Total transformation...More than skin deep


Growing up, I was always the “big girl.”

At 14 years old I weighed 195 pounds. I grew up in an obese family and it seemed like I was destined to grow up to be just like them. I had tried countless diets of starvation and deprivation. Just a heads up, living on string beans is miserable. So I always ended up giving in, feeling worse about myself, and gaining more weight. Then during my sophomore year at Byrd High School something snapped in me. I was tired of being the “big girl.” So I made it my goal to lose weight. And I did. Eighty pounds! In less than a year!

Now I know what you’re thinking, “That’s awesome! How’d you do it?” And my answer is...THE WRONG WAY! I stopped eating and did endless hours of cardio. I never changed the shape of my body. I was only a smaller, flabbier version of “fat Jami.” After being forced to go to a nutritionist by my mother who was scared by how thin I had gotten, I started to do some research on my own time. I read journal after journal and article after article on proper workouts and nutrition to reach my goal which was no longer to lose weight, but to be happy with my body.

In 2009, I started attending classes at Centenary College. I finally had access to a gym! Following a basic strength training workout from a book I found, I stepped into the gym for the first time and fell in love! I loved the feeling of the weights in my hands and knowing that I was pushing my body to its limits in order to reach the goals I had set for myself.

Jami headshot - Copy.jpg

In June of 2011, I walked into Anytime Fitness desperate for more knowledge on lifting and nutrition. Conveniently for me, the owner was desperate for help cleaning the gym. In return for three hours of cleaning a week, I gained years worth of knowledge. In the 2 ½ years I was at that gym, I have learned more than the four years I spent at Centenary studying Health and Exercise Science. So I studied, got certified through the ACSM, and immediately started personal training.

I love helping others reach their goals. I love watching them make improvements each week and the joy that shows on their face when they get one more rep than they did the week before.

Now I am that girl you see on the right above. A girl with so much more confidence than the girl on the left. A girl who is proud of her accomplishments and happy with the person she has become. Anything can be done as long as you set a reasonable goal, put your mind to it, realize that you will encounter struggles, yet push through them anyway. I did it. You can do it. And I can show you how!

Jami in Action doing what she loves!

Jami in Action doing what she loves!

TAKU’s NOTE: In this week’s podcast episode #37 we share a powerful story of transformation. The pictures give only a tiny glimpse into this young woman’s amazing journey.

Positive Role Models


Below is a list of some of the folks who have positively impacted me in my career as a strength and conditioning coach. Some of these people are friends of mine. Some I have been lucky enough to meet and spend time with, while others have led by example through their tireless efforts to promote safe, productive strength and conditioning practices. Not only have they positively impacted my own development, but their work has inspired and positively influenced numerous coaches within the industry, and countless athletes around the world. This list is presented in no particular order (it's not a top ten).


Mark Asanovich
Mark Asanovich has years of NFL Strength and Conditioning experience. Including time with the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars strength and conditioning programs. His program emphasizes individual supervision of player workouts. It is his belief that players who are coached in the weight room will develop better results. The cornerstone of the program is to “maximize physical potential and minimize physical injury.” Asanovich has been a speaker for consecutive years at the Strong-S seminar in Tokyo that is organized by the renowned Japanese trainer Tatsuya Okawa.


Matt Brzycki
Matt Brzycki has authored, co-authored and edited seventeen books. In addition, he has authored more than 435 articles/columns on strength and fitness that have appeared in 44 different publications. Matt has given presentations throughout the United States and Canada. He has also given presentations to the Central Intelligence Agency; US Customs and Border Protection; and US Secret Service Academy. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the New Jersey Council on Physical Fitness and Sports as well as the New Jersey Obesity Prevention Task Force.


Dr. Ellington Darden
Dr. Ellington Darden is the leading disciple of the H.I.T. training method. Darden, for 17 years the director of research for Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries, is the author of such enormously popular books on high-intensity workouts as The Nautilus Book, High-Intensity Bodybuilding, and 100 High-Intensity Ways to Build Your Body, along with over 40 other fitness books.


Patty Durell
Patty Durell has been helping people achieve their fitness goals for over 24 years. She is a Master Level Personal Trainer, Certified Conditioning Specialist, licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, and CEO of Rock Solid Fitness, an exclusive personal training studio in Dunedin, FL. She is also a member of Business Networking International, on the Board of Directors with the Chamber of Commerce in Dunedin, FL, and on the Advisory Board for the Palm Harbor University High School Medical Magnet program in Palm Harbor FL.


Big Jim Flanagan
Jim Flangan met Henry “Milo” Steinborn, world’s strongest man at the time and champion wrestler, and began strength training under Milo’s guidance. He continued training with Milo for years to come and along the way met Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus and known worldwide as the man who changed the face of fitness forever. Arthur was a fitness genius and true living legend. Jim purchased a full line of Nautilus equipment from Arthur in 1973 and proceeded to open Orlando, Florida’s first fitness center, Jim Flanagan’s Nautilus Fitness Center.


Mike Gittleson
Mike Gittleson spent thirty seasons as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Michigan’s football program. He was appointed the athletic department’s first strength and conditioning coach in 1978. Gittleson was recognized by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society as the 2003 National Collegiate Football Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Gittleson maintained the overall training and conditioning of the football program in one of the finest facilities in the country. He developed a unique and scientific approach to Michigan’s conditioning program, tailoring each program to the individual player in order to provide the maximum physical output and the prevention of injuries.


Arthur Jones
Arthur Jones’ ideas helped move the public’s notion of bodybuilding and strength-training exercise away from the hours in the gym using free weights to short, single set workouts focusing on maximum intensity, which, according to theory, triggers maximal muscular growth. His publications include the Nautilus Bulletins, which aim to dispel contemporary myths of exercise and training. The Nautilus machines and the company he formed to sell them made him a multimillionaire and landed him on the Forbes list of the 400 richest people. Jones also founded MedX Corporation, in which he invested millions to develop medical-based exercise and testing equipment targeting spinal rehabilitation and fitness.


Dr. Ted Lambrinides
Dr. Ted Lambrinides is currently a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Kentucky. Ted did his undergraduate studies in business marketing and graduate studies in coaching and exercise science at The Ohio State University, where he began his career as a student assistant and graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach. After OSU, Lambrinides worked as director of education for two fitness companies, Nautilus Midwest and Hammer Strength Corporation.


Dr. Ken Leistner
Dr. Ken Leistner, for decades a concerned voice in the powerlifting community as a competitor, trainer, judge, national athletes’ representative, and administrator, was the Feature Editor, monthly columnist, and the author of articles ranging from training advice to political commentary for POWERLIFTING USA Magazine. With over 1000 published articles in the area of strength enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation, Dr. Ken was asked to edit or rewrite the rulebook for two of Powerlifting’s major federations. Dr. Ken has served as a consultant to numerous university athletic programs and NFL coaching staffs. While many in the sport know Leistner through the Steel Tip Newsletter of the 1980’s, many articles, and former ownership of the National and World Championship winning Iron Island Gym, Dr. Ken is as well known for his contributions to the Chiropractic treatment protocols first used at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the design and prototyping of Nautilus and Hammer Strength equipment dating back to the early-1970’s.


Ken Mannie
Ken Mannie has spent 24 years as Michigan State’s head strength and conditioning coach for football, while additionally directing and overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for all men’s and women’s sports. Mannie has been a keynote speaker and round-table participant at several national conventions and seminars. In both 2006 and 2007, Mannie was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in recognition for his numerous and ongoing educational efforts in the field of strength and conditioning and in bringing awareness to the anabolic drug abuse problem in sports. He has been recognized and is widely published on his adamant stance against performance-enhancing drugs.


Dan Riley
Dan Riley most recently was the strength and conditioning educator for the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute. Riley is a retired strength and conditioning coach having spent 27 of those years in the National Football League (19 with the Washington Redskins and eight with the Houston Texans) winning four Super Bowls. Prior to his stint with the Redskins, Riley spent five years as the strength coach at Penn State after serving four years as the strength coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.


Dr. Wayne Westcott
Dr. Wayne Westcott has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Fitness Professionals, the Healthy American Fitness Leader Award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Roberts-Gulick Award from the YMCA Association of Professional Directors, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the NOVA 7 Exercise Program Award from Fitness Management Magazine.


Kim Wood
Kim Wood started weight training as a youngster, training to become a better wrestler and football player. He continued his training behind the scenes, as a running back at the University of Wisconsin in the sixties…. long before the fancy weight rooms and training complexes known to today’s players. Later, he worked for Arthur Jones, the legendary designer of the Nautilus machines. In 1975, Kim became one of the first strength coaches of professional football. During that time, he was also one of the three principals who created the now, world famous, Hammer Strength machines. He retired from the Bengals after 28 years with the team and was lucky enough to experience two Super Bowls along the way.


Tom Kelso
For 23 years he was in the collegiate strength and conditioning profession, serving as the Head Coach for Strength and Conditioning at Saint Louis University (2004-2008), the University of Illinois at Chicago (2001-2004), Southeast Missouri State University (1991-2001), and the University of Florida (1988-1990). He got his start in the strength and conditioning field as an Assistant Strength Coach at Florida in 1984 where he was also a weight training instructor for the Department of Physical Education from 1985 to 1988. Tom Kelso is currently an Exercise Physiologist with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He also trains clients through Pinnacle Personal & Performance Training in Chesterfield, Missouri.


Along with my friend and mentor Jim Bryan, the above individuals represent some of the finest minds of the strength and conditioning community. If you are already familiar with some or all of the folks on this list, then count yourself lucky. If you have not explored their work, then I suggest you do so right away.


Strong Faith In Fitness


In this weeks podcast episode #36 we are excited to have as our guest, my friend and fellow strength coach Christopher Pearson.

Christopher Pearson has been recognized as a professional in the field of performance training for over 20 years. Pearson is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is a Board-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).


Chris worked as the assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders from 1999 until January of 2012. Concurrently, he held the position of Oakland Raiders assistant team chaplain during his tenure. During the span of his 13 years with the team, Pearson shared in the successes of three AFC Western Championship teams 2000-2002 and a Super Bowl team in 2002.


Along with his friend, and fellow Raider alum Markus Turner, Chris considered the idea of starting his own professional training facility. Their vision was to create a company that combined both their areas of focus, sports medicine and performance training. They foresaw a company where youth athletes and fitness-minded individuals could be trained from a pro-perspective, maximizing their performance, while minimizing injuries. Their dream became a reality when TurnPro Sports was officially launched in February of 2012. 


Achieving Variety in Exercise

Once an athlete has moved beyond the beginner stages of strength training they often find that gains in strength begin to level off. One way to combat these plateaus is to incorporate variety in ones training. The purpose of introducing exercise variation is to provide a novel or unaccustomed stimulus which may help to induce a continued strength and growth response. Below are seven ways in which one may add variety to their training program.


1. Variation of Exercise Equipment: Become familiar with as many types of equipment available to the program.

2. Variation of Exercises: Become familiar with muscle physiology and use as many different exercises as possible for the same muscle group.

3. Variation of the number of Exercises: Vary the number of exercises per workout as well as per muscle group on a regular basis. Remember to keep volume in check to avoid over training. Limit the number of exercises during the competitive season or when peaking for a competition. Emphasize quality over quantity except for brief “blitz” Cycles.

4. Variation of Sets and Reps: Don’t always follow the same pattern for sets and reps. Manipulate these variables throughout your training cycles. (Keeping accurate records will allow you to note what combinations of volume, intensity, frequency etc are the most effective at any given time).

5. Variation of the Order of Exercises: Again, do not follow a set pattern at all times. Consider alternating Upper – Lower, Push – Pull, Pre-Fatigue – Post-Fatigue etc. (Exercise order manipulation is a high priority variable).

6. Variation of Overload Manipulation: Experiment with using a variety of Advanced Overload Techniques. Examples include but are not limited to Forced Repetitions, Heavy Negatives, Stage Repetitions, Zone Training, Pre-Exhaustion, Assisted Repetitions, etc. (Be sure to use proper super-vision when implementing Advanced Overload Techniques).

7. Variation of Recovery Times: Experiment with manipulation of recovery times both between exercise and between sets. Decreasing total workout time without sacrificing exercise form can be an effective way to boost the metabolic conditioning effect. (Be aware of over-training and keep accurate records so that recovery periods are not neglected).

TAKU’s NOTE: Remember all athletes will experience plateaus in their training at different times and for different reasons. Very rarely is it because they have reached their absolute genetic potential. Incorporating exercise variation concepts may help to overcome or limit these inevitable stagnation periods. By properly implementing a system of exercise variation you may find that you approach your training with renewed vigor and experience uninterrupted progress for long periods of time. Reach out to us at: for assistance with your personal training programming.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE: Adding variety for continued Training progress


This weeks Podcast Episode # 35 is titled “RUSSIAN ROULETTE” Adding variety for continued progress.


One of the things I do with my own personal training as well as that of the athletes, and clients I train is do my best to never repeat a workout exactly.


Now, for total beginners I will usually have them work on a program that remains relatively constant with regards to exercise selection and order, TUT* etc. I do this because I want them to focus on learning proper breathing and specific exercise technique, as well as gaining the ability to work hard and challenge them selves. During the initial stages of training I also want to build a solid foundation of strength and flexibility throughout the entire body while targeting any imbalances that may exist. Once I am confident that they have learned good solid technique on the basic exercises as well as how to work hard and stay focused (This usually takes between 3 – 6 months) I will then begin to incorporate more and more variety into their training program. Eventually they will reach a point where they will go months and months without ever doing the exact same workout.


As I have written about in many of my articles and talked about in different pod-casts we need to take into account individual genetic limitations and abilities, needs, goals, and preferences as well as environmental influences when we design specific training programs. The truth is that our bodies are in a constant state of flux. Outside of the a fore mentioned specific genetic limitations and abilities the other factors above may change on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Also, as we progress and mature in our training our bodies grow more and more accustomed to the different stimulus they encounter. What once was novel and new now becomes second nature. If we do not change things around in our training, we can not expect to create a need for the body to react, adapt and change in the results it produces. Stated another way we can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect to get a new and different result.


So remember if you are a beginner to exercise it is a good idea to take the time to build a strong foundation of proper breathing and specific technique as well as correct any major strength or flexibility issues that may exist. Once you are confident that you have done this (usually 3 – 6 months for most) then you should begin to incorporate more and more variety into your training. For the absolute best results from both your fitness and nutrition programs, take a little time to track your progress from week to week and month to month. Just a few minutes of writing things down each day will go a long way to helping you get the most out of what your doing. For more ideas about ways to incorporate variety into your training check out the post titles “Achieving Variety in Exercise”

The FOUR "P's"


By Mark Asanovich




 The answer lies in two questions:

1. “Are the training protocols orthopedically-safe?”

2. “Are the training protocols physiologically-sound?”

  Obviously, it is the intent of any strength-training program

to ENHANCE the physical potentials of the lifter rather than ENDANGER the lifter.

In other words,use common sense. If an exercise or training technique looks dangerous — it probably is   

An orthopedically safe program has at its foundation the execution of properly performed repetitions. The emphasis should always be on HOW the resistance is lifted rather than HOW MUCH is lifted. Every effort should be made to minimize the bio-mechanical loading (bouncing, recoiling etc.) on muscles, joints and connective tissue, and to maximize muscular tension. Each repetition should be executed under control in a deliberate fashion. Flex the muscle momentarily in the mid-range of the exercise when the muscle is in its “fully contracted position”. Then lower the resistance slowly to the starting position. Obviously, this is the most difficult way to train; however it is also the most productive and prudent way to train.

A physiologically sound strength-training program is one that includes in its design the fundamental principles of training right, eating right, resting right and living right. As simple as it is to understand — it is anything but simple to do. To compromise anyone of these realities would likewise compromise results. There are no “secret”, “short-cut” and/or “simple” means to achieve maximum strength gains. Rather, there is no substitute for progressively highly intense exercise, a nutritious meal plan, ample rest/recovery, and a common sense approach to a consistent training routine.


The physiological basis of strength training is the overload principle. This principle requires that a muscle be progressively overloaded beyond its current capabilities to stimulate a strength/growth response. Therefore, any progressive strength training protocol that has a systematic plan of overload (i.e. increasing resistance/repetitions) will produce results! Otherwise stated, despite what strength-training program is used, it is the INTENSE and INTELLIGENT application of the lifter’s EFFORT that is most responsible for their results — not the program. The bottom line is, and always will be, an issue of COMMITMENT and HARD WORK — not how many sets/reps were performed.

Maximal effort is required to develop maximal results. HARD WORK should not be confused with MORE WORK. Truth be told, it does not take a maximal amount of work and/or time to develop maximal results. It does require maximal effort and maximal perseverance. In other words, strength development is USE IT OR LOOSE IT — AND DON’T ABUSE IT! Train hard, chart your progression, allow ample time to rest/recovery between workouts and incorporate variety into your program to prevent over-training and monotony.


As stated, all progressive strength training protocols are PRODUCTIVE – none more significant than the other; however, not all are equally PRACTICAL. Strength can be developed either by exposing the muscle to a lengthy “high volume” of exercise or by brief “high intensity” exercise. Both training protocols have their advantages and disadvantages. However, given the time constraints for most individuals, it is much more practical to decrease the volume of training in favor of increasing the intensity of training to get the same results in less time. In other words, the training goal should be to spend the minimal amount of time to derive the maximal amount of benefits.


Strength training is a means to an end — not an end in itself. It is not the goal to develop Olympic Weightlifters, Power-lifters or Bodybuilders. Rather, the goal of strength training is to develop maximal levels of muscular strength to maximize functional capacity.

The development of muscular strength is the general progression of increasing the muscle’s ability to produce force. In other words, strength is a non-specific adaptation developed in the weight room whereas skills are a specific adaptation developed through guided practice. As a result, strength is developed physically in the weight room, which by a separate process is developed mechanically outside the weight room. Simply stated, you build muscle in the weight room and movement outside the weight room.


As I recently stated in our podcast episode #34 featuring Tyler Hobson, The FOUR “P’s” by Mark Asanovich, are principals that every strength coach, and personal trainer, needs to hear. Not only do they need to hear them, but they need to read, understand, and then apply them in the field. We would have far greater levels of success and far fewer silly injuries (not to mention far less time wasted) if more coaches and trainers adopted and implemented these excellent principals.

Pendulum Weight Machines: Maximum Training results


In this week’s podcast episode #34, we are honored to bring you our interview with Tyler Hobson, inventor, and designer of the Pendulum line of strength training equipment.

We all know that many tools can work when striving to develop strength. In fact, muscle overload can be applied with a variety of tools: barbells, dumbbells, machines, manually applied resistance, body weight, sand bags, etc. Anything that can create high tension in the muscles can be used. The above being said, having access to better tools makes our jobs as strength coaches that much easier. In fact with the right tools available we can help our athletes get stronger, faster, and bigger in the safest most efficient means possible.

This is where Pendulum strength training machines come in. They are the Rolls Royce of strength training tools.

Train the entire body from building explosive leg strength, a strong core, an iron grip and neck training to help prevent injury, and lower concussive forces in your athletes. Pendulum weight machines will get you strong.

Pendulum developed a revolutionary line of weight training equipment to provide the solution to off-season training as coaches and athletes prepare for their next season. Pendulum has developed a complete line of plate loaded machines, designed to train the entire body. Rogers Athletic is committed to manufacturing strength training equipment that promotes proper technique and is designed with safety in mind. GET STRONG!

Data-Driven Strength Training for Rational People


This week’s Podcast Episode #33 - Features Pete Sisco.

Pete is the developer of the ultra-brief, ultra-intense method of muscle-building called Static Contraction Training. SCT explains the most efficient strength training method ever devised. These are Static Contraction exercises that last only five seconds. An entire workout involves only 25 total seconds of effort. This method permits you to hoist the heaviest weights possible under the safest, most ideal conditions.

Pete offers a unique perspective on the subject of efficient strength training. Along with the above mentioned SCT method, Pete has also conducted a variety of informal studies comparing various Strength Training Methods and modalities with the aim of determining which method consistently produced the best results in the least amount of time.

You can find some of Pete’s earlier informal studies online. One of the papers he published several years ago called Workout Variations Revealed tested many of the various methods often seen in the gym “Head to Head”. Such methods as; One set to failure, Two sets to failure, Three sets to failure, Strip sets (reducing weight on consecutive sets), Pyramid sets (increasing weight on consecutive sets), Timed sets (3 minutes of lifting one weight), and Fixed sets (100 reps with one weight). The findings are fascinating to say the least.


Another excellent training methodology developed by Pete Sisco (with John Little) is known as Power Factor Training. Along with being another very safe, efficient, and effective training method, The Power Factor Workout explains how to objectively measure both forms of human strength; momentary, and sustained. Pete calls these Alpha Strength, and Beta Strength. Knowing the difference may allow you to tweak your particular workout, and target it for people who respond well to endurance training. If you are a natural distance runner, cyclist or swimmer this might be your best option.


One of the hallmarks of Pete’s career in the Fitness Industry has been his quest to find the safest, most efficient means possible of allowing individuals of all ages to improve their functional strength. His focus has been on what is the least amount of volume, and frequency of training that will still provide noticeable benefits to the end user.

With this in mind his eye remains set on methods that deliver maximum intensity progressively over time, while allowing for complete recovery. This means that one may find themselves training once every 7-10 days, and often even less.

TAKU’s NOTE: I have been lucky enough to know Pete Sisco for many years now. Not only have I applied his methods, and seen tremendous results with both myself and my clients, I have also been fortunate enough to have my own training supervised by Pete personally. I found this to be a very rewarding process, and I would highly recommend those interested in reaping maximum benefit in minimum time investigate Pete’s “Engineered Strength Gym”.