Monday, April 30, 2018

Machines versus free weights: Is one really better?

What's better -- free weights or machines?

It's an age-old question: What is better for muscular development -- machines or free weights?

You can find people that staunchly entrenched in both camps, repeating the same dogma ad nauseum back and forth at each other. But like with most polarizing topics, the real truth is somewhere in between.

In this case, the truth truly is, they're both great. As long as you perform the exercises slowly with perfect form, both ways of strength training help you accomplish the same end goal, which is to fatigue muscle, causing it to make a positive adaptation in growth and/or strength.

Some in the free weight camp claim you will strengthen your "stabilizing muscles" with free weights, since you don't have the machine keeping your form for you. Unfortunately, this just isn't true. Strength training is a lot simpler than people give it credit for, and fatiguing the muscle in its correct bio mechanical range of motion is all that is needed to get a positive adaptation for the entire muscle.

Machines aren't a perfect workout either though. At Efficient Fitness, we use Nautilus strength training machines, which are well designed around the human body, with anatomy and physiology in mind. This is not always the case with all equipment, and some poorly-designed exercise equipment can even put your body in compromising positions which can lead to injury.

The main reason Efficient Fitness uses exercise machines is safety. We try to eliminate the element of "skill" from the workout. When you come in to workout with us, we want 100 percent of your focus, attention and effort to be on fatiguing your muscles, causing them to adapt and grow to become as genetically strong as possible.

What we DON'T want you to be focusing on is having a barbell come crashing down on your throat, herniating a disk in the middle of a dead lift or balancing dumbbells above your head. By using well-designed machines, it takes all these elements of skill out of the equation, allowing you to focus on what's important: building muscle. The worst thing that can happen during a set at Efficient Fitness is you drop the movement arms and the weight crashes down. Sure, it's a little startling, but you are completely safe the entire time.

The concern that machines won't improve balance, stability or flexibility is just not true. The bigger and stronger your musculature becomes, the more balance, stability and flexibility you have, no matter how you got there. Training on well-designed machines just allows you to get there in the safest, most efficient way possible.

All roads lead to Rome, so you might as well take the freeway.

Efficient Fitness is taking new clients! Reserve your free introductory session by calling 425-214-2251 or emailing

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Breaking down the stigma of weight training

If time-efficient resistance exercise is good enough for Barbara Walters, it's good enough for you!

Weight training, resistance training, weight lifting, body building — or whatever you want to call it — has unfortunately always had a stigma attached that prevents massive portions of the population from receiving the incredible health benefits associated with it.

The main stereotype that I'm constantly pounding the drum against is that lifting weights is only for "meat heads" or "gym rats." The idea that people who view themselves as intellectuals can look down on an exercise because of what traditionally comes to mind when they think about that exercise is very unfortunate. They are cutting themselves off from a world that can only make them feel better, stronger and more independent, things we all really want in life.

Now all stereotypes come from somewhere, and I can pretty much chalk the "meat head" stereo type up to one simple concept: genetics.

If you enter a typical box gym environment, you are guaranteed to see a few things. You'll see the "muscle-bound meat heads" lifting weights and the skinny cardio bunnies on the treadmills. This phenomenon is no different than seeing fish in the ocean, or birds in the sky. These people are genetically pre-determined at birth to enjoy these activities. A lot of them were given genetic gifts of large muscles, which in turn led them to lifting weights. Thin women with the goal of staying thin are genetically pre-determined to hit the treadmill in fear of bulking up.

Again, this is no different than seeing a worm in dirt. That's where they evolved to be. Exactly how a 6-foot-8 man is probably going to play basketball at some point in his life. It's simply genetics!

The problem is, if you don't have those genetic gifts, it doesn't mean that strength training isn't for you. Being the strongest and most capable version of yourself is your birthright, and silly stereotypes and being self conscience about what kind of people weight lifting belongs to should not keep you from the wellness goldmine that comes from proper strength training.

As the founder of Smart Strength Skyler Tanner often says, "Strength is the currency in which we live our lives, and you don't know how valuable it is until you lose it."

Efficient Fitness offers all the benefits of proper strength training in a private, supervised environment. Claim your free session today by calling 425-214-2251 or emailing

Monday, April 16, 2018

How to burn more than 1,000 calories in a single day

"Mmmmm.... strength training?"

I'm here to give you the true secret to weight loss, the one thing that nobody seems to get. The absolute sure-fire way for anyone to burn more than 1,000 calories in a single day. Ready for it?

Are you sure?

OK, here it is: Nothing.

That's right, don't do anything. As soon as you wake up, don't get up! Just lie there completely still, breathing in and out, and you'll burn more than 1,000 calories without even trying.

This is your resting metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn in a day without doing anything. It can be a little eye opening to see how many calories we actually burn in a day just going about our business — but this leads me to my second point: how much effort should we be putting into burning more than that?

If weight loss is our ultimate goal, there is a certain flawed logic in trying to burn off calories faster than we consume them. Our body burns the majority of the calories we could ever hope to burn just by existing, and when you actually put some thought into how much effort has to go into burning extra calories on top of your RMR, well, it's not exactly a great return on investment.

For instance, according to, jogging at 5 miles per hour for an hour burns about 390 calories (if you're a 154-pound 5-foot-10 man that is). What they don't tell you, is you were probably going to burn some of those up anyways if you were sitting on the couch. So let's be generous and say an hour of jogging only burns 290 calories.

Now, ignoring the less than ideal ROI jogging has to begin with, plus the negatives (getting hit by a car, ankle/knee injuries, being seen by your friends) what exactly did that hour of "cardio" get you? It got you that large donut your co-worker gave you. Or, maybe it got you that half-slice of pizza you had left over from your kid's birthday party. The point is, it is MUCH easier and MUCH healthier in the long run and the short run (no pun intended) to skip the donut in the first place, rather than try to spend hours burning it off later.

(Note: If you enjoy running, good for you! I encourage people to partake in activities that bring them happiness. Just don't feel like you have to partake to be healthy, especially if you don't enjoy it!)

So if we're not exercising to burn calories, why are we exercising at all? I'm glad you asked.

True exercise isn't about energy expenditure. It's about becoming as strong as genetically possible, so you can roll with any punches that life throws your way. Instead of focusing on the endless cycle of trying to burn off what you just ate, flip the paradigm on its head and fuel your body's lean tissue growth with nutrient dense foods like eggs, fish, fowl, meat, low-sugar fruits and fibrous vegetables, all of which help you feel full longer, and eliminate the ability to over consume.

We should ultimately be eating foods that our body wants to utilize completely, instead of those that our body wants to burn off rapidly.

If you want to start turning your body into an efficient calorie-burning furnace, call 425-214-2251 or email to set up your free introductory appointment today.

Monday, April 9, 2018

'I don't need to strength train...I do an activity'

Walking Fido is great for both of you, but it shouldn't replace a regular strength-training routine.

Often times when I am trying to promote the health benefits of resistance exercise, I come across a similar theme. People are quick to explain to me what they do in lieu of a regular strength training program, and no matter how rigorous or relaxed their program or activity is, it usually isn't a good substitute for contracting your muscles hard against resistance.

My favorite analogy to use has to do with dental hygiene. I'll ask people a simple question... "Do you brush your teeth?"

Besides the confused look on their face, they usually answer "Of course I do, everyone does."

Well why do we brush our teeth? We brush our teeth because we want to take care of them. We don't want to develop gum disease or tooth decay, and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, we basically just don't want to lose our teeth.

The same goes for strength training, I tell them. If you don't want to lose your muscles, you have to use them! In order to fight of sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss), osteoporosis (loss of bone mineral density) and a host of other age-related diseases, one should look after their muscles first and foremost, since all-cause mortality is directly related to overall muscle mass.

Then they smirk. They think, "I'm not some gym rat. I'm not a muscle-bound jock who needs to pump iron to impress people. I'm too intellectual for that." So they respond by naming whatever they think substitutes for exercise.

"I go hiking once a week."

"I walk the dogs."

"I take a dance class."

"I play golf."

I nod politely, and try to explain the difference between "activity" and "exercise."

Activity is something you do for fun. It might be running, jogging, dancing, playing music, or maybe just sitting and watching TV. Believe it or not, they all have about the same effectiveness at calorie burning (another post for another time).

What differentiates activities from exercise, is exercise has a purpose. Exercise is a very specific stimulus that signals to your body make a positive adaptation. The only way to do that is to exert your skeletal muscle with a high degree of effort.

So saying you go on 20 minute walks every day for exercise isn't a bad thing, in fact it's great — but it's simply not enough to prevent the annual muscle and bone loss that happens year after year to all of us after we reach our 30s. That's like saying "I don't need to brush my teeth, I chew minty gum." Sure, your breath might not smell bad, but you're still going to need dentures.

Efficient Exercise is officially open! To be one of the first to experience evidence-based exercise in the Kittitas Valley, send an email to or call 425-214-2251 to reserve your free introductory session.

Monday, April 2, 2018

What exactly does evidence-based exercise look like?

Efficient Fitness is now open in Ellensburg.

It's known in a lot of different circles as a lot of different things — evidence-based resistance/strength training, high intensity resistance/strength training, etc. — but all modalities have a couple different key themes in common: Safety, efficiency and efficacy.

• No one should ever become injured due to exercise. If you're doing something to stay healthy, becoming unhealthy in the process kind of defeats the purpose.

• We all have lives, and unless you really enjoy it, no one should have to spend hours on a treadmill to stay in shape. We should be out in the wild doing the activities we love and spending time with the people we love.

• We should get results! If you're not getting results from your exercise program, why are you doing it in the first place?

So that's all good and great, but what exactly does this kind of exercise protocol look like? Well the short answer is, you can do it a lot of ways! But today I'll explain what you'll see in a typical workout at Efficient Fitness Ellensburg. 

Slow cadence

At Efficient Fitness, we use a slower than normal cadence, which helps eliminate dangerous forces like momentum. Without momentum (swinging the weights) you're able to fatigue your muscles much more quickly — and more importantly — more safely. This combination allows you to exercise sustainably over long periods of time without injury, and makes the workouts brief, giving you more time to play!

Full-body workout

Every client at Efficient Fitness starts with a "Big 5" workout. This includes a leg press, row, chest press, pull over and shoulder press on Nautilus resistance training equipment. This introductory workout covers the entire musculature, and can be performed ad nauseum great results, helping you achieve your genetic potential with regard to muscular strength and size.

If after a few months of training a client starts to show signs of not recovering all the way in between workouts, a split routine can be used. This combines different muscle groups on different days, to allow the muscle groups more time for recovery. For example, on a Monday you could focus on lower body exercises, and on Thursday you would perform upper body exercises.

Meticulous note taking

Every Efficient Fitness workout is recorded with precision, to make sure we keep track of how you are progressing. We track the exercise, the time-under-tension (the length of time you perform the exercise), the weight used, the seat and handle positioning of each machine, the date, the duration of the workout and more. All this data helps us track your progress and make sure you are recovering properly between workouts. If you aren't recovering properly, the correct steps can be taking to ensure you do!

Here's a video from, where Simon Shawcross performs a Big 5 workout under the direction of Dr. Doug McGuff, author of "Body By Science."

Efficient Exercise is officially open! To be one of the first to experience evidence-based exercise in the Kittitas Valley, send an email to or call 425-214-2251 to reserve your free introductory session.