Client Spotlight: Mary Jo

Meet client Mary Jo. Mary Jo came to me a few months ago as a referral from a current lady that I train. Her goals were very simple as she wanted to increase her current fitness level while losing weight in the process. When I sat her down the first time to go over my game plan she was very intimidated by the gym (which in my mind is typically fear of the unknown of all of the different tools a gym has to offer). I explained to her that the program that we were going to do together was based on a series of progressions and if she could stay committed to her goals and trust in my abilities to help her that any goal she could think of was not far out of reach. After only a short time there have been significant improvements in her balance, stability, mobility, strength and endurance. To date, she is now down 20lbs and 16 inches lost. It has been a great enjoyment to myself to train you so far Mary Jo and I can’t wait to see what the coming months have in store for you! We make an awesome team!
Taylor D.

Its Your Turn. Emerge.


How to stabilize your core during strenuous activity

To train athletes that have use there core muscle to stabilize their trunks while breathing heavily, having them hold planking exercises with elevated breathing is very useful.

Some athletes only have difficulty stabilizing their trunks during times of elevated breathing, so training them in this state matches a real-life need for performance.

Here, Jackie Pirtle-Hall runs at 12mph for 20 seconds on the Woodway treadmill, followed by a side plank for 15 seconds. She pays attention to her labored breathing while in the plank, making sure she is diaphragmatic (belly) breathing and not chest breathing (with the chest rising up and down).
Matt P

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.

Train the core for endurance, not absolute strength

When training the core muscles for trunk stability, endurance is far more important than absolute strength.


The problem with training the core for endurance is the likelihood of compensations from other muscles (like the hip flexors) getting involved when an exercise is held for too long.

For example, the plank exercise. After about 12 seconds, the target core muscle starts to lose oxygen rapidly, leading to the inclusion of “other” non-target muscle to help out. You may be able to hold the set, but you’re compensating to do it.

The solution? Do MANY sets of 10-12 seconds with about 10 seconds rest in between the mini sets. This small rest period is enough to return oxygen to the muscle, allowing it to operate and fire well.

For a plank or side planking exercise, try 8 sets of 12 seconds with a 10 second rest in between. You’ll have trained your core muscle for endurance while not exhausting your body to the point of compensation.
Matt P

It’s Your Turn. Emerge

“Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent”

“Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent”

As the old adage says, just because you practice a technical exercise over and over, it doesn’t mean you’ll master it.

Without paying attention to subtle details, you may just be burning in faulty movement patterns.

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.

That plank is a hot mess

That plank is a hot mess…


I’ve had an epiphany as of late regarding core exercise.

It’s popular to see “functional” core exercises online lately, including planks with rows, presses, rotations and a host of other movements. The intent is to increase the “functionality” of the exercise.

The result (most of the time) is a disaster of an exercise.

When it’s appropriate, progressions of basic exercises are a must to continue seeing results. I program into my clients workouts advanced multi planar core exercises all the time. But only when they are absolutely ready.

I appreciate challenges.

However, flailing around with a heavy dumbbell in what can only be called a distant cousin of a plank is not going to yield results. It’s going to get you hurt.

So, go back to the basics but perform them REALLY WELL.

I’m talking about planks on your forearms in a PERFECT neutral spine. Try reaching one arm out in front of you while keeping your hips from moving AT ALL.

This basic core exercise is very hard to master.

Plus, it will actually to what it’s supposed to do, train your core to stabilize your trunk.

Keep it simple. Master the basics. Leave the “bells and whistles” out of your core exercise until you’ve conquered the pure version of the movement.

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.

Everything you do has a cost, but not necessarily a benefit

“Everything You Do Has A Cost, But Not Necessarily A Benefit”
I’ve been involved in the fitness industry professionally for almost 13 years. I’ve been exposed to 1000s of books, research articles, seminars and conversations on fitness related topics.

I rarely read something that makes me stop and go….”yep.”

Couldn’t have said it better.

I’ve seen football players injure a disc by attempting to get their max squat from 415 to 450.

I’ve seen basketball players crush their shins (and other things) on boxes they are attempting to “jump” on that are absurdly tall.

I’ve seen endurance athletes log mile after mile without considering (some) time spent resistance training and the benefit that time spent would bring them.

All physical activities have a cost. What is the benefit of that cost to you?

This is a great excerpt from an article by Charles Staley. I think this idea gets lost in all the “harder is better” mentality…

“When “no pain, no gain” is your training mantra, pretty much any type of exercise or method is fair game, and generally, “more is better” tends to be the rule. This philosophy is flawed however, and here’s why: Whenever you touch the bar, the only guarantee is that you will pay a price of some kind – there’s no guarantee of benefit whatsoever. These costs include time, energy, risk of injury, and perhaps most important, time and energy that might be devoted to other important things, such as your family or career.

With that in mind, it strikes me as wise to focus less on the gross receipts and more on the net profits, so to speak. In other words, to borrow an old saying, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.” Seek the most possible bang for your buck. Look for ways to save time and reduce any possible redundancy between exercises.

In my own training, I’m thinking a lot about what the costs would be, at age 54, to bring my 510 deadlift up to 550. I love the thought of being able to pull 550, but honestly, when I think of the amount of time, effort, and risk involved, it gives me pause. Perhaps my life would be better off if I pursued other goals (training or non-training) instead. I hope you’ll give similar examination to your own goals as well.”

Charles Staley

Master the basic plank before going circus act

Master basic plank technique before adding “bells and whistles.”

Most planking technique I witness has one of 3 major flaws:

1) unstable neck (you can see head dropping or looking up)
2) upper back (thoracic) rounding
3) hips too high (hip flexor involvement)

Planking with these strategies will, at best, guarantee you no progress. Most likely, they will lead to injury.

Don’t focus as much on circus-style planking exercises. Remember, the point of a planking exercise is to maintain a NEUTRAL and STABLE spine. If you’re truly concerned with improving health and performance, master basic planking technique and enjoy the results!

PS: keep individual planks no longer than 20 seconds. As you get stronger do MORE, shorter planks. Consider adding resistance (instead of planking longer, which inevitably leads to muscle compensations)

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.


Hip surgery to walking deadlifts in 8 weeks

Jessica: from the surgical table, to crutches, to walking deadlifts in 8 weeks!

Here is the video documentary of her 8 weeks:

Over the last couple of years, my training emphasis has taken a decidedly functional focus, with specific attention to efficient athletic movement and rehabilitation/ restorative post surgery strength building.

Some of the most rewarding experiences I have had during this time have been working with post hip surgery clients who have had procedures performed to correct hip dysplasia, which involves reshaping both the femoral head (leg bone) and pelvic groove (hip bone). This procedure is fairly invasive and involves holding the restructured bone together with large screws.

I have had the pleasure of working with 4 of these cases since last August.

The following video documents Jessica’s post surgical journey at Emerge.

I want to thank both Bill Knowles and Dr. Matthew Lytle. Bill taught me some of the integral concepts of this post surgical protocol, and Dr. Lytle was a key team member that, without his services, the quick recovery would never be possible.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS
It’s Your Turn. Emerge.

Metabolic Meals Now Available at Emerge!

Emerge will be a retail site for Metabolic Meals starting June 13th.
We will be offering meals a la carte, allowing you to sample and enjoy your favorite recipes.

Metabolic Meals combines gluten free, organic ingredients with cutting-edge nutritional knowledge to create meals that improve health, fat loss & performance.

ALWAYS prepared with fresh,
all-natural whole foods

ALWAYS gluten-free

ALWAYS prepared with Superfoods:

Grass Fed Proteins
Free Range Eggs
All-natural Poultry
Wild-caught Fish
Low Allergenic Grains
Antioxidant-rich Fruits
Fiber-dense Vegetables
NEVER frozen or freeze-dried

NEVER prepared with cheap or substandard ingredients:

No high fructose corn syrup
No hydrogenated oils (transfats)
No artificial ingredients
No soy

For more information:

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.


Work your body, Save your Spine!

There are a few exercises that I believe no one should EVER do. These are exercises that the cost (potential for injury) FAR outweighs the benefit (potential for improvement).

Three of these exercises are the loaded sit up, the “superman”, and a loaded roman chair back extension (or leg lift).

“The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended the lower limit of spinal compression to be 3300 Newton (336 kg force). In other words, doing exercises that have been scientifically proven to exceed 3300 Newton increases the chance of traumatic spinal compression.”

1 Newton is the force of Earth’s gravity on a mass of about 102 g = (1⁄9.81 kg).


Just to put it in perspective, a superman imposes at least 6000 newtons of compressive force on the spine, that’s 1,350 pounds of force!

These exercises either flex or extend the spine to the point of potential mechanical failure. Instead, focus on STABILITY exercise like the “stir the pot” or the “bird dog.”
Make smart decisions with your choices of exercise. Most exercises will make you a stronger person, but some have the potential to do the exact opposite.

It’s Your Turn. Emerge.