- "Internet Update"
- "A return to ART: The view from a practitioner"
- "No Equipment Workouts: On the road or at home, beginner or advanced"




Ryan Lee has redesigned the sport specific website. There are many articles on a wide variety of sports. Pick your sport and you will find a great article to help your conditioning. He also has a new message board: http://www.fitprofits.com/forums. Check it out if you have any sport specific training questions. Finally, check out the biggest news of the site here: http://www.sportspecific.com/manuals.htm.



This time around ART (Active Release Techniques(tm)) is profiled from the view of certified practitioner Michael Zappitelli. Mike has previously contributed to the CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING newsletter in ISSUE 7 & ISSUE 49. In this issue, Mike answers some questions about ART in order to help interested athletes and potential clients learn more about the popular method of injury rehabilitation. The original ART article appeared in ISSUE #67.


a) Mike, thanks so much for answering these questions. ART is a very difficult rehabilitation technique to understand. Can you start by explaining how you would identify problem areas & scar tissue?

Having an MRI, ultrasound, or some type of scan would help a lot, however experienced practitioners rely heavily on touch. When examining by touch, muscles should have a soft, somewhat smooth texture to them. When moving your fingers through injured tissue, you will feel a non-uniform texture indicating a scar/adhesion.

This is best demonstrated when moving your hands across clothing. When you do this on nylon material, the nylon rolls in front of the area you are pressing on. This is how a normal muscle should react. However, when you do this on cotton material, your fingers catch the material, as would happen on a problem area of a muscle. Experience is very important in being able to properly identify scar tissue/adhesions.

b) Are there any pre-requisites for someone to have before taking an ART course?

I have not come across any formal pre-requisites. When attending the conferences/seminars, the attendees were almost entirely chiropractors, physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, and athletic trainers. You have to have a pretty extensive

background in anatomy. They don't slow down to teach you where everything is; you are expected to know this already.

c) Can you briefly describe the course curriculum?

The course curriculum consists of 3 days of intense theory/practical sessions.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8-5. Sunday - Final Exam.

Theory constitutes ~20% of the final mark and the remaining ~80% is accounted for by "hands on" examination. You have to complete an at-home written exam prior to attending to prepare you for the seminar, and then the practical examination takes place on Sunday. Attending these seminars was the best thing that I ever did. I not only reviewed what I knew from my formal education, but also learned many different approaches to similar treatments. I learned more about soft-tissue location in a couple of these intense weekends than in my 2 years of Massage Therapy in college.

d) Briefly describe the study material provided to you by the ART organization?

The material consists of 3 different manuals/binders and matching video sets. The 3-binder/video set deals individually with the UPPER extremity, LOWER extremity, and SPINE. Simply put, each seminar will deal with only one section. For example, one seminar will only deal with the upper extremity and thus you would have to attend another seminar for the lower extremity, and then another for the spine if you wanted to practice ART in all 3 areas.

Each binder/video set contains anywhere from ~90-120 treatment protocols dealing with every single soft-tissue (muscle, ligament, tendon, nerve) for that section along with anatomical pictures, references, and proper treatment movements and techniques. Basically, you look at the anatomical structure to be treated, find it's proper location relating to neighboring tissues, read the treatment protocol and movement and then watch the video. Visual, auditory, and tactile cues and knowledge are all involved. It's pretty extensive.

e) Mike, can you briefly describe the test/evaluation?

In the exam they will ask you to find and treat ~5-8 different locations, all of which contain a muscle, ligament, tendon, or nerve (or a combination of 2-3 of them). They evaluate your touch, proper location of the tissue, and proper movement of the tissue being treated.

f) Okay, moving on to a patient, say for example, someone has scar tissue in the rotator cuff (teres minor), how would this be treated?

I would locate the teres minor, shorten the structure, take a contact on it, and then lengthen the structure either passively or actively. What you have to understand that the problem area is not always located where symptoms are being felt. A proper understanding of how certain structures run and act in the body is necessary.

For example, carpal tunnel symptoms are mostly felt within the anterior side of the wrist, however, in most cases the problem may stem from another area up the arm, more proximal to the shoulder, if not within the shoulder itself. There is no point in treating the anterior side of the wrist, if that is not where the problem is.

g) What contact methods do you employ in treatment?

There are multiple possible contacts depending on the structure's location, size, and movement. Contacts include one finger, multiple fingers, thenar eminence, etc. The contact methods involve tension, not pressure and it is best that these be demonstrated in person in order for someone to fully understand what is involved.

h) What is taking place at the tissue level? Are you separating scar tissue?

With ART, you are accomplishing a break up of any adhesions present in the tissue. Certain muscle structures in your body have multiple layers. These muscles work synergistically and independently. If there were to be any inflammation present, between layers of tissue, this allows a setting for a sticky substance to settle.

My best analogy is taking two pieces of paper, both covered by glue, and sticking them together. Now, if you were to pull apart those pieces of paper, you would notice that there are a multiple number of strands clinging the two pieces together. Now instead of the paper moving and sliding independently of each other, when one moves, it will pull on the other. When this happens within the muscles, if one layer is not working because it doesn't have to be, it will get tugged on continuously (repetitive motion) and eventually lead to more micro-tearing and an increase in inflammation and pain.

ART is designed to break this adhesion up and allow the tissues to work and slide independently more efficiently. As long as the person does not injure this area again, they are virtually fixed, for lack of a better explanation. Once you fix the alignment of your car, as long as you don't run into a curb, you don't have to fix it again!

i) How do you feel about ART? Do you have any success stories?

I have to admit, this technique has been highly successful in the 9 months that I have been practicing. It's not the most comfortable for the patient, but my clients seem to enjoy the benefits post-treatment. One client with plantar fasciitis ran up to me after about 6-7 treatments exclaiming that she danced for the first time in a long time on the previous weekend. More importantly, this woman had been seeing a physiotherapist for over 2-3 years. I have also helped a woman be able to fully rotate her neck after a car accident that had prevented her from doing so for 1-year prior.

This treatment really works (80-90% success rate). Keep in mind that the whole part of ART is finding the actually cause of the problem and to fix that, which may not

be located in or near the symptom area. Remember, experience is key. I hope that I was of some help. Being able to help people with chronic injury is worth every penny spent on my education.

Thanks Mike.

Mike is an honest, humble guy, so his praise of ART should give hope to a lot of athletes and chronically injured individuals. ART may be the solution, providing not only pain relief, but also healing and full recovery from injury. Mike also expects to receive more information from the ART organization, and thus there may just be a 3rd installment of the ART newsletter in the future. To contact Mike at his already extremely business:

Michael A. Zappitelli B.Kin, RMT, CSCS, CPT, CES
Physical Conditioning and Soft-Tissue Management
3486 Portage Road
Niagara Falls, ON, L2J 2K4

Lou Schuler, fitness editor of Men's Health, also has a positive tale to add to the ART story:

"I had ART done two years ago after suffering a shoulder injury. This was a recurrence of a series of shoulder injuries that started more than 25 years before. At the time I got ART, I couldn't throw a basketball farther than 20 feet, couldn't do a lateral raise with 10 pounds, and couldn't lift anything overhead. After my first session of ART, while still in the physical therapist's office, I was able to do lateral raises with 25 pounds--more than I'd ever been able to use in the gym!"

"I'm sure there was an adrenaline effect there, but to this day I have far more strength and range of motion in my shoulders than at any time in my adult life. I still take it easy with my shoulders--if something doesn't feel right, I stop immediately. So I rarely do flat presses with a barbell, and never do military presses with a barbell. But I can do behind-the-neck barbell presses with no pain or discomfort, something that amazes me each time I try it. However, it is an important point about how badly an inexperienced practitioner could go wrong. The guy who worked on me, Ming Chew, has been doing it a long time and really knows his stuff."

After all this, ART is still a bit of a mystery, and it's very hard to understand, even if you have an advanced degree in the sciences of human movement. Fortunately, Dr. Mike Leahy, the originator of ART, will be in Mississauga at the SWIS symposium. His talks are scheduled for Friday, November 16, 2001 at 5:30pm (Advanced ART) and Saturday, November 17, 2001 at 10:30am (Introduction to ART).

The fact is everyone should hope that they never have a reason to need ART. However, it certainly appears to be a promising therapy if conventional treatment does not help. For those in rehab, good luck, and for those that are injury-free, keep training and performing safely!



"How to work out at home or while on the road" is a popular question. For some people, extended vacations (i.e. the backpacking student) or business trips can interrupt training and may even set you back from the progress you have made. Similarly, many people that are just beginning to exercise, or those seeking a resistance-training workout for their home, want a routine that can be performed without equipment. There are several ways around these problems, so here are some ideas, now it is up to you to choose the method that best suits your goals and facilities.


A) The advanced lifter/athlete away from home.

The honest truth: Suck it up and buy day-passes at the nearest facility to your hotel. There are no magical exercises that substitute for heavy squats, bench presses or deadlifts. If you are a competitive lifter or if you are an athlete training for your upcoming season, there really is no alternative to your current routine that must be performed in the gym.

Unless you can schedule your trip into a recovery week from training, then you should probably splurge on a day-pass and go to a gym twice a week while you are away. YMCA fitness facilities can be found all around the world and are probably not too expensive. They might be a little "rustic", but if you set aside an hour or two, twice a week, you shouldn't lose a significant amount of strength or mass at all (depending on your eating habits and "leisure activities"). Real progress in strength and size is not made with push-ups and crunches, and without a gym setting, motivation is severely deficient in most people. So if you have the chance, check out a new gym while traveling (hey, it will add to your cultural experience).


B) The beginner lifter: At home or on the road without equipment.

Bodyweight training is, simply put, not the most effective way to train for gains in strength, muscle mass, or decreases in body fat. However, if your goal is to improve muscle endurance (i.e. for a police recruitment fitness test), then using your bodyweight is a great way to train at home.

For your upper body, push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches are the obvious exercises that come to mind. Simple modifications of these exercises will add mental variety, a new training stimulus, and greater effectiveness to your home workout. While it is unlikely that you would want to work out at home forever, you may be able to get a lot of mileage out of bodyweight exercises that are listed below.

In addition, there are many websites that have more bodyweight exercises than discussed in the above article. Search the Internet for "combat sport conditioning". These types of websites are sure to have many exercises that will improve muscle endurance and relative muscle strength with the goal of improved combat sport performance and total-body conditioning.


The push-up mimics the bench press and trains the chest, shoulders, triceps, serratus anterior, and even the latissimus dorsi ("lats"). If it has been a long time since you did 100-200 push-ups in a workout, your upper body should be sore tomorrow, even if you can bench press twice your bodyweight.

The Traditional

Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider). Keep your feet together and maintain a neutral spinal alignment (with your head, neck, and back straight). Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending the elbows. Allow your chest to touch the floor and then push up to return to starting position.

Variations: The closer you keep your hands together, the more you will train your triceps. As you spread your hands out, the movement will stress the chest muscles more, but may also result in a greater stress and pain at the wrist joint (if you spread your hands extremely wide).

Jackknife push-up

This push-up places a greater emphasis on the shoulder muscles (deltoids). Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your feet flat on the floor. Elevate your hips so that the body forms a V-shape. Lower your upper body until the shoulders are even with the elbows and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up to return to the starting position.

Variations: You can increase the stress on the deltoids and triceps by taking weight off of your feet and transferring it to your hands. You can do this by elevating your feet. The higher you elevate them, the more stress on these muscles, and the less stress on the pectorals. The ultimate is the "handstand" push-up!

Push-Ups With A Plus

This exercise is provided by Lori Gross, CSCS, of Human Performance Specialists, Inc. This is an excellent rehabilitation exercise.

Perform a normal push-up. At the top of the movement, push up maximally, rounding the shoulders and abducting the scapulae. For beginners, this exercise can be done while standing and pushing-up against a wall.

One-arm Elevated Push-ups

This is a twist on the traditional push-up and stresses the serratus anterior muscle. This muscle is located on either side of the body, adjacent to the abdominal area, just below the chest and the lats, and wrap around the rib cage like large fingers.

To stress the right serratus anterior muscle, place the right hand elevated on a 6-10 inch block rather than on the floor. The left hand is placed normally on the floor and hands are slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Perform normal push-ups but try to push the most through the right arm and use the left side only to stabilize the body. Perform 10 repetitions in this manner and then switch to the left arm.

Basketball push-up

This is an advanced exercise. Place each hand on a basketball placed shoulder-width apart. Perform traditional push-ups from this position. This push-up requires balance and stability in the shoulder girdle, abdominals, and lower back. Don't perform this variation unless you are experienced with the traditional push-up and you have a strong mid-section.

Explosive/Plyometric Push-up

This exercise is also for advanced push-up performance only. It requires two 6-inch platforms placed beyond shoulder-width apart. Begin with your hands on the blocks. Push off the blocks and let your hands drop to the floor (when the hands contact the floor they should be shoulder-width apart). Immediately upon landing, push up explosively in order for your hands to reach the height of the blocks. Land with your hands back on blocks. Limit your sets to less than 6 repetitions.

Pull-ups & Chin-ups

These are difficult and demanding exercises even for people that have been training for a long period of time. In fact, you may not be able to perform a single repetition if you are at the beginner stage. Thus, you will need to modify your technique to address this weakness.

Many coaches recommend performing only the "eccentric" phase of a pull-up or chin-up if you are currently too weak to do a full repetition. For this, you will need a chair to boost yourself to the top position, where you will start. Now, slowly lower yourself for up to 10 seconds. From the bottom position, boost yourself to the top position again and then slowly lower yourself again. Be conservative here. If you have trained very little, limit yourself to 1-3 repetitions per set, and perform only 2-3 sets in your first workout. Learn to control your body.

If you are a little more advanced and can do a couple repetitions in the pull-up, you can change your grip to get more repetitions. By definition, a pull-up grip is wider than shoulder width, with palms turned down. A chin-up grip is shoulder-width, with palms turned up. The chin-up exercise is easier, and the movement requires more help from the biceps.


Abdominal Exercises


This is a basic exercise with little effectiveness for strengthening the abdominals. However, if muscular endurance in the abdominal area is your goal, then high repetition sets should help you accomplish that goal.

Full sit-ups

This exercise can have benefits. It is a challenging movement when done under strict control. While it does stress the hip flexors, there is no doubt that it still stresses the abdominal muscles. Furthermore, hip flexors are a muscle group that many athletes ignore in the gym, and thus adding this exercise to an athlete's preparation phase may be of benefit.

Ab-wheel rollouts

You can make your own at home with a very small wheel and a thin handle to slide through the center of the wheel. This movement is effective for improving abdominal strength and balance, and may be of assistance in athletic preparation. This makeshift equipment helps you to do abs properly while at home or on the road (and it's cheap too!). Technique can be found in ISSUE #56.

In addition, for leg training that can be done at home, please refer to ISSUE #29 that outlines the "Neuromuscular leg training for athletes". Some of the exercises included are:







If done with proper control and technique, this leg workout can produce soreness and adaptation for a short period of training (i.e. the length of a vacation). It should also help improve balance and motor control in single-leg activities, although it is not guaranteed to lead to better sport performance for athletes.


C) The advanced lifter/athlete at home.

There may be some options for the serious lifter at home, however you will need some "makeshift" equipment, meaning rocks, sandbags, or any other heavy object. These can easily replace Olympic bars and dumbbells for deadlifts, some pressing movements, lunges, etc. Be creative, but at the same time, be conservative. Don't overdo it on your first day of "dinosaur training". After all, the mass of each rock isn't marked liked the dumbbells in a gym. Try this website for more information on "Dino training": http://www.brookskubik.com.

Many strength and conditioning coaches are also advocating "manual labor" methods of conditioning, including:





How ironic is that what was once considered daily activity is now being prescribed as methods to increase athletic conditioning? Your ancestors and parents might roll their eyes when they hear you have included these in your training.

Athletes can also accomplish some serious single-leg resistance training with minimal equipment. Check out the "Neuromuscular leg training for athletes" article referred to in the previous section. In addition, you can perform your speed and plyometric workout anywhere, anytime (weather permitting). Check out ISSUE #47 for more information or email cb@cbathletics.com for the very popular "Groin-specific speed & agility workout."

"Weight training at home without equipment"

You may be fortunate enough to have some objects around the house (or tool shed) that qualify as heavy resistance relative to your current strength. This may include cinder blocks or other small and sturdy objects. If you do have some these objects, then you may be able to perform rows, curls, or shoulder presses. Be creative, but be conservative. Don't place yourself at risk of injury due to unstable equipment (for example, it's probably not wise to do shoulder presses with your portable electric saw).

However, it is worth emphasizing, especially for a beginner, that a single trip to a gym each week would add a lot to your home-based bodyweight resistance-training program, especially if your goal is to increase muscle mass and absolute strength.



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