Archives for 2009

Only One Body

Wow! We are driving up to Oregon right now and I just read an absolutely outstanding article by Michael Boyle. Its not too long so read it and get some perspective on your body and health going in to the new year.

Have a great holiday!

Sorry if this post looks a little wierd. I'm doing it from my phone. I haven't done this before.

Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT ACE
Mitch Rothbardt Training
Discover Your Strength

All I Want For Christmas Is…

All I Want for Christmas is…

Hello, everyone! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! This week, since the Christmas shopping season is officially upon us, I wanted to talk about what I’m sure is foremost on everyone’s mind: what to get your favorite fitness columnist (me) for Christmas! Here we go.

1. More people using free weights as opposed to machines. Pretty please?

2. Robert dos Remedios’s new book Cardio Strength Training (available Dec. 22). The real way to train for fat loss.

3. People exercising with intensity and purpose. A bad plan done with intensity and purpose will get better results than a good plan done with neither.

4. A Gymboss from A great, cheap and convenient interval timer. Keep those rest periods tight!

5. The ability to have people not shrug their shoulders during rows.

6. More people realizing the true value of health. You can’t bring your awesome HD plasma TV to the hospital with you while you recover from heart surgery.

7. A foam roller. If anyone doesn’t know what this is or how to use one, do yourself a favor and drop me a line. You will love it.

8. A DVD of Pumping Iron. If you’re not ready to lift some weights after seeing this, I don’t know what to tell you.

9. A Liftstrong sweatshirt. Liftstrong was first a CD filled with 800 pages of training articles that was put together by the excellent trainer Alwyn Cosgrove after he survived cancer. Twice. All proceeds went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A few months ago Dave Tate from started a Liftstrong clothing line. All proceeds also go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Go to and get a hoodie. They’re only $24.95, they’re super warm and comfortable and they make you look like you could squat a truck. You’re awesome!

10. People understanding the simplicity of good nutrition. Base your diet around lean protein, fruits, vegetables and water and you’re 90% of the way there.

11. People finding the fun in fitness.

12. Rush finally getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know this isn’t fitness oriented, but come on! Tom Sawyer! Spirit of Radio! 2112! Xanadu! They should have been in ten years ago!

Anyway, that’s about all I have for now. I think what I really want most of all is for people to discover how good exercise can make you feel. I have never heard someone say, “Wow I’m really sorry I did that,” after a good workout.

If you need some hints on what to get a fitness enthusiast in your life for the holidays, just drop me a line and I’ll see if I can help and don’t forget to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. I’ll talk to you soon.
-from the Castro Valley Forum, December 9 2009
Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

The January Rush

Ho Ho Ho, everybody! It’s getting to that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about. Office gift baskets, gingerbread houses, pumpkin pies. And soon it’ll be time for the annual “I need to lose 15 pounds” New Years Resolution. This results in the annual January rush at your gym which leads right into the annual February “gym-gets-back-to-normal-because-the-January-crowd-stopped-coming” celebration.

Now, I’m all for New Years Resolutions if that’s what people need to get their goals and their heads straight, but while goals are important, knowing how you’re going to reach those goals is just as important. The reason that February’s gym attendance goes back to normal is that most of the people from the January rush have no idea how to construct a workout program, don’t see any results and therefore give up. I’m going to try and help you with a few tips so that you don’t become one of those February gym casualties.

1. Specify your goal. Don’t just say, “I want to get in shape.” That doesn’t really mean anything. Think about what getting in shape means to you. Does it mean losing 15 pounds? Does it mean being able to play with your kids without back pain? Does it mean increasing your strength or balance? If you don’t really know what you want, then how do you expect to formulate a plan that gets any results?

2. If you want to lose or gain weight you must realize that diet is the most important thing. If you’re not prepared to make changes in how you eat, any progress you make will be seriously compromised no matter how hard you work in the gym.

3. If you want to lose weight concentrate on full body, big muscle movements such as squats, rows, and presses. Do quick bursts of high intensity cardio, not endless slogging on the treadmill or bike.

4. If you want to gain weight concentrate on full body, big muscle movements such as squats, rows, and presses. Do quick bursts of high intensity cardio, not endless slogging on the treadmill or bike.

5. Read numbers 3 and 4 again and remember what I said about diet. While there are certainly differences between a weight loss program and a weight gain program, the differences aren’t as big as you might believe, generally speaking.

6. Exercise with intensity! The best program ever written will bear little to no fruit if not performed with intensity. Don’t be one of those exercise zombies blankly shuffling from machine to machine!

I hope this gives you some idea of how to get started. If you need some more ideas or tips please drop me a line or an email, or just ask Santa how he maintains his athletic shape. (He’s definitely a powerlifter.) Also, don’t forget to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program! Have a great Thanksgiving!

-from the Castro Valley Forum, November 25, 2009
Mitchell Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!


Hello everyone. I know it’s been a little while. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just wanted to let everyone know what I’ve been up to.

First, as far as my training goes, I’ve been training with a group of powerlifters. It’s been great. These guys are real strong and they’ve been helping me with my form and programming. I’ve noticed a difference already as I’ve hit a new PR in the bench. 265! It’s getting there. I also hit a 20 lb. PR in the three board press with 305. I’m really excited about this and I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress. If you’d like to read my training log, you can go here. Suffice to say that the weights I’m struggling with are these guys warm up sets, but I’m trying to put a few pounds on and I’m working hard. You never stop learning.

Second, my clients are getting great results and I’ve started something new at Express. Semi-private training groups. I’m doing three person fat loss groups. Because of the small size of the group I am able to give everyone the personalized instruction and programming they need, but at a much lower price. It’s more than half off our usual gym rates. I’m really excited about that. We had our first group last Saturday and everyone had a great time. We’re doing it on the weight floor, with weights and intensity. Two things that most gym-goers need desperately. I still see people with zombie-like faces shuffling from machine to machine and it makes me sad.

Mommy, please don’t use the Ab-Coaster
Anyway, that’s pretty much what is going on right now. I will be posting my latest article on Thursday, so please check back for that. It’s about how to stay with your goals this year.
As always if anyone has any questions or comments, please send them my way. Call me or email me. I love to answer questions and it gives me great ideas to write about.
Have a great day and check back on Thursday for the article. See you then!
Mitchell Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

This Weekend!

Form vs. Function

The most common thing I hear when I talk to a new client is that they want to lose weight. It’s no surprise considering our society’s sedentary lifestyle and abundance of processed food. What might be a surprise, however, is that when I design a program for them, fat loss is just about the last thing on my mind. It’s certainly not that I don’t want them to reach their goal, it’s that fat loss is a “form” goal. A “form” goal is one that is based on physical form, in this case, a thinner body. What people don’t think about, though, is what their desired “form” means as far as function.

What do I mean by that? Let me explain. It comes down to the things that your desired body can do that the body you have can’t. For instance, the thinner body is probably in better cardiovascular shape. How this applies to exercise is that if you train with the function of the body you want in mind, the form will follow. In other words, my primary focus as a trainer should be to get my client in better cardiovascular shape. If I do a good job at that, then my client will not only lose weight, but they will get the added benefits of improved body function, in this instance better cardiovascular health. On the other side of things, if my client wants to get bigger and gain muscle, I am going to try to get them stronger first. The size will follow.

What this all means is that you should think about what your goals mean to you beyond the flatter stomach or the bigger arms. If you lose ten pounds but can’t walk up a hill without losing your breath, how does that really benefit you? If you have huge guns but can’t move the couch, what’s the point?

Along with developing your body, training for function also develops your mind. Knowing that you are stronger or that you can make it up that big hill without a problem gives you confidence that can’t be obtained by just looking thinner or more muscular. That carries over into how you carry yourself which carries over into how you look. Everything is connected.

If you want some ideas on how to train for function call or email me and don’t forget to consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.

Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

2 + 2 = Progression

What’s 2 plus 2?

Man, that’s a hard one. I know I didn’t tell you there was going to be math this week! OK, we all know the answer is 5, but can you believe there was a time when that problem was impossible for us to figure out?

What does this have to do with exercise? Progression. You figured out how to add 2 plus 2, then progressed to bigger numbers, subtracting, dividing and eventually quantum physics. In the gym, many people have good results initially but never change what they do. The results stop coming and they wonder why, thinking, “This worked before, why not now?” That is essentially like not learning any more math once you’ve got 2 plus 2 mastered.

You see, our body is amazingly adaptable. It’s how we’ve survived centuries of cold, heat, and reality shows. For instance, when you first went to the gym you might not have been able to bench press the bar. If you worked at it, your body realized it was going to have to change to accommodate this new demand that was being placed on it. As it changed you got results, but eventually your body fully adapted to the challenge and the results stopped coming.

What I am getting at is that you must consistently push your body in different ways to continue getting results. This is because in the same way our bodies learned to adapt to changes, it also learned that the best way to survive these changes was to conserve it’s energy by doing the least amount necessary to adapt. Basically, once it’s adapted to new demands it doesn’t need to do anything else, so even though you really want to put another inch on your arms you’ve got to give your body a pretty compelling reason to do it.

How does this apply to you? Well, the crux of it is that if you want to lose twenty pounds, what lost you the first ten might not lose you the last ten. You’ve got to keep progressing to give your body a reason to change in the way you want it to.

How do you progress? There are many ways to do it such as adding more weight, doing more repetitions, more sets, different exercises and so on, but really it’s based on your goals and your own body. What works for someone else might not work for you. Try different things. If you can’t figure it out, get a trainer. The important thing is to continue to challenge yourself and work hard. Don’t be one of those people who do the same exercises, weights and reps week in and week out and don’t forget to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

from the Castro Valley Forum, October 14, 2009
Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

Feeling Good

Well, here are the final numbers and a few accompanying videos:

Bench Press: 245 lbs. (video and comments here)

Shoulder Press: 150 lbs. Felt tired that day. Went for it anyway.

Hang Clean: 160 lbs. Same day as Shoulder Press, but really felt much stronger with these. This was a pleasant surprise as I was thinking 145-ish. Video shows 155 lb. lift. The 160 lb. lift didn’t record.

Box Squat: 405 lbs. I am happy with this. It’s a 20 lb. increase since my last max test and it went up pretty easily. Might have had 415. Couldn’t get 425.

Deadlift: 385 lbs. Pretty happy with this. I was hoping for 405 and I think I might have it, but I was pretty tired after doing squats and just couldn’t get 405 off the ground. Still, this is also a 20 lb. increase since my last max test.

Overall I’m happy with everything except my bench, although I plan on doing something about that over the next few months. I just got Dave Tate’s Bench Press Manual and I’ll be putting together a plan in my secret laboratory. Actually, just somewhere in my house. My goals at this point are to keep up the steady improvement with the deadlift, start doing regular back squats instead of the box squats so I can put up a good number there, and the main goal is, of course, get my bench up to par. I’m feeling good though. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mitch Rothbardt
Mitch Rothbardt Fitness
Discover Your Strength!

Do you have achy knees?
A balky back?
Do you want to move
and feel better?
Join Mitch Rothbardt
Saturday, October 17th at Noon
in the Express Fitness Studio Room for a free seminar on Foam Rolling techniques.

The Foam Roller is a fantastic and easy way to improve flexibility, improve achy backs and joints and just plain feel better whatever your goals or condition.

The Foam Roller is a fantastic and easy way to improve flexibility, improve achy backs and joints and just plain feel better whatever your goals or condition.
Call Mitch Rothbardt at 510-754-7113 or email
for more information

I hope to see you there.


That’s today’s max-day grade. I hate lame excuses, but the other day I slept wrong and woke up with a very stiff upper back. It had been feeling better yesterday and I didn’t feel it at all this morning. Until I squatted 315 lbs. It’s not at all a heavy weight for me. Two weeks I did 345 lbs for 8 reps. This morning it did cause my back to stiffen up, though, so I decided to take the intelligent approach (see! I am getting smarter) and call it. I’ll do my squats and deadlifts next week.

Bench was encouraging and disappointing all at once. I knew I could get 245 easily. (See below)

That was no big deal. My next attempt was 270. Probably too big a jump. (See below)

I then tried 265 and 260 and didn’t get either.

You may ask how I could be encouraged at missing all of my lifts. Well, let me tell you.

The first thing is that none of these lifts felt heavy off the rack. The last time I went this heavy, I really felt the weight off the rack. 260 kind of felt heavy, but at that point I was tired. 260 also was the closest one to going up, so that tells me that I should have that one if I go up in weight in smaller increments.

Another encouraging thing was that I got the weight off my chest very well. Before, that was a big sticking point for me. In fact I thought I had all three lifts until I just couldn’t lock them out.
I was also happy with the fact that my technique didn’t really change much between the lifts I got and the ones I didn’t. Everything looks solid and now I also have something concrete to work on. That thing is:

What that means is a lot of floor presses and pin presses and board presses. I’ll know about my whole program next week when I finish up on the squats and deadlifts, but I’m pretty sure that the next few months will be very bench-oriented. Can you say fun!

In any case, although I can’t say I’m thrilled with this morning’s training, with bench, at least, I do know where I’m going. I’m getting closer. 275 can’t hold me off forever!

I’m coming for you 275. I’m coming for you!!!!
Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!