The Light Show

One of the coolest features of the Smarter Exercise Toolkit app was inspired by the advanced equipment design at Ren-Ex.  I had attended the Ren-Ex Future of Exercise Conference in 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Doug McGuff  was the keynote speaker. Ken Hutchins, principal author of the SuperSlow exercise protocol, was also a presenter. Ten years ago, Ken certified me and our original staff as SuperSlow instructors when we all visited his facility near Orlando, but I digress…


The Ren-Ex equipment provides immediate visual feedback to both exerciser and trainer.  It does this by using digital force gauges to stream force data through a computer monitor positioned in front of the exerciser.  The slightest distraction shows-up on screen, providing immediate feedback.  Needless to say, the immediate feedback aids self-learning while demanding total mental focus, improving safety, and cranking-up exercise intensity.

The Ren-Ex equipment is brilliant, but it also comes with a hefty price tag.  If you can buy it, buy it!  After three years, I still have ambitions of purchasing my own Ren-Ex machines, so please buy my app so I can use the proceeds to keep my studio state-of-the-art.

It occurred to me that not everyone, me included, will have access to Ren-Ex equipment.  But maybe, just maybe, since most of us are carrying around smartphones with built-in accelerometers, we could come-up with a poor man’s – I mean, more universally accessible – application of Newton’s equation: f = ma (force = mass * acceleration) in order to provide immediate feedback to an exerciser.

TheLightShow.LinkedInImportant note:  In order to make use your device’s built-in accelerometer, your device has to accelerate/decelerate.  This requires putting your smartphone on a piece of strength training equipment that moves.  Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that you should securely place or strap your device onto a part that moves while both you and it are not moving.  Also, place your device on the equipment, not under heavy plates that might flatten or otherwise damage you or your device.

I call it the light show… using data streaming from your device’s built-in accelerometer, yellow and red warning lights will indicate when excessive acceleration is detected during an exercise.  The immediate feedback aids self-training while demanding complete mental focus, improving safety by helping to eliminate excessive forces, and helping the exerciser to crank-up the intensity.

Smarter Exercise Toolkit

Android app to improve self-training performance

I am pleased to announce the release of the Smarter Exercise Toolkit for Android available exclusively on the Google Play Store. In October 2014 I started sketching the basic design and workflow for the app, a process called ‘wireframing’. Once I had drawn out my plan, I shopped around for a developer to help with the programming. Along the way I met some very talented programmers, but there were several obstacles that would have to be overcome if I were to benefit from their expertise. First, I would have to pay them – that was a major obstacle. Second, they did not share my experience with high-intensity training. Third, they did not share my vision for the app – they wanted to reduce it to a game, whereas I wanted a tool that filled specific requirements that made sense for the purpose of effective self-training – call me crazy! I began to dust off my programming hat, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. It turns out that being away from programming for over 10 years and not paying attention to the constantly changing landscape of technology is an impediment to creating a compelling application for the Android platform. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources available at little to no cost for anyone with an idea and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of free time. It is my hope that people, who may have been exposed to proper strength training methods, will use the app to achieve better results by improving their performance when self-training. Here is how the app helps you:

1. Have a Plan

plansPlan your workouts. Give them a name so you can re-use them. Even better, benefit from Drew Baye’s experience and use one of his exercise plans. Read his blog, buy his books at Order Body By Science from a bookstore or and follow authors Doug McGuff and John Little’s ‘Big Five’ workout plan which will be sufficient for regular people to achieve outstanding results.

2. Be Consistent

editexerciseKeep track of the exercises, equipment settings, and weights so you can be consistent with your training.

3. Performance

lightshowUse the app for visual and auditory guidance during the performance of every exercise. Set exercise-specific repetition speed. I will use a 10/10-second cadence on leg press, a 8/8-second cadence on abdominals with a 4-second squeeze in the most contracted position.

It is almost always better to workout with a qualified, experienced trainer – the accountability to another human makes us work harder, period. But, good trainers are not always available when and where you workout. In those cases, having this app as a training companion, will go a long way to holding you accountable to the training standards you strive to follow.

I wish you the very best in reaching your strength goals. We are always here to help.