Five Keys to Successful Training… with Weights, Business & Life

Training hundreds of clients over eight years as a full-time personal trainer required a lot of energy, patience (!) and systems that worked.  People counted on me for their success.  As I worked with clients anxious to reach their goals, I’d teach them these five important steps of of weight-training.  Interesting how these same five steps are key for success in business and life.  Let’s take a look.

  1. Movement: Learning the movement of the exercise;
  2. Form:  Learning to perform the movement with proper form;
  3. Isolation:  Learning to perform the movement with proper form using only the muscles intended to be used;
  4. Intensity: Learning to perform the movement in proper form using only the muscles intended to be used and connecting to the peak contraction of every single rep during the exercise; and,
  5. Focus: Tying your exercise together with nutrition, rest, and supplementation for maximum results ~ physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically.

Most people who train with weights learn Movement.  They go to a gym and watch other people, pick up a magazine and try to imitate what they see or surf on the internet and pick up ideas.

The next step is Form.  And I’ve got to say, unless you’ve been blessed with extremely great body awareness or have hired a decent personal trainer, I doubt very much that you use proper form.  It comes with alot of solid clues and practice.

Isolation is the third step.  It’s a little harder to explain and typically not successfully accomplished by most novice fitness enthusiasts.  Bodybuilders have practiced being ‘mindful’ with their workouts long before yoga gained such mainstream popularity.  Isolation means ‘putting your mind into your muscle’ and using just the muscle you want to be using to perform the exercise.

We then move onto Intensity.  It involves speed ~ but sometimes that means faster and sometimes it means slower.  It also involves pretty that your weight is heavier than it really is.  More mindfulness.

The final step is Focus.  Some people get here and others never do.  It’s like the dessert after a 4-course meal – it ties it all together and leaves you satisfied with a smile on your face.  When you finally learn that exercise is only one piece of the puzzle… and that a positive attitude and infectious, magnetic energy are every bit as important to your success as how many reps you are completing.  It’s the dessert.  And there’s no feeling like it when you witness people getting there.

Over the next month, I’ll take these same five steps and apply them to business and life in general.  They are transferable and have some valuable lessons to teach us.

As promised to a special friend… here’s an ABS WORKOUT to help whip you into shape for Cancun.  Remember to work through the 5 steps… because ‘Movement’ is only the first step…


Standing Boxer Abs: Bend your elbows and cross your hands behind your head.  Stand with your feet fairly far apart and lift one knee up as you diagonally bring your elbow down to ‘crunch’ and meet your knee (think ribs to opposite hip bone).  Key: Tighten your abs as hard as you can and make a forced exhalation each time you do the diagonal crunch.  Deep breaths in, and forced breaths out on the crunch.  Stand ‘tall’ between crunches to stretch out your abs between reps.

Lower Cable Pull-Ins: Use a cable pulley (like you’d use for Tricep Pressdowns) for this exercise but ensure the handle is set on the lowest setting closest to the floor.  Lay on a may with you head close to the weight stack (about 1′ to 1-1/2′ away).  Arms are extended straight up above you to lightly grab the handle (use a straight-bar).  Suck your lower back into the mat as you bring your hands (ie. the handle) and legs together in a V.  If it is hard on your lower back, keep a slight bend in your legs throughout.  Think about your ‘ribs’ contracting as you bring your arms toward your legs and really ‘roll your hips’ up and in towards your belly-button to ensure this is an ab exercise, not just your arms and legs moving.  Use about 20-30 pds to start, nothing heavier.

Push-Ups: I know, I know… yes, push-ups.  Suck your abs in tight and focus on your core throughout.  Keep your bodyweight pulled back onto your toes and core not so much on your hands and wrists.  Ensure you’ve got a nice straight line with the body – shoulders, hips, knees all in a nice line.

Pike Crunches: Similar to the Lower Cable Pull-Ins but just with your bodyweight.  Should be done immediately after push-ups and try to keep your arms and legs a little longer and straighter.

Hanging Leg Raises: Start with your legs at 90 degrees and pull them up towards your chest as high as you can pausing for a second at the top.  Exhale as you pull up and again think of rolling your hips bones up towards your belly-button.  Only drop the knees down to 90 degrees – no lower and start again.

Tip: Remember, exhaling helps you to contract another whole different set up core muscles (your tranverse abdominis).  That’s why breathing and forced exhalation is helpful when building the intensity of good ab workouts.

Skipping – 2 minutes between sets.  Complete 4 sets of 25.

No cheating.

You only have one body to get you through this lifetime.  Let’s start paying it the attention and respect it deserves.  Looking forward to working with you!

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Reichenbach on February 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Char, your daily blogs are so inspiring and educational. I especially find this entry to hit home for me! This is a much needed reminder of the key elements of success, physically as well as mentally! I LOVE the ab/core workout too! I cant wait to do it!!! Thanks for always inspiring us!

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