Training Edge [Industry news, insights & tools]

Lead story: Different Strokes: Land-based Training For Swimmers

by by Laura Quaglio

Though we might imagine that swimmers spend most of their exercise time in the pool, these athletes can gain plenty of insights from land-lubbing personal trainers. “Everything starts with the overhead squat assessment,” says Michael Yaremko, NASM Master Trainer, CPT, CES, GFS, WLS, owner of Yaremko Sports and Personal Training. “From there, I create a corrective exercise continuum protocol for him or her to follow.” In particular, Yaremko focuses on the core, hips (extension and flexion), and “everything involved with stabilization of the glenohumeral [shoulder] joint.” Here are some details on his approach:

Focus on flexibility. As per the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model, Yaremko recommends starting the workout with self-myofascial release and stretches based on the OHSA results. For the upper body, he suggests the doorway/corner stretch with the elbow bent at shoulder height (to stretch tight pectorals), then again with arms in a Y (for lats), and last with hands at shoulder height (to target internal rotators and cervical spine). He also recommends the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) exercise called “drawing the sword,” which helps improve shoulder positioning. This one looks like it sounds, ending with the arm extended in a half-Y position. To prevent anterior hip tilt, Yaremko recommends lower back, hip flexor and quad stretches, such as prone/supine piriformis and standing quad stretches (heel-to-butt or knee-to-chest).

Stabilize and strengthen the shoulders. According to NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training (2014), “The glenoid surface is one-third to one-fourth the size of the humeral head, producing low contact area and low stability.” A great shoulder-stabilization variation of the “quadruped arm/opposite leg raise” requires the athlete to press a tennis ball between a wall and the palm of the raised hand, leaning into the ball slightly to load the axial side. To make it harder, clients can manually roll the ball (so they have to compensate), or you can ask them to “draw” the alphabet on the wall with the ball. To strengthen the rotator cuff, try the Cuban press (row to external rotation to overhead press).

Create swimming simulations. Yaremko chooses land-based exercises that will help clients swim “on top of the water, rather than fighting to swim through it.” One example: Do high plank with a medicine ball or stability ball under the feet, while pulling a resistance band with one arm in a swimming motion. For a power move that mimics swimming, they can throw a small medicine ball one-handed (forward or backward) while stabilizing the glenohumeral joint and core.

Take it to the water. If your facility has a pool, make use of it for power exercises to give the athlete a feel for the viscosity of the water and what resistance it causes based on the speed of movement. Yaremko suggests the walking pec­­toral fly, walking reverse fly, prone flutter kicks and baseball swings, along with some 50-meter laps at 45-second intervals.

Form Fix-Up With Mike Fantigrassi: What Do You Know About Rows?

Rows are an old-school bodybuilding move, says Mike Fantigrassi, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor. But that doesn’t mean everyone gets them right. Rows generally target the latissimus dorsi and teres major (and other back muscles), as well as the biceps, but how much depends upon load, grip and form. Here’s what to watch for, in addition to the neutral neck/head and spine required for most moves:

Look at the load. If the weight is too light, the exerciser may pull down too far on a cable row. If it’s too heavy, the wrist may curl (especially on a seated cable row), or momentum (using the back and body) may be needed to complete the move.

Watch the shoulders and elbows.Let the shoulder protract and retract a bit, moving the scapular thoracic joint through its full range of motion. However, if the lower back or thoracic spine is rounding, it may be best to stabilize the joint until strength improves. Cue them to “pull thumbs toward armpits” to help them keep the elbows close to the body (45 degrees or less).

Get a good grip. For cable rows, Fantigrassi prefers the attachment that places the hands about armpit-width, not the narrower triangle grip, which tends to be too narrow for many men. Use a supinated grip to work biceps more, while a pronated grip will engage the brachioradialis and brachialis more.

Boost intensity with drop sets. For hypertrophy, start with a weight that the client can use with proper form for 4–6 reps. When form starts to break down, “drop” down to a lighter weight. Do this 2–3 times.

NASM OPT Model: Suggested Progression for Rows

Here are some ways to progress clients using the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model. Prior to performing, ensure good posterior chain strength and endurance with deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts. Note: The first five moves are standing cable rows.

  • two-arm row on two feet
  • alternating-arm row on two feet
  • two-arm row on one foot
  • alternating row on one foot
  • single-arm row on one foot, bent at waist (no bench)
  • drop sets (see “how to details” above) These would be for a stable position and in the hypertrophy phase.

Pop Songs, Podcasts and Positive Energy

In a recent study, Marcelo Bigliassi et al. looked at the effect of music as compared with podcasts during 400-meter walks. The result, published in February in Psychology of Sport and Exercise: Music had more of a mood-boosting effect on the feel-good beta waves of participants. Music also resulted in more “dissociative thoughts” (mind drifting) and exercise enjoyment.

For solo workouts, save the podcasts and TED Talks for later, and put in your gym time with some favorite tunes.

For group ex, get some summer CEUs with AFAA’s Finding Your Beat, Powered by Yes! Fitness Music. This course takes a deep dive into the effects of music on movement, including how tempo influences safety and exercise performance, how to manipulate intensity with tempo, and how to employ more music-based cuing in your classes. Learn more at

Using Muscles To Make Music?

In an interesting variation on the sweating-to-songs theme, German researchers rigged weight training machines with sensors that allowed the user to control the real-time production of music using computer software called Ableton Live 8™. What’s more, the exercisers didn’t have to be musicians to experience and enjoy musical agency (“control over musical sound”), which is good news for those of us who can’t carry a tune or read a measure.

In an article published in Frontiers in Psychology in January, Thomas H. Fritz et al. reported that “this approach, dubbed Jymmin (gym + jamming),” had been previously found to improve mood, reduce perceived effort and enhance muscular efficiency. In this most recent study of 22 participants, Fritz and his colleagues found that Jymmin also improved pain tolerance, as measured by a test in which exercisers “placed their non-dominant hand and lower arm into cold water for as long as they could tolerate it.” The study authors concluded that, among other applications, Jymmin could be used by elite athletes to enhance endurance and by clinical therapists to help people needing rehabilitation.

Learn more about Fritz et al. and their research at

Poor form can hide in the back row: watch for it and modify down, if needed.

You Don’t Have to HIIT It Hard ALL the Time

“Sometimes trainers and group fitness instructors get caught up in the latest trends, but it’s important that our goal is to develop programming that is personalized to the client, rather than expecting our clients to adapt to the latest programming,” says Angie Miller, MS, LPC, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor based in North Carolina. “If we look at the general population, and the number of individuals who exercise intermittently at best, we can help them so much more if we work on proper posture, breathing and movement patterns, versus burpees and box jumps.”

Still, Miller notes that she does teach high-intensity classes: The key, she says, is to keep the needs and abilities of your audience front-of-mind. Below are some touchpoints she uses to decide what’s right for each class, regardless of what’s trending.

Put form and function first. Everyone should be able to maintain good posture, body positioning and breathing. If not, she’ll lower the workout level overall. Miller says the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model is a great guide for progressing people in groups, too.

Plan modifications early and often. Know what a low-intensity burpee looks like before you introduce burpees to a class. “It’s called the ‘exercise continuum’ for group fitness,” she says. “For every exercise you lead, you should be able to offer at least three modifications: beginning, intermediate and advanced.”

Educate clients about trends. Clients may want to try moves that aren’t right for them. “It’s not about disputing but about giving them insight into what’s best for them for the long term,” she says. They may need help understanding why their bodies need time to build up to burpees.

Don’t teach to the front row. “Fit people are always going to go the extra mile. They’re not the ones who need you,” says Miller, who knows she doesn’t need to push herself during class to impress the super-students. It’s best, she says, to teach at the intermediate level for that particular class. “Intermediate” will be different in an advanced HIIT class than in a beginner cardio class. “I know this isn’t time to get in my workout,” adds Miller. “It’s time to focus on theirs.”

Angie Miller, MS, is an AFAA and NASM Master Instructor, global health and fitness specialist, Licensed Professional Counselor, and university educator. Check out her DVDs, blog and more at

These fluid-filled compartments in the interstitium—newly dubbed an organ—act like a fluid highway system that runs throughout the body.

ANATOMY UPDATE: Experts Just “Discovered” a New Organ—or Did They?

This spring, Scientific Reports published an article that was widely reported by news outlets as the “discovery of a new organ.” In it, researchers reported that the interstitium was not just a layer of connective tissue but was also composed of previously unseen fluid-filled spaces that lie just below the skin’s surface, as well as around the lungs, digestive system and other organs.

American Fitness asked Kyle Stull, DHSC, MS, LMT, NASM-CPT, and a senior master trainer for TriggerPoint™, what this finding means for fitness pros, particularly in terms of self-myofascial release. Interestingly, Stull noted that the French plastic surgeon Jean-Claude Guimberteau, MD, released video footage in 2005 showing these fluid-filled compartments. “As Dr. Guimberteau moves the patient’s fingers and hands, the viewer can see these compartments move, stretch, compress, and bend as they adjust to each movement,” says Stull. “As someone moves, these layers facilitate the sliding and gliding of tissues across each other, allowing for smooth movement.”

Foam rolling, he adds, will create pressure that can help “push” the fluid to move back and forth within these spaces, which form a sort of fluid highway. “Such movement will help to circulate out waste products produced by the cells, which then allows fresh fluid to enter the space,” says Stull. “The transfer of fluid helps to revitalize areas of stagnation, such as the glutes and hamstrings, from the pressures of sitting. Also, if using a dynamic technique while rolling (e.g., applying cross-friction movements, or ‘pin-and-stretch’ motions) movement will be reintroduced to this layer, leading to the demonstration of flexibility and improved movement patterns.”

You can view Guimberteau’s video and his other research at

The temperature of the drinking water, not just the room, can affect exercise capacity for people with MS.

A Simple Strategy for Boosting Heat Tolerance

Just in time for summer, the April 2018 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2018; 50 [4], 643–48) released findings of a small study on the hot-weather exercise capacity of people who have multiple sclerosis—a condition that is often affected by heat intolerance. In the study, 20 participants (10 with MS and 10 without) ingested water every 15 minutes while cycling in a room that was 86 degrees Fahrenheit and had 30% relative humidity. Some downed water that was a cool 34.7 degrees F, while others drank water that was the same temp as the ambient air. When the participants with MS drank the cold water, they were able to ride for about 30% longer, even though their body temp and heart rate stayed the same. Researchers theorized that the cold water acts on thermoreceptors in the digestive system to mitigate the effects of heat on people with MS.

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.

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