Top Level Tips

March 2008

A newsletter with your interests in mind and heart
Welcome.  I hope you find something that you can use in this newsletter, because I have written it for you.  I choose subjects that I feel are valuable to your success, as well as issues that you have specifically asked about.  You may discover answers to things that
you didn't realize you misunderstood, and wouldn't have thought to ask.  So whether this helps you to fine tune an exercise that you may have been doing incorrectly, get an important nutritional tidbit that kick starts your fat loss, a new motivational perspective, or even just a little entertainment, then I've achieved my goal of making this a worthwhile endeavor for all of us.  As always, I am open to your suggestions and questions.  I want to make each edition better than the last, so please contact me with any special requests.
Start here.
Click on the underlined number to go directly to the article:

1.)    The Serape Effect

World-Class Fitness in 100 Words

Water Wonders

Mobility or Flexibility?

Featured Exercise ─ Bulgarian Split Squat

6.)    Cardiovascular programming is an ass-backward concept

Epsom Salt Baths ― "Liquid Recovery"

Aerobic Fitness without “Aerobics

9.)    "Panther Muscle" 37-Minute Bootcamps to start again

Contact information

1.)   The Serape Effect

In exercise physiology, we learn of an important aspect of muscular function and structure called the serape effect. The serape effect describes the musculature that engages in a crisscross fashion when the body rotates, by connecting a shoulder to the opposite hip.  When looking at the structural design of the body, it is clear to see  that a majority of the muscles of the human body have horizontal and oblique orientations. This creates a line of action that either rotates to load the body, or a body part, for movement.

We see the serape effect in action with movements that involve taking a shoulder to its opposite hip, such as throwing, serving a ball, or reaching down with one hand to pick something up. Rotation is one of the most important functions in human movement yet is one of the things that we are traditionally taught to exclude from our training. In order to take full advantage of our natural design, we must include rotation when training for stability, strength, and power.  Remember that your body has a highly functional design for movement patterns, so it is important to keep in mind how muscles are connected in various patterns of kinetic chains.  When you train the movement, the muscles will develop in proper balance to make life and sport easier.  And especially, if you play any sport at all (from golf to tennis to football), you must train for the serape effect.

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2.World-Class Fitness in 100 Words
"Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.  Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, Clean&Jerk, and snatch.  Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.  Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.  Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow.  Routine is the enemy.  Keep workouts short and intense.  Regularly learn and play new sports.  When was the last time you tried something new?"   

(The preceding definition is from the fitness enthusiasts at

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3.)  Water Wonders
We all know that water is important, so why are so many people dehydrated?   I'll bet you've never felt just how important before reading the following:

  • 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.  (Likely applies to half world population.)

  • In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

  • Even mild dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

  • One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

  • Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

  • Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

  • A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

  • Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of water you should every day?

Did you also know that often times you may be under-hydrated before you feel thirsty; and that quenching your thirst does not necessarily mean that your body has been re-hydrated.  So make it a habit to drink before you are thirsty.  Room temperature water or green tea are the two best choices.  A simple and effective rule-of-thumb for daily water intake is this: Drink one quart of water for every 50 pounds of your bodyweight.  Add another  16 ounces for every pound you sweat off during exercise.   The bottom line is to keep your cells hydrated to fortify your body's system.  Every bodily process functions better when hydrated.

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4. Mobility or Flexibility?

This is an important differentiation to make; very few people understand the difference - and it is a big one.  Flexibility merely refers to range of motion - and, more specifically, passive range of motion as achieved by static stretching.  Don’t get me wrong; static stretching has its place, but it won’t take your athleticism to the next level like mobility training will.

The main problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor readiness for dynamic tasks - as in playing a sport. When we move, we need to have something called “mobile-stability.” This basically means that there’s really no use in being able to get to a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position. Believe it or not, excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury!  And, even more applicable to the discussion at hand, passive flexibility just doesn’t carry over well to dynamic tasks; just because you do well on the old sit-and-reach test doesn’t mean that you’ll be prepared to dynamically pick up a loose ball and sprint down-court for an easy lay-up.  Lastly, extensive research has shown that static stretching before a practice or competition will actually make you slower and weaker. 

When you do stretch   It is best when you are warmed up, or at the end of your workout.  Stretch ONLY to the point of tension.   Stretching is NOT an activity that was meant to be painful; it should be pleasurable, relaxing and very beneficial.  Although there are many people who believe that they need to be in constant pain in order to get the most from their stretching.  This is one of the greatest mistakes you can make when stretching. Let me explain why.  When the muscles and tendons are stretched to the point of pain, the body employs a defense mechanism called the 'stretch reflex'. This is the body's safety measure to prevent serious damage occurring to the muscles and tendons. The 'stretch reflex' protects the muscles and tendons by contracting them, thereby preventing them from being stretched.

So to avoid the 'stretch reflex', avoid pain. Never push yourself beyond what is comfortable. Only stretch to the point where you can feel tension in your muscles. This way, you'll avoid injury and get the maximum benefits from your stretching.

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5.)  Featured Exercise:  Bulgarian Split Squat

This exercise is so simple yet brutally effective that quite honestly I think it is a MUST for any serious training program.  A balanced program should include at least one single leg exercise.  This exercise is excellent for strength, balance, and even fits well into a fat-loss plan.

Start with a bench behind you. Facing away from the bench place one foot on the bench and one foot out about two to three feet in front of the bench. You will now be in a modified lunge position. With the bulk of your bodyweight on the front leg, bend your front knee until your thigh is below parallel and the knee of your trailing leg is grazing the floor. Pause in this position and then return to a fully upright stance. Keep your upper body upright and your lower back flat.  Push up to the upright position. Stay in a split-squat stance.  Perform all reps for one leg and then switch. 



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6. Cardiovascular programming is an ass-backward concept

The following text is taken from an article by trainer Allyn Cosgrove:  "Ah-ha" moment #3"

I don't know when I first thought this, but it was confirmed to me when viewing Lance Armstrong's performance in the New York Marathon.

Throughout my college education, countless training certification programs and seminars, I'd been taught the same thing: that cardiovascular exercise was necessary to improve the cardiovascular system and subsequently aerobic performance. But there seemed to be an inherent flaw in that argument.

Let's say I tested your aerobic fitness through a treadmill test.

Then let's say that for the next sixteen weeks, we developed a five-day per week aerobic training program that involved you running at various heart rates and for various lengths of times. The program would progressively increase in difficulty and duration, and the end result was a very significant improvement in your aerobic fitness.

At the end of this sixteen-week period, how much do you expect your swimming times to have improved? Marginally, if at all, right? It seems almost stupid to ask. But wait a second. If you have one cardiovascular system, why doesn't your cardiovascular system improve across the board regardless of the activity?

More to the point, why didn't Lance Armstrong, with perhaps the highest recorded VO2 max in history, win the New York Marathon? Or beat people with lesser aerobic levels than himself?

The seven-time winner of the Tour de France, the greatest endurance cyclist, quite possibly the greatest endurance athlete in the world, finished the Marathon in 868th place, and described the event as the "hardest physical thing" he'd ever done.

The flaw in this thinking was looking solely at VO2 max: the "engine," as it were. It's fair to say that Lance had a "Formula One" engine, but his wheels and chassis were built for a different kind of race. In other words, he just didn't have the structural development for running.

Lance was a cyclist: his body had adapted to the demands of cycling, but not to the specific demands of running. In fact, the longest distance he'd ever run prior to the Marathon was 16 miles. Lance had developed strength, postural endurance, and flexibility in the correct "cycling muscles," but it didn't transfer to running the way his VO2 max did.

The muscles don't move because of cardiovascular demand. It's the reverse. The cardio system is elevated because of muscular demand. We need to program the body based on the movements it's going to perform, not based on the cardiovascular system.

"I'd rather be on a bike!"

Basically, if that muscular system can't handle the stress of performing thousands of repetitions (which is what you're doing, after all, when running or cycling), then we have to condition that muscular system first. And by doing so, we automatically improve cardiovascular conditioning.

The only reason there's any demand on the cardiovascular system is because the muscular system places that demand: the muscles require oxygen in order to continue to work. In fact, cardiovascular exercise is impossible without moving the muscle first.

I've seen this across various sports. The cardio conditioning required to run a 10K won't transfer to motocross or jujitsu.

Conclusion: If cardio training doesn't transfer well from one activity to another, and it only 'kicks' in because of muscular demand, we should program muscular activity first in order to create a cardiovascular response.

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7. Epsom Salt Baths ― "Liquid Recovery"

Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulphate.   An effective restorative technique consists of bathing for 10 to 20 minutes in a warm/hot bath to which 200-400 grams of Epsom salt is added. This is a very simple and effective way to relax your muscles and decrease inflammation. It’s also a good way to increase blood magnesium levels and prevent bloating due to excessive water retention.

A recent study conducted at the University of Birmingham found that bathing in a warm Epsom salt bath can significantly increase mean blood magnesium levels (the average improvement consisting of attaining 140,98 ppm/ml from an initial value of 104.68ppm/ml in a seven days period). This is because magnesium can be absorbed by the skin. We know that magnesium is a very important mineral for athletes, and one that we’re often deficient in. Among other things, it helps with muscle relaxation and Testosterone production.

Epsom salt baths increase perspiration, helping to get rid of toxins and impurities. Magnesium sulphate also stimulates vasodilatation, facilitating blood flow to the muscles and helping reduce inflammation. As a result, these baths can greatly increase the rate of recovery after a hard training session and, as a bonus, they reduce muscle and joint pains associated with an excessive inflammatory response.

The Birmingham study found that up to 600 grams of Epsom salt diluted in a normal size bath can be used effectively and without risk. However, they found that levels of 300 to 400 grams are sufficient. This technique should be used two to three times per week for 10 to 20 minutes after particularly grueling workouts.

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8.Aerobic Fitness without “Aerobics

When most people think of aerobic training, chances are that they think in terms of long distance running (or walking or cycling, etc).  For example,  think of the supreme aerobic athlete – a marathon runner.  The simple observation of the marathon runner’s physique illustrates how the body adapts to the demands imposed on it; or as I say: “your body reflects the accumulation of your lifestyle more than your age”.    What I mean by this is that you will never see a powerfully built runner leading the pack in a marathon race.  Casual joggers rarely have powerful physiques.   So it
should come as no surprise that excessive endurance training has a catabolic (tearing down) effect on muscle tissue, and those who solely (and excessively) use aerobic training for fat loss are making a critical mistake.
 "Lean AND Strong"
Fortunately we do have a way to produce significant increases in aerobic fitness without the negative side effects associated with lengthy distance sessions.  We can also increase the body’s power output, while building muscle through anaerobic training.  And the best way to do this is with interval training – an effective way to enhance the body’s aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

Interval training is not limited to running, and can be applied to almost any exercise.   Interval training is more sport-specific, because the actual sport movement patterns can be used in series of exercises with shortened rest periods.  Whether you are an athlete or not, you will get the most “bang for your buck” with a conditioning plan based on interval training that is built around the concept of gaining strength as well as endurance.   To put it bluntly, those who believe that aerobic exercise is needed for fat loss are sadly misinformed, but those who use resistance with intensity while training the entire body will experience not only fat loss, but structural gains to increase their total performance capabilities and overall well being.  If you are not doing interval training now, try it.  You can even make your workouts a little shorter if you keep the intensity high.  Just be ready to really work.  But also be ready to feel and function better between your training sessions than you have in a long time.

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9."Panther Muscle" 37-Minute Bootcamps to start again
After several requests, it's time to start up "Panther Muscle" bootcamps again!    These are brief but tough outdoor (shade and sun) group workouts.  They are not designed for people with low levels of fitness (These people should schedule some personal training first in order to learn proper movement form, and to build a smart, safe, and healthy base . . . then you'll be ready for some stimulating challenges).  But if you have built up at least a moderate level of fitness, Panther Muscle Bootcamps are a great way to have some fun in the fresh air while you stimulate your metabolism, burn fat, develop cat-like strength and power . . . all in the most effective and fun 37 minute small group workout that you've ever had.

Here's what it's about:  After a guided warm-up for 7 minutes, you will follow a challenging workout at your own level for 25 minutes, and finish with 5 minutes of cool-down regenerative stretching).  Get in . . . get out . . . all in 37 minutes.

BOOTCAMP workouts are:

   A great way to burn lots of calories.
   A quick method for increasing your strength and endurance.
   Efficient - you work your whole body in a short period of time.
   Fun - each exercise is different so you don't get bored.
   As challenging as you want them to be.
   Easy to fit in to a busy schedule.
   Less expensive than individual personal training sessions

   Those who do not have a reasonable degree of fitness.
   Those who do not want to work hard and SWEAT with a group
   Those with any physical problems or limiting health conditions
   "Whiney babies" ("this ain't a powder puff knitting circle, but you WILL have more fun)
   Anyone who did not give me prior notice that they would be there.

Everybody will have a good time and a challenging, calorie-burning strength-building workout.  Bring water, a towel, a good attitude, and heart.

So let's begin some 2008 sessions.  Based on your participation and time availability, I'm ready to get this rolling again.  The price will be just $12 per workout, with no minimum required.  So if you are interested, please email or call me with times that could possibly work for you, and any friends you may know who would also enjoy participating.  I am waiting to hear from you.

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10. Contact information

Bob Keyser
Tampa, Florida
Phone: (813) 229-5929
Web page:

A proven, effective, "non-hype" approach to fitness and fat loss!

Based upon over 30 years of practical experience I design and implement fitness programs to help people achieve exceptional results. Specialties include: Fat Loss (the "best" way for long term results), Joint Health (get rid of pain, increase range-of-movement, and develop substantial connective tissue), Muscle Quality (strong, lean, sinewy, and balanced), Performance Enhancement (functional power improves your game and makes life's tasks easier), and Energy (for being yourself—at your best).

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Copyright © 2000-2008 Bob Keyser. All Rights Reserved.

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Bob Keyser - Tampa, FL
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