Bill De Simone is the author of Moment Arm Exercise, a revolutionary book on the often overlooked bio-mechanics of exercise. I read the book many months ago, have applied my own personal understanding of the concepts, and have reaped results from those actions. I believe what Bill offers not only increases the safety of the way one can exercise, but also brings about better results.
Below is an interview I performed with Bill recently (various links have been added by me).
*Bill, these are my own words. Can you briefly tell us a bit more about yourself?
Currently I have a personal training studio, which opened a little over three years ago. I’ve been self-employed as a fitness guy since 2001. Previous to that, I’d been involved in commercial and corporate fitness, physical therapy, and practice management for various lengths of time.
Started as a personal trainer in 1983 at the Sports Training Institute in New York, which at the time was the only place to personal train. In fact, it had been the Nautilus showroom in NYC prior to my time there, so we had some early prototypes. Some of the older trainers there told me about Jones and Mentzers’ visits, also prior to my time. I crossed paths with each of them once.
I’ve been NSCA and ACE certified, and have my Nautilus Instructor certificate from 1986 and Mentzer autographed Iron Man cover from 1978 on my wall. I’ve presented at community colleges, NSCA events, HIT events, Club Industry, all on biomechanics and exercise.
So I have a varied background in different aspects of exercise. I consider myself more of a “physical culturist” than pure HIT, but I am definitely HIT-influenced.
*What is Moment Arm Exercise (book), in your own words? What is the major premise behind it?
That there has been a disconnect between Biomechanics and Exercise, which at best leads to ineffective and inefficient training, and at worst, leads to chronic and acute injuries. And when you correct that disconnect, with what I called Congruent Exercise, joints hurt less and your training becomes more precise and productive.
*What inspired you to write MAE?
Primarily rupturing my own biceps during a routine curl, nothing dramatic, it just popped off. When I looked into the injury, it’s reported as very common among 60 year old men, but I was 40, so I wondered, what possibly could have accelerated the wear and tear on my shoulder joint? I pretty much concluded that using an exaggerated range of motion during the previous 25+ years of weight training was probably the cause.
Then later the same year, I fell on skates and ruptured the triceps. (That one hurt. Don’t turn 40, kids). When everything healed, I found that in some movements, I lost zero strength, but in others, I couldn’t even get into position. So I skipped past all the exercise and fitness texts and magazines, went to biomechanics, kinesiology, and anatomy books to try to figure out what was going on. I was shocked to find out how far away from proper muscle and joint function much of what I had “learned” about exercise was. I rebuilt my own workouts and realized that I had a piece of work that others might be interested in.
*Can you provide a quick example of how someone can apply this to their training, right now, and how it would benefit them?
Full explanations are in the manual, and the videos provide a visual demonstration. The quick story is to stop with “stretch” position exercises, and to not worry about “full range of motion”; you’ll find your joints hurt less and your muscles immediately work heavier and harder. Tweaking the classic exercises is closer to “right” than loading extreme joint angles.
*What are some of the things you see “wrong” with the current “fitness” industry?
We don’t have enough bits and bytes to catalog that. We could start with the history of snake oil that is part of the fabric of the “fitness industry”. It’s a classic scenario: “buy my book/supplement/machine/program, it’s the key to success; if it didn’t work, you must be deficient in vitamins/motivation/proper equipment/attitude, this new product will fix that”, and so on. I saw that in the muscle magazines in the ‘70s, and what does P90X do today? It’s the same story.
Or we could start with the whole economics of the situation: health clubs’ success depends on selling air, not results; consumers buy based on wishes, not reality.
Or the generally poor quality of most personal training, at least from a purist’s point of view.
*Some of the things you see “right”?
Well, one thing about personal training, in spite of the lack of standards and erratic quality, it can be a pure, objective, marketing transaction. If you please the client, they put their hand in their pocket and pay. If you don’t, they don’t; there’s no hiding behind seniority or cronies.
Separate from that, for anyone interested in learning, the resources available today are far superior and far more available than when I started out. Those of us training in the ‘70s either learned from others who lifted near us, or had to find muscle magazines, which they usually kept in the porn section of the newsstand.
*Do you have any favorite authors on exercise (and related topics) that you’d like to share?
Ellington Darden, especially his most recent stuff. I like seeing the change in his writing and attitude from 1980 to now, and I like the behind-the-scenes of events I read about when they originally happened. Mike Mentzer, who I now regard as a cautionary tale, but I still find his booklets and articles from the 1970s incredibly motivating.
Outside of HIT. Steven Vogel is an academic who writes on biology and biomechanics, and his Prime Mover is an amazing history of the study of muscle: who knew what when, what was debunked, how it works. The Gracies have a phenomenal dvd set called Gracie Combatives, which is jiu jitsu lessons, presented in an excellent teaching technique, but to my point, the exact opposite of what I try to do: I use biomechanics to take care of the joints, they do the opposite.
I’ve just been turned onto Tim Ferriss and Chris Anderson (Free), but back in the ‘70s/’80s, Charles Garfield had a body of work called Peak Performance (books, tapes, video, etc.) that dealt with similar concerns.
*What projects do you currently have in the works?
I’ll be doing “Moment Arm Exercise Live” in my studio this December, which will expand on the manual and YouTube videos, with live hands-on practice. There will be at least one video every month on You Tube. I also plan to write another manual, Biomechanics for Better Workouts: A Trainer’s Guide, which I’ll write in a more accessible style than MAeX. MAeX wasn’t originally intended for other people; it was written for me, found its way to other guys like me; but I think the comment that it is very dense and complex is legitimate criticism, which I’ll correct this next time.
*Where can readers learn more from you, and how can they contact you for further information about ordering MAE?
YouTube is turning out to be a great communication tool, and I encourage viewers to use the comments tool for specific questions. There’s also a link to an ebay store page which will have any new manuals, seminars, etc. posted.
My studio is called Optimal Exercise in Cranbury, NJ, which is where I spend most of my time.
Bill is one of the speakers we are hoping to have at The 21 Convention 2010 (USA) to present about exercise.
Visit Bill’s YouTube channel here for all of his free videos.
Read my review of Moment Arm Exercise here.