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This Week’s Workouts + 3 Reasons Why Women Should Lift

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I’ve got my weekly workout recap for you today but first I want to talk about a subject I feel passionately about…why women should lift weights. I want to start out these weekly workout posts by discussing some sort of fitness topic. Let me know if you have requests, questions or suggestions.

This week I had conversations with multiple women who are in their 30s with children about their bodies and their workout routines. My #1 piece of advice to each of them was to incorporate 2-3 days of strength training into their weekly routine in order to see measurable and noticeable results. There are SO MANY REASONS why women should strength train ranging from weight management to bone health to overall appearance.


From Women’s Health….

“A study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights. At three sessions a week, that’s 15,600 calories a year, or about four and a half pounds of fat—without having to move a muscle.”

“If you think cardio is the key to blasting belly fat, keep reading: When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle.”

“Two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie.”


From the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)…

Until the age of about 30 to 35 years, our bones are in a constant state of building. Osteoporotic symptoms can occur earlier and last longer in women (40-65 years) than men (from 65 years). Osteoporosis is prevalent in America. Eight million women experience it.

As the human body inevitably advances toward old age it is becoming more evident that strength training and weight-bearing activity are providing the answers to slowing age-related changes in our muscles, bones and hormones.

Physical inactivity has been shown as a contributing factor to the loss of bone, muscle mass and other health risks. The ideal exercise regime for maintaing or promoting bone, muscle and hormone health is strength training.


I will give personal examples from two of my personal training clients.

Client 1 – Physician in her early 30s in a high-stress job where she is on her feet all day. Family history of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. 

When I started working with this client she was doing minimal physical activity on her own and was very deconditioned. She recognized the importance of improving her physical fitness given her profession and family history. After one year of 2-3 days per week strength/circuit training (1 with me, 1-2 on her own), she lost 5 percent body fat and 10.75 inches overall. Her overall appearance and muscle tone has completely transformed. She now LOVES working out and lifting and uses it to control stress from her demanding job.

Client 2 – New mom in her early 30s in a sedentary desk job. Ran and worked with a trainer through her pregnancy. 

When I started working with this client she was almost three months postpartum after having her first child. She was very active before the baby and looking to get back to her pre-baby weight and body. After six months of working together (usually two 30-minute sessions per week or one 60 minute session) she lost one percent body fat and eight inches overall. Again, her body totally transformed. She is lean and muscular.


There are many reasons why women don’t strength train. Some common ones I hear are no access to a gym, not wanting look bulky and no time to fit in any other workouts into their busy workout schedule. My response to this is…buy some dumbbells and train at home (there is SO MUCH you can do with minimal equipment and your own bodyweight), YOU ARE NOT GOING GET BULKY (I will write a separate post on that at another time) and that you can spend hours and hours in yoga classes, on the elliptical and on a spin bike but if you want to SEE fast and real results, PICK UP A WEIGHT.

Stepping off my soap box for now but this is a topic that I am so passionate about and will continue to address as long as I write this blog!

Now, here’s a look at my week of workouts.




Short workout but holy crap…it burned! My chest was burning for like 30 minutes after finishing this workout. I blame it on RXing the double unders. I am mega focusing on them and they are so hard. They drive my heart rate through the roof! The wall balls felt easy compared to the DU and that’s saying something because wall balls have long been a nemesis of mine.




This is me in Marichyasana D…a crazy lotus, twisting, binding pose that requires every ounce of surrender and breath that I have. I always thank god every time I’m able to maneuver my way into it.


Strength + Double Hot Yoga

photo 4 (8)

I rarely double up on yoga classes (ain’t nobody got time for that!) but my heart (not my body) needed in on Wednesday. Yoga is good for the soul. I did a morning and late evening class and had two great practices. Before evening yoga I knocked out a quick strength circuit after teaching two CrossFit classes. 5 rounds of 10 barbell back squats (at 75#), 10 underhand pull ups (band assisted) and 10 GHD sit ups.


3 mile run


The sun finally came out after five days of rain and cold so Sullie and I hit the road for an easy three-miler. We lounged on the lawn after because someone was feeling a little pooped after our run.


Non-heated yoga + Circuit training

I only had one student for my Friday AM class at Metro so I practiced with her. It was a wonderful way to start the day. Later that evening I came in for a 20 minute circuit workout with dumbbells, kettlebells, double unders and prowler pushes. It was a good one.


6 mile run

I set out for 3…then decided to take a turn to the four mile route…then kept going for the five mile route…then wound my way through my neighborhood to make it six. I doubled my original planned distance. I haven’t run six miles in a very long time and it felt effortless and amazing. I credit great weather (low 70s and overcast) and the audio book Cleopatra. It’s a straight up soap opera of money, power and sex. My mouth was hanging open for half the run.




I try to squat, deadlift and clean at least once a week and so far this week I was lacking on the deadlift and clean so I did a CrossFit workout that combines both of them, the Hero WOD “DT.” It’s five rounds of 12 deadlifts, 9 hang power cleans and 6 push jerks. I used a 75# bar for all three movements and boy did it feel heavy on those push press (subbed push press for push jerk). It took me 14:25 to get through this. I went pretty slow to focus on form. I did a cash in of push ups and GHD sit ups and a cash out of 100 double unders. I am working so hard on my doubles and strung 24 together today. It’s a record for me!

Solid week of workouts and no soreness or fatigue. I did a good job with spacing out strength workouts (a full day in between each) and sprinkling in running and yoga. Body feeling great!

Talk to me about your strength training routine? What works for you? Any questions on strength training? 

CrossFitters – double unders…love ’em or hate ’em? 

{ 93 comments… add one }
  • katie March 23, 2014, 5:55 pm

    I do body pump at least 2x a week and love it so so much! I’ve done it consistently for 3-1/2 years (through a pregnancy too) and it has made a world of difference for my body. I feel so strong, and can honestly say it has improved my quality of life. I have to be strong to do things like lift feed bags, carry buckets of water and pick up kids and can do all of that easily because of pump! I used to hate lifting weights, and it’s now one of the things I list when asked “what do you do in your free time?”

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:53 am

      hey katie – that’s awesome! i’ve had many students pump through pregnancy too and it really helped them bounce back after. i love that you see how it’s impacted your quality of life. it’s all about functional training so that we can feel good in our day to day!

  • Alana March 23, 2014, 5:59 pm

    I think weights in moderation is a great idea. My question is what would be a realistic amount of lifting? I don’t think ripped arms, a bulky back, and a flat chest are very flattering for any woman. (That’s what I mostly see at the gym regarding women who lift; not speaking for ALL women that lift of course.) So for someone not looking for that, what would be key?

    • Jen March 23, 2014, 6:21 pm

      my general guide for all girls wanting to tone and get the health benefits is two total body workouts per week.

  • Jessica Kiehn March 23, 2014, 6:00 pm

    So I could not agree more with the fact that women lifting weights is a very important and good thing. It will absolutely change the shape of your body and give you the look you’re wanting! The issue I’d like to run by you is Crossfit specifically.

    I’ve been working out, heavy on running, and fit for years now, clean eating, etc. I wanted to kick it up to the next level so in November I started eating strict Paleo and in January I started Crossfit.
    My `results?
    I am unsatisfied with my new, thicker body.
    I am bummed that I’ve been working SO HARD and paying lots of money…to get bigger and none of my clothes fit.
    I’ve come to the decision to quit Crossfit and stick with a regular gym weight-training and classes routine (which I’ve never done before…everything else was running and HIIT workouts at home. I’m really looking forward to lifting in the gym for specific muscles/shape)
    EVERYTHING I read says that Crossfit will NOT bulk you up and I just get so frustrated because Crossfit MOST CERTAINLY HAS make me bulkier. I think “bulky” is definitely relevant. No, Crossfit won’t make you masculinely ripped, but I’d say most every woman in my box is thick. I think when girls say bulky they mean thick. I want to be feminine and to me, that’s smaller and fit. Not getting thicker and thicker and have the ability to deadlift 300lb (coudn’t care less!)
    Crossfit is awesome for some women, but not for me and my fitness goals.

    I’m sure they way I worded this was offensive to someone and I apologize! I’m typing this up super fast while my little ones need me so off I go! Would love to hear your opinions.

    Do you attribute the fact that you stay so petite and strong to the fact that you don’t ONLY do Crossfit, but a variety of different exercises? Have you heard of people getting bigger on Paleo?
    Thanks, Jen!

    • Jen March 23, 2014, 6:20 pm

      hey jessica – i can’t say that i love the typical serious crossfit female body either and personally i think that it is totally up to the individual as to how far they want to go with it. i love crossfit for a high intensity workout that combines strength and cardio. while i do try to regularly lift heavy, i do it in my sphere of heavy. my personal goals are not to achieve a super heavy deadlift or squat 1RM (although i love deadlifting and squatting) and i’m not trying to compete with it. totally depends on the person. we have TONS of strong female athletes at our gym with very feminine bodies. you can easily scale it to meet your fitness goals.

      regarding the variety of workouts…YES. i think it makes a difference. i could never crossfit all the time…my body would not feel good! i love the mix of other training, yoga and running. it really works for me. i probably crossfit 2x per week, yoga 3-4 and run 1-2. i supplement with my own circuit training as well. works great for me!

      everyone is different in what works for them and i encourage you to try other forms of strength training!

      • Jessica Kiehn March 23, 2014, 6:31 pm

        Thanks so much Jen – you nailed it.
        It’s all such a personal journey and we must keep trying to find what works best for us individually! Thanks for the encouragement:)

      • Lauren March 23, 2014, 11:06 pm

        OK this is just so ironic you posted this today because I’ve been thinking about this a lot this weekend. I did my first “real” intense work out in almost three years yesterday. I used to work out all the time, even taught spin classes, lifted weights etc. I got pregnant, scaled back my workouts, had a baby, lost a lot of weight from breastfeeding and to be honest, even though my stomach was flabbier post-baby and I wasnt working out like I used to, I loved my body. My old clothes were huge on me and I just felt more petite and not so thick and “bulky” and as shallow as this sounds, I heard a lot of people tell me how great I looked. Oh and I’m 5’2″ and before baby around 135 and after baby 117. All that to say, my daughter is two now and I’m trying to figure out an exercise routine that works for me. After the intense boot camp class yesterday, that has left my body feeling so heavy and sore, I thought about you, and how you manage to stay petite and toned, and wondered too what jessica said, if your variety with yoga helped, and I’m sure especially healthy diet. My issue too is that I get SO hungry when I work out intensely. Sorry for rambling, just felt like this post was such interesting timing.

        • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:56 am

          hey lauren –

          first, i think it’s great that you took a step back after the birth of your baby to evaluate everything. i just want to REALLY reiterate to everyone that it doesn’t have to be high intensity, life sucking, soul crushing, heavy strength training and workouts to make a difference. i would NEVER prescribe that kind of routine for many, many people…including my own mother! there are so many gentler workouts that you can do that are still super, super productive from a strength standpoint. i swear that everything in fitness is trial and error and what works for one does not work for everyone. you just have to figure out what feels right for you!

    • Emily March 24, 2014, 5:06 pm

      Hi Jessica- I just wanted to say I LOVED your comment. Its exactly what I wanted to post / ask, so thanks for taking care of that! 🙂
      I’ve always lifted and done a variety of strength workouts. Then, last year I trained for a half-marathon. Due to the intense training, I wasn’t able to lift as much. The result of that was lots of running and I dropped a full size! I can’t say that I wasn’t happy about that- of course I was. Since then, it’s been hard to get back into my regular routine and I’ve been floundering.
      Anyway, you’re so right about the ‘thick’ vs ‘bulky’. That’s a great description.

      And Jen- thanks for your response to this. I really look to you and the variety of workouts you do for inspiration. Your strength and flexibility are just what I’m striving for! I have a whole stack of Peanut Butter Runner workout memo cards I use 🙂

  • Jessica Kiehn March 23, 2014, 6:02 pm

    p.s. I love double unders! Best calves work-out EVER.

  • Meg March 23, 2014, 6:27 pm

    I’m glad you stepped on your soapbox! Strength training is something I’m passionate about, too. I started consistently lifting weights about 2 years ago and it’s been such an awesome part of my life. I find it really empowering and the difference it’s made for me (mentally and physically) is amazing.

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:59 am

      that’s awesome meg!

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun March 23, 2014, 6:33 pm

    I love this! I have always been a runner so strength training has always taken a back seat. I’ve finally (after many injuries) have decided to fit strength training into my workout routine 2-3 times per week. I will start there and if I end up having time for more I will throw that in as well. Strength training can do wonders for women and runners and shouldn’t be forgotten!!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:00 pm

      sara – i was constantly injured when i was running all the time too. i have been injury free for a long time now with this mix of light running, yoga and strength!

  • Jojo @ RunFastEatLots March 23, 2014, 6:33 pm

    I don’t strength train as much as I want to, but I am starting to include some weight training into my routine

  • Rachel March 23, 2014, 6:54 pm

    Great post, Jen! In response to some comments above, I did CrossFit for nine months, three times a week consistently, and I put on a very small amount of muscle so while it did tone me up, I did not appear bulky AT ALL. I always tell women that it is usually genetic. My body is just not one that puts on muscle very easily, so CrossFit worked great for me and MY body. The typical CrossFit body you see on TV is also women who do CrossFit exclusively, five to six times a week…sometimes two a days. Their volume of training is so high! The average person won’t look like those woman!

    I am trying to master double unders right now as well! I hit a record last week of 12 in a row. 🙂 I have to force myself to do them at least once or twice a week to get better at them! It is crazy how much more intense double unders are than singles.

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:01 pm

      great point rachel…especially on the competitive crossfit athletes.

      and YES on the double unders. i have to force myself to practice too but i’m getting there.

  • Mary-Catherine March 23, 2014, 7:41 pm

    Loved this post and also your descriptions for all the variety you incorporate in a typical week!!!

    In terms of potential topics or questions, I was wondering if you could do a video of how to do the push-up in the correct form. Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting it right (for both regular or on knees), especially when instructors ask us to vary between wide grip, diamond, incline, or clap style push up. I know I should ask, but sometimes I am just too shy. A video or explanation would be great!!

    Also, how would you rank kickboxing in the mix – do you consider that a type of strength training/muscle building, or more cardio in nature?

    THANKS! Have a great week!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:03 pm

      hey mary-catherine – YES on the push up video and variations. i love them! great suggestion.

      i can’t offer personal experience on the kickboxing as of right now (i will be able to soon!) but i know that the classes we’re offering at our gym are a hybrid of kickboxing with a lot of bodyweight strength exercises so i would say there is some benefit there for strength although it’s more cardio for sure.

  • Kim @ FITsique March 23, 2014, 7:46 pm

    There’s no better feeling as a trainer than finally getting a female to understand! When they come to you and say “I love this stuff! I feel so strong and I have muscle!” puts a big smile on my face!

  • Julie March 23, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Body pump 3 days a week, never would have lifted or got so into fitness as a whole without that class! We are expecting our first baby this fall and some of the instructors and others in class said they took/taught BP till the very end and it helped them for a smooth labor (hope that’s the case for me!!)

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:03 pm

      ditto julie! bp made me fall in love with strength training and what it could do for my body! and yes, i had many ladies in my class pump through pregnancy and they felt great!

  • Lauren K March 23, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I spy “big white” (Jeff) in your chin up picture…we are both trying to figure out what he was doing! Congrats on the 24 double understand, so awesome!!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:05 pm

      i think they were finishing up their L sits…i have no idea what he’s doing though. you’re my double under idol! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Allyssa March 23, 2014, 7:57 pm

    I love strength training! I do upper body about 2 times every week and lower body/abs 3 times a week. I am trying to gain muscle mass, especially in the glute area 🙂 Any suggestions, tips, or advice for this?!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:06 pm

      that’s great allyssa.

      regarding your glute question…

      heavier barbell back squats in shorter sets
      weighted forward stepping lunges
      barbell back squats sit down to a box or bench and stand back up (with the weight)
      single leg lunges with one foot up on a box or bench and one foot out in front, hold weights
      weighted step ups to a high box

      do you do any of those now?

      • Allyssa March 24, 2014, 8:10 pm

        I do barbell squats but I try to do them in intervals. So I start with one rep at a certain weight, then go a little heavier with shorter reps and do that for a total of three reps. I do lunges every once in awhile. I have never done a barbell squatt with a box or a bench! I will have to try that, though it’s a bit intimidating. And I have done the other two exercises as well. Maybe one of my problems is that I don’t lift heavy enough. I have been trying to increase the amount of weight I have been lifting for about 5 months or so. Or maybe I am not eating enough…who knows! Thanks for your feedback though, I appreciate it 🙂

        • Allyssa March 24, 2014, 8:11 pm

          I will take any help I can get!

        • Lindsey March 25, 2014, 2:13 pm

          Allyssa brought up a good point- one that I think about often. Do you have any suggestions for calculating how much you should be eating if your goal is to lose body fat but maintain/continue building muscle? I use My Fitness Pal and track calories, carbs, fat, protein and have done a little research but not sure if my resources are that accurate. She said she might not be eating enough, so that made me think to ask if you had any suggestions for suggesting how to find a more scientific amount of food intake. I know that you are good about eating a diverse, well-rounded diet, but do you make nutrition-related suggestions to clients? Thank you!

  • Teri [a foodie stays fit] March 23, 2014, 8:20 pm

    So…question that I feel like I should know the answer to since I’m a certified AFAA trainer! Does yoga provide enough resistance training to reap the benefits of lifting?

    • Danielle March 24, 2014, 9:34 am

      I have the same question!

    • Christin March 24, 2014, 10:13 am

      yes, I want to know this, too!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:08 pm

      hey teri –

      i personally do not think that yoga is an adequate substitute for strength training. i think it’s extremely beneficial for building core and upper body strength and i’m much rather females do that than nothing at all but yoga lacks any pulling motion and a lot of lower body work. think about how yoga is all push and no pull. it’s important to have both for a balanced strength workout. by pull i mean things like pull ups, rows, deadlifts, etc.

      make sense?

  • Joseph March 23, 2014, 8:41 pm

    Chin ups and pull ups are so utterly reliable strength builders.

  • Jessica March 23, 2014, 9:06 pm

    I would love to see some of your at he strength circuits!! I have a 9 month old and I’m still trying to tone, but I feel like most of my old routines require gym equipment. Thanks Jen!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:09 pm

      check out my “workouts” page. you can find it at the top of the blog. lots of good workouts that can be done at home!

  • Joanna D'Orazio March 23, 2014, 9:25 pm

    I love this post! I am an avid runner and desperately want to strength train but can’t seem to allow myself to miss a run and break out of the running rut!! Any suggestions?

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:10 pm

      you just have to take small steps. start with one short session a week and build up to two. you can even do a 20 or 30 minute strength session after a shorter run. and remember…did you LOVE running when you first started or did it take a while? usually things are hardest in the beginning while we’re acclimating!

  • Holly March 23, 2014, 9:25 pm

    I agree with everything in this post! ALL women need to lift weights! The benefits are huge. If you want to change your body…truly change the appearance….you have to lift weights.

    I’m probably not the normal female…I would lifts weights every day but I hate cardio!!! I think that’s why CrossFIt works for me. It has my love of lifting mixed with cardio.

    And I hate those darn double unders! 🙂 I have been trying for so long to master them. I can get about 25 in a row but it’s so not pretty! 🙂 I’m trying to work on not bringing up my knees. I tend to tuck a little instead of jumping higher. I probably look like a flopping fish out of water…ugh!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:12 pm

      holly – it sounds like crossfit is perfect for you!

      my double unders are so ugly and i sound like an elephant jumping around while i’m doing them. i bring my knees up too. it drives me crazy!

  • Mon March 23, 2014, 9:27 pm

    Hi Jen!
    Long time reader of your blog! Just wondering if you could share an “at home” dumbell routine for runners looking to incorporate weight training into their routine. Ideally a routine that is 20 minutes.

  • Jessie March 23, 2014, 9:58 pm

    I have recently become really interested in adding strength training to my fitness routine but I feel so lost. Every time I consider trying to put together some kind of workout I feel totally ridiculous! Do you have any favorite resources for weightlifting “routines” while I am figuring things out?

  • Kim March 23, 2014, 10:25 pm

    First I must say I love your blog! Love your workouts. I have been primarily a runner but just started a strength training program with a trainer about a month ago. She has me lifting heavy and focusing on compound exercises during a personal and group session for two workouts a week. I have noticed myself getting stronger (I can do more pushups and pullups now) but wondering what your thoughts are on how long it takes to see your body change? I am starting to get discouraged. thanks

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:17 pm

      first, congrats on already seeing strength gains. that is huge!

      give your new training plan and diet at least 3 months before you start making any serious changes or giving up on it. also, when you first start working out your body stores extra glycogen which can make you retain water and need to hydrate more. so be sure that you’re doing a good job with hydration.

      don’t be discouraged! most of my clients see the biggest results in 3-6 months.

  • Rajul March 23, 2014, 10:33 pm

    I needed this reminder thank you!! Is bodyweight percentage and inches more important than pounds? Is this something we should measure at home say with the tape measure versus standing on a scale?

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:17 pm

      YES! especially when tracking results with a strength program.

  • Amber March 24, 2014, 1:33 am

    Yup. I sporadically fit in strength training for years and then finally in about November of last year I got serious about it. Now I strength train at least twice a week but prefer to get in 3 – 4 strength workouts. I really like SHORT strength workouts though, honestly I do not want to spend more than 30 minutes lifting! So I really like Crossfit or GPP style workouts as they tend to be short and sweet. I don’t have a gym membership but me and my husband have a pretty extensive home gym set-up.

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:18 pm

      i agree with you amber! it’s why i gravitate towards crossfit and circuit style workouts. i’m usually done in under 25 minutes. it’s so awesome that you have a nice home gym!

  • Jenn@Mark My Miles! March 24, 2014, 5:37 am

    I have been one to put strength training on the back burner as I train for a race. However, I know that strength training can help me be a better racer. I am making a conscious decision to add it back in 3 times a week. Thank you for the reminder and motivation to do so!

  • Rebekah {aCricketSang} March 24, 2014, 5:56 am

    I definitely need to keep working on my lifting. I always feel healthier and stronger in my running and cycling when I’m lifting. But I dont do it nearly enough.

  • Samantha @ The Faithful Runner March 24, 2014, 8:22 am

    I love weight training. It’s so rewarding to see your muscles change with progress. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Parita @ myinnershakti March 24, 2014, 9:14 am

    Yes to all of this! I used to be a cardio queen but picked up (very light) weights for the first time a few years ago and have never looked back. Now, I am lifting heavier weights and loving the results and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with strength training workouts.

    I may need to send this post to all my girlfriends!

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:18 pm

      so awesome parita! keep getting stronger and spreading the word! 🙂

  • Amanda Bee March 24, 2014, 9:15 am

    I don’t “love” lifting weights but I like the results I get when I consistently do resistance training 2-3x a week. I don’t mind your “soapbox speech” at all – I’ve seen a lot more women doing weights recently and I think a lot of it is conversations like these.

    I would also add that there is a TON of variety in strength training, so any woman can adjust her routine to her needs at any time. It’s not all just lifting super heavy barbells in the gym – that works for some women, but there are also routines that can be done at home and ones that are more moderate in terms of weight. Personally, I like really simple full-body routines with a lot of complex full range of motion moves in moderate-high weights. It gets me in and out of the gym quickly, without being too sore. I’m trying to be better about at-home strength training too, for days when I just can’t make it to the gym.

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:20 pm

      i totally, totally agree with you on the variety that is available and that it doesn’t have to look the same way for everyone. such a great point!

      good to hear that you see results when you’re consistent with it. and i like the sound of your workout structure!

  • Christin March 24, 2014, 10:16 am

    Hi, Jen. I have two questions:

    1. Does an intense vinyasa class provide the same or similar benefits as a strength training session? I would much prefer a sweaty yoga practice to time with dumbells. 🙂 I am trying to lose about fifteen pounds, so I am also interested in the fat loss aspect of weights/power yoga.

    2. I’ve heard/read before that you can either build muscle or lose fat, but you can’t do both at once. Have you head that, and what are your thoughts?

    Thanks! I love your blog and your perspective on health – such an inspiration! 🙂

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:52 am

      hey christin –

      thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      soooo…i’m sad to report that while vinyasa yoga is good for building a strong core and developing upper body strength through all the chaturangas…it’s not equivalent to strength training. i do think it can have GREAT benefits on the body but i would encourage the addition of some interval/circuit training as well given your weight loss goals. one way to look at it is that yoga is always pushing movements and no pulling movements. it’s important to perform both when strength training. does your area offer any of the hybrid yoga and strength classes? also, strength training can be a lot more fun when you do it interval/circuit style so that you’re keeping your heart rate up the whole time and mixing up the exercises.

      i’m not really sure about question #2. i have not heard that!

      thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

      • Christin March 24, 2014, 12:32 pm

        Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! 🙂

        That is a little sad, but I’ll just stick with my 30 minute strength circuit. 🙂 I don’t mind it and I know it’s good for me – I just love yoga about 1,000x more!

        I have always wondered about that, so I really appreciate hearing from a fitness professional who is committed to both yoga and strength training! Thanks again.

  • Lindsey March 24, 2014, 10:36 am

    Hi Jen! When do you plan to take an off day?

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:48 am

      hey lindsey – great question!

      in general, i don’t schedule rest days. i either wait until my body feels like it needs to rest or until my day gets so crazy that i can’t fit it in. i would say that usually averages to one every 10-12 days or so. that said…i try to vary up my workouts so that i’m not doing the same thing over and over again. i feel better with the training mix i have now than i have in a long time. i have no injuries and i used to struggle with them all the time when i was heavier on the running. i could NEVER crossfit, strength train or run every day. it’s not sustainable for my body. i consider my yoga only days to be “active rest” and i would practice yoga 365 days a year if it worked with my schedule. it feels amazing and has so many mental and physical benefits for me.

      every single person is different in what works for them!

      • Lindsey March 24, 2014, 11:49 am

        Thanks for such a thoughtful response. I agree – I usually take rest days when I feel that I need them or when work/life gets in the way. I never “schedule” them!

        • Jen March 24, 2014, 12:11 pm

          you’re so welcome lindsey. all that said…today was a gentle yoga only day after yesterday’s heavy barbell workout and i feel a millions times better after the stretch. 🙂

      • Amber March 25, 2014, 1:17 pm

        When I was ultra training last summer I HAD to rest for two days a week because I was so beat. Now that I mix it up more with running, strength and yoga I too don’t rest for 10-12 days and my body is totally fine!! It kind of amazes me. I also consider gentler yoga classes to be “active rest”.

  • elizabeth March 24, 2014, 10:52 am

    Have you ever taken any Barre classes, in what way are they good for the body?

    • Jen March 24, 2014, 11:48 am

      i have not so i can’t speak from experience on them.

  • Danielle March 24, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I would love to incorporate weight training but just started a 3-month training program for my 4th sprint triathlon in June. How can I weight train while still fitting in my swims, bikes, and runs? And not be exhausted? And I would love to do some yoga, too 😉

  • A. March 24, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Weight training is good! I don”t have a lot of time, but I try to do 4-5x 30 minutes of cardio/weight training each week, plus yoga 1-2, and I’m happy with my body/mind. I use 5 or 7 lbs, cause I prefer more repetition, it burns and muscles stay lean that way…

  • Jessica March 24, 2014, 1:41 pm

    I just have to say, your back looks insane doing the pull ups! Very impressive and what inspiration!

  • elizabeth March 24, 2014, 1:50 pm

    I do some JM circuit training dvd’s at home, they include weights, but I use 8lb weights. Probably not what you mean, when you say women should “lift”? I acutally find it to be a pretty good workout, but I’m sure I could get much stronger lifting big weights in the gym.

    You are so lucky to be injury free, but it sounds like you are working out in a very smart way, in order to avoid hurting yourself. Every since I added yoga, I’ve been mostly injury free, but I still run daily, which has been causing me some problems recently and I’m not as young as you, so yoga and other cross training is becoming even more important. When you were getting injured more often, were you also doing yoga?

  • Colleen March 24, 2014, 2:56 pm

    Hi Jen! I love your blog and I’ve been a long time reader but first time commenter! I’ve been taking barre classes and noticed a huge difference in my strength… i have biceps for the first time! It’s all very exciting but my groupon is ending… would you count DVDs like Jillian Michael’s Ripped as “strength training”? Thanks! I’m just not sure where to turn next and I don’t want to lose any of the results I’ve been seeing!

  • Amanda March 24, 2014, 3:48 pm

    Great post and I completely agree about strength training! I’ve been doing a barbell strength (similar to body pump) class several times a week for about 8 months now and I’ve seen huge results. I feel so much stronger. I love having muscles and the comments I get most is I can’t believe you can lift that much and you are still so tiny. I think so many women think they will bulk up when they lift weights and that is far from the truth. The strength I’ve gained in barbell has also helped me tremendously with mountain biking. It is amazing how having a strong back, core, shoulders, legs etc really helps in the other areas in your life.

  • Mo March 24, 2014, 4:52 pm

    Can I just say, your BACK!? OMG girl, you are ripped. You are very inspiring, and I love seeing the balance in your weekly routine.

  • Anna March 24, 2014, 9:57 pm

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more with strength training. I definitely feel I can attribute weight loss to strength training. With that said I recently joined a gym that has body pump. I am currently doing it 2 days per week along with my other cardio workouts and yoga. I am seeing some results but I am wondering if I should start doing an extra day of strength training with heavier weights to build more muscle. Would it also be more beneficial to do body pump for 4-6 weeks the switch to heavier weights for 4-6 weeks or is a balance of the two going to give the same results? I am really loving body pump! Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

  • JennyV March 24, 2014, 11:28 pm

    Great post and loved the thread of comments and your responses! Great dialogue!

    I feel like I’m in the camp of those who are doing more strength training and boot camp workouts that tends to gain thickness. I’ve always had very strong quads but do not know a great way of trimming them. (Many of my workout classes include box jumps, butt to ball squats, etc) Would anything balance this out or help to lean out my quads… And glutes?

    Loved reading the likelihood of online training. 🙂

    Side note: do threads like these remind you of why you’re in this field? You are such a fantastic proponent of women’s health/wellness and a plethora of sound information.

    • Lauren March 25, 2014, 1:13 pm

      This is me too…I feel like even doing a mix of cardio and lifting gives me huge legs and I HATE it. I know genetics is simply part of it but sometimes I think I’d rather try just about anything to trim down. I’m not saying big muscular legs are bad on women but it’s not what I want.

      • Anna March 26, 2014, 10:05 am

        I am wondering the same! It seems like everything I do results in bulkier legs. I have always gained muscle really easily and carried my weight in my bottom half. Anything you can recommend to slim muscles down? I mix cardio with strength training, but definitely use lighter weights with more repitition. Thanks!

  • Jake Long March 25, 2014, 12:06 am

    Definitely a great post. I love hearing it when women are in support of resistance training. There are so many health benefits that too many women don’t get because of the fear of getting bulky. I just got my Women’s Fitness Specialist certification, and I’m hoping to help women get in better shape. I appreciate the good work.

  • Melissa March 25, 2014, 10:06 am

    Love your blog – and I loved this post! After having three babies in less than four years, I realized I was going crazy because of the hormones, lack of free time, and strain on my body. I started going to body pump a year ago and that lead to spinning and now a weekly personal training session at our gym for 40 minutes plus Les Mils CXWorks. I’ve always been a runner, but the difference weight training has made on my body is amazing. I feel fit – I feel like I’m running stronger – and I feel more confident. Not to mention the reprieve that time in the gym has given me mentally and emotionally. My husband had just told me about that Penn State study, and I find it fascinating. I was frustrated at first because the scale hadn’t budged for me, but now I realize I’ve been burning fat and building muscle, which is totally what I want!

    Thanks for all of the awesome information! Can’t wait to buy your book!

  • SJG March 25, 2014, 10:09 am

    Thank you for this! I think we all know we SHOULD be lifting, but the hard part is getting started. I am a 5am runner, 8-5pm professional and an 5pm+ four-legged mommy…getting to the gym is tough. I would love more information on what tools I can have to get in a quick strength workout at home and maybe a quick workout routine, too? I see that you may offer online training in the future…keep me posted!! 🙂

  • Jenny March 25, 2014, 3:35 pm

    I started CrossFit a few months ago, although I had been working out with a trainer who works in a similar fashion, so it’s been about two years with this style of training. I do add muscle easily and am thicker naturally, and I don’t effing care. My body is healthier because of that added muscle and my body is strong. I’m still working on leaning down a little bit more through my diet, but I will always be bigger. I don’t see why that’s so bad.

  • Kaitlin P. March 25, 2014, 4:49 pm

    I don’t strength train because I don’t know how!!!! I run a few times a week and have started to get more involved with group classes at the YMCA, but they all seem to be cardio geared (Spin, Zumba, Etc.) Aside from getting a personal trainer (which is really not in the budget), I really wouldn’t even know where to start!

  • Leah March 25, 2014, 5:31 pm

    I’ve been wanting to incorporate strength training into my fitness routine and I think this is the post (and the comment section!) that is finally going to make me step into a Body Pump class. How timely! I hope you will write that post about strength training that you mention above. I think one of my problems is I literally don’t know where to begin when it comes to weights. I guess BP is the thing for me to get me started!

  • MC March 25, 2014, 9:01 pm


    HUGE fan of your blog. Had a question about strength training and post-workout foods. What is a good post-workout source of protein? I don’t want an entire meal replacement, and want something convenient for a girl on-the-go (to and from work, pre-dinner workouts, etc)? Protein powder kind of freaks me out so I’m looking for a natural source…. Preferably from foods/ natural low-cal drink mixes?

  • Mia March 31, 2014, 9:56 am

    Hey Jen,
    Great post! I am definitely 100% a fan of lifting weights. Definitely the heavier the better and I have actually seen more results from emphasizing strength training as opposed to cardio cardio cardio! I originally got into lifting via Body Pump. Honestly, if it wasn’t for pump, I probably would have never picked up a weight! After that I started incorporating heavier weights on my own 1-2 days per week, mixed up with pump, and allowing enough time in between for proper recovery.
    I do have a question though that I am hoping you can either answer here or write a future post about. Can you do a post on weight lifting during pregnancy? General recommendations for how much per week? I realize you are not an MD/ etc, but since you are a personal trainer, you certainly have a greater wealth of information regarding the safety of movements and how to modify more than I do. While my doctor said that I can go back to my usual routine, I am honestly a little scared. It’s also been about 5 weeks since I have picked up a weight, so how do I ease back into it without doing harm? Granted, I’m not even that far along, but there is this tiny voice in the back of my mind saying to proceed with caution. Any tips, recommendations, advice is much appreciated!!! 🙂

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