Tony's computer is in the shop, so I'm going to have to pinch-hit for him on this week's edition of Semper Fitness. I'm actually glad his computer is down (it's under warranty, so I don't feel guilty saying that), because it gives me a chance to brag about Tony.Tony (SSgt Haynes, to those of you still on active duty) is, by far, the most physically fit person I have ever met. He is the perfect blend of speed, endurance, and strength. He does dead-hang pull-ups with about 100 lbs strapped to him; works out with almost 300 lbs on the bench press and well over 400 on squats; and can do full back flips in his dress blues (yes, really!). He has a musculature that has won him several amateur body building titles, and yet he has the endurance to carry him to a personal best of about 18:30 for his three mile run. Not bad for a 180 pound guy.

I had the privilege of working out with Tony for about a year when we were stationed at 1st Radio Battalion, Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. I worked out for years before I met Tony, but could never get past a certain plateau until he turned me on to a very important fundamental that a lot of people overlook, or just flat out ignore. That fundamental is rest. This fundamental is essential to improving strength in the gym, and should be built into your workout plan.

When designing a workout plan, try to think of muscle as a callous. If you chopped wood all day, you'd probably have torn some of the skin away from your hand by the end of the day. If you go out and chop wood the very next day you would just aggravate the raw area. If, however, you wait a few days to a week, the skin will grow back stronger than it was before the tear. Your muscles work the same way. When you lift weights, you're breaking down your muscles, and with the proper rest, they will grow stronger as they heal. The key here is proper rest.

All the magazines I read as a teenager said to workout each body part twice a week. For me, this would work out to a three day split. I'd work each body part in three days, take one day off, and then do it all over again. My entire body was always sore from doing this, which was a clear sign of overtraining. Because I was sore, my intensity would suffer, and eventually, so would my consistency when I would burnout. I did this for years until I started to work out with Tony.

Tony's philosophy is to train smarter, not harder. Listen to your body. If you are still sore from your last chest workout, don't work your chest! It sounds simple, but a lot of people believe that the constant soreness is part of the deal. Not only can you make great gains by working each body part only once a week, but you'll probably make better gains than if you worked the same body part twice a week. What a deal; work half as much, make twice the gains. How many days you want to be in the gym is up to you. I personally like to do five days on and two days off. The important thing is to give each body part one week's rest between workouts.

The important thing is to give each body part one week's rest between workouts.

When properly rested, you can hit the gym with the intensity, and the consistency that you need in order to make gains. You'll be stronger, healthier, and less prone to injury. Best of all you'll spend less time in the gym and more time doing whatever it is you've been dying to do.

That's it for this installment of Semper Fitness. I'll probably write the column again in the future, as Tony is on recruiting duty in Cleveland, Ohio. For those of you who have done recruiting duty, you know what a time commitment it is. 'til next time . . .

Semper Fidelis!