Tag Archives: lifting

Strength Training for Women

9 Aug

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If you’ve been around here a time or two before, you know I LOVE lifting.  It keeps me strong and has been super helpful keeping my mind off running (or the lack there of).  It hasn’t always been this way though.  I used to be a little cardio monster…pretty much only doing cardio.  I had it in my head that I would bulk up with weights.  Genetically, it seemed completely possible to bulk up, as both my sister and I have always had arms a bit on the thicker side (really helpful in things like tubing behind a boat :)).

When I first started P90X last October, there was always this little bit of fear…am I going to turn into a manly lady?  Not that that’s a bad thing, just not what I’m going for here. Throughout round 1 of P90X, I found myself not bulking up, but actually toning up.  The heavier I lifted, the more it seemed to work and the tighter I got.  By round 2 of P90X I lifted as heavily as I could and guess what?  No evidence of going hulk!  In fact, I loved what the strength training was doing for my body!  As a previous cardio monster, I wondered how I was ever going to get that toned look.  “Come on, I’m running 40 miles a week – shouldn’t that be enough?!”  Well, for me the secret has been strength training.

P90X and ChaLean Extreme are both programs with a heavy focus on strength training.  Meaning we do curls, lateral raises, squats, tricep extensions, and presses – all with weights!  Most of the time I’m fluctuating between 5-15 lbs. per exercise, but this far exceeds my previous days of  my 5 lb. limit: “if I lift over 5 lbs. I will get bulky.”  In my experience, it seems that the only way I would get bulky is if I was trying to: supplements, hormones, or other means.  Amazing.  Mind blown!  (In a good way!)

Inspired by my experience of shattered ideas (that I’ve held for most of my life), I went to the internet to find some support.  Of course I found articles on bodybuilding.com or bodybuilder about the importance of strength training.  But what surprised me was the other locations that touted strength training for women (and training more than just the 2 or 3 lbs. that I thought would get me looking toned).  Discovery Health, the Huffington Post, Prevention, and Shape all had a few articles pop up in seconds, and there are literally hundreds more.  If you’re curious about women weight-lifting you’ll find all that you need in just a couple of clicks.  These were some of the highlights from my research (articles above) that stuck out to me, talk about empowering:

Reasons for Strength Training

  • You burn calories after the session.  A study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that up an extra to 100 calories were burned in the 24 hours after a weight-training session.  Take that cardio!
  • Bye bye Belly Fat!  A study by the University of Alabama found that women who lifted lost more belly fat than those choosing cardio alone.  Yes please.
  • Injury prevention.  The stronger you are, the less prone to injury you will be!
  • A stronger core will make you faster (running).  This happened to me, and I was shocked!
  • Strength training revs up your metabolism!  Chalene is always saying that we’re waking up our metabolism.  And that’s a great thing!  As she said, “higher metabolism, more food” Yay :)
  • Strength training lowers blood pressure for 10-12 hours after the session according to William Haskell at Stanford.  This is one of plethora of health benefits – I’m not even talking vanity.
  • Strength training gives you a sculpted, defined look.  Period dot.  My arms didn’t change “size” in measurements during P90X but holy cow did their look change.  Much more toned!
  • Lifting weights is excellent for women because it can help with the battle against bone loss.  This is especially crucial to prevent osteoporosis.  Now that I think about it… I should really be talking my mom into this!
  • You feel like a champ.  I mean, I feel like a lot of words after a good strength training session.  But let’s just say champ.  Or maybe like Will Smith getting out of the space ship after kicking the alien’s butts in Independence Day.  Yeah, like that.

So if you’ve never considered lifting or strength training, I highly encourage you to give it a go.  It may surprise you, just like it surprised me!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!

-Kelly

Are you a fan of strength training?  What benefits have you found?

ChaLean Extreme Prep

29 Jul

Happy Monday!  I’m coming back from the most wonderful weekend out in Seattle with my little sister.  She moved there this winter and it was my first chance to get a peek at her new life out there.  We did a little of this…

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Checking out the AMAZING views Seattle in the summer has to offer. We did lots of exploring!

 

And then we did a little of this…

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Took lots of selfies to show Mom we were still alive.

 

We threw in some of this…

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Wedding fun! Trip to Ikea for some cheapo wedding decorations.

 

And we can’t forget, some of this…

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Ahh, relaxing at the pool.

 

All in all – a completely awesome trip.  I wish I were still there!

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And of course silly pictures to send our family. Love ya Jules!

 

Unfortunately I had a bit of a flight snafu and instead of my nice early flight (with time to prepare for ChaLean!), I had to take the red eye.  Yeah.  So I flew home last night, landed in Indy, hopped in my car and went to work.  A day running on just a few hours of sleep.  Absolute madness.

I had my fingers crossed I would have a certain package waiting for me.  And sure enough: ChaLean Extreme had arrived!  This evening after getting home from work I skimmed the program manuals and got familiar with the program.  I plan to officially start the program in the morning, and I wanted to be prepared.  My flight situation threw off my plan, but I decided to do the prep work tonight and start tomorrow.

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Hooray! Look what arrived :)

So, how do you prep?

The most important thing for me – remove all barriers.  Essentially, I wanted to set myself up so that tomorrow I don’t have any excuses not to begin.  It’s easy to push things off, “Oh I’ll do it next week” or “I’m too tired and I can’t start now.”  I want to start strong and motivated, and that requires effort.

Step 1: Read and Plan

It’s crucial to understand more about the program.  Tonight I didn’t do my deep dive of planning, but I got familiar enough to begin tomorrow.  This week I’ll spend more time specifically mapping out recipes and workouts (once I’m running on more than 2 hours of sleep).  Tonight I skimmed the books and made a plan for the morning.  Because there is a fitness test prior to working out, I needed to plan for it… I can’t just start workout 1 tomorrow.  I’ve decided to do my fitness test in the morning as my day 1.

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Doing some light leisure reading.

Step 2:  FOOD!

Diet is 80% of results and I knew I needed to get some fresh food to start strong.  I cleaned out my fridge, made a list, and tackled Target.  I broke my cardinal rule of always throw a chopping party immediately – but with my restful-sleep-on-a-plane night, I cut myself some slack.  The chopping party will be tomorrow evening.  :)

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1. I threw out all old/expired food and made a list of what I needed.

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2. I gave the old fridge a nice cleaning.

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3. Weeeee! Fresh food purchased and ready to go!

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4. Voila! Instant full fridge of yumminess.

It looks like the ChaLean program follows a high protein diet, limited by calories.  This isn’t typically my favorite style – I really loathe calorie counting.  I’m planning to give it a solid go though, as I want to follow the program as closely as prescribed as possible.  I was pretty disappointed that my calorie intake is set to 1300 calories.  Yikes.  I miss the P90X diet of 1800.  But I know what I’m up against now, and filled my fridge accordingly.

Step 3: Equipment

Because I have a lot of equipment from P90X, I was pretty much set and ready to go.  Tonight I picked up a cheap scale, as I know that’s one of the metrics used in the before/after.  It was a little annoying not having a scale with P90X, so I splurged on a $7.99 dial scale at Target.  It doesn’t show half-pound increments, but that might be a good thing.  I really don’t like to obsess over numbers.  General trends is what I’m looking for.  Other equipment like resistance bands and a fat caliper came with the program.

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The newest piece of equipment.

Step 4: Bring it!

My alarm clock is set and I’m ready to start my day with photos (this will present an interesting challenge alone), measurements, and a fit test.  I’m excited to give myself a baseline, though I know “Day 1” can often be a somewhat depressing place to start (I think most people can agree!).  I know I’ve lost a bit of fitness in the last 2 months.  But the good news?  There’s no where to go but up!  I’m already looking forward to day 30, 60, and 90!

I feel as ready as I can be to start, and that’s so crucial.  My foundation is set and there’s nothing left to do but press play!  Wish me luck on my first day!

-Kelly

How do you start a new workout program?  

Guest Post: P90X from a Guy’s Perspective

20 Jun

After an awesome guest post from Lyndsay, engagement pictures, and vacation – could this week get any more exciting??  The good news – it sure can.  The second and final guest blogger of the week: Adam!  Yep Lucy, you were right!  He’s going to share a couple thoughts on completing P90X as a guy – adding a little different perspective!  Enjoy :)

View More: http://emilyweisphotography.pass.us/kellyandadam

Adam’s the guy on the right – okay you saw through me, this was just an excuse to post another engagement picture.

Hello races, reps, and ramblers, and happy almost Friday!  Kelly and I are still on vacation with my family, but before we head back to the real world, I’m making my first foray into my fiancée’s blog.  Since we just finished P90X about a month ago, I’ve decided to give you some thoughts on the program from the perspective of a guy trying to gain weight.  I’ll do a quick recap of my results before discussing a couple points I feel are important to guys trying to pick or progress through a training program: P90X vs. the gym, and how to handle a nutrition plan (especially if you’re looking to gain weight).  I ask only two things of you as readers: 1) if you love this post, make some comments about how awesome of a guest I am; 2) if you hate this post, make some comments about how awesome of a guest I am.  Should work out well.

Results Recap

Overall, I was very pleased with my results from P90X.  I gained a ton of strength (increased the number of pull-ups I could do by about a billion percent), and I saw a lot of physical change as well.  By the numbers, I gained some inches in my chest and lost some in my waist (always nice), but I didn’t gain any inches in my arms.  I also lost weight throughout the program, which was not intentional (I’m a pretty slim dude to begin with).  You can check out this post for full results.

Adam Back Oct-May

The Battle Royale: P90X vs. the gym

Round 1: The Time

Performing an intense workout regimen takes a ton of time and dedication, whether that’s at home or at the gym.  While P90X is rather lengthy for a DVD based workout (averages >1hr/day for 6 days a week), it carries a lot of benefits over traditional gym-going. (Random side-note: who decided that Yoga X needed to be an hour and a half?!  Someone needs to have a talk Beachbody.)  With P90X, your workout time is not constrained by the hours of the gym, you eliminate travel time to and from the gym, and perhaps best of all, you don’t have to plan workout/work clothes and materials in advance (I find this last one to be a huge time saver).  P90X takes Round 1!

Round 2: The Iron

Working out at a gym has long been the standard for weightlifting and building mass for the average guy.  P90X claims to be able to get you nice and jacked from the comfort of your own living room, without all those big machines and huge weight racks.  Well… can it?!  Yes and no.  P90X can definitely be as effective as lifting at a gym; however, you need a broad range of dumbbell weights to do so.  With most dumbbells costing about $1/pound, it can get very expensive to accumulate the appropriate weights.  One option to get around this would be buying adjustable dumbbells.  I don’t particularly like them (they can be awkward to lift with and usually only go up to about 50 lbs anyway).  Also, you could use the bands that they suggest in the videos to avoid buying dumbbells.  I’ve tried the bands, however, and while convenient for traveling, I don’t think they’re intended for maximum bulk gain.  In the end, if you’re planning on slowly building your way to a home gym (as I am), investing in the weights for P90X makes sense.  If you don’t see that in your future, then you might be happier spending your money on gym fees.  Tough call, but I’ve gotta give Round 2 to the gym.

Round 3: The Accountability

One of the best ways to succeed in a workout program is by doing it with a partner.  The added accountability does wonders for your workout motivation wherever you may be training.  So what does P90X have over the gym in this regard?  Well, most of the moves in P90X can be done simultaneously with your partner.  Whether it’s camaraderie or competition you’re looking for, it’s just a little more fun if your partner is doing the same move at the same time.  It’s easier to shout at your wimpy roommate for not doing enough pushups if you’re in the privacy of your own home, too.  In the gym, however, a partner can still motivate effectively and provide accountability.  Also, if you’re not significant others, roommates, or neighbors, a gym can often be a convenient place to meet up with a partner for a workout.  Round 3 ends in a draw.

The Skinny Guy’s Nutrition Plan

I have always been on the thinner side, so you might imagine the horror when I realized I was losing weight (10 pounds off at first weigh in) during P90X.  I was following the nutrition plan to a T, and I couldn’t figure out why I was losing so much weight.  I did end up gaining a pound of that back before finishing, but I was still disappointed that I wasn’t able to gain weight during the program.  A few weeks later, we read through the Insanity program to get Kelly started on it, and it suggested eating an extra 300 calories per day if weight gain was the goal.  Whether this was omitted form the P90X nutrition guide or I just missed it I can’t say.  But I can tell you I wasn’t eating an extra 300 calories per day.  That would have added up to 2100 calories per week, and maybe then I would have been gaining weight!  In the end, I learned that as a skinny guy with a high metabolism, I probably need to be eating even more than the guide’s suggest to actually gain weight.

To clarify, this doesn’t mean I can have an extra Snicker’s bar or two.  You still need to eat healthy foods that are within the realm of whatever plan you’re on, but you just need to eat a lot more :)  For some guys, even sticking to a specific nutrition plan can be tough.  When eating out with friends, it can be socially embarasssing to order a salad, or perhaps veggies instead of fries.  If anyone gives you crap about it, I say forget ‘em; just say, “I’m trying to be a little healthier, and every bit counts.”  And if the still give you crap, just take solace in the fact that your six-pack will be laughing at their beer gut in about 3 months.

Final Thoughts

So in conclusion, I think P90X is an excellent at home workout plan for guys, especially if you are thinking of working towards a home gym in the future anyway.  It gives you an excuse to start building your army of dumbbells!  With that said, the variety of weights and machines available at a gym may still be more attractive to the most hardcore of lifters.  Secondly, if you’re looking to gain weight, it may be a good idea to eat an extra 300-500 calories per day above your nutrition plan (depending on your metabolism).

Before I sign off, I just want to take a minute to thank my amazing fiancée.  I’m so proud of her for achieving a dream of hers in starting this blog and putting her ideas out there to help others in a similar situation.  Thank you so much for being a part of her readership and helping me support her in her goals.  It means the world!  Have a good weekend, everyone!

-Adam

Final P90X Results and Review

30 May

After 3 intense months Adam and I are officially P90X graduates!  It has been a lot of hard work, planning, and early mornings, but man alive it has been so worth it!  Adam and I have both seen big changes in the mirror, but more importantly in strength and overall fitness.  I love what P90X has done for my running and my overall durability.  I just feel strong.  And I like it. This is a program that I highly recommend and can personally attest to the results.  Check out the P90X page to see more tips or thoughts on getting started.  The information below is based on Adam and I completing the “Classic” version of P90X. Onto the final results (and embarrassing pictures)!

What is P90X?

P90X is a home fitness program designed by Tony Horton and produced by Beachbody.  They are the same producers of Insanity, Turbofire, and many other at-home workout programs.  The program calls for a minimum of 6 days a week of workouts which vary from heavy lifting for the arms, legs, and shoulders, to high intensity plyometrics, to Yoga.  P90X is known for being an intense, but well-designed comprehensive fitness program.

Final Tape Measure Results:

(Kelly in blue, Adam in green, in inches.  Feb – May).

Waist: -2.25      -3

Chest: -3      +1.25

Hips: -2.5    -1.75

Calf: +.25     +.125

Bicep:  0    0    (I swear we did the arm workouts)

Body Fat Percentages:

(This is from Phase 2 – we didn’t get a fat caliper initially)

Kelly: -2%

Adam: -3%

Weight:

From Oct – May (We didn’t weigh ourselves again at the beginning of Round 2 Phase 1)

Kelly: -8.5 lbs. (down 10 lbs. from my heaviest last spring)

Adam: -9lbs.

Running:

While training for my half-marathon this spring I have consistently noticed higher and higher paces.  I believe a huge part of this is due to P90X.  I am stronger and faster.  P90X also helped me to attain my fastest half-marathon to date!  A full 15 minute PR from last year!

Photos:

Adam and I initially started a first round of P90X in October.  With this round we ate generally healthily, but didn’t follow the nutrition guide to a T.  Additionally we started this round over the holidays and got a little over half-way.  Adam had to drop after about 5 weeks of P90X so in week 9 or so I jumped ship and we started a brand new round so Adam could join in again.  This explains the transition from Oct – May.  The plan from Oct – Feb was based on healthy eating, completing a minimum of 4-5 workouts per week.  The plan from Feb – May was based on following the nutrition plan and a minimum of 5-6 workouts per week.  There were some cheat meals in there around the holidays as well.  These photos show our complete progress of the entire 6-7 months of following the workouts.

Kelly Back and Side Oct-May

Adam Back Oct-May

Pros:

  • If you put the work in, you will get results.
  • There is a wide variety of exercises (yoga, lifting, plyo, kenpo).
  • You can literally do the whole thing in your house.
  • It’s well organized and set up for you – you don’t have to think!
  • Tony is motivating and knowledgeable (and intense).
  • They show a wide range of levels and modifications.  I used these modifications heavily in the beginning.
  • Tony never makes you feel bad if you can’t do something initially – Do your best and forget the rest!
  • It’s a great program for men and women.  Adam and I could successfully do it together even though we desired different results (gain muscle vs. lose weight).
  • It’s a great program to do with a partner of either sex!  It was great to have something Adam and I could share and do together.
  • The videos include a warm-up and cool down which makes each workout comprehensive and complete.
  • From a woman’s perspective: you don’t bulk up.  This was a big fear of mine.
  • From a man’s perspective: you build muscle and can get bigger!
  • After purchasing P90X you get to keep it.  Unlike a gym membership, you have the videos and program as an investment.

Cons:

  • The workouts are long and a commitment.  Minimum of 60 minutes, but average 75 minutes.  Yoga is 90 minutes.
  • 6 days a week workout.  I would’ve loved 5 days a week.  This gives you flexibility and you can always get another workout in another way.  6 days a week made it hard to plan around P90X if you are super busy or travel often on the weekends.
  • Some of the ‘characters’ might annoy you, including Tony.  For me this was never a deal-breaker, but something to note.
  • From a guy’s perspective: To really maximize results it can get expensive.  Adam really could’ve used heavier weights.  He needed more of a range of weights (and at $1 a pound, 2 thirty pound dumbells is 70 bucks).  It’s an investment that you’ll use over the course of time, but it’s certainly an investment.
  • The nutrition plan can get a bit stale.  At times I felt there weren’t enough options in each of the categories (we did the portion plan).

 Final Thoughts

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my P90X results.  When I look back on my pictures I don’t remember looking that way.  It’s pretty amazing what hard work and dedication can do!  I really enjoyed the set-up and ease of the program and it is something I have recommended to family and friends.  Personally I think it’s an awesome program for both men and women.  Initially I couldn’t find a lot of info for P90X for women, but after completing the program myself I can definitely say it’s effective for either gender.

P90X is intense so I would make sure you’re relatively fit before beginning the program.  You can always do a “pre-P90X” in the form of Power 90 or another Beachbody program.  Another option is modification.  Many moves I couldn’t complete in the beginning and made modifications to make the moves easier.  This strategy worked great for me.  Then it was super thrilling when I could complete them!

This program can change your fitness level and life, but it is definitely a commitment.  Do your research and prepare before diving into it.  If you’re able to stick with it the program is very rewarding.  It has taught me a lot of good habits that I look forward to carrying forward with me.  P90X is something I will definitely hang onto and do again (probably before the wedding :)).  This has been one investment I’m thrilled I purchased!

Thanks P90X for an awesome program!

-Kelly

Note: I am not affiliated with Beachbody or P90X in any way, shape, or form.  I am not a coach nor do I work for the company/know someone who does.  The opinions expressed are mine alone and I was not compensated in any way.