Keeping it simple

by Paige Romanowski

Paige Romanowski, certified personal trainer, is the owner of BodyRite Training located in Jamesport, NY.   Visit Paige’s website at ­

It can be a challenge to whisk up creativity and variety in a workout program day in and day out. It can also be frustrating interpreting and applying all of the fitness and training data available on social media. As a trainer, I find this true both in my profession and in my own personal fitness. The attention and commitment of my clients is essential in order for my business to not only survive, but thrive – so it is extremely important to be inventive and relevant for everyone’s sake! What I refuse to do, however, on all fronts, is succumb to the ebbs and flows of internet fitness trends. It is my purpose to be effective in what I teach and how I teach versus playing the popularity card and selling mediocre fitness.

As the gym rat in me gets smarter, so do my training regimes. Of course time is always a factor and I never seem to find more of it. So, in the year 2016, I can already tell you that my workouts have simplified, due mostly to time constraints. Simple isn’t a bad thing; think of the word simple in terms of focus. Each day that you hit the gym or commence your workout (wherever that may be), focus a good portion of your time on a major complex or compound lift. Squatting or deadlifting would be examples of these lifts as I’ve discussed in prior editions of HOUSE magazine. Performing an explosive lift or movement to fatigue is a great way to challenge the body, burn up some body fat and get some gains.

Excelling in your training will translate into strength. Measurable strength will naturally compute into increased muscularity. Muscularity could satisfy desired body composition goals or improve performance in a sport or even in the game of life. Strength is hard to achieve. Especially if your fitness never quite reaches that level of intensity that turns on and up the central nervous system. Stop wasting your time with the notebook and the iPhone and the workouts that last longer than the State of the Union Address. Listen to your body, work to fatigue and train like a human being.

Let’s talk about the shoulder press, also referred to as the overhead press. I’m not interested in sitting a client down on a bench or on a piece of nautilus equipment and watching them perform a military press. Instant boredom. To me, there is nothing FUN about working out and sitting down. I am more interested in observing a client that has decent lifting experience (while standing up of course) manage the weight of a standard barbell loaded with respectable weight onto the front of their shoulders and explosively pressing the weight above. What will instinctively happen is that the dynamics of the movement – but more importantly, the weight of the bar ­– will command their body’s complete attention. The heaviness of the bar ensures that the only way to get the PRESS is to cheat with the legs by sending the hips back and PUSH from the ground up. Welcome to the push press. The power switch gets turned on with this lift, the heart rate accelerates and rapid-fire type II muscle fibers start to ignite throughout the body. How beautiful is that? Plus, we are talking one movement training many muscle groups simultaneously.

What is worth clarifying here is that this arbitrary client will have to push this weight off their shoulders in order to get this load successfully over their head and into the lock out position. The good old fashion seated shoulder press is something not really worth discussing here because it falls into the category of “mediocre fitness.” Parts of the shoulder will take a decent hit if you do enough weight and repetitions, but the lower trunk and core remain dormant since what you are doing is sitting. There is nothing functional about sitting down and pressing weight overhead. Functional is standing up and then lifting weight overhead – duh. Because of the explosive nature of the push press, more weight can be loaded on the bar. When the load starts to get heavy, the body will naturally have to work harder thus burning more calories, increasing strength and improving muscularity. This is a quick concentric lift that demands explosive power from the ground up.

Here’s how:

• Safely get the bar off the rack or floor and onto the front of your shoulders

• Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart

• Squeeze the bar tightly with your hands and squeeze shoulder blades as well

• Push your chest out, begin pressing the bar overhead and be sure to pull your head back as the bar moves up overhead

• Meanwhile, begin sending your hips back and bending the knees slightly

• Explosively push through the feet, press the bar overhead and back so that the bar is in line   with the back of your head

• Make sure your belly button is pulled back towards your spine and gluteal muscles engaged

• Lock out with straight arms and legs

Simplicity is important in your workout so you can focus your body, energy and attention on the big, compound lifts and movements. With the push press, all parts of the shoulder and thoracic region, not to mention core and legs, take a nice hit. High repetitions is not the objective here; getting that weight successfully overhead in one explosive movement for just a few repetitions is. If the barbell is loaded properly, your heart rate monitor will come to life guaranteed!

Don’t be distracted by the white noise of trendy fitness and focus your attention on compound movements like the push press. If you are new to a lift like this, start with the bar first and focus on technique before graduating to more weight. Hiring a fitness professional like myself is always an option to ensure safety, proper form and body mechanics. BodyRite Training offers complimentary clinics every month open to the public so check us out on all forms of social media like Facebook or Instagram for details.

Keep lifting!