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For October 22, 2019

  • Fen-Phen Loses Major Case in Court
    Fen-Phen Loses Major Case in Court

    (MSNBC News, Aug. 6 1999) � A Texas woman who suffered heart-valve damage won a $23 million jury award Friday in the first verdict involving the diet-drug combination fen-phen.

    MEDICAL RESEARCHERS have warned for a long time that the diet drug fen-phen could cause heart problems but it was not until Friday that a jury put a price tag on the injuries a person has suffered from taking the drug. In Texas, a jury awarded more than $23 million to Deborah Lovett, 36, who claimed her heart valves were injured after she took the diet drug combination called fen-phen. The drug�s maker, American Home Products, said it would appeal, but the verdict is a damaging blow and there may be many more to come.

    �We have made a statement that they can�t do this to people like me and you,� said Lovett, following the announcement of the verdict. The verdict is a big legal defeat for American Home Products, whose drug division made one of the pills in the fen-phen pair. Texas jurors agreed with Deborah Lovett�s lawyers, who claimed the company failed to warn doctors that fen-phen could cause heart damage. �If the doctors would have had any idea, I wouldn�t have been on the medicine in the first place,� said Lovett.

    The company, vowing to appeal, said Lovett had heart trouble long before she ever started on fen-phen. �She had a pre-existing heart valve problem that had been going on for almost seven years before she first took any diet drug medication,� said Bob Schick, a company lawyer. But Lovett claimed taking fen-phen made her heart trouble much worse.


    The fen-phen drugs, taken by millions of dieting Americans, were pulled off the market two years ago after medical researchers discovered that the combination could weaken heart valves. Since then, nearly 3,000 fen-phen users have sued the American Home Products, whose drug division made the pills.

    Several of those cases have been settled. But legal experts say the company�s big loss Friday, against a woman who already had heart trouble, means future settlement will cost much more. �They will pay more money to settle the meritorious cases that have been filed. It increases the size of the plaintiff�s likely demands,� said Ellen Pryor, a professor at SMU Law School.

    The company still hopes it can settle most of the remaining cases � possibly by working out a deal with fen-phen users that could even include paying for regular medical checkups for those who took the diet drug and haven�t yet developed any heart trouble. But recent federal court decisions have made it harder to work out big nationwide settlements. And Friday�s verdict makes the company even more vulnerable to lawsuits.


    Fenfluramine, the �fen� part of fen-phen, had been sold since the 1970s but became widely used in the 1990s when doctors prescribed it in combination with phentermine. When taken alone, phentermine was never associated with health problems. It remains on the market. Lawyers for Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products argued that Lovett was seeking compensation for a health condition she had before taking the drug and said her obesity was a bigger threat than the drug.

    �Obesity is a serious health risk,� attorney Joe Piorkowski said in closing arguments. �This is not a dangerous product. The fact that it is not on the market (now) doesn�t mean it was a dangerous product at the time. The benefits outweighed the risk.� But Lovett�s lawyers told jurors that American Home Products was motivated by profit and hid evidence that its diet drugs caused valvular heart disease.

    Attorney Kip Petroff said the company knew of dozens of reports of heart damage in patients taking the drugs, but did not warn the FDA or doctors. �They did wrong and they hurt her,� he said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Ten Gym Mistakes Beginners Make
    Ten Gym Mistakes Beginners Make
    Originally featured in: Men's Fitness Written by: Bobby Lee

    Ten Gym Mistakes Beginners Make And How To Avoid Them

    Being new at the gym is awkward enough, but starting a workout program without knowing what you're doing is far worse. In our attempt to impart enlightenment for the weight-room initiate, we present 10 common mistakes you should know about -- immediately.

    Using incorrect form while bench pressing (dumbbell or barbell):

    Regardless of whom you see doing it at the gym, don't pick your feet up from the floor when you bench. Some people tell you to keep your feet up so you don't arch your back during the movement. But if you have to arch your back, you're benching way beyond your abilities. Switch to a lighter weight to ensure that your feet are always solidly planted. This will keep you from toppling off the bench and injuring yourself or others.

    Holding your breath:

    This may seem ridiculously obvious, but remember to breathe when you lift. Sometimes, when an activity is new, you concentrate so much on doing it correctly that you forget to let your body do its natural things, like breathing. The breathing pattern for lifting is to exhale on the positive phase (pushing or pulling the weight) and inhale on the negative (lowering the weight). Holding your breath can raise your blood pressure and, if you hold it long enough, cause fainting.

    Not using collars:

    Always use collars on the bars when you're working without a spotter. Everybody has a weaker side of the body, and this weakness is exaggerated in the initial phases of weight training. During a lift, the bar may begin to lean imperceptibly toward the weaker side of the body. As it tilts, the plates slide downward until they suddenly spill off the bar and the opposite side drops in a quick seesaw action-- accompanied by a loud clanging of iron. You're left standing or lying red-faced, not physically hurt, perhaps, but definitely diminished in the pectoral pecking order. Use collars.

    Fearing that you'll get too big:

    Don't ever say this in the gym, or you'll instantly be branded a gymbecile. The reality is that few people put on as much muscle as they want; most settle for a physique better than the one they started with, but hardly the one they idealize. Remember: A pound of muscle is approximately the size of a baseball, while a pound of fat is about the size of a softball. In other words, you can add plenty of lean muscle before your biceps burst through your shirt sleeves.

    Spotting incorrectly:

    Hang around a gym long enough and, sooner or later, you'll either be asked to spot or need one yourself. If you suspect you're going to need a spot, ask for it. Gym rats are always more than willing, and it's much better to ask quietly for a spot than to scream loudly for help once you're in trouble. If you're asked to spot a guy who's benching 500 pounds and you know you couldn't roll that, much less lift it, be honest and say so. To fail as a spotter and endanger someone is unforgivable.

    Trying to spot reduce:

    There's no such thing. If you have a belly, wearing a plastic suit or some sort of gizmo around your stomach as you exercise won't transform your legendary flab into equally fabulous abs. Neither will doing 20,000 crunches a day. The only way to develop and see your abs is to exercise and watch your diet. You can have the strongest abs in the world, but if they're swathed in fat, no one will ever see them.

    Starting too heavy:

    Resist the temptation to lift as much as you can the first few times in the gym, even if the smaller guy next to you is lifting more. While your muscles may be able to lift the weight, your connective tissues probably aren't ready for it. Go for high reps the first few times and gradually work your way heavier, especially in pushing exercises such as the bench press and any of the shoulder exercises. There's no sense in building stronger muscles without corresponding strength in the connective tissue to avoid injury. And there's no sense in trying to outlift that smaller guy if you shorten your limbs in the process.

    Playing a personal stereo too loudly:

    Wearing a personal stereo is a good idea if you don't like the music in the gym. We all know music picks up spirit and energy, but remember to keep it low. Headphones regularly emit more than 100 dBA. Sustained exposure to sounds over 85 dBA can cause temporary damage or permanent hearing loss. If you can't hear somebody speaking to you in a normal voice, turn it down. No sense becoming buff and deaf.

    Not drinking enough water:

    Your blood is 85 percent water, your brain 75 percent and your muscles 70 percent. Drink lots of it. If a muscle is dehydrated by 3 percent, it loses 10 percent of its contractile strength. Drink before you're thirsty. By the time you're conscious of thirst, you're already partially dehydrated, which can adversely affect stamina and concentration. To keep from becoming a stumbling, mumbling gym zombie, drink water. It's even calorie-free.

    Wearing a weight belt:

    Don't wear a weight belt when you're just starting out. The weight you use shouldn't be so heavy that you need a belt to lift it (if you have back problems, see a doctor before starting). Wearing a belt can cause you to develop poor lifting habits, such as not consciously tightening your abs as you lift. If you have to wear a belt, remember to loosen it between sets. A tight belt can raise blood pressure and cause ulcer-like symptoms, such as heartburn or abdominal pain. Remember, the belt is designed to help support the lower back, not act as a girdle.

  • Ways to Protect Women's Knees
    Ways to Protect Women's Knees

    WASHINGTON (AP) - It took just one wrong jump, and women's basketball star Rebecca Lobo was on the floor in agony, yet another victim of a torn knee ligament called the ACL.

    The very day Lobo was writhing in pain last week, doctors were meeting to figure out how to battle a growing problem: Women are far more susceptible to this debilitating knee injury than men. It's not just a risk for professional female athletes, but for high school and college teams, and even women who like a little weekend skiing, soccer or hoops.

    Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are notorious because they're so painful and can require months of treatment and rehabilitation. But they also can predispose people to serious knee arthritis later in life, said Dr. Joan McGowan of the National Institutes of Health. The good news: There are some ways women can protect their knees, lowering the risk of injury by strengthening their hamstrings and learning to crouch properly while jumping, concluded a consensus conference sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

    Now doctors' quest is to alert women. "These injuries affect young people, and can affect the rest of their lives," said Dr. Letha Griffin, team physician at Georgia State University, who organized the meeting. "We really need to ... help the public know that there are injury prevention techniques." Her message: "If I'm doing jumping, pivoting, cutting sports, I really need to look into some of these prevention techniques."

    Inside the knee, two ligaments pass each other in the shape of a cross, connecting the upper and lower leg bones. The anterior cruciate ligament is the one in front, and it's important in pivoting. Many sports fans connect ACL injuries to football's crunching hits. But experts say most ACL tears actually are noncontact injuries - and studies show women suffer from them about five times more than men.

    ACL injuries are particularly common with lots of jumping, quick deceleration and pivoting, like in basketball, soccer and skiing. But recreational athletes who run, take boxing classes, even do step aerobics can suffer, too, said McGowan. Scientists are studying everything from hormones to anatomy to explain the gender discrepancy. But neuromuscular factors seem to play the biggest role, and that's where women can lower the risk, Griffin said.

    Hamstrings, muscles behind the thigh, relieve stress on the ACL when the knee bends. If your hamstrings are too weak, they may not protect the ACL. Men's hamstrings typically are 60 to 70 percent as strong as their quadriceps, muscles in front of the thigh. Women athletes may have strong quads, but they typically have significantly weaker hamstrings, said Dr. Thomas Lindenfeld of the Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation. So as they jump and pivot, the hamstrings don't do their job and the ACL tears. In addition, women jump and land differently than men - more straight-legged and flat-footed. Men bend their knees more as they jump and land, a built-in shock absorption.

    The Cincinnati foundation created a program called Sportsmetrics to strengthen hamstrings and train female athletes to jump with their knees properly bent and body correctly aligned so they don't land off-balance. In a study of 1,200 high school athletes, the six-week program lowered girls' injury risk to equal boys' risk, Lindenfeld said. The foundation now sells a video that demonstrates the program, and dozens of high school and college teams already are adopting the techniques.

    Also, many ski shops carry pamphlets describing Vermont research on avoiding ACL injuries. Scientists videotaped ski accidents to show positions where skiers got so off-balance that the stress tore an ACL. Teaching skiers about those risky positions and how to regain balance on the slopes can reduce injuries, Griffin said. This focus on injuries shouldn't scare off women - exercise is key to good health and American women don't exercise enough, stressed McGowan, who led a related NIH meeting last week on women and sports.

    But learning to prevent injuries in professional athletes could translate to a more fit general population, she said. It's important to know "this is the kind of thing amenable to training."

    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free
    Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free

    CHICAGO (AP)--Women who exercise vigorously while trying to quit smoking are twice as likely to kick the habit than wannabe ex-smokers who don't work out regularly, a new study finds.

    The report also offers good news to female smokers who fear that giving up tobacco and nicotine will lead to weight gain. Researchers found that women who worked out as they tried to quit gained only about half the weight of those who did not exercise.

    "I can't say that definitively this will help all people, but given all of the other health benefits associated with regular exercise I would certainly encourage people trying to quit smoking to talk to their physicians about starting a program," said Bess Marcus, an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and the study's lead author.

    The findings appear in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Researchers at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., followed 281 healthy but sedentary female smokers who attended a 12-week program to stop smoking. About half of the women participated in supervised workouts three times a week during the program while the others did not.

    Of the 134 women in the group who exercised regularly, 19.4 percent kicked the habit for at least two months after their program ended while 10.2 percent of the 147 non-exercisers did the same.

    Three months later, the comparison of those still smoke-free was 16.4 percent to 8.2 percent, respectively, and 11.9 percent vs. 5.4 percent a year later. The women ranged between ages 18 and 65 and had smoked routinely for at least a year.

    "There seems to be a new drug every day to help you quit smoking," Marcus said in a telephone interview Sunday. "But this study suggests that there's a drug-free alternative to quitting smoking if that's what you prefer."

    While the researchers at Miriam Hospital studied only women smokers, men who want to quit should expect similar results, said Dr. Michael Roizen, head of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

    "I don't think it (gender) makes any difference," said Roizen, a health and lifestyle modification enthusiast who was not involved in the study. "I think you almost have to do some sort of exercise to be successful at quitting."

  • Exercise Your Right to be Flexible
    Exercise Your Right to be Flexible

    Reach For Your Health!

    (PHYS, September 1999) � When it comes to fitness regimens, stretching usually comes in a distant third � behind aerobics and strength training � probably because it isn't directly associated with weight loss or dramatic changes in appearance. Yet without a good stretch, all your hard work at the gym would not be complete. Stretching before and after physical activity will not only help prevent injury, but can also improve sports performance by increasing your range of motion and improving your coordination.

    Even if you aren't going to get a full workout, spending twenty minutes a day stretching can have a wonderful effect on your general well-being. Stretching now will also help you avoid some of the unpleasant hallmarks of aging, such as decreased flexibility, poor balance and stiff joints. Regular stretching will free your body of muscular tension, improve circulation and enhance muscle tone. Best of all, stretching makes you feel good.

    Before you begin stretching, read the tips below to learn how to get the most from your exercise.

    Stretching Do's and Don'ts:

    • Stretch as often as you can � three to five times a week is recommended.
    • Remember to stretch after you work out. Many people think stretching is only necessary before exercise, but stretching afterwards is essential to avoid cramping, tightness and reduced range of motion.
    • Warm up for three to five minutes prior to stretching. A warm-up is any continuous movement that increases your body's core temperature, such as going up and down the stairs a few times or riding a stationary bike.
    • Breathe slowly and deeply throughout each stretch. Calm breathing will help relax you and your muscles and facilitate safe, effective stretching.
    • Focus on the muscles being stretched and hold each stretch for at least ten to thirty seconds, or five to six full breaths. Repeat each stretch three to five times.
    • Don't bounce. Bouncing can force the joints past their natural range of motion, causing sprains of the ligaments or tendons. Instead, focus on stretching to a point where you feel a mild tension. If the tension goes away after ten to thirty seconds of holding the stretch, adjust your body ever so slightly until you feel a mild tension again, and hold for ten to thirty seconds.
    • Most importantly, stretching should feel good. Never go beyond the point of feeling a mild tension in your muscles. If the tension is uncomfortable, you are overstretching and should ease up slightly.
  • Maximize Your Fat Loss!
    Maximize Your Fat Loss!

    There are four primary areas to concentrate on if you want to maximize your fat loss:

    1. Increase aerobic activity
    2. Increase aerobic fitness level (increase intensity)
    3. Increase Muscle Mass (increase metabolism)
    4. Eat more intelligently

    Increase Aerobic Activity

    • Types of exercise: Walk, jog, bike, swim, treadmill, stairs, rowing, nordic ski machines, aerobic dance, in-line skating, etc.
    • Frequency of exercise: 3 days/week minimum to improve health and fitness level. 4-6 days per week for optimal fat loss.
    • Duration of exercise: Build up to a minimum of 30-40 minutes in your target zone.

    Increase Your Aerobic Fitness Level

    • Know Your Zone: Monitor your heart rate during exercise
    • Get Fit: Become more efficient with your exercise minutes. Burn more calories in less time. Increase the residual effect.
    • Fat Burning Myth: Long duration light intensity is NOT the most effective way to burn fat. Moderate to heavy intensity for 30-40 minutes plus is ideal.

    Increase Muscle Mass

    • Strength Training: Will significantly build or restore muscle mass
    • Elevates Metabolism: Each pound of muscle burns roughly 60 calories every 24 hours.

    Eat More Intelligently

    • Minimize high fat foods: fried foods, fast foods, nuts, chips fatty meals cream sauces etc.
    • Eat more frequently: Consider 4 or 5 smaller meals throughout the day.

    If you follow these simple tips, you will be on your way to maximizing your fat loss and getting in great shape! Remember to always keep a positive attitude and work hard!

    Copyright Fitrex.com, August 5th 1999.


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