Friday, May 22, 2015

Brief Lessons in Biomechanics: Moment Arms

Back in middle school, I remember learning about simple machines like ramps, pulleys, and levers for the first time. Like every other kid in the class, I was probably thinking, ‘Why should I care? I’m never gonna use this crap!’

Fast forward a decade to my graduate studies in biomechanics and movement science. It turns out this stuff is my jam!

As a matter of fact, the human musculoskeletal system is nothing more than an intricate network of levers (bones), with muscles acting on them to produce movement.

As such, this system can be analyzed in light of simple machine principles like leverage, or mechanical advantage, and the primary topic of this post: moment arms.

The upshot? Direct and purposeful applications to resistance training, of course!

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Eat, Lift, and Condition to Lose Fat and Maintain Muscle

Let's be real: with summer just around the corner, just about everybody wants to lose some fat while holding on to their muscle.

The trouble is, there's a metric ton of crappy information out there about how to eat and exercise to do just that.

So when my colleague Marc Lewis approached me with an idea for a scientifically-based article on nutrition and training for fat loss and muscle preservation, I ran with the idea.

The result is a whopping 10-point, everything-you-need-to-know guide to transforming your body.

Click the link below to read it on The Glute Guy, Bret Contreras's site, now:


Monday, May 18, 2015 The 10 Most Hotly Debated Fitness Topics

These days, many fitness professionals are quick to adopt polarizing, black-and-white stances on hot topics. While sweeping generalizations do tend to stir up controversy -- thereby bringing the renegade coach/trainer to the fore in a fairly flooded market -- they also cloud the general exercising public’s judgement.

  • “Will just squatting fix my wonky squat, or should I spend an hour rolling around on the floor?"

  • “Are squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups enough to train my core, or do I need additional exercises that work it more directly?”

  • “Does high-intensity interval training take care of all my conditioning needs, or would I be better served with steady state cardio?”
Of course, no one in a position of exercise authority wants to come across as wishy-washy on an important subject. But the truth is that most issues in this business exist on a continuum. As such, it’s best to adopt the middle ground the majority of the time.

In my new article for The Personal Trainer Development Center, ‘The 10 Most Hotly Debated Fitness Topics,’ I advocate for a more tempered approach to some of the most polarizing false dichotomies plaguing the industry today.

Read all about it here:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Interview with Taiwanese Calisthenics Group, GIN'-A'

Below is an interview I did with the Taiwanese calisthenics group GIN'-A'. In Taiwan, calisthenics are referred to as "street workouts," and the people who do them are often really coming from the street. "GIN'-A'," which means "the children," was started in order to spread the word about calisthenics.

I thought GIN'-A' came up with some really terrific questions for me. Enjoy the interview, and be sure to 'Like' GIN'-A' on FacebookFor the Chinese version of the interview, see HERE.

GIN’-A’: Hi, Travis. Nice to meet you, and thank you for accepting our request for this interview. Can you please simply introduce yourself?
Travis Pollen: Hi! My name is Travis Pollen. I’m a 25-year-old graduate student studying biomechanics at the University of Delaware in Delaware, USA. In addition to my schoolwork, I’m a certified personal trainer. I enjoy practicing, teaching, and blogging about calisthenics and weightlifting.

G: I first saw your video on Frank Medrano’s Facebook page, and I can’t lie, it really impressed me. So here I am, sharing some inspiration with the Taiwan people. First of all, what is your impression of Taiwan?
T: Thank you so much for watching my video! I had a great time making it. I hope it inspires people to get up and get active. Although I’ve never been to Taiwan personally, my best friend’s family is actually from Taiwan. He’s been there many times, so I’ve heard a lot about it and seen pictures. It sounds like a terrific place, and I’d love to visit someday!