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Unfortunately, many trainers don't know the difference between making people tired and making people better. They think that if a workout exhausts people or makes them sore, then it's good. When you do circuits with 10 or more random exercises, you certainly get folks tired, but the excessive variety prevents people from adapting to the exercises. The effect is too general for adaptation to occur.

We used to do this too and what we found was that after 6 months, people stopped progressing. They stopped progressing because they never got stronger at any movement. How could they when they were doing 10-15 moves? We switched to a combined strength/conditioning model and our folks haven't stopped progressing. The skies the limit.

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Resistance builds lean body mass (LBM) and it's the only thing that does! Bouncing on BOSU balls and using other toys doesn't do it! Building and maintaining LBM is THE key to long term fat loss, THE key to athletic performance, THE key to muscle building. It's the number one thing you should be doing in the gym everyday. We get great results with folks because we teach folks how to use heavy weights safely. And when they start using those weights, amazing things happen. Calories fly away because you burn tons more calories with the 24kg kettlebell than you do with the 8kg.
I see women talk about fat loss and they do crap isolation movements that use small muscle groups with light weights. How many calories does that burn? Try using the large muscle groups like hamstrings, glutes, and quads with compound moves in which you can move heavy weights and the calories literally melt off you. And you build LBM in the process!
I see men in the gym who want to build muscle doing half reps with toy dumbbells for dozens of reps. They look exactly the same as they did last year by wasting their time like this!
Resistance, folks!

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This is some of the barbell training we've been doing with folks lately. It has been going really well. The barbell has a lot to offer folks, more than they think from watching bodybuilding. Barbells are sophisticated tools, for sure. Here's a wonderful testimonial from a client that has been doing nothing but barbell training with us. We're very humbled by what he's said and it's always an honor to train clients like this:

Brian's experience

I first heard the Formosa Fitness name while looking into some options for proper exercise around Taipei.  I saw a posting on Forumosa for a used STX suspension training system and figured that would be a good investment for getting back into shape.  I had moved to Taiwan about two months prior and hadn’t done any kind of exercise aside from walking (and sweating) a lot.

I met Dave at his gym to pick it up, we chatted briefly, and I checked out the equipment there. He had everything I was interested in using: barbells, bumper plates (because dropping heavy things is fun), kettlebells, rings, and a squat rack.

I was researching several strength training programs based primarily on barbell work and had no interest in machines or treadmills. I was also into the functional-fitness principles, so this seemed like an ideal place to train.

After using the STX system at home for several weeks, I went in for the free private training assessment session.  I really liked it – enough to commit to coming back twice a week after work, with a 45-minute commute each way.

The private training sessions are outstanding.  I’ve really never gotten so much out of a 30-minute routine before.  The warmup and stretching portion is quick, but still manages to be comprehensive and effective.  I love the efficiency, and the stretches are a series of useful, dynamic movements which can be continually progressed. In fact, the stretching routine alone has helped me with a problematic tight shoulder and hips (I sit at a desk for extended periods every day), and with my overall posture.  The rest of my routine is based on compound barbell movements.

Dave sequences the lifts such that the ones needing the most improvement come first, also ensuring that my legs get a bit more warmup time before squatting.  Although there’s no specific cardio or interval-style training in my current program, the intensity stays pretty high with brief rest periods and movements that engage the entire body.  I’ve been fit enough from these lifting sessions alone to do 3-5 hour hikes with decent elevation gains on the weekend without feeling winded.

I was quite nervous about attempting heavy squats and deadlifts without advice and critique from an expert, but luckily Dave is great at analyzing form and spotting.  I’m never worried about failing a lift and injuring myself, I can just remain focused on moving the weight.  Dave never interferes with a lift unless it’s absolutely necessary, and even then, provides just the minimum amount of help to finish.

He also suggests ways to break through plateaus, which is something I would likely never get sane advice on at a big gym.   Overhead presses have been problematic for me, and we tried a few different approaches to move the weight up – things I had never read about or considered trying.  Occasionally he also modifies the main lifts I work on to add challenge, emphasize a different muscle group, or investigate potential problems.

For example, we’ve moved from barbells to kettlebells a few times to look for any imbalances in strength or flexibility on one side of my body.

Another thing that I appreciate is that Dave is constantly learning and trying new things with his own workouts and with other clients.  I’m sure everyone working at Formosa Fitness benefits from this continuous learning.  Dave is very familiar with a lot of the current material I’ve read online and in bookstores about strength training, and recommended other good reading that was new to me.

It’s been really motivating and exciting to see my lifts go up steadily in weight.  I’ve progressed from never having done a single barbell squat or deadlift, to hitting 150% and 200% bodyweight (in squats and deadlifts, respectively) in just 4 months.  Also, you really can’t help but be pleased with the efficacy of a program when people comment on your strength, and can’t believe that you only exercise 1.5 – 2 hours per week.  Many people spend over an hour each day in the gym and fail to meet their fitness goals.

As long as you’re willing to push yourself hard and not miss workouts, you’ll get excellent results from Formosa Fitness.  The only way I could imagine things improving is with complimentary post-workout bacon.

Wow. Thanks to Brian and all our other clients for their hard work.

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Four-Hour-Body.jpg  If working out holds any interest to you, you're really looking to lose fat, you want to gain muscle, you want deadlift 500lbs., or pretty much anything else in terms of physical culture then The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss needs to be on your bookshelf today!

Lifting the book itself is a workout as it clocks in at 600+ pages. It's an encyclopedia of physical culture for beginners and gives you an awesome intro to things you will never in a million years see at a mainstream gym.


-- how to drop fat like crazy with the slo-carb diet

-- how to gain massive amounts of muscle in a short time

-- how to use kettlebells (YES!) to burn fat

-- hwo to run 100 miles.

-- how to get super strong ny getting your deadlift to 500lbs.

-- and much more

Seriously, this is the best fitness book to come along in a long time. These are things that serious people in the fitness industry already know but they haven't hit the mainstream yet. Ferriss breaks this stuff down so a beginner can understand it and that's the beauty of the book.

The book even comes with it's own movie trailer. Check it out:


And BTW, if you're looking to follow the book and you need kettlebells, we have them in stock right here in Taipei! Send us an email or call the number to the upper right and we can get you started today.

Please be aware that almost no one does the swing right when they try it out. Come learn from us how to do it the right way and you'll get the wonderfull results Ferriss talks about.

Let us know how you progress!

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weightloss1.jpg  When I started out as a trainer, I knew fat loss was most people's goal and I had the idea that hard 30 minute metabolic workouts were the cure. I had used them to drop quite a bit of weight myself so I expected them to work for nearly everyone when I started training folks. And for some people, they did do the trick. We had folks (many, actually) than came in and did the workouts three times a week and lost fat. I was happy to see that. But not everyone responded to the program. Why not?

As I looked at what folks were doing, one thing I noticed was that outside of our fitness sessions, some folks were not moving much. Their daily activity level remained very low and simply exercising with us three times a week wasn't enough. Think about it for a minute -- three 30 minute sessions a week is only ONE HOUR AND 30 MINUTES A WEEK! Sorry for the all caps but there are 168 hours in a week (and yes, I used a calculator to figure that out) and turning your metabolism completely around in only 90 minutes of exercise a week is a pretty tall order. For some people, it's just enough leverage to do the trick but for others it's not enough.

So I was wrong. My mistake.

Since then, I've advised fat loss clients that they need to do cardio 4-5 times a week outside of class or at least walk 10,000 steps every day in order to get fat loss results. I'm making that same recommendation to you right now!

We are just too sedentary as a society for even three hard exercise sessions a week to make a difference. And let's be honest -- that three times a week tends to be more like twice a week, doesn't it? Far too often we let life get in the way of getting results. Realize that every time you miss a workout (assuming you are working out 3x a week) your exercise volume drops by one-third!! Are you dropping your calories by one-third to account for that? Yeah, right. No one thinks about that, do they? Starting to see why fat loss is hard?

Getting in 10,000 steps of walking a day is something everyone can do and it gives you an activity buffer against missed workouts and the occasional diet mishap. For your fat loss plan to work, it will be a vital component that your workout can not replace. You need workouts, diet, and activity levels acting in sync with each other to conquer fat loss.

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abs.jpg  I now offer online training for those of you that can't train with me regularly in person. We communicate through email and video to get you the fitness results you want wherever you are. You can come train with me during private sessions to fix your exercise technique when you have time.

Apply today and get started building the body of your dreams.

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Maybe. 197lbs. at a body weight of 88lbs. is good but it's great when you're nine years old.

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Doesn't he look amazing? He's 57 years old and he's known as "Old Superman" on Body Space. He started at the age of 48 and his story is very inspirational. Check it out:

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pauline nordin squat.jpg  One of the things that continues to amaze me in my personal fitness journey is how often I forget that not being sore doesn't mean I'm recovered. I fall for this all the time. Example: I hit 140kg on my squat this week and felt sore in the hips for a day but no big deal. Two days later I think I'm good to go and I start squatting and all of a sudden 100kg feels heavy. For some reason, I still have this impression in my mind that if I did 140kg two days ago, I should be good to go for nearly that again two days later, but it never works out that way.

This is one of the reasons wave loading exists. You wave the weight up and the reps down then in subsequent workouts you lower the weight but raise the reps. It's smart training for one thing -- you hit many different areas and attributes like this. You can cover power, muscle building, and endurance all in one week. But it also gives you time to recover from the more intense trainings. Funny how I just fell into it naturally because I couldn't lift heavy all the time.

So yesterday I found myself doing high reps with a paltry 70kg in the squat yesterday simply because my body was telling me I could move but I needed a break from the heavy iron.

But let me tell you this -- it really messes with your head to drop from 140kg back to 70kg again. You MUST remain calm and not freak out that you're doing something wrong. This is the body's natural reaction when you're training hard.

Enjoy the journey.

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Here's a great little circuit we did yesterday. We coupled the farmer walks with rope pulls and v-ups. Try it out!

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monday (7).jpg I recently got into a bit of an argument about motivation. I told folks that I don't motivate people to work out at Formosa Fitness. Not directly anway. And that got interpreted in the worst way.

Fact is, motivation is way over-rated.

Don't feel motivated today? No kidding. Join the rest of the world.

You don't just sit there on the couch and then one day feel terribly motivated to go out and do an intense exercise program. Just not gonna happen.

Instead I focus on setting habits. Why? Because you can depend on habits. Habits are what YOU DO, they aren't based on how YOU FEEL. Motivation is mental and largely based on emotion. Notice, "I don't FEEL motivated today." I don't care how you feel. I care what you do. If you only workout when you feel motivated, you'll get no where.

This is why I tell everyone to work out a minimum of three days a week. Otherwise you're just wasting time. Come to class three times a week and we'll get you results. Make that your habit.

Jack Lalanne, the famous fitness guru who recently died at the age of 96, said, "Fitness is a lifestyle. It’s something you do for the rest of your life. How long are you going to keep on breathing? How long are you going to keep eating? You just do it."

Get off the feeling merry-go-round and start getting results by making fitness a habit.

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Then this is the way to get it. The Body Tribe folks show you variations that become almost yoga-like in their movements. These variations can fix your general burpee form and other physical problems you might have. Slowing them down like this is a pretty good idea. Let me know if this helps!

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This is how you do it, folks. 5 low rows, 10 atomic pushups, and 15 jump squats. Do as many rounds of that circuit as possible in 20:00 and you won't need anything else. This is a great combo of Crossfit's Cindy workout with the suspension trainer. we're doing it here with our low cost STX suspension resistance trainer. These are only NT3000 -- less than half the cost of the TRX. This is a killer workout for the more athletically inclined. If you try it out, let me know what you think.

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I could make a video of my doing burpees but I can promise I won't be as pleasant to look at as Suzanna.

This makes for a good challenge for most anyone. Try doing them in sets of 10 and then doing one set every minute. Rest for the rest of the minute and start again at the top of the minute. If that's too slow for you then just go for it. This makes a great at home workout, you only need one movement, and it takes no equipment. You can work up to this by doing sets of 5 and taking as long as you need in between sets. Recover about 80% (don't recover 100% because you want to learn to work through fatigue) and then do another set. Another way to build up is set a countdown timer to 10:00 and just see how many you can do in that time. Do this 1-2x a week until you can do 100 and then try doing them for time. This burns fat like a blowtorch!! My time is 9:46 for 100. What's yours?

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This is our advanced class doing what they do: deadlifting, swinging, squatting, etc. This is a great class and I love the mix. Keep up the good work!

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We have a pretty interesting topic going on over at Forumosa. I started a thread about an article called Everything you Think you Know about Fitness is a Lie.

The article is a great intro to serious training and diagnoses many of the problems we see in modern fitness. The discussion is about the pros and cons of the article and it's pretty heated. Enjoy.

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One of my favorite coaches has a great line: the goal of training is to keep the goal the goal.

So people have this goal of gaining 5kg of muscle and they want to do 3-4 hour runs as part of a plan to gain muscle. Wait! What?!?!???

Then there's the guy that wants to run a marathon, increase his flexibility, gain 2-3kg of muscle, and wants to know what the kettlebell can do for him. You have got to be kidding me.

Finally maybe someone does water sports so they want to train everything on an unstable surface, except for the fact that they need to lose 30lbs. first. So what gives?

People have an amazingly hard time focusing on one, single, solitary goal at a time. Pick ONE THING and one thing only and go for it. When you get it, you can go for something else. But when you go for something else, expect that first thing you got to decrease. And if you're not ready to accept this fact, then you aren't ready for the training. Attaining multiple goals is completely futile until you've attained one.

But this laser-like focus is sooooooooooo hard for people to do. One thing, folks. Just one. Yes, completely ignore the mass media with their lies that you can be a stud with the ladies, a millionaire, have a great family, be in perfect physical shape, etc. all at the same time. Not gonna happen. You want something? Then be prepared to sacrifice elsewhere.

The ability to sacrifice requires maturity. It means not being a kid in a candy store any more and that's not popular in our forever immature society.But then that's why so few people really succeed at anything.

Think it over carefully.

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I probably shocked some folks last year when I said I actually liked these programs. Trainers like me are supposed to hate DVD programs like P90X and Insanity but I actually found a couple of good things about them. For one, they introduce real intensity to the general population and you have to like that. Intensity allows for shorter, more effective workouts. You end up actually doing the workouts instead of just thinking about them. And let's face it trainers: many, many people have gotten great results on these at-home programs.

However, these DVD fitness programs have a major drawback or two that makes your average trainer hate them.

For one, they are primarily junk volume. Junk volume is exercise that serves little purpose other than to make you tired. Oh sure, you burn fat in the process and it does get you moving, but you never get BETTER at anything. You just get better at doing the program. Where do you go from there? Do the DVDs again? Who knows. It's not like doing kettlebells or Crossfit where there's a progression that can take you as far as you want to go. You aren't building skills in anything that is scalable upwards. 

Second, intensity is great and all but there's a real limit. Insanity is guilty of this one big time. The workouts are intentionally programmed to be nearly impossible to complete at that intensity. And you're supposed to do that intensity six days a week? Injury here we come.

DVD programs that use intensity naturally are plauged by customer injuries. Afterall, no one is there looking at the squats and lunges that you're doing by the hundreds. With that much volume, faulty exercise patterns will cause injuries very quickly. Trainers naturally warn clients away from these DVDs because of that.

On the whole, I think they do more good than harm, which is why I give them a positive review. I'd rather people be exposed to that type of exercise program than not even with the down side. And let's face it, everything has a negative side, right?

So enjoy the occassional P90X or Insanity workout (or even cycle) but keep good exercise form and upgrade to a better program when you can.

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Not bad for a guy about to turn 40. That was just over a pound of muscle A WEEK for FOUR WEEKS! Am I excited? Yes, I am!

This was as good or even better than anything I did in my 20's but of course, I wasn't a bad boy trainer back then (okay, still working on the bad boy part).

I'm doing this because it's very important to me personally and it's a professional goal as well. I need to be able to get quick mass gains for clients as well as fat loss and I'm going through the process myself to work out the kinks. This is how I learn and figure things out for clients.

And you heard it here first: this is going to be HUGE. Functional mass gain will be a big thing in the next few years. Gaining lean muscle mass can improve your life in so many ways -- especially for men. As guys get older, testosterone production declines along with muscle mass, and there goes the sex drive, quality of life, and then hello to a bunch of disease risk factors.

Functional mass gain has the potential to greatly increase health and fitness for older men!!!

Plus, it improves your apperance. What's not to like?

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This is a great mobility warmup to use before you lift weights. I run through this sequence before doing a warmup set or two of lifts. Do this every day and your lifting will improve and you'll keep the body healthy!

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