Better Fitness, Better Golf

3 Key Elements to a Golf Specific Fitness Program

Many of the top touring professionals know that winning on the tour today takes much more than a great game of golf. It means understanding every aspect of their physical and mental being and what factors influence their performance. Gain a competitive edge in your next round by integrating these three key elements into your current VersusFit Training program.

Specific to golf – Get rid of the traditional gym machines which focus on isolating specific muscle groups and require no stabilization work by additional muscle groups.  Avoid the injury risks and ineffectiveness of static free weights in most gyms.  Bodyweight training is safer and requires greater neuromuscular control. Training the muscles and central nervous system simultaneously is extremely beneficial to performance fitness.

Increase Core Stability – VersusFit Training efficient movement creates more efficient power. Golfers maintain an athletic posture over long periods of time and require both trunk and core stabilization and endurance. By increasing your strength and endurance in the core region of your body, you provide both a solid base of support for rotation in addition to the proper transfer of power throughout the body.

Vary your Planes of Motion during Exercise – A golf fitness program will have varying planes of motion as part of your weekly strength routine. VersusFit Training Programs offer outstanding varying planes of motion, core strength, rotational power, and stabilizer muscle group conditioning. Planes of movement include front to back motions, left to right and rotational exercises. A VersusFit Training Program offered by a professional VersusFit Certified Coach can help you to perform considerably better, including greater power with a more relaxed swing.

Darrel Clouse

VersusFit is Total Conditioning – Here’s Why

Muscular Balance, Core Stability, Injury Prevention for

Middle – and Long-Distance Runners (and any motion of the body)

The Honorable Professor Ted Schtikel
Professor Ted Schtickel

Michael Fredericson, MD, Tammara Moore, PTba

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,
Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,
Stanford University School of Medicine,
3000 Pasteur Drive R105B, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Sports and Orthopedic Leaders Physical Therapy, 5297A College Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94618, USA                                                                                   
Martial artists long have recognized the importance of well-developed
core musculature. One of the main differences between a novice practitioner
and a black belt is the black belt’s development and use of his core (called
‘‘center’’ or ‘‘Ki’’) to produce balanced, powerful, and explosive movements.
For middle- and long-distance runners whose chosen sport involves
balanced and powerful movements of the body propelling itself forward
and catching itself in complex motor patternsdthis stable core, as well as
a strong foundation of muscular balance, is essential. In many runners,
however even those at an Olympic level, this core musculature is not
developed fully. Weakness or lack of sufficient coordination in core
musculature can lead to less efficient movements, compensatory movement
patterns, strain, overuse, and injury. This article discusses the importance of
muscle balance and core stability for injury prevention and for improving
a distance runner’s efficiency and performance. It includes a detailed series
of core exercises that can be incorporated gradually into a runner’s training
program. The program starts with restoration of normal muscle length and
mobility to correct any muscle imbalances. Next, fundamental lumbo-pelvic
stability exercises are introduced which teach the athlete to activate the
deeper core musculature. When this has been mastered, advanced lumbopelvic stability
exercises on the physioball are added for greater challenge.
As the athlete transitions to the standing position, sensory motor training used to stimulate
the subcortex and provides a basis for functional
movement exercises that promote balance, coordination, precision, and
skill acquisition. The ultimate goal of core stabilization is to train
‘‘movements’’ and ‘‘positions’’ rather than muscles. Exercises are most
effective when they mirror the demands of the athlete’s sport.
The role of the core
In essence, the ‘‘core’’ can be viewed as a box with the abdominals in the
front, paraspinals and gluteals in the back, the diaphragm as the roof, and
the pelvic floor and hip girdle musculature as the bottom [1]. Within this box
are 29 pairs of muscles that help to stabilize the spine, pelvis, and kinetic
chain during functional movements. When the system works efficiently, the
result is appropriate distribution of forces; optimal control and efficiency of
movement; adequate absorption of ground-impact forces; and an absence of
excessive compressive, translation, or shearing forces on the joints of the
kinetic chain. This efficiency requires an integration of the myofascial,
articular, and neural systems, which, in turn, requires optimal functioning of
the muscles, including the muscles’ ability to contract in a coordinated
manner and with sufficient motor control and neuromodulation so the joints
receive adequate compression through the articular structures. This model
supports an integrated model of joint function [2] and leads to optimal
length-tension ratios and optimal force coupling of the muscles.
Additionally, this model sets the stage for optimal postural alignment, normal
movement patterns, and a minimal potential for joint dysfunction. Biomechanical
studies showed clearly that joint dysfunction anywhere from
the spine to the feet can lead to compromise elsewhere in the kinetic
chain [3].
The first stage in developing a stable core is to develop the abdominal
muscles. Richardson and coworkers [1] discovered that there are two
different types of muscles fibers (slow-twitch and fast-twitch) that comprise
the abdominal muscles; because of this different fiber composition, different
exercise regimens are required to train the abdominal muscles properly.
Slow-twitch fibers primarily make up the local muscle systemdthe muscles
of the deeper abdominal muscle layers. These muscles are closer to the
center of rotation of the spinal segments and, with their shorter muscle
lengths, are ideal for controlling intersegmental motion, maintaining
mechanical stiffness of the spine, and are best suited to respond to changes
in posture and extrinsic loads. The key muscles of this system include the
transversus abdominus, multifidi, internal oblique, deep transversospinalis,
and pelvic floor muscles. McGill [4] described a ‘‘hoop’’ around the
abdomen that consists of the abdominal fascia anteriorly, the lumbodorsal
fascia posteriorly, and the transverse abdominis and internal obliques
muscles laterally. In combination with the intra-abdominal pressure
mechanism, activation of this system serves to tension the hoop and
provide a stabilizing corset to the spine.
Fast-twitch fibers, conversely, primarily make up the global muscle
system (superficial or outer-layer muscles). These muscles possess long levers
and large moment arms that are capable of producing large outputs of
torque, with an emphasis on speed, power, and larger arcs of movement [5].
The main muscles in this layer are the erector spinae, external oblique, and
rectus abdominis muscles — the muscles that are strengthened by traditional
back and abdominal exercises and that assist with gross spinal movements.
Hodges and Richardson [6,7]showed that it is not simply that deep-layer
abdominal muscles are recruited during stabilization of the spine, but it is how
they are recruited that is important. The transverse abdominus, the innermost
of the four abdominal muscles, has fibers that run horizontally (except for the
most inferior fibers, which run in line with the internal oblique muscle). The
transverse abdominus and the multifidi are considered ‘‘stabilizing muscles’’
(muscles that are modulated continually by the central nervous system and
provide feedback about joint position), whereas the global and larger torque
producing muscles control acceleration and deceleration. The investigators
found that the cocontraction of the deeper-layer transverse abdominus and
multifidi muscle groups occurs before any movement of the limbs. They noted
that the transverse abdominus is active 30 milliseconds before movement of
the shoulder and 110 milliseconds before leg movement; this neuromuscular
stabilization may be delayed in individuals who have low back pain. It is
believed that these muscles anticipate dynamic forces that may affect the
lumbar spine and act to stabilize the spine before movement. In agreement
with this, Hides and colleagues [8] documented that patients who sustained
a low back injury had difficulty recruiting their transverse abdominus and
multifidi muscles early enough to stabilize the spine before movement.
For a more detailed discussion on the theoretic basis for core
strengthening, the reader is referred to a recent review article by Akuthota
and Nadler [9].
Muscle imbalances
Stability work should be started only after the athlete has achieved good
mobility, because adequate muscle length and extensibility are crucial to
proper joint function and efficiency. Also required is a proper relationship
between the prime movers, synergists, and stabilizers. A prime mover is the
muscle that provides most of the force during a desired body movement.
Stabilizers and synergists are muscles that assist in the motion by means of
control or neutralizing forces. Proper timing and coordinated effort of these
muscles is paramount to the runner, and the functional exercises included
here stress these relationships.
A thorough evaluation of the muscular system should include an
assessment of the muscles for overactivity, shortening, weakness, inhibition,
and quality of motion. This is accomplished best by using muscle-length
tests, strength tests, and tests for the efficiency of basic movement patterns
and neuromuscular control. A thorough postural observation and videotaping of
the athlete’s running gait will help in assessing and identifying any
movement imbalances. Muscles that are used frequently can shorten and become
dominant in a motor pattern. If a muscle predominates in a motor pattern, its antagonist
may become inhibited and cause a muscle imbalance. An example of this is
tightness in the iliopsoas muscledthe primary hip flexor that has its origins
at the anterolateral aspect of the lumbar vertebral bodies and its transverse
processes. When the iliopsoas muscle is tight or shortened, it is believed to
inhibit the deep abdominals and the primary hip extensordthe gluteus
maximus. Inhibition of the gluteus maximus muscles may result in
inadequate stabilization of the lumbar spine, with increased anterior shear
and extension forces on the lower lumbar vertebrae.
Muscles are divided into two types: postural and phasic (Box 1). Postural
muscles are used for standing and walking. Phasic muscles are used for
running; they propel the runner. Although 85% of the gait cycle is spent on
one leg when walking [10], when running, there is a double-float phase
during which both legs are off the ground — one at the beginning and one at
the end of swing phase. Running mechanics demand efficient firing patterns
from the postural muscles, whereas phasic muscles do the work of
propelling the runner forward. Because postural muscles are being activated
constantly in the human body to fight the forces of gravity, they have
a tendency to shorten and become tight. In runners, because of training and
prolonged use, certain postural muscles are particularly likely to tighten,
shorten, and become hypertonic. This occurs predominately in muscles that
cross more than one joint [11]. We commonly see this in the gastroc-soleus
(predominantly the soleus), rectus femoris, iliopsoas, tensor fascia lata,
hamstrings, adductors, quadratus lumborum, piriformis, and sartorius.
Restricted extensibility of muscles also can lead to decreased circulation and
ischemia, which contributes to overuse injury [12].
In comparison, phasic muscles (the more global muscles) typically may
remain in an elongated state. It was shown that elongated muscles may lack
force in shortened-range test positions[13]. Weak phasic muscles might allow
excessive motion to occur at the joints upon which they act. In our experience,
common phasic muscles that have a tendency to develop weakness or become
inhibited in runners are the tibialis anterior; peronei; vastus medialis; long
thigh adductors; and the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.
Beginning a core strengthening program
The first step in a preventive or performance-enhancing program is to
assess which muscles have become tight and shortened. These deficits can be
addressed with stretching exercises and soft tissue mobilization techniques.
Following this, the clinician should seek to activate inhibited, or strengthen
any weak, muscle groups. The challenge for the clinician is to design an
individualized program that addresses these imbalances.
Preliminary stretches for shortened, predominant muscles should include
proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation–type or contract-relax stretches
that strive for isometric contraction, followed by end-range stretching. These
are effective techniques for maintaining muscle length and joint mobility.
Active Release Techniques [12], (a specialized method for soft tissue
mobilization) when used in conjunction with stretching techniques, have
shown great promise in restoring muscle length and soft tissue extensibility.
Athletes also can do self-mobilization with the use of a foam roll. One example
of this technique targets the iliotibial band, is shown in Fig. 1.
Middle-distance runners have unique and specific training programs that
demand strength, power, and endurance. These runners place terrific
demands for balance and precise functioning of structures all the way from
the core to the feet. Specific exercises for the runner should progress from
mobility to stability, reflexive motor patterning, acquiring the skills of
fundamental movement patterns, and finally, progressive strengthening.
These sequences may not be applicable to all athletes; therefore, the key is to
analyze the individual in each exercise category and then to tailor an exercise
regimen that will best suit that runner’s needs. For example, it was shown
that runners who are prone to iliotibial band syndrome often have weakness
in their hip abductors that predisposes them to increased stress on the
iliotibial band [14]. Thus, a preventative training program for runners who
have this syndrome must target the hip abductors, particularly the posterior
aspect of the gluteus medius that assists external rotation or in decelerating
adduction of the hip. Other muscles that prove weak or inhibited on
evaluation also should be strengthened on a case-by-case basis.
The stages of core training
Before beginning the basic core strengthening exercises, the athlete
should warm-up the spine with the Cat-Camel motion (Fig. 2).
Fundamental lumbo-pelvic stability
The purposes of the fundamental core stabilization exercises are to gain
stability, but more importantly, to gain coordination and timing of the deep
abdominal wall musculature. It is extremely important to do these basic
exercises correctly because they are the foundation of all other core exercises
and movement patterns. These basic exercises emphasize maintaining the
lumbar spine in a neutral position (which is the midrange position between
lumbar extension and flexion.) This alignment allows for the natural
curvature of the spine. All of these exercises are best done with light loads
and high repetitions.
This first stage of core stability training begins with the athlete learning to
stabilize the abdominal wall. Proper activation of these muscles is considered crucial
in the first stages of a core stability program, before progressing to more dynamic and
multiplanar activities. We recommend the abdominal bracing technique as described
by McGill (Fig. 3) [4].
The exercise program should progress sequentially through the initial
fundamental movements as detailed inFigs. 4 through 8. These fundamental
exercises are to be performed three times a week to maximize results. The
athlete begins with two sets of 15 repetitions and progresses to three sets of
15 to 20 repetitions to develop fully the requisite muscle endurance for
higher level performance. Initially, these exercises are taught in a supine,
hook-lying position or an all-fours quadruped position. The athlete can
progress to more functional standing exercises as control is developed.
Important concepts that are taught at this stage include not tilting the pelvis
or flattening the spine. We also emphasize normal rhythmic breathing.
Advanced lumbo-pelvic stability
Once the athlete demonstrates good stability with all static core exercises,
they can be replaced with more advanced exercises as detailed in Figs. 9
through 14. The use of the physioball requires the athlete to work on
proprioception and higher level core stabilization. These exercises should be
performed two to three times weekly to maximize results. Again, the athlete
begins with one or two sets of 15 repetitions and progresses to three sets of
15 to 20 repetitions. Quality is more important than quantity. Make sure
that the lumbar spine does not go into extension or the cervical/thoracic
spine into flexion and maintain the spine in perfect alignment.
As the athlete progresses through a core exercise program, the emphasis
always should be on correct postural alignment as athletes challenge
themselves with a variety of movement patterns in the three planes of
movement: sagittal, frontal, and transverse. Although runners move
predominately in the sagittal plane, there still is body movement in the
transverse and frontal planes that must be controlled adequately by the
neuromuscular system. During midstance of the running gait cycle, the foot
and ankle unlock to allow absorption of ground reaction forces. During this
phase, the body is challenged most to control excessive or aberrant motion
in the frontal and transverse planes. Functional exercises on one leg are used
to best simulate the neuromuscular demands of running. The athlete is
trained with increasingly challenging functional patterns, with continued
emphasis on postural control and core stabilization. The ultimate goal of
core stabilization is to train ‘‘movements’’ and ‘‘positions,’’ rather than
muscles. Exercises are most effective when they mirror the demands of the
athlete’s sport.
Development of balance and motor control
The following movements require reflexive control. The athlete can
accomplish this control by using the numerous proprioceptors in the soles of
the feet and the exteroceptors of the skin, and by activating the neck
muscles; these are highly contributory to postural regulation. This sensory motor
stimulation is an attempt to provide the subcortex with a basis for
movement that is progressively more challenging. It involves exercises that
stimulate balance, coordination, precision, and skill acquisition.
The following exercises should be performed while standing (Figs. 15–
17). We instruct the athlete to control the feet, pelvis, and head consciously,
with the goal of making sure that the feet are aligned properly.
These exercises use a rocker board. A rocker board is a board with
a hemisphere underneath that allows single-plane rocking. (The board was
designed by Dr. Vladimer Janda to promote balance and stability of the
Common errors or abnormal compensations to look for when attempting
these exercises include increased anterior pelvic tilt, increased lumbar
lordosis, increasing internal rotation of the hip, excessive valgus at the knee,
and hyperpronation at the foot. Therefore, when teaching these exercises, it
is imperative to instruct the athlete on proper spinal alignment. To aid in
this, we recommend initiating the abdominal bracing technique before
performing the stepping forward-and-backward motions of any of these
exercises (which train correct weight transfer over the feet). Additionally, it
is important to instruct the athlete on proper gait. The focus here should be
on controlling the initial heel strike in a supinated position on the lateral
edge of the foot, into pronation on the medial aspect of the foot, with flexion
of the first metatarsal head and toes. Continuing proper gait instruction, we
teach a falling-forward position into a lunge (with perfect control). The
athlete then progresses to jumps on one or two legs, assuring that there is no
increased lumbar lordosis or increased valgus moment at the knee. This
stimulates vestibular and cerebellar activity, which, in turn, leads to
automatic postural controldan important part of our training. (Readers
will note the increased muscle activity of the ankles and muscles that control
the lower extremity chain and spine.) The athlete can progress to standing
on one leg, with alternating arm movements.
Various devices are useful to challenge balance progressively, moving the
athlete from conscious to subconscious control of the muscles that are
responsible for postural maintenance and gait. These devices include
a balance board (a whole sphere underneath the board, which creates
multiplanar instability) or a rocker board (a curved surface underneath the
board, which allows single-plane motion). Dynamic foam rollers are an
inexpensive alternative to the boards that also can be used to challenge
balance, proprioception, and stability. These include half-rollers and fullsized rollers.
Two other items that are invaluable to challenge balance and
core stability and aid proprioceptive training in the standing position are the
Bosu Balance Trainer and the Dyna Disk (these can be used interchangeably). T
he Bosu has two functional surfaces that integrate dynamic balance
with sports-specific or functional training: the domed surface is convex, the
other side is flat and can be used for less challenge. The Dyna Disk is an air-
filled plastic disc that can be inflated firmly. It has a smaller diameter than
the Bosu and can be used like the Bosu Trainer because it creates an
increased proprioceptive challenge to the athlete while standing on it. The
Dyna Disk is unstable and does not have a base like the Bosu Trainer.
Functional movement training
Functional movements require acceleration, deceleration, and dynamic
stabilization. Figs. 18 through 24 present an array of functional, diagonal
exercises for the trunk and extremities that are essential for runners.
Exercises should be safe, challenging, and stress multiplanar motions. These
training exercises encourage functional strength, which depends on the
neuromuscular system’s ability to produce dynamic eccentric, concentric,
and isometric contractions during movement patterns.
A functional exercise regimen that is specific to the demands of running
includes single-leg drills, three-dimensional lunges, resistive diagonal
patterns of the upper and lower extremities, drills that involve plyometrics,
and triplanar movement sequences. Athletes can progress through the three
planes of motion by performing similar exercises on balance boards, the
Dyna Disk, or Bosu-type trainers, after static trunk and core stability have
been mastered.
This article is intended to provide an understanding of the importance of
core musculature to runners and to offer exercises that will help them
achieve desired mobility, stability, muscular balance, and neuromuscular
control. Please see Table 1 for an example of how to incorporate these
exercises into a periodized training program. It is highly recommended,
however, that athletes consult a skilled practitioner to address individual
needs and maximize results from a program of this nature.
[1] Richardson C, Jull G, Hodges P, et al. Therapeutic exercise for spinal stabilization and low
back pain: scientific basis and clinical approach. Edinburgh (Scotland): Churchill Livingstone; 1999.
[2] Lee D. An integrated model of ‘‘joint’’ function and its clinical application. Fourth
Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Pain. Montreal, Canada, p. 138.
[3] Nicholas JA, Strizak AM, Veras G. A study of thigh muscle weakness in different
pathological states of the lower extremity. Am J Sports Med 1976;4:241–8.
[4] McGill S. Ultimate back fitness and performance. Waterloo: Wabuno Publishers; 2004.
[5] Comerford MJ, Mottram SL. Movement and stability dysfunction–contemporary developments. Man Ther 2001;6:15–26.
[6] Hodges PW, Richardson CA. Altered trunk muscle recruitment in people with low back pain
with upper limb movement at different speeds. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1999;80:1005–12.
Table 1
Periodization of core training program
Summer/Falldbase training Winterdsport specific Spring/Summerdcompetition
(3 /wk, 3 sets of 15–20
repetitions for each exercise)
(2–3 /wk, 2–3 sets of 10–15
repetitions for each exercise)
(1–2 /wk, 2–3 sets of 8–12
repetitions for each exercise)
Restore mobility/address
any muscle imbalances
Advanced core stability
Similar to sports specific
training with addition of
Fundamental core stability plyometric exercises
Functional movement
Sensory motor stimulation
688 FREDERICSON & MOORE[7] Hodges PW, Richardson CA. Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine
associated with low back pain. A motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis. Spine
[8] Hides JA, Richardson CA, Jull GA. Multifidus muscle recovery is not automatic after
resolution of acute, first-episode low back pain. Spine 1996;21:2763–9.
[9] Akuthota V, Nadler SF. Core strengthening. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:S86–92.
[10] Janda V. On the concept of postural muscles and posture in man. Aust J Physiother 1983;29:
[11] Kendall F, McCreary E, Provance P. Muscle testing & function. Baltimore: Williams and
Wilkins; 1993.
[12] Schiottz-Christensen B, Mooney V, Azad S, et al. The role of active release manual therapy
for upper extremity overuse syndromes-a preliminary report. J Occup Rehabil 1999;9:
[13] Sahrmann S. Diagnosis and treatment of movement impairment syndromes. St. Louis:
Mosby; 2000.
[14] Fredericson M, Cookingham CL, Chaudhari AM, et al. Hip abductor weakness in distance
runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Clin J Sport Med 2000;10:169–75.

Boxing, MMA, Self Defense, and VersusFit

Gracie Barra Katy Texas & VersusFit

“Training with Intent” ; by Professor Ted Stickel, Black Belt Instructor, Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; Katy, Texas

I have been using the VersusFit Suspension training straps and have found them to be the most effective total body performance conditioning system I have ever used. Like everyone else, I have trained extensively with free weights during my lifetime and find VersusFit suspension training to offer far greater core strength, total body power, flexibility, balance and stability conditioning. This method of conditioning meets the requirements of what I call the “Four Pillars of Fitness”: cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility. In my profession of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, strength and flexibility are very important for competition and self defense events. The VersusFit suspension straps improve strength and leverage in a large range of angles; this is crucial to optimum performance in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and most other sporting events. I use and recommend the use of VersusFit suspension training straps to all people who want to improve their overall fitness level and manage body weight. A great amount of calories are burned while working out with suspension straps versus free weights, and especially weight machines, because most of the body’s muscle groups are used during each exercise. The VersusFit suspension straps are very heavy duty and are probably the most durable suspension gear on the market. VersusFit suspension straps are certainly built with durability to last in our rugged MMA and self defense training environment.
– Professor Ted Stickel

Types of Body Fat and What To Do About All

Burning Fat
VersusFit Studio Training

VersusFit is total body training simultaneously engaging all muscle groups. Your metabolism will burn more calories and more fat during and hours after a VersusFit workout. & VersusFit Studios.

(This article was first printed in the December 2006 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. For more information or to order, please go to

Though the term might sound dated, “middle-age spread” is a greater concern than ever. As women go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more than it does in men. Especially at menopause, extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection, as the ratio of fat to lean tissue shifts and fat storage begins favoring the upper body over the hips and thighs. Even women who don’t actually gain weight may still gain inches at the waist.

At one time, women might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of postmenopausal life. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral, fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.

Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.
Abdominal fat locations

Generally speaking, abdominal fat is either visceral (surrounding the abdominal organs) or subcutaneous (lying between the skin and the abdominal wall). Fat located behind the abdominal cavity, called retroperitoneal fat, is generally counted as visceral fat. Several studies indicate that visceral fat is most strongly correlated with risk factors such as insulin resistance, which sets the stage for type 2 diabetes. Some research suggests that the deeper layers of subcutaneous fat may also be involved in insulin resistance (in men but not in women).

Where IS the fat?

Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where a woman’s fat ends up is influenced by several factors. Heredity is one: Scientists have identified a number of genes that help determine how many fat cells an individual develops and where these cells are stored (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 25, 2006). Hormones are also involved. At menopause, estrogen production decreases and the ratio of androgen (male hormones present in small amounts in women) to estrogen increases — a shift that’s been linked in some studies to increased abdominal fat after menopause. Some researchers suspect that the drop in estrogen levels at menopause is also linked to increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes the accumulation of abdominal fat.

As the evidence against abdominal fat mounts, researchers and clinicians are trying to measure it, correlate it with health risks, and monitor changes that occur with age and overall weight gain or loss. The most accurate measurement techniques, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, are expensive and not available for routine use. However, research using these imaging methods has shown that waist circumference reflects abdominal fat. It has largely superseded waist-to-hip ratio (waist size divided by hip size) as an indicator of fat distribution, because it is easier to measure and about as accurate. There’s also evidence that waist circumference is a better predictor of health problems than body mass index (BMI), which indicates only total body fat (see “Measuring up”).
Measuring up

Researchers have tried several ways of measuring the links between health risks and body weight or fat distribution:

Body mass index (BMI). A ratio of weight in kilograms to the square of height in meters, BMI helps identify people whose weight increases their risk for several conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. People with BMIs of 25–29.9 are considered overweight, and those with BMIs of 30 or over, obese. However, some researchers think BMI isn’t always a valid indication of obesity, because it gives misleading results in people who are very muscular or very tall. To calculate your BMI, go to or use this formula: Weight in pounds × 703 ÷ (height in inches)2.

Waist-to-hip ratio. To find your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement at its narrowest point by your hip measurement at its widest point. As a marker of a person’s abdominal fat, this measure outperforms BMI. For women, the risk for heart disease and stroke begins to rise at a ratio of about 0.8.

Waist circumference. The simplest way to check for abdominal fat is to measure your waist. Run a tape measure around your torso at about the level of your navel. (Official guidelines determine the level at which waist circumference is measured by locating a bony landmark: the top of the right hipbone, or right iliac crest, where it intersects a line dropped vertically from the middle of the right armpit.) Breathe minimally, and make sure not to pull the tape measure so tight that it depresses the skin. In women with a BMI of 25–34.9, a waist circumference greater than 35 inches is considered high risk, although research suggests there is some extra health risk at any size greater than 33 inches. A study in the September 2006 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in women, a large waist was correlated with diabetes risk — even when BMI was in the normal range (18.5–24.9). Since abdominal fat can be a problem despite a normal BMI, health assessments should include both BMI and waist circumference. The relationship between waist circumference and health risk varies by ethnic group. For example, in Asian women, a waist circumference above 31.5 inches is considered a health risk.

The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist — the pinchable stuff — can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but in normal-weight people, it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 found that liposuction removal of subcutaneous fat (up to 23 pounds of it) in 15 obese women had no effect after three months on their measures of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, or response to insulin. Weight loss through diet and exercise, on the other hand, triggers many changes that have positive health effects.
What’s wrong with abdominal fat?

Body fat, or adipose tissue, was once regarded as little more than a storage depot for fat blobs waiting passively to be used for energy. But research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s more accurate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. One such hormone is leptin, which is normally released after a meal and dampens appetite. Fat cells also produce the hormone adiponectin, which is thought to influence the response of cells to insulin. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.

Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by promoting insulin resistance and low-level chronic inflammation. These and other biochemicals, some not yet identified, are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes. Together, insulin resistance, high blood glucose, excess abdominal fat, unfavorable cholesterol levels (including high triglycerides), and high blood pressure constitute the metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Excess fat at the waist has been linked to several other disorders as well. A European study of nearly 500,000 women and men found that, for women, a waist-to-hip ratio above 0.85 was associated with a 52% increase in colorectal cancer risk. A long-running community study on atherosclerosis conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University found that even among normal-weight people, those with higher waist-to-hip ratios had just as much difficulty as those with higher BMIs in carrying out various activities of daily living, such as getting in and out of bed and performing household chores.

A larger waist measurement also predicts the development of high blood pressure, regardless of total body fat, according to a 10-year study of Chinese adults published in the August 2006 American Journal of Hypertension. Finally, a study presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience found that older people with bigger bellies had worse memory and less verbal fluency, even after taking diabetes into account.
Now for the good news

So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. In a study comparing sedentary adults with those exercising at different intensities, researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that the non-exercisers experienced a nearly 9% gain in visceral fat after six months. Subjects who exercised the equivalent of walking or jogging 12 miles per week put on no visceral fat, and those who exercised the equivalent of jogging 20 miles per week lost both visceral and subcutaneous fat.

Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat. A University of Pennsylvania study followed overweight or obese women, ages 24–44, for two years. Compared to participants who received only advice about exercise, those given an hour of weight training twice a week reduced their proportion of body fat by nearly 4% — and were more successful in keeping off visceral fat.

Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.

Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help. But drastically cutting calories is not a good diet strategy, because it can force the body into starvation mode, slowing metabolism and paradoxically causing it to store fat more efficiently later on.

Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For example, studies of the weight-loss medication sibutramine (Meridia), which was approved in 1997, have shown that the drug’s greatest effects are on visceral fat. Rimonabant (Acomplia) — not yet FDA-approved — is the first of a new class of drugs that block a receptor in the brain that increases appetite. Acomplia has been shown to modestly reduce the accumulation of fat at the waist.

Because levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, decline with age, many people believe that DHEA supplementation can reverse age-related changes, including increased abdominal fat. DHEA is converted in the body to testosterone and estrogen and regulates various functions. Some studies have linked DHEA to longevity in animals and people, and others have linked it to modest health benefits. But the results of a two-year randomized trial published in the Oct. 19, 2006, New England Journal of Medicine showed that DHEA had no effect on aging markers, including body-composition measurements, in women and men ages 60 and over.

For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat.

(This article was first printed in the December 2006 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. For more information or to order, please go to

Why VersusFit Bodyweight Suspension Training

20130727_231915Professional Boxing Welterweight Champion, Jesus Soto-Karass with Darrel Clouse / VersusFit, just after knocking out Andre Berto in the 12th round on Showtime Championship Boxing.

Bigger + stronger = better? No, this is NOT always true. In fact, with the exception of weightlifting contests or bodybuilding pageants, bigger and stronger can be a hindrance. Yes, it is so. For performance fitness, or “readiness for performance based competition”, there is definitely a law of diminishing returns that, more often than not, comes into play. For example professional boxing, the champ boxer pictured above, Jesus Soto – Karass, is not as muscular as his opponent, Andre Berto. Berto looked very impressive; muscular and well defined. Jesus Soto – Karass, lean, not overly muscular, but very athletically built. Well into the fight, it became obvious which fighter had spent more time in the weight room versus being in a boxing ring. Berto is good; very, very good….however he came into this fight looking great, almost like a bodybuilder. Too much muscle. Berto became “gassed”, his boxing mechanics became flawed subject to muscle suffering from muscle fatigue. Soto – Karass did not get so fatigued that his punch execution became flawed, he saw to it that he was at a proper weight and fit. Soto – Karass was thus able to keep consistent attack on his opponent, Andre Berto, and ultimately won by a knockout in the 12th round.

These two boxers standing in the middle of the boxing ring, next to each other, anyone can tell who lifts a lot of weights; Berto. Additional muscle mass can, and usually is, very taxing on the cardiovascular system. Our bodies are not able to “fuel” or even provide enough oxygen to these vital muscles during a boxing match, a football game, tennis, or most any sport excluding weightlifting or bodybuilding. This is a very real factor even that professionals must deal with. Performance enhancing drugs? Those are shortcuts that will not necessarily make a good featherweight an even better welterweight, or even a professional football lineman better. What good are learned skills in ANY sport if you can’t complete the contest? You and I see this happen often in pro sports whether it is late in the fourth quarter of a tough football game (oxygen?) or in the the later rounds of a tough boxing fight. VersusFit Supercharged Bodyweight Training will give you just the proper physique that you need for performance, general fitness, and life. Bodyweight training is also far less likely to cause injury, or aggravate injury suffered in the ring, on the field, or at a church softball game.  Versusfit Bodyweight Training is even good therapy for healing, improving balance, coordination, and stability. It works for me and many, many others including professional boxers, pro football players, Special Forces, and SPECIAL Moms & Dads who wish to remain active and in good health for so many family members who love them so much. Thanks.

Pro Boxing Coach Manny Masson / VersusFit

Solis to face Tony Thompson for the WBC international championship on March 22ndTony Thompson and Odlanier Solis

Heavyweight contender Odlanier Solis arrived in Istanbul (Turkey). The 2004 Olympic gold medalist will face US veteran Tony “Tiger” Thompson on March 22nd in Tekirdag. It is the clash of two former Klitschko foes: In March 2011 Solis lost to then WBC champion Vitali Klitschko in Cologne (Germany) due to a knee injury; Thompson had already two shots at Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir in 2008 and 2012 but lost both fights.

“The winner of this bout will get another shot at the world title”, says promoter Ahmet Oner. “With Vitali in retirement and Wladimir facing stiffs like Alex Leapai it’s about time to bring back some action to the heavyweight scene. Both guys have a lot to win but even more to lose. So I am sure that it will be a hell of a fight.”

Solis hit Istanbul yesterday with Miami based physician Osvaldo Nordelo to wrap up his training camp in Turkey. Tomorrow the team expects head coach Manny Masson who will be in Solis’ corner for the Thompson fight. “Solis and Masson have been a very good team before. Manny was one of Solis’ first coaches when he came to Germany in 2007. They have a good chemistry and I am sure that they will have the right game plan to beat Thompson”, states Oner. “Solis loves Turkey. He loves the people and the hospitality. He is in great shape already and we gave him the best possible conditions over here to finalize his training camp. He will do one more week of sparring and then just focus on the fight.”


Bodyweight Training – Angles of Attack

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– Duane Stevenson

In a world of instantaneous gratification, starting an exercise regimen and then waiting months, or even years, to visually realize the full benefits can be disheartening. And while 30 minutes a day of cardio is touted as the be-all, end-all of healthy living by medical professionals, the truth is it’s not going to give you the body you want. While cardio is excellent for your heart health and your waist line, relying solely on cardio to get that dream body you’ve always wanted is going to fail every single time.

 Enter bodyweight training. Requiring significantly less equipment than traditional weight training, this system allows you to build and lengthen your muscles without keeping a collection of heavy weights or oversized machines in your home gym. And suspension training drastically increases the success rate of bodyweight training by making it possible for you to achieve nearly any angle, thus targeting and working every muscle in your body.

 The suspension training gear offered by allows you to engage in a strenuous, results-driven workout. With just 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you can get the best in bodyweight training and, therefore, the most noticeable results. Our system allows you to utilize gravity to your advantage, varying the intensity of your workout all while building a solid core and targeting muscles throughout the body.

When it comes to a home gym, you’ll find nothing more multi-faceted than the VersusFit gear. The results speak for themselves! products are available online at


Moderate or Extensive….Just Exercise

Exercise is about more than keeping in shape. It also can help with your emotional and mental health. Exercise can help you improve your self-esteem, keep your mind off problems, and give you a sense of control. In general, people who are fit have less anxietydepression, and stress than people who are not active.

Research suggests that exercise can help specific mental health problems. Exercise may help prevent depression from coming back (relapse) and improve symptoms of mild depression.

Be safe while you exercise

Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before increasing your activity. Anyone age 65 or older should talk to a doctor before exercise.

  • Start slowly, and gradually increase how much you exercise.
  • Stop exercising if you have severe pain, especially chest pain, or severe problems breathing. Talk to your doctor about these symptoms.
  • People who are likely to have high anxiety or panic may have an episode during exercise because of the buildup of certain body chemicals (such as lactic acid) from exercise. If you have any problems during exercise, talk with your doctor.

Tips for being active

It can be hard to be active when you feel depressed or anxious or have a mental health problem. But activity can help you feel better, so do your best to find a way to be active. It’s fine to start with small steps. You can build up from a few minutes a day.

  • Don’t overdo it. Start with simple exercises, such as walking, bicycling,swimming, or jogging.
  • Warm up your muscles for about 5 minutes before you start exercising. To do this, you can walk, slowly move your arms and legs, or do simple muscle stretches.
  • Use the talk-sing test to see whether you’re exercising at the right pace.
    • If you can talk during exercise, you’re doing fine.
    • If you can sing during exercise, you can exercise a little faster or harder.
    • If you are not able to talk, you’re probably exercising too hard. Slow down a bit.
  • Cool down for 5 to 10 minutes after you exercise. It’s okay to do some stretching exercises during cooldown.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Get regular exercise but not within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime. This might make it hard to fall asleep.
  • You can make daily activities part of your exercise program. You can:
    • Walk to work or to do errands.
    • Push a lawn mower, rake leaves, or shovel snow.
    • Vacuum or sweep.
    • Play actively with your children, or walk the dog.

Do your best to slowly work up to moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or shooting baskets. But any activities-including daily chores-that raise your heart rate can be included. Find a pace that is comfortable. You can be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.

If you have problems exercising on your own, ask someone to exercise with you or join an exercise group or health club.

VersusFit Supercharged Bodyweight Training

VersusFit Supercharged Bodyweight Training
I have been training and competing for over 30 years. I have trained with VersusFit Supercharged Bodyweight Training for 2 years and I AM IN THE BEST INJURY FREE CONDITION OF MY LIFE.

Darrel Clouse, a 52 year old GRANDPA, trains with VersusFit suspension training gear exclusively for two years now. I have am in the BEST INJURY FREE CONDITION OF MY LIFE.