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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2013 issue 3



Mano a Mano

Life can be tough!  It's not always fair.  Everyone doesn't get a "certificate of participation" at the office, or a trophy at the end of the year just for showing up!  This probably hasn't bothered us "old folks" much.  We had to take our lumps, and watch our peers enjoy the spotlight, while we might not have been as fortunate.  However, I do worry about the expectations that our children might have.

I've been involved in athletics my whole life.  I've played both team sports and individual sports, as well as individual sports as part of a team.  While I do love the camaraderie and brotherhood of a team, and the feeling of unity on the battlefield, I'd have to say that I learned and developed more character as an individual competitor.

I started wrestling in 5th or 6th grade and continued into college before I started coaching.  Wrestling is a tough sport, both mentally and physically.  It takes a high level of conditioning, knowledge and technique, persistence, in addition to strength and quickness.  Knowledge comes with experience, which means that you often get your ass kicked for a while during your first wrestling season!  This is where the patience and determination come in.  Many young athletes that are used to being awesome from day one, have difficulty with that concept!

I feel that the character building that I'm talking about is not just limited to wrestling, but most 1 on 1 sports.  Karate, jiu jitsu, judo, etc... all have similar qualities.  You need to learn sportsmanship... how to be graceful in winning and in losing.  How to accept ownership and responsibility for your performance... No excuses!  You can't blame anyone for missing a block, for a penalty, or any other assorted performance issues.  It's just you and your opponent facing off to see who is the superior athlete at that time.

In watching or coaching the very young athletes, it's not uncommon to see the loser of the bout break down crying when the referee raises the winner's hand signifying victory.  Sure, you feel bad for the little guy, and what he's going through.  However, you'll find that if you follow that same athlete for a while.. be it weeks or months... they start to handle it better.  If they stick with it, they start to improve, start to win some matches, and hopefully take pride in their performance.  You'll also find that most of these kids develop a maturity for winning and losing that this experience creates... something that they take with them in life.

With the recent decision by the IOC to drop wrestling, one of the original Olympic events, from the 2020 Olympic games, I felt the need to put an article in my newsletter about wrestling, and these types of sports.  There's really nothing like the feeling of victory in a competition of this nature and I strongly recommend it for our youth athletes that are interested in becoming a fellow gladiator of the mat!  Here is an excellent post that I found that pretty much sums it up...


What high school sport makes the demands on the individual that amateur wrestling does? When ...a boy walks onto the mat, he stands alone. No one will run interference, no one will pass him the ball when he is under the net, no one will catch a high fly if he makes a bad pitch. He stands alone.

In other high school sports, where individual scores are kept, the contest is determined in time, distance, and height. But in wrestling, the score is kept on a boy's ability to overcome an opponent in a hand to hand contest, where a two second interval at anytime can mean a loss or a win. if an opponent gains an advantage, there will be no help, no substitute; there will be no time out and all can be lost in two seconds. Yes, the boy stands alone.

There is no place on a wrestling team for the show off, the halfhearted, or the weakling. When the whistle blows, a boy puts his ability, his determination, and his courage on the line.

We who are close to the young men on our high school wrestling teams have watched the range of human emotions from elation to heartbreak.

We have seen coaches with tears running down their cheeks as they try to console a young man who has given his all . . yet lost.

Wrestling is a tough, hard sport, a life like, it is the survival of the fittest. The young men who enter and stay with the team know this. They also know that the time comes and the whistle blows . . .


ref:  Lincoln East Wrestling

Recipes for Health

I can't say that I've tried all of the recipes that I've included in my newsletter, but this one I have.  It's easy to make, nutritionally sound, satisfying and tasty.  Currently one of my favorite post-workout meals on the weekend.  Give it a shot!

Oatmeal pancakes! This is it! The world-famous "high protein apple-cinnamon oatmeal pancake." My single favorite (and most often eaten) recipe for so many reasons... and NOT just for breakfast!


  • ¾ cup old-fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats)
  • 4 egg whites (1 egg yolk optional)
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1 scoop
  • 1 T Cinnamon

    Yield: 1 large pancake

Nutrition Info:

  • Serving Size: 1 pancake

  • Calories: 423

  • Protein: 39.5 g

  • Carbs: 53.5 g.

  • Fat: 6 g.


  • Put all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Stir until the mixture has a semi-liquid pancake-batter-like consistency.

  • Spray some non-stick spray on a frying pan and pour the mixture into the pan.

  • Cook on medium heat. When one side is lightly browned and solid enough to flip, turn the pancake over with a spatula and cook the other side until lightly browned and firm.

Cooking and Nutrition Tips

This recipe makes one large (6-8" diameter) pancake and it's a hearty, satisfying meal.  If you need more calories, increase the amounts of the ingredients (For muscle building programs when I need more calories, I usually use a full cup of oatmeal). If you use more than a cup of oatmeal, it's best to make two smaller pancakes, because if the pancake is too large, it tends to fall apart when you try to flip it.

If the batter consistency is not right, you can use fewer egg whites or more oatmeal to make it thicker, or vice versa. (You could also add a bit of water or milk if it's too thick... remember to count any extra calories you put it).

You can use other types of fruit such as bananas or raisins instead of apples (get as creative as you want - I must have seen at least a dozen variations on this egg whites and oatmeal recipe).

It is also "finger food" and you can eat it conveniently a little piece at a time even while you're behind the wheel driving, flying on a plane, sitting in class or at a seminar, hiking up in the mountains, or just about anywhere else!


Rock Monkey

Since I highlighted my rock climbing rig in last month's newsletter, I've added some monkey bar rungs, utlizing my chinup bar as one of them.  I also added a bar between the two so that I could create a nice little circuit that we started referring to as "rock monkey". 

It's certainly a challenge for your back, biceps, and hand strength and provides a source of competition to see who can make it the furthest!  Just a quick update for all my do-it-yourselfer brethren out there J




Sandbag Exercise of the Month!

Diagonal Shouldering


Diagonal sandbag shouldering is an exercise that I love to hate J.  It works a lot of different muscles at the same time, which means that you get winded a lot quicker when doing it!  Legs, back, butt, sides... all burning away while you heave that bag across your body to the opposite shoulder.  It's like ripping off a band aid... ya just gotta get it over with, without crying too much.


Target:  legs, butt, arms, back (quadriceps, gluteus maximus, biceps brachii, erector spinae)

Description:  Stand next to the sandbag and grab a handful of material.  I prefer to grab towards the back of the bag with my outside hand, and towards the front with my inside hand.  You should start with your knees bent, butt back and head up to keep a flat back.  Explode up with your legs and hips while pulling the sandbag up and onto your opposite shoulder.  Reverse the movement back down to the ground and repeat for repetitions prior to switching to the opposite side.

Have a Cold? Do Burpees!

And what's not to love?  One of my favorite all around bodyweight exercises... and I make it a point to start every one of my workouts with a set or two!  I can't say that my clients are as fond of burpees as I am, but that's the beauty of being a personal trainer and prescribing exercises that people love to hate J.  Beyond the obvious muscle burning and cardio benefits of burpees, here's an interesting article to provide you with even more incentive for doing them!

by Dr Jeff Godin, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., and Director of Spartan Coaching

We have previously discussed the value of the Burpee as it relates to physical fitness (read this blog). The Burpee may also be your best defense against infections.

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that carry fluid from tissues back to the blood stream. The lymphatic system plays an important function in re-circulating immune cells back into the blood stream and tissue where they protect the body from foreign invaders. The lymphatic system is often called the second circulatory system and is equally as important. However, unlike blood, lymphatic
vessels and the lymphatic fluid contained within them do not have a pump to help circulate the fluid.

The lymphatic system relies on the effects of gravity, breathing, and skeletal muscle contraction to help keep the fluid moving throughout the system. Without the movement of the fluid the immune system is compromised. The Burpee takes advantage of all three of these methods and may be a sure fire solution
to facilitate the movement of fluid throughout the system.

The Burpee utilizes the muscles of the upper and lower body. The muscles in the extremities contract and relax in a cyclical fashion, massaging the lymph vessels and facilitating the movement of lymph fluid. The high metabolic demand of the Burpee stimulates deep breathing. The constant changes in pressure in the thoracic cavity versus the abdominal cavity during deep breathing stimulates the flow of lymph though the system. Also, although not tested, it is reasonable to believe that the rapid changes in posture from the vertical position, to the horizontal prone position, and then back to the vertical position also facilitates the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system. The constant change in body position changes the hydrostatic pressure within the lymphatic system. Fluid movement undoubtedly occurs with changes in hydrostatic pressure. Have you ever stood up fast and felt “light-headed”? That is the result in a drop in hydrostatic pressure in the circulatory system; the blood has “dropped” into the lower extremities. Conversely, if you hang upside down for a second, the blood accumulates in the thorax and head. Essentially lying down and jumping up has the same effect, there is rapid movement of blood and lymphatic fluid through their respective vessels.

A recent paper by Lisa Hodge published in the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine suggests that manual Lymphatic Pump Techniques enhance immunity and may protect against pneumonia. The Burpee acts in similar fashion, accelerating the pumping action and increasing movement of lymph through the system. The Burpee reigns as the exercise champ!


Overtraining:  Bodybuilding's Arch Enemy

- Paul Becker,

When you are training correctly you should see muscle growth at a rapid and steady rate. This may seem like a far out claim to be making, since so few bodybuilders make rapid, steady gains. Most have accepted the fact that muscle growth is a very slow arduous process. And many have trained for years, after reaching a certain point, with no more gains in size or strength.

I will make another far out claim here - If you are no growing quickly and steadily you are overtraining.  But you ask, "can't it also be due to undertraining?". Sure if you don't workout at all or if you do a set of curls once a month, you're not going to grow either. But the true situation 99.9% of the time with modern bodybuilders is overtraining not undertraining.

Each individual has a certain tolerance for the amount of exercise he can withstand and if he does even a little bit more than that he will overtrain and slow down his gains. If he does a lot more than his tolerance level his gain will stop completely or he may even lose strength and size.  I will repeat it again here - If you are not growing quickly and steadily you are overtraining.

"But", you say, "I only workout 3 days a week and do only 25 sets for my whole body, that only a 10th of the amount of training most people do, how can I be overtraining?"  Don't be so concerned about what others are doing, a lot of them are taking steroids and still growing slowly or not at all.  Why don't you try cutting back to 20 sets for your whole body and see what happens. Or if you are still not growing try cutting back to 15 sets or 10 sets or even 5 sets. Also try training only 2 times a week or how about once.  I will say again - If you are not growing quickly and steadily you are overtraining.

This is not just a theory - it really works. As a personal trainer when I see one of my trainees not gaining fast enough I lessen his/her workload, training frequency or both. And the results speak for themselves.  One recent trainee weighed 165 before his first workout with me and after only 10 days he weighted 170 and his fat level was visibly lower, so in effect he gained 8 or 9 lbs of solid muscle doing only 12 sets for his whole body 2 or 3 times a week, that almost a pound a day gain.

Another trainee after reading my book "Get Huge" trained himself for 1 week and added 20 lbs in almost all his exercises and was growing so fast he got stretch marks on his triceps. He does only 10 sets for his whole body.  Some of my trainees do only 5 sets for their whole body and workout once every 4 to 5 days.

"But", you say again, "If I still find myself not growing, what do you want me to do, 3 sets once a week?".  If that what it takes to make great gains, then yes that's what you should do.  Your purpose should be to make big gains fast, and not worry about what others think or what tradition dictates.  The proof of any training is in the gains you are making from it.

Try training less if you are not growing or not growing fast enough and you will see the truth of what I am saying.

It's Go Time!

I just started a kind of "Biggest Loser" challenge with my workout partner.  No... none of the crying, screaming, or drama (yet)... just a friendly contest to see who can drop the most weight in a few weeks.  With the summer months fast approaching, everyone can use a little motivation to go after your goals.  Having someone to push you, or a friendly competition, makes it easier and holds you more accountable than just making a deal with yourself. 

So this is March and a perfect time for you to grab a workout buddy, MAKE some time, and get your butt in gear!  Exercise regularly and make smart choices with your food and drink consumption.  Change takes time, but if you work hard at it, and don't give up, the progress that you make will be worth it... I promise!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"I’m a big believer in starting with high standards and raising them. We make progress only when we push ourselves to the highest level. If we don’t progress, we backslide into bad habits, laziness and poor attitude.” - Dan Gable

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