Get your brain in shape by strength training

We all know about the physical benefits of working out with weights by now-increased strength, increased metabolism, resistance to injury, etc. etc.  But more and more new research is showing that another major benefit of progressive resistance exercise is the slowing down of the adverse effects that aging has on our brains.

By late middle age, many neurological studies reveal that most of us have begun developing age-related lesions in our brains’ white matter-the material that connects and passes messages between different brain regions.

The lesions are usually asymptomatic at first.  But these lesions can widen and multiply as the years go by, causing the shrinking our white matter and affecting our thinking. Studies have found that older people with many lesions tend to have worse cognitive abilities than those whose white matter is relatively intact.

Canadian researcher Theresa Liu-Ambrose has discovered that progressive resistance exercise (i.e. lifting weights) has the greatest benefit in fighting this age-related shrinking, compared to other forms of exercise.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose and her colleagues tested women from age 65-75 using three different exercises programs- a balance and flexibility training group, a once-a-week weight training group, and a twice-a-week weight training group.  The women stuck with their training program for a year.  At the conclusion they underwent brain scans which were compared to their pre-study brain scans.

The results revealed that the women in the control group, who had concentrated on balance and flexibility, showed progression in the number and size of the lesions in their white matter, as did the once a week weight training group.

But those who had trained with weights twice per week had significantly less shrinkage of their white matter than the other women.  Their walking also improved in speed and precision more than the women in the other two groups.  These findings suggest that twicew a week weight training can beneficially change the structure of the brain, according to DR. Liu-Ambrose.

So stay committed to lifting those weights twice a week in a progressive fashion forever-in addition to looking and feeling great, your brain will thank you for it!



Technique of the Week: Quarters

As they say, “March goes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb”.  I don’t know about the lamb part, but we are definitely going in like a lion with our latest Technique of the Week, the Quarters protocol.


In the interest of helping our clients achieve their goals this year, we are always searching for ways to make every set of every exercise a bit more productive.  One thing we know is that the point in the repetition where the most muscle growth occurs is in the fully contracted position.  This is the point in the repetition where the working muscle is fully shortened, and has contracted to the fullest extent possible under full resistance against gravity.  For example, when performing a seated rowing exercise (as seen in the below video), the fully contracted position is when the handles are pulled all the way back.  In order to reach that point while moving a heavy weight, the maximum number of muscle fibers must be recruited.  Therefore, it makes sense to spend as much time as possible at that point of the repetition.

The Quarters protocol is designed to make that happen. Each repetition actually involves reaching the fully contracted position 4 times, while utilizing a progressively shortened range of motion.  This method dramatically increases the time spent in the fully contracted position per repetition, making the set way more productive-and way harder!

This technique is not applicable to all exercises, since there must be full resistance against gravity in the fully contracted position for it to work.  Your Rock Solid Fitness Coach will show you which exercises to perform using this technique.

Check out Dunedin Personal Trainer Shawn coaching the Quarters protocol:



Happiness Habits

Young stress free couple enjoy the summer sun on the beach. Arms out, heads back and carefree attitudes.

Guest Post by:
Maureen Griner, Counselor, LMHC, CIMI

So what would make you happy or happier? Would it be a better job? A bigger house? What if you finally lost that last 10 lbs? Or acquired the latest tech gadget?

Research tells us while these things may bring us short term happiness they don’t really impact our overall feelings of happiness or life satisfaction. For example, an increase in income only increases feelings of happiness when it brings you out of poverty and enables you to meet the basic finances of life. Earning more so that you can buy a bigger house, a fancier car and a more brag worthy vacation doesn’t really move long term happiness levels at all!

So what does science tell us we can do to feel happier and just more at peace in our lives overall?

1. Wellness Basics
Eat well, Sleep Well, and Exercise Well
How you take care of your body can have a big impact on you feel on a day to day basis. For example, did you know that numerous studies have shown that regular exercise is just as good or better than medication at treating depression and anxiety?

2. Acts of Kindness
It is easy to get stuck in our struggles and forget that others struggle too. Interesting studies have shown that focusing less on your own happiness and instead focusing on the happiness of your collective group actually makes you happier!! I know it’s a little hard to follow, but it’s pretty easy to do something nice for those around you!

3. Gratitude
On that same note, people who pay more attention to what they have versus what they don’t have, consistently report greater levels of happiness. Unfortunately, our brains have been programmed to seek out what we are lacking or where danger may lurk. Making a concerted effort to list and share the things (and more importantly the people) that make you feel blessed on a daily basis can train your brain to change its focus.

4. Purpose
This may fall in line with the “better job” idea, but truly your purpose does not have to fall in line with what you do for a living. (Though it is obviously a happiness bonus!!) You can also find purpose in your home life, spiritual life, or even in your “hobby” life. When you have a goal that is bigger than you, it is amazing how common life struggles seem much more manageable. Trivial concerns like “do these pants make my look fat” feel so small compared to using your life to make a difference in the world!

5. Experiences over Things
Most of us like new shiny things! But buying the next new shiny gadget won’t keep your happiness levels up for long. Investing your time, energy and resources into meaningful experiences seems to have a much bigger impact on your mood. I mean when you are facing the end of your life are you going to be remembering fondly the time you bought the shiny new thing or the special times you shared with those that matter most?

6. Relationships
Honestly, you can forget everything on the list above and just concentrate on this one. The strongest correlation research has ever found with long term happiness is the strength and quality of your close relationships. Even in the face of great hardships, things like terminal illness, financial ruin, or the loss of a loved one, those whom feel loved and supported and feel like they can still give love and support seem to be able to weather the storm. The relationships you nurture don’t have to be perfect! They just need to have an essence of closeness and caring. Perhaps said best by Helen Keller:

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”


Technique of the Week: 260 Max Protocol

Here is a new Technique of the Week guaranteed to wake up your muscles and propel you to new heights of muscular development: the 260 Max protocol.

As everybody who reads this blog knows by now, easy workouts that only require a minimal amount of effort do not build muscle. To make progress, you have to force your muscles to work very hard, near the limits of their existing capacity. The 260 Max protocol definitely fits the bill.

To start out, for this technique we will select a weight for you that is about 20% heavier than what you would normally use for a regular set of 8-12 reps to failure. This is ok though, because you are only going to be lifting this weight once.  Then, to make a serious dent into your negative, or strongest, level of strength, you’re going to lower the weight in 60 seconds. If you’ve never experienced this, it takes some serious discipline and resolve to complete it, and you will feel a deep muscle stimulation like no other.

As if that wasn’t enough, once all that is over with we will lower the weight by 50% and have you perform as many regular (2″ up, 4″ down) reps as possible to failure.  Trust me, you’ll be done after that.

And, given the proper rest and nutrition, you’re muscles will be bigger and stronger by your very next workout.  I guarantee it.

Check out the 260 Max Protocol in action:

The InBody Challenge is Back!


Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! It’s InBody Challenge time! The InBody Challenge is back to spice things up a bit at Rock Solid and re-motivate you to gain some new muscle and lose some unwanted fat! There will be two teams captained by Fitness Coaches Shawn and Drew.
shawn drew inbody

Points will be given based making improvements on the InBody 570 Analysis and the Big 3 Workout, and the winning team will receive specialty InBody Challenge T-Shirts!

Here’s how the challenge will work: the first week you will get an InBody 570 Analysis to determine your initial body composition and health markers. You will also start your workout with the Big 3, which is the leg press, chest press, and pulldown. We chose these three exercises because they work the most amount of muscle, which in turn will give you the results that you want (building muscle and incinerating fat). The competition will go on for 6 weeks, and then you will once again revisit the InBody 570 and Big 3 workout to see how your strength, body composition and health markers have changed. Points will be given for more strength gains, loss in body fat percentage, decreased visceral fat levels, increased muscle, increased BMR, and hydration levels, as determined from the InBody 570. There will also be weekly challenges on Facebook and you can earn points for your team by completing and responding to the challenges via Facebook. Ask your Coach for more details on your next workout.

So how do you sign up? Email us right now at, or call us at 727-282-1800. You can also sign up at your next workout. Signups will end Saturday February 6th, and the contest will start Monday February 8th and run for 6 weeks. Don’t miss out on your chance to get in on the competition and get results while having fun!
inbody deadline

Can you help me with this?


If you have a few seconds, I would really appreciate it if you could help me out with this.

And by doing so, you will actally be helping yourself too.

You see, at Rock Solid Fitness, we have been offering a FREE educational seminar on the first Tuesday of every month for years now. These seminars are open to the public, anybody can attend who wants to learn something about health and fitness.


The problem is-and this is where I need your help-we are running out of topic ideas!

So if you can think of a seminar topic you would like us to talk about in the future, all you have to do is look below this post and click on “leave a reply”. Then just type your topic in the comment box, and then click on “Post Comment”.

We will then create a seminar about your topic, which gets us off the hook of thinking one up ourselves; plus you will learn all about your topic for free; plus everybody else who comes to the seminar will benefit from learning about it.

Everybody wins!

But you have to start the ball rolling-so please click “leave a reply” below, tell us your topic idea, then click “post comment”. Thanks in advance!

Technique of the week: Static Holds

We are back with another awesome technique of the week-this time, we are featuring the ever popular, world famous Static Hold Finisher.

A static hold is holding the weight in the fully contracted position of an exercise against full resistance for as long as you can.

Your muscles have strength levels: positive (lifting), the weakest; static (holding), in the middle; and negative (lowering), the strongest.

Once you have lifted a weight until you can’t lift it any more, you will still have enough strength in that muscle to hold, or lower the weight. When you don’t even have the strength to lower it any more, you have exhausted all 3 strength levels, and you’re done. Total failure.

Static holds are a technique we utilize at our Dunedin personal training studio to tap into your static and negative strength levels, in a minimal amount of time, to increase the intensity, and therefore the effectiveness, of those exercises.

If you are stuck at a certain number of reps on an exercise, throwing in a static hold at the end of your set may be the new stimulus you need to get you over the hump and get your progress going again.

Check out the static hold finisher in action:

Be sure to check back next week, when we discuss how to tap into your negative strength level.

Until then, have fun static holding!

Technique of the Week: Partials

So every once in a while, somebody around here gets a great idea.  And last week was one of those times.

We decided to showcase one of our special Workout Protocols each week for a while.  And we are kicking things off this week with the “Partials” protocol for our first Technique of the Week.

As an Exercise Coach, one of the things you are always trying to do for your clients is prevent boredom.  Boredom is a motivation killer.  Adding variety to your workouts is a great way to keep yourself mentally fresh, and physiologically it gives your body a new stimulus to deal with, spurring on new progress.

The Partials protocol emphasizes different stages of the full range of motion during the performance of one set.  In order, you will go through a full range of motion; then you are limited to the end range; after that, you stay in the begining portion; then back to full range of motion, to finish at the point of muscular failure.

To make better sense of what I just said, check out this video of the Partial protocol in action:

So just a heads up for you, your Exercise Coach may be HITting you with this technique when you come in this week, just to spice things up for you a bit :) .

Make it a great week, and stay tuned for the next Technique of the Week!

The Secret To Goal Achievement


By Dave Durell, Fitness Coach, Rock Solid Fitness

The start of a New Year brings feelings of optimism and excitement for what lies ahead in the coming year.  As a Dunedin personal trainer, I see many people start off the new year with the best of intentions to finally get in shape and achieve their fitness goals once and for all.  Unfortunately, the majority of those people will fall short, and many will end up giving up altogether before the year is even half way over.

But some will actually achieve the goals they set for themselves.  Why is that?  What allows some people to be succesful, while other equally motivated people don’t even come close?

The difference in many cases lies in the way they set their goals in the first place.  The secret to goal achievement is to make a commitment.

Commitment is the starting point of all worthwhile achievement. And making a decision is the starting point of commitment.

You can turn any aspect of your life around, taking it from miserable failure to triumphant success, in a matter of a few seconds. You do this by making a decision, and then committing to that decision.

Commitment means being “all in”. You push all your chips to the middle of the table; you burn your bridges behind you. There is no turning back. Without commitment, very little of great value is possible. With it, very little is impossible.

Once you make a committed decision, something special happens to you. You will find an inner drive taking hold of you, propelling you in the direction of your desired value.

If you want to get in shape, the first thing you need to do is decide you are going to get in shape, and then commit to that decision. Many people set a goal of getting in shape, often in the form of a New Year’s resolution. Very few of these people actually see their goal through and achieve the desired result; perhaps you were one of them. The reason is they have not turned their goal into a commitment.

How do you turn a goal into a commitment?

“No matter what”

You turn a goal into a commitment by stating your goal, then adding the words “No Matter What”. For example:

“I will work out 2 times a week for the rest of the year, no matter what”.
“I will not eat dessert with dinner this month, no matter what”.
“I will stick with the Rock Solid Fitness training program until I gain 10 pounds with the same size waist, no matter what”.

Adding the words “no matter what” to a goal transforms a mere desire into a committed decision, thereby increasing the chances of reaching the goal to practically inevitable. This is the power of commitment.

Take a moment now to reflect on why you want to get in shape. What do you think being in shape will do for you? How will it improve the quality of your life? Why is it important to you? Answering these questions will help you successfully make your way through the myriad of distractions we all deal with in day-to-day life and get your workouts done.

Withstanding the distractions

As you begin and progress through your workout program, there will be a lot of “whats” that try to get in your way. The key to staying on course and ultimately getting your body to look and feel the way you want is to create a mental environment where being in shape is among your highest values.

You must make the achievement of your fitness goals a top priority in your life, more important than any of the other time-consuming activities that you might be confronted with. No matter what, you have to get that workout done!

Right now, that might sound like an easy thing to do. But what will happen when day-to-day living sets in? When an old friend comes in unexpectedly from out of town for only one day and wants to meet with you? When somebody at work calls in sick and the boss asks you to stay late? When one of your friends has an extra free ticket for the big game tonight? What will your decision be then? How can you remain committed to your workout program in the face of such temptations?

You do so by reminding yourself what you want to accomplish through your program and why it is important to you to accomplish it. This mental self-conditioning will help you withstand the pull of the daily distractions that are part of life.

So embrace the “No Matter What” philosophy, Stand firm in your commitments, and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals and dreams.

Dave Durell is a Dunedin Personal Trainer and co-owner of Rock Solid Fitness, the premier personal training studio in the Dunedin area.  He has formerly worked as a strength and conditioning coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

An End of the Year Letter to Our Clients

Hello! First off, I want to say thank you for being a valued Rock Solid Fitness client. You’re the reason we love coming to work every day, and the driving force behind our studies and efforts to become better trainers.

To those of you who achieved your goals this year: congratulations! There’s no better feeling than watching your body transform and get stronger because of your hard work and dedication. Keep it up!

To those of you who are feeling a little disappointed about how your fitness goals panned out this year: don’t give up. There’s nothing we want more than to watch you succeed- to sit in that discovery room with you and have the InBody tell us you lost 20 pounds of fat, or to hear you tell us your back feels much better because of the strength training. It hurts us to listen to you as you disappointedly admit that you haven’t changed your eating habits, or that you’ve just been too busy to come to the gym, and that’s why, yet again, you haven’t met your goals.

Don’t let this year be another year of disappointment. Every day is an opportunity for you to change your life. If you don’t change today you’ll be the same tomorrow. You can make results or excuses, you can’t make both.

Have a wonderful 2016 and know that we’ll be here to help you reach your goals every step of the way.