Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Interview with Author Rachel Straub

Weight Training Without Injury

1.      What inspired you to write Weight Training Without Injury?  
The book was inspired by those who have needlessly injured themselves while using weights. In addition, what constitutes proper vs. improper form has been a topic of great debate, so we wished to explicitly define this distinction through the use of full color, step-by-step photos. Our mission is simple: to enable you to master proper form and prevent injury when lifting weights.

2.      Why should people weight train?
There is no activity or sport that is not enhanced by proper weight training. This means if you are not weight training, you should be. In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all healthy adults weight train at least 2 days a week. It is scientifically proven that weight training is essential for building muscle and strength. In addition, weight training is essential for combating the loss of muscle mass and bone that occurs with the aging process.

3.      What should be taken into consideration when choosing a tailored workout program?
When structuring a workout program, you need to consider multiple factors, such as age, level of current fitness, and injury history, for example. There is not a one size fits all approach when structuring a program. Attempting to do so is what leads to injury. Ideally, a workout schedule should incorporate cardio, weight training, and flexibility training. Of course, the weight training portion is where people get lazy (or scared). Learning how to weight train properly is a necessary skill worth mastering for long-term health and longevity.

4.      What would you consider an efficient workout?
Any workout that gets people in better shape (whether it be toned, weight loss, etc.) and is performed consistently is obviously efficient in accomplishing something. However, what many people fail to realize is that working out and getting in better shape doesn’t necessarily equate to not getting hurt. Therefore, an efficient workout is one that can be performed regularly, consistently, and be done safely without getting injured (and yet still produce results). 

5.      What advice do you have for those who have been injured and want to ease their way back into weight training?
First and foremost, use very little to no weight. If you cannot do a move without pain, by all means, don’t add more! Second, start simple. You should aim to work all major muscle groups 1-2 days a week, but you don’t need 100 exercises to accomplish this. Choose 1-2 exercises per muscle group, and add more exercises with time. Third, if you hire a trainer, don’t assume he or she know everything. What is beneficial for one client, can be catastrophic for another. If something doesn’t feel right, please just say no! You know your body better than anyone. Your #1 goal should be to learn proper weight training to improve your overall health. This takes time. So be patient!  

6.      What tips do you have for older adults looking to begin weight training?
As an older adult, your goal in weight training should be to increase mobility and strength to maintain your independence. This means you don’t need a bunch of heavy weights! Postural ailments plague many adults and simply worsen with age. Back exercises (particularly the Reverse Fly, which happens to be my personal favorite) is essential to fight the slumping tendency. Lower-body exercises (such as squats) are essential to keep you capable of getting in and out of a chair without help, for example. If you don’t want to work out at a gym, doing exercises with just your body only will help you in more ways than you can imagine.

7.      How many times a week should someone weight train?
Current recommendations are at least 2 days a week (and this is in addition to 3-5 days of cardio exercise). Generally speaking, you should work all major muscles groups twice a week using resistance exercise. If you are more advanced, you can increase the frequency, but starting with 2 days is a good place to start.

8.      What is the most common mistake people make when working out?
This is a really tough question to answer. I dedicated nearly 300 pages, using over 350 photos, to show the “common” mistakes people make when working out. But just as some example, here we go:

1.      Squats: Leaning too far forward (which can hurt the back), placing the feet too close together (which can hurt the knees), going to deep (which can hurt the knees), tilting the head back (which can hurt the neck).
2.      Lat Pull Down: Pulling the weight from behind the head (which can injure the rotator cuff)
3.      Push-ups: Allowing the back to arch (which can cause low back pain)
4.      Biceps Curls: Swinging the body (which can injure the low back)
5.      Bench Presses: Arching the back (which can hurt the low back) and flaring the elbows (which can hurt the shoulders).

9.      What general weight training tips can you offer to everyone?
Master the basics first. Start simple. Avoid high-level fitness class (such as cross fit), particularly if you are a beginner. Research shows that approximately 75% of those who partake in crossfit get hurt. So do yourself a favor, don’t go nuts. Yes, this may be boring (and not as exciting), but your body will thank you for it.

10.  What sparked your passion for fitness?
While in high school, I was plagued with postural challenges and knee problems. My doctor suggested I weight train. I knew nothing about this (and was in terrible condition), and that’s when I met Fred, who was retired from a 50+ career in fitness and was personal training part time. Fred had owned and operated gyms for nearly 20 years and had trained 1000s of bodies (from the elite athlete to the morbidly obese to the elderly adult). He had an enviable gift, and he was greatly respected by all those who knew him. He forever changed my life, and my passion for fitness just continued to blossom after I met him. My relationship with Fred evolved to me becoming his protégé, which is what led to us to writing Weight Training Without Injury.

11.  What should you absolutely not do when working out?
Never pull any weight behind your head (which is commonly done during Lat Pull Downs and Shoulder Presses). Never torque your head back (which is commonly done during all types of exercises, such as rows, squats, leg curl exercises, etc.). Avoid deep squats – very few people can actually do these properly, and the potential benefits aren’t worth the risks (which includes injury to the low back, hip, and knee). Never do sit-ups. Never add more weight to any exercise if you aren’t comfortable doing it with light weight. Never assume that just because person X is doing some exercise (and appears to be in incredible shape) that you should be doing it too!   

12.  Why are so many people getting injured when they work out?
The science is irrefutable that exercise is medicine. People know they should be exercising now more than ever. More people working out equates to more injuries. In addition, people tend to want “quick” fixes / results. In an effort to do so, people are joining more fitness classes, which can be overcrowded with no instructor capable of selecting appropriate exercises for everyone. This leads to injury. Also, many people tend to only incorporate cardio exercise in the workout schedule. Failure to weight train can also lead to injury since poor biomechanics (which is often linked to impaired strength) are widespread among cardio enthusiasts. For example, it is scientifically proven that approximately 90% of all runners get hurt. And the most common site is the knee.

13.  What fitness trends are you noticing?
Extreme levels of fitness seem to becoming the norm at most gyms these days. For example, boot camps and cross fit classes are jammed packed. However, for most people, they aren’t in the shape to be in these high-level classes. People are quick to judge a workout by how much they sweat and how many calories they burn. Yes, this is great for weight loss, but doing high-level fitness without being concerned about getting hurt is a big problem. People do get hurt, and often they have irreversible damage. This is very unfortunate.

Also, everyone these days tends to be a personal trainer (or have a trainer). Getting certified is now more easy than ever. However, a vast number of trainers do not have the education or understanding of proper vs. improper exercise. This is very unfortunate, as this is why clients get hurt. My own mother was one of these people – she now has a permanently bad shoulder because of a personal trainer’s lack of knowledge on shoulder biomechanics. 

14.  When should weight training be introduced to our youth?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, children should start weight training as soon as they are capable of following instructions. However, in these younger populations, exercises should focus on using very light weights (or even just body weight) so children can learn proper mechanics. Basically, if a child is capable of participating in a sport, he or she should be ready to start weight training.
Injuries in sports are very common, so starting proper weight training early on can improve all over body strength and help prevent such events. There is no activity or sport that is not enhanced by proper weight training. Period.

15.  What is the one body part that men or women always ask for your help on and what do you tell them?
The core. Everyone these days wants a stronger core! It’s like the buzz word in the fitness injury. What I tell them is the core is composed of 20+ muscles, and the largest core muscle is actually the buttocks (or glute max). If you have weak glutes, this is setting you up for endless problems (low back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and more). Therefore, if you want a stronger core, you must train your glutes! The best exercise for the glutes that can be done ANYWHERE is the squat. Therefore, if there was only one exercise I could do for the rest of my life, it would be the squat. Many people will tell me they can’t squat. Well, let me tell you, that’s typically not true – if they are getting in and out of a chair, they can. Learning how to squat properly, however, is what people really need to master. Changing one’s feet, how deep they go, using a chair or object for balance, etc., are all ways of fixing bad squatting form.

Please note: Rachel is being promoted to the news media by the publicity firm that I work for. to learn more, see

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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