Archives for 2010

Christmas for the Fitness Enthusiast

Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again. The time of year when all of my loyal readers are desperately searching for that very special something to get their favorite fitness columnist/personal trainer! Well, as much as I’d like to get presents from all of you, my humble nature won’t allow it. What I’ll do instead is present you with my second annual “What To Get The Fitness Enthusiast In Your Life For Christmas” column. Wow, that’s a mouthful!

1. Resistance bands. There are a ton of different uses for resistance bands. You can warm up, get stronger, do cardio, stretch. You can get the one’s with the handles on the ends at any sporting goods store but you have to go online to a site like to get the ones that are like big rubber bands. Both kinds are very useful.
2. Chuck Taylors. Do you wonder why your balance isn’t very good, or your knees are a bit achy or your hips are real tight? It might be the shoes! The thick, cushiony, sneakers most of us wear are actually hurting us. For one thing, the heel lift they have puts us on our toes too much and that can hurt our knees. For another, all that cushioning gives us no feel for the ground and that effects our balance. Get some good old-fashioned Chucks! They’re cheaper and still the best sneakers around.

3. Quinoa. It’s pronounced Keen-Wa and it’s delicious. It can be found near the rice in your grocery store and you cook it the exact same way. It’s a grain, like rice, but it has more fiber and protein and a little lighter flavor. Bon appetit!

4. Patience. I know you can’t exactly buy someone patience for Christmas, but I’d like to. Too many people are way too anxious for the quick fix. The body just doesn’t work like that. Have some patience and do things right and two things will happen: 1. The change has a better chance to stick and 2. You have a better chance to enjoy the process, which will then lead to other fitness goals and an enhanced, physical life. There’s no point in losing a bunch of weight if you’re just going to gain it back after the “special diet” is over.

5. Any piece of “Lift Strong” clothing from This was on the list last year and the reason holds up. The clothes look good, are comfortable and inexpensive, and the proceeds go to cancer research. And just wearing a LiftStrong t-shirt is said to instantly add 25 pounds to your bench press!

Well, there are a few ideas for you, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, as well. One of the best gifts you can give your family and loved ones is the commitment to get yourself in shape. Believe me, seeing you taking care of yourself makes everyone happy and right now is a great time to start!

Happy holidays and I’ll talk to you in a few weeks.

Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

Don’t Resist Good Exercise

I talk to a lot of people that either aren’t experienced exercisers or spend their time in the gym doing “cardio” or “machines”. When I talk to them, I always try to see things as they see them. This is never more evident then when I use the term “resistance training”. About this time in the conversation I usually see a bit of fear in their eyes as they picture a long barbell with a bunch of weight on each side getting thrown around by a massive, screaming bodybuilder. What I then explain to them is that resistance training can always be made easier or harder depending on the person’s physical condition. Actually, many times we use no external weight at all. We just do simple bodyweight exercises.

While I could talk about how to program resistance training for different people, what I really want to talk about today is it’s importance and how it fits in with everyone’s goals and situation.

Resistance training for fat loss: For long-term fat loss what we are really looking to do is speed up the body’s metabolism permanently. Since lean body burns more calories then fat we must increase it to raise our metabolism, therefore raising the amount of calories we burn each day. Doing the 30-45 minutes of cardio that most people do actually has the long-term effect of lowering metabolism, making it progressively harder and harder to lose the weight we want to lose.

Resistance training for endurance athletes: Every time a runner’s foot hits the ground they need to produce a certain amount of force to propel themselves forward. Doesn’t it make sense that if they get stronger they could produce more force, thereby making themselves a faster and more efficient athlete?

Resistance training for older people: After the age of 40 we lose about 10% of our muscle mass each decade. With this comes an decrease in bone density, particularly in women, an increase in fat and a general decline in health and well-being. This doesn’t have to be the case and this process can be slowed, stopped or even reversed by resistance training. Don’t we all know someone who experienced what seemed to be a minor fall and yet suffered major injuries? A lack of bone density and general strength is the culprit.

Resistance training for injury prevention: Our muscles and bones aren’t the only recipients of resistance training’s benefits. As our muscles get stronger our ligaments and tendons do as well. This means that whether we suffer an accident, run a marathon or just want to pick up your grandchild, every part of our body is better equipped to handle the stress of the event.

If you have any questions about how to properly incorporate resistance training into your life, please drop me a line.

Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT ACE

Mitch Rothbardt Fitness
Discover Your Strength!

This Saturday!

Hello everyone! I just wanted to drop a quick note to remind everyone that my Free seminar, “The Truth About Fat Loss” is this Saturday! It’s at the Inner Athlete, 377 Macarthur in San Leandro at 1pm. I hope to see you all there!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

They’re All Lying To You

They’re lying to you, you know. That’s right. They’re all lying to you. A quick search on Google turned up 162,000,000 hits for the term “weight loss”. That’s not an exaggeration. With that amount of information out there it’s not hard to understand why people have so difficult a time knowing what to do.
A couple of months ago Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore made headlines when they twittered that they were going on a maple syrup, lemon water and cayenne pepper diet “for health reasons”. Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer Tracy Anderson appears on multiple TV shows exclaiming that women should never lift more than three pounds. “The Biggest Loser” tells everyone that losing two pounds a week is a low number. Turn on your TV on a Saturday afternoon and you don’t have to go far to find an infomercial telling you that the new ab-roller/coaster/rocker can help you lose 25 pounds in two months if you use it for only 15 minutes three times a week. They’re all lying to you.
The weight loss industry is multi-billion dollar-a-year business. That’s billion with a “b”. There are diets that tell you to eat no carbs. Diets that tell you to eat no fat. Diets that tell you to eat whatever you want as long as you have this special pill first. There are exercise books that tell you to do hours of cardio and abs. Think about it. Does any of this really make sense?
Have you noticed that on every weight loss pill bottle the label says something like, “Our studies have shown that if you take two of these pills a day along with proper diet and exercise you will lose weight.” Really? You mean that proper diet and exercise don’t do anything without your magic pill that costs $79.95?
They’re all lying to you.
We know that obesity rates are skyrocketing. We know that this stuff is now being passed on to our kids. How can this be when a quick search can give me 162,000,000 pieces of advice? It’s because so much of this information is just out there to promote someone’s book or someone’s TV show or sell a pill.
How do you know what to listen to? You’re in luck. On Saturday September 18th at the Inner Athlete in San Leandro I am going to be giving a free fat loss seminar at 1:00 pm. I am going to talk about these lies and tell you what the real truths are behind fat loss and how you can figure out the difference. The Inner Athlete is located at 377 Macarthur in San Leandro. Please call me at 510-754-7113 or email me at if you have any questions, or just show up. It’s free and I hope we can help help a lot of people. Have a great week and I hope to see you there!
Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT ACE

Mitch Rothbardt Fitness
Discover Your Strength!

Area Fitness Professionals: Paul Southern

Hello, everyone. For my next few articles I’m going to introduce you to a few people in the area and talk about their approaches to exercise and general well being.

Today we’ll talk to Paul Southern. Paul owns Re-Active/CrossFit Pleasanton. He started as a coach 12 years ago after leaving the Marine Corps where he was a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman. He started coaching people in his garage and has since expanded to a 5,000 square foot coaching facility in Pleasanton.
Mitch: Talk about your fitness philosophy.
Paul: Someone that works out and strives to eat nutrient dense food has made a decision that the good life is something that we create for ourselves. Fitness leads to a healthier body and most importantly a healthy mind. If there is turmoil and dysfunction there, a person will be unhappy. I encourage people to start going in the right direction. Eat well and workout to make the mind and body healthy. It’s a decision about how you want to live.
Mitch: Talk about your gym, your coaches and the different things you offer.
Paul: I have always believed in the power to change my circumstances. In order to do this, everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves. Re-Active gym is about creating a place and a community that is trying to move in the right direction.
CrossFit is a group training program that aims to develop every aspect of an athlete, and we are all athletes: from our 8 year olds to our 73 year olds. We also work with athletic teams. Their coaches will work on their sport’s specific techniques but we want to make sure they can move right and are strong and conditioned. Our private training is for people that have specific goals or special needs that require them to work with a private trainer.
I am constantly bombarded with applications for coaches. There are plenty of mediocre “trainers”. I’m looking for the best of the committed coaches. The first requirements are integrity and attitude and then we look at a coach’s skills. Just like the clients they work with, a coach in my facility is always growing and improving their skill level. For example, Jesse Burdick was presenting at a conference in L.A. and I asked if he would like to come work for me. Harry Selkow is a coach and writer for EliteFTS (a top website on strength and conditioning). He moved to Pleasanton to be part of the team. Dan King was a coach at Bally’s that had outgrown the Globo Gym approach to fitness.
Mitch: Anything else?
Paul: Fitness is a way of life. We are designed for it. To ignore this simple fact is to live a less than optimal life. Live a full life and be fit. Also, don’t eat yellow snow.
You can see more about Re-Active at their website Call him at 925-353-4894 to talk about the CrossFit training or if you’d like to talk about personal or small group training at Re-Active you can call me at 510-754-7113.
Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT ACE
Mitch Rothbardt Fitness
Discover Your Strength!

The Last Ten Pounds

Hello, everyone! The idea for this week’s article comes from a loyal reader named Michelle. She asked me to write an article on losing the last ten pounds. The question is, why is it so hard to lose that last little bit? Of course, it doesn’t have to be 10 pounds. It could be 15 pounds or five, but what the question is really about, is sticking points. It’s about when the weight stops coming off and what you can do to start it going again. I’ll go into a few reasons why you might hit a sticking point and let you know how to get through it, or hopefully avoid it altogether.

1. Adjust your diet. Depending on where you were when you started your weight loss you might not have readjusted your diet. What I mean is this: Say you started your diet eating at a daily 500 calorie deficit. A month later you’ve maybe lost five or six pounds. At this lighter weight you’ll need fewer calories each day to maintain your weight and if you haven’t readjusted, you may be eating at a maintenance level for your current weight instead of at a deficit. A good strategy is to readjust your diet about every four weeks.

2. Don’t be afraid of a break. If you’ve been on a restrictive diet for a while, you might need a break. After a long period of low calorie eating, your metabolism might be driven down to a point where you’re not burning off calories at the rate you might be used to. Take a week or two and eat at your new maintenance level or even a touch higher. Restart your metabolism and start again.

3. Exercise. Make sure that you are sparing as much lean body mass as you can during your diet. Lean body keeps your metabolism high and is what you want to see when you shed the fat. What this requires is resistance training. Combining full body resistance workouts with interval/circuit style training will maintain or possibly even increase lean body mass and boost your metabolism to make sure that you are burning off the fat you want to get rid of. Long drawn out cardio sessions do not have this effect.

4. Keep a food journal. I know that just cutting back a little may have gotten you to this point, but to lose that last little bit, you may need to be a little more precise. Keeping an accurate food journal will help you know exactly where and how to adjust your diet. Remember, this process gets harder as it goes and if you really want to lose that last ten pounds, small adjustments of just a few hundred calories can be very important.

These are a just a few common mistakes that people make on their way to their goals. Hopefully they’ve given you some insight on how to continue on your way. If you have any questions or want some more individualized advice, please email or call me and let me know how I can help. We still have some summer left, so get out there and have a great time!

Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

The Secret

There is a secret. I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it quiet. It’s not a pill. There is no such thing as that and, frankly, I’m glad. If there was, that would mean that there is an end. A finish. An absolute. Take this and be everything you want. Take this and be perfect, whatever that is. I’m happy there’s not. This is a journey that we need to take. That’s what makes it worthwhile. It’s not just meeting a goal, it’s what we discover about ourselves getting there. What we’ve sacrificed and put ourselves through that makes the final goal mean something to us. It’s what we’ve learned through the process that ensures that we can do it, or something like it, again if we need or choose to. This is what gives us the confidence to achieve other things in our lives. This is what learning and enjoying the process does. So, when people say they wish they could take a pill to lose their belly or lift more weight, know that the real goal isn’t about the belly or the weight. The real goal is to find out more about ourselves and only honest, hard work will allow us to do that. So, yes, there is a secret. The secret is that it’s not supposed to be easy.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

Get Outta Here!

Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having. It’s the start of summer and and great time to get out, be active and have a great time.
Today I’m going to talk about some things you can do outside that can help get some weight off and keep it off during these summer months. First, however, let me say this: if you’re going to do an outdoor workout don’t forget your three best friends: water, sunblock and a hat. Dehydration is nothing to mess with and either is a nasty sunburn. Anyway, here we go.

1. Take a walk.

It seems simple, but when the weather is nice this can a great way to be active, get your blood flowing and get that Vitamin D you missed during the rainy season. Also, you burn about 275 calories an hour during an easy stroll. You can do at least that walking around Lake Chabot on a nice afternoon!

2. If you want to do something a little more intense, how about a beach workout.

With the uneven ground and the give and shifting of the sand, it can make some pretty simple exercises very challenging. Have you ever tried running in sand? It’s not easy. How about plain old jumping jacks? Pretty tough.

After a good warm-up and stretching session try the following workout:

20 second plank
15 second sprint
20 second Jumping Jacks
15 second sprint
30 second rest
Do three rounds and see how you feel.

3. Do you not like the beach and want something a little more hardcore? One word: Sandbag!

Get some contractors trash bags, some duct tape and a bag of play sand. Loosely fill some trash bags with five or ten pounds of sand each and duct tape them closed. It wouldn’t hurt to double bag them, either. Make sure the bags are filled a little loosely because you want the sand to be able to move around just a bit. Put the bags you made into an old duffel bag, bear hug it and go for a walk. Half a block should be a good distance to start. If you can go longer, please do. If it’s too light, make another sandbag.

If going for a walk is a little too boring, try this: pick the bag up from the floor and throw it over one shoulder. Put it back down, then pick it up and throw it over the other shoulder. That’s called shouldering. Try this complex:

10 squats holding the bag however you like
10 shoulderings
10 overhead presses
Rest 45 seconds and do it again.

There you go! Really the only thing getting in the way of a great summer workout is your imagination. If you need some more ideas, just let me know, and remember to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

Some Updates

Hello, everyone. Wow, I blinked and it’s been a month and a half since an update. Sorry about that. I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m still here and I have a few things coming up.

My next three article are all written or at least planned out. The first one appears in the Castro Valley Forum tomorrow and possibly in the San Leandro Times on Thursday. I never know if it will make it into the Times until the paper comes out. Anyway here are the dates and subjects of the next three:

July 14 Forum – July 21 Blog: Outdoor workouts
July 28 Forum – August 4 Blog: The Secret
August 11 Forum – August 18 Blog: The Last 10 Pounds

Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions for these or any ideas for future writing.

Well, since the meet in May my training has pretty much been for s**t. I injured my back the week after the meet and it still is giving me some very weird problems. It’s getting better but I have to watch it. It’s frustrating because I feel like I’ve had to waste the last month, specifically with my squat and deadlift.

On the flip side it seems like my bench might be movin’ on up a bit. I’ve tried a couple of new things, going back to dynamic work but structuring it a bit differently and also doing some high rep work in my accessory movements. It feels like it’s helping. Last week I hit 320 off a three board with a terrible set-up. I couldn’t do a proper set-up with my back feeling like it did, so even though my PR is 325, the 320 felt pretty easy even with the bad positioning. I’ll keep going with this and see where we are when I can really get tight again. Right now I am pretty much stuck doing only floor press because laying on a bench with my feet on the floor is very uncomfortable. That’s OK though, because the floor press is something that will help me in the lower portion of the bench which is where my weakness is anyway.

Another thing that this injury has forced me to do is re-think my own core training. I’m basically going to start over, focusing on basic anti-extension movements to re-establish better lumbar posture. I’m going to start with the very beginning dead-bug progressions and advance one a week (Read this excellent Mike Robertson article to see what dead-bugs are). I’ll also be doing a lot more hip flexor stretching and hip mobility work in general to improve my posture and performance, and to make sure that this injury doesn’t happen again.

Anyway, that pretty much catches you up. One more thing, on July 25th Re-Active Gym in Pleasanton, where I work and and where I do my own training is hosting a powerlifting meet. There will be all sorts of lifters competing, both men and women, beginners and elite level. It will be fun and it’s free to attend. Come by and say hi! The lifting starts at 10am and the gym is located at 7075 Commerce Circle, Suite B in Pleasanton. Let me know if you need directions or if you have any questions.

I leave you with this. What does it mean? (Make sure your sound is up.)

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!

May 23rd Meet Recap: AKA Mezza Mezza

Hello, everyone. As most of you probably know I had my second powerlifting meet in Sacramento this past Sunday. “How did it go?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. It went OK. Not as good as I hoped but still not too bad. Let’s break it down James Brown style:

The Squat
1st attempt 385: This was a little f***ed up. I had Elton wrap my knees too early so by the time I got to the platform my legs were basically numb. Compound that with my mistake of making my rack height too high and having to reset it and by the time I squatted I had no feeling in my legs and I ended very high on the squat and missed it. This really should have been a gimme, so I didn’t sweat it and went up on my second attempt. By the way, I didn’t find out until later that day that if you miss all three of your squats you are out of the meet. I guess it was better I didn’t know that.
2nd attempt 424: My PR is 425, but I still had no fear here. I knew I could get this and I did.
3rd attempt 451: This was my goal going in. I felt good. The 424 was easy and I was pretty sure I could get this. I unracked it, went down, stood up and then heard the annoucer say, “No good.” I asked the judge why and he put his thumb and first finger about half an inch apart indicating that I was above parallel by that much. Here’s the video. Judge for yourself.

It was right around here that I started getting a bit tired.

The Bench
1st attempt 248: This wasn’t too bad. Not a piece of cake, but not too bad.
2nd attempt 264: Here we go again with the bench. Got about half way up and that’s it. I did this weight a few weeks ago at the gym, but not today. My goal was 270 going in. That wasn’t going to happen.
3rd attempt 264: One word: Stapled.

Now I was definitely tired and a bit frustrated. I was two for six and missed the first two goals I had for the day. I was talking to Shane and he suggested a Red Bull. Not a bad idea. He also introduced me to the wonderful world of Ammonia. That woke me up a bit. I knew that the deadlift was my best lift and I actually felt good warming up, so I was cautiously optimistic that I could hit my 500 lb. goal.

The Deadlift
1st attempt 405: Went up easy.
2nd attempt 461: Not too bad, but I really didn’t know if I had another 40 pounds in me. I decided that I was going to give a shot anyway. I did 473 last time so there really was no point in just matching that or going up just 10 pounds.
3rd attempt 501: Not too bad at all. Took a second or two to get off the floor, but then flew up. My sticking point with deads is off the floor, so I knew that once I moved it off the floor a little I was fine. I was a little hesitant until I saw the three white lights and then I gave a little yell. The 500 pound mark is a pretty good mark. I feel that you are starting to get somewhere once you break 400, but breaking 500 means that you are strong. This one felt real good. Check out the video.

So, all in all a decent day. My 1167 total was 32 pounds more than my total at the March 13th meet, so I’ll take that. I really wanted more, though. Weighing 198 pounds, an elite total is 1471. That’s a big number. I just have to get my bench moving. I simply will not hit that total until I do. I figure something like a 565 squat, 300 bench, 615 deadlift will get me there. It just seems like that bench number is pretty darn small comparitively. I need to figure out what is the sticking point there. We’ll get it done.

Anyway, a big thank you to Elton, Shane, Andy and Jesse for helping me out at the meet. It was also a nice unexpected surprise to see to see Eric Kenyon RKC there.

Anyway, let me know what you think or if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you soon.

Mitchell Rothbardt, CPT
Discover Your Strength!