Tag Archive: muscle

LADIES this is for you

I was visiting womenshealth.com and I came across an article that is perfect for the women who don’t like to lift weights because of the fear of getting “BIG” or “BUFF”

What I hear the most is this: “I don’t want to get big I just want to tone!” Well to tone you have to lift weights and more than the 5 lb dumbbells.

Lose Your Fear of Weightlifting

By Adam Campbell

Just because you’re not vying for 20-inch biceps or thunderously strong thighs like the muscle heads in the gym doesn’t mean you should shun the weight room. Lifting weights gives you an edge over belly fat, stress, heart disease, and cancer—and it’s also the single most effective way to look hot in a bikini. Yet somehow women are still hesitant: Only about a fifth of females strength train two or more times a week.

Here are 12 reasons you shouldn’t live another day without hitting the weights.

  1. You’ll Lose 40 Percent More Fat: If you think cardio is the key to blasting belly fat, keep reading: When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle.

    Other research on dieters who don’t lift shows that, on average, 75 percent of their weight loss is from fat, while 25 percent is from muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost. However, if you weight train as you diet, you’ll protect your hard-earned muscle and burn more fat.

  2. Your Clothes Will Fit Better: Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50, you’ll likely lose 10 percent of your body’s total muscle. Worse yet, it’s likely to be replaced by fat over time, says a study. And that increases your waist size, because one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle.
  3. You’ll Burn More Calories: Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while your butt is parked on the couch. That’s because after each strength workout, your muscles need energy to repair their fibers. In fact, researchers found that when people did a total-body workout with just three big-muscle moves, their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterward. They also burned a greater percentage of calories from fat compared with those who didn’t lift.

    Lifting gives you a better burn during exercise too: Doing a circuit of eight moves (which takes about eight minutes) can expend 159 to 231 calories. That’s about what you’d burn if you ran at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration.

  4. Your Diet Will Improve: Exercise helps your brain stick to a diet plan. University of Pittsburgh researchers studied 169 overweight adults and found that those who didn’t follow a three-hours-a-week training regimen ate more than their allotted 1,500 calories a day. The reverse was also true—sneaking snacks sabotaged their workouts. The study authors say both diet and exercise likely remind you to stay on track, aiding your weight-loss goals.
  5. You’ll Handle Stress Better: Break a sweat in the weight room and you’ll stay cool under pressure. Scientists determined that the fittest people exhibited lower levels of stress hormones than those who were the least fit. Another study found that after a stressful situation, the blood pressure levels of people with the most muscle returned to normal faster than the levels of those with the least muscle.
  6. You’ll Be Happier: Yoga isn’t the only Zen-inducing kind of exercise. Researchers found that people who performed three weight workouts a week for six months significantly improved their scores on measures of anger and overall mood.
  7. You’ll Build Stronger Bones: As you age, bone mass goes to pot, which increases your likelihood of one day suffering a debilitating fracture. The good news: A study found that 16 weeks of resistance training increased hip bone density and elevated blood levels of osteocalcin—a marker of bone growth—by 19 percent.
  8. You’ll Get into Shape Faster: The term cardio shouldn’t describe only aerobic exercise: A study found that circuit training with weights raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. This approach strengthens muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of aerobic exercise—so you save time without sacrificing results.
  9. Your Heart Will Be Healthier: Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who did three total-body weight workouts a week for two months decreased their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of a stroke by 40 percent and the chance of a heart attack by 15 percent.
  10. You’ll Be Way More Productive: Lifting could result in a raise (or at least a pat on the back from your boss). Researchers found that workers were 15 percent more productive on days they exercised compared with days they didn’t. So on days you work out, you can (theoretically) finish in eight hours what would normally take nine hours and 12 minutes. Or you’d still work for nine hours but get more done, leaving you feeling less stressed and happier with your job—another perk reported on days workers exercised.
  11. You’ll Live Longer: University of South Carolina researchers determined that total-body strength is linked to lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Similarly, other scientists found that being strong during middle age is associated with “exceptional survival,” defined as living to the age of 85 without developing a major disease.
  12. You’ll Be Even Smarter: Muscles strengthen your body and mind: Brazilian researchers found that six months of resistance training enhanced lifters’ cognitive function. In fact, the sweat sessions resulted in better short- and long-term memory, improved verbal reasoning, and a longer attention span.

So Ladies what are you going to do when you go to the gym? 😉




Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University—Berks, Reading, Pennsylvania




Lusk, SJ, Hale, BD, and Russell, DM. Grip width and forearm orientation effects on muscle activity during the lat pull-down. J Strength Cond Res 24(7): 1895–1900, 2010—Based on electromyographic (EMG) studies, an anterior (in front of the face) wide grip with a pronated forearm has been recommended as the optimal lat pull-down (LPD) variation for strengthening the latissimus dorsi (LD) (Signorile, JF, Zink, A, and Szwed, S. J Strength Cond Res 16: 539–546, 2002; Wills, R, Signorile, J, Perry, A, Tremblay, L, and Kwiatkowski, K. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: S20, 1994). However, it is not clear whether this finding was because of grip width or forearm orientation. This study aimed to resolve this issue by comparing wide-pronated, wide-supinated, narrow-pronated, and narrow-supinated grips of an anterior LPD. Twelve healthy men performed the 4 grip variations using an experimentally determined load of 70% of 1 repetition maximum. Two trials of 5 repetitions were analyzed for each grip type. Participants maintained a cadence of 2-second concentric and 2-second eccentric phases. The grip widths were normalized for each individual by using a wide grip that corresponded to their carrying width and a narrow grip that matched their biacromial diameter. Surface EMG of the LD, middle trapezius (MT), and biceps brachii (BB) was recorded, and the root mean square of the EMG was normalized, using a maximum isometric voluntary contraction. Repeated-measures analysis of variance for each muscle revealed that a pronated grip elicited greater LD activity than a supinated grip (p , 0.05), but had no influence of grip type on the MT and BB muscles. Based on these findings, an anterior LPD with pronated grip is recommended for maximally activating the LD, irrespective of the grip width (carrying width or biacromial diameter).


KEY WORDS EMG, latissimus dorsi, pronation, supination



During a lat pull-down (LPD), the humerus is adducted under load via a pulley system. This exercise is commonly employed in an effort to strengthen the latissimus dorsi (LD) muscle, hence its name, and is also expected to activate the rhomboids, middle trapezius (MT), and biceps brachii (BB) muscles. There are several different variations of body position, grip width, and forearm orientation that can be employed. The bar can be pulled down in front of the face (anterior LPD) or behind the head (posterior LPD), the hands can be narrowly or widely spaced, and the radioulnar joint

can be pronated or supinated. Yet research to determine the optimal variation of the LPD for particular muscle development is limited. Currently, much of the literature on the strength-building capacity of this exercise is based on

personal beliefs and experiences (3,4,16), although a few investigations have used electromyography (EMG) to quantify the amount of activity in different muscles during different types of LPDs (10,12,14,15). These studies have provided several scientifically based weight training recommendations, but questions remain about the most effective combination of grip width and forearm orientation. Research has led to the general consensus that the anterior LPD is preferred to the posterior LPD. Most studies comparing the activity of the LD under both conditions have found that the anterior LPD elicits greater muscle activation (by EMG) than the posterior LPD (11,12,14). Only 1 study failed to observe any significant difference in muscle activity between anterior and posterior LPDs (15). There have also been safety concerns that pulling down the bar behind the head puts the arm into horizontal abduction with excessive external rotation, placing unnecessary stress on the anterior shoulder (4,9,16). Functionally, it would also appear that the anterior LPD more closely mimics activities of daily living than the posterior LPD. Because of these past results and safety concerns, the current research investigation focused only on variations of the anterior LPD. A wide grip front pull (anterior) has been proposed as the most effective LPD variation for the developing the LD (12). This claimis based solely on 2 EMGstudies comparing a wide grip-pronated forearm position (wide-pronated [WP]) with a narrow grip–supinated forearm position (narrow supinated [NS]), which have found significantly greater LD activation with WP than NS (12,15). However, 1 EMG study failed to observe any significant difference in LD activity between WP and NS conditions (10). These contradictory results may be explained by 2 major differences in experimental design. Firstly, EMG was recorded during an isometric contraction (10) in contrast to EMG of concentric and eccentric phases of the LPD (12,15). Recording EMG during isotonic muscle actions provides a better assessment of the amount of muscle activity during a typical LPD exercise. Secondly, participants selected their own workload (10), with most performing at about 30–40% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the workload was experimentally controlled in the other 2 studies at 10RM (12) and 70% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) (15). It is more valid to assess muscle activity at a level close to typical training workloads (e.g., 70% of 1RM as per American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines [1] for strength training), rather than 30–40% of 1RM. These criticisms suggest that the observation of greater LD activity for the WP than the NS grip (12,15) is a more valid and reliable finding for providing isotonic exercise recommendations. However, the recommendation that a wide grip is preferred over a narrow grip (12,13) cannot be directly drawn from the finding of an advantage of WP over NS. In addition to varying the grip width between conditions (7), the forearm orientation (pronation vs. supination) was altered too. Therefore, the benefit of WP over NS on LD activation could arise from grip width, forearm orientation, or some combination of the 2. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to resolve this dilemma by comparing all 4 possible combinations of grip width and forearm orientation in a fully balanced design: WP, wide supinated (WS), narrow pronated (NP), and NS. These combinations have not been previously tested, we only hypothesize that WP will activate LD more than NS. This study will also assess MTand BB, because these muscles are also believed to be trained during an LPD (9,10,14).




Experimental Approach to the Problem


Although the anteriorWPgrip has been recommended as the most effective and safest type of LPD (12), it is not clear whether this is because of the particular grip width or forearm orientation used, as previous studies have confounded these variables. The current study employed a balanced design to compare grip width (wide vs. narrow), forearm orientation (pronated vs. supinated), and any interaction, by testing WP, WS, NP, and NS anterior grips. The sequence of these conditions was randomized in an effort to negate any possible effects of practice or fatigue. To normalize grip width for different sized individuals, we standardized the grip width based on anthropometric measures. As with previous research, the biacromial diameter was used as the narrow grip width (10,12). There is no standard width for a wide grip. One study employed 150% of biacromial diameter (10), whereas another used the distance from the fist to the seventh cervical vertebrae (12). In an effort to use an anthropometric measure that relates to a wide-grip LPD, we employed _carrying width. This is the distance between the hands (left to right fifth metacarpophalangeal joint) when standing in the anatomical reference position. A standard LPD bar was used for all grips. To standardize the weight across conditions, 70% of 1RM was determined from participants performing a test of 1RM according to ACSM guidelines (1) at least 48 hours before testing. Because a previous study (12) found no significant difference for 10RM between WP and NS grips (,1 kg), we used a single 1RMtest. Although the LPD is primarily used to develop the LD, it is also performed to train the MT and BB (9,10,14). Therefore, EMG signals were recorded from the LD, MT, and BB muscles. In accordance with previous research, the root mean square of each EMG signal (rmsEMG) was employed to quantify the average muscle activity (10,12,15). The rmsEMG for each participant and condition was then normalized to the rmsEMG of an isometric MVC. The normalized rmsEMG was then compared across conditions by using a 2 3 2 (width 3 orientation) repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) separately for each muscle.This experimental design permits an empirical test of which combination of grip width and forearm orientation elicits the most activity in the LD, MT, and BB.




Participants were 12 men aged 19–30 with an average age = 22.7 ± 3.1 years. The participants’ average mass was 85.86 ± 11.94 kg, and their average height was 1.82 ± 0.10 m. The average biacromial diameter for all participants was 0.40 ± 0.03m, and the average carrying width was 0.76 ± 0.06 m.The average 1RM for all participants was 99.46 ± 19.58 kg. Participants were all free of known musculoskeletal problems of the upper body. This study only examined participants who were previously familiar with the LPD lift and currently lifted weights on a regular basis but were not competitive bodybuilders, weightlifters, or powerlifters. All subjects were tested during the 2008 fall semester at the Berks Campus

of Pennsylvania State University. The Institutional Review Board for the use of human subjects of the Pennsylvania State University granted permission for this study. Participants signed an informed consent after being informed of the experimental risks of the study and before any data collection.




Participants used a standard lat bar on the LPD station of a 4-Stack Multi-Jungle weight machine (Model SM40; Life Fitness, Schiller Park, IL, USA). An auditory quartz metronome (Model XB700; Franz Mfg. Co. Inc., East Haven, CT, USA) was used to provide a consistent cadence throughout the study. Disposable Ag–AgCl pregelled snap electrodes (EL501; BIOPAC Systems, Inc., Goleta, CA) were placed in pairs over the skin, and parallel to the fibers, of the LD, MT, and BB muscles. The LD electrodes were positioned obliquely (25_ above the horizontal) and 0.04 m below the inferior angle of the scapula (6). The MT electrodes were placed 0.03 m lateral to the second spinous process of the thoracic spine with the electrodes placed parallel to muscle fibers (5). The second thoracic vertebra was located by palpating for the seventh cervical vertebrae and counting the spinous processes in a descending fashion until the second

thoracic vertebrae was located and marked. If differentiating the seventh cervical vertebrea was problematic, the participant was instructed to bend the head forward to differentiate the most prominent cervical vertebrea from the first thoracic vertebra (13). The BB electrodes were placed one-third the distance from the cubital fossa to the acromion process (17). Ground electrodes were placed on the acromion process (1 electrode) and the spine of the scapula (2 electrodes). The skin sites were initially prepared by shaving the hair and abrading the skin, before cleaning with an alcohol swab. The distance between the electrode centers was standardized at 0.0375 m. Three shielded lead sets (SS2; BIOPAC Systems Inc.) connected the electrodes to a 4-channel remote monitoring system (TEL100M-C; BIOPAC Systems Inc), which has an impedance of 2 MV and a common mode rejection ratio of 110 dB. All of the leads were taped in place with a loop on the skin and further secured with an elastic bandage around the participant’s torso and upper arm to reduce interference and were examined for stability during a simulated pull-down. The remote monitoring system was connected to a data acquisition and analysis system (MP100; BIOPAC Systems Inc.). The experimenters controlled data acquisition and postprocessing via AcqKnowledge software (version 3.7.3 for Windows; BIOPAC Systems Inc.) running on a microcomputer. Data were collected at a sampling rate of 500 Hz, and the raw EMG signals were amplified by a gain

set at 1,000.




During the initial visit, the following anthropometric measurements were taken: height, weight, biacromial diameter, and carrying width. Biacromial diameter was measured from the lateral aspect of the left to the right acromion processes using anthropometric tape. Carrying width was measured by asking the participants to stand with the palm of their hands facing the sides of their legs. Then the participants were asked to supinate their radioulnar joints so that the palms faced forward, whereas the humeri were maintained beside the body (similar to the anatomical reference position). From this position, the carrying width was measured from the left fifth metacarpophalangeal joint to the right fifth metacarpophalangeal joint, using anthropometric tape. The carrying width was used as the wide grip (W), whereas the biacromial diameter was used as the narrow grip (N) in this study. After recording the anthropometric measures, the exercise protocol was described. Although participants were familiar with an LPD exercise, the specific technique, inhalation and exhalation rhythm for lifting, and metronome pacing were prescribed. After ensuring that participants were comfortable performing the LPD as directed, a 1RM test was performed according to ACSM guidelines (1). The grip width for the 1RM was standardized with all participants placing the second phalanx on each hand at the bend in the bar with a pronated grip. The EMG testing session took place at least 48 hours after initial testing, and the participants were instructed not to exercise until final testing was completed. The EMG equipment was set up and zeroed before being connected to the electrodes that were placed on each participant. The participants performed the 4 conditions (WP, WS, NP, and NS) in a random order, using 70% of 1RM load. The cadence of 2-second concentric and 2-second eccentric phases was prescribed by an auditory beep and visual flash of a metronome. Participants performed 2 trials of 5 repetitions for each condition before moving onto the next, with a 2-minute rest between each trial and condition. The participants were again instructed visually and verbally how to perform an LPD. The thigh restraint pads were adjusted so the thigh and leg formed a 90_ angle with the feet flat on the floor (8). The participants were instructed to be slightly extended at the hips to prevent any collisions with the bar and head and to pull the lat bar down in a straight vertical plane from a slightly flexed position to the participant’s chin in a slow and controlled manner (9). The lat bar was lowered for them, and they remained seated for the entire testing session. Participants started with the elbows slightly flexed and the bar pulled down to the chin for all conditions. Although this meant the amplitude of the movements was not identical across conditions, it ensured the lifts were functionally equivalent. The movement was initiated with scapular depression and retraction, which was held throughout the length of the repetitions until the bar reached the resting position (4,9). The participants were then instructed to begin performing the lifts. The participants were told not to pause at each metronome beep, but slowly transition between the lifting and lowering phases, and requested to inspire on the eccentric, and expire on the concentric muscle actions. With participants performing the LPD correctly and at the right tempo, 5 repetitions were recorded, making up a 20-second trial. If a participant failed to perform correctly, the trial was repeated after a 2-minute rest. After testing all conditions, participants performed an isometric maximum exertion. The isometric exercise was an LPD with the shoulders abducted p/2 rad and both elbows flexed p/2 rad. Participants placed the second phalanx on each hand at the bend in the bar, with a pronated grip, as done for the 1RM test.


Electromyographic Analyses


For each trial and muscle, the raw EMG signal was amplified by a gain of 1,000 and filtered using a 10-Hz high pass filter (PE). The filtered EMG signal was then smoothed and rectified by calculating the root mean square (rmsEMG) for a 30-data sample moving window (0.06 seconds). The average rmsEMG was then computed for the 2 20-second trials under each condition. The raw EMG signal for each muscle during the maximal isometric contraction was processed in the same way as above, except that an average was computed for only 1 second of maximal activity to avoid effects of fatigue. To normalize the data (normalized root mean square of each EMG signal [NrmsEMG]), the average rmsEMG for each condition was divided by the average rmsEMG for the maximal isometric contraction.


Statistical Analyses


Normalized root mean square of each EMG signal was analyzed separately for each muscle by 32 x 2 (Width x Orientation) repeated-measures ANOVAs. All statistical procedures were performed using SPSS statistical software version 15.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA), and the alpha level was selected as p £ 0.05. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were computed for NrmsEMG of each muscle separately. All 3 dependent variables indicated strong consistency (ICC 0.87, 0.85, and 0.76 for LD, MT, and BB muscles, respectively).




No significant difference was found for LD activity between the wide and narrow grips (p =0.711, power = 0.064). In contrast, there was a significant main effect for forearm orientation on NrmsEMG of the LD (p = 0.012, power = 0.776). The LD demonstrated greater activation during a pronated hand grip (M= 0.67) than a supinated hand grip (M = 0.63) (see Figure 1 and Table 1). The interaction of grip width and hand orientation had no significant effect on LD activation (p = 0.185, power = 0.253). The statistical analyzes of the NrmsEMG of MT and BB muscles revealed no significant main effects or interactions (see Table 1).




In agreement with previous literature, a WP grip LPD elicited greater LD muscle activity than an NS grip LPD (12,15). However, our findings indicated this was because of using a pronated forearm orientation, not a wide grip width as proposed by others (12,15). Previous studies based their conclusions by comparing WP with NS, so that the results obtained could have been because of grip width, forearm orientation or a combination of the 2. To avoid this concern, we employed a fully balanced design to compare WP, WS, NP, and NS conditions. In contrast with prior recommendations, grip width did not significantly influence the LD, and neither was an interaction of grip width and orientation observed. The only significant finding indicated that the LD was more active under a pronated grip than a supinated grip. Hence, our results for identical conditions match previous studies of an isotonic LPD (12,15). The only findings they contradict are those for an isometric LPD, which found no differences in the LD between WP and NS grips (10). It would seem that results from an EMG analysis of isometric muscle actions are not necessarily applicable to an isotonic exercise. The different types of grip failed to significantly influence the EMG data for the MT and BB muscles. These findings agree with an earlier study that compared WP with NS and failed to observe any significant difference in muscle activation (10), but as noted above, those findings were based on an isometric LPD. It might have been predicted that with a supinated grip the BB has a more efficacious angle of pull, but there is no training advantage for the BB between the different types of grip tested. It is also useful to look at the amount of NrmsEMGfor each muscle, which indicates the proportion of maximum activity and therefore provides an estimate of the relative activity of each muscle. On average, the LD was activated at 65% of an isometric MVC, whereas the MT and BB were activated at 55 and 42%, respectively. Because the LPD was performed using a load of 70% 1RM, these results would indicate that the LD was being activated at appropriate training levels. In contrast, it would seem that both the MT and BB were activated at lower levels. This suggests that all 4 grip types primarily activated the LD, and to a lesser extent the MT and BB. Therefore, an LPD is best employed to strengthen the LD and is not an optimal exercise for developing the MT or BB muscles. We hypothesize that the LD is more active during a pronated grip vs. a supinated grip because of a greater joint moment at the shoulder. Previous research has suggested that a WP grip involves greater abduction and horizontal abduction than an NS grip, which in turn leads to more LD activity (12). However, the finding here that grip width had no significant effect on the electrical activity of the muscles contradicts this proposal. With the LD being less active during a supinated grip, it might be expected that other muscles would compensate by being more active. Surprisingly, both MT and BB were active at similar levels for all 4 grips. Also, in another EMG study, which compared WP and NS grips, none of the muscles (pectoralis major, posterior deltoid, triceps brachii, and teres major) assessed were more active during an NS grip. These findings suggest that a pronated grip places the shoulder at a mechanical disadvantage that requires greater LD activity but does not affect the MT or BB muscles. A biomechanical analysis of joint moments during a pull-up (2) provides an explanation for our results. The analysis revealed that using a pronated grip leads to a larger overall perpendicular distance between the shoulder joint and pull-up bar than a supinated grip, causing a greater joint moment at the shoulder. In addition, the wrist and elbow joints, and shoulder girdle were not found to be significantly involved during the pull-up, nor were they influenced by the forearm orientation. Because the pull-up is similar to the LPD, we propose that a pronated LPD grip creates a larger joint moment at the shoulder than a supinated grip, which in turn requires greater LD activity to lift the same load.




With the main goal of an LPD being to develop the LD muscles, it is important to know which variation best activates this muscle. The findings from this study indicate that a pronated grip is optimal for training the LD in an anterior LPD. Contrary to the claim that a wide grip is best (12,15), the findings here show that there is no difference between narrow and wide grip widths with a pronated grip orientation. Prior research has identified safety concerns and reduced LD muscle activity for a posterior LPD (12). Taking these results together, we conclude that an anterior LPD with a pronated grip is recommended for safely and optimally training the LD, irrespective of the grip width (either carrying width or biacromial diameter). Although the MTand BB were active at similar levels for the different grip types of LPD, other exercises are likely to better train these muscles.



This study was funded by a Division of Science Undergraduate

Research Grant, The Pennsylvania State University

Berks, Reading, PA.



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4 Things Women Should Be Doing in Their Fitness Training—But Aren’t.

If your workouts consist of doing light weights and steady-state cardio, you might be in for some bad news: These things alone won’t likely get you the results you’re after, say experts. To increase your fitness level, burn fat, and improve muscle tone, you’ve got to step up your game.

Here are four things women tend to skip that can deliver serious results.

1. High-intensity training.

All that time coasting on the elliptical at a comfortable pace probably hasn’t done much for your body, says Panama-based trainer Belinda Benn, creator of the Breakthrough Physique home fitness system. In fact, the biggest mistake women make in their training is not exercising with enough intensity, she says.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is typically a 10- to 20-minute workout that alternates short, intense bursts of activity with moderate-exertion recovery periods. “High-intensity interval training  is the best way to improve your overall fitness, burn fat, and stimulate your hormones for a stronger body,” says Benn.

How to tell if you’re training hard enough? Look to your body for clues, Benn says. Good indicators are sweating, increased heart rate, and lactic acid production (i.e., feeling the “burn”) during exercise. Moderate muscle soreness for up to a few days post-workout is also a good sign. “If you feel nothing,” Benn says, “you probably didn’t work out hard enough.”

2. Heavier lifting.

For most women, a typical weight-training session equals light dumbbell exercises, says Toronto-based strength and conditioning specialist Craig Ballantyne, creator of the Turbulence Training Program. But doing fewer reps with more weight—say, 8 reps per set with a 15-pound dumbbell, instead of 15 reps with an 8-pound one—will burn more fat, he says. Lifting heavier will also increase your strength and muscle definition.

Start by swapping out your normal weights for slightly heavier ones, and gradually work your way up.

3. Upper body workouts.

Women tend to store body fat around the waist, hips, and thighs, so that’s where they typically focus their exercise efforts—neglecting their upper bodies, Benn says.

But you can’t spot-reduce fat, and sticking with what’s easy can stunt your progress, says Benn. Because you may feel weak while attempting pull-ups for the first time, Benn suggests doing the hard stuff at the start of your workout, “when you’re freshest and feeling mentally strong.”

“Focusing on underdeveloped muscles will improve the contours of your body,” Benn says.

4. Training with a barbell.

Think barbells are synonymous with back-breaking chest presses? Not so. “You can do a tremendous workout just with a barbell,” Benn says. “If you’re holding a bar rather than using two separate weights, it forces you to get your body  in sync.”

Barbells are great for both upper- and lower-body exercises. Balancing one across your shoulders while doing squats, lunges, or walking lunges helps develop posture and balance, Benn says.

If you’re flirting with a barbell for the first time, go as light as you need to. Even 10 pounds is a good start.

Bonus tip:

If you’re worried you’ll bulk up with any of these exercises, consider your body type. Benn says women generally fall into two categories: those who build muscle easily, and those who don’t. If you build muscle easily, she suggests emphasizing high-intensity exercises. If you develop muscle slowly, you’ll benefit from spending more time on heavy lifting.

Chelsea Bush writes for AskFitnessCoach, a site that promotes a down-to-earth approach to fitness and weight loss

Answering YOUR questions…

Question 1: What’s your advice on obtaining the smallest waist possible for my body?

  • Diet, Diet, Diet!

Question 2: Can I build muscle and lose fat at the same time?

  • Yes and No. I say no because in order to lose fat you have to cut back on how many calories you consume and in order to build muscle you have to increase how many calories you consume on a daily basis. But studies have shown that with the proper weight training and nutrition you can build muscle while you burn fat. This has been proven true with a lot of track athletes because of high intensity interval training along with a high intensity resistance program.

Question 3: Just how much protein do I need?

  • Protein needs are usually based on what your goal is. But the usual formula is 1g of protein times your body weight ex: 1g x 128 = 128g of protein per day.

Question 5: What are some examples of good HIT workouts?

Here are a few HIT workouts that I do myself:

HIT #1

  • Shoulder Press
  • Crunches
  • Standing Calf Raises
  • Barbell Curls
  • Bench Press
  • Lying Leg Curls
  • Bent Over Row
  • Seated Calf Raises
  • Squats
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Straight Arm Pullovers
  • French Presses
  • Deadlifts
  • Upright Rows
  • Crunches
  • Wrist curls


HIT #2

  • Deadlift 1 x 10-12
  • Leg Press 1 x 10-12
  • Shrug 1 x 8-10
  • Close Grip Lat Pulldown 1 x 8-10
  • Standing Calf Raise 1 x 10-15
  • Reverse Curls 1 x 10-15
  • Overhead Press 1 x 8-10
  • Abs 1 x 30-50

Question 6: How much rest do we need between workouts?

  • Rest between workouts is all dependent upon the person. I personally take 2 days off after I do 4 days straight. After I take those 2 days off I cycle my workouts and start again. To answer your question: Just listen to your body.

Nutrition For Recovery

Athletes are always seeking ways to enhance performance and delay fatigue. Muscle glycogen is the major fuel source during prolonged, moderate to high-intensity exercise, and there is a direct relationship between depleted muscle glycogen and fatigue. Therefore, muscle glycogen repletion is vital to recovery time and maintaining top performance for athletes at all levels (1). Glycogen repletion is important to ensure an athlete’s quick muscle recovery for subsequent practices, especially those who train, or must compete, multiple times in a single day (1). Timing, composition and the quantity of a post-exercise meal or snack is dependent upon the length and intensity of exercises, timing of the next exercise session, as well as an individual’s needs (1).

Carbohydrates For Recovery—

How Much?

The current recommendation for daily carbohydrates (CHO) consumption is 5 – 7g CHO/kg/day for the general athlete and 7 – 10g/kg/day for the endurance athlete (1). Consuming CHO immediately after exercise accelerates glycogen repletion (10) because there is increased blood flow to the muscles, which results in heightened sensitivity to insulin (9). Sufficient CHO ingestion over the next 24 hours is also important. Current recommendations are to consume 1 – 1.5g of CHO/kg of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise and then again at 2-hour intervals for the next six hours (1). See Table 1 for some ideas on what to consume within 30 minutes post-exercise.

Carbohydrates For Recovery—

What Type?

The type of carbohydrate (CHO) an athlete consumes after exercise can affect how much and how quickly he or she resynthesizes glycogen. Foods and/or beverages containing glucose/ sucrose, and those having a high glycemic index are preferred. Glucose and sucrose are preferred over fructose (1), as fructose promotes a lower level of glycogen resynthesis as compared to glucose (3) and larger amounts of fructose may promote gastrointestinal distress due to its slower absorption rate(3). High glycemic index foods induce higher muscle glycogen levels as compared to low glycemic index foods (1). Readily available foods, such as whole grain cereal and skim milk, have been found to be an effective post-exercise fuel (2). In fact, one study found that the carbohydrate to protein combination found in a bowl of whole grain cereal and skim milk had a similar effect on muscle glycogen repletion as did sports drinks (2). The combination was also found to positively affect protein synthesis. From this research, it seems that whole foods can be a good alternative to commercial sports drinks, if preferred by the athlete.

Endurance exercise

Endurance athletes may benefit from consuming protein along with carbohydrates after exercise as this combination has been shown to reduce markers of muscle damage and improve post-exercise recovery. This could also have a positive effect on subsequent performances (8). Some studies have demonstrated a benefit of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) on muscle recovery (6). BCAA’s appear to affect muscle protein metabolism during and after exercise and prevent muscle damage induced by exercise (6). The release of amino acids from muscles is decreased when BCAA’s are ingested (6).

Resistance Exercise

The goal for athletes in resistance-type exercise is to increase muscle mass and strength. The nutrition intervention for this type of activity involves stimulating net muscle protein gains during recovery. PRO ingestion increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown after training (10). One study found that during prolonged resistance training, post-exercise consumption of CHO and PRO, 1 – 3 hours after resistance training stimulated improvements in strength and body composition better than a placebo (3). Essential amino acids in a dose of 40g have regularly shown to have an effect in promoting muscle protein synthesis and CHO may enhance this effect (3). The findings suggest ingesting 50 – 75g CHO with 20 – 75g PRO after heavy resistance training (3). Furthermore, adding 10g of creatine has shown to produce a significant increase in body mass as compared to just CHO and PRO (3). See Table 2 for possible CHO and PRO combinations.

Bottom Line

Nutrition post-exercise has been proven to promote recovery for athletes. Post-exercise nutrition has been shown to increase strength and muscle mass in athletes who participate in resistance-type exercises. Timing, composition and amount of post-exercise food is dependent upon the individual, timing of the next exercise session and the activity performed. 


1. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic

Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports

Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the American

Dietetic Association. 2009(109).

2. Kammer L, Ding Z, Want B, Hara D, Liao Y, Ivy J. Cereal and nonfat milk

support muscle recovery following exercise. Journal of the International

Society of Sports Nutrition. 2009(6).

3. Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J, Campbell B, Wilborn C, Kreider R,

Kalman D, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Ivy J, Antonio J. International

Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the

International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2008(5).

4. Miller SL, Gaine PC, Maresh CM, Armstrong LE, Ebbeling CB, Lamont

LS, Rodriguez NR. The Effects of Nutritional Supplementation Throughout

an Endurance Run on Leucine Kinetics During Recovery. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

5. Mizuno K PhD, Tanaka M PhD, Nozaki S PhD, Mizuma H PhD, Ataka

S MD, Tahara T PhD, Sugino T MSc, Shirai T MSc, Kajimoto Y PhD,

Kuratsune H PhD, Kajimoto O PhD, Watanabe Y PhD. Antifatigue effects

of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Applied Nutritional Investigation.


6. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid

supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle

recovery and the immune system. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical

Fitness. 2008(48).

7. Rowlands D, Thorp RM, Rossler K, Graham DF, Rockell MJ. Effect of

Protein-Rich Feeding on Recovery After Intense Exercise. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

8. Saunders, Michael J. Coingestion of Carbohydrate-Protein During

Endurance Exercise: Influence on Performance and Recovery. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2007(17).

9. Stout, Andrew. Fueling and Weight Management Strategies In Sports

Nutrition. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007(07).

10. Van Loon, Luc J.C. Application of Protein or Protein Hydrolysates to

Improve Postexercise Recovery. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and

Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

Taken from: NSCA’s Performance Training Journal Volume 9, Issue 2

My Competition Story

Getting ready for the Iron Man Magazine Naturally Championship and competing in the competition was such an amazing experience. I can’t believe that I actually did it. There are so many amazing people that have encouraged me and helped me along with this journey that I am going to list EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!! Without them I don’t think I would’ve still done it.

I have my Twitter Fitness family: @babytatten, @lilfitprincess, @FIT4LIFE2020 @beccasgym, @tracykirby55, @DonaldDDiva, @Sharde2focused, @4amaven, @CommittedTrain, @Bionic_Black, @mrgeecue, @obarmuscle, @Bodybldrmarcus, @SamuelFrauens, @OBARmuscle, @mercedesfitness, @CarrieNyden, @iamkendra86, @elleboogiee, @bikiniorbust, etc (this list can go on forever lol)…

The Rest of the crew: Romalice Reed, Godfrey Cortes, Ryan Liming, Kashka Clay, Donna Spinola, My big cousin Earnest, The VSP Crew: Dan, Joy, Jason, Juan, Hayley, etc., Kemi E, and MY FAMILY…

A BIG THANK YOU TO DRE!!! You stuck it out and sat with me all day!! Thanks for all your love and support! You’re awesome.
I know I’m forgetting so many other people I hope they can forgive me….

Ok so here it is:

Mid October is when I entered the competition and I was really hesitant about doing it but I thought why not. So I started to diet and took my first progress pic in November and I looked like this:

As you can tell I had a lot of work to do 🙂

So for the next few months I ate CLEAN and worked out to the point where I couldn’t even move. I would wake up at 6am to be at the gym by 7 and workout til about 8:30 and then go to class from 10-2:15 and then go home lol….I did that everyday about 5-6 days a week for about the first month just to get my body into a routine. So for the next 8 weeks I did Metabolic Conditioning classes @ Velocity Sports Performance, lifted weights, ate right, and here is the finished product:

So the last few weeks up until the competition sucked major donkey balls (YES! Donkey balls). It sucked because at this point I wanted “real” food. I wanted chips, cupcakes, candy, burgers, etc. I wanted to eat everything I could get my hands on. The week of the competition wasn’t as bad as I thought until Thursday rolled around. On Thursday I had started drinking Metamucil to start pulling the water out of muscles and drop water weight. I was so dehydrated that the more water I drank the more my head hurt. I could feel the water being pulled out of my quads and my arms. Friday I couldn’t drink any water at all especially if I wanted to dry out. So I started eating 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal and 2 oz of chicken breast every 2 hours. Trying to eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal dry was HARD! I didn’t really sleep Friday night because I had to dry out and my alarm would go off every 2 hours just to make sure I was up to eat another 1/2 cup.

When I did try and catch a few zzz’s I was in pain because I could feel the water being pulled out of my muscles. TRUST ME it was bearable it just hurt. So I had packed my bag and was just ready to get to:

So all competitors had to be there at 8am for the meeting and 8:30 am check in..Pre-judging was at 10 am. So I checked in and found the nearest bathroom to do my hair since the expensive ass hair people took up all the plugs in our dressing area 😦 Hair was done make-up was done the only thing left to do was get ready for pre-judging. So we were lined up in our Class A,B,C,D (for my people that don’t know what classes are: it’s just based on your height). So the expediters backstage sent out Class A and B together so the judges were a little frustrated because we (class B) had to leave the stage and come back out. We did our model turns and then all lined up and did quarter turns. Filed off stage and were told to be back at 3:15.

So I walked around the expo with my BFF Dre and we walked around FOREVER!!! He did this max rep competition where you had to bench press your weight as many times as you can in 30 seconds. We laughed because one guy who weighed 121 pounds did his weight about 41 times so everybody after him was like pretty much forget it. I really wanted to take pics with Alicia Marie, Ava Cowan, and Jamie Eason but the line for Bodybuilding.com was longer than the line to get into the Expo so I was a little disappointed. I wanted to take a pic with Lou Ferrigno but he was charging $20 a pic. I said KICK ROCKS LOU!!! We watched the powerlifting competition and some of the other competitions that were there. It was a really fun expo.

So 3:15 came and it was time to get ready again. Jay Cutler (NOT FOOTBALL LOL) got on stage and spoke for an hour then it was time for finals. So they started with the Men and each competitor had 60 secs of posing…I was so cold backstage and just ready to get everything over with cause by this point I was HUNGRY and getting frustrated because Bikini Bite was causing me to stick to the seat I was sitting in lol…So the Pro Tan crew got me all greased up and I just waited back stage until the guys were over since Figure was last.

While the men were doing their posing the crowd was HUGE!!! By the time I came out the crowd was NON-EXISTENT!!! We were supposed to be done at 6 but we didn’t get done until almost 7. Here is the VERDICT: So here were my stats on competition day: 34-26-38 3/4 weighed in at 129 with 13% body fat… When I started I was: 34-28-39 1/2 136 with 21% body fat. So I am now about 117 pounds of muscle!!

This experience was priceless! It was worth every bit of sweat, tears, frustration, and hunger. I had the 3 D’s: Determination, Dedication, and Discipline. It helped me get through it all.

I got on that stage without paying for a trainer, a posing coach, an expensive suit, or Pro Tan. I did it all on my own. You have to learn from your mistakes and find out what works best for you. Just because it worked for someone else doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

Now it’s time to BULK UP and lean out again for my next competition in June. I’m going to compete in the West Coast Classic. Competing is really expensive. So time to save up and shoot for the stars!!


P.S. I can still feel the water being pulled out of my muscles 😉



I did an interview with a friend of mine from Twitter @SugaToe_Moni for her radio show called: The SugaToe Show on SacTownRadio

I listen to the radio show whenever these wonderful ladies are on the air. And Moni decided to interview me going into the new year in regards to fitness and living a healthier lifestyle.

http://www.thesugatoeshow.com/2011/01/shegetfitness.html <—- There is the link for the interview if you would like to check it out.

I HAVE GREAT NEWS: After all of my hardwork and dedication that I have put in the past 7 1/2 weeks I managed to lose 6 pounds and 8% body fat. I started at 21% body fat on November 18, 2010 and on January 19, 2011 I had my body fat tested and I was down to 13%…..So what this means is that I weigh 130 lbs and have 13% body fat which means that I’m mostly lean muscle.

This was a long and enduring process and I can’t wait to grace the stage during the Iron Man Magazine Naturally Championships on January 29, 2011 and strut my stuff.

I will post pics ASAP.

Hope you’re all having a great week.

Muscle (Resistance) Training

I know that you probably look through magazine after magazine looking for workouts. Well NEWS FLASH: Resistance training is an individual process! Which means what works for someone else may not work for you. The foundation of any EFFECTIVE muscle training program follow these 5 steps:

  1. Specificity of training- only muscles that are trained will adapt and change in response to a resistance program
  2. GAS principle- General Adaptation Syndrome has 3 stages of adaptation: (1) the “alarm” stage caused by physiological stress; (2) resistance stage when the body adapts to demands placed on the body; (3) exhaustion stage, which happens when you overtrain.
  3. SAID principle- Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands is the fact that adaptation will be specific to the characteristics of the workout used
  4. Variation of training- No program can be used without changing the exercise stimulus over time.
  5. Prioritization of training- It’s difficult to train for all aspects of strength fitness. With periodized training you need to focus or prioritize your goals over each training cycle.

Exercises can be designated as primary exercises (i.e. leg press, bench press: prime movers; large muscle group), assistance exercises (i.e. train one muscle group: triceps pushdown, dumbbell biceps curl), structural (i.e. involves multiple joints: power clean, deadlift), or body part specific (i.e. isolate specific muscle groups: leg extension, seated leg curl). Structural or multi-joint exercises require neural coordination among muscles.

Here are some tips for the order of exercises:

  • Target large muscle groups before small muscle groups
  • Perform multi-joint exercises before single-joint exercises
  • Alternate push and pull exercises for total body sessions
  • Alternate upper and lower body exercises for total body sessions
  • Perform exercises for your weaker points before exercises for your stronger points
  • Perform Olympic lifts before basic strength and single-joint exercises
  • Perform power exercises before other exercise types
  • Perform more intense exercises before less intense ones

There are a number of muscle training programs but I’m only going to discuss the most common training programs that are used:

  • Periodization Training: Preferred method, allows for many different types of workouts, training programs, born from the SAID principle and refers to the need to gradually increase the amount of stress placed on the body in order to continually stimulate adaptations
  • Circuit Training: 8-12 exercise stations are chosen and the exercises are performed in a circuit one after the other, then repeats the circuit 1-3 times, aims to address cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance, time effective if you have a limited amount of time to work out
  • HIT Training: known as High-Intensity Training, perform one set of 8-12 reps of each exercise until failure, haven’t been proven to be effective as compared to periodized training
  • Pyramid or Triangle Training: popular with powerlifters, gradual increase in resistance and a decrease in reps with each set of a single exercise, ex: 10RM, 8RM, 6RM, 4RM, 2RM, 4RM, 6RM, 8RM, and 10RM with the resistance set to allow only the listed number of reps (which means calculating your 1RM, refer to: https://moniquesfitness.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/making-your-workout-work-for-you/)
  • Super Set Training: term that is used to describe alternating 2 exercises for two different target muscle groups, can be opposing muscle groups (i.e. biceps and triceps) or groups at different joints (i.e. quads and deltoids), can be created two ways- examples: (1) biceps curl 10RM, triceps pushdown 10RM. Repeat 3 times with no rest between exercises; (2) lat pull down 10RM, seated cable row 10RM, bent-over row 10RM. Rest one minute between each exercise. Repeat 3 times.
  • Split Routine Training: time-consuming, allows you to maintain a higher intensity of training for a particular body part or group of exercises