Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Legends of Sport Create the Perfect Storm


At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Berens won the gold medal in the men's 4x200 m freestyle relay with Michael PhelpsRyan Lochte, and Peter Vanderkaay, setting a new world record of 6:58.56. Berens swam the third leg in a time of 1:46.29

NY TIMES, 1990.  (Right to left)
Greg Robinson and Lee Brandon
Santa Monica, California:   Last week we had the honor of having 3 LEGENDS take over the gym.

"It is not often that the universe allows us to feel the 'PERFECT STORM' in its EYE!  Having Coach Robinson (who coached at University of Texas,  University of Syracuse, UCLA, NY Jets, Denver Broncos...), Ricky Berens (US Olympic Gold Medalist who swam with Phelps helping him win his final gold), and the great Marcus Rogan from Austria was such an honor."

Brandon continues, "In life, there are these perfect moments.  When they strike, you pray your present to appreciate them!  I was standing in the middle of this perfect powerful swirling moment of power.  I feel so blesssed to be training Olympians and professionals after 30 years in the fitness industry.  How amazing is it that Coach Robinson and I worked together with the NY JETS 21 over years ago.  To have him standing there seeing the Olympic Training we were doing was inspiring and breathtaking!  It was truly a PERFECT STORM of power and intensity, and I was in its eye!"

Coach Robinson  looked on and smiled, "If one could have taken the pulse at the gym, the vibration was off the chart!  Everyone stopped to watch Lee kick those boys into shape!  Truly amazing!  London 2012 is going to be amazing."

Monday, October 3, 2011


Santa Monica, California:
The photo was taken at the entrance to Katlian Bay at the end of the road in Sitka, Alaska. 
The whale is coming up to scoop up a mouthful of herring (see the fish just below the surface).The kayaker is a local Sitka Dentist. He apparently didn't sustain any injuries from the terrifying experience.The whale was just around the corner from the ferry terminal.
 "Looks like this man's lights were on..." says Lee Brandon, CSCS. "Core training comes in many shapes and sizes.  I often recommend trying Kayaking if you have a job that keeps you standing on your feet all day (like the dentist pictured here).  Cardiovascular training and core training go hand in hand with performance.  The AB-Inforcer(R) uses lights to let you know if you're training with the correct core muscles turned on in the right posture."

Lee reminds us, "Remember, practice makes permanent...not Perfect!   Choosing the ideal protocols that fit your lifestyle is critical in long term wellness and motivation."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Japan Olympian and Austrian Legend Blow Away the Gym with Olympic Intensity

Santa Monica, California:

LEE BRANDON, CSCS, (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Olympic Strength Coach), tore down the gym last Friday.

"Hidemasa Sano (Japan Olympian) and Marcus Rogan (Austrian Olympian) are two of the greatest swimmers in the world, and show through their hard work ethic, and close attention to form why they are constantly performing at a high level!"

"I have trained many genetic mutants in my 30 years as a strength coach" states Brandon, "it never gets old watching greatness perform right in front of your eyes.  So many up and coming athletes want to skip the hard work part of being great!  No one's ever drowned in a puddle of sweat, and watching these two athletes bring their Olympic spirit of intensity to the gym, challenges everyone in the space to elevate and push to another level!  They are great for a's not just a genetic gift.  They work hard to duplicate greatness.  Anyone can win once...but can you remain the top of your game for years?  Is it possible to duplicate greatness?  These two gentlemen prove duplication of great performances is possible!!!"

 Keep your eye out for these two in London 2012 Olympics.

In This Photo: Hidemasa Sano

Hidemasa Sano swims the Freestyle portion of the Men's 200 IM Prelim during the Long Beach Grand Prix on January 18, 2010 in Long Beach, California.
(January 17, 2010 - Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: Lee's Keynote for FBI National Training Academy a Success

Santa Monica, California:

"It was such an honor to speak to such a distinguished group of powerful professionals from all over the country who had completed the YELLOW BRICK ROAD course at the FBI National Academy," stated Lee Brandon, CSCS. "Honestly, I was not sure what significant tid-bit I might be able to bring to the table that a room full of experts had not heard before regarding motivation and wellness for Law Enforcement, but the feedback we got was amazing."  
  After Lee spoke over 15-20 stayed for an extra 30 minutes getting additional tips and strategies for their local Sworn and Civilian staff.  
   This event will now be followed up with a series of events at local agencies around the country introducing the IPT Training Program for Law Enforcement (Injury Prevention Training).  
The Riverside County Law Enforcement Administration Association (RCLEAA),  has invited all Asst. Deputy and Deputy Chiefs to attend an event coming up in October where Lee will be a keynote speaker for this pioneering program offering solutions to Law Enforcement agencies regarding avoiding injuries and simple preventative solutions that are cost effective and innovative!
"Lee is so full of life and inspiring" stated Captain Able from Corona Police Department, "that when I saw her speak at the FBI NAA event, I knew she would be inspiring for our brass here in San Bernadino and Riverside counties."

We will keep you posted.  

Feel free to contact us is interested in Lee coming to your area and doing a presentation:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spine Sparing Secrets: Training Not Straining

Santa Monica, California:  Notes from Lee Brandon, CSCS Desk

"Corny as it may sound, "Spine Sparing Secrets" coming from a 2 Time World long Drive Champion in Golf, I feel compelled to share with you some knowledge and research that has been the cornerstone to my duplication of great efforts.  Any one can accidentally have the rare performance that is above average, but can it be duplicated without injury is the million dollar question!  Through 30 years of Training myself and others, and being newer to the game of golf (picked it up in my late 30's), there are recurring themes that I feel compelled to distill and share with you as simply as I can.

 1.  Research regarding Repetitive Micro Trauma is clear!  Do enough of the wrong moves enough time, it breaks the system down over time...  Print out the Contraindicated exercise sheet from 1986 that I recently found in my archives...WOW.  And I wonder why so many of my excessive stretching and dancing clients are buying their pain on the installment plan?   For the same reason that any position that encourages "end range training" will eventually break down the spine.  Is it possible the protocols we are choosing is replicating a mechanism of injury?  The answer has to be a resounding YES with back pain at epidemic proportions!  The take home:  "Avoid end range training at all costs and keep the spine protected by turning on the correct muscles and keep the correct spine angles (not flat or excessively rounded forward or backward) during all movement!
Print this out.  Biomechanists, spine specialists and
research has not changed
it's opinion on these moves!  Be careful!!!

2.  Heard the old adage:  "you are what you eat?"  Well I propose "we look like what we do (or don't do)!  One sided athletes, look like one sided athletes if precision and care aren't taken to undo the imbalances that the one sided sport creates!  For example, see the sequence of photo's below:

3.  Research has clearly documented and tested in a quantitative and measurable way, how different positions put undue forces on the spine.  Minimize these highly compressive moves and you will be sparing your spine!  Print out the chart below and glue it to your bathroom mirror, please, as a kind reminder to be aware!!!  Remember you can minimize the wear and tear on the spine by removing some of these repetitive compressed positions from your life today!
What you see here is the percentage of Intradiscal Pressures represented by a number relative to a position.
For example, sitting slumped over is 250% greater compression to the spine than laying down.

4.  The Solution:  Knowing which positions to avoid and which ones to add becomes critical.  Wheres the instruction manual for "Spine Sparing" information?   Research is ever morphing, and confirming what we know:  Movement is healing...movement in good form is more healing!  Move more precise, learn to move better in great posture and Duplication of great performances are coming your way!

Until next time... stay in strength,

Lee Brandon, CSCS

If you don't have an AB-Inforcer, try this set up!
Once you understand the AB-Inforcer Core training basics
then add these gold standards.  They assume however, that you understand the precise positioning of the posture and correct muscles to be involved doing these more advanced drills!

The AB-Infrorcer takes the Rocket science out of training your core!
National Strength and Conditioning Association National Convention

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"My Hope" Delivers: Inspiring Austrian Non-Profit, TESFAYE

May 15th, 2011:  TESFAYE, "My Hope" Delivers in Ethiopia 

This inspiring relief effort was captured by Von Herzen.  Austrian 3 Time Olympian, Marcus Rogan, Volunteers his time and shares his thoughts here about this great, inspiring project called TESFAYE, meaning "MY HOPE."
Below is a short interview between Lee and Marcus:

Lee:  This video is so inspiring, what is TESFAYE and what do they do?

Marcus:  Tesfaye means 'hope' in Amharic (the local language in Ethiopia).  It gives children access to education, and guarantee's fresh water, shelter, and food to over 160 children.

Lee:  Your in training for your fourth Olympiad, which is no easy feat, what would winning another medal at the London 2012 Olympics mean to you?

Marcus:  My perspective is kept in check by my friends in Ethiopia.  They have helped me to see the Olympic Games as just that, GAMES!  They have taught me more than I could ever teach them!  The poorest of the poor, are the richest on the planet when it comes to matters of the heart!  Training hard for my 4th Olympiad is easy when I know what I am doing it for:  Winning a Gold medal in my world, provides me the opportunity to improve their world!

*For more information visit:

Lee and Marcus
Photo provided courtesy of Judy Francesconi

Sunday, May 8, 2011

LATEST RESEARCH: "Train the Core the Right Way" With Dr. Stuart Mc Gill

Train Your Core the Right Way!

Our culture seems to be obsessed with Abdominals!  Many cultures around the world train their core differently. For example, how strong and functional is  the "brick thrower's" core (top) and the "pole gymnast" (right)?  I wonder how many crunches these guys do?  I wonder if the great powerlifter, Alexiev ever pondered "pulling in" his belly button or "hollowing"?  Try doing the "brick Routine and Pole moves" without bracing your core to stabilize the spine:  I'd venture to say, "don't think it is possible!"

Training abdominals for core strength and function is consistently a controversial "hot topic" in the industry.   There are so many different experts with conflicting advice and even the research can be contradictory.  It is even hard for those in the Health and Fitness and Sports Medicine industries to filter through it and stay up to date on the ever emerging new data/ research/ and techniques.  

Lee Brandon, CSCS, has been in this arena as an expert a long time, training Olympians and even being a professional athlete herself, has a strong grasp on core training for functionality in many arenas! Lee states, "There are so many fanciful routines that actually could set us up for injury, if were not careful."  For example, Lee explains, "now the hot new core video might be Brick Tossing and Pole gymnastics after disclosing these videos here!  Seems the more ridiculous the routine, the more attention it gets because of it being so demonstrative, and lets face it, we all want the quick fix!  Success on the installment plan is not what our FAST society is about now days!"

Even more frustrating are the infomercials, ab-gadgets, talk show host's secrets to "6 pack-abs."

Dr. Stuart Mc Gill and Lee Brandon, CSCS
Lee laughing states, "I'm tired of it, the late night lies and widgets that don't deliver what's promised.  I am sure that I am not the only one that believes that we (the general public) are all ready for the research based core truths.  But, of course, we all know the truth has never been popular." Hopefully by the end of this blog you will have additional insights on what delivers "spine sparing results and form" when it comes to designing your own core training routine.

Dr. Stuart Mc Gill is one of the ground breaking pioneers in Spine Biomechanics Research, and in this blog, Lee is sharing some of the work they had the privilege of doing together.

Function of the Core

Before we load any system, we should understand how it functions;  The human body is no different!  Bad backs are at an epidemic level!

The core muscles, and spine is actually a very complex area. The catch phrase today is "the core". This area actually is made up of many torso muscles. Remember that the Lat's and glutes are the most overlooked core muscles and part of the torso that cannot be overlooked, but for the sake of this short blog, we can simplify the conversation and focus on the spinal erectors (low back), rectus abdominis (the "6 pack"), obliques (the "love handles") and the transverse abdominis (the "pull the belly button to the spine" muscle).

The spinal erectors function to extend the torso. 

The rectus abdominis functions to flex the torso. 

The obliques function to rotate and laterally flex the torso. 

The transverse abdominis, along with all the other torso muscles, function to stabilize the torso.

Hopefully you can see how complex the torso musculature is and why Oprah's 300-crunches-a-day routine failed!  The AB-Inforcer even made it to the Top 20 "Hottest New Inventions on the Oprah Show 2 seasons ago.  "I hope I have the chance to take Oprah through one of my precise routines."  Lee continues, "Let's think this through:  if I want larger arms, I do bicep curls...If I do 300 bicep curls I'd expect to get bigger arms.  So why in creation would I want to do 20' minutes of abdominal work... for larger, thicker abs from doing 300 crunches?  I'm just say'in!!!"

3 Time Olympic Swimmer:
Marcus Rogan from Austria

How Much Core Training Should I Do?

How often should you train your abs? Once a week? Three times a week? Everyday? Yes and no. If your goal is more along the lines of low back rehab/prehab, doing one set of one to three exercises daily is a very good approach. If you are training the abdominals with heavy weights and higher volumes (i.e. sets and reps) one to three times a week would be a better. Lee adds, "Personally I have found two to four times a week to be ideal for me. I suggest you experiment and find what works best for you!"

What Exercises Should I Do?
This is probably the most important factor to consider. When building your workout it is important to remember there is not a single exercise that works all the functions of the torso musculature. We feel most people would do well to do what renowned spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, refers to as the "Big Three". Most should spend about 4 to 8 weeks doing the "Big Three" before moving on to a more advanced program (see the rest of the blog for more advanced tips).

What's The Correct Form?
1.  You can hire a credentialed exercise Specialist to use their hands for feedback...

2.  Or, you can use your own hands as feedback to ensure the
correct  neutral zones are maintained and the correct muscles are being used..."Training not Straining!"

3.  There is a clinically tested, research based Core Biofeedback system called the AB-Inforcer
that could be your own "Personal Training coach" at home.
*Check with your Dr. and Health Care provider prior to training
on any program to make sure it's right for you! 

4.  AB-Inforcer works by providing precision feedback under the lower back and head, instead of using the hands (as seen above).
2 high precision Sensors (in red above) are built into a lumbar cushion that provides support and feedback to you
by Lighting up LED bars independently in the hand piece
 if your correct muscles are working.

MC GILL'S  BIG 3:  Video

Curl Up
This exercise is for the rectus abdominis. To perform this exercise lie flat on the floor, slide your hands under your low back to support the lumbar spine, and extend one leg. This position will prevent the lower spine from flattening against the floor. This technique is important in minimizing the stress placed on the spine. The goal for this exercise is to rotate the upper torso (thoracic spine region) only. It is important to keep the neck (cervical spine) and lower torso (lumbar spine) as immobile as possible. When performing the exercise simply pick the upper torso off the ground, pause for 1 to 3 seconds, then lower back to the starting position. This is not an exaggerated movement, but if you do it correctly you should feel it between your sternum and pelvic bone. Try to get between 10 and 20 repetitions.

Lee's favorite additional curl up choices:

Side Bridge

This exercise is performed for the obliques and transverse abdominis. The goal for this exercise is to hold the position in perfect posture. Keep the spine in its correct neutral alignment, as it is when you are standing perfectly straight. This exercise may be performed from the knees for beginners and from the feet for those more advanced. Simply hold yourself in the side bridge position pictured. Try to perform this exercise for 10 to 20 seconds.

Lee's favorite additional Bridge/prone brace choices:

Bird Dog

This exercise is for the back extensors. Begin on all fours and lift the left arm and the right leg to a position parallel to the ground. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, lower then perform with the right arm and left leg. Perform 10 repetitions for each side. It is important to tense your abs (brace them like someone was going to punch you in the gut, do not "suck in" the abs) and keep the entire spine in its neutral position throughout the exercise.

Lee's favorite additional bird dog choices:
This program will lay the foundation for a strong and stable spine. Remember, the primary goal of our torso musculature is to stabilize the entire core/spine and produce various torso movements in activity and sport. 

Give it a shot and you will be on track to improving posture, torso strength and health. Good luck!

For more information on Dr. Stuart McGill and his training techniques, we highly recommend his books (see below).

Lee Brandon, CSCS, 2 Time Women's World Long Drive Champion, was flown to the University of Waterloo, near Toronto Canada, by Dr. McGill and Team, to be tested and evaluated.   Dr. McGill stated, "Any one (irrespective of gender) who can duplicate swing speeds in excess of 120+ mph over the age of 40 is either a genetic mutant or has stumbled on a secret to sparing the spine," and we want to document it!"

Lee Brandon, CSCS
Winning drive of 332 Yards

What Dr. Mc Gill's research found was insightful, duplicatable, and repeatable.  Keep your eye out over the next few months as segments of this research are disclosed.

Lee said:  "This experience was very enlightening,
and this opportunity to be involved with this level
of  scientific research was very exciting!"

About Dr. Stuart McGill

Dr. Stuart M. McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada). His advice is often sought by governments, corporations, legal experts and elite athletes and teams from around the world. Difficult back cases are regularly referred to him for consultation. Any product associated with this website has been tested in Dr. McGill's laboratory at the University of Waterloo, ON, Canada.

» View Dr. McGill's speaking scheduleOrder Books and DVDs
Ultimate Back Fitness and
Performance (4th Edition)
(Soft Cover)

$44.95 CND
The Ultimate Back (DVD):
Assessment and
Therapeutic Exercise

$59.00 CND
Low Back Disorders:
Evidence-based Prevention
and Rehabilitation (Hard Cover)
$60.00 CND

 The Ultimate Back (DVD): Enhancing Performance
$55.00 CND

The team of Doctors and Researchers under the direction of Dr. Stuart McGill above at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
AB-Inforcer Core Biofeedback System being evaluated and tested at the Spine Biomechanics Lab.

"Only one Core training machine teaches 'Bracing' and correct spinal stiffness and form necessary to do the BIG 3 exercises by Dr. McGill," States Dr. Dan Jones, RKT.

"A great cost effective Therapeutic training tool that teaches bracing."   Ethan Ezaki, DPT, Physiotherpy Associates, Clinic director

"The AB-Inforcer is a time saving tool which adds three powerful values in one machine to any facility:  Functional core training with feedback, functional assessment for reliable testing inter-practitioner, and great range of motion training in neutral spine postures."  Dr. Donald Chu, Ph.D., ATC, PT, CSCS, NSCA-Pt

Core Exercise Machine


  • Innovative design incorporates 3 torso devices in one: bi-lateral core trainer, postural trainer, and relaxing massager.
  • Multi-patented, 3-sensor system transmits signals to the user to promote better training form and increased postural awareness to maximize training results and improve posture.
  • Neck and lumbar cushions have built-in interactive biofeedback technology to increase abdominal and core muscle activation, while their ergonomic design helps reduce the risk of neck and spine strain while exercising.
  • Versatile and portable design allows the AB-Inforcer® to be used on any stable surface including the floor, Physical Therapy table, Shuttle®, Total Gym®, or horizontal wall and attaches firmly to most standard flat or incline benches.
  • To sculpt his body for Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. endured rigorous workouts at the hands of trainer Brad Bose. One of Bose’s favorite toning tools for his celebrity clients? The AB-Inforcer, a device that gets your spine in a neutral mode to work your core muscles properly and uses sensory feedback to alert you when you’re out of alignment. “It teaches the difference between using your abs and using your hip flexors,” says Bose, “which are usually the root of a lot of postural problems.” Tighter abs and better posture? Sign us up! – Maureen Harrington (PEOPLE MAGAZINE, May 23rd 2008)
Incorporates three torso devices in one: bi-lateral core trainer, postural trainer and massager. Feedback technology encourages better training form and increased postural awareness by incorporating a simple audible and vibrating 3-sensor system onto contoured shapes that support the spine. Customized hand piece integrated into the 3 zone feedback system houses the “smart logic” which provides immediate visual sensory feedback in the form of LED lights when in exercise mode. Adjustable sizing fits most users 4’11″ to 7′ tall and supports up to 325 lbs. Includes blue contoured neck, upper back and lumbar pillows, head-neck support board, black non-skid base mat, audible red head sensor, red lumbar sensors, detachable hand piece, hands-free Velcro®, 2 customized straps, UL listed adapter, portable carry/travel bag and user guide. Uses 10 AA batteries (not included). Dimensions: folded 15″H x 23″L x 8W”, flat 15′W x 46″ L x 5″H. Weighs 12 lbs. Fits most users 4’11″ to 7′ and up to 325 lbs. 1 year limited warranty.
List Price: $ 1,099.01
Price: $ 595.00