Friday, October 30, 2009

Breakfast Covered

I just came across a great recipe for Peanut Butter & Banana Nut Oatmeal. As with anything, you can tweak the ingredients/portion sizes to adjust for relative caloric intake.

Check it out here:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview Quotes

I was reading a really good article by Chris Shugart this week as he interviewed Strength Coach Chad Waterbury. I highlighted a few points Chad made that I wanted to share with you:
  • "A workout that consists of nothing but exercises that target your weaknesses would be the most boring — and beneficial — workout you'd ever do."

  • "The best fat loss training tool you'll ever find is the jump rope. So if you want to design a kick-ass fat burning workout, just put three minutes of rope jumping where those three- minute rest periods used to be."

  • "When it comes to football, the bench press maximum rep test is the most inane measure of physical prowess that I can think of. Hell, a max rep sit-up test would tell you more about the capabilities of a football player because core endurance is grossly underrated. But that test sucks, too."

  • "I learn something valuable from every article I read. I can almost always take away a point or two that'll benefit my clients. Sometimes an article is a complete train wreck, but it helps me better explain why I do what I do."

  • "It's funny how people think they have the right to tell you how you should look."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Off-Season Golf Strength & Conditioning

Here in New England, golfers are winding down their seasons and are looking for other modes of exercise to keep them busy. Many of them will still flock to indoor driving ranges to work on their power game. Others will focus more on their putting/short game. My best advice- put more focus on improving total body strength and emphasize fixing muscular imbalances. Stop ignoring the hip, back, and knee pain and prepare your body for next season.

I've had many golfers over the years report they do ZERO resistance training. I like to remind them that Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers in history, wouldn't be as dominant without a quality strength & conditioning program. I know when one thinks of golf they don't always associate strength, but have you seen Tiger's "gun show" lately (see pic above)? Moral of the story: get in the gym and work on hip mobility, shoulder stability, core endurance, and weight management.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anti-Rotary "Movements"

I was preaching to a client the other day- and subsequently thought I should write about it- about the benefits of Anti-rotary exercises. The focus in someone's "core" (not sure that I like that word anymore) routine is sadly things like crunches. The latest research, particularly by lower-back specialist Dr. Stuart McGill, is proving more and more that we simply don't need to twist or induce flexion in throughout our torso. It seems that the long-term result of excessive "crunch" style exercises is a herniated disc. Obviously we don't want that happening, so what do we do do effectively work our "core." It's simple, engage in movements that resist rotation or flexion.

One exercise I do with a lot of my clients are "Cable Belly Presses" (see video below). All you need to do is line up next to a cable column with a single "D-grip" handle. Wrap one hand over the other and extend out from your mid-section to a point where your arms are fully extended. The torque of the cable wants to pull back to the column, but you simply holding still resists this rotation and very effectively strengthens your mid-section/obliques. Most importantly, it reduces and spinal stress.

Simply put, we don't need to keep twisting and crunching to work our middles. We need to eat right (nutrition comes first!), engage in adequate conditioning ("cardio), and strength train. Try the cable presses and let me know how you do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pre-hab/Cool-down song

I had this going the other day as a cool-down song. Also threw in some rotator cuff pre-hab work with it. Relaxing song to me. MJB is my fav. female R&B singer...

Why Train Slow to Move Slow?


I had a good chat this week with a colleague about the SPEED at which people train. Specifically, we were talking about how quickly the concentric phase of a repetition should be performed. I was reviewing a bench step-up exercise with him (see pics above). He pointed out something to me that I sometimes fail to emphasize with clients: there is NO REASON why you should be training slow. Training slowly yields moving slowly.

The exercise above is a bodyweight bench step-up performed by Boston University Asst. Coach of Strength & Conditioning, Darcy Gould (learn more about Coach Gould here: Her goal is to push through the heel/mid-foot of the foot that is on the bench as hard as she can. She brings her leg that starts on the ground in the air as quickly (powerfully) as possible, as long as she displays perfect technique. She recruits what we call “fast twitch” muscle fibers. These are the fibers that diminish with age. Their decrease in quantity is often the chief reason elderly persons experience falls. Their presence correlates with adequate reaction timing.

Moral of the story: when performing an exercise, make sure the concentric phase is performed explosively. Never sacrifice good technique at the same time. Leave a comment if you have any questions so others can see as well.

Air Jordan (Junior) refusing to wear Adidas

Not sure if you've been following the story, but Michael Jordan's son Marcus is refusing to wear Adidas sneakers. His Dad's ties with Nike obviously play a role in his decision, but form your own opinion. Check out the full story here:

One of the blogs I follow recently had thoughts on solving the issues. Check out this quote: "Simple solution, why can’t the kid wear Adidas during games and just rock his dad’s shoes off the court? Plus, I’m surprised this issue didn't come up during the recruiting process."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Upcoming Newsletter Info.

I finished editing November's newsletter this week. I've got a brief follow-up interview with Coach Glenn Harris of Boston University. We chatted for a bit and went through a few exercises from a pre-season basketball routine he developed to assist with my training regimen (see Sled Pull picture above).

Monday, October 19, 2009

5 Stupid Ideas

1. Not warming up
2. Skipping breakfast
3. Not emphasizing the ‘weak links” in your kinetic chain
4. Not getting enough sleep every night
5. Getting a tattoo on your face

Are dogfighting and football really any different?

Fantastic author Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article this week for The New Yorker. It is an incredible piece on the dangers football and other sports pose to the brain. Looking back, I'm even happier now I decided never to play football.
Check out the full article here ( and email me ( your comments.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Investigate (Don't Just Read) Labels

The trend continues of potentially dangerous ingredients being injected into various "bodybuilding" supplements. People need to investigate and understand what they are putting in their bodies. For more info, check out the article here:

Local Colleges Shrink Portions

Fantastic article in today's Boston Globe about local colleges providing healthier options for students (

Some schools (Tufts & UMASS-Amherst) are shrinking portions, while others (Merrimack College) are shrinking plate sizes. There will undoubtedly be complaints about the various programs, but at least these schools are taking important steps to combat our country's obesity problem.

Follow-up on Circuit Training Exercise

I had a few people last week ask me about an article I wrote for a local health club. I had written a circuit training workout for people to do when they are strapped for time, and one of the exercises I suggested was "Mountain Climbers." As a means of demonstration, check out the video above for a description.

If you're curious, here is the article I wrote:

October, 2009 Fitness Tip
-Paul Connolly, NSCA-CPT

It’s that time of year again when “back to school” mode is in the rear-view mirror and we look for efficient workout programs to implement. Many clients I work with who are always looking for a quick and effective workout, particularly if they know they can’t get to the gym. Here’s one I’ve used with clients that engages all major muscle groups, requires no equipment, and takes a maximum of 10 measly minutes:

Jumping Jacks (15 sec)
Push-ups (15 sec)
Mountain Climbers (15 sec)
Bodyweight Squats (15 sec)

Perform the above 5x at a good pace, resting 30-60 seconds between circuits)

What's the Deal With That Funky Tape on Athletes?

"Kinesio" Tape is becoming very popular among athletes. Many NBA teams are now using it. Essentially, Kinesio Taping provides stability to an area without restricting blood flow. Kinesio taping lifts the skin and allows for more blood and lymph flow which will speed up recovery and reduce pain in the area. You can wear the tape on any part of your body from the shoulder to the ankle and everything in between.

I've had kinesio taping on my shoulder in the past and it felt ok. I'd have to experience it more than once or twice to notice a real difference, perhaps. You see a lot of the athletes getting creative with different colors. I can see many pro organizations putting a limit on what colors are used, based on the team's colors. Some of the Celtics' players (Ray Allen & Kevin Garnett) have used black. That goes well with their green/white uniforms. We'll see what the future holds for Kinesio taping and what other teams implement this method.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Little Less "Sicko"

Noted documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has been on tour hyping his newest film, "Capitalism: A Love Story." I'll check it out at some point as I have seen all his other movies. While I'm sure the movie is good, one thing I've noticed is Moore's weight loss. Over the years, I've said to myself, "Geez, for a guy who always complains about health care, he doesn't seem to be doing much about his own overweight issue." Maybe he heard me because he has had great success over the last year or so dropping the pounds.

"So how did he do it" you ask? Moore mentioned recently to Jay Leno he took a liking to The Pritikin Principle. Being Mr. Inquisitive that I am, plus the fact I try and read everything I can, I checked out Robert Pritikin's work. There were no big surprises what their program advocates to promote healthy weight loss. According to Mr. Pritikin, the 5 main recommendations for The Pritikin Principle are as follows:

  1. Eat whole, Unprocessed, and natural Carbohydrate-Rich Foods (i.e. whole grains, fruits, and veggies)

  2. Eat low-fat foods

  3. Eat frequently

  4. Be Active

  5. Avoid Salty Foods

Following the Pritikin diet, he revealed to New Yorker Magazine that he lost 30 lbs over the past 3 months. His advice to others: “What I learned through Pritikin is pretty basic. Like, one common denominator of overweight people is, they don’t get enough sleep. Basically, my advice to the 65 percent of the country that’s overweight is to do three simple things: Get seven to eight hours sleep every night, go for a 45-minute walk each day, and eat at least 35 grams of fiber each day."

No big surprises here. I do LOVE that Moore preached plenty of rest/sleep as that is the biggest flaw for far too many people, particularly to us overworked, overstressed Americans. Adequate sleep, regular exercise, and proper nutritional habits could save this country billions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Franklin wrap-up

I got to head out to Franklin, MA today to meet with ~20 town employees. I gave a lecture and demo on the importance of strength training and flexibility. Everyone did great!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cookbook Sales on the Rise

Although today was a good day for the DOW Jones (just a hair over 10,000 at the close of the market), we still live in poor economic times. That being said, I read recently that cookbook sales were on the rise due to the poor economy as consumers try to save money by eating more at home. As I've mentioned previously, Precision Nutrition ( remains my favorite nutrition system to date.

Here's an outline of what Precision Nutrition is all about:

What is Precision Nutrition? What do I get?”
Precision Nutrition Version 3 is both something you get in the mail (system of guides designed to teach you everything you need to know to get the body you want) and something you join (a private members-only site and community with 24/7 support from coaches, expert volunteers and fellow members). It’s the two of those things in combination that make Precision Nutrition what it is: far and away the most comprehensive nutrition program in the world.

So PN is both something you read, and something you’re a part of. It helps to begin by explaining the part you read. Here, then, is what UPS delivers to your door when you become a member:

Success Guide
Before beginning any nutrition plan, whether it’s a lifestyle-based plan like Precision Nutrition or a quick-fix, flavor of the month program like those you see in the media every day, it’s important to start off on the right foot – with the right mindset.In this introductory guide to Precision Nutrition we provide an overview of the program and present 10 success strategies guaranteed to help you stick with the plan.

These strategies, taken directly from those who have been successful following the PN program, will be your “secret weapon” in your quest to change your body and change your life.

Diet Guide
This is your comprehensive guide to diet and nutrition. Put aside all the tips, tricks and gimmicks you’ve heard over the years. Forget everything you’ve been told about nutrition and learn the right information from scratch – in one complete, beginning-to-end system that fills in the blanks and puts everything into proper perspective.With the Precision Nutrition Diet Guide, everything is covered, from food selection to meal timing to nutrition program design. You will learn everything you need to know to lose fat or gain muscle. You’ll set your goal in the beginning, and you’ll learn exactly what to do to achieve it.

Everything is organized according to it’s importance in the grand scheme of things, and nothing is left to chance. You will walk away knowing exactly what you need to do to build the body you want.

Quick Start Guide
Rapid body comp change CAN happen – if you get all the right information, and put it to use immediately. That’s what the Quick Start Guide is for.
I’ll show you the exact steps that you need to take right away if you’re going to succeed. Every step is laid out in detail, and in less than 45 minutes you will have done precisely what most people never think to do – the critical steps that make all the difference.
Super Shake Guide
You’re on the go all day long. Let’s face it, sometimes things just don’t go right, and you’re stuck without a decent meal. But what do you do then? Blow your plan? Those cheats and missed meals add up quickly, and conspire to destroy your hard-earned progress. Well, not any more. Enter the Super Shake.Filled with ample amounts of high-quality protein, essential fatty acids and micronutrition, the Super Shake will ensure you never lack great nutrition, no matter where you are or how much time you have. It simply blows the off-the-shelf “meal replacements” out of the water – and you can make it yourself, cheaply and quickly. In the Super Shake Guide, I’ll show you exactly how to make them, I’ll show you how to customize them for your body type and your goals, and I’ll provide you with several Super Shake recipes to get you started.

5-Minute Meal Guide
You’ve got a life. You’ve got a job, a family, a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, hobbies or school or other time commitments. What you don’t have is endless time for meal preparation. But guess what? Without that meal preparation, you’re pretty much doomed to body comp hell.With the 5-Minute Meals Guide, however, consider it taken care of. You’ll have a complete list of dozens of delicious, perfect Precision Nutrition meals that can be made in under five minutes. Great nutrition has never been this convenient.

Individualization Guide
Clipping generic, cookie cutter plans from magazines will only lead to disappointment, for one simple reason: as your body changes, your needs change, and so your nutrition plan must change too. If you’re not constantly tweaking your plan to fit your ever-changing nutritional needs, you’re guaranteed to stagnate.There is only one sure-fire way to continue to get results, and that is to tailor your diet specifically to your body, your goals and the results you’ve gotten in the past. So how do you know how your body differs from others? And once you know, what do you do about it? How do you know what changes to make? I’ve put the answers in the Individualization Guide, a step-by-step guide to a complex subject. I’ve made it easy to customize your diet for your specific needs – and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Measurement Guide
At Precision Nutrition, we have a battery of assessments, questionnaires and tests that our clients undergo regularly. In fact, we’ve come up with a mix of assessments that cover nearly every facet of health and human performance.Coupled with the Precision Nutrition system, these assessments allow us to get rapid results with clients. In fact, I’ve done informal testing indicating that regular assessments like these can speed up progress by 50-75% — even using the same exercise and nutrition program.

And in the Measurement Guide I’ll teach you exactly what to assess and how often – from body measurements to performance testing to blood work. Remember, if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.

Plant-Based Diet Guide
Everyone can improve their health and fitness by eating more plants. Unfortunately, however, many vegetarians don’t eat much better than their carnivorous counterparts, because they tend to focus on non-meat pseudo foods rather than plants!So we’ve created a new section focused on this category of plant-based diets to help those who choose not to eat meat adapt the Precision Nutrition principles to their dietary needs — and reach the health and fitness goals that elude them.

Maintenance Guide
Believe it or not, the most challenging aspect of dieting for most people is not changing their body (losing the weight, for example). It’s maintaining that change over the long-term (e.g., keeping it off!).Fortunately, though, the maintenance phase can be easier and more enjoyable than the change phase — so long as it’s done right. In this new Maintenance Guide, we illustrate exactly how you can keep the body you’ve worked so hard for.

Support Guide
From the very beginning, Precision Nutrition has incorporated what we’ve learned is the critical component of a successful nutrition program: support.You can’t do this alone, nor should you have to. The most successful people in the world have the best support systems, and those who typically don’t make it are quite often those who weren’t supported by the people around them. A colleague of mine once shared a very insightful proverb with me, and I use it often. “You are,” he said, “the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

In the Support Guide, we show you how to make use of the support around you, and if your “circle of five” isn’t as supportive as you’d like, we show you how to make use of our circle: the coaches, experts and tens of thousands of fellow members just like you who make the PN Member Zone their online home.

“Are these e-books? Do I download them?”
No, these are NOT e-books.

While we have released books in the past as downloadable PDF e-books, that’s not what the Precision Nutrition guides are.

The Precision Nutrition System is a print product that will be sealed and delivered to your door. It comes in one box containing two parts:

The Precision Nutrition System binder, containing all ten guides, conveniently separated by tabs so you can quickly flip from section to section.
The Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook, Volume 1, in a spiral-bound format that lays flat on your kitchen counter.
The beauty of the binder system is that it’s completely “modular,” in that you can add more sections to it as your needs change. In our online library, which as a member you’ll have complete access to, you’ll find hundreds of nutrition plans, background articles, training programs, worksheets and much more, covering every conceivable situation you may face as you seek to get fit — and all of which you can download and add to your binder as you need them.
I've had several clients recently start out with their Precision Nutrition manuals. They seem to like the info and are applying the concepts gradually into their daily lives. Check it out here ( and let me know what you think.

"Certified" Gets Thrown Around

Many Americans work with a "Certified" Personal Trainer or Strength & Conditioning Coach. Unfortunately, most clients don't do their homework to discover which certifications are actually accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). To date, there are only 10 organizations that offer personal training certifications. Sadly, there are hundreds of terrible certifications available online. If you'd like to do some "background checking" on your trainer, check to see if the organization which they certified through is on my list below:
  • American College of Sports Medicine

  • American Council on Exercise

  • The Cooper Institute

  • International Fitness Professional Association

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine

  • National Council on Strength & Fitness

  • National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association

  • National Exercise Trainers Association

  • National Federation of Professional Trainers

  • National Strength & Conditioning Association*

*my certifying agency (NSCA)

Great Job Danvers!

I started teaching another group ex. class @ Danvers High School last week. So far, everyone's doing great. I always get a huge turnout when I go there and it's quite humbling. Not sure why they keep coming back every year, but I do try and make it a fun workout. I always try and play lots of good music and keep them laughing as we sweat hard every week. Keep up the great work Danvers! It's a joy seeing you all every week.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Size Does Matter

Is it WHAT you eat, or HOW MUCH you eat? Check out the full scoop here from a recent Precision Nutrition article:

A Point of Frustration

One of my roles in running my personal training business is to critique and modify the exercise regimen that people perform. I'll often sit down and chat with an individual to gather information on their training background (i.e. injury history, orthopaedic issues, strengths/weaknesses, goals analysis, etc....). It's frustrating to see some of the routines I see. I sometimes forget how terrible a lot of the information the mass media presents really is. In addition, people often learn their habits by watching/copying others who have no clue, so it essentially becomes the blind leading the blind.

I met recently with an individual who sat at a desk (like MILLIONS of other Americans) all day and her routine consisted of ZERO exercises to strengthen her postural muscles (i.e. rhomboids). Your routine should correlate to what you do for a living. The moral of the story:
  • If you SIT at a desk for 8+ hours/day at work
  • If you SIT in your car driving to and from work
  • If you SIT to watch TV when you have dinner after you get home from work...

...then you should NOT be SITTING during every exercise. You need to STRENGTHEN the weak links in the chain, which often include glutes and mid-back for many.

Email me ( if you have specific questions.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dynamic Warm-up Defined

People at most commercial gyms typically define a warm-up as putting their coat in their locker. I like to have my clients often begin their workouts with a dynamic warm-up to get warmed up and prepare their body for the workout. I was reviewing one of my workout files tonight and came across a perfect definition I discovered a few years back for the Dynamic Warm-up:

The Dynamic Warm-up is a warm-up routine that improves flexibility,cardiovascular
readiness, and the level of neural excitation. When performed before, during, and after an exercise routine or sports performance the dynamic warm-up has been shown to
decrease post-activity soreness as well as increase power production by 20% in addition to improved flexibility. The routine can be used as a way to increase recovery after and in between workouts. Select an area that is approximately 10-15 yards in length and start the dynamic warm-up. Take your time in doing this routine…this is not a speed building exercise routine.

Blood Pressure Revisited

While I undoubtedly make it a point to provide my clients with a sound exercise program, I find myself taking "the whole person" into account more than other personal trainers. One specific statistic I like to track- or at least be aware of- is my clients' blood pressure (BP). We all know there are certain numbers that are "healthiest." Simply put, your top # ("systolic") should read BELOW 120 mm Hg, while your bottom number ("diastolic") should read BELOW 80 mm Hg.

One question I got recently was "WHEN should I check my blood pressure (BP)?" From my limited research, I like people to check it various times throughout the day. Determine when it's at its highest and use that time each day to monitor it. Of course, this whole process should be conducted in conjunction with your physician's feedback. Allow plenty of time to pass if you plan on taking it after exercise or ingesting caffeine, which can both elevate your BP reading.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NBA D-League Officiating Experience

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to officiate the NBA's Developmental League tryouts for the Maine Red Claws. With their inaugural season set to begin in November, the Red Claws held open tryouts @ UMASS-Boston. Guys showed up from Maine down to Virginia. The process was mostly scrimmaging, although each group did begin with various ball handling drills just to get the guys loose. The athleticism was pretty incredible I'll admit, as it was the most fast-paced basketball I've ever officiated. I'm used to "below the rim" play, but this was some serious stuff. While I'm not impressed by 6'8" guys throwing it down, I do catch myself "in aww" as guys who aren't that big follow up a missed shot attempt with a windmill dunk. I thought one guy was gonna tear the rim down after he caught it left-handed, proceeded to bring it all the way back, and hammer it down- cool stuff!

I had the opportunity to meet guys like Randy Linvingston (former NBA guard), Jon Jennings (former Celtics assistant and current Red Claws Team President), and Austin Ainge (Red Claws head Coach and son of Danny Ainge). Overall, it was a very productive day, particularly since I was the least experienced official there. The other 2 officials I worked with have been refereeing for over 55 years combined, so needless to say, I learned a lot. It'll be interesting to see which guys end up making the team and hopefully show up in the NBA some day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

"Feel Free To Yell At Me"

The title for this blog post is an exact quote I received from an individual I recently put through a weight-training session. He admitted it was his first time being formally taught how to properly strength train. We were about to begin a 2nd set of DB Incline Presses and as he got ready to lift the weights, he said "Feel free to yell at me." Of course I chuckled and I said "Why would I do that?"

I think there's an awful misconception with some people thinking that personal trainers, strength coaches, etc... need to constantly yell at their clients to be effective. This couldn't be farther from the truth. I told my client that my number one concern was to ensure he had proper technique to ensure his safety. The last thing I cared about was how much weight he lifted. Why would I feel the need to yell at him? I don't know; it just struck me funny.

Ironically, a few years back I used to work with a trainer who yelled non-stop. I called him the "cheerleader personal trainer" of our staff. He had no education in training, yet a lot of people worked with him as they (mis)assumed that the trainer who yells is the most effective one. The technique of his clients was atrocious and I'm sure after my brief time working with him he's gone on to injure several clients.

Moral of the story: an effective trainer is one who pushes you safely and positively. Sure, I raise my voice once in a while but in a supportive manner.