Back to Back Issues Page
How Smart Is Your Fitness Plan?
January 15, 2013


People are always asking me what I think about this or that exercise program, so I thought I’d broach that subject in this month’s newsletter. From Insanity to P90X to whatever flavor of the month is popular right now, they all have their pros and cons. And what is good for this goose may be completely inappropriate for that gander!

It never ceases to amaze me to see all the different ways fitness “experts” try to spin a new method of succeeding at weight loss or weight control. Fitness trends and fads are as rampant as obesity and failed weight loss plans. You ever wonder why that is?

Perhaps in today’s hurried and harried world of faster-is-better thinking, something is being lost in the translation. One of the biggest things I am seeing is the trend of mixing strength training and cardio in order to burn more calories and save time. This can be done in a variety of ways. Incorporating more compound moves into your workout is also a great method. There is certainly nothing wrong with these ideas; however, before people can implement a healthy strength training regimen they must learn proper form and technique of the exercises. In order to have a safe and effective strength training plan, you have to take the time to learn how to perform the proper exercises correctly. Form and technique should never be compromised even in a fast-paced workout.

Not to mention, we do not live in a “one workout fits all” society. What one person can do safely another one cannot, no matter how strict the form, due to a variety of possible physical limitations. For instance, if you have bad knees or back, I severely doubt you should be doing a plyometric (exercises that use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power and to improve overall speed generally used by athletes to improve sports performance) workout. Likewise, you may not be able to do squats or lunges. These exercises are typically difficult for people with problem knees, back, or hips. Many exercises need to be completely avoided or at the very least modified according to an individual’s issues. This is precisely why a consultation is so important before beginning to workout with a trainer. And it is why home workouts without a trainer can sometimes be dangerous.

You cannot expect to walk into the gym or at home and sloppily throw some weights around and jump up and down on a step a few times and expect great results. Worse yet, you are risking injury.

You need to start out with a beginner’s perspective and progress slowly as you go along. Obviously, there is a plethora of ways to train these days. First of all, you need to assess your goals as well as any limitations you may have and choose a plan that will best suit them.

Your plan, no matter what your goals are, needs to include proper nutrition, strength training, and regular cardiovascular exercise. This is the true trifecta that will deliver sustainable results and the ever elusive healthy body you so long for!

In summary and in my viewpoint, here are the problems with the super-intense workouts that abound in the home-workout arena today. When popping in a DVD, there is nobody making sure you are using safe and proper form at home. Ignoring your old torn ACL or arthritic knees, back or whatever ails you will only come back to haunt you by possibly exacerbating already existing injuries or sustaining new ones. Plyometric workouts and those that require risky moves should only be performed by bodies that can handle it, using very strict form and technique. This brings me to the fact that some workouts are just way beyond certain individuals’ fitness levels altogether.

Let me make it clear that I would never want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. Everyone should work out, and I applaud people who have the energy and wherewithal to purchase workout systems to perform at home. I just want to caution people to be sensible and very careful when deciding what workout is right for you. Read between the lines and make sure you will be able to safely perform the routine before peeling out the bucks. If you hurt yourself, the whole plan will be derailed. That’s as counterproductive as it can get. Good luck and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns about your fitness endeavors!

This is the part of the newsletter where I feature an exercise and give explicit instructions on its proper execution.

This month's featured exercise shows a really cool way to do a pullup, even if you don't have a pullup assist machine at your gym. Simply adjust the height of the bar to adjust the degree of difficulty.

Smith Machine Pullups
Primary Muscle Group Worked:
Upper back or lats. Secondary muscle groups are pretty much the rest of your upper body and arms-when done right!

To see a video click here.

Preparation: Set the bar on the Smith Machine at desired height. (The lower the bar, the greater the difficulty.) Take a wide, overhand grip keeping elbows in soft lock at bottom of move. Lie beneath the bar with the bar just above the chest. Keep body straight from head to toe with a soft lock (slightly bent) in knees throughout.

Execution: Exhale as you slowly bend arms and raise body towards the bar nearly touching chest to bar. Inhale as you slowly return to start position for desired number of reps.

TIPS: 1) Keep elbows flared throughout exercise. 2) Keep slight arch in lower back and keep upper back flat with shoulder blades retracted throughout. 3) Basically, keep your entire body in a straight line with a soft lock in the knees. 4) Do not jerk upper body up towards bar or allow butt to drop or lurch in either direction.

Control the speed, keep elbows flared, and body in straight line! Good luck! Good luck!

Okay, peeps! This is the inspirational part of the newsletter known as the "Ponder Pond" where you're welcome to take a swim in the sweet waters of inspiration.

This vid seemed ironically appropriate for me since I just moved back to freezing cold Indiana from beautiful, scenic Maui. It's definitely a cool change and just what I needed even though nobody in the world can probably understand this. It's all good and I am so very thankful for all my blessings! Still processing the awesome and life-changing time I had in Hawaii, and probably will for the rest of my life. All I know is I am back with a fresh perspective and appreciation for EVERYTHING! God Bless and enjoy the video.

Be sure and check out my new blog site! Just click here to head on over and give it a read! I will be posting a new blog in the next few weeks.

Please sign up for my mailing list and subscribe to my blog so that you can be informed when I post a new blog. I am a believer in less is more so don't worry about being inundated with posts telling you every time I had a snack or a new thought. On the other hand, I hope you find the wait between posts worthwhile as I plan to speak directly from my "writing" soul and I look greatly forward to it.


Go Here to buy my fitness books now for your Kindle!! And did you know you can give Kindle ebooks as gifts – just click the yellow "Give as a Gift" button on the right side of any Kindle book page on Amazon.

The Now What? Fitness Series is for sale now at and is available for download to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android devices, PC, and Mac.

Or if you're a loyal Barnes and Noble customer, then by all means click here.

Say! Did you know that you can follow me on Facebook? Well, you can! Jump on over to and "like" my page, please. I post a fitness tip most days. Feel free to leave comments and check in often. Thanks ever so much! If you have read any of my books you can also go to my new facebook page at and drum up a conversation with other readers or me or whomever. It's brand new so don't let the crickets scare you. Somebody has to get this party started, right?

Thanks so much for subscribing to this newsletter and for reading it and for your support. Our relationship is reciprocal as I live and learn from all that happens in my life, just as you live and learn through yours. We are truly in this together, and I empathize with your challenges as I do my own. I promise to hang in there and learn and grow along with you, and I hope that sharing through my writing maybe helps you a smidge. If it does, that is my payback. It is why I continue to do what I do.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pay it forward to anyone you think would like it too. That is the best compliment you could ever pay me, and I appreciate it very, very much.

And don't forget to tell everybody about and Now What? Fitness Blog where they can get all the fitness info their heart desires and sign up for this newsletter while they are there.

From my heart to your health,

Linda Burke, CPT

Back to Back Issues Page