Some Unsolicited Advice

I have two pet peeves: dirty dishes in the sink and unsolicited interruptions in my workouts.

I don’t mean to be stand-offish in the gym, but for me it’s all about intensity and getting in and out of the gym so I can get to work on time.

This morning, someone training next to me (the trainer I alluded to in my “demystifying the core” blog – see prior post), offered me some unsolicited advice on how to make the exercise I was doing harder. In training jargon, this equates to progressing an exercise.

Now, I love to learn. Much to my wife’s dismay, I probably take 100 hours of continuing education each year and am always reading to keep up with the latest research.

I try to keep an open mind and believe that I can learn something from everyone.

Unfortunately, this individual, while well intentioned, gave me erroneous unsolicited advice. While I did learn something from him, it wasn’t exercise related. Rather, it was that some personal trainers, despite holding a certification, don’t always understand the science behind exercise and nutrition.

At the time, I was faced with two options: I could have corrected him and explained why what he was advising me was incorrect, or I could have politely smiled and finish my workout in a timely manner.

Given what I told you earlier about my pet peeves as well as my perception of my audience (the personal trainer advising me), you probably guessed that I chose the latter. Hence, my decision to write this post.

By now you are probably wondering about the advice.

I was performing a side Iso-Abs, also known as a side plank. The advice I was given was to put one leg across the other onto the floor, instead of stacking my legs. I was told this would make the exercise more intense by 12%.

The reason this trainer’s advice was incorrect was because the side plank is a core stability exercise. In order to progress this exercise, I should have been told to increase the complexity and instability of the exercise by using a ball or pad, or by raising one leg above the other. By having me place my top stacked leg on the ground, I was creating more stability and an environment that required less balance.

I am not sure if this trainer is NASM certified. The NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) developed an evidence-based, integrated model (Optimum Performance Training, or OPT, model) that is designed to help clients and athletes, regardless of fitness level, achieve their goals safely and progressively based on an assessment and current research in exercise physiology.

Review of the OPT Model

Building Block/OPT Phase Adaptation Intensity/


Method of Progression Reps Sets Rest period

Phase 1



40-70% *1RM

4/2/1 Tempo

Proprioception (controlled stability) 12-25 2-3 0s-90s

Phase 2, 3, 4

-Strength endurance


-Maximum Strength







**** Load

1-12 3-6 45s-5 min

Phase 5

-Power 30-45%






1-10 2-3 3-5 min


*1RM (Repetition Max) –  An estimation of the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted one time for a given exercise

**Tempo- Speed at which each repetition is performed. The first number is the eccentric contraction (lengthening); the second number is the isometric contraction (dynamic stabilization); the third number is the concentric contraction (shortening).

***Volume – Amount of training performed within a specific time period

****Load – Amount of weight

A note on rest periods – Recovery varies based on the energy system used. The more intense the activity, the longer the recovery time needed to replenish energy stores.

So there you have it…some unsolicited, albeit accurate and hopefully useful advice!


Geoff Lecovin, MS, DC, ND, L.Ac., CSCS, CISSN

Dr. Lecovin is a chiropractor, naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. He graduated from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1990, earned a Masters in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in 1992, and then went on to complete the naturopathic and acupuncture programs at Bastyr University in 1994. He holds additional certifications in exercise from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine and International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Dr. Lecovin specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain and sports injuries by integrating trigger point acupuncture, soft tissue release, joint manipulation, corrective exercise and nutrition. In addition, he combines exercise and nutrition for weight loss, weight gain and performance enhancement.

His clinic, located in Bellevue, WA, offers naturopathic medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage and infrared sauna therapy.

He can be reached at Evergreen Integrative Medicine at (425) 646-4747 and his website address is:

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin