by Michael Stefano
"Mind Over Muscle"
"My program is a no-nonsense approach to exercise and weight loss that will not only get you fit, but also fit into your life". -MS
Below is an overview of the principles behind this unique fitness system. You can use this outline to learn more about the FitFlash program, and to help determine if it's right for you. For additional information, go to: FitFlash Workouts
Hard Science Made Simple
Every workout session is divided into several segments based on the intensity generated and the skill level called for (rather than muscle group), although a full body workout is always achieved.
Resistance and flexibility training are treated like a skill that's mastered versus mindless motion. This approach allows you to generate much greater muscle contractions (translates into more results), with a lot less pain and greater safety.
Beside adding some lean muscle, you'll also ignite sleeping muscle that you already have. This will give you a much harder, more defined look, and with a much greater daily caloric requirement (you'll need to eat more).
Part 1: Technically challenging AND somewhat intense
Part 2: Physically intense but less technical
Part 3: Ballistic or interval work
Part 4: Stretch out and cool down
No single part of each session is considered less important, or in any way not as effective as the rest. All four parts need to remain in proper balance, based on your individual fitness level and immediate goals. Please note, there may be some overlap from one part to the next, which can actually save you time and energy.
Apply Full Body Tension and Reverse Flexion
Full Body Zip: A system of flexing your entire body before each exercise, especially your abs and glutes, providing a tremendous amount of joint stabilization and muscle engagement, with a greater overall metabolic price tag.
Reverse Flexion: A system of engaging both agonist (prime movers) and antagonist (muscle that performs the reverse action) muscles during an exercise, resulting in advanced strength gains and metabolic cost (IE: Flex lats on bench press, pulling the bar back to your chest).
Adjust Reps and Sets
With some exercises high reps can be counterproductive and even dangerous due to the complete fatigue of smaller stabilizer muscles. When working with full body and reverse tension, rep ranges can be kept low (under 10), but overall work is still increased. Exceptions are movements that train endurance more than strength, which tend to be more dynamic (rythmic and bouncing) in nature.
Isometric Contractions Added to Stretching
This protocol gives you another chance to develop muscle tone (and strength), but at your full range of motion. This type of flexibility is more functional, as it simulates the demands made on your body in everyday life, at every conceivable angle.
Allow Adequate Recovery
Sleep, rest, recovery, proper diet are all stressed as an aid to muscle tissue repair. The faster you heal, the quicker you can get back in the gym and train again. Recovery is also dependent upon the volume and intensity levels you reach.
Vary Intensity and Volume
Vary intensity from workout to workout by manipulating both volume (number of sets) and intensity (level of resistance and fatigue reached). You need to decide when to train at relative full capacity. Each workout will list paramaters you can follow, allowing you to make these vital, daily adjustments.
Finding movements that mimic life can be a challenge, but it's imperative that you learn to perform some of your workout in the same GROOVE that you live. In simpler terms, make your workouts simulate real life for optimum results.
Whether your goal is to pass a physical or just get a little stronger so mowing the lawn doesn't take your breath away, working your groove will eliminate waste in your workout.
Progression and Periodization
Sometimes, today's best workout won't work next month, or even next week. Exercise needs to evolve if it's to have any continued effect. This doesn't mean that you just keep adding weight to every set. Quite the contray, sometimes what's called for is a complete roll-back on resistance (periodization), so as to give your body a chance to acquire more skill, while providing some much needed rest.
Low Volume Cardio
The practice of long duration cardiovascular exercise is in direct contrast to building mid-term strength and endurance. Most people will never need the ability to run 5 miles. It simply doesn't come up in every day life or even in extreme situations, such as firefighter might face.
What's really called for is a mid-range strength/endurance. Low volume cardio, ballistic dumbbell drills, and wind sprints accomplish that nicely.
MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer, contributor to eDiets, eFitness, and Firehouse.Com. Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers an online version of his FitFlash custom program, via a comprehensive 22-point fitness profile form.
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