Smooth Fitness Blog

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Importance of A Healthy Community

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Have you ever heard the expression “Do as I say, not as I do?” In order for a community to be as healthy as possible, leaders, parents and role models need to set a good example. Different cultures and different areas across the nation have different ideas on what a healthy community is. (more…)

The Advantages of Rear Drive Elliptical Trainers

Monday, December 17th, 2012

You will notice that all of the Smooth elliptical trainers are rear drive.  That is in comparison to front drive machines.  There are certain ergonomic and mechanical advantages to a rear drive machine.  And in fact, the original elliptical trainers were rear drive.  The front drive machines came into play in order to get around certain patents.  And in many cases the front drive machines were a poor substitute of the original concept.

Mechanical Benefits

The major benefit of a rear drive elliptical trainer is that there are fewer moving parts and consequently there tends to be fewer service issues and less maintenance.   With most front drive ellipticals you have pedals that sit on rollers that run along tracks.  There are two problems with this design.  First, with continual use you may have problems with the stability of the pedals.  There are more joints that can potential loosen.  Second, the tracks tend to gather dust and grime and require regular cleaning and lubrication.  In fact, without proper cleaning the rails can get pitted and dirt can accumulate giving a bumpy feeling.

Ergonomic Benefits

Rear drive elliptical trainers do a better job of positioning the user over the mechanics.  One of the biggest complaints with front drive machines is that the user tends to have to lean forward during the elliptical motion.  When you have to lean you are more likely to have heal lift, resulting in numbness in your foot. 

In addition, the rear design offers a superior elliptical stride. You tend to have more inertia with a rear drive machine.  Precor, the originator of the elliptical trainer built their machines with rear drives specifically for this reason.  You get a smooth and natural elliptical motion that makes the user feel like they are running in the air.  With front drive machines the elliptical motion gets distorted and consequently does not mimic the natural motion of the body. 


You will find in general, and there are some exceptions, rear drive machines tend to be more stable and provide a more solid feel.  That is because they are often longer in length and the weight of the machine is better distributed between the front and the back.  The disadvantage is they tend to take up more space than front drive ellipticals. 

 Of course, this does not mean a cheap rear drive elliptical trainer is going to be superior to a high-end front drive elliptical.  There are a number of factors that come into play in building a superior elliptical trainer including the overall engineering and quality components.  However, when it comes to comparing rear drive to front drive ellipticals at comparable prices, the rear drive machines often hold the advantage.  

About the Author

Fred Waters has made his career helping individuals find fitness equipment that is right for their body and their budget.  You can check out his elliptical reviews at Fitness Equipment Source, where he praises many of the Smooth rear drive elliptical trainers.

Timing Your Cardio Training for Exercise-Induced Weight Control

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

While there is no conclusive evidence that fasted cardio is the best method for maximizing fat loss there is quite a bit of scientific literature that supports the theory that performing cardio exercise prior to breakfast will yield a higher rate of fat oxidation. But is performing cardio in a fasted state the best method for exercise induced weight control?

A substantial portion of energy production during prolonged light or moderate exercise comes from fat oxidation (Gollnick 1985; Romijn et al. 1993). The increased use of lipid fuel induced by such exercise is largely the result of increased fat mobilization from lipid stores and results in an increased extraction of fatty acids from the blood by working muscles (Groop et al.1991).

Fat is also the main oxidative substrate in energy balanced individuals after an overnight fast. However, after a carbohydrate-rich meal (Acheson et al. 1984) glucose becomes the principal oxidative substrate. And there is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that fat oxidation is inhibited during exercise following carbohydrate ingestion.

Research has shown that total fat oxidized in a fasting condition is 23% greater than under pre-fed conditions. An individual will oxidize significantly more fat during exercise when the exercise is performed prior to either a low or high glycemic index meal. Further, the total amount of fat oxidized during exercise AND the 2 hours post training is also significantly greater in the fasted state.[i]

Based on the literature, it would appear that individuals wishing to maximize their efforts for exercise-induced weight control could benefit from cardio exercise if it is performed soon after waking in the morning, before breakfast.

However, one could argue that benefits of performing cardio in a pre-fed condition are insignificant and may be negated by the catabolic effects of exercise in a fasted state.

Performing cardio in a fasted state has been shown to have a catabolic effect on muscle. Studies show that training in a glycogen-depleted state substantially increases the amount of tissue proteins burned for energy during exercise[ii]. Protein losses may exceed 10 percent of the total calories burned over the course of a one-hour cardio session –which is more than double that of training in a pre-fed state[iii]. Since lean muscle mass is the major determinant of metabolism, contributing anywhere from 60% to 80% of BMR (Muller et al., 2009), sacrificing lean tissue would be detrimental to overall BMR and total caloric expenditure.

Additionally, the benefits of fasted cardio may not be as significant as they first appear in the literature. In a 1999 study, trained subjects who exercised at 50 percent of their max heart rate, demonstrated no difference in the amount of fat oxidized–regardless of whether the subjects had eaten. Only after 90 minutes of exercise did fasted subjects begin to yield a favorable result in the amount of fat oxidation. What this means is you would need to exercise for a minimum of 90 minutes to provide an additional fat-burning benefit. [iv]

Based on the evidence, it appears to be true that performing cardio exercise in a fasted state does result in higher rates of fat oxidation. However, in order to improve body composition, spare lean tissue, and maximize total daily caloric expenditure, performing exercise after a meal may be more beneficial.

Train Smart and Good Luck

[i] A Bennard, Patrick Doucet, Éric..Acute effects of exercise timing and breakfast meal glycemic index on exercise-induced fat oxidation Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism Oct 2006, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p502

 [ii] Blomstrand E, Saltin B.  Effect of muscle glycogen on glucose, lactate and amino acid metabolism during exercise and recovery in human subjects. Journal of Physiology. 514:293-302, 1999

[iii] Lemon PW and Mullin JP. Effect of initial muscle glycogen levels on protein catabolism during exercise. J Appl Physiol 48: 624-629, 1980. 

[iv] Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO,and Coyle EF. Substrate metabolism when subjects are fed carbohydrate during exercise. Am J Physiol 276(5 Pt 1): E828-E835, 1999.

 Other References:

Shoenfeld, Brad The Myth Of Cardio Before Breakfast—Debunked! 2011

The Importance of Stretching

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

How many times have you seen someone not stretch before they work out? Maybe you’ve jumped on the treadmill yourself once or twice without loosening your muscles first. There are many benefits of stretching you might want to consider before skipping and hopping directly in to your exercise routine.

The first and most important benefit to gain from stretching is relieving of pain! Most of the stiffness and tightness you feel in your muscles after a workout can be prevented by stretching. Another important benefit of stretching is that it releases a lubricating substance from the cartilage within your joints; which allows your joints to move more smoothly, preserving the cartilage in your joints and keeping your bones from scraping. Stretching is also known to improve the circulation of water and nutrients through your body, which slows the aging process. Studies have also shown that stretching can lengthen muscles and, by doing so, can improve your posture.

Here’s the kicker. All these benefits are achievable, even if you don’t regularly work out. You can experience a healthier, more comfortable day, just by stretching.

In order for stretching to be effective, you’ll need to warm up your muscles first. A simple ten minute walk or jog will make a huge difference. Remember, cold muscles are tighter, and will make you have a harder and more uncomfortable time stretching.

However, there are times when stretching should be avoided. Don’t stretch before intense workout sessions like sprinting or other high-intensity cardio training. Also, some chronic health issues can be exacerbated by stretching. Consult a Doctor if you have an injury or other health issues that may cause problems.

Optimal use of your HIT protocol (part 4 of 4)

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Victor Tringali M.S. CSCS

In parts 2 and 3 of this series I introduced you to Interval training and outlined a model for High Intensity Intervals for intermediate and advanced clients. While this type of training has shown to be a critical component in the training of successful endurance athletes, it is important to understand how to incorporate this protocol for long-term and continued benefits without causing excessive stress.

A short term period (six to eight sessions over 2–4 weeks) of high intensity interval training (consisting of repeated exercise bouts performed close to or well above the maximal oxygen uptake intensity, interspersed with low-intensity exercise or complete rest) can elicit increases in intense exercise performance of 2–4% in well-trained athletes.  However, the influence of high-volume low-intensity training training should not be downplayed, as it also induces important metabolic adaptations. [i]

HIT should be a part of the training program of all exercisers and endurance athletes. However, about two training sessions per week using this mode of training seems to be sufficient for achieving performance gains without causing excessive stress. And while the effects of HIT on performance are fairly rapid plateau effects are seen as well. Therefore, in order to avoid stagnation and ensure long-term development, training should be adjusted systematically. It appears that an 80:20 ratio of training is ideal without causing excessive stress , meaning about 80 % of training sessions should be performed completely at lower intensities while the remaining 20 % of sessions should distributed between training with intervals at or near the 90-100 %VO2max range- which was described as (Zone 3) in part 3 of this series. At the same time, increases in total training volume should also be implemented in order to elicit improvements in endurance performance.[ii]

High Intensity Interval Training can be an effective training modality at any level. By using it correctly and sparingly you’ll continue to reap the benefits without stagnation or overtraining.

Train Smart and Good Luck!

[i] P. B. Laursen1,2,3 Training for intense exercise performance: high-intensity or high-volume training?: Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010: 20 (Suppl. 2): 1–10 & 2010

[ii] Seiler, Stephen; Tønnessen, Espen :Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance: the Role of Intensity and Duration in Endurance Training;

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Cardio Training Series–High Intensity Cardio (Part 3 of 4)

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Victor Tringali M.S. CSCS, PES, CPT

 This phase of training is intended for individuals who are more advanced and have already built a very strong cardiorespiratory base. This style of training should not be used by beginners or intermediates.

In part two of this series, I described cycling training through two zones- Low intensity (65-75% max Heart Rate) and higher intensity (80-85% Max Heart rate). In this phase of training, a 3rd zone will be added that we will call a PEAK intensity zone (85-90% Max Heart Rate)

The focus on this stage will be to adjust the workload of the workout by adjusting the speed, elevation, or tension level of your cardio equipment.  This will help you alter your heart rate in and out of each training zone.

Begin the workout with a 10 minute warm-up at low intensity (65-75% max Heart rate). Then increase your workload every 60 seconds until you reach 85-90% max heart rate (Peak Intensity Zone). This may take several minutes.

Remain in the Peak zone for one minute before decreasing your workload until your heart rate returns to zone two (80-85% MHR).  If your heart rate has not returned to zone two within one minute you should remain at lower intensity for the rest of the workout to avoid overtraining. If heart rate does drop, increase your workload again and train in zone 3 for another minute.

Then reduce your workload again and return to zone 1 (65-75%). Remain in zone 1 for 10 minutes before starting over. The rotation looks like this:


heart rate




10 minutes



2 minutes or  more



1 minute



1 minute



1 minute



10 minutes


This type of High Intensity Training has shown to be a critical component in the training of successful endurance athletes. However, two High Intensity Training sessions per week seems to be sufficient for inducing physiological adaptations and performance gains without causing excessive stress long term.[i] Therefore, use this training protocol sparingly to avoid overtraining.


Train Smart and Good Luck!


[i] Stephen Seiler: What is Best Practice for Training Intensity and Duration Distribution in Endurance Athletes?; International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2010, 5, 276-291


Other References:

Michael A Clarke, Scott Lucett, Rodney Corn ; NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 3rd Edition 2008 

Running or Walking???

Monday, August 13th, 2012

There are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding between a running or walking exercise routine. What are my intentions? Do I want to lose fat, build stamina or just improve my cardiovascular health? Do I have any limitations or health issues? The answer to these personal questions and the following information will give you a clearer idea of whether to go for a run, or a walk. (more…)

Cardio training series (Part 2 of 4)

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Introduction to Interval Training

Victor Tringali MS, CSCS, PES, CPT

In part one I discussed working towards achieving the minimum levels of physical activity. Now that you are able to maintain 30 minutes of exercise I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to an efficient protocol for improving cardiorespiratory performance.

High-intensity interval training is a time-efficient strategy to induce rapid adaptations in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, high-intensity interval training has also been shown to reduce risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome compared with moderate-intensity continuous exercise in a variety of patient populations. [i]

During this phase of training you will complete a two day rotation that consists of a lower intensity day followed by a higher intensity day.

Day one will consist exclusively of performing lower intensity training (65-75% of maximum heart rate) for 30-60 minutes. Day two will begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up of lower intensity training.  You will then perform a one minute interval at higher intensity (80-85% of maximum heart rate) followed by a 3 minute recovery period at lower intensity. You can repeat this 1:3 rotation for 20-60 minutes. As your conditioning progresses you may increase the time in the higher intensity zone until you achieve a 3:3 ratio.

Performing your cardio training on equipment such as a Smooth Treadmill, Elliptical, or stationary cycle will reduce impact and stress and provide a more enjoyable workout.[ii]

Train Smart and good luck!


[i] Jonathan D. Bartlett, Graeme L. Close, Don P. M. Maclaren, Warren Gregson, Barry Drust, & James P. Morton; High-intensity interval running is perceived to be more enjoyable than moderate-intensity continuous exercise: Implications for exercise adherence; Journal of Sports Sciences, March 15th 2011; 29(6): 547–553

[ii] Michael A. Clark and Scott C. Lucett,  2008 NASM Essentials of Sports Performance Training pp163-164

The Simple Guide to Cardiovascular Exercise-Making the best use of your Smooth exercise equipment. (Part 1 of 4)

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Victor Tringali MS, CSCS, PES, CPT

Consistent endurance exercise—which can be performed on your Smooth treadmill or stationary cycle 3-7 days a week—causes a long list of cardiovascular improvements.[i]

All healthy adults aged 18–65 years should aim to take part in at least 150 min of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. Your aerobic activity may be undertaken in bouts of as little as 10 min and, ideally, should be performed on five or more days a week. Beginners should work steadily towards meeting these physical activity levels. In these early stages, even small increases in activity will bring health benefits. During this stage the aim should be adherence and consistency. And progression should be in the form of adding time to the workout. As an example, you might walk or cycle an extra 10 minutes every other day for several weeks before slowly increasing this amount until you reach the recommended levels of activity.

Exercise Intensity

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends an intensity level of 55 percent-90 percent of maximum heart rate for aerobic exercise.[ii] As a beginner you should aim for the lower end (65-75%) of this range. Training Heart Rate can be determined using the following formula:

Step 1  220-age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

Step 2  MHR x Intensity (.55-.65) =Training Heart Rate (THR)

Moderate intensity and vigorous-intensity activity can also be identified without the use of Heart Rate Monitoring by using the 6–20 ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. This is an individual’s perception of his/her effort. In men and women of all ages, an RPE of 12–13 represents moderate intensity.[iii]

The above protocol should be maintained until you are able to complete at least 30 minutes 2-3 times per week. For many beginners this may take 2-3 months.

Small increases in activity will bring health benefits. Aim for adherence and consistency and you will soon be ready for an intermediate training program.

 Train Smart and Good Luck

Victor Tringali MS, CSCS, PES, CPT  

Victor Tringali earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Salisbury University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from California University. He has multiple nationally-accredited health and fitness-related certifications-including specialties in Strength and Conditioning, Performance Enhancement, Speed Development, and Personal Fitness training. For more than 20 years he’s designed exercise programs for many population sub-segments-including elite athletes, women, physically challenged persons and senior citizens. He has authored numerous articles and research reviews and has lectured and presented for numerous schools and corporations on various topics of health and fitness.

Victor began a competitive bodybuilding career in 1994. And he continued by winning numerous titles and awards before retiring in 2007. From 2000-2007 he was a well-recognized 5-time National Finalist at the NPC National Bodybuilding Championships and NPC USA Championships. He continues to support the bodybuilding community as a professional judge for the National Physique Committee (NPC) as well as offering coaching, presentations and consulting to physique athletes, health clubs, and personal trainers.

Victor formerly served as an adjunct faculty member at Howard Community College and is currently the Executive Director of Health and Wellness for Drexel University where he designs, develops, and implements policies and programs that affect health and well-being of faculty, staff, and students. He is a professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the Wellness Counsel of America.

Certifications and Credentials:

  • World-Class and Nationally-Ranked Bodybuilder
  • Master of Science- Exercise Science and Health
  • Professional Sports Nutritionist
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist –National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • Performance Enhancement Specialist- National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Speed and Explosion Specialist-National Association of Speed and Explosion
  • Certified Personal Trainer- National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Professional Judge-(Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini)- National Physique Committee


For information about Vic, visit

[i] Zuhl, Micah; Kravitz, Len, HIIT vs. Continuous Endurance Training: Battle of the Aerobic Titans; IDEA Fitness Journal Feb2012, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p34
[ii] American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining CR and muscular fitness in healthy adults. Med and Science in sport and exercise 1990;22(2) 265-274
 [iii] O’Donovan, Gary; Blazevich, Anthony J.; Boreham, Colin; Cooper, Ashley R.; Crank, Helen; Ekelund, Ulf; Fox, Kenneth R.; Gately, Paul; Giles-Corti, Billie; Gill, Jason M. R.; Hamer, Mark; McDermott, Ian; Murphy, Marie; Mutrie, Nanette; Reilly, John J.; Saxton, John M.; Stamatakis, Emmanuel. The ABC of Physical Activity for Health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences; Journal of Sports Sciences. Apr2010, Vol. 28 Issue 6, p573-591. 


Friday, July 20th, 2012

Today’s fitness focuses mostly on exercise and diet, although mental health and stability is just as important but often overlooked. Physical and mental health is related the same way nutrition and exercise is. Individuals need to take care of their mental wellbeing just as they take care of their physical health. Meditation is one method that is internationally used and very effective. (more…)

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