The Secret of Strength

Deadlifts.

That’s the secret..

Deadlifts are the greatest (or worst, depending how you see things) test of full-body strength. They’re not like squats, curls, or bench press where you can cheat a little & get the weight up. If some ounce of your body isn’t strong enough for the weight you’re trying to pull, you aren’t pulling shit.

How-to Video

Deadlifts are typically done with a barbell, but there are tons of variations you can take to accommodate your level of strength or the equipment available to you. Deadlifts can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, single-leg variations,trap bar deadlifts, & the list goes on and on. No matter what variation you choose, the same form tips apply.

Keep your spine neutral– think table-top from your pelvis to the top of your head.

Move from your hips & start at the ground.

Keep your arms straight rather than pulling the bar up with your arms. Use your arms, upper back, and shoulders to stabilize the bar.

Adjust so the weight works for you – this can mean a change of stance (wide-leg/sumo), adjusting the weight load, or changing the amount of reps performed.

Q: What muscles do deadlifts train?

A: All of them.

Seriously… Hamstrings, glutes, and lower back are the main muscles used. However, your entire spine is called to action to keep itself in a neutral position. Your upper back, core (abs), chest, arms, & shoulders lend themselves to stabilize the bar & your spine. Your ankles and calves help stabilize your stance & keep you in place. Your hands are busy getting fcked up by the bar due to the fact you’re using them to grip the dead weight you’re lifting..

Essentially, deadlifts can make you strong as hell.

Think about it- being able to perform the deadlift means you can lift dead weight. That’s pretty awesome.

Keep up the great work!

Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, Weight Loss, OhMy!

IM BACK!

Happy 2017 yall

To begin- you are enough. No diet, exercise, scale, or clothing size will change how great you already are.

This is going to be a quick resurrection of my blog; a snack-sized rant/clarification on weight loss confusions & frustrations that come with strength training. 

Across the fitness world & the ~real~ world (what even is the real world anyway?) there is a lot of focus on weight.

How much do you weigh?

How much weight do you want to lose? How do you plan to lose the weight? 

Oooo how much weight did you gain on that trip/during the holidays/last year?

How much weight do you lift? Are you purposely gaining muscle??? 

& just to be clear- you’re supposed to feel terrible about yourself no matter what your response to any of the above is. The world/media/haters & losers (haha) will always have a clap back for the way you’re living your life & why you’re not good enough.

I REPEAT, YOU ARE DEFINITELY ENOUGH!! 

But to further correct the confusion of mixed messages- transitioning into a more active lifestyle is going to change a lot of things. The beginning will be difficult, your feelings toward the switch will fluctuate, your weight will fluctuate. 

When you strength train, you build muscle. Muscle burns more calories per hour- even when you’re not working out- and begins to force fat out of your bod. You’ll definitely drop lbs at first, but as you become stronger & gain muscle, you may gain weight too. This can be discouraging if you’re tracking your journey via a scale (or via those pants you’ve been saving ‘just in case’)..

Here is the key piece of information: Muscle weighs more than fat. 

As you gain muscle, lose fat, burn more calories, & eat more to fuel your muscle- you will probably gain weight. This does not mean you’re failing!!! 

Stay fab & keep getting stronger! 

*peace*

Almond Chocolate Blondies

I’ve decided to step up my baking game. & my gains game.. To accomplish both, I’m on a mission to incorporate more high-protein baked goods into my life. So here’s my first round of ~protein baking~ that doesn’t involve pancakes!!

*if you are allergic to almonds, this is not the post for you… almonds galore here, people*

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein (or whatever flavor you see fit)
  • 2/3 cup crushed almonds
  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 whole eggs

Steps to Awesomeness:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350, line your baking pan/try of choice with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the coconut oil until it’s soft, or complete liquid.. I did the latter.
  3. Combine melted coconut oil with almond butter & mix away! Simultaneously (not rlly) whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add the eggs and agave to your butter bowl. 
  5. Add almonds to the mix & fold them in until the consistency becomes thicker. Now’s your time to add protein powder if you so choose!
  6. Chop up your chocolate & cashews, mix them into your batter. Now would be a good time to add any additional fillings if you wish to. If the mixture seems too dry, pour a splash of almond milk in.   
  7. Pour your deliciousness into your baking vehicle (???) & set the oven timer to 20 mins. You may need to check them after this time & make sure the middle isn’t still totally raw.
  8. ENJOI!!!! …..once they have cooled down

  
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Macros: 

  • 260 calories
  • 20g fat- 5g saturated, 2g polyunsaturated, 5g monounsaturated
  • 12g carbs- 4g fiber, 5g sugar
  • 10g protein
  • + iron, vitamin B, vitamin E, copper, ribo~flavin~, & LOADS of other vitamins & minerals


     

A Daily Reminder

We’re all busy people. It’s not unheard of for the day to go right by you & the next thing you know, it’s 9 pm & you can’t even remember if you drank water today. 

So here’s a reminder- a sort of checklist to go through with yourself randomly throughout the day:

  • have you eaten in the last 3 hrs?
  • have you drank any water in the last hr?
  • have you gotten up & moved around? stretched your arms out as wide as they can go?
  • have you taken a deep inhale?
  • have you let go of that inhale with an even deeper exhale?
  • have you looked outside?
  • have you thought something nice about yourself?

All of these seem like really simple things… But I’ve found its the simple things that get away from us. 

Take a few minutes to let go of everything, breath, & recollect yourself & your thoughts. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself! Today & everyday 🙂

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

A few days ago I decided to attempt to squat 205lbs… 

How is this relevant to asking for help? 

Well, I had just squatted a personal best of 195 the day before, along with a lengthy set of deadlifts. My body (especially the lower end) was tired. I’d never broken 200lbs before. But I thought I was ready. 

I did one slow, slightly painful rep. I got back up from under 205 lbs! 😀 

Of course that wasn’t enough…

I stepped up to the bar ready for round two. Stared at myself in the mirror for a while, contemplated if the song I chose was the right song, stared some more… 

I was going to do this. 

‘Not so fast there, pal!’ my brain screeched…. Ok, maybe I’m not going to do this. 

I was offered a spot & hestitantly accepted the offer. Before I even started to squat this person noticed a form issue I had (I wasn’t squaring off my feet) & pointed it out… I fixed my form according to the advice I was given & got myself ready to start (again).

I got all the way parallel, started to come back up, & before I got 3/4 of the way- I panicked. I felt myself inching back down…the opposite of where I needed to go.. So. I called on the help that was there to support me. It was kind of awkward & I felt like I had failed. 

Those negative feelings quickly went away once I realized how hilarious it was that I panicked even though I knew someone was right there to catch me. I didn’t fail. I tried something new; I reached a new one-rep max & I let someone help me when I tried to take it further.

That’s the point of accepting other people’s help- none of us can do everything on our own. We need the support of others at certain moments in our life. Whether that support comes in the weight room, at work, in the grocery store, when a crisis hits; whether it comes from a close friend, or from a complete stranger…it’s never a bad thing to embrace!

There is always going to be someone to help you. You never have to panic about impending doom or failure.

Enjoy the journey my friends. & remember to let a little help in from time to time 🙂

P.S.- I wrote this post at night while trying to sleep & it relieved a significant amount of anxiety that had built up in my mind/body. Not sure why.. Maybe it has something to do with allowing all of you to help me release my thoughts?? 

Workout Wednesday: Bi’s & Tri’s Partner Workout

~Happy Workout Wednesday~*~

Yayy for working out with a friend! I find it fun to work out with someone else because you can switch up your routine & have some fun with your workout. Workouts should be fun even when you’re alone, but sometimes ya just need that extra spice.  That extra spice (in this case) is a workout partner.

The reason I decided to try out an arm-focused partner lift: my younger sister has been coming to the gym with me & actually lifting 😀 Sooooo I have to find ways to keep her interested & occupied at all times…or else she’ll be lost to the world of distraction.

On this particular day, it was time to train arms. Here’s what I came up with*:

Barbell Curl & Pass: Stand across from your partner. DO 1 rep of a barbell curl, pass the bar to them. Wait for them to curl 1 rep and do 2 reps when you get the bar back. Work your way up to 10 reps. If you’re feeling extra strong & ~vascular~, work your way back down to 1 rep!

Tricep Dips: 4×8    +    Jumping Jacks: until partner is ready to switch

I threw in some cardio because you should keep your heart muscles working too..So you can strengthen your friendship while you strengthen your arms!! HAHA

Skullcrushers: 4×12    +    Switch Lunges (switch leg after each rep): until partner is ready to switch

Tricep Rope Push-down: 4×12    +    Hammer Curls: 4×10

Finish with whatever cardio you like- keep the partner pattern going & have fun! Add some more lifts if you so desire. Adjust the rep/set ratio if needed.

Drink lots of water, friends! Feed your body the fuel it needs. Enjoy!

 

*You can most definitely do this workout solo!!! Just modify the switching activities to a certain amount of time in between your own set! 🙂

Workout Wednesday- Equipment Free Workout

Today, I have for you a full body, circuit-style, at-home workout. 

It’s not always ideal to need the gym in order to get your daily workout in (especially in January when it’s more crowded than the mall on Black Friday). Sometimes you just need to sweat it out at home! Sometimes an at-home workout ends up being more effective than what you would’ve done at the gym! 

Here’s a quick, equipment-free circuit I came up with:

  • 1 min burpees
  • 10 staggered push-ups* (each side)   
  • 1 min mountain climber
  • 15 lunges (each leg)

Repeat this circuit 4-5 times. Try to keep rest time in between moves & rounds under 1 minute. The alternating cardio + strength will keep your muscles confused. Your body will start to burn fat quicker with this circuit style. You’ll definitely feel the burn!! (& so will your muscles)

Drink lots of water. Feed your body the fuel it needs. Keep moving. You got this 🙂

*I have a quick video showing this move on my Instagram: @leedle_g