When did you get started with strength training? I heard females shouldn’t be lifting heavy, but I see you squatting and deadlifting more than some guys here.

I first started lifting weights in January of 2008 (the second semester of 12th grade) so it’s been just over 4 years now. Smart training didn’t make its way into the picture until later that summer when I started working with an online coach, though. I’m as strong as I am now because I’ve been consistent and methodical in my ways. No magic here.

Your background sounds similar to mine. I currently jog every once in a while and do some ab exercises, but would like to get into strength training. What resources did you first use to help you?

I relied on many, many different resources when I was first starting out, but unfortunately I can’t list them here. I refuse to lead you all astray with my foolish beginner ways 😉 Check back soon with a list of recommended training and nutrition resources.

What do you like so much about lifting?

This one’s an easy question. I’ll be writing a blog post about this soon. It’s not actually about the lifting itself – I mean yes, it’s fun, and getting a new PR on an exercise can make my day, but my love for lifting transcends the weights themselves. Having a regular lifting schedule demands structure, which has leaked over into other aspects of my life. There’s also the confidence factor that comes with being physically strong. I’ve developed the courage to continually push myself outside of my comfort zone. And persistence, determination, tenacity – all of that has come from lifting, and it has positively affected my personal, professional, academic, and social lives.

I noticed that you grunt when you lift. Do I have to do that to get results, too?

I like to consider my grunting as something that defines me in the gym. I don’t do it intentionally, and I never even noticed it until a friend pointed it out. It makes me feel more badass. Do you have to grunt to get results? Umm, yeah, you kinda do. It has an anabolic effect of sorts.*

I see you in the gym all the time. You look like you know what you’re doing. Are you an athlete?

Yes and no. I joined the women’s rugby club team in September of 2011, so I guess technically that would make me kind of an athlete. But before then, I was doing my own thing in the gym – training to get stronger, training to get leaner, and training to stay healthy. The results I have now are all a product of my own proactive behavior.

I want to get rid of this arm flab here and tighten up my tummy. How do I get toned?

Stop right there. Please don’t ever use the term “toned” again to describe looking a certain way. There is no such thing as being “toned.” Tone of voice? Sure. Tone of… body? No. Just no. Lean, fit, firm, athletic – sure. Drop-dead sexy – even better.

All the cardio in the world is not going to fix those problem areas; you’ll just end up a smaller, softer version of your former self, if anything. I speak from personal experience. There was a time when I ran an average of 15 miles a day, 7 days a week for months on end. It did nothing to change my physique.

The only way you’re going to get the body you’re asking for is to lift heavy weights and, more importantly, clean up your nutrition. Those scones, donuts, and quesadillas that make a regular appearance in your diet are going to have to take a backseat as you straighten out your priorities. You’re going to want to increase your protein intake, throw in some fish oil, consume complex carbs (preferably in the morning and before and after a training session), and get in some healthy fats (think nuts, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, etc).

If you’re interested, I offer training and nutrition consultation for guidance and support to help you reach your goals. You can contact me here.

What’s your training split like?

I’m currently doing full body workout three times a week with a heavy emphasis on glutes. I do throw in some upper body work in there, but my main exercise for each day is the hip thrust of some variation thereof. I do a little bit (20-30 minutes) of conditioning on my four off days if I feel like it, and I o absolutely no steady state cardio.

I was told that if you want to see your abs, you have to do a ton of cardio. I hate cardio, though. How much do you do?

I do zero traditional steady-state cardio. I think that resorting to cardio as a means to achieve a fat loss goal should be left as the absolute last option.

Proper nutrition > heavy lifting > sprints/intervals/metabolic work > steady-state cardio

This is the order of importance in my book. So I would start with the first two (diet and lifting) and make sure that everything is spot on. Then, after 2 or 3 weeks, re-assess. If the scale reports a 0.5-2lb/week loss, then keep doing what you’re doing. If not, tweak the diet.

I may write an article about this later. Tada!


*I hope you didn’t think I was being serious.