Muscle Makes You Smaller: Why Women Need Strength Training

pauline-nordin-coralville personal training
Forget your worries about “bulking up” ladies. Pauline Nordin. Built like a beast. Weighs only 115 pounds.

When you compare the same amount of weight in muscle and in fat, muscle is 22% smaller. That is, if you’re fat and you build muscle without losing a pound, you will still be 22% smaller.

Despite website-after-website busting the myth of women “bulking up” from lifting, I still talk to women worrying they’ll get “big.” They’re already big…from fat. Strength training will make them smaller even if they don’t lose a pound.

Gaining size from engaging in body-building (i.e. high volume) work outs will only happen if you increase your carbs, and significant size will only happen if you have considerable (i.e. males or supplemental) testosterone.

Damn, but I wish I COULD pack on the size! I’m tiny, reminded of it more every day as I’ve dropped weight and gained strength through keto and strength training. This summer, I’m engaging in a 12-week body-building program — German Volume Training — and encouraging clients to join me. I’m hoping to get bigger shoulders and chest, but more likely, I’ll simply get even smaller.

The photograph posted above is Pauline Nordin, a woman I’ve idolized for years. She’s tough, no-nonsense, and strong. Look at those muscles! And she’s only 115 pounds. What does she do to get that way? All those traditional heavy lifts: deadlifts, squats, bench press — and she challenges herself regularly to INCREASE THE WEIGHT.

About Pauline: is the creator of the fat loss system Fighter Diet. Pauline was a coach for the Nordic version of “The Biggest Loser,” where she led her team to victory. She is also the star/creator of “The Butt Bible” by NBC/Universal, a workout video that will beat any backside into shape.

Primal Lifestyle Coaching Now Available

WOMANSTRONG-FLORAL-TEE-SLEEVETeresa created WOMANSTRONG, a program to guide you to change your life…for good. WOMANSTRONG is not a “diet,” “reboot,” or “fix.” It is a lifestyle. You’ll learn and practice better exercise and nutrition based on Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint and other Primal lifestyle principles.

WOMANSTRONG is for you if you would like to pursue a low-carbohydrate high-fat way of eating (LCHF, Paleo, Primal, Keto, or Carnivore) with coaching and/or personal training sessions focused on evolving into a leaner, stronger, more energetic woman.

Call/text Teresa for more information or to set up a free consultation.

The WOMANSTRONG Philosophy


The philosophy of WOMANSTRONG is Teresa’s philosophy:

Your Health is More Important Than Your Family’s Comfort: No matter what age or how many children you have, you do not need to keep junk food in your house. Ever. Your family does not need to join your lifestyle, but they must support it by keeping YOUR trigger foods — whatever it is — out of your cupboards and refrigerator. If you aren’t triggered by the food they want, then let your kitchen overflow with them. However, anything you don’t want to eat but you do eat, must go. Period. Do not set up circumstances for sabotage. Your spouse can eat junk at work and take your kids out for a treat after a good dinner. This is nonnegotiable.

Good-Better-Best: Avoid the bad, do the good, work toward the best, and never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Good=whole OR local OR organic OR pastured. Best=Whole AND local AND organic AND pastured.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Change takes time. Breaking old, and creating new, habits takes time. Leave mistakes behind and live in the moment. Each moment offers a chance to make a better decision.

Head Down, Plowing Forward: It likely took you years of a consistent lifestyle to get fat; it will take you years of a consistent lifestyle to get lean. However, you will see improvement in health markers and energy quickly.

Never Go Hungry: Hunger is not just uncomfortable and self-defeating; it’s unhealthy. It causes a rise in stress hormones that lead to weight gain and inflammation. If you’re hungry, eat, but eat food. Meat makes a great dessert. Keep beef sticks and nuts with you at all times to avoid a snack attack. If you ever think drive-through or a vending machine is a good idea, you are not eating the right food at your meals.

Trust Your Body Not Your Brain: The stuff you’re probably calling “food” is responding to your brain’s pleasure center not addressing your hunger center. Whatever it is, however healthy you think of it, if a food doesn’t make you full for a few hours after you eat it, it is a drug to you, not a food. Remove it from your diet. This will often include fruits and dairy for people not feeling or seeing the results they expect.



WOMANSTRONG-FLORAL-TEE-SLEEVEpersonal-training-for-primal-women-coralville-iowaAs a TRAINING CLIENT, you will work out both 1-1 and in small groups at the Studio. You’ll receive lifestyle coaching, where we track food and discuss the Primal philosophy. We will communicate in person, online, or through voice/text. You will be required to track your food intake (only general amounts and ingredients required) and deliver written copies each day through email. You will be required to sign a food & activity pledge that we will revisit monthly. You’ll receive Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint book, a month’s worth of Primal Fuel, Primal “Cheat Sheet” Brochure, and WOMANSTRONG swag.

As a LIFESTYLE CLIENT, you will work out at home. You’ll receive lifestyle coaching, where we track food and discuss the Primal philosophy. We will communicate in person, online, or through voice/text. You will be required to track your food intake (only general amounts and ingredients required) and deliver written copies each day through email. You will be required to sign a food & activity pledge that we will revisit monthly. You’ll receive Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint book, Primal “Cheat Sheet” Brochure, home work outs created especially for your abilities and for the equipment you have, and WOMANSTRONG swag.

Call/text Teresa for more information or to set up a free consultation.


Join on the Prices & Schedules Page

Why Carbohydrates Are A Drug Not a Food

No_carbsOne of the best things I’ve read/seen on carbohydrate addiction came from a man who is a bariatric surgeon, Dr Robert Cywes ( He’s not famous. Hasn’t written anything. But he has done over 5500 bariatric surgeries, including children, and gave a talk at the LCHF Convention in South Africa in February 2016. His talk is behind a paywall — which I highly recommend paying for. Here are the takeaways:

  • Addiction occurs when a harm is ignored.
  • No addiction is treated through reduction.
  • Protein, fat, water, micronutrients, all the things our bodies need from a nutritional perspective have no endorphin realising capacity but carbohydrates and all sugars and starches, no matter what form they take when the go in this hole (points to mouth) they all get us high.
  • It’s impossible to get fat from eating fat and protein unless you put a tube down your nose and pour it in all the time because homeostatically, no matter how much fat and protein you try to eat your body will shut you down when you have had enough. But carbohydrates are not controlled because they activate the endorphin center not the hunger center, and therefore you can eat endless amounts of carbohydrates.
  • Obesity is not a weight problem. Obesity is not a calorie problem. Obesity is not a lack of physical activity problem. Diet and exercise programs only work very transiently. Obesity is a substance abuse problem.
  • Seventy to ninety percent of the total calories consumed by an obese person are in the form, in some form of, carbohydrate; seventy to ninety percent, remember we need zero. So, when you are eating that degree of carbohydrate not only are you getting too much carbohydrate but you are also missing out all the other stuff so guess what that’s called? Malnutrition. No fat person is healthy. At minimum they are malnourished.
  • 40% of the population is vulnerable to addiction. 100 years ago they were addicted to alcohol. Prohibition and ostracism and education reduced that. 60 years ago they were addicted to cigarettes. Ostracism and removal of convenience and cost have reduced that. Now they are addicted to carbohydrates. Smokers started at 12, but carb addicts now start at 4 years old.
  • You eat once or twice a day for hunger – but when you are dealing with endorphins, that endorphin system needs to be activated twenty to thirty times a day, so the average fat person puts stuff in their face twenty to thirty times a day — a piece of candy, a sip of soda, it all adds up to a high frequency.
  • We have to treat obese people from an addiction perspective where you don’t have access, so when you are having a vulnerable moment you do not have ready access to your drug of choice,
  • There is vested financial interest in keeping carbs easy and cheap, so this is why they talk about reduction, control, portion, and calories rather than complete removal.

You can read excerpts at my Ketoholic Blog.

Visit the LCHF Convention Site for excellent talks from the world’s experts. Most of it is behind a paywall, and I can tell you it is worth the price.

Summer Prep – Assessments, Body Measures, Max Lifts

gvt-coralville-iowa-personal-trainingSaturday, May 21, 2016 10am-12
May 28, 2016 10am-12

The next two Saturdays, May 21st and May 28th, we’ll be having fitness assessments, determining maximum lifts, and measuring girths for New Moon clients.

gvt-coralville-iowa-personal-trainingIf you’re a personal training or group client and would like any of the following assessments, drop into the studio between 10am – 12pm either day. When doing max lifts, we’ll split them across both weekends or during your regular personal training session.

  • 3-Minute Step test
  • Push Up Test
  • Sit Up Test
  • Sit & Reach (flexibility)
  • Girths of – Chest, Waist, Hip, Thigh, Upper Arm, Neck
  • 5-Rep Max of – Bench Press, Deadlift, Back Squat, Bent Row

Maximum lifts for German Volume Training clients is required before you can start this program in June.

Please text ahead to Teresa if you’re coming either day 319-325-4000.


Add Lean Body Mass This Summer – German Volume Training

personal training coralvile iowaYou have only two weeks to prepare! This is a summer-long program meant to add pounds of lean muscle mass by August!

Starting the first week in June, New Moon Fitness will be offering a 12-week group training program. German Volume Training (GVT) is a hypertrophy program aimed at increasing lean muscle mass by focusing on heavy weight and a high number of lifts.

This is a sample GVT work out

Like other body-building routines, you’ll need to do the program in splits. This is to allow yourself enough time to get the volume you need. Our split will be 3 days covering chest/back, legs/abs, arms/shoulders.

A GVT work out has few exercises. You’ll do 4 exercises each session focused on two body parts. The first two exercises are a superset of 10 sets and 10 reps each. The final two are 3 sets of 10 reps each. The goal is to overload muscle groups with one exercise enough that it will take 5-7 days to recover that group. GVT provides simple but intense work outs, old school style. GVT is meant for growth not strictly strength like our full-body 5×5 work outs.

To accommodate more schedules, we’ve expanded our strength training sessions. Beginning in June, we will offer 5 strength training sessions each week:

  • Tuesday 5:30am and 5:15pm
  • Wednesday 5:15pm
  • Thursday 5:30am
  • Saturday 11am

These are our strength group times. For those who would like to continue general strength training or can’t commit to 3 days/week, you will have full-body 5×5 work outs provided each session. For those who choose to join the GVT, you will have GVT work outs provided. Teresa will be available to assist and instruct during every session.

In addition, for those committing to GVT, we’ll need to set your max lifts on five different exercises the week before you begin. Contact Teresa 319-325-4000 for more information about this program and for questions.

Personal training clients can have their session cover the area they may have missed that week, or they can elect to have a metabolic training session.

This program is offered free to our personal training and unlimited group-only member clients.

New Early Morning Strength Group

Teresa is offering a new early morning work out. Stength Squad at 5:30am. You read that right. If you need to get your workout in early or you prefer it, we offer the small group Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-6:30, with most work outs aimed at getting you out the door at 6:15.

Strength Squad is focused on strength, power, and size and uses a variety of equipment: Dumbbells, studio bars, Olympic weights, BOSU, body weight, tubes, bands, and more.

Text Teresa to schedule a consultation for personal training, which includes unlimited group drop ins, or for the group-only membership.

Split Your Minute for the Perfect HIIT

Download the Frequent 5 PDF

Simple is what I like. Too often, I run across work outs shared by trainers that have funky moves that require me to learn them before I can get a good work out from them. On the other hand, a simpler work out won’t often let me progress (or modify if I’m not sharp that day). I like to be in charge of my work out on my day, and I hate wasting my time. I want it good every time!

HIIT Variety

One technique I use a lot with my HIIT groups is a 5-exercise work out varied by time. Easy to remember and follow. Easy to adjust. The interval makes all the difference.

My Frequent 5 is a set of five, often body weight, exercises done in three circuits. If most of the members are coming off a tough strength day, I may modify the time. If I feel we need a kick in the glutes, I’ll progress it. Here’s how:

Perform a circuit of 5 compound exercises with 1 minute rest between each circuit. The amount of exercise may seem small, but these circuits are to be done AS FAST AS YOU CAN WITH GOOD FORM. The recovery interval (can be rest or low-intensity movement like step ups) should NOT be so long that you completely recover before the next exercise.

Split your minute!

  1. 60/0 – 15 minutes of exercise 2 minutes rest RARE CHALLENGE FOR THE CONDITIONED
  2. 50/10 – 12.5 minutes of exercise 4.5 minutes rest OCCASIONAL CHALLENGE FOR THE CONDITIONED
  3. 45/15 – 11.25 minutes of exercise 5.75 minutes rest FREQUENT INTERVAL FOR THE CONDITIONED
  4. 40/20 – 10 minutes of exercise 7 minutes rest BASE INTERVAL FOR THE CONDITIONED
  5. 30/30 – 7.5 minutes of exercise 9.5 minutes rest STARTING PLACE FOR BEGINNERS OR A RECOVERY DAY
  6. 20/40 – 5 minutes of exercise 12 minutes rest FOR THE DECONDITIONED
  7. 10/50 – 2.5 minutes of exercise 14.5 minutes rest FOR THE DECONDITIONED

You’ll absolutely need an interval timer. Don’t think you’ll track a second-hand or digits on a clock. Too easy to cheat or lose track. You’ll need that beep to push you. You can find free or inexpensive ones for your phone or desktop.

Easy methods of progression for this work out include:

  • increasing the work/rest ratio (as shown above)
  • decreasing or dropping the rest minute between circuits
  • adding weight or exercises that require weight into the mix

When selecting exercises, be sure to include all muscle groups and compound movements (no bicep curls, for example–leave those for strength day). It’s a good idea to alternate body parts: an upper body exercise followed by lower. This allows muscles to rest so you get better execution.

Example Frequent 5s

  • mountain climber
  • push up
  • vertical jump
  • frog sit up
  • squat
  • SDHP
  • spiderman push up
  • squat jump
  • bicycle crunch
  • pull down/pull up
  • goblet squat
  • russian twist
  • thrusters
  • butterfly sit ups
  • box jump

Progress or modify

mountain climber: progress faster, modify slower or hold plank

push up: progress plyo push up, modify incline or knee push up

spiderman push up: progress plyo push up, modify push up

vertical jump: progress faster, modify squat

frog sit ups: progress faster, modify butterfly sit ups

squat: progress squat jump, modify balance bar

squat jumps: progress faster or box jump, modify squat

burpee: progress add push up, modify step out, incline, or not jump

thrusters: progress add weight (do not speed up), modify drop weight

box jump: progress add height (do not speed up), modify lower height or box step up

The Kicker

To finish off whatever you have left, add a short kicker. Make this a 10-25 rep or a 2 minute set of a compound exercise, like burpees or man makers.


Nobody Cares – One-Arm Supine Rows

Nobody cares…

Had a great work out with the Saturday squad doing a 5×5 with that new favorite exercise of mine,  a One-Arm Supine Row.

Essentially, it’s a rope climb. Putting it in the rotation weekly now. Oh yes, everyone dreads it. That means it’s gooood.

You’re horizontal, with bent knees, directly under the suspension (TRX). Pull your arm to lift your body and reach your other hand toward the ceiling. Modifications are the regular two-arm supine row and/or moving to more of a incline rather than flat/horizontal.

View the Strength Squad 5/5×5 J

You’ll feel it for a week the first time you do it. Its a back-builder and arm strengthener, one of the best compound strength exercises I’ve ever done.

So everyone had to do it, which meant no one felt sorry for me when I was dead on the floor, as the photo shows. Pick yourself up. Results not excuses!


Muscle Pain, Exercise, and Mindfulness

At some time, you’ve probably had lower back, upper back, elbow, or neck soreness that lasts long beyond one or two workouts. I see this frequently in the Studio and have had clients ask me what they are doing that may be causing it.

First of all, you most likely ARE causing it. The good news is that tracking down the cause can be pretty easy. You simply need to be mindful of what your body is doing.

Exercise Techniques

Very common to exercise is lifting too heavy. When you lift weight that is really too heavy for you or when you’re doing too many reps and getting fatigued, your technique will fall apart and you’ll recruit muscles that aren’t necessary for the lift. We’ve all seen — or been — that person who swings our hips to get one more arm curl or contorts our face in a locked grimace to finish that one pull up.

Do these extra muscle contractions help the movement or hinder progress? There may be something said for the emotional boost, but biomechanically, they’re  waste of energy at best and dangerous at worst. In fact, I have one client who regularly gets toe cramps from doing bicep curls!

There are more subtle types of muscle recruitment that consistently cause chronic pain. The two I see most often are shoulder raises that pull in the trapezius and arm curls that pull in the forearm flexors.

Upper Back and Neck Pain

Don’t shrug like this when lifting the arms

When you perform an arm lift (lateral raise, front raise, upright row), you’re primary movers are the deltoids. These are the shoulder cap muscles. When the lift becomes tough, you’re likely going to tense your whole body, especially your upper trapezius, essentially shrugging your shoulders and tightening your neck. The trapezius is a large back muscle that controls upper, mid and lower back movements, but for your lifts, you do not want to include a shrug movement.

The deltoids lift the arm (raises). The upper trapezius lifts the shoulders (shrug). If you constantly recruit the traps for arm raises, you’re essentially overtraining them, so of course you’ll be sore, tight, and knotted in your upper back and neck. Being mindful during this exercise means relaxing your upper back and neck and focusing the work on the deltoids only.  Practice by standing in front of a mirror and raising your arms without moving the muscle around the neck. If you can’t lift a weight without recruiting this movement, lift lighter until you can.

Elbow Pain

A good bicep curl with no wrist flexion

When you perform an arm curl, your primary movers are the biceps. These are the “guns,” the muscle that pops out on your upper arm. When you struggle to raise a weight, you will tighten all your muscles, including your forearm by curling in your wrist, as well. During a bicep curl, your wrist doesn’t need to move. Only the elbow joint moves. If you’re always curling your wrist, too, you’re overtraining the forearm muscles and causing inflammation in the tendons that attach to the elbow joint.

Wrist flexion is proper to a wrist exercise not a bicep curl

Practice this by lifting a light dumbbell and keeping the wrist straight and unflexed. If you want to exercise your forearms for that popeye look, that’s an entirely different exercise. I suggest you separate it out as its own exercise, too, because then you will discover quickly how easily fatigued those small muscles get, which means you’ll stop before the inflammation sets in.

Lower Back Pain

Common problems with the  lower back arise in the Studio from the opposite of what I’ve been saying above. Too often, clients don’t tense when they should or simply can’t maintain the bracing of their core.

When lifting above your head, especially, you want to have a good athletic stance. By that I mean you feel balanced and in control: if someone were to push you, you could stabilize yourself and not fall over. To have that control, you need soft knees (not locked), a hip-wide stance (one foot under each iliac crest, which is that bony protrusion on each hip). Brace your core/stomach as if someone may hit you in the gut, and tighten your butt. Always a tight butt! It protects the lower back.

When you tire or lower the weight you’re lifting, you release your tension and that’s when your lower back has to fend for itself. Most of the time, it’s not devastating (like rupturing a disc), but the tiny muscles of the lower back suddenly have a lot of pressure put on them. Help out your lower back: always make your butt and abs carry the heavy load!

Pain Beyond Exercise

Besides maintaining mindfulness during exercise, you can help your body in other ways.

Sitting is unnatural. Our bodies aren’t made for it. They’re made for walking and standing and squatting. Prolonged sitting puts tremendous pressure n your lower back (the lumbar region). Help it out by providing lumbar support in the form of a firm pad in your desk chair, in your kitchen table chairs, on your couch, and in your car.

Additionally, when sitting at your desk, notice what your trapezius is doing. In other words, are you hunching or shrugging while simply sitting? Relax your shoulders and neck.

Your jaw? Is it clenched, your teeth grinding? You’ll probably be getting a headache soon.

Be mindful of what your body is doing to avoid overuse and strain!


It’s Not About Being Fat – Why Exercise Matters

presidents_physical_fitness_sportsYou may have read a post or heard me say that exercise is not about weight loss. I say that a lot because it is a common myth. If you have significant weight to lose, exercise — no matter how much — will not get you to your goal. Weight loss is about food and hormones. Exercise can aid in your weight loss indirectly, but the theory of calories-in-calories-out is a myth.

That doesn’t mean exercise is unimportant. Here is why it is VERY important.

Using an evidence-based approach, the landmark Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Exercise (1996) identified numerous chronic diseases and conditions whose risk increases among people lacking in exercise or physical activity.

The American College of Sports Medicne (ACSM) has also published guidelines and position statements.

It’s now accepted that exercise limits disability and improves outcomes for many diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular, skeletal muscle, and pulmonary diseases.

Diseases and Conditions Related to a Lack of Exercise include:

  • Cancer (breast, colon, prostate)
  • Cardiovascular disease (coronary artery, peripheral vascular, cerebral vascular)
  • Falling
  • Frailty
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Non-insulin dependent diabetes
  • Mood and mental health
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Overal mortality
  • Premature Mortality
  • Sarcopenia-related functional loss

The ASCM Position Paper on Exercise for Older Adults

View the entire statement here.

personal-training-coralville-ACSMAllianceWebIDAlthough no amount of physical activity can stop the biological aging process, there is evidence that regular exercise can minimize the physiological effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and increase active life expectancy by limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabling conditions. There is also emerging evidence for psychological and cognitive benefits accruing from regular exercise participation by older adults:

  • A combination of aerobic exercise training and resistance exercise training activities seems to be more effective than either form of training alone in counteracting the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the health and functioning of the cardiovascular system and skeletal muscles. < A VARIETY OF MODALITIES IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN DOING ONE KIND REGULARLY.
  • Although there are clear fitness, metabolic, and performance benefits associated with higher-intensity exercise training programs in healthy older adults, it is now evident that such programs do not need to be of high intensity to reduce the risks of developing chronic cardiovascular and metabolic disease. However, the outcome of treatment of some established diseases and geriatric syndromes is more effective with higher-intensity exercise (e.g., type 2 diabetes, clinical depression, osteopenia, sarcopenia, muscle weakness). < HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING IS FANTASTIC FOR SOME CONDITIONS BUT MODERATE-INTENSITY HELPS TOO.
  • The acute effects of a single session of aerobic exercise are relatively short-lived, and the chronic adaptations to repeated sessions of exercise are quickly lost upon cessation of training, even in regularly active older adults. < CONSISTENTLY TRAINING WEEK-AFTER-WEEK IS IMPORTANT
  • The onset and patterns of physiological decline with aging vary across physiological systems and between sexes, and some adaptive responses to training are age- and sex-dependent. Thus, the extent to which exercise can reverse age-associated physiological deterioration may depend, in part, on the hormonal status and age at which a specific intervention is initiated. < NOT EVERYONE RESPOND THE SAME
  • Ideally, exercise prescription for older adults should include aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening exercises, and flexibility exercises. In addition, individuals who are at risk for falling or mobility impairment should also perform specific exercises to improve balance in addition to the other components of health-related physical fitness. < FUNCTIONAL EXERCISE THAT FOCUSES ON BALANCE AND COORDINATION IS HELPFUYL FOR MANY ADULTS AS WELL

Visit the ASCM for all their position statements.

Personal & Small Group Training | Coralville IA

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