will eventually cause the demise of this fad sport.

I will always staunchly defend the focus and the principles behind bodybuilding. I know that NPC and IFBB competitors are true warriors and know how to push through grueling training. I also strongly believe that for the most part, most competitors are smart enough not to over train or invite injury by performing movements which are biomechanically unsound. The world of bodybuilding not only rewards strength, but it also recognizes the aesthetic ideal which all bodybuilders aspire to achieve, regardless of division. Bodybuilding is not about flipping a massive tire across a gym, it’s about sculpting and defining muscle.

Minimalist Footwear

minimalist footwear

Please check out my latest article for American Fitness Educators which discusses minimalist footwear! Original post can be found at:


Less Is More

Are there benefits to training in minimalist footwear? Studies have demonstrated that training while wearing minimalist shoes results in enhanced performance due to greater foot pliability and a closer approximation to a barefoot stance. Since our feet adjust to wearing raised heels over time, it can be incredibly challenging to keep our heels on the ground while performing exercises like deep squats. Proponents of minimalist footwear may even argue that barefoot is best for heavy weightlifting, but the risks of exposure to microbes or hazardous fragments of glass, metal, or rocks, make minimalist shoes a much more feasible choice while at the gym.

Dysfunctional movement patterns become established throughout the body over time. Conventional athletic shoes can often contribute to ankle and foot dysfunction because they inhibit natural foot action. If you don’t believe it, then try to perform some of your physical activities barefoot and see how well, or poorly, you perform. Chances are that the impaired mechanics in the feet and ankles will make it difficult at best to perform those activities. By gradually switching over to minimalist footwear, an athlete can essentially correct improper foot mechanics and optimize kinetic feedback throughout the body during movement.

Benefits Of Minimalist Shoes

Conventional athletic footwear features a cushioned heel which also can compromise power. In contrast, minimalist footwear features little to no heel, and the soles are very thin and malleable, so they allow the joints in the foot to move and adjust to weight loading movements. In addition, the heels and midfoot make solid contact with the floor, causing more activation in the glutes and hamstrings. Studies have demonstrated that people who wear minimalist footwear develop greater strength in their legs and feet, since more power is transferred from the working muscles, through the feet, and into the movement. Plyometric movements and sprint power will also be enhanced while wearing minimalist shoes.

A 2011 study by Squadrone and Gallozzi assessed the ability of experienced runners to estimate the degree of inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion, and plantarflexion, of a slope surface board placed under their right foot while standing. They found that the degree of proprioceptive feedback which subjects received while wearing Vibram Five Fingers® was much more accurate than in subjects who wore a standard running shoe. In conclusion, cushioned shoes conferred a distinct disadvantage when compared to minimalist shoes during assessment of foot position awareness.

How To Transition Into Minimalist Shoes

Anyone who is transitioning from conventional athletic shoes to minimalist footwear needs to do so gradually, since the body has to adjust to radically different proprioceptive input. There have been cases of metatarsal stress which developed after converting too quickly to minimalist shoes. However, once the transition is made, noticeable strength gains should occur. Try spending about 15 to 30 minutes, twice a day, wearing minimalist shoes around the house. After about a week or two, you can try them out at the gym one to two days a week until you become accustomed to the feel of the shoes. Be aware that your gait and foot stance will probably change as you acclimate to this type of shoe.


Squadrone R, Gallozzi C (2011) Effect of a five-toed minimal protection shoe on static and dynamic ankle position sense. J Sports Med Phys Fitness Sep;51(3): 401-8.

Versa Gripps Are Awesome!


I am now the proud owner of a pair of Versa Gripps Pro, and I love them! I used them on chest and back day right after returning home from Olympia, and immediately noticed a difference in my strength while using them. They effectively reduced the strain in my hands, which was excellent since I have issues with them as well as forearm tendinitis.

These grips are especially fantastic for deadlifts, wide grip pulldowns, and any type of row. Bravo Versa Gripps!

Versa Gripps Purple

Check out the descriptions from their website:

The Mind-Muscle Connection

The latest achievement in muscle building technology, Versa Gripps allows you to train better moving you to the next level of performance excellence. A Self-Supporting Grip assist ingeniously designed to enhance muscle isolation and optimize performance. This revolutionary grip is the most effective and easiest way to increase your strength, muscle mass & stamina while maximizing your overall fitness results. Versa Gripps eliminate the need for gloves, hooks, and lifting straps. Absolutely, the Best Grip in the World. For Men & Women

#1 Patented, Self- Supporting Grip
Secure One-Hand Grip & Release Movement
Comfortably Eliminates Grip Fatigue & Failure
New Built-In Arch Support offers Carpal Tunnel Protection
Locks your grip in place for complete control
Made of Strong, high-quality Non-Slip material exclusive to Power Gripps USA
Quick Release Feature makes it safe & easy to release the bar
Ergonomically designed protect hands & wrists
Secure hook & loop closure around the wrist
Protects Hands from unsightly calluses
Ergonomically designed to protect hands and wrists
Innovative wrist support: a funnel-shaped design allows the weight to rest at the base of the hand
Superior Quality. Made in the USA
Excellent Wrist Support
Versa Gripps incorporates a unique stand-up grip making wrapping the grip around the bar easy with one hand, even over your head. Developed by strength trainers who demanded a product that exceeded the limits of ordinary weightlifting hooks, workout gloves, and straps. Used for pushing and pulling exercises. Proven to endure even the toughest of workouts. Versa Gripps provides excellent wrist support and are the most versatile fitness accessory on the market for men and women.

Our grip is our weakest and most vulnerable link to a successful workout regiment. Like a chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. The success of our workout depends upon our connection to the weight. Fatigue, due to high repetitions using lighter weights or failure due to a heavy weight, is caused by an unsupported and/or unprotected grip. This can result in dropping the weight; a set cut short due to loss of focus; or injury.

Versa Gripps eliminates grip fatigue and failure, allowing the user to concentrate on the larger muscle groups while not thinking or worrying about one’s grip. When you no longer have to worry about losing your grip or your grip becoming tired, you will then be able to concentrate and appreciate the mind/muscle connection. Huge gains will be experienced.

Versa Gripps are used for all pushing (as in the bench press) and pulling (as in the deadlift) movements in strength training. The patented Versa Gripps take the place of gloves, lifting straps, hooks and wrist supports. By using Versa Gripps, both movements are accomplished safely, easily and comfortably.

Unlike lifting straps – that are difficult to use, particularly over your head – Versa Gripps are flexible, self-supporting and stand-up in front of your hand. This design makes it quick and easy to reach by the tips of the fingers on the same hand that is wearing them.

The gripping portion is made of a proprietary material that is reinforced tough, is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. This gripping material is engineered just for Versa Gripps, to be tacky and remain grippy throughout the life of the product. The grip is made wide enough to cover the width of the hand for protection from the knurls of the weightlifting bar, and against calluses. Other weightlifting gloves encase the entire hand and become a playground for bacteria and disease. Versa Gripps allow the hand to breath, with freedom of movement for the fingers and the thumb.

Another valuable safety feature is their ability – should it become necessary – to immediately release the weight. Simply let go. This is not possible when using straps or hooks.




Bringing Out The Bitch


We all have limits on what we are willing to put up with before feelings of irritation and anger begin to bubble under the surface and threaten to spill over. Recently I have dealt with more individuals and customer service reps who apparently never learned manners from their parents, and who don’t seem to care when they get on my last nerve. Though I have manners and can be a study in calmness and patience, I can go from zero to bitch in a flash when someone rubs me the wrong way.

I honestly think that there are many people who will assume that women are pushovers, so they are shocked when a confident and assertive woman stands her ground. The problem with a woman asserting herself is that she suddenly comes across as a bitch, even if she is in a position of authority which should afford her the right to speak with conviction. Though I have always been a pretty strong personality, I developed a thicker outer shell over the years because I was railroaded by so many people who took advantage of my generosity. It is a challenge to be a physician, because I automatically am placed in a position in which I have to deal with people’s maladies and complaints. Basically, this means that people come to me only because they have problems which need to be fixed, and because they are usually in pain or experiencing some type of discomfort, they may not be in the best of moods. Though I am empathetic and receptive to the needs of others, this doesn’t mean that I am some sort of pushover in other areas of my life.

Let’s face it: assertive equals bitchy for a lot of people, especially for women. God forbid if you disagree with someone and you are a woman, because all of a sudden you are a bitch. This seems to be the case in all scenarios, including personal relationships. You may be filled with resentment over something, but you also run the risk of appearing confrontational and bitchy if you decide to unload your thoughts and feelings about the situation to the person who is upsetting you. So much for the emancipation of women, because the social climate still reels in horror over an assertive woman.

I will always stand up for myself. If that makes me a bitch, then so be it.