Hey guys, I’m back! It’s been a while since I’ve written an article and I’m excited to start again with this one. Recently I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the “Train Like A Girl 2” seminar. The description of the seminar in a nutshell:
“..They are often the most neglected demographic. And if they aren’t neglected, then they are often put into training programs/classes that are contraindicated for their goals, which are to look good and feel good…They also must be eating the right foods at the right times to help them meet their goals as quickly as possible without feeling deprived. Finally, women must be managing their stress and taking care of themselves outside of the gym, so they can recover properly, and train hard when they are in the gym.”
Once I read the description of the seminar, I knew this was what I needed/wanted to go to. 60% of my clientele are women and every single one of them have something different they need to focus on. I knew this was an educational experience that I couldn’t pass up.
So, I’d like to share with you a synopsis of what I learned at TLAG2 and hope you all get a little something out of it as well!
Without a doubt one of the best coaches you can learn from if you’re new to training or even if you’ve been in the fitness field for a while. If you have, you’ve definitely heard of this guy (or should have). I’ve been in the field 7 years now and Mike was one of the guys I’d look to help me get a hold on this training thing. Fortunately, I’ll be traveling again- this time to Mikes gym at I-FAST in Indianapolis to get hands-on education from the man himself. It’s arguably one of the best training facilities in the country and is world famous for the product they put.
His presentation was on breathing, stability and training as steps 1, 2 and 3. His explanation on how breathing affects the body’s physiologically, biomechanically, and in the real world. We then went into discussing how breathing can be involved in warm-up routines, before bed, abdominal training, recovery, reducing stress and in”developmental exercises.”
In the second part of his talk, we discussed stability and went further into those “developmental exercises” a bit more. Rarely do women have mobility issues. It’s being hyper-mobile or not stable enough that becomes issue. Focusing in on plank progressions to make sure there’s adequate stability and technique was on the of the things that really stuck out. I’m already a huge stickler for having good technique so for me this was confirmation of what I know to be true.
The final part of the presentation got into the meat and potatoes of training frequencies, exercises and movements to focus on (med ball work, squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, prowlers, etc.) that should be a priority in women’s programming.
The Take Away:
- Breathe better
- Stabilize efficiently
- Get Strong
All in all, the most I got out of his presentation was breathing better. Since the seminar I’ve already started implementing that into almost all of my clients sessions with success. It’s not the “sexiest” thing to do when working out, but doing just enough in your everyday programming (and everyday life) will surely show results in warming up your core and lowering your stress levels.
(Note: We all went out for a social in downtown Lexington for drinks. For how busy the guy is, he’s actually the kind of guy you want to have a Bourbon Ale with.)
The next presenter is Eva T. She’s a 2x-Olympian Skier and a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team. She has won 6 National Championships, Won a world Championship Bronze Medal, and is a World Technical Skiing Champion. She also is a Masters Weightlifting Champion. In 2011 she was inducted to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Needless to say, she’s a bit of a bad ass.
Her presentation was something that I could definitely relate to: being a Professional Athlete is not a certificate of health. I don’t think of myself as a “Pro Athlete”, but I definitely have trained quite a bit this past year for Powerlifting competitions and even traveled to compete (only difference is I don’t get paid to do it.). Anyhozer, she went through what it means to be a “Pro Athlete” and “Recreational Athlete” in her eyes.
- Lots of Traveling
- Lots of Training
- No control of diet
- Very little outside activity of this lifestyle
- Don’t compete all year round
- Not as much traveling
- Able to have a job
- More freedom in training and nutrition
Her story about what life was like being an 8 year old National Champion skier was not to brag, but in fact shed some light that it’s not as glamorous as some might think. At a young age she was considered a Professional. Being at a young age she was told what to eat, how long to workout, and where to travel. Doing well in competitions, she didn’t change what she was doing, working out 6 days/week, training, etc. Later on she figured out her nutrition wasn’t designed to help with performance; eating too low of calories and training waaaaay too much. Her body couldn’t keep up (sound familiar??).
Soon she was being out performed by her teammates (i.e. Picaboo Street) that would dominate competitions without eating as “clean” or training as hard during the off months (Note: most of them didn’t workout at all during the summer months.). Eva would walk around with 6-pack abs and everyone else…not as much.
What was the deal? Her teammates weren’t over-trained. She was. During the training season they’d comeback fresh, and she would comeback at the end of a vicious training cycle; not the best thing for your body if you don’t give it the rest it needs.
After skiing, she got into Crossfit and Weightlifting as a “Recreational Athlete” and found a better mix of those two that worked best for her. Today, she does a bit of Crossfit, but mainly focuses on strength training, using Bioforce HRV-monitoring and keeping up with her adrenals.
The Take Away:
- Just because you’re an Athlete, doesn’t mean you’re healthy or make you a fitness pro
- Do what works best for YOU
- Strength Training with moderate-high intensity exercises
- Teach People how to be a “student of their own health”
In light of the Olympic season, I think it’s important to gain her point of view- not only for myself but for everyone as we watch them perform. Sure, things are a lot better today than they were years ago. Athletes today are now stronger and healthier than ever. At the same time, it doesn’t make them health professionals. Admire their accomplishments, but if they’re going to be your trainer/coach, do make sure you know they know their stuff.
Joel Jaimeson from 8weeksout.com, presented on training energy systems for fat loss, performance and health. Essentially, this was a bit more scientific that I think most people wanted, but towards the end things started to come together in terms of how to utilize this information.
Joel works with mainly MMA athletes. If you’re not familiar with MMA- it’s a sport involving mixed martial arts (i.e. boxing, kickboxing, Judo, etc.). Most of his athletes require being in peak form come competition time- however his information on how to train for fat loss are universal.
Joel came up with 3 rules for fat loss:
- Avoid excessive caloric deficit
- Manage external stress and maximum sleep
- Use some form of cyclical dieting- resist accommodation
I personally like these because I believe they’re contrary to popular belief on how to manage fat loss. Of course, reducing caloric intake is essential for fat loss, but most go a bit overboard. Many times when this happens, the opposite will happen. Tying in the second rule- a lower than optimal caloric intake will put tons of stress (on top of let’s say…life) on the body with less than optimal sleep every night. The cyclical dieting is something that I think folks would welcome after being on nutrition plans for too long without doing anything different. Once the body does something without variation for too long, it gets comfortable and stops changing. For me, I think the 80/20 principle (80% eating “clean, 20% going off the diet) works very well. It’s just enough variation to your diet to keep you on the right path and still be able to get the results you want.
Another point in the presentation that perked my ears was on how aerobic training is involved in just about everything. Anaerobic training doesn’t last very long. For instance, once you’ve done just a few sprints without a lot of rest time, your body switches from anaerobic to aerobic. Meaning the longer your training session, the more time you spend in the aerobic system allowing for better fat loss gains.
The Take Away:
- 4-5 days/week performing some sort of aerobic exercises
- Use varied amounts of aerobic movements (i.e. med balls, airbike, sled, etc.)
- 3-4 days @ low intensity; 30-45 minutes
- 1-2 days @ high intensity; 20-30 minutes
- Strength work 2-3 days/week
(Note: I know it looks like a lot, but you can train all of these energy systems in one 60-minute session. All of my sessions have aerobic and anaerobic training. I highly recommend training no more than 4 days/week for recovery reasons in order to achieve results. LESS IS MORE!)
Next up is Molly Galbraith, Co-Owner of J+M Strength & Conditioning. Her presentation was one of my favorites of the seminar, not because she’s awesome, but because it was one of the most “real” out of all the presenters. It’s no secret that most- if not all- women have body image issues. Her story on her life going from overweight/over-fat to figure competition shape to battling Hashimoto’s (a thyroid disease) and PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is one to remember, especially for all the women that were listening.
By looking at her, you wouldn’t think all this is going on. Sure she’s tall, in great shape and seems to have a lot of confidence about herself. What people don’t see is the body image issues, the thyroid disease she constantly battles on a daily basis, and the stress of owning a gym and leading the Girls Gone Strong movement.
60% of my clientele are women and just about all of them have image issues. As Molly says, “it’s no wonder!” Clearly I’m not a woman, but all the external cues that we get from the media and try to live up to the pressure of society to find that “ideal” body type is a huge setup for failure.
To deal with everything from the outside, she set simple rules and action plans to shoot for. These are great to have in my back pocket to help work with my clients:
1) Embrace your Uniqueness: Beating yourself up about what you don’t like about yourself is never good. Everyone has won the “genetic lottery” in some way; you may have great legs, a tiny waist or beautiful eyes. Society already wants to break you down. We can’t rely on society and the media to bring you up. You have to take it upon yourself to celebrate whatcha mama gave ya (hopefully you can surround yourself with people that will too.).
2) Take Care of Your Body, Mind and Spirit:
Going to the gym is great, but there’s more to life out there than the gym. You have to eat well, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. It will affect everything else.”Your Body affects your Mind and Spirit.”
You’re already spending tons of energy thinking about what you’re doing in the next few hours, what you need to do tomorrow, and if you did enough earlier. You’ve got to reduce stress, take time to yourself and clear your Mind. When your Mind is compromised, how can you do anything else? “Your Mind affects your Body and Spirit.”
Your day hasn’t gone well, the kids are unruly, the boss is a pain, and that dude totally took the last Chocolate Hoo-Hah at the bakery that you’ve been looking forward to all day (not cool). Being emotionally down is draining; your Body feels tired and your Mind can’t even think straight. “Your Spirit affects your Mind and Body.”
3) See food as fuel and nourishment, but enjoy it as well: I can’t agree more. In today’s world, food is what drives us. It can also be a drug, the enemy to weight loss, and the thing that brings friends and loved ones together. I mentioned the 80/20 rule when it comes to food. It’s highly important to think of it as the one thing that gives you energy through out the day to workout, do daily tasks, etc. However, it should also be something that relaxes you, allows you to sleep better, comfort you when you need it. “If you have other priorities, then you may have to make temporary sacrifices.”
4) Don’t be afraid to experiment with Nutrition & Training: For this reason, I hate diets. It makes you believe that this is something that you have to do and need to do for X-amount of time. No one lives that way. Life is arbitrary and your nutrition needs to be flexible. There’s no such thing as an “absolute” (except death and taxes). To say you’re on one training method or one nutrition plan is like chasing a moving target. Your body constantly changes all the time. Experiment with workouts and nutrition plans and change when necessary, but be sure to give a good amount of time to work.
5) Health, Performance and Aesthetic goals are ALL valid: This was a great point. I learned that people will have goals all over the place: weight loss, fat loss, get a better squat, get a better butt, get leaner, general health. You name it, I’ve heard it. It’s important that NO ONE feels crazy for having these goals, simply because they mean a lot to YOU. Whether the goals you set are realistic or not, it’s really important not to dismiss them. There are reasons for everything. Talk them out with a professional, set realistic goals that make sense to you, and set an action plan to achieve them.
6) Don’t Listen to Critics: This includes YOURSELF. No one really knows the physical, mental and emotional obstacles you’ve gone through. Recently, The Biggest Loser winner was one to remember. She lost about 60% body fat and a large amount of weight in a short amount of time brought out all kinds of people speaking against her. The fact is, whether or not we would want to, no one has done what she needed to do to get to where she is. That being said (if you’re not on national television) there are a lot less people that talk about you than you may think. We’re all very good at beating ourselves up about the smallest things. The last thing we want to do is listen to everyone on the outside whether or not if they “approve” of what you’re doing. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Either be supportive or mind your own.
7) Find positive measures of success: “Progress= motivation to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments.” I couldn’t agree more. I often give my clients a hard time about using the scale in particular, but if it doesn’t help you feel good about yourself, don’t use it. AT. ALL. For example, it got to a point where I had to take the scale out of my fiance’s house. Not too long after the scale was removed, she was able to focus on other forms of progress: how the clothes fit, getting stronger at lifts, and gaining more confidence. “If the scale makes you crazy, don’t use it!” Sure numbers never lie, they are what they are, but how you feel about yourself and how you perform on a daily basis isn’t a lie either. There are many ways to measure progress. Choose the ones that are beneficial rather than hurtful.
8) Train because you LOVE your body…: I really love this point because it’s so true and helpful for training in the long haul. Ask a friend or ask yourself: What is it that you want to work on? Why do you want to work on it? Most of the time you’ll either hear ” well I want to get rid of…” or ” I really don’t like…” The other day I saw on my TV Guide the title of a program called “I hate my butt…” It was clearly an infomercial of some sorts and the lingo is to attract these like-minded customers. Rarely will you ever find people that want to work on something they don’t like about themselves, and are still working on those “bad areas.” It’s the folks that love what they do, that love their bodies, and have fun in their training that get the results. Positive image. Love what you do. Love yourself. Be passionate about your training, and you’ll get the results you want!
Jim Laird (Co-Owner, J+M Strength & Conditioning, Train Like A Girl director) at first sight might not be the kind of guy you would think that trains a lot of women ( I can relate). His presentation was easily the most passionate and heartfelt presentation of the entire weekend. The guy was pretty much there on one leg after a really bad leg infection from….a pedicure. After being on IV’s for the past few weeks and minimal rest trying to get this seminar up and running, he was pretty emotional. Of course most of the ladies were tearing up. I…uhh…well…my contacts were pretty dry so. Ya know. Whatever. Anyways, Jim’s a really great guy and trainer, and to have his life almost taken from him really put a perspective on loving life and what you do.
After he was done telling us what happened, he followed that up with a video of all his clients that were in the 300# club (about 7 ladies or so). It was awesome. I was really inspired by it and I’m sure a lot of the women in there were too (here’s the link). The main goal of the talk was to highlight “why women don’t lift weights” and “why women should lift weights.” Before, I would of said women were afraid of the weight room. Partially because this is what I heard often, but it wasn’t that. Women don’t lift weights because they weren’t show how to properly. It’s an interesting perspective I’ve never really considered. Ultimately, I haven’t found a woman that doesn’t enjoy lifting heavy ass weights. It’s empowering (“If you teach women how to pull heavy, they will love it.”). It shows they’re stronger than they really thought, AND it’s a big help in fat loss and a whole bunch of other good stuff. Jim’s “General Tricks” involve what I’ve come to learn over the years: not being a drill sergeant, starting slow and building a foundation, and using “small plates.” The last point really made a lot of sense. At first sight of the “big girl plates”, some of my female clients are a bit intimidated. Unfortunately, most of the appropriate weights are all the same size but vary in weight.
The Take Away:
- Women need to be talked to in a more respectful way. Once they gain your trust, they’ll follow your lead.
- Women SHOULD train heavy. The benefits are too great.
- Teach them to love training. If they have fun doing it, they’ll stick with it for a long time.
Dr. Hester’s presentation on ACL Injury Prevention was something more on the athletic/physical therapy side. The presentation was kicked off by introducing his twin daughters and triplet sons. Yeah. Yikes. His wife was there (Note: she’s one of the women that are in Jim’s video pulling over 300lbs. She lifted the most.), and was one of the doctors responsible for saving Jim’s life from his leg infection.
The good doctor had a lot go cover, going over the anatomy of the leg and showing videos of athletes tearing their ACL’s in competition. That was fun (I was surprised no one thew up watching these over and over.). Once the carnage stopped, we learned that it didn’t matter what sport you play: basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, hockey, and skiing to name a few. Women have a higher chance than men at tearing their ACL’s across the board. Why is this? The combination of the weakness in the glutes and internal rotation of the hip called “the valgus”, is what causes the tear in this ligament. In the world of sports, the constant pounding of running and jumping weaken the ligaments and tendons of the body. All it takes is a lateral movement or a bad landing to cause the injury. It can be worse if you’re not an athlete AND don’t strength train. The muscles are underused and lack glutes and hamstring strength. Sometimes all you have to do is walk or just stand in place for a tear to occur.
This can be prevented.
When applied correctly, athletic development, strength training, rest, and proper footwear can make all the difference in reducing this common injury.
The Take Away Points:
- Women have a higher degree of ACL injuries
- Emphasizing lateral stability and posterior chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings) training in women’s programs
- Trainers should network and create business connections with physical therapists to keep people strength training
At the Athlete Factory, we have business connections with a handful of physical therapists, massage therapists, and orthopedic specialists. It’s important to know what you don’t know and refer people out that need these services. Having a great connection with all these professionals will certainly give people a much better option to other than medication or surgery. No matter what your program is or who you’re training with, make sure strengthening the backside and working on lateral stability is a priority.
I like Sarah’s presentation on diet and nutrition quite a bit (even though she’s big on Paleo). I don’t mind Paleo, but as I’ve stated I’m not big on absolutes or diets. What I do appreciate about Paleo is the principle of eating whole foods. Being the pro that she is, she also knows that not every diet works for everyone, but pushed the whole foods and “clean” eating which I totally agree on.
Before she started leading a healthy lifestyle, Sarah was down the path of depression, overweight, over-fat and close to being diabetic. I was inspired by her starting working out only 2 day’s a week, before eating clean. It was one small thing at a time. She kept on with that train of progression and things started to snowball from there.
One of the things that I enjoyed was her emphasis on “exercise is not a quick fix”, ” dieting doesn’t work”, and “no such thing as balance.” I really like the last point she made because life is not balanced. I believe what she was getting at was getting away from the word and focusing more on what works best for you. Some might call that “balance.”
Her foods to avoid:
- Refined sugar
- Vegetable Oils
And foods to enjoy:
- Coconut and good fats
Some looking at these lists might see this as doing a complete overhaul of their diet. This may be true, but again, if you’re on a nutrition plan that doesn’t work for you because you can’t stick with it, then you need to change it. It’s that simple. It’s not an all or nothing things when it comes to nutrition. That’s how people get into trouble by going on binges and then starting over because they had a cookie or brownie that day. It’s not a big deal. Eating good/great most of the time will allow for wiggle room to eat some of those favorite snacks that you love (RE: 80/20 rule).
She gave us a little insight on what it’s like for her to eat on a daily basis:
The Take Away:
- Eat whole foods
- Don’t be too strict to a diet. Pick one that works then move on if it stops working
- Exercise works best when it’s a habit. IT’S NOT A QUICK FIX!!
- Be wicked smaht about your diet and prepare your meals ahead of time to avoid any excuses.
- Decide to eat whatever you want to. IT’S YOUR CHOICE!!
- Fall of the wagon, get back on ASAP.
The body is a strong, but delicate system. It likes normalcy. When you’re stressed, you’re throwing it off balanced and it will do anything and everything to get back to it’s original state. You want to get up and go workout, do necessary things, yet your body is trying to recover from stress. We’ve all felt it. It’s called the “I don’t really give a sh*t today” feeling.
Stress isn’t as bad as it seems. It’s what keeps you going between meals, long days or when you need your body to call on energy. Skipping a meal may not be a big deal for some, but that may mean loosing 8 hrs or sleep at night. In that regard, women’s and men’s bodies work differently. A woman may sleep on 4 hours of no eating (intermittent fasting), where as a guy can sleep on 9 hours without eating. As I stated before, stress isn’t all bad, but when it’s chronic that’s when we run into some issues. You may have heard of cortisol: a hormone commonly released when stress occurs. It raises blood sugar during exercise, when you’re upset, asleep or during meals. It’s necessary for fat loss! Problem is, when it’s too much, you’re tired but wired, achy and puffy.
- diaphragmatic breathing
- avoiding stress- over committing, over exercising, over anything
- cycle through metabolic training and allow adequate recover
- walk more, do yoga
I know there’s a lot of information on here, but this is just a cliff notes version of what all was going on at the TLAG2 seminar. I’m thrilled to utilize this knowledge for my clients as they deserve the best training possible.
I hope you all enjoyed this extensive write-up! I’m not sure when the next TLAG seminar will be but I will most certainly will be looking forward to it. Happy lifting and see you in the gym!