Sunday, July 14, 2019

Conquering the Push-Up with Bryan at Tonicity Fit in West Chester

Author: Bryan Niles, B.S., CSCS

Push-ups target the muscles of the chest (pectorals), back of the arm (triceps), and shoulders (anterior deltoids). Different variations and hand placements will affect the degree at which these muscles come into play.

This article goes through proper technique, variations, and progression of this popular and effective exercise.

To perform a standard push up with good form, place your weight on your hands and feet, with your spine and head in alignment with the legs, and your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (palm flat on the floor). Lower your upper body to the floor, flexing the elbows, then rise back to the start position. Keep your head still, and keep your eyes looking down. Breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up, and pull the abdominal muscles tight throughout the exercise.

Push-ups which are performed with elbows closer to the body put more emphasis on the triceps muscles (back of the arm).
Wide arm push-ups with the arms at a 45-75-degree angle focus more on the chest muscles.
To avoid shoulder problems, it is recommended your perform push-ups with the upper arms at a no more than a 75-degree angle from the torso.

Push-up progressions generally start with wall pushups and then proceed to the next steps after it is easy to perform wall pushups for 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

1.   Wall push-ups.

Performed against a wall. To find the starting position, stand away from the wall and extend your arms in front of you till the tips of your fingers come in contact with the wall. If you find the exercise too difficult, step the feet a little closer to the wall.

2. Box push-ups. 

Performed with knees on the floor and hips at a 90 degrees angle.

3. Three quarter push-ups. 

Performed with the knees and hands on the floor and the spine and thighs in line.

4. Three quarters push-ups + 5s eccentric push up. 

Begin with a 3/4 push up on the way up, go onto the balls of the feet and perform the lowering phase of a standard push up to the count of 5 seconds.

5. Regular Push-ups. 

Your upper arms should form a 45-75-degree angle with your torso, hands shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself with good form through the whole range of motion until the chest and nose almost come into contact with the floor.

About Bryan Niles:  

Bryan Niles B.S. C.S. C.S. graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. Degree in Exercise and Sport Science in 1995. He attained his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification in 1997 from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  Bryan is an exercise physiologist at Tonicity Fit Personal Training Studio in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

To learn more about Bryan, Click Here.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Battling the Arm Bulge with Tonicity Fit of West Chester

weight loss nutrition tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

Are you one of the many people who is battling the arm bulge?

Every year new clients come to me expressing disdain with their tooth brush jiggle.  That little extra arm ripple that they see and feel when they go through the repetitive motion of moving the toothbrush across their teeth.  The question is unanimous, “How do I get rid of it?”

This blog includes my 6 tips to streamlining the back of the arm, at any age.


nutrition tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

Did you ever hear of the 80/20 split with nutrition and exercise?  The fact of the matter is, nutrition is the 80%.  My suggestion is to really zone in on what proper nutrition for you and your personal goals.  Contact a professional to help you figure that out.  You can always contact me at Tonicity Fit.  I would be happy to help you find a safe and reasonable starting point.

Plan out your meals.  Think ahead and try to make sure that you are making smart choice most of the time.  If you stay consistent with a healthy meal plan, you will not have to worry when occasional road bumps throw you off.  

Be sure to know your triggers, and always try to plan for family meals and events.  Many clients tell me they have special family meals on Friday evenings.  I recommend keeping the family meal.  In the long run, you will need the family support when times meet challenge.  If you have planned for the occasion, you will have nothing to worry about.

Weight Training

strength training tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

It is true that nutrition is 80% of the battle, but you cannot have 100% without both the 80 and the 20!  I recommend that you focus on toning and tightening the back of the arms by building lean muscle mass.  LIFT WEIGHTS!  Lean muscle mass will tighten the flab and shape the arm, period.  Do not ever be afraid to lift a little iron from time to time.

In fact, by building lean muscle mass, you are not only tightening up the arm bulge.  You are also building and maintaining healthy bone structure.  Bones stay healthy and strong through the stimulation of mechanical stress (weight lifting).  This is a prime example of my main motto, ‘work on yourself from the inside out, and the outside will surely reward you!’

Proper Exercises

exercise tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester


Be sure to perform exercises that directly target the area that you are trying to work.  In this case, you want to make sure that you incorporate the triceps and rear deltoid muscles. This is the principle of specificity, you cannot achieve progress unless you are targeting the specific area, mode, or action of exercise.

Work at Different Angles

If you perform the same exercises day in and day out, you will reach what is know as a plateau.  This is because the muscles can become complacent from repeated action at the same angle and intensity.  They need to be stimulated regularly, and this can be done by working them at different angles.  Perform different exercises that target the same muscle groups, rather than always sticking to the same routine.


running tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

As the aging process continues, the human body often tends to hold body fat in the back of the arm, especially for females.  When combined with the other steps in this post, proper cardio training will assist the body in burning the fatty cells that encompass the back of the arm. 

As an added plus, cardiovascular exercise is extremely beneficial for heart health!  Do you see the trend?  Working from the inside out is ALWAYS your best bet.


consistency tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

TRUST THE PROCESS!  Keep focus on your goals and be consistent.  These changes cannot happen overnight.  They need to be implemented and followed over a course of time to see and feel results.  Be sure to work the muscles 2-3 times per week, every week, and be consistent. 

Someone once said to me that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master.  This is so true, and it really reigns supreme when it comes to physical bodies and progress.  Tie these tips together and be consistent, I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about this post.  I am always happy to give advice on the subject of health and wellness.

contact tonicity fit personal training studio in west chester

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What No One Tells You About Failing a Back Squat

For all of my squat enthusiasts, and I know there are a lot of you, this one is for you!

Have you ever thought about what will happen if you cannot finish that last rep when you squat?  

I have been in this business for 18 years now, an I have yet to hear a person teach a client how to fail a back squat.  Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who was blessed with a wonderful coach who thought about the importance of this crucial topic.  If so, that is beyond wonderful, and I urge you to pass on the knowledge.  Squatting is extremely popular these days, and I am constantly watching people put themselves at risk for injury.

My philosophy has always been the same.  Why make poor lifting decisions that can risk your ability to continue working hard and making gains?  Why not stay safe and lift for life?  To me, this is a simple and logical concept to follow.  My first bit of advice begins with preparation.  ALWAYS PREPARE TO FAIL.  Even if you are 100% positive that you will not lose the weight, the safest method is to constantly prepare yourself for the what if.  

So, how does one fail when they squat?

There are two different ways that a squat fail can be safely executed.  The first is within a power rack using safety rails.  The second is free standing and throwing the weight behind you.  This article will discuss each technique, and I will also tell you which method I find to be the safest and why.

Method #1:  Squat Rack with Safety Rails

During the preparation phase of this method, it is important to make sure the rails are in the proper position.  Each rail should be no more than 2 inches from your lowest squatting point.

Making sure that the rails are in the proper starting position will ensure that you can safely and quickly release the weight when a fail approaches.  Some squatters choose not to take the extra time to move the rails.  The rails are big and sometimes awkward to move.  I say, just move the rails, stay safe.  The fail phase of this concept can only work properly if the rails are in the correct position.  

Once you realize that you are going to fail the attempt, immediately kneel to the ground, releasing the bar and instantly moving the body forward away from the original crouched position.  See the video demonstration below.

This is undoubtedly my go to recommendation for safe squatting failure.  In my eyes, it is a win-win scenario.  You can safely push your limits WITHOUT breaking your neck OR back.  You fail, you re-group, and you try again.  It really does cut out a lifetime of pain and doctor bills.

Method #2:  Throwing the Weight Behind You

The preparation phase of this technique is purely mental.  You literally need to prepare your mind to defy instinct.  Most people are likely to instinctually fall forward WITH THE BAR when a heavy weight is taking them to the ground.  This is NOT THE WAY TO SAFELY FAIL A SQUAT!  

For this method to be safely executed, one must squat with proper technique, know when they are failing, and accept defeat when it has come.  Remember, ALWAYS PREPARE TO FAIL.

When form starts to go, that is when you either stop, or you decide to fail.  With this technique, there are no bars to grab the weight as it begins to fall to the ground.  It is imperative to FIRST release the weight behind the back and immediately thrust the knees and hips forward.  The idea is literally to, “get your body away from the bar.”

I have embeded a pretty good video on rail free failing technique.  I opted not to demonstrate this one in my gym, as my floors are new and I am not ready to beat them up yet!

I am not a supporter of this method.  If the body falls forward with the bar still attached to the shoulders, the neck is at extreme risk for injury.  If the body does not move quick enough as the bar moves back, the low back is in the danger zone.  I think it is important to touch on this, as I know that there are avid squatters who insist on squatting this way.  My only hope it that they always get away from that bar.  My advice, stay safe and use the rails!

At the end of the day, squatting is a fantastic exercise with a plethora of health and fitness benefits.   It helps mimic activities of daily living, maintain range of motion, improve power and strength, and it can be super fun to hit those long standing goals!  Just remember as you hit the gym for your next squatting PR, squat safe, squat forever, and ALWAYS BE PREPARE TO FAIL.