December 11, 2013




The bench press is universally considered one of the most important upper body movements in any fitness regiment. Whether it is for a one rep max or a multi rep set, this lift is an extremely valuable weapon to have in your arsenal. Here are 5 important factors to improving your efficiency at this all time classic.

1) Grip the bar hard!
The "set-up" or initial portion of the lift is extremely important. Take a few moments prior to commencing the lift. Breathe deeply and grip the bar extra hard. This will help with concentration and force you not to be in a relaxed state.

2) Keep the body tight and rigid.
Once again take about 5 seconds before you start your set and contract your muscles, especially the ones located in the upper body girdle because they will absorb the brunt of the weight. Note to experienced trainers: keep your shoulder blades, rhomboids, lats and traps pulled together tight. This guarantees more muscle recruitment and therefore more strength.

3) Use the legs.
If you don't think the legs come into play, try benching with your feet up on the bench! Squeeze the glutes tight and drive the feet into the floor. Strong calves certainly help.

4) Control the speed of the bar.
What's the right speed? Personal preference comes into play but keep these factors in mind. A slow concentrated decent of the bar will recruit maximum muscle fibers and a fast, explosive push to completion leads to optimum strength. Control is the key and speed is power!!

5) Put extra emphasis on your triceps training.
A great lifter named Larry Pacifico once said, "in order to increase our efficiency at bench pressing, train your triceps the way you train your chest and train your chest the way you train your triceps". Translation, most people do not train their triceps anywhere near enough to gain maximum efficiency at this lift. The moment the bar is 6 inches off your chest this lift is all triceps, remember bench pressing is not merely a chest exercise; it is a true test of one's overall upper body strength.

I hope you find any or all these five factors helpful in realizing your maximum potential of the bench press. "The king of all upper body movements."

( Jody Cranston / Article ).
( Article originally published in URBAN TRENDZ MAGAZINE ).



I would like to thank Heather McAlpine, my good friend and Running Clinic Instructor, for contributing to this article.

Squats!! Volumes have been written about this multi-faceted exercise. The purpose of this article is to attempt to dispel 3 of the most common Squat myths and to reinforce why Squats are the most effective leg-core exercise ever invented. Bar none!!

Myth #1 - Squats are bad for your knees.

Squats, as long as they are performed in a full range of motion (knee joint parallel or below parallel with the hip joint) will accomplish the objective of strengthening the surrounding muscles and increase the knee joint integrity.

Myth #2 - Squats are detrimental to your spine.

Once again, technique is paramount to dispelling this myth. Keep your chin up, your abdomen wall flexed and your back straight. This will help position you so the weight is carried directly over your spinal column muscles. You will engage and therefore strengthen the leg, core and back area safely and efficiently.

Myth #3 - Squats will make your legs big.

Mass is usually a byproduct of heavy weights and low reps. Conversely, a high rep (16 to 24), light weight regimen will : tone, condition and increase only lean muscle fibre.

Description and Execution of a Squat:
1) Lift the bar out of the rack, stand and hold on the upper trap area with your chin up.
2) Take a deep breath, tighten your ab muscles, bend your knees and slowly assume a seated position-Controlled.
3) When your hip joint drops below your knee joint (thus, below parallel) explode to original standing position!!
4) Repeat until failure.
5) Prepare for the benefits of new-found strength and lean muscle fibre.

When performed properly (see above), squats are tremendously beneficial to any/all leg and core workouts. Squats will increase strength, stability and thoroughly work the lower body more effectively than any other exercise!!

( Jody Cranston / Article ).
( Article originally published in URBAN TRENDZ MAGAZINE ).



Diet, nutrition and weight loss are probably the most often written and talked about subjects in the entire fitness industry. There seems to a new "plan" and "ground breaking" information all the time. But beware; topics that have so much information are bound to have a number of misconceptions based on half-truths with no scientific study to back them up.

1) Fat makes you fat, so avoid it.
Wrong! fat is needed for absorption of nutrients and to help the proper functioning of many of your body systems. Unused energy from food (carbohydrates) is what your body stores as fat, "fat is stored energy".

2) You have to radically change your diet.
With all the good basic health information available (i.e., avoid fried foods, go easy on the sugar, etc.) most people need to make only a few changes to achieve their weight loss goals.

3) Avoid any and all sweets until your goals are met.
It's important to put yourself on an eating plan that you can live with. Human nature dictates that depriving yourself of foods you love can lead to bingeing. Give yourself one night a week to break all the rules.

4) Eating fewer meals will help you lose weight.
Although this may seem logical, it's actually counter productive. Your body could go into a starvation mode due to a lack of food and can cause you to gain weight. Eating smaller, well-balanced meals (4-6 times a day) is the healthy solution.

5) If you eat a healthy diet, you'll lose weight.
Close, a healthy diet is essential but controlling the order in which you consume carbohydrates will determine your weight loss. Eat complex, starchy carbs (bread, potatoes, pasta) earlier in the day when you are more active. Ease into simple carbs at night (vegetables, salad) when you won't need or use as much energy.

I hope you find these 5 Diet Misconceptions helpful on Your way to healthy weight loss.

( Jody Cranston / Article ).
( Article originally published in URBAN TRENDZ MAGAZINE ).