Training Edge: Industry News, Insights & Tools

Lead Story: Your ACL Defensive Line


Last season alone, 57 National Football League players suffered tears to the anterior cruciate ligament ( However, football players haven’t cornered the market on this type of injury. Experts estimate that 350,000 ACL reconstructive surgeries are performed annually in the United States, with 20% of patients reinjured within a 2-year period (2017; doi:10.1007/s12178-017-9416-5).

Fortunately, the same strategies that can be used to prevent ACL tears on the football field can also be employed with youth athletes and the general population,

“The Performance Enhancement Specialization from NASM teaches trainers how an athlete should move,” says Mills, “and the Corrective Exercise Specialization demonstrates how to get the athlete to move that way.” The CES can also help trainers reduce an athlete’s risk of recurrence by addressing the compensations that likely caused the injury in the first place. Here, a few tips from Mills:

Employ ongoing assessments. Start with some baseline measures, then watch to see how athletes move during drills, both when fresh and when fatigued. Basic assessments like the overhead squat and single-leg squat can be revealing for most individuals, but for well-conditioned athletes, transitional assessments may be needed for compensations to emerge.

Know the positions that increase risk. For example, at the line of scrimmage, linemen kneel in a position that lengthens the gluteal muscles. This often means synergists (hamstrings and lower-back muscles) are recruited for driving forward, which can destabilize the knee. Other high-risk moves for the ACL include quick stopping and cutting motions. A trainer can improve a client’s fine motor skills in the joints and create greater stability by weaving Phase 1 of the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model into sessions and utilizing techniques based on the Performance Enhancement Specialization and the Corrective Exercise Continuum (explained in the CES).

Don’t wait to pull athletes from play. Fatigue will be different from day to day, play to play, and player to player, and it can be affected by many factors, including overall wellness, repetitive impact and even weather. Throughout game play, watch closely for lower-body compensations (which often come with fatigue), and pull an athlete off the field or court as soon as signs appear. Even 3–5 minutes of rest can prevent injury. “It’s better to have a player miss part of a game than be out for the rest of the season,” says Mills.

Implement big changes in the offseason. Correcting poor movement patterns during the season may compromise performance and put athletes at greater risk for injury as they try to do something new while under pressure. Fortunately, adds Mills, the NASM OPT™ model and Corrective Exercise Continuum offer plenty of tools a trainer can use to reduce an athlete’s injury risk without imposing major movement changes during the season.

Learn more: Read “Corrective Exercise: Reducing Risks of Non-Contact ACL Injury,” by Andrew Mills, on the NASM blog.

Join the Movement! Let’s Move for a Better World

For over 20 years, Technogym® has been promoting wellness as part of a healthy lifestyle. Five years ago, the company took its wellness commitment to a higher level with the worldwide social campaign Let’s Move for a Better World. This program enables participating fitness facilities to invite their members to use the cloud-based mywellness® app to log their MOVES (with a MOVE being Technogym’s unit of measure for movement). The more MOVES a facility racks up, the more pieces of Technogym equipment will be donated to the not-for-profit organization of their choice.

In 2018 (so far), over 180,000 LMFABW participants from 1,033 fitness facilities in 29 countries have logged 628 million MOVES and burned more than 263 million calories, equating to about 83,000 pounds lost.

Participating in LMFABW can also make your business healthier: Fitness facilities that have taken part have reported

  • a 14% increase in number of members,
  • a 26% increase in member attendance, and
  • an increased ability to attract new members.

Members, in turn, enjoy participating in a campaign that promotes wellness and raises awareness to reduce obesity and sedentary behavior—all while working toward their own personal fitness and wellness goals. Inspiring people to become more physically active will, in turn, make for a healthier world population. And that’s good for all of us.

Learn more at

When Overtraining Means Overdoing It

Stress (in moderation) is a good thing: It helps us adapt and improve as our body rebuilds during recovery. It is this concept—that we are better/stronger/faster after a push—that drives many athletes to try overload training. However, recent research at the University of Guelph in Ontario has found that, on a micro level, the effects may not always be so positive.

In a small study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers measured nerve activity by inserting a needle into a lower-leg nerve of healthy recreational endurance athletes after workouts (2018; 50 [5], 928–37). From this, they could tell if each athlete was in a recovery state (with the parasympathetic nervous system activated) or a stressed state (with a heightened fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system response). The researchers discovered that athletes who overtrained (at 150% of their usual workout load) showed a boost in SNS activity, which temporarily hindered their recovery. Those who stuck to their regular training regime, however, showed more activity in the PSNS, as well as improvements in markers for fitness and cardiovascular health.

Fabio Comana, MA, MS, who reviewed the findings for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, was intrigued by both the methods used and the findings. “Recovery is becoming the new darling in exercise,” says the faculty instructor for NASM. He believes that more research—and, eventually, more means of measuring recovery—will be available in wearable technology in the next 5 years or so.

For fitness professionals, this means there will be ways of determining, at a nervous-system level, “whether it’s a HIIT day or a yoga day,” he explains. Having such methods will also make it easier to individualize workouts for team players, based upon their readings on any given day. “I love the idea that we’re going in that direction,” says Comana.


Until our tech is able to detect how stressed our bodies are based on pulse, breathing, and chemical and neurological changes, Comana recommends clients track their resting heart rate and heart rate variability and communicate results to their trainer.

For RHR, clients should take their pulse each morning when they wake up naturally (not by an alarm). If RHR rises over the course of a week, that’s a sign of stress.

For HR Variability, clients simply need to take their pulse or listen to their heartbeat during controlled breathing. In healthy adults, heartbeat naturally speeds up during inhalation and slows during exhalation. If it doesn’t, it could be a sign that they’re worn out.

Can Giving Up Exercise Trigger Depression?

It has long been shown that exercise can reduce depressive symptoms and effects of major depressive disorder, but little research has been done on the impact of exercise cessation. In a study published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders (2018: 234, 180–92), researchers investigated the impact of exercise cessation specifically on adults who were regularly active. Findings showed that, when healthy adults ceased exercise, there was a resultant increase in depressive symptoms after 3 days, 1 week and 2 weeks.

Among the 152 healthy adults who fit the study criteria (50 of whom were women), the effects were significantly greater in women than in men.

With October being Depression Awareness Month, it’s a great time to encourage clients to stick with their exercise program—even through the hectic holidays on the horizon.

10 . . . minutes of physical activity per week needed to increase a person’s level of happiness

Source: Journal of Happiness Studies, 2018.


In a study published by PLOS ONE, trained distance runners who engaged in a 12-week Pilates program showed significant improvements in running economy, performance and recovery. This fun fact may help fit pros make a case to clients that supplementing their running routines with a Pilates repertoire could be beneficial.

Form Fix-Up With Mike Fantigrassi: The Bench Press

The bench press is among the most popular gym exercises, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. “If you’re not using correct form, you can put a lot of stress on the shoulder joints,” warns Mike Fantigrassi, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor. “The shoulder has the most mobility of all joints,” he adds, “which makes it less stable” and more vulnerable to injury. Try Fantigrassi’s tips to make the most of your bench press exercises:

Prepare with pushups. This exercise requires stabilization of the shoulder joint and bodywide tension, both of which are vital to a safe bench press. Progress to plyometric pushups for added challenge.

Strive for safety. To maintain good balance during the bench press, feet should be flat on the floor, not on the bench. The barbell should rise directly over the chest, not the neck, and a spotter should be used for nonmachine presses. Also, watch the wrists: Don’t let them bend back. Grip with the thumb around the bar, not over it. A false (thumb-over) grip makes it easier to drop the weight on yourself.

Keep it controlled. Simply put, a successful bench press includes unracking the weight, bringing it down, letting it touch the chest without bouncing off it, then pressing it straight up and racking the weight again. Don’t use momentum; movement should be controlled throughout.

Use supersets. The bench press works great in supersets based on Phase 2 of the NASM OPT model,

in which you alternate between a strength exercise and a stabilization move. Try supersetting a plate-loaded chest press and a pushup (with a proprioceptive demand) or a machine press and a standing cable fly.

Balance it out. As part of your overall program, be sure to include a pulling motion, such as a type of row (see American Fitness, Summer 2018) to work the antagonistic muscles. It is also a good idea to perform rotator cuff exercises before the workout and to include foam rolling and static stretching afterward to maintain good range of motion in the shoulder joint.

“It’s okay not to bench press, too,” adds Fantigrassi, who usually skips the exercise owing to a torn rotator cuff. “There are lots of good chest exercises—dumbbell incline press, standing cable press, different types of flys and pushups. If you’re dreading the bench press or it doesn’t feel good, do something else.”

Sample: Chest Workout

For better gains and lower injury risk, Fantigrassi advises against doing the same bench press routine each week. He suggests using the NASM OPT model for progressions, then cycling through the phases every 4 weeks. Here’s a sample plan. Note: For Phases 1–3, rest 1 minute between sets.


For both: Do 12–15 reps, slow tempo.
Dumbbell chest press (3 sets, 50%–70% 1RM)
Pushup, hands on stability ball (2 sets)


Do 3 supersets for A and B, 8–12 reps, with A1/B1 at moderate tempo and A2/B2 slow.
A1: Barbell bench press (70%–80% 1RM)
A2: TRX® pushup
B1: Incline chest press (70%–80% 1RM)
B2: Standing incline cable fly (50%–70% 1RM)


Descending pyramid bench press (4 sets: 12, 10, 8, 6 reps)
Incline chest press (3 sets, 6–8 reps, 75%–85% 1RM)
Machine chest fly (3 sets, 8–12 reps, 75%–85% 1RM)


Use fast but controlled tempo, with 3-minute rest between sets.
Bench press (5 sets, 5 reps, 85%–100% 1RM)
Incline barbell bench press (3 sets, 5 reps, 85%–100% 1RM)

Screen Time May Matter Less If You’re Fit

Testing grip strength may provide a quick, inexpensive way to tell if a person needs to cut back on screen time. Researchers from Glasgow University, Scotland, analyzed 5 years of data from nearly 400,000 participants, looking at all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer, along with grip strength, self-reported screen time and amount of physical activity. Results published in BMC Medicine (2018; 16 [1]) stated that “the associations of overall discretionary screen time with all-cause mortality and incidence of CVD and cancer were strongest amongst participants in the lowest tertile for grip strength.”

In conclusion, researchers noted that “increasing strength and fitness may provide a means of offsetting the potential adverse consequences of high screen time” and that people with low levels of grip strength and fitness/activity may benefit most from interventions designed to get them on their feet.

Boost Member Retention


CPTs may worry about losing clients to the allure of group exercise, with its great music and multiplayer energy. But there’s good reason to encourage gym-only exercisers to join in a group ex class. Recently, the Customer Engagement Academy examined gym members’ activity choices in relation to attendance and loyalty. Led by Melvyn Hillsdon, PhD, from the Department of Sport and Health Sciences at University of Exeter, the study revealed that gym members who took just one group class per week in addition to working out in the gym were 20% more likely to be loyal (and promote their club to others) than were members who attended the gym three or more times per week but did not participate in group ex.

The article’s recommendations: “Encourage members to take part in a range of activities in your club.” Members who cited four or more reasons for attending (just 5% of study participants) were more than twice as likely to be loyal promoters than were those who had only one reason to show up (48% of study participants).

An Overview of Online Reviews: How Much Do They Matter?

Most businesses do not realize how powerful reviews are,” says Jason McDonald, PhD, a San Francisco–based marketing expert and author of Social Media Marketing Workbook (CreateSpace 2018). “Building a cache of positive reviews is very much like running a marathon: You can’t do it on day one, but you can do it on day 100—if you stay with it.” Here are some of his top tips for fit pros:

On Yelp: “Any local business can and should create, optimize and promote a listing on Yelp. You can do this for free (and ignore its pleas to advertise). It’s very popular in ‘blue’ states and cities like San Francisco, Seattle and New York City, and it drives the review engine on Bing and can rank highly in Google searches.”

On Google: “Generally, Google is more important for everything besides restaurants and bars. But I wouldn’t say one or the other; I’d say look at both.”

On Facebook: “Facebook reviews are the newest ‘kid’ on the block. So far, these do not seem to have any impact on Google ranking or overall search engine optimization (SEO), which refers to how much organic traffic you get online. But clearly Facebook is where people spend a lot of time, so I’d add it into the mix, too.”

On getting good reviews: “The official terms of service of all review sites say you can’t solicit reviews, but if you don’t, you’ll likely get only complaints. I recommend you ask a happy customer, face to face, ‘Hey, could you do us a favor and post an honest review?’ Or say ‘Don’t forget to review us!’ (At your own risk, of course. It’s technically a violation to do even that.) You might also place a Yelp sticker in a direct line of sight. Don’t get discouraged if you have to ask 10 people to get one review.”

On responding to bad reviews: “Take them very seriously, and offer help or a remedy if you can. But I don’t recommend responding to [people who] are really unhappy or angry. Don’t overly focus on that 1% of humanity that is just unhappy and bitter. Life is too short.”

Visit to locate his blog, bio, classes and books, including the new SEO Fitness Workbook 2018.

Without LIMITS

A new study in Psychological Assessment (doi:10.1037/pas0000557) sought to answer this question: “Why do some people struggle with self-control (colloquially called willpower), whereas others are able to sustain it during challenging circumstances?”

Christopher Napolitano, PhD, the study’s lead author and a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said this in an interview with the school’s news bureau:

“When we view our willpower as limited, it’s similar to a muscle that gets tired and needs rest. If we believe it is a finite resource, we act that way, feeling exhausted . . . while people who view their willpower as a limitless resource get energized instead.”

The best news of all: This point of view is changeable, says Napolitano. Cuing clients (and yourself) to view self-control as unending may be just what the doctor (of educational psychology) ordered!

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Quaglio Laura Quaglio, has more than 18 years of experience as a writer and editor for numerous magazines, books and websites on such diverse topics as wellness, nutrition, fitness, finance, after-school activities and parenting.

The information provided is without warranty or guarantee and NASM disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information. Learn more