Category Archives: Strong Woman Training

Day 1 of the Deload

The German Volume Training modified protocol I’m following had 4 weeks with the 10 x 10 sets/reps plan and today was the first day of a 2 week deload.  It doesn’t change much.  I will keep using the weights I used during week 4, but will do 5 sets of 10 reps instead of 10 sets.  I may change up the assistance exercises, but that volume stays the same at 3 sets each.

This may seem unrelated, but I’ll tie it in… I got the results back from the more detailed lipid panel I had done last week.  It was a fasted blood work test, but gives a lot more detailed information than the regular cholesterol test.  (Ordered by doc, but considered “experimental” by my insurance, so I had to pay $85 out of pocket.  Yeah – checking for diabetes risk is “experimental”.  Idiots.)  I’m still researching what everything on that lab report means for my training, but a few things caught my attention right away.

I’ve always had borderline high cholesterol – it’s genetic.  But the HDL (good one) went up about 40 points and my triglycerides have dropped a bunch (336 in 2008, 105 in 2011, 44 last week).   Taken all together, the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides are just fine.

Doctor is not happy with the creatine ratios.  I’m supposed to drink more water.  More?  More than a gallon a day.  OK.  Can’t hardly argue with that.

My insulin sensitivity was tested and it appears I am highly insulin sensitive.  That is a very good thing in terms of diabetes risk – it’s very low now.  Probably a good thing since I know I can use food to spike insulin to put myself into an anabolic state.  But when I grow, everything grows.   I’m gaining muscle, bone, and fat.  Heck, I think my hair is growing faster, too.


So I’ve decided to use the lab results during this two week deload phase to play with my macros.  Now that I know that my body responds properly to insulin now, I feel more confident about using food grow muscle.  I’m going to increase carbs around my lifts and decrease them on rest days.  Watch what happens.  Evaluate and adjust.

I’m also going to add in a couple of conditioning sessions per week during this period.  Prowler, sled, ropes and maybe some heavy carries.  My heart muscle needs work.

Interesting reflection…when I was lifting crazy heavy during strong man training, I didn’t log food, ate what and when I wanted, and almost had a hard time keeping my body weight from dropping.

Hated that training, though.  Hated. It.

Oh well.  It’s interesting data, though, don’t you think?


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Filed under German Volume Training, My Lifting Log, Strong Woman Training

Fear Revisited

My life is a constant struggle with fear. I’m either wrestling with my own or I’m trying to help other people wrestle with theirs.  I’ve written about fear before.  It’s such a common experience many of us share, I wanted to write about it again tonight.  Here is what I’ve learned about fear.

FEAR is a THIEF.  How many people don’t live the life they are supposed to live because they are afraid?  Fear took my dream and left in it’s place a life full of safe routines.  I used to cling to those routines like a security blanket.  I “didn’t have time” to go to a gym and risk looking foolish – the old, fat woman who moved awkwardly and couldn’t do much very well.  Fear ruled my life for too many years.  My health suffered.  I was not being who I was supposed to be.

FEAR is a BARRIER.  It will stop you.  It will change your path.  I realized this after my mother died.  After I started to come out of the fog of grief, I looked back at my life and saw a series of decisions made to avoid something.  It was then that I made a promise to myself to not let fear define my life.  However, I forgot about that promise as the years went by.  Initially, my health transformation was about avoiding an early death – another decision based on fear.  But then I remembered.  I remembered my promise to myself.  I remembered that thing that fascinated me when I was much younger, but I was too afraid of it to try … bodybuilding.  Once I decided to do it, I didn’t see the barrier anymore.  I just assumed it was going to be a lot of work.


FEAR is a CHARMING LIAR.  “I can’t afford it.”  That’s what I told myself about getting the help I knew I needed.   Heck, I told myself that about just driving to the gym.   “I can do it myself.” That’s what fear told me.  I was afraid to invest in myself.  I was afraid to take the risk.  I knew that if I faced my fear and took the risk, I would NOT let myself fail.  I would NOT quit because that would make the money and time I spent be wasted.  Fear kept lying to me.  “You can’t do it.  You’re too old.  You’re too out of shape.”  I knew there was one thing I had to do to succeed – DON’T QUIT.  It was going to work.  I just needed to be patient and consistent.

Fear continues to whisper in my ear.  I regularly have to push forward despite those little whispers.  The strong woman training and competition was a great example of how I battled with fear almost every day for 8 weeks.  It wasn’t whispering to me then – it was very convincing, very logical.  I wanted to quit every day.  I used a trick I’ve used before – I left myself notes on my bathroom mirror.


The first year of my journey was a struggle.  From June 2009 to June 2010, there was no blog.  There was no Facebook page.  It was just me making myself get up every day and do the thing I knew I needed to do.  It took a whole year before I fell in love with exercise.  That’s when I made the decision to do the thing that scared me the most – hire a trainer and learn to lift so I could become a bodybuilder.  The exhilaration of being that bold and pushing through my fear propelled me.  Everything I’ve accomplished since then is a milestone of another fear conquered.  Doing a posing routine on stage?  Yeah, that was a big fear.

I work with people of all ages now as they face things that scare them a little – or a lot.  I’m either their math teacher, their trainer, or their coach.  I try to offer a little courage when they need it.  Some take it, some don’t.  They aren’t ready.  When they are ready, I’ll be there.  I ask them to acknowledge the fear and act anyway.  Pretending it’s not there is like pretending there isn’t an elephant in the room.

I’m still afraid.  However, I’ve learned that the most rewarding things I’ve done have happened when I act in spite of my fear.  I love this…

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Filed under Life, Motivation, Opinions, Venting, Ranting, Strong Woman Training

OK, Now What?


Am I bodybuilder or a strong woman competitor?

It’s been a week after my strong woman competition.  Today, the first ever Ms. Physique Olympia was chosen.  And it was Dana Lin Bailey.

Can’t lie – my excitement was so high yesterday following pre-judging online, that I had butterflies and a was a little nauseous. Yesterday afternoon, I went with a friend to see the documentary “Generation Iron” about the 2012 Mr. Olympia competitors. I was riveted.

When I listen to music, I classify every song I hear as “potential posing music” or “not a good posing song”. I practice quarter turns in the bathroom when I wait for the shower water to warm up.

I am a bodybuilder.

The two months of training for that strong woman competition felt like six months. I hated it. I liked how it challenged my fears and mental boundaries about what I’m capable of doing. It feels like I grew muscle and I got stronger.  But I hated doing it. Soooo boring!  But I had a lot of fun at the meet.  I LOVE lifting and pushing myself to do more and more.  I’d definitely do it again – but my passion isn’t there.  All the local shows happen when I’m teaching, so I have to travel to compete anyway.  Expensive.

My rest week is almost over and I have to start training again. Training now will be different. I’m not training for a specific show or meet. I have NOTHING on the calendar. In fact, I’m leaning towards not competing again as a bodybuilder until summer 2015 and I don’t know if I’ll be strong enough to compete in a sanctioned strongman competition.

There is another consideration.  I’m curious to see what kind of gains I can make if I don’t have to interrupt my training to prep for a show. What gains can I make if I just relax and TRAIN? What will happen when I eat clean, eat in surplus, and give my body 18 months to progress before I go into a contest prep cycle again? If I have to pay for airfare and hotel, I want to compete in a bigger show and be more competitive. I’m cheap. I’m not going to pay more to come in last place again.  And if I’m going to compete at age 50-something, I need to make sure that’s not a variable when I’m standing next to the 30 and 40-somethings.  Despite what some people think, I’m very serious about this little bodybuilding thing I do.

There are other things I need to pay attention to right now. I spent this rest week finishing up another certification. This one was a fitness nutrition specialization that I’ve been working on for a year. Since that’s done, I need to take care of other things. I have been distracted by these three competitions and neglected things at home that are important to me. I am also building a new business so I can make a lateral move to it when I retire from teaching – which I think will be June 2016?

And there is that book Hubby and I started to work on…

For training, I’m going to design a hybrid program that uses some of the strongman exercises within a more “normal” training program.  I’d like to go back to a 5 day split based on body parts for a few weeks.  Maybe take another run at the Madcow 5 x 5 after that.

It’s a weird spot I’m in right now.  These transition points are difficult for me.  I usually rely on Coach to help me through them, but I’m going to do this on my own now.  I do this for others.  I can do it for me.


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, My Lifting Log, Strong Woman Training

Thoughts After Strong Woman

there is no finish line

It’s Monday after the meet on Saturday. I am soooo sore! Except for legs, which means I didn’t use them enough, I guess. I’ve been reviewing the video and can see things I can improve. So I guess that means I’m open to doing this again.

It was a fun experience. The general atmosphere is very different from a bodybuilding competition.  A bodybuilding show is more stressful. The strong man meet felt more like play. I noticed that many of the people there actually train together and everyone was cheering for everyone.  You wanted the next person to do something amazing.

I was told to expect a different kind of camaraderie than at a bodybuilding competition.  I’ve made friends at my bb shows and have had about as much fun as a person can have without drinking water.  But the strong man meet was pretty wonderful, actually.  When I got home, I was browsing Facebook and came across one of the more popular pages I follow only to find another thread of women bickering about food – name calling even.  Ugh.  There is more to bodybuilding than food and cardio, but that’s all anyone wants to talk about.  There is the LIFTING.  How about we talk about that? LIFTING is the whole point!  If something isn’t helping you lift heavier, it sucks and should be avoided.  Sorry – I digress.  But it bears repeating…

“If something isn’t helping you lift heavier, it sucks and should be avoided.”

I didn’t feel like I did much that day, but the next day – WOWZA! I felt like that truck I couldn’t pull might have run me over. I also had that same cold-like congestion I’ve felt after each of my bodybuilding shows. I assume that is some inflammatory response to the physical stress. And I’m HUNGRY. SOOOO HUNGRY!! I didn’t really diet hard, so this was unexpected.

There was no workout on Sunday or today, Monday. I’m not planning to do one tomorrow, either. There is some back strain that is not serious, but it’s slightly more than just the regular sore.  I’ll get a massage tomorrow.  I’ll decide then if I can do anything on Wednesday.

My Thoughts About the Events…

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is again.

Log Press, 90 lbs: I got three reps at this weight. The last time I practiced, I could only do two. After watching Nicole do 10 reps (I think) before I went up, and watching the video, I have a clearer idea of what I need to do to improve. I was coached properly, but just didn’t have a visual or couldn’t imagine the correct form. What I needed was time – and I have that now. I will start practicing with a much lighter weight, maybe even just a PVC pipe.

Farmer’s Carry (230 lbs) and Keg Carry (135 lbs ?)/Placement Medley: I had the fastest time for women – I think it was 44 seconds. Still room to improve. I saw a couple of mistakes that, if avoided, would have shaved off a little time. I also don’t handle the keg well. I think the keg was lighter than 135 pounds, but I don’t remember. I didn’t pay that close of attention because it didn’t matter. I had to move the keg.

Tire Flip, 450 lbs: I wish I hadn’t paid attention when the weight of the tire was announced. I was annoyed. The tire was supposed to be 400 lbs and I had only trained with the 350 lb tire at the gym. I let myself down on this event. I let myself get psyched out. I don’t think I would have been able to move it as far as Nicole did, but I should have been able to do a couple more flips.

Fire Truck Pull, 9200 lbs: Very disappointed. The only reason I wanted to do this event was to pull this truck.

Overall, I’m very proud of what I accomplished in the two months I had to train for this thing. I’m pretty sure I was the oldest competitor out there. I don’t know for sure, but you look at the faces – do you see any other 50-somethings?

And, based on how my brain as been chewing on this since, I think I might do it again.

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Filed under Competing, Strong Woman Training, Videos

My Strong Woman Competition Video


I’m sorting out my thoughts.  More to come…

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Filed under Competing, Strong Woman Training, Videos

On Aging…

It doesn’t happen often, but there are days like today when I feel old.

It’s not something that I think about very much.  I’m usually focused on the tasks of the day.

But then something happens or something is said that pushes me out of my present and I see my life in total.  I see where it might be going.  I get a little panicked by the thought…

“Is this all there is?”

I was born 51 years and 7 months ago today.  Middle-aged.  Likely more like two-thirds aged.

I work with young people all day.  Teenagers at work.  Colleagues that are younger.  The other trainers I work with at my second job are a lot younger.  It’s weird and a little insulting to be lectured to by people who discount life experience and an 18 year career as a teacher.  (FYI – teaching high school math has a skill set that translates very well to personal training.)  Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot, A LOT, that I want to learn.  But I’m not without a clue.

And in the fitness side of my life, one’s appearance has more importance than it deserves.  Too many young people are trying to find fulfillment chasing things that don’t matter.   The preoccupation with youth and sexual attractiveness was front and center all day online and in conversations.

I can imagine that many of you are reading this thinking that it is very odd that I’m writing about this because I made this transformation.  Maybe you think I get this kind of attention?  I’d be shocked if you thought I did.  I don’t.  I don’t want it, either. I also don’t react very well to the “for your age” kind of compliments.

And normally I don’t feel like this.  But for some reason today, I’m feeling a little less… empowered… than normal. Maybe it’s because my gray roots are just a little too visible and I can’t get in to have them colored for another month.  Or maybe it’s that the skin on my face and elsewhere is a little droopy.  It’s probably a menopause mood swing she types shaking her head and rolling her eyes thinking yeah that’s probably it.  When can a girl get a break here?  PMS and then menopause?  

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.  I’m not particularly proud or ashamed of my age – it’s just a fact that I’ve been alive 18,629 days.  JFK was president when I was born.  In fact, he had a press conference on that day.  My birth was not discussed. 😉


Maybe the weird sadness I’m feeling is just a disconnect between how I see myself, how I feel, and how I interpret how people have been relating to me lately.  But honestly, by just the numbers, I could easily be the mother (or even grandmother) of most people I interact with these days.

A whole lot of my followers are older than I am.  I hope you understand that this is just a weird day.  You’ve probably had them yourself.  I’m sure some are analyzing now – don’t bother.  I’m not denying a little “mid-life crisis”, “aging un-gracefully”, or “fear of death” action going on in my head.  It’s just weird that I’m not shaking it off as quickly today as I usually do.

I did pay the entry fee to play strong woman next Saturday.  I’m not particularly thrilled with the idea that I have to cut weight this week to make the “under 145 lbs” class.  I weighed 146 this morning first thing, so assuming issues with different scales, I should try to drop around 5 pounds.  That just annoys me.  Cutting water is not super fun.

OK – that’s all the self-absorbed whining I can tolerate tonight.


Filed under Life, Opinions, Venting, Ranting, Strong Woman Training

Training Update

The strongman competition is a week from tomorrow.  I don’t know if I’m ready, but I know I just about done getting ready.

Ready or not, here I come!

I need to register for the event tomorrow.  I will have to cut a few pounds over the next week to be able to compete in the lower weight class.  A small water cut will do it.  The cut off weight is 145.  I weighed 146 lbs this morning when I woke up and weighed myself at home first thing.  I have to assume a few pounds difference between home and scale at the gym.

My training has been really “off” for the couple weeks.  Actually, it’s been slightly off since school started, but kind of fell apart last week because I had a stomach flu and the dental procedure.  Got an email from my bank notifying me that my debit card number had been “compromised” and that they were sending a new card.  And then they suspended my current card 10 days sooner than they said they were going to.  I found out about their mistake while at the grocery store on Saturday – after the bank had closed.  So I drove home, called, and had it fixed, but it screwed up my grocery shopping/food prep timing for the weekend.  And somehow, I forgot to do laundry.  So this week was tough to navigate.

I think I only worked out twice last week because I was sick.  Took two sick days.  This week, I had to deal with being out two days last week.  I had no lessons prepped and a lot of grading to do, so every morning, I had to get up earlier to get any kind of workout in and still have time to prepare lessons for the day.  Sleep deprivation became a  problem.

Oh well.  Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  I don’t really know what I’m doing anyway.  Circumstances are such that I haven’t been able to work with Coach in about a month.  Haven’t even talked to him about my program in about two or three weeks.  I’ll show up to this thing on the 21st and try to have as much fun as possible without getting hurt. The reason I wanted to train for it wasn’t to compete, but to gain strength and size.  I’ve done that.  Squat is up on a good day (ie, not sleep deprived) and I tested my deadlift this morning.  It’s 23 pounds over my previous PR.  My shoulders have to be bigger – this training is so shoulder and  posterior dominant.   About two weeks ago, I did a little chest work just to see how weak my pecs have become over the last 8 weeks of neglect.  They are good.  Not much change.

I hate these “transition” times in my training when I am about to finish a phase and need to start a new one.  I don’t have a plan.  I know I’m burnt out.  One might think I need a rest week, but I honestly haven’t been working that hard for the last couple of weeks.  I don’t think it’s my body that needs a rest.  My mind does.  This training sucked the joy out of lifting for me.  Gym drama has sucked the joy out of lifting at that location, too.  I have access to other places, so I will probably start working out elsewhere for a change of scenery.

But I am not done.  No sir.  This deadlift form needs improvement.  This was fun, though.

I don’t have my next bodybuilding show picked out.  I go back and forth between wanting to pick a show and deciding to wait another year.

I do have plenty to do.


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Life, My Lifting Log, Strong Woman Training