Tag Archives: Strength Training

Learning to Be A Bad Mamma Jamma

2 May


I stood there, on the rubberized floor mat, trying to ignore the sweat that threatened to drip down my brow. Dripping sweat is so not hot. My shirt proclaimed, “Pretty Fast isn’t Good Enough.” It’s part of my ‘fake it ’till you make it’ series of shirts. (Also in the series, “Born to Run.” Because I’m not, really, but I want to be and I love the song.) But it wasn’t living up to its motivational job that day.

I watched as Trainer Kenny scanned the available weights and picked out each for my new regimen of strength training. 12.5, 15, 20 pounds…he picked up each, looked at me, and picked up the next weight higher. My eyes bugged out the further right he went. Surely he doesn’t expect me to pick up that?!?

Trainer Kenny picked up the 30 pound barbel like it was nothing. “We’re going to learn a new exercise today: Deadlifts!” He said cheerfully, as he let the weight go with an audible *thunk* on the bouncy floorboards. What now? Whada huh? Are they called that because they killed the last person you tried this on? These were the thoughts racing through my head as I looked at the dead-weight laying at my feet. Lift this? I have a hard time carrying more than one gallon of milk into the house, and you want me to lift that? You’re kidding, right?

He wasn’t.

So I lifted it. And other weights as I went through the series of exercises Trainer Kenny had come up with for me to make me feel like a bad a$$. I was lifting weights, and I was a bad mamma-jamma.

Since I took up with Trainer Kenny and his wacky (read: non-lazy) philosophy of working out, I’ve done things I didn’t believe I could do. Nothing crazy, but I’ve gone from a girl who was afraid to push herself to a woman determined, motivated, empowered to explore the reaches of her strength. To not just take the 15 reps if I feel I can do 20. To ask to do a full plank until I collapse. It’s strange. It’s the opposite of comfortable. But it’s worth it.

It’s not always fun, but it’s always rewarding.I learned something this week. I’m capable of more than I think. Unlike most of my life where I’m happy to take on a challenge, push myself beyond what is comfortable, when it comes to physical fitness I’ve shied away from pushing myself. I’ve chosen ignorance over health, weakness over achievement. And I deserve better.

I am so grateful for Kenny’s expertise. He thinks I can do more than I can, and therefore I do. I am so used to being self-motivated, self-driven, self-actualized, but sometimes – when I’m out of my depth – I need someone to believe I can do more than I think I can and push me. My eyes bugged out as he pulled bigger and bigger weights for my rowers, my chalice squats, my…I don’t even know what they’re called, but they were hard! I did more than I thought I could this week, and I felt more powerful pushing through and owning the modicum of strength I’ve achieved in that last two months. Weights have so often been the exclusive domain of the big, the built, the manly; if an athletic girl (never mind an overweight, big, curvy and fabulous girl) dared to infringe on their sacred ground, they were greeted with scorn, derision, condemnation; I know, I’ve seen it. So I’ve never gone there. But with Kenny by my side, I was going to try. And I rocked it, 31 BMI and all.

The takeaway? I can do more than I thought I could. You can do more than you could. Maybe, like me, you needed someone to tell you, someone to believe in you, believe that you could do it. You can. I can. We can. We are more than our lazy-butt couch-sitting selves want to think we are. If you can’t believe in yourself, get someone wh believes in you to push you. Untill you believe it yourself. Because you can do it.

You can lift a weight the size of your head. And rock it.

How Tuesday: I Don’t Know Squat

20 Mar

from motivationintohabit on tumblr. this blog is awesome. click to check it out.

How perfect is this image? I found it after I wrote yesterday’s post, and was amazed at how well it fit. Anyway, on to the how to.

Apparently I’ve been doing squats all wrong.

My trainer took one look at my form and said, “Oh yeah. I can tell you run.”

“Really? How?” I asked.

“You’re quad-dominant.”


“When you squat your knees come pretty far in front of your feet, which means your quadriceps are doing most of the work. Because they’re stronger.”

Once he explained what quadriceps are, we were back on the same page. Now I’m doing squats leaning against a big inflated ball on the wall to keep my knees behind my feet and strengthen whatever muscles are along the back of my thighs. Trainer Kenny promises strengthening this muscle will keep my knees from popping out of place when I run. So I’m in. Plus, squats are a full-body exercise. If you do them correctly you engage your core and you work your arms while strengthening your legs. I hate them, they suck to do, but man, do they work. So here are the do’s and don’ts of doing a squat, according to Trainer Kenny.


  • Start with your feet a little wider than hip-width.
  • Slowly lower yourself down into a sitting position, aiming for a 90° angle in your knees at your lowest point.
  • Stick your butt out as you sink down, keeping your back straight and core engaged as you lean over. (I told Kenny this was very unladylike, and is still hard for me to come to grips with, mentally.)
  • Keep your knees even with your toes at your lowest point.
  • If your knees stick out too far, you might not be sticking your butt out far enough. Alternately, you can use an exercise ball propped against a wall and start with your feet further in front of you and roll yourself down like I do.
  • Slowly raise yourself back to a standing position.
  • Do a set of ten good squats, and add another set each day.
  • As an added option, raise your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height as you lower yourself to add resistance training to your arm muscles.


  • No slouching or back rounding.
  • Don’t go further than a 90° angle. You risk knee injury if you do.
  • Don’t let your knees extend much over your toes. Again, knee injury can ensue.
  • No major angles on your feet. Your toes should be pointed more or less forward.

No one needs to see a picture of me doing a squat, so how about a nice drawing with the muscles you’ll be working highlighted instead?

from commonsensehealth.com. click for another great article on how to do squats correctly and how to add weights.

And in case you’re wondering what it looks like, here’s a squat using a ball.

image from about.com

Am I the only one who has been doing squats incorrectly? Do you have any go-to moves for building strength?

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