Posts filed under ‘strength training

The aftermath

Well, I never expected a breakfast TV show to break into new frontiers when it comes to resistance training and the enormous benefits that comes with. The British media are currently worshipping at the alter of Tracy ‘No woman should ever lift more than 3lbs!’ Anderson and obviously a trainer likes to use their clients as an advertisement – cue a shot of Gwenyth and Madonna (by the way, this is the same Madonna that many people refer to in the sentence, “But I can’t lift more than a pencil, I’ll end up looking like Madonna!”)

“Teeny arms! Teeny arms!” Tracy yelped a couple of times. Not only do people want toned arms it seems, but also cachexia.

The resistance in the exercises came in the form of air. Quite a few flicking motions, my personal favourite came in the form where you take the position as if you’ve got a very fat person standing behind you, and you have to bring your arms back and flick your wrists as if you’re trying to slap their arse. Don’t take my word for it, watch and learn.

Then of course Lorraine and some random fashionista guy commented on the feature, and made the very important point that you obviously don’t want to become too muscular just nice and toned. Whatever the hell that means. I’m surprised Lorraine didn’t say, “Too muscular like Madonna,” but that would be mean-spirited (not to mention confusing) given who her personal trainer is.

Joke of it is, does anyone really think Michelle Obama got arms like that from uber high reps and no kind of weight on the end? I’ll bet she can bench press her husband, and I’d happily pay to see that.


Add comment March 23, 2009

It can’t only be Monday

Incorporating barbell squats and deadlifts back into my workout has sent my appetite soaring. It’s not helped by the fact that I’m approaching my pre-menstrual state where carbohydrates to me = what butter is to James Martin. I thought it would be a good opportunity to venture into a copy of Gourmet Nutrition desserts I was sent. I’m liking the idea of chocolate ricotta, 32g of protein, nom nom.


A medic friend of mine informed me that women shouldn’t do full push ups, and should be on their knees instead. Reason? It causes the uterus to stretch. That is not a joke. This person is definitely training to be a doctor.

Things that don’t cause the uterus to stretch: push ups

Things that do: babies


A friend of mine recommended a sex shop run by and for women. She also mentioned that they offer you a cup of tea when you visit. I’m intrigued – what kind of tea are we talking about?

3 comments March 16, 2009

Resistance, ur doing it… already

Scenario I’ve seen before many times. Woman goes to the student gym. She brings a couple of bags with her, containing items such as: gym kit, heavy textbooks, maybe a laptop, stationary, purse, ipod, phone, bag of make up, toiletries, towel et al. This bag could potentially weigh 10+kgs. She goes into the gym, does her routine on the cardio equiptment (as that’s the only way to lose weight – looking good is the only motivation) and then she goes onto her ‘toning’ exercises. She goes and picks up a pair of 1kg dumbbells, and starts doing tricep kickbacks and bicep curls.

After finishing up with her 1kg exercises, she goes back to the changing room, gets ready and hauls her 10+kg bag over her shoulder.

One thing that interests me is that there seems to be very little connection with resistance training and the functional training that many women do on a day to day basis without even realising. A relative of mine has beautifully defined arms, evolved after years of chasing around and picking up active toddlers and children. Despite this, after hearing about the lifting that I do, she warned me against getting, ‘too bulky’ from lifting heavy weights. There seems to be a stop-gap between a bridge that needs a bit of a fix. Maybe that could be one of the answers to get more people, especially women, engaged in the benefits of doing some weight training, regardless of the form that weight comes in.

Or it could be a disaster, and the poor unassuming toddler gets put on a restrictive diet and taken for baby liposuction, in the wake of being the biggest threat behind bulking up.

Recommended reading: Gubernatrix: The Toning Problem

Stumptuous: Things you should not lift

Add comment February 25, 2009

Too big for words!

Poor Madonna. Not the best time to be her is it? Naturally as a woman, the onus falls on her and her lifestyle ultimately being responsible for her marriage breakdown, whether it’s her religious views, career or even her physique! She joins the ranks of Angelina (home wrecker), Posh (too focused on her career than husband) and Heather (gold digger).

I didn’t intend on talking about her upcoming divorce, but I thought I would home in on something that has started to grate my nerves in recent months. I’m always happy to talk to women – including perfect strangers about weight training as I think it has so many benefits as well as making one look quite buff when naked, but no sooner mention the word dumbbell and out comes the almost conditioned response:

“But I don’t want to look like Madonna!”

I guess what they mean when they say this is that they do not want a physique like Madonna. Which is fair enough, she’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. What baffles me is the assumption that by lifting something heavier than a pencil, one will end up pumped like Arnie. Perhaps it’s a mixture of both ignorance and fear; somehow we’re programmed to believe in many walks of life you can get something for nothing. This however, doesn’t work in the gym unless you’re abusing various substances.

My point is, to build a body like Madonna; you have to train like Madonna, you have to eat like Madonna, you have to rest like Madonna, you have to work like Madonna. If you train like you’re bumbling along nicely on the cross-trainer while reading Heat magazine then go home via Subway, don’t be too surprised when you don’t look like the fitness model you wanted to be in 6 weeks.

Building a muscular physique can be incredibly difficult as a woman. It takes time, dedication, focus and some sweaty bloody hard work. Coming into the gym, lifting a 1kg dumbbell and then going home holding a handbag heavier than anything you’ve worked out with doesn’t make sense to me, but challenge any of these people, and there appears to be an assumption that they’re somehow so special that they work differently to all physiological processes and will pack the muscle on. Perhaps I’m being quite harsh as I knew sweet sod all about weights before I started, but there comes a time where the logical processes need to be shifted up a gear.

Being ‘too big’ is a spectrum anyway. What is ‘too big’? Some people consider Madonna too big, some will say she’s too small. Musculature comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will please everyone (not that it’s the purpose to anyway). Some people dedicate an awful lot of time and energy to become the way they look, and even if you don’t like the way they do, perhaps it’s worth applauding their commitment than a putdown of, “Eww, I don’t want to look like that!” Maybe once we start appreciating how difficult it can be then the mass panic of, “I don’t want to look like Madonna!” will stop. Or maybe not.

Recommended reading:

Gubernatrix: Why do women still avoid the free weights room?

Gubernatrix: Why lift weights

Stumptuous: Lies in the gym

Stumptuous: Other reasons to lift weights

Skwigg: Define bulky

Add comment October 22, 2008

Weighing it up

There’s a bit of whatthefuckkery flying around the fitness blogs at the moment, I’ve picked up that both Swigg and (I love this name) No Pink Dumbbells have commented on it: in a nutshell, a Sleb trainer Tracy Anderson (who trains Madonna, Gwenyth to name a few – Gwenyth was in the feature) made a couple of boo-boos:

* “No woman should ever lift more than 3lbs”

* Working out 6 days a week for 2 hours lifting puny little weights with thousands of repetitions

As mentioned in No Pink Dumbbells, the irony comes that through lifting her toddler repeatedly on one arm – that arm is actually the one that looks better, and not the one subjected to what I can only describe as a  pseudo-workout.

Le sigh. It reminds me off poor Natalie Cassidy who lost 2.5 stone (nothing to sneer at), struggled to maintain the losses she made and is now gaining (much to the delight of some press outlets). But her workout was flawed from the start. By her own admission, her fitness programme involved working out up to 2 hours a day. 2 hours?! Every day?! Besides trying to get my head around devoting so much time to it, surely anyone could have seen that this was a lifestyle that could not have been maintained and was doomed from the start?

I did some research on her personal trainer, Dee Thresher (for research, read: googling) and GMTV described her as a ‘Fitness Guru’, but there doesn’t seem to be much online about what her values are when it comes to things like eating well and working out. Although she was quoted regarding Natalie’s weight gain:

‘I’m really disappointed that Natalie has put the weight back on.

‘We worked really hard to get her to change her routine  and bad habits and became really close friends.

Homing in on bad habits, I don’t know any personal trainer worth their salt who would advocate a 2 hour workout, every day of the week. I certainly wouldn’t say it was a ‘good habit’ to get into. How do they expect a client to stick to that, or even enjoy it? My attitude to exercise is that it isn’t how long you work out for, but how efficiently. Edit: I found Dee’s own website, and judging by her pictures, that was not a body built by 2 hour workouts every day.

As Gubernatrix said in her most recent post, there is a deep rooted problem among women regarding nutrition and perceptions about certain fitness regiemes. Being paid to set up people for failure is the icing on the WTF cake.

EDIT AGAIN: It appears that I have been mistaken and that dee [sic] commented wishing to set me straight as it’s not uncommon for personal trainers to get misquoted in mass media. With the stature my blog carries and huge readership of my uber handful of friends, I could not possibly live with myself if I let such a travesty occur, so here is the change:

The two hour workouts are only (only) for 3 days a week. Never trust a doctor who has dead office plants.

Have a nice day, folks 🙂

5 comments September 28, 2008


I am attending a jealousy workshop this Sunday. The timing has worked out well considering the dynamic between B and I is changing and we’re entering new waters, and also because the workshop will be taken by Dossie Easton, co-writer of the Ethical Slut, which I am halfway through (I think I’m actually on the section on jealousy). I’m not quite sure what to expect, but it’s part of the Polyday weekend, so I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll be interesting.

I’m enjoying Turbulence Training a lot. During the workout I don’t feel like I’m really pushing myself, but an hour later and it really hits me.

Add comment September 8, 2008


I’m currently training with a friend on my firm: she’s an endurance type and has taken part in Ironman triathlons. We begin together by warming up on the treadmill. 3 minutes later, I jump off to go and stretch. She keeps running. I go into the free weights area and lift heavy crap. I top up my water. She keeps running. I go and do an abdominal workout. She keeps running. I cool down, stretch and mouth/signal to her that I’m going to shower. She keeps running. I shower, change and wait for her in the seating area. STILL RUNNING!!!!111one

She recently has been making noises about doing some weight lifting. Me = happy bunny.

Add comment May 15, 2008

Sadistic Sunday: the aftermath

Well it appears the lightbulb enjoyed the lower body work. In his own words, “I love deadlifting!” Music to my ears. He and the boy weren’t so great with the squat, it’s something I think comes with a lot of practice, and lightbulb wanted to run before he could walk; to use the bar immediately. My own preference is to get used to the movement by sitting down on one of the benches (holding a 10kg plate is optional). Anyway, the lightbulb is no more, however we seem to be verging on overcompensation when he told me he wants to go to the gym again tonight. Sigh. Sit your arse down!

My deadlifting form looks ok, to the observer. However, the first rep of each set, I seem to be bringing my hips up too early, making it an almost stiff legged deadlift. I’m not sure if this is psychosomatic in that I’m anticipating the heavy load, or if I just need to engage my glutes a bit more and concentrate on pushing through my heels. I’m not prepared to take my chances even if it’s the former, so I’m going to take some weight off and continue with great sets rather than a good set with a few oopies at the beginning. I’m sure my back will appreciate it. In a sense it’s taking a step back but it’s also taking a step forward if it ensures something is being done properly.

I didn’t like the gym (Fitness First, Streatham Hill). It was too ‘busy’ for me. Not only in terms of human traffic, but the visual overload of noise, machines, benches, mirrors etc was a bit too much for me. My gym is small, but there’s enough ‘space’ in the sense that it’s airy and light.

Add comment April 13, 2008

Strength training: Bones

Orthopaedic surgery is brutal. I’ve seen some fairly gruesome surgeries in my time (incidentally, I also met a man at TG who is a horror magician) but there’s nothing like seeing a drill, hearing bones being sawn and the ‘pop’ the head of a femur makes when it’s being taken out. I wince every time. My firm and I were looking for the correct theatre where our consultant was operating the other day, and the following conversation ensued:

A: I wonder which theatre Dr … is ?

Sound of something that not too disimilar to a chainsaw a couple of doors down

A: There we go

I’m enjoying orthopaedics a lot, I have to say. The consultants are probably aware of the reputation orthopaedic surgeons get, so they seem to be making a special effort. I enjoy interpreting x-rays a lot. I’m not so great with chest x-rays unless there’s a blindingly obvious pneumothorax staring at me, but I enjoy tracing the shapes and lines of bones up to see if there are fractures or pieces of bone where they shouldn’t be.

A fractured neck of femur carries a mortality rate of 20-35% after a year. Most of the patients I’ve seen have been older ladies who have had falls and combined with osteoporosis, it’s not always a good prognosis. So far, I’ve never broken a bone, but it’s something I get a bit paranoid about time and again (my biggest day to day irrational fear is being pushed in front of a tube train).

When I first got into weight training, I found out that it was good for improving bone density. Fair enough I thought. I didn’t really take what was on the inside seriously enough until I started a rotation in geriatric medicine. Falls, broken hips, loss of strength and bone density, it was often pretty sad to see.

So I have a greater appreciation for what my body is doing on the inside for me. I hope that when I’m a shrunken old lady, I would have done enough strength training to have a good set of bones, muscles and a better sense of balance. Then again, judging by this lady perhaps if I keep going, I might get to the 20 chin ups stage…

2 comments April 11, 2008

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