From Training Well

Evolution of an Old School Favorite: T-Bar Rows

Iconic image of Arnold doing T-Bar rows from the movie"Pumping Iron".
Iconic image of Arnold doing T-Bar rows from the movie”Pumping Iron”.

T- Bar rows were one of my favorite exercises back in the day! We’d take an Olympic bar, jam one end in a corner creaating a hinge, load up the free end with Olympic plates and add a detachable handle. Next we’d bend over and row, row, row! It was a more comfortable way to do rows because the lever action created by the hinge allowed for better body alignment and thus, less pressure on the low back. This allowed us to add more weights and get huge!

Now, five-time Olympic athlete Jorge Bonnet has founded a company called PurMotion that takes the hinged barbell concept to the next level of evolution. His system of equipment utilizes the hinge and lever effect to allow duplication of many standard strength and conditioning exercises creating improved functional and sports power. He stresses the safety of this type of training in that it allows for better body alignment and positional centering, thus reducing the abnormal stresses to the structures of your joints and spine.


If you’d like to see this concept in action, I’ve included a few short video links to some of the more common power movements below. On the videos, Jorge discusses the benefits and physics of the hinged lever arm and how it influences postural alignment over your center of gravity reducing undue pressure on the your spine and joints.

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Power Cleans

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Deadlifts

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Squats

Although widely popular and effective, at this time, not many gyms in our area, other than East Coast Fitness in North Bergen, NJ and some New York City clubs, are equipped with PurMotion training stations. You can call around your area to see if a gym close by you has it so you can try it and experience the results for yourself.

But don’t fret. Many gyms are equipped with other variations of a hinged barbell, and, depending on the equipment, you can experiment and replicate the  different movements that take advantage of the lever arm effect. In my gym, I use the hinged barbell to do squats, one arm presses, one arm rows, deadlifts and chest presses similar to the PurMotion moves.  You can even benefit by jamming a barbell into a corner like the guy below, just like we did in the old days!

One arm shoulder press using hinged barbell.

If you need help or suggestions to implement, give me a call, email me or stop by the office so I can guide you.

Keep Looking Forward…

Dr. Pete


Why I Use a Cybex ARC Trainer for Cardio

Arc trainer

After my prior post “Treadmills Are For Hamsters!”, many of you have asked me what equipment I use in the gym to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). And while I believe that there is no better workout than a brisk climbing hike up a wooded mountain trail, rain days and busy schedules often force us to train indoors.

After my knee replacement surgery in 2010 (It’s now my strong knee!), I was on the lookout for a new piece of equipment to do HIIT cardiovascular training. The treadmill offered too much shock on the my knee joints, the stationary bike put too much pressure on my low back and I just think the elliptical is a weird machine with an unnatural motion.

I wanted something that gave me an awesome sweat producing high intensity workout but was easy on my knees and spine while improving my range of motion. I also didn’t want to be so bored that I had to watch TV while doing it.

My search ended when I discovered the Cybex Arc Trainer and I love using it for HIIT workouts. It works the upper body as well as the lower and I feel like I’m climbing a mountain when I’m on it! The arcing motion is similar to climbing up a hill with walking poles or climbing up stairs while pulling up on the handrails. As you climb, you’re working against gravity, which really stimulates muscle metabolism. And you never have to go downhill, so your joints don’t take a beating.

I use it three times a week and my sessions usually last 20 minutes. I perform at least 8 high intensity intervals. I roughly follow the HIIT formula of 30-45 seconds of high intensity at 90-100% of my maximum heart rate alternating with a couple of minutes of lower intensity at 60-70 max heart rate. But quite often I just rock out to the pace of the Nine Inch Nails coming through my headphones!

From the Cybex website:

The Arc Trainer, is scientifically tested to be gentler on your joints, burn 16% more calories than an elliptical, and is stronger and more durable than the leading ellipticals. On the Arc Trainer, the legs travel in a biomechanically correct path of motion. There’s less stress on the knees and more activation of the glutes and hamstrings.

Most gyms and health clubs now stock the equipment in various forms. To get an idea of what it looks like and how it works, I’ve included the link below

Here’s a link to the Arc Trainer website where you can learn more about the its benefits, compare it to the elliptical and see video of it in action

Keep Looking Forward…

Dr. Pete


Treadmills are for Hamsters


I’ve been saying it for years, treadmills are for hamsters! Has there ever been a more boring, monotonous and ineffective cardio exercise system? At least in the way that most people practice it? The 80s concept of steady state cardio conditioning is dead…replaced by a form of training called metabolic or high intensity interval training (HIIT). My old school musclehead buddies used to call it “aerobic powerlifting”.

In a nutshell, metabolic training means training at higher intensity with shorter periods of rest using multi-joint resistance circuits. These shorter workouts burn massive amounts of calories and fat, strengthen your heart and skeletal muscles and rev up your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout!

Here’s a great article written on the subject by athlete, exercise physiologist and fellow certified strength & conditioning specialist Rachel Cosgrove. I like this article because Rachel tackles the issue from the perspective of her own athletic experience backed by the latest scientific research. She also gives great tips to incorporate more of this type of training into your schedule.

The good news is that metabolic training takes less of your time while yielding superior results. It is also a scalable form of training in that beginners can start with short, easy workouts and progress to higher and higher levels of intensity and improvement. Enjoy, and let me know in the comments or through email what your thought are.

Click here to read the article