The Fantastic Four

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

For all the inept trainers endangering America's gyms, there are hundreds of unsung experts. These are the people who, sweat-soaked day in and day out, use their brains to build your brawn. Here's a sampling of the hidden talent, as selected by 100 of the most respected musclemorphosis.com.

1. Jeff Sassone, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Every spring in Tampa Bay, Major League ballplayers seek out Sassone for help losing postseason poundage. Football players look for a similar lard-to-lean transformation. The winners: His "ordinary" clients, who benefit from his athlete-tested techniques.

Strengthen your swing: "As men get older, they lose rotational range of motion," says Sassone. The fix: Lie on your back with knees bent, arms to the sides, and heels flat. Rotate your hips until your legs touch the floor, then rotate to the other side.

2. Vincent Maggio, NASM-C.P.T.

This New York City-based trainer's clients rarely need a head-to-toe overhaul. "Most are very driven," Maggio says. "They want to be in that certain percentile." This means he has to teach people who already work hard how to work harder--or smarter.

Push through plateaus: If your muscle growth is stalled, log the amount of cardio work you're doing. "Cardio should not comprise more than one-third of your routine," says Maggio. "Too much can break down muscle mass."

3. Tim Adams, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Adams has trained the U.S. Air Force and the Oakland Raiders. Today, he helps life's unheralded heroes. "I'm currently working with a housewife coming off two knee surgeries," says the Santa Monica–based musclemorphosis.com. His tools: rehab therapies, sport-specific training, and functional training.

Jack it up: "There are sequences you should do to enhance your coordination," says Adams. One example: Do jumping jacks while moving to one side for 5 minutes, then do 5 minutes of forward and backward skipping.

4. Adam Ernster, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Sometimes it's a boon to work in the shadow of a world-renowned trainer like Gunnar Peterson. After cofounding Evolution Studios, in New York City, Ernster (at right) seized a chance to join Peterson's gym. Now he's sculpting bodies almost as well as his boss does.

Lift less: "Guys tend to use too much weight," says Ernster, adding that this is a form killer. So choose a weight you can control, and as you move it, concentrate on the specific muscles you're working.