Gym Tips & Workout Ideas – Tip # 3: Progessive Resistance Exercise

 In the first two gym tips I discussed, we addressed the first two of three crucial components to health, fitness, or athletic success: mental preparation and nutrition.  Our next tip is focused on the third component, which is exercise.  In order to achieve fitness goals, especially those related to athletic performance, you should incorporate a progressive resistance exercise program into your plan.

A simple explanation of progressive resistance is that of Milo of Croton and his ability to carry an adult bull on his shoulders, which obviously requires amazing strength.

Milo (Greek: ?????) of Croton was a 6th century BC wrestler from the Greek city of Croton in southern Italy who enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece.[1][2][3] In addition to his athletic victories, Milo is credited by the ancient commentator Diodorus Siculus with leading his fellow citizens to military triumph over neighboring Sybaris in 510 BC.

Milo was said to be an associate of Pythagoras. One story tells of the wrestler saving the philosopher’s life when a roof was about to collapse upon him, and another that Milo may have married the philosopher’s daughter Myia. Like other successful athletes of ancient Greece, Milo was the subject of fantastic tales of strength and power, some, perhaps, based upon misinterpretations of his statues. Among other tales, he was said to have carried a bull on his shoulders, and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins of his temples.

…Legends say he carried his own bronze statue to its place at Olympia, and once carried a four-year-old bull on his shoulders before slaughtering, roasting, and devouring it in one day.[2][3] He was said to have achieved the feat of lifting the bull by starting with a newborn ox, and carrying it everyday.[12][13]


The take-away from this story is that each day Milo lifted just a little more than the day before until he achieved an amazing goal.  This is the definition and purpose of progressive resistance exercise. 

A well designed fitness plan recognizes that exercise is a systematic method of applying stress to the body.  Your body responds to that stress during the recovery process by adapting, and adaptation prepares you for the next workout.  In order to achieve a goal, you should plan to increase or change the type of stress applied to the body during workouts (progressive resistance exercise).  By changing number of reps, increasing amount of weight, limiting rest periods, or changing the type cardio you do, you’ll be incorporating progressive resistance into your plan.

Remember, the body adapts during the recovery period, not during stress.  If you neglect to include recovery time in your workout plan, it may inhibit your ability to progress and improve at the rate you desire (psst…one of the crucial gym tips). 

Including progressive exercise in your plan and evaluating yourself from a weekly, monthly, and yearly perspective will prevent you from becoming discouraged about poor performance such as a bad game or a disappointing workout.  As you use this theory you’ll begin to appreciate the times when you’re at your best and encourage yourself through times when your motivation is low or the china business of life takes time away from your training schedule.

Progressive resistance is one of my favorite gym tips, and one which I use to determine the type of workouts I do each day.  It’s also an excellent concept to remember when recovering from injury or any type of surgical procedure.

17 Benefits of Strength Training

If any of you know me personally, you know I love to tell people what to do, and the two things I enjoy telling people to do most are stretching & strength training (when it comes to fitness anyway). Today, I’ll list 17 benefits of strength training so you know I have good reason for being so bossy…

1. Improve overall body strength
2. Increased lean body mass (muscle)
3. Increased metabolism (a pound of active muscle burns 50
lories a day. If you gained 10 pounds of muscle through
strength training you would burn an additional 500 calories per

4. Decreased body fat %
5. Improved confidence & appearance
6. Improved tendon & ligament strength
7. Increased joint stability
8. Improve coordination of neuromuscular system
9. Improve circulation
10. Increased aerobic capacity
11. Decreased cholesterol
12. Decreased in blood pressure
13. Reduced stress
14. Increase your quality of life by living independently as you age
15. Slow or reverse the effects of aging
16. Improved posture
17. Increased bone density & bone strength

Just imagine what you can do for yourself by making the commitment to strength train on a regular basis! Not only will you become leaner and feel better right away, you will be investing in long term health and quality of life for years to come.

Strength Training & Injury Prevention

Here’s another excerpt from my weekly column in The Sun Times…enjoy!


While our rural community provides relative safety from severe crime and the tragedies of war, daily living presents a variety of physical challenges that can have significant, long-term, or even life-threatening consequences. Simple tasks such as shoveling the driveway, chopping wood, cleaning eave troughs, or even just walking down an icy sidewalk challenge your balance, stability, muscular strength, and cardiovascular health.  These activities may seem trivial, but many of us are ill-prepared for the elements of risk involved or the physical exertion required and we experience injury as a result.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports over 1.5 million Americans seek emergency room care each year due to simple slip, trip, and fall injuries.

Encountering these chance accidents may seem out of our control, but chance or negligence is not solely to blame for Americans vulnerability to slip and fall accidents.  With thirty states having an obesity rate greater than or equal to 25%, and an average of 50% of Americans meeting insufficient criteria for physical activity in 2007, we have made ourselves more vulnerable to simple injuries by being negligent of our level of physical fitness. 


Being physically inactive and overweight often correlates with poor cardiovascular health, weak muscles, inadequate balance, and reduced coordination, each of which increases risk not only for slipping and falling but also potential for increased severity of injury.  And although much of our health care philosophy relies upon rehabilitation from injury as a solution, health care professionals recommend exercise prescription, including cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, as a preventative strategy to diminish risk of injury and provide a mechanism for losing weight.


Including functional movements in your resistance training routine is one component of an injury prevention program.  The purpose of functional movement is to mimic real-world scenarios in a controlled environment, thereby improving your ability to perform the simple activities of everyday life.  Learning proper technique for performing movements such as squatting, balancing, and lifting objects from the floor to overhead promotes proper joint mechanics that protect knees, shoulders, hips, and lower back from fluke injuries.  Functional training also involves moving forward, backward, and sideways to place additional demand on core muscles and improve neuromuscular innervation.


While your ability to balance on one foot probably isn’t the difference between life and death, it could mean the difference between long-term hospitalization, a series of physical therapy, or an aspirin and some ice.  When starting a resistance training program, the load of resistance, sets, and repetitions should be chosen according to your current physical ability level.  Add resistance progressively and be patient with yourself when adding resistance.  This will prevent you from overloading joints and connective tissue during exercise.  Begin with higher reps and low weight focusing on proper technique until you master the movement itself.  Keep in mind that you should always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.



2007 CDC U.S. Physical Activity Statistics