Why women should walk away from the stair stepper and pick up some weights

Why women should walk away from the stair stepper and pick up some weights

How many times have you seen or heard something like “women should not lift heavy or they will get bulky and look like a man!”

Since about the 70’s or 80’s we have been told that women will get big and bulky if they even look at a heavy weight and they should be focusing on having boring long bouts of being on the elliptical or doing 1000 body-weight squats to get “toned”.

Unfortunately, this is one of those fitness myths that will just NOT GO AWAY. For many years science has known that lifting weights is just as beneficial for women as it is for men when it comes to having a strong, healthy, and capable body.  So I am here to tell you why you should get off that stair stepper and lift some weights instead!

First we are going to start with why “toning” is not an actual thing for anyone. When I hear that someone wants to “tone up”, what they actually are telling me is that they would like to lose body fat so their muscles look more defined. We are not “toning” anything but rather trying to take body fat off of certain areas to have a better aesthetic look.

The thing is, the human body prefers to do 1 of 2 things, either focus on building muscle while minimizing fat gain or lose body fat while trying to hold on to as much muscle as possible but there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you are brand new to resistance training or have not had a consistent program in over a year, your body is in a prime state for the first month or two to build muscle, lose fat, and exponentially increase in strength at the same time. Unless you are in this “beginner” state or taking performance enhancing supplements, the body really can’t do two things at one time.

So when thinking about what you want your goals to be, assess where your body is starting at. If you don’t have a lot of fat or muscle on your body, think about trying to build some muscle first so that you will be stronger and have more muscle when you decide to take some fat off. Or if there is a lot of fat to lose, spend some time on that and then build some muscle.

One of my biggest problems I have with the “big and bulky” myth is that it makes it sound that if women do anything under 12 reps they will immediately blow up and look manly. What that doesn’t take into consideration is actual science.  For the most part men and women have the same bodily response to lifting weights. If the body is put under stress (by lifting weights) it will need to adapt and get stronger.

The one big difference is that women don’t have the hormones and anatomy to get big and bulky like men can. Both men and women have testosterone that their body produces but a healthy man has about 20 times the amount of testosterone a healthy woman does. This means that even if a woman wanted to get big and bulky like a man, their body would not have the capability to do so without drugs. So don’t worry about getting “to big” when it comes to building muscle because it’s near impossible!

Another thing this myth implies is that women have to lift super light weights and focus on “feeling the burn”. Feeling the burn usually means doing crazy amount of high reps which science has shown is one of the least effective ways to build muscle. Unless you are an endurance athlete, doing 20+ reps of every exercise can actually be detrimental to your goals. The body has little need to adapt and become better when the resistance is to light or there are too many reps. Whether you are looking to shed some body fat or build some muscle, it’s important to have a resistance training program that incorporates some days of moderate-heavy lifting which would be performing sets of less than 10 reps with challenging resistance.

Going with moderate to heavy resistance has numerous benefits when compared to light resistance such as:

  1. You will get stronger in a shorter period of time
  2. More strength means more gains in the amount of muscle you will have
  3. The body will hold on to more muscle if trying to lose fat
  4. Stronger bones and ligaments
  5. Less difficulty with daily activities that require more strength

So what should you be doing with your workouts in order to see the greatest benefits? Here are a few tips.

  1. At least 1-2 days a week of moderate to heavy resistance training
  2. 5-10 repetitions for 3-4 sets with challenging resistance will elicit better strength results
  3. Choose exercises that work more than one muscle group (squats, deadlifts, push up, rows etc.)
  4. Don’t sacrifice proper form to try to get a few more reps, this will increase the likelihood of injury
  5. Heavier resistance requires more recovery so spend 1-3 minutes recovering between sets.


So next time you’re thinking about hopping on the elliptical or Stairmaster for the fifth day in a row, try this full body strength workout that you will definitely feel afterwards!

Perform two exercises one right after the other, taking a break between sets. Finish the number of sets and move to the next 2 exercises

Exercise Repetitions Sets
Push Ups 8-10 reps 3-4 sets
Goblet Front Squat 8 reps 3-4 sets
DB Single Row 8-10 reps 3-4 sets
DB Deadlift 8 reps 3-4 sets
Standing Shoulder Press 8 reps 3-4 sets
Leg lift to toe reach 12 rep 3-4 sets


Instead of jumping on a piece of cardio equipment to get “toned”, grab some weights and increase your lean muscle without fear of getting bulky.

6 Simple Tips to Stay Fit on Vacation

6 Simple Tips to Stay Fit on Vacation

Taking time off for vacation is a healthy thing.  Let’s keep it that way. Many will scream, “but hey this is vacation” and they will proceed to wreck their body, intended or not. However, many will come back from vacation looking and feeling better than ever because that was their intention. I assume that since you are reading this your intention is to stay fit on vacation or weight loss on vacation.  So set your goal and follow through with these six simple stay fit on vacation and weight loss strategies on vacation.



  1. Set Your Goal – Stay fit on vacation or achieve weight loss on vacation.
  2. Pack Your Supplements – You will need your favorite protein bars, shakes, nuts, supplements, and vitamins.
  3. Workout gear – Pack at least one set of workout clothes and running or cross-training shoes.



Timing – Continue to eat every three to four hours and don’t skip meals.

Calculate Time -You will be eating out often so it is important to remember your timing when traveling to each restaurant and you may also encounter lines to be seated. Also calculate the time from when you sit down and order until your food arrives at your table.  Normally I would plan to be on my way to the restaurant up to an hour in advance.

Special Ordering – In order to get what you need and not what you don’t need then it will be important to tell your waiter or waitress specifics such as things to put on the side and ask questions about how things are cooked i.e. grilled or fried, steamed or sautéed and make substitutions such as steamed vegetables for rice pilaf or salad instead or mashed potatoes. Prepare to spend a little extra for substitutions, but you are worth it.

What kinds of foods – If you are at a tropical location then go for fish and vegetables. If you are not at a tropical location then stick to lean sources of protein and order vegetables or salad with it.  Grilled chicken on salads is always a simple go-to meal at most restaurants.

Don’t eat the rolls and send back the chips or at least push them away from your reach.

Portion Sizes and leftovers – If you wouldn’t eat that much at home then don’t do it now! Leave the leftovers behind and remember it’s not waste – it’s waist!

Dessert – It’s vacation I know, but if you are going to eat dessert then just skip dinner.

Keep some protein bars or shakes with you for when it is inconvenient to sit down for a meal or when a meal is delayed.

Feeling deprived or empowered?

It’s all in what you tell yourself.  If you tell yourself you are being deprived, well then, you are and you will not enjoy yourself.  If you tell yourself that you are empowered by your solid vacation food choices then you will feel like a million bucks!



Avoid alcohol.

Remember your new healthy lifestyle.  Gulping down drink after drink doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle.  Stay committed to looking and feeling great.

If you do drink:  Weight loss ends and weight gain begins!

The damage you may do is not so easily undone when you get back so…

Choose simple cocktails that are clear such as vodka soda (not tonic) or a White Wine Spritzer vs. foofoo drinks such as Margaritas or Pina Colada’s.

  • Vodka Soda – 64 calories 1 oz. shot of most common vodkas and 3-4 drinks can be 192-256 calories.
  • Margarita – 500-plus calories and more than 60 grams of sugar.
  • Pina Colada – 450 to 650 calories think coconut cream fat and up to 90 grams of sugar.


EXERCISE– of course you are going to exercise!

How often?

Goal:  Weight Loss – Every day 30 – 60 minute workouts.

Goal:  Maintain weight – Every other day 30 – 60 minute workouts.

What kind of exercise?

The simplest form of exercise on vacation is to run, jog, or brisk walks depending on your current fitness and conditioning level.  You can just put on your gear and run out the door in minutes whatever time of day it is.  It’s also a great way to see the local scene whether it be the beach or downtown Denver.  If you prefer a treadmill and the place you are staying at has one then use it.

Since your goal is staying fit then cardio is king on this trip. So keep it simple and leave the weights for when you get back home.


FRIENDS, family, significant other, spouse

Some may be supportive and that’s great.  WooHoo!

Some may give you some resistance and who knows maybe use the “selfish” word.  What they really mean is that either you are going to make them feel guilty by taking care of yourself while they indulge and use vacation as an excuse or maybe they sincerely feel that they aren’t going to get to enjoy your company and that your new found love of exercise is going to take over their vacation.

Either way, if you take a calm moment to help them understand it is important to you to keep up your routine and that it will help you enjoy your vacation even more with them, rather than announce “I’m out of here “slackers” while tying your sneakers and running out the door.  You will likely be more able to enjoy your workout and their company when you return.

Alternatively, you could offer to them that they can do it with you and who knows, maybe it could be the start of sharing healthy habits that could go home with you or it could possibly lead to a really lousy workout full of whining and moaning and later altercations.  Definitely a risky move, but hey it’s your call.



Stay in a rental house or condo instead of a hotel.

You can do some shopping to stock the fridge and get exactly what you need as soon as you land at or drive into your destination city.

You can make sandwiches or wraps and pack them for when you are on-the-go.

You can cook when it is convenient and when it’s time for you to eat. This actually is great for saving money too!

Your first meal breakfast is in the bag!  On time and just the right calories. Breakfast can either start you on the way to your goals or derail you completely for the day so waking up and eating within an hour will be pivotal in your goal of losing weight or maintaining weight while on vacation.

You know that every meal you eat at your rental should be right on target for your calories because you know all the ingredients.


With a little preparation and the right mindset you can have fun and stay fit on vacation.

10 Ways to Measure Weight Loss – Don’t Become a Slave to the Scale

10 Ways to Measure Weight Loss – Don’t Become a Slave to the Scale

10 Ways to Measure Weight Loss So You Don’t Become a Slave to the Scale

You’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to start a new fitness plan. For the majority of clients who begin training here at Shape Plus, the #1 goal at the top of many people’s list is weight loss.

Whether someone is looking to lose 5 lbs or 50, the number on the scale is often the focus each week. For clients who strictly adhere to our program, the question is not if, but WHEN they will eventually reach their weight loss goal; however, what happens when the number on the scale doesn’t move as quickly as you would like it to (or what if the weight loss stops)?

There potentially are a number of reasons why your progress slows on the scale, but a weekly weigh-in is simply ONE way to track your fitness journey. Here are 10 VERY significant signs of personal progress which do not include a scale.

  1. You become more in-tune with your body

    You feel better, even great after working out. Your energy level has increased and your overall outlook and attitude toward fitness is more positive. Many people even claim that their craving for junk food has gone down, and they also become aware of how their bodies respond to HEALTHY eating (Not dieting!).

  2. You can tackle everyday tasks

    Things like getting in & out of the car, walking or hiking, playing with your children or grandchildren, suddenly are effortless. All of these are deemed extremely important because it is REAL life.

  3. Your clothes fit differently/better

    Your skinny jeans, old suit, or bikini for the beach are all definite ways to see how far your body has come. The size of your fingers can even change, and we have many clients who can get back to wearing their wedding rings again!

  4. Your sleep patterns improve

    Unless you have a gnarly caffeine habit or some serious underlying sleep disorder, daily rest and recovery is positively affected by clean eating and regular exercise. In short, clients often say they “sleep like a baby” the night following a workout. And who doesn’t love a good night’s rest?

  5. You are in better control of your nutrition

    You feel empowered when you are not intimidated by food choices. Whether it’s a date night, business trip, or a Broncos game, you know that you have the knowledge to make the best possible choice in every situation.

  6. You look different/great in pictures

    With all selfie and filter jokes aside, photos are a very effective way to measure your progress. The majority of clients who train with us for a while can hardly believe the difference once they see their starting pictures. Pictures don’t lie!

  7. Your Measurements have changed

    Many people have drastic changes in their waist-to-hip ratio, as well as decreased body fat. These types of improvements greatly affect the way that you “look”, and is also a good indicator of what’s going on INSIDE of your body.

  8. Your overall strength/power has improved

    Setting PRs on your Bench Press or Deadlift, improved cardiovascular endurance, increased speed & agility are all very important when it comes to your training program. This also includes sports specific improvements which are too many to name.

  9. You’ve met personal goals

    It is always great to scratch those accomplishments off the list. Whether it’s hiking a 14er, trying out for Roller Derby, or entering your  first Triathlon, consistent focus & reaching your goals helps build self-assurance. You trust in yourself, and you are confident that what you are doing is working. And gosh darn it, confidence is SEXY!

  10. Your overall health has improved

    I saved this one for last because it is MOST important. In regards to personal fitness, the greatest compliment that you can get is from your Physician. Improvements in blood pressure/blood glucose numbers, perfect triglyceride levels….nothing is more important than an excellent report card from the Doctor. Bone density, flexibility, balance, fertility, and even chronic pain issues are often improved when you start taking care of your body.

None of the above can be measured by standing on a scale, and remember to utilize these tools when monitoring your progress!

Before you invest in Home Gym Equipment

Before you invest in Home Gym Equipment

With the fitness and health industries booming, people in Denver are trying to find more convenient and cost-effective ways to stay fit. Should I get a personal trainer? I could sign up for a general membership at a local gym… or just get some home gym equipment & work out at home. The possibilities are endless, which makes the decision-making process quite difficult. Here are some things to consider before you invest in home gym equipment.

While many people are self-disciplined and can get the job of working out done on their own, there is a vast majority of individuals who can barely show up to a 24hr gym even after a ridiculous chunk of money is sucked from their bank accounts month after month.

For some people, hiring/keeping a personal trainer may seem “too expensive”, so the most logical solution to that would be working out at home.

On average, each American household spends approximately $130 on sports & exercise equipment each year (this includes treadmills, exercise bikes, bands, foam rollers, exercise balls, etc.). A multipurpose gym station or single piece of (quality) cardio equipment can range anywhere from $600-$5000 dollars.

If you make this one-time investment, then your home workouts will save you loads of cash, right?

WRONG! Actual Data from Consumer Reports indicates that nearly 40% of home gym equipment is never used–even on their date of purchase and the purchasers didn’t even feel confident that they would actually use it.

Here are the three main reasons why you should NOT go the home gym equipment route

  1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – While it may seem like a good idea, initially, it can be difficult to create the ideal area in your home to workout.

    This is especially true for anyone who lives in an apartment or town home. You realize that there is not adequate space for the enormous Concept2 rower, or you can’t jump around too much (with Shaun T’s Insanity video) because it will wake your neighbors. Not to mention your couch looks so appealing halfway through the workout. After a while, that workout equipment in your home turns into this expensive, space-sucking laundry rack, which eventually ends up on Craigslist as “Pristine Condition, Like New, Hardly Used”.

    I know this as fact by personal experience, as I picked up a spin bike on Craigslist for only $60 bucks by someone else who NEVER used it.

    Save yourself the torture of running inside your basement like a hamster on a wheel. Buy a nice pair of running shoes or a REAL bike & get outside!!! Not only will you benefit from time well-spent in nature, but you can save that space in your home for a quiet, comfy well deserved Lazy-Boy.

  2. LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE – When you see people moving, it will make YOU want to move. When you are with people who are working hard in the gym, it is inspiring & motivating.

    As a Personal Trainer, I have heard every excuse in the book as to why people “can’t workout”, even when they have access to equipment right in their home. (My favorite being, “I had to shovel dog poop”).

    Fact of the matter is, it’s quite difficult or nearly impossible to stay motivated when there is no energy/movement around you. And the proof is in the pudding. That very same spin bike that I used six months ago for rehab after ACL reconstruction is currently sitting in my office/guest room. Why, you ask? Because, it’s far more FUN to share a tortuous cardio-fest at the gym with other people who are working out just as hard as you are.

    When you are training at the gym, you can focus on the task at hand with no possibility of interruptions. For me, that means I do not have to contemplate the decision-making process between completing 40 minutes of cardio or Mani-Pedi time with my daughter. Time spent with your children is priceless, and you shouldn’t have to choose.

  3. RESULTS – This one is the most obvious. The number one thing I hear from returning clients is “I do OK on my own but the workouts at home are not as effective because you push me much harder than I would ever push myself.

    “Whenever there is any question of intensity regarding workouts, the end result will simply not be the same. Most people will instinctively try to stop during the most intense part of their workouts, and that’s why it always pays to have someone there who really challenges you.

As personal trainers, it is our JOB to push our clients to a point where they would never push themselves, and from a training perspective, THAT is where the magic happens.

High quality, effective training yields the best results, and that is what we are all working toward. The cost of hiring a personal trainer is always an important consideration, and many people feel that having home gym equipment will save them tons of cash. Just keep in mind that treadmill in your basement will not ask to see your food journal…Choose wisely!

6 Tips to Stay Fit at Thanksgiving

6 Tips to Stay Fit at Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! A time for humble thankfulness, but for some it is the great overindulging, spending time with people who may make you want to stuff your feelings with food and alcohol holiday!

Thanksgiving is a happy time, but it can also be stressful.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, we will have lots of laughs, but at times I want to strangle them especially when they start nagging or what we now call “Fitness Shaming” about my lack of pigging out on all the goodies at the table like they are. Just like anyone else, it would be easy for me to just start eating a lot of junk and possibly drink too much alcohol to stuff those feelings or appease those around me during this holiday.

Here are 6 tips I have developed to stay fit at Thanksgiving! (more…)