Strong women

How do you gauge strength gains?

I’m bad at math. I know that, you know that because I’ve written about it, and at least a handful of my clients know it because of that one time someone accidentally hit a personal record of 205lbs on the trap bar deadlift…

One the biggest challenges I have day to day is helping clients focus on what they are gaining, and not what they are losing. On convincing them that they can set out to be more, and not less. This is an uphill battle when most of us, women especially, come in to the gym trying to lose body fat, inches, weight or appetite.


If you include a dynamic warm up in your program (hint: do your warm up and here’s why), as well as using the foam roller, you’re gaining better range of motion. Hopefully exercise is helping you to move better, think better, sleep better and feel better overall.

These are the things that you’re gaining.

But often, after a few months in the gym, clients can become frustrated with all of the things that they are “only” doing. (Which is why no one is allowed to say only to me.) On the other hand, I understand how lifting weights can feel stagnant sometimes. Which is when I like to bring out my calculator and introduce the concepts of progressive overload and total volume.

Progressive whaaaa??

Progressive overload is fancy schmancy way of saying that you increased your workload for an exercise by either adding more weight or more repetitions to your workout. For example, if you perform three sets of eight dumbbell goblet squats with 15 pounds in week one, you squatted a total of 360 pounds.


The next week, let’s say you lifted 15 pounds, but added more repetitions and sets. So you did 15x10x4.

Most clients are still stuck on the idea that they are “only” lifting 15 pounds. But when you do the math (with a calculator if you’re me), the reality is that you have now lifted a total of 600 pounds.

600 pounds.

That’s an increase of almost 50%.

The deadlift is another lift where clients tend to minimize their workload.

In the beginning, we start with the kettlebell deadlift, which is an excellent exercise to learn how to properly hip hinge (which translates into helping you pick things up from the floor in a way that keeps your back healthy and your knees happy).

Often we begin clients with a 35lb kettlebell to build a solid movement pattern, but it isn’t very long before we graduate to 50 or 60lbs. After that we progress to the trap bar.

Most clients average between 85-105lbs when they begin using the trap bar. Last week, I had two clients use the trap bar for the first time, both at 85lbs. They did 8 reps for four sets.

They lifted 2,720 pounds. And that was just on the deadlift.

Next time you’re frustrated with what you’re not losing, or the fact that you only lifted a certain amount of weight, step back, pull out your calculator, and do the math.

You’re gaining strength every day.

Celebrate that.

Celebrate you.

Mixed Tape Monday; Inspiration, Fitness pics, and Compassion

Happy first Monday back from vacation.

My bucket game was on point back in the day. 

My bucket game was on point back in the day. 

Said no one ever. 

Compassion in the gym

I'm not really big into New Year's Resolutions or posts about resolutions, but I was reminded over the weekend that for many folks, January is the time to get back into the gym. And for the folks who are regular gym go-ers, it's time to grumble about an overly crowded gym, dudes curling in the squat rack, and people spending an inordinate amount of time on the cardio equipment. 

I think now is the perfect time to do less grumbling and more smiling; to take the headphones off and welcome new people into your gym community. You're kindness and welcoming attitude could play a big part in helping a new routine stick for someone. Don't forget that. Don't forget the people that helped you out in the beginning. 

If ever there was a time to smile, engage, and greet people in your gym, it's now and over the next few weeks. 

On the flip side, if you've committed yourself to a new fitness routine, don't be afraid to ask questions; about gym etiquette, about how to use equipment, or locker services or whatever. And if you don't see a staff member around, ask someone else. I promise you that underneath the headphones and intensity is really just a big ol' teddy bear.

Note: Wait until said person is between sets. Ok? 

Girls Gone Strong: Dr. Lisa Lewis

For those of you who don't know, along with personal training, I also freelance as a photographer. (I don't do weddings. Unless I'm related to you, then maybe I do weddings.) Recently, I've enjoyed doing a lot more fitness style photoshoots and yesterday I had the pleasure of doing a photoshoot for Tony Gentilcore, and his beautiful wife, Dr. Lisa Lewis. 

Lisa was a collegiate volleyball player and has been lifting weights since high school. She's also not afraid of cardio and teaches regular spin classes. 

Lisa was a collegiate volleyball player and has been lifting weights since high school. She's also not afraid of cardio and teaches regular spin classes. 


I had the good fortune of working at a college with Lisa, who was the sports psychologist for my softball team when I was a head coach. She went on to get her Ph.D. from Boston University. Aside from being an incredibly kind, thoughtful and smart woman, Lisa also helped guide me when I decided to try my hand at strength training. In fact, she was the one who put "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" into my hands the very first time. Which, as I've mentioned a number of times on this site, changed my life. She is also married to Tony Gentilcore (check his site out), who has also influenced both my training and my current career path tremendously. 

Lisa was recently interviewed by the gals over at Girls Gone Strong and needed a few pics for the article which was just published yesterday. I have listed the Girls Gone Strong website on my resource page, and if you haven't visited, you now have the perfect excuse. Check out Lisa's interview here, and (caution: shameless plug) check out some of my photos from the shoot as well.  

Click me here. Do it. You know you want to.

Given the interview with Lisa, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a post that Lisa wrote for Tony's site awhile back. This is Lisa and Tony's take on the Battle with Should, which I wrote about back in the spring. Click the title below to read the full post on Tony's website.

Stop Should-ing All Over Yourself

And really, truly. Happy Monday. That's it for today. Happy New Year. Resolutions or not.