How heavy should it be?

The weight you lift, I mean….

I think I just had a Yoda moment :-P

O.K. Let’s move onto the meat of the matter shall we?

doyoueven-terminator

One thing I see a LOT in the gym (aside from many varying forms of weight lifting that could possibly kill somebody) are ladies lifting light.

I mean, like LIGHT. Before I move on I must say that I’m not talking about squatting the bar because you are working on form and building muscle. I am not talking about brand new lifters who NEED to start lighter than they usually do. I’m talking about those groups of ladies (cause they tend to be in flocks) who are so afraid to lift heavy they stay lighter than they should. This post is for you.

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Let’s bust the common myth: weight lifting will not make you bulky or huge. Tuck that fact away. Women can benefit greatly from regular weight lifting. If you’re not trying to compete, you can get by with 3-5 lifts per week and reap the benefits such as:

  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Increased metabolism
  • Increase bone density (it’s more important to you when you’re older so start now)
  • Increased tendon and ligament strength
  • Fewer injuries such as joint rolls and sprains
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Increased energy….once you find your balance :)
  • Increased libido (Helloooooooo, nurse!)
  • Tighter skin

I could go on and on, but we’ll stick with these for now. Most women won’t lift heavy due to the fact that they worry they will look bulky. If these women DO try some heavy weights, chances are they may experience the slight swelling that can occur when your tissue expands due to the load. This will usually dissipate after a while, but some ladies get scared. They may also notice the scale moving on up and find that disturbing. Well, contrary to the popular saying, muscle and fat weigh the same. I mean, a pound is a pound right? The fact is muscle is far more dense than fat and therefore it takes up less space. Less space makes for a leaner body overall.

Are you sold on the heavier weights yet?

Once you start to take in all the benefits, the next question is ALWAYS, “How heavy should I lift?”

In my own opinion, I think you should second guess your lack of spotter :) but let’s break it down by goal.

Weight lifting really is a numbers game. Everything you do is like an algebraic equation that is solved by your body. So, let’s take a look at popular goals and the algebra one can use to reach them.

  1. You have some body fat to melt and you want things to STOP jiggling pronto: With this goal your best bet is a rep range of 12-15, meaning the weight should almost be immovable by the time you hit 13-14. Notice, you are going for a FEELING here. You’ll notice the more you lift that you have strong days and not-so-strong days. Take it in stride and always show up.
  2. You’re over 35 years old/have experienced a HUGE weight loss/are noticing loose skin OR all of the above: THIS is my specialty. The rep range you are shooting to hit is 6-8 (some scientists offer 4 is good, but I find my joints will give out when I go that heavy). Again, you’re going for a feeling here. The weight should be immoveable by the time you hit 7-8. This particular rep range with heavy-duty weight (adjusted to your specific strength) has been shown to increase elasticity in the skin by increasing the production of collagen. It also helps to force produce more testosterone, which will help bring balance to hormones that become imbalanced with age AND it helps to spice up that sometimes lagging libido.
  3. You want to compete on American Ninja Warrior……or you dig endurance sports. Your particular rep range protocol is anywhere from 15-30. This will be lighter weight and focus on different muscle fibers to pull the load. You may use 5 pounds for an overhead press, but by the time you reach 30 reps I promise your shoulders are on fire. Tis builds endurance in the muscle and increases endurance between the mind/muscle connection.

I know it seems complicated, but here’s the deal: you have to know your body and know your goal. Since I have lost so much weight, I actually incorporate the first 2 mostly (with a lower rep focus on the larger movements) and will throw in high rep every once in a while to burn out the muscle, increase size or just to do something different since I get bored easily.

My advice to you is to play around with it and try. keep a record of what you lift AND if you think you can lift heavier next time. You can always try a slightly heavier weight and if you only get 2 reps, be happy, drop the weight and finish your set. your results are determined by you alone. So make your gym time personal.

Now it’s your turn: Comment below with any questions you have on weightlifting OR the tips and tricks you have used to progress your lifts.

Oh, and let me know what your favorite lifts are when you train!

Michelle

mc-7174 WM

Summertime woes: A realistic look at swimsuit season

It’s June 16th here and if you live anywhere in southeast Texas, then you are probably hunkered down with your bottled water awaiting the ominous sounding Tropical Storm BILL….just the name inflicts fear. ;)

More fearful than any tropical storm is swimsuit season. I think I can speak for us all here right? There are just so many things that can go wrong…

I had my very own little run in with swimsuits a couple of weeks ago. You see, I can’t swim….I’m more of a sink or float kinda gal. Meaning when in a pool of water I usually end up close to the wall canoodling with my hubby :) totally acceptable behavior.

Anyways, I decided that this summer I should branch out. I mean, I just got onstage in the world’s tiniest bikini and was judged for goodness sake! I think I can learn to swim a few laps for sport. So, on we went to Academy to get a slightly larger and much more supportive suit….

Into the lion’s den:

It started off rather innocent enough. I walked in feeling full of confidence and eager to get this party started. I grabbed several suits in several sizes (cause you just don’t know with those things) and catwalked my way to the unisex dressing rooms…because we girls can have secrets no longer. I got the first suit on with a great struggle and looked in the mirror. Not good. Like, really not good. I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that I had just competed. I then promptly wondered what the heck I had been eating. It seemed like whatever wasn’t firmly encapsulated in the suit spilled elsewhere in the most unflattering fashion imaginable…..sort of like sausage which was busting out of its casing. With much effort, I removed the suit, though I did worry I might have to call in assistance. I picked up a larger size in bright red…side note: that’s a LOT of red no matter what your actual size. Though this one was a little easier to put on and the spillage seemed slightly more contained, I still began to question my training and nutrition. I didn’t bother with the third suit and I marched out to put those demons back in the cavern from whence they come, otherwise known as the swimsuit rack. I then perused the bikinis only to decide my fragile ego couldn’t handle that right now.

For the next couple of weeks (weeks, people) I struggled. It felt like my workout pants were tighter (um, they’re spandex). I got sick and had to go to the doctor where the nurse weighed me and I didn’t appreciate the number she wrote down (you’d think we gals could help each other out). I then had to go through old videos where all I could think about was how thin I was and that all my clothes fit then….

Here’s the catch: I work to empower women to forget the scale. I strive to have more women comfortable in their own skin. I love the variety of bodies on the beach and want others to focus on progress, not perfection. So what the heck????

There are many things that can go wrong while swimsuit shopping. Do any of these bring back horrid memories of yesteryear?

  • Swimsuit sizing if really weird! I think if I wear a medium in workout tights then I should wear a medium in swim bottoms. Is this too much to ask??!?!?!? When going through sizes, I always feel as though I have stumbled into the toddlers department and nobody was kind enough to point me to the correct place.
  • Lighting: really people? It seems as though the ONLY lighting available in these places is the large spotlight used for interrogations…..”Did you really log ALL of your food this week?” “Yes, I swear! I’m not guilty!!!!!” The higher end stores splurge on slightly softer lighting which makes me spend more money. I await a swimsuit dressing room lit in carefully placed tea lights and playing smooth jazz to mellow my fear.
  • You have to keep your underwear on while you try on swimsuits. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great rule, BUT it also added like 10 inches of fabric to my hips (OK< maybe not, but it feels like it).
  • Cellulite LOVES swimsuit shopping. You may not even see it in your shorts that morning, but by the time you pull on the plastic lined bottoms you can rest assured it will rear it’s dimpled head.
  • There seems to only be 2 (maybe 3) options when shopping: barely there skimpy OR old lady afraid of sunburn. The possible 3rd is the “fat displacing” ones that really do nothing other than squeeze body fat into even weirder places.

It’s a wonder any of us get out of the dressing room! The attendant smiles sweetly and asks “Did everything work out?” while I stand there with 23 different suits and tears in my eyes….I muster enough courage to smile back and say “Yes.” Like, duh, I like to keep at least 10 different sizes on hand!

To make matters worse, women are held to different standards than men. The men in my life don’t fret over whether or not their abs are flat in their long trunks….they really just want to make sure the trunks are big enough to allow movement and eating. Who eats in a swimsuit?!?!?!? If I ever get in it I certainly don’t want people to see me eating. That might make me relax my abs, which is one of the unforgivable sins. Guys swimwear sends a totally different message! It says “You’re cool man. Captain America trunks make the ladies believe that under that beer gut you actually look like Captain America”. Meanwhile, we slather on firming creams and practice rolling in and out of chairs so visible stomach flab won’t show :/

How do we make it better? Well, first off, we MUST adhere to the truth that we are all a work in progress. Progress denotes change….we are therefore, ever-changing. There is no such thing as the perfect body and I believe variety is a good thing. The second thing to remember is that body fat is normal and to be expected. Now, how much depends on lifestyle choices. There are a lot of lean people, but the only ones who are fat-free suffer from serious medical issues. So be thankful for your health.

I will be embarking upon a swimsuit shopping extravaganza soon and I have a plan that I think may just work. First, I am enlisting my besties to go with me. This sort of thing is better enjoyed in a group. Second, a good lunch with a couple of glasses of wine will be enjoyed beforehand as swimsuit shopping sober should be reserved for the youngsters who have yet to mature into their cellulite. Third, as women we must realize that we are far harder on ourselves than is necessary. We are defined by our character, not by any number.

So, I encourage you to go forth and shop heartily sisters! Show your daughters that we are comfortable with the changes and challenges of life. Be the best example to others of grace while in the dressing room…..and I pray every dressing room door will remain on its hinge during your adventure.

Be bold because you’re already beautiful,

Michelle

mc-7059 Photo by Kendra Harwell Photography

 

Hello Baytown! Local training news AND an online Summer Challenge

mc--4 WM Thanks to Kendra Harwell Photography for these awesome pics :)

For those in the BAYTOWN area, I have some exciting news. I have decided to team up with the local YMCA to revamp their entire personal training program. I am taking the position of Personal Training Lead and will be in charge of building a top notch team of personal trainers from the ground up. I will also be providing education for trainers AND group X instructors so members receive the best in nutrition and exercise science. After all, what good is knowledge if you aren’t sharing it right? :)

What does this mean for YOU?

If you aren’t local, go ahead and hop down the post for an exciting opportunity to train with me virtually. If you ARE local, here is what you can expect:

  1. ALL of my in-person, one-on-one and group training (including MMA) sessions will now go through the local YMCA. It’s not the end of the Slaughter House, it’s just moving to a larger venue.
  2. Those already in session with me will get first pick over days/times.
  3. My schedule will now be able to accommodate MORE training sessions.
  4. Morning, lunchtime and daytime sessions are now more readily available.
  5. You will need a membership to train with me (or my staff), but this will also rid you of the excuse that you really have no place/motivation/plan to workout away from your trainer :) It’s a win for you and your whole family.

In order to get on the wait-list (those follow me wherever I go it seems!) for my training or nutrition services, contact the local Y at 281-427-1797 and get started.

My personal specialties are Bodybuilding, Competition Prep, MMA conditioning (carving a fighters body and some mad fighting skills), endurance training and corrective exercise. I’ll be seeking to hire and train a diverse staff with specialties ranging from weight loss to adventure races and power lifting as well as senior fitness. The goal is to make this TRAINING personalized to YOUR goals and not your trainer’s goals like so many other programs.

ONLINE #SLIMMERSUMMER CHALLENGE

If you’re traveling a lot this Summer OR you don’t live anywhere near me, I’m starting an online challenge that will help you get slimmer this Summer while still enjoying life. It is my firm belief that with a few tweaks and some nutritional guidance you can still look and feel your best ALL Summer long. There’s no need to upheave your way of life or skip out on Bar-B-Q’s and pool parties…..especially when you have science on your side. More info about the #SLIMMERSUMMER challenge will be up this week, but if you want to secure a spot on the wait list simply email me at michelle@michellecfitness.com

Have a healthy and blessed day, and I hope to see you soon!

Michelle

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WorkIT Wednesday: Hump Day Workout

Hey Mike! Mike, Mike, Mike!!!!!! It’s HUMP DAY!

Oh yeah, baby. Today’s workout is dedicated to your lovely humps. Whether you are building the booty of your dreams or tightening what your momma gave you, incorporate this superset focused workout once a week to see results.

Hump Day Workout:

Warm Up. I usually only hop on the cardio equipment for leg day. Warm up for 5-10 minutes.

First set:

Dumbbell Squats. Run the rack with these. Start with a heavy weight and do 10 reps, then drop weight 3 more times of 10 reps. Do a total of 4 sets.

First Super Set (perform first exercise and immediately follow with the second; rest for 30-60 seconds in between sets):

Barbell Squat. 15 reps

Pop Squat (some people call it a jump squat, but move the feet out and in). 30 seconds.

Repeat 3x

Second Super Set:

Weighted walking lunge. 40 reps (20 on each leg).

Switch lunges. 30 reps (15 on each leg)

Repeat 3x

Third Super Set:

Quad Extensions. 15 reps

Seated Hamstring Curls. 15 reps

Moving lateral squat. 30 reps

Repeat 3x

Finisher:

Bring a band (one that is a circle with no ends and LOTS of resistance) and perform Monster Walks for 2 minutes. Rest and then do it 2 more times.

Monster Walk: With band snug at mid calf (NOT the ankle or knee joint!), separate feet and assume squat position. Without losing your position, take large steps forward and then backward. Try to cover some ground.

If you have any legs left, hop on the stairmill for 20 minutes :)

Here’s to your humps!

Strong Camp 107 Photo by paulbuceta.com

Why Am I NOT Seeing Results? ….a blog series to get you where you want to be

Hello Fit People!

This particular series will last 4 blogs (crazy right?) and will be posted weekly. So you get a month to learn what could be hold you back from your very best self.

If you are one of the MANY ( I have high hopes) who have continued on with those New Year’s goals long after that the groundhog came out of his hole, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

But here is the million dollar question: Are you where you thought you would be? Are you struggling with your goals already? Are you asking yourself, “Am I there yet?” Have no fear. I’ve been in this game long enough to know a thing or 2 about habits and hangups that could be holding you back from your goals. How do I know? Cause I have them too :) But if I stayed with them I would never be where I am today.

BTW, these are in NO particular order, so tackle what is relevant to you right now.

Strong Camp 90 Photo by Paul Buceta for Strong Magazine

1. You think the food will just work itself out.

Here’s the deal, you HAVE to be aware of what you are eating, period. Even the guy that ate Twinkies for the study was AWARE of how many Twinkies he was eating. In my opinion, that’s probably why that little experiment worked. Know what you’re eating and know how much. The only reason that person at the gym seems to have more definition than you is most likely because they know what they are eating and they track their food.

Choose the style that works best for YOU. Macros rock my world, but close into my competition I prefer a pretty simple diet of eating similar foods every day. This is just because it is easier to be prepared. I’m not a fan of just counting calories as we can often fill those calorie requirements with foods that do not serve us very well. You know what I’m talking about ladies. How many of you eat MORE carbs (cause girls love carbs!) and run out of calories for your protein? The body works better in balance of all 3 macronutrients so give it a fighting chance. Track your food and know what works for you.

2.You really like your “cheat” meal……like REALLY.

Do you know why “cheat meals” were termed? Body builders would run out of stored glycogen (carbs get stored as glycogen in the muscle fibers and are used for energy during heavy lifting workouts) due to low carbohydrate diets. When glycogen is depleted, strength can fade. So, the bodybuilder began to implement refeeds (which are actually PLANNED days of eating more carbohydrates to refuel the glycogen stores) and some, cheat meals.

Here is the problem……90% of the gym population are not bodybuilders (not that we aren’t working hard, but really) and yet we try to eat like one. This can be particularly true with those just starting on a strength training program. We can get all geared up and hop on a deprivation diet which is followed by a cheat meal, which turns into a cheat weekend, which causes shame and we get back in line on Monday to start the cycle again. Sound familiar?

A treat is warranted if you have been withholding calories AND especially if you have been withholding macronutrients (I don’t believe EITHER should be very low, even in weight loss), but it should be contained to ONE small treat per week with the goal of refueling a system, not bingeing to good glory because you deserve it…….

NEXT WEEK we will tackle some common mistakes in the gym and figure out how to make your membership work better for you :)

Stay Strong!

Michelle

 

Work IT Wednesday! Kettlebell HIIT Workout

Welcome to mid-week mania!

Here’s a short Kettlebell HIIT conditioning circuit I use to tighten and tone everything in a brief period of time. Pick a couple of different weights and hop to it!
NOTE: you can use a single dumbbell if you do not have access to a kettlebell

 

Set your timer for 40 seconds of WORK and 10 seconds of REST. You will repeat this circuit 3 times with a 30-60 second rest between circuits. Let me know how you do in the comments below!!!!

THE WORKOUT:

KB swings (weight stays in heels)

KB swing hops (moving forward and back)

Turkish get up left side

Turkish get up right side

KB around the world (keep waistline TIGHT)

High Skips, holding KB overhead

Figure 8 KB squat

V-UP (use the bosu for an extra challenge)

Make sure you have water and some AMINOS to keep you going.

Strong Camp 95 Photo by Paul Buceta

WANT MORE???? Would you like to SEE these workouts on video? Let me know in the comments.