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The Underutilized Muscle Contraction

Spend a week at any gym and you will see hundreds of different exercises, workouts, and program types.  Most of these workouts have very similar concepts sprinkled throughout them; in my opinion a large majority neglect eccentric muscle contractions.

There are three different types of muscle contractions that our body utilizes to function with every task we perform. These three muscle contractions include concentric, eccentric, and isometric contractions.3

  • Concentric- Muscle contraction that occurs as the muscle length is shortening
  • Eccentric- Muscle contraction that occurs while the muscle length is lengthening
  • Isometric- Muscle contraction that occurs while the muscle length remains the same

A good well-balanced exercise routine combines all three types of muscle contractions. Whether it be athletic performance or everyday life, all three of these contractions occur frequently, and that is why it is important to prepare the body.  Proper preparation will allow a decreased risk of injury, both during training and everyday life.

Eccentric muscle contractions are very frequently overlooked or not used properly in resistance training programs. I know that a lot of you are probably thinking, “But Justin, every single rep has an eccentric phase”.  While that statement is totally accurate and true, that is not enough force or time to truly be training eccentrically.

One main benefit of eccentric training is that it allows the muscle to withstand a supramaximal load.  What this means is that you will be able to eccentrically handle more load than you can concentrically lift.  A study by Doan et al. showed increases in 1RM bench press through the use of supramaximal loads during eccentric training. 1

Even if you do not plan on using supramaximal loads, there are benefits to adding eccentric training to your program.  Adding a slow eccentric phase to your normal strengthening exercises have been shown to boost metabolism and increase resting energy expenditure post workout in both trained and untrained individuals.2

Adding eccentric training to your current program could also be an effective way to decrease soreness a couple days post session.  I am sure that at some point we have all been super sore following a rigorous workout. This is because of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  DOMS is commonly associated with the eccentric phase of movement.  However, a study by Petetit et al showed that a second eccentric workout, a week or two following the first, would result in significant amounts of decreased soreness.4  

If you have any questions regarding how to implement eccentric training into your program please do not hesitate to reach out and ask one of our professionals.


  1. Doan, B.K., Newton, R.U., Marsit, J.L., Triplett-McBride, N., Koziris, L.P., Fry, A.C., and Kraemer, W.J. (2002). Effects of increased eccentric loading on bench press 1RM. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 16(1), 9-13.
  1. Hackney, K.J., Engels, H.J., and Gretebeck, R.J. (2008). Resting energy expenditure and delayed-onset muscle soreness after full-body resistance training with an eccentric concentration. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(5):1602-1609.
  1. Norkin, Cynthia C, and Levangie, Pamela K. Joint Structure and Function. 5th Ed. Philadelphia, PA. F. A. Davis, 2003.
  1. Pettitt, R. W., Symons, D. J., Eisenman, P.A., Taylor, J. E., White, Andrea, T. (2005). Repetitive eccentric strain at long muscle length evokes the repeated bout effect. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(4), 918-924.

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Tips To Start Running Injury Free

The temperature is rising and days are getting longer. Spring is here and it’s always nice to be able to spend some time outside. While running can be a great way to get in shape while spending time outside, it is important to slowly build up those miles to prevent injury.

Here are some tips to start running injury free:


  • Strength Train/Cross Train


      1. It is important to continue with strength training in order to avoid injury with running.  Including preventative hip and glute strengthening can increase your stability while running and decrease risk of injury. Taking some days off of running to cross train is also important to give your body a break and prevent overuse injuries. Biking, elliptical, and swimming are great ways to cross train.


  • Stick to a gradual increase in running, don’t overdo it.


      1. Following a training plan can be an easy way to make sure you are appropriately increasing your running time/mileage. Increasing running too quickly can increase your risk of overuse injuries.


  • Wear Supportive Footwear


    1. Take a minute to stop by your local running store to see what shoes are best for you. The correct shoes can make a big difference in preventing aches and pains while running.

Below is a “Couch to 5K” training plan that is a good way to get started this spring.

Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
1 5 min walk
2 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
2 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
3 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
2 5 min walk
3 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
4 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
5 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
3 5 min walk
6 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 4 min jog
5 min walk
4 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
7 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
4 5 min walk
7 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
8 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
9 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
5 5 min walk
9 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 6 min jog
5 min walk
6 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
10 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 5 min walk
11 min jog
5 min walk
6 5 min walk
11 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 13 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 15 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
7 15 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 8 min jog
5 min walk
8 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 16 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 17 min jog
5 min walk
8 17 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 18 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! 20 min jog
5 min walk
Relax! Relax!
9 20 min jog Relax! 12 min jog
5 min walk
12 min jog
Relax! 24 min jog Relax! 25 min jog
10 25 min jog Relax! 27 min jog Relax! 30 min jog Relax! Race Day!


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Stay Healthy with the Help of your Freezer

It seems that there is a designated month for nearly everything these days, so there’s no surprise that there’s a month dedicated to frozen foods. The month of March hosts National Frozen Food Month as well as National Nutrition Month. It may be difficult to think about the typical frozen foods we see in the grocery store as being healthy, since many of them are filled with too much fat, sugar, and preservatives. But with a few extra ingredients and a little creativity, almost any frozen food can be turned into a well-rounded, healthy meal.

The idea when creating a healthy meal is to include fruits and/or vegetables, protein, whole grains, and sometimes dairy. The USDA’s MyPlate diagram is a great tool for creating a healthy plate at each meal. It not only helps show what types of food we should be eating, but the proper portion sizes as well. With this useful tool as a guide, it is easier to see how we can create better meals out of frozen foods.

Breakfast—Do you or your kids love frozen waffles? Instead of syrup, try these toppings to give yourself a power boost:

  • Peanut butter and banana slices
  • Peanut butter and apple slices
  • Plain yogurt, fresh or frozen (thawed) fruit, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
  • Make a waffle “taco” by placing scrambled eggs and turkey sausage on the waffle and fold it up
  • Top the waffle with some fruit and have it with a quick scrambled egg on the side








Lunch—there are so many different frozen lunch options, particularly the microwave meals. If you’re like me, one meal isn’t always enough to fill me up at lunch time, and sometimes there’s too much sauce and not enough actual meat and veggies. Here are a few tricks to help a boxed meal go further:

  • Add more veggies. Whether frozen or fresh, adding extra veggies right into the main entrée will help use up the extra sauce and give you more bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking.
  • Add a side of fruit, low-fat yogurt with fruit, or a fruit smoothie.
  • If the meal is comprised of only veggies and protein, add a grain such as whole grain pasta or brown rice. Carbohydrates are very important for our bodies to maintain a steady energy level.
  • If the meal is lacking in vegetables, such as mac and cheese or lasagna, add a vegetable to the side such as carrots and sliced peppers with dip or any fresh/frozen vegetable you like, lightly steamed.



Dinner—Microwave meals can also be used for dinner, but there are a variety of additional options that may be better suited for feeding a family at dinner time. Here are a few options to help you create a well-balanced meal for the family:

  • Create a healthy plate with frozen, breaded chicken or chicken breasts cooked to package directions, steamed frozen vegetables, and a healthy grain such as brown rice (available in the freezer section) or sweet potato fries.
  • Add extra vegetables and chicken/steak/pork to the frozen stir-fry kits. This will help extend the high-sodium sauce so that you are getting more valuable nutrients and less sodium.
  • Try frozen fish, along with steamed vegetables and wild rice for a healthy spin on protein.
  • Add extra vegetables and/or grilled chicken to a frozen pizza to up the nutrient value.
  • Make one of my favorites, chicken pot pie, with frozen mixed vegetables, chopped chicken, a can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup (or make your own), and pie crust. You get all of the food groups in one delicious piece of pie!

Snacks—I am big on snacking, and sometimes it’s hard to find something healthy to keep me going. Here are some great snack ideas from the freezer:

  • Steamed edamame
  • Frozen fruit smoothie
  • Frozen fruit mixed with plain/vanilla Greek yogurt and granola
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Frozen blueberries (they take a while to eat helping you eat more slowly)


Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the convenience of freezer foods. With a few extra ingredients and some creativity, you can create delicious and healthy meals for your family while saving time and money.


Eating Clean

I consider myself a healthy eater. For many years I have made it a priority to eat as healthily as I could and as a result many of my efforts have become habits. I have never followed specific diet trends or relied on diet products, I just made it a point to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean meat, while eating unhealthy foods in moderation.

But over the years, I have learned many new things which lead me to realize that a lot of the food I was eating isn’t as healthy as I had thought. I have learned that food marketing is extremely deceptive and food companies care only about making money. I have learned about the damaging effects of certain artificial ingredients and preservatives on the body. Because of my passion for and educational background in health, these realizations have led me to challenge myself to make the changes needed to truly have a healthy diet.

I don’t consider clean eating a trend as much as it is simply going back to the way our ancestors ate. They didn’t have the convenience of processed, boxed foods and microwave dinners, and many of them had gardens in which they grew their own produce. Combined with modern recipes that incorporate the healthiest foods without sacrificing flavor, clean eating can easily be the most effective health tactic yet. Choosing whole, natural foods whenever possible will not only lead to weight loss, but also will rid the body of unhealthy chemicals and preservatives and contribute to disease prevention.  Even for someone who eats well to begin with, learning how to eat clean is not easy.

Here are five ways to begin incorporating clean eating into your routine:

  1. Cook from scratch. Whenever possible, make meals and baked goods from scratch. Do not rely on boxed cake or brownie mixes, canned soups, or packaged snack items. They are all loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives. Most recently, my Instant Pot has been my best friend in helping me cook healthy meals for my family in a very short amount of time!
  2. Stock up on produce. Keep your favorite fruits and vegetables readily available at all times, but also try something new every so often. I recently tried kale chips and they were delicious! The internet is extremely valuable when it comes to finding new recipe ideas utilizing fruits and vegetables. Store your produce at eye level in the refrigerator rather than the drawers to remind you to eat it!
  3. Read labels on everything you buy. You’d be surprised by the number of unpronounceable ingredients in an item you thought was healthy. If you have staple items that you eat regularly, use the internet to look up how to make sure you are choosing the healthiest possible brand.
  4. Budget a little more for food, initially. Buying packaged foods often seems cheaper than buying all the ingredients to cook from scratch. But over time, the cost of buying individual ingredients will actually turn out to be cheaper! If you truly want to devote yourself to clean eating, plan to spend a little more at first for ingredients and healthier brands.  
  5. Go easy on yourself. Don’t try to change your entire diet all at once. Take baby steps to avoid getting overwhelmed. Vow to make one change per week. I suggest cleaning up what you drink before anything else. Drink water as much as possible, soda as little as possible, and never drink anything labeled as diet. As the weeks go by, you will find that your clean eating choices become easier and even habitual. Allow yourself a break now and then and don’t beat yourself up over setbacks.

In the grand scheme of things, it may be impossible to have a completely clean diet all the time. Don’t aim for perfection, but just doing the best you can. Every step benefits your body that much more. Think of it as a shower for your inside. Your internal system gets dirty through chemicals and preservatives in the foods we eat and the best way to help clean out the gunk is to feed it the least processed foods possible.

Give clean eating a try for yourself and see how you feel!

~Lisa White

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Concussion… now what?

Your son, daughter, athlete, or friend is in the middle of an intense game and they take a hard hit.  You see them stumble off the field looking unsteady, you can tell something is wrong.  What happens next?

The initial recognition of a concussion is critical to proper management. If the initial detection of a concussion is missed, and a player goes back in too early, they are at increased risk of cerebral edema or second impact syndrome which can have catastrophic implications.  Players don’t always mention when they’ve “had their bell rung,” so it is often up to the coaches and athletic trainers to notice when something isn’t right.  They will perform some sort of screening on the field to determine if there is a possibility of a concussion.  If it is determined that there might be a concussion, the player should be out of the game and not cleared to return to any athletic activity within the same day.


After a concussion, there should be a follow up with a physician skilled in managing concussion symptoms, you usually a sports medicine doctor.  Usually this happens relatively soon after the initial injury, within a few days. If there are more severe symptoms, such as worsening headaches, weakness or loss of coordination, slurred speech, repeated vomiting, or loss of consciousness a trip to the emergency room is needed for more urgent evaluation to reduce the risk of brain damage.  If these symptoms are not present imaging is usually not needed.  

Once the athlete is cleared from serious pathology a treatment plan is determined based on the level of symptoms and evaluation findings.  Cognitive rest is important as it will allow the brain to reduce its activity and start to heal.  Some people require complete cessation of all activity including school, reading, TV, phones, video games etc which is usually only a few days.  Others may be able to continue functioning, but at a lower level as in half days or limited homework.  Symptoms usually resolve mostly within 7-10 days.  When symptoms have not resolved in 3 weeks, further evaluation may be needed by a physical therapist or other professional depending on the type of symptoms to determine what additional interventions may be needed as the concussion is not resolving on its own.  Interventions may include further medical management, vestibular treatment, vision exercises, manual therapy, or graded exercise.      

As symptoms resolve, the athlete will want to start getting back to activity.  Although we want to get them back quickly, we also want this to be done safely.  Athletes can only return to athletic activity after being cleared by a physician.  If there is no physical testing done by the physician, it is up to you to pursue testing.  There is a systematic process of increasing the exertional load and monitoring symptoms that can be performed to assess readiness to return to sports.  Usually this occurs over the course of 5 days and gradually increases the intensity of exercises as long as there are no increases in symptoms and ends with activities simulating play.  Then the athlete will resume play with practice, simulated play, then competitive play.  Most athletes make a full recovery, but remember the history, as repeated concussions are more likely to lead to long term disability.