Thursday, March 1, 2018

Best Exercise Equipment to Achieve Results

If you want to take your results to the next level, the right fitness equipment can make all the difference. Barbells and dumbbells will always be staples of any workout but fitness technology has come a long way since the days of Arnold and Lou. Let’s take a look at the best exercise equipment to achieve results that I personally use with clients and within my own workouts.

StrongBoard Balance

One of the most popular areas of improvement to target in the last 10 years has been stability. Many popular fitness programs and personal trainers have focused on the concept of adding instable environments to basic exercises in order to improve total body stability. One of the best pieces of equipment for this is the StrongBoard Balance.

I love the StrongBoard as it’s perfect for everyone from athletes to elderly fitness populations. The StrongBoard is designed with four core springs that immediately generate a safe environment of instability and complement any fitness program whether you’re using bodyweight or dumbbells.

Benefits of the Strong Board Balance

Improves Total Body Stability

Since the StrongBoard Balance is an unstable surface, the body has to frantically work to stabilize on a neuromuscular level. This requires an immense amount of work even though you might not feel like you’re doing much. These stability challenges are going to have a big impact on your day-to-day life, especially for older populations. Better stability decreases your risk of injury while improving your functional movement patterns.

Activates the Core

As soon as you step on the StrongBoard Balance, you’ll notice that it immediately activates the core musculature. Since most the U.S. population works a desk job, a weak core has become one of the most common problems that trainers see. Simply standing on the StrongBoard will help to activate and strengthen the core. 

Exercises for the Strong Board Balance

Closed Loop Resistance Bands

One of the most versatile and convenient pieces of fitness equipment, closed loop resistance bands are durable, inexpensive, and travel-friendly. Closed loop resistance bands are made with a rubber material that is able to be stretched two to four times its starting length. Resistance bands are also color coordinated. Different colors correspond to greater levels of tension and resistance.

In general, closed loop resistance bands have been associated with toning muscle but they are also ideal for building muscle mass as well. You won’t be able to train like Phil Heath at the Mr. Olympia but resistance bands can help you achieve a realistic gain in lean muscle tissue.

Benefits of the Closed Loop Bands

Greater Range of Exercises

Compared to handle-based resistance bands, closed loop resistance bands offer a greater range of exercises without the worry of the bands snapping back. For example, performing a push-up with a closed loop band is far easier and more effective at providing extra resistance for the chest, triceps, and abdominal muscles.

Replaces Dozens of Dumbbells

If you’ve ever wanted to build an at-home gym but you don’t have the space, resistance bands are a great alternative. They provide the same level of resistance as a collection of dumbbells without taking up your entire garage or basement. The shorter you make the resistance band, the greater the tension becomes.

Exercises for Closed Loop Resistance Bands

Steel Mace

Just as the name implies, the Steel Mace from Onnit likens the Persian weapon used in battle. Made from solid steel and available from 7 to 25 pounds, the Steel Mace is surprisingly effective at total body conditioning. 

Benefits of the Steel Mace

Ideal for Functional Training

In general, functional training is any type of exercise or workout program that will improve your functional movement patterns outside of the gym. For example, if you are performing functional training, you will notice that picking up groceries or your kids will become easier. If you’ve always had a sore lower back, with functional training you may notice that the pain is greatly reduced or eliminated completely. 

The Steel Mace is designed to be used in functional training programs, improving stability, lean muscle mass, and primary mover cooperation while promoting fat loss.

Dramatically Improves Grip Strength

Grip strength is one of those abilities you never think about until it starts getting weaker. Grip strength is a transferable ability in that it can be effective inside and outside of the gym. For example, have you ever been performing an exercise and noticed that your grip failed you before the muscle fatigues? Outside of the gym, maybe you’ve been carrying bags and needed to take a break because your grip couldn’t go any further. 

The Steel Mace has been shown to improve your grip strength and this can have important implications for life outside of the weight room.

Exercises for the Steel Mace

Steel Clubs

Following in line with the Steel Mace, Onnit came out with another piece of fitness equipment called the Steel Club. Again, just as you’d expect, this is a piece of solid steel. No tricks or gimmicks with the Steel Club. Onnit takes one chunk of steel and machine produces it into the fitness tool you see in the video below. Not only is the Steel Club incredible durable but it’s also an effective piece of fitness equipment for real world strength.

Benefits of Steel Clubs

Back to Basics

One of the things I love about the Steel Club is that it is an ideal fitness tool for beginners, the elderly, and those going through rehabilitation; however, even veteran lifters will be surprised at how much it can enhance their results. It allows you to improve seemingly simple movements that you don’t think much about. For example, swinging movements with the Steel Club are going to strengthen your core, which is the foundation of all movement.

Functional Movements

Just like the Steel Mace, the Steel Club is going to be a great way to enhance functional movement patterns. Functional movement training isn’t a hot button topic that will fade away. Functional training is important for the long term as it drastically reduces the risk for injuries, especially as you age. Functional training with the Steel Club might allow you to hold on to your sense of independence well after many others have become sedentary.

Exercises for the Steel Club

Flex Disc Fit

Don’t let the simple design of the Flex Disc Fit fool you, this little thing provides you with a seriously intense workout. The Flex Disc Fit is a stable circular surface propped up on eight super tough wheels. You can place it on carpet, wood, or tile and get the same results. The Flex Disc Fit can be used during basic exercises as it challenges your body’s neuromuscular connections.

Benefits of the Flex Disc Fit

Balance and Mobility

Similar to the StrongBoard Balance, the Flex Disc Fit focuses on providing an environment of instability to promote better balance and mobility. However, unlike the StrongBoard, you can separate the body parts you are using. For example, I often have clients use two Flex Disc Fits and place one arm on each. You can’t imagine the challenge this puts on your core! The Flex Disc Fit is a sure cure for bad balance.

Core Strength

What’s more, the Flex Disc Fit also target core strength no matter which exercise you are performing. Remember that all movement originates from the core so you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve your strength there. Through instability, the Flex Disc Fit demands activation from all of the core musculature including the deep abdominal muscles that many people forget to target while in the gym. The result is an incredibly strong core and a lower risk for injury.

Exercises for the Flex Disc Fit


Proudly made in the United States from recycled materials, the Xiser is an effective stepping machine that you can bring with you on-the-go. It’s light weight and saves plenty of space, making it ideal for at-home gyms without much room. The Xiser may look small and simple, but it provides a high intensity workout like you’ve never felt before.

Benefits of the Xiser

High Intensity Gets Better Results

The days of spending an hour on the treadmill moving at a slow and boring pace are long gone. High intensity, short duration workouts have been scientifically proven to be far more effective than traditional low intensity, long duration workouts. The Xiser is going to be a safe way for you to reach your target heart rate and burn the maximum amount of calories. What’s more, after your workout, your EPOC levels will be elevated so that your body will continue to burn fat for hours after you finish.

Ideal for Those with Limited Mobility

The Xiser is incredibly effective but that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. The Xiser is as easy as it gets. The up-down motion of the steps on the Xiser make it ideal for everyone, even those with a limited range of mobility.

Exercises for the Xiser


Maybe you’ve seen a pair of black and yellow straps hanging around at your local gym and you’ve always wondered what they are used for. TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) is a form of suspension training, meaning that you’ll be using your own bodyweight as the resistance while the TRX straps provide support and instability. Developed by a former NAVY Seal, the TRX bands are easily one of the best pieces of fitness equipment to hit the industry in the last twenty years.

Benefits of the TRX

Fast and Effective

Take a look at most of the cookie cutter training programs on your favorite bodybuilding websites and you’ll notice a common theme: you spend a lot of time walking from one training station to the next. Not only is this ineffective for maximizing fat loss and muscle building but you may also get stuck waiting for equipment to become available. With the TRX bands and your bodyweight, you have everything you need for an incredibly effective workout that will maximize results and save you time.

Total Body Strength and Stability

If you are looking for a proven way to increase your strength while improving stability and mobility, you’ve found it. The TRX straps allow you to change the resistance and challenge based on the angle and depth of your body. What’s more, the suspension-based system is going to challenge your neuromuscular system in a big way. You’ll quickly notice improvements in stability and mobility with a focus in the core.

Exercises for TRX

Ab Dolly

A sexy set of six-pack abs has been the new “must have” body feature in fitness for years. In response, there have been plenty of companies pushing products that promise fast results but do virtually nothing to give you that lean and ripped six-pack you want. The Ab Dolly is the exception. One of my personal favorites, the Ab Dolly is a strong and sturdy surface supported by a set of wheels. Able to be used with upper body and lower body exercises, the Ab Dolly uses your own bodyweight and instability to target your core and help you sculpt those abs.

Benefits of the Ab Dolly


I love how core-focused the Ab Dolly is, which is why I use it with almost all of my clients. It doesn’t just target the aesthetically pleasing abdominal muscles but also your deep ab musculature, which is critical for proper posture and avoiding postural distortions. What’s more, the instability that your body is constantly working to adjust and readjust to is strengthening your core in a way that may dramatically improve your quality of living.

Cardio Workout

For those people who love lifting weights, cardio day is often thought of as the day that’s okay to skip. I’ve found that the Ab Dolly makes cardio day worth looking forward to. Not only are you working on your abs but your heart rate is going to be through the roof even though you don’t feel like you’re doing much.

Exercises for the Ab Dolly

Steel Bells

In the last decade, fitness has moved from traditional weight lifting to finding better ways of achieving strength, power, endurance, and muscle. Weighted throwing, crawling, and jumping movements are a result of the search for making a better athlete, not just a better weight lifter. Steel Bells from Onnit are easily the most versatile weight-based tool on my list, which is why I bring them with me wherever I go. This tough neoprene material is packed with steel shot and can weigh up to 50 pounds! It’s built to last so you can throw and slam it.

Benefits of the Steel Bells

Extremely Versatile

Want to perform arm curls? Looking to improve pushing power? Need to get better at swinging? The Steel Bells can make it happen. I love how versatile the Steel Bells are and how they can complement any fitness program, regardless if you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran lifter.

Exercises for the Steel Bells

Battle Ropes

Just like with the TRX straps, there’s a good chance you’ve seen big and bulky ropes lying around. Battle ropes brings fitness back to an old school methodology where you need to use your entire body to perform the movement. As I’ve talked about above, this is ideal for functional strength training.

Benefits of Battle Ropes

Improve All Areas of Fitness

When you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance while burning fat and building lean muscle, Battle Ropes are the go-to fitness tools. What’s more, the swinging and throwing actions are going to dramatically improve stability, power, and strength.

Exercises for Battle Ropes

TRX Rip Trainer

The final piece of equipment that comes with me on every training session is the TRX Rip Trainer. This is a solid and durable resistance cord attached to a weighted bar on one side, which produces an uneven distribution that forces your body to deal with a new and different training stimulus for every exercise, even once you’ve done a thousand times!

Benefits of the TRX Rip Trainer

Stability, Cardio, and Power All-in-One

Since the weight is attached to only one side, this creates an asymmetric load, which presents a unique training environment for the muscles. For each exercise you perform, you are challenging your stability and power while working up a sweat. In other words, it is an all-in-one training tool!

Exercises for the TRX Rip Trainer

Bored with Your Workouts?

The best exercise equipment that I’ve listed above travels with me on each and every training session with my clients. As you read, each tool has its own unique benefits and strengths allowing me to curtail each client’s program to fit their specific limitations and needs.

Do you need a serious change in your own workouts? Have you been trying again and again to lose weight or build muscle without success? Let me help you!

I am a certified personal trainer with fifteen years of experience in the Boston area and I travel to you! All of the equipment I’ve listed above comes with me so you’ll never have to worry about the same tired old routine. Want more information about how I can help you achieve your fitness goals?

You can call 617-505-2627 or send me an e-mail at .

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Build a Six Pack: How to Get Abs

Want Abs? Get in the Kitchen

The first thing that we need to discuss when it comes to building abs is nutrition. You may have heard this time and time again but that doesn’t make it any less true: nutrition is 70% of the results that you see in the mirror. You can have the best training program in the world but without high quality whole food nutrition, you’ll never achieve that lean and ripped six-pack that you want. To sum it all up: Abs are made in the kitchen.

Macronutrients for Abs

When you are deciding what to eat, it’s important to first look at the macronutrient breakdown of your diet. In the United States, the typical diet is focused on simple carbohydrates with moderate protein and fat intake. 

If you want to eat for abs, I’d recommend adjusting your macronutrient ratio to reflect more protein and fat and less carbohydrates as lower carbohydrate diets have been shown to promote greater fat burning. If you want to show off your core muscles, you need to start melting the fat around your waistline while promoting abdominal muscle development. (We’ll talk about ab workouts below.)

This may not be applicable to everyone out there but I would suggest a daily macronutrient goal of the following:
  • Carbohydrates: 35%
  • Protein: 35%
  • Fats: 30%
Meal Choices for Abs

To meet (or come close to) the macronutrients listed above, I would recommend meals that focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of leafy green vegetables. For example, an appropriate lunch time meal would consistent of the following:
  • 5 oz. chicken breast
  • 1 cup of leafy greens mixed with butter salad
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil placed on the salad mix
With that in mind, here is a grocery store list that I would recommend bringing with you and selecting your choices from. Remember that it’s important to eat food as close to the source as possible. Avoid processed options if you can help it.

Lean Meats / Fish / Animal-Proteins
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Turkey bacon
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Salmon
  • Other wild-caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Blue Berries
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Salad lettuce mix
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil

What Diet Should I Use for Abs?

You may be curious to know if there is a poplar diet plan that is available and ideal for sculpting your midsection. I would highly recommend trying the ketogenic diet. I personally use the ketogenic diet to keep my body fat low while maintaining solid lean muscle mass year-round.

The ketogenic diet focuses on consuming healthy fats with a moderate amount of protein and a small amount of carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet and it has been shown in several key studies to skyrocket fat burning, promote healthy long-term weight loss, boost cognitive health, and protect lean muscle tissue.

Supplements and Six Pack Abs

Make no mistake about it: Great nutrition needs to come exclusively from whole foods; however, once in a while, you may want to provide your self with an extra boost in performance and recovery. When your goal is to build a solid core and ripped six-pack, you are going to be putting your abdomen through a lot of resistance training exercises. Supplements may offer a convenient solution to giving your body the nutritional edge it needs to see better results in less time.

Personally, I don’t use many supplements although I am a fan of a strong mineral and electrolyte blend for recovery. Most notably, I use Trace Minerals Endure, which I find is helpful for improving recovery and allowing me to get back to my workouts faster.

Exercise and Six Pack Abs

While nutrition is the key to revealing your abdominal muscles, if you aren’t engaged in a proper and effective resistance training program, you’ll have nothing to reveal. Having a solid core is important for more reasons than just looking great.


First and foremost, having a strong and developed core is going to make a world of difference for your health. All movement originates from your core. Whether you are walking or lifting, your core is the foundation from which every other movement pattern comes from.

As we age, we tend to get more sedentary. This begins a vicious cycle. The less active you are, the less you engage your core, the greater chance for atrophy of your core muscles. When your core muscles atrophy or weaken, you increase your risk for injury. You could simply be getting out of bed and hurt your lower back.

Young or old, having a strong and well-developed core may dramatically boost your quality of living. This is especially important for the elderly who are the highest risk of injury related to a weak core musculature. 


Who doesn’t want to walk around with a six-pack? One of the more obvious reasons for developing a six-pack is for the attention. Having that lean and solid six-pack is going to turn heads no matter where you go. This positive attention can play a helping hand for your self-confidence and overall mindset.

Type of Exercise for Abs

Resistance-focused exercises, whether bodyweight or using external weight such as a dumbbell is necessary if you want to build an impressive core. Just like when you are trying to build solid lean muscle tissue anywhere else on the body, you need to apply targeted resistance to the muscle group.

Abdominals and core muscles are built for higher endurance exercise, which is why you may see guys and girls doing 200 crunches without the big and bulky abs. Getting six-pack abs isn’t just about doing some crunches and eating well. You have to work the entire core!

Core Workouts vs. Abs-Only Workouts

A core-focused workout is a proper exercise program for getting six-pack abdominals. I know you want a ripped six-pack but you can’t exercise only the front abdominals. Why? There are two key reasons:


The core musculature works as one unit. If you want to twist from side to side, for example, you wouldn’t just use your front abdominals; you need the entire core. When you train one muscle group and not another, you set yourself up for over compensation issues. If one muscle group gets too strong, it will begin compensating, or taking the work load, from other smaller muscle groups. This starts a vicious cycle of one muscle group continuing to get stronger while another group keeps getting weaker. Eventually, that strong muscle may experience something called over training, putting you at high risk for strain, break, or injury. Keeping all muscles on the same page as far as strength and development helps you and keeps you safe.


Having a six-pack turns heads but you’ll also be turning heads if your front is shredded and you have love handles with undeveloped obliques. In other words, it’ll be painfully obvious that you had only one small goal in mind. Aside from improving your quality of life and keeping you safe from injury, engaging in a well-rounded core workout is going to make sure you are turning heads and getting attention for the right reasons.

Best Abs Workout

Below, you’ll find three highly effective workouts that you can use to build a six-pack and a well-developed core. I’d recommend performing each routine once per week if you want to see serious results in your core.

For each exercise, perform the movement for 45 seconds then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat this action of 45-on and 15-off ten to twelve times. Once you complete the final round, move on to the next exercise and repeat.

Workout One

Workout Two

Workout Three

                            Versa Climbers and Sculpting Abs

If you want to guarantee that six-pack, there is one machine that I’d highly recommend using: the Versa Climber.

The Versa Climber provides you an incredibly effective resistance workout that provides a full body workout that is core-focused! That means you’ll be working all the major muscle groups with a huge emphasis on your core muscles.

What I love about incorporating the Versa Climber in with my core workouts is that it is the perfect complement with its adjustable resistance. If I train hard with a lot of weight during one of my core workouts, then I can adjust the Versa Climber to be lighter and vice versa. 

What’s more, I’m doing more than a core workout with the Versa Climber: all of my major muscle groups are involved. This helps to avoid those over compensation issues that I talked about earlier.

Don’t take my word for it! Check out this testimonial for the Versa Climber and how it helped to transform belly fat into a six-pack.

Have you been chasing after a six-pack? What questions do you have that can help you achieve your goal? Have you already built a six-pack? What tips would you offer your fellow readers?