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Building Confidence One Squat at a Time

We all know that a good exercise program can help you lose weight and be healthy.

But most people don’t know about the biggest benefit you reap from working out – CONFIDENCE!

I love seeing clients lose weight and get stronger. But honestly the best thing is to see clients happy and more confident!

I love seeing them become more confident in how they look. I love seeing them become more confident in their fitness. I even love seeing them become more confident because they know their health is improving.

I love seeing people’s confidence grow!

And the craziest part is no true results have to be achieved for people’s confidence to improve. Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe it’s the fact that we know we are doing something good for us. Maybe it’s simply that we are pushing ourselves to our limits.

Maybe its all of the above.

Whatever it is though, the best part is that the confidence we develop is what truly spurs on great results.

How can you not feel better about yourself if you lift 5 more pounds than you did the week before? How can you not be more confident when you manage to push yourself through three rounds of a circuit when only the week before you had to take a break after the first round? How can you not feel better knowing that you managed to run .1 mph faster than you did even just a couple of days before?

And the craziest part is…that person probably could have lifted that much or made it through the three rounds without a break the week before. They just didn’t BELIEVE they could the week before.

So because they are working out, they become more confident. Because they become more confident, they believe in themselves. Because they believe in themselves, they get great results.

Which guess what?


Simply put…Exercise is empowering!

Empower yourself today…try this workout or one of the other weekly workouts!

Weekly Workout #10


Bench 3-2-2-1-1

Auxiliary lift circuit:

50-40-30-20-10 (Complete the previous rep range for all exercises before moving on to the next rep range. Ex: 50 reps all exercises then 40, 30 and so on.)

Barbell OH Press
Knees to Elbow
Burpees (Chest hits the ground each and every time)
Back Extensions

Can I say ouchie? My arms were toasted between the heavy bench, overhead press and burpees with push ups.

P.S. This is my favorite quote about exercise and endorphins.

Surprised that she loved it

So this is the second week of my lifting class (sorry Francine that I couldn’t do one at a time that worked for you!).

And I’m loving it. But the best part is…SO ARE THEY!

And I don’t think all of them expected to…

I have one participant, Lois, who is also one of my personal training clients. We started working together in August and I’ve watched her get stronger and fitter and more confident in herself each and every time we meet.

And while Lois never gives up and is always willing to give an exercise a shot, I have to admit that I was blown away by her strength and determination in our  lifting classes so far.

We’d stuck to a lot of functional weight training in our personal sessions together and hadn’t yet done barbell bench press, barbell deadlift or barbell back squat.

But last week, Lois attempted all of them for the first time and excelled! I was more impressed/excited/proud than I could even express to her at the time.

And she continues to impress me. At the class today she deadlifted with the best of them. And she survived the killer auxiliary lift circuit we did, making the necessary modifications, but never giving up.

And the best part is that after both workouts, she has walked up to me and said that it was hard, but that she enjoyed it!

I think it surprised her actually how much she enjoyed lifting super heavy weights!

So if you’ve been shy about heavy lifting, give it a shot! I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how much you love it.

Also, I just want to give a big shout out to all of the members of my class. You all are AWESOME! 🙂

P.S. Lois if you read this post since I know you occasionally visit Man Bicep….KEEP IT UP! I’m so proud of you! 🙂

The Primal Powerlifter

This past Sunday I competed in my first powerlifting event and I still can’t believe I actually did it. I was so proud of myself for even just showing up at the event. Also, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to both Brian and Ryan for coming with me. Ryan was great moral support and Brian coached me to success!

The entire week before I was nervous and stressed. I was trying to make it through a long week of work while also making sure that I had everything I needed for the event (unisuit, t-shirt, shoes, socks…all conforming to their standards).

I also had to lose some weight to be able to compete in the 123 weight class (because of traveling and Thanksgiving I had packed on a few pounds haha). I stuck to Primal, eating only meat, veggies and protein powder (even though numerous people told me I should be eating carbs…like bread…). I ate pulled pork, ribs, oxtail…all nice fatty meats that made me feel full and content.

And over the week everything came together and before I knew it Sunday was here (of course Saturday morning I was so nervous that Ryan said I was shaking the couch enough to make him nauseated).

I had all of my equipment, and lots of Primal snacks, including potatoes, protein powder, macadamia nuts, and apples. I was also well within my weight class, weighing in at 118lbs. The intermittent fasting and Primal diet had paid off! And my energy level was high despite the week of weight loss because of all the fatty meats (and a few potatoes on Saturday) that I had consumed.

Even though I was ready, I wasn’t any less nervous. Even most of the girls who were competing for the first time had spent about the last year training while I had only really spent the last two months even considering entering.

That fact was a bit intimidating. I’m usually the over-prepared person…not let’s-do-this-at-the-last-moment-on-a-whim person.

But, hey, I had spent the last two months training so why waste all that hard work? Even if I didn’t do well, it would be a great experience!!!

But I did do well…despite the fact that conventional wisdom would have told you that I had absolutely no chance, between my low carb, intermittent fasting diet, inconsistent workout routine and lack of a weight lifting belt (Ryan thought the fact that I was one of the few without a belt was pretty “bad-ass” haha).

Anyway, the point is I was nervous and not fully prepared especially by conventional standards. I’d never squatted or benched on command and I’d always had a mirror in which to watch myself deadlift and squat. I was super worried I wouldn’t go low enough on my squats and that I would fail on all three attempts and be out of the competition in the first lift. (A bit pessimistic but this thought kept running through my head…so much so that I was literally revising my numbers in my sleep.)

Anyway, because I was so nervous for squats (and we wanted me to feel good for deadlifts, which were the third lift of the day), we set my numbers super low…I attempted 150 then 160 then 170. In practice I’d hit 200lbs numerous times, and had almost even gotten 205lbs, so all three lifts ended up being super easy. On my first squat, I was so worried about going low enough that I almost dropped my butt all the way to the ground.

But the three successful squats, while too easy, did make me relax and feel more confident.

After about a two-hour break while all the men’s flights went, was bench…my least favorite lift probably because it is my weakest.

In practice, I had hit a PR of 120, but it wasn’t with a pause (I got close 125lbs but it was such a freaking ugly lift to get it up that it definitely doesn’t actually count). So we decided that my attempts should be 90lbs, 105lbs and 115lbs. I had no problem pausing on my first two attempts. But on the third, 115 just wouldn’t go up. Looking back on the lift, I wish I had taken more time to set up because I think it would have gone up if I’d planted my feet more and gotten a bit more arch in my back. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway, 105, while a slight bit disappointing still wasn’t too shabby.

Then again we had another long break before we finished the day with deadlifts. While I’d felt more relaxed for bench, probably because I didn’t expect too much, I was super nervous for deadlift. Deadlift is my best lift and I definitely wanted to impress!

In training, my PR for deadlift was 280 and the Mass. State record was 275lbs. I thought I had a good chance of tying it at least!

So we set my first two attempts at 245lbs, 260lbs and figured we would see how those went before deciding if I would attempt 275 or 280. The first two lifts were super easy although my form definitely wasn’t perfect…I was nervous and worn out from a very long day.

We decided that my last attempt should be 275 to tie the record. Again looking back, I wish I had taken more time to get psyched up and set for the lift before I attempted it. I think it would have made a big difference. But despite the fact that I’ve hit 275 almost every time recently when I’ve trained, I just couldn’t make it budge on Sunday.

I was super bummed. My last lift of the day and my strongest and I couldn’t hit a number that I’d just easily pulled that Monday before.

Not the way I’d wanted to end the day. But I was still proud that I’d at least managed to pull over double my bodyweight and hey…I’d made it through my first competition!

A little upset by my last lift and super worn out from the stress of the long day (it is amazingly hard to get revved up for an event then cool down only to have to get revved up two hours later to compete again!), we decided to stay for the awards ceremony just in case I won something.

I’m definitely glad we did! I ended up winning both my weight class and the Best Lifter award for the Women’s Raw Division. The Best Lifter award is a relative strength measurement. They take everyone in the raw division from every weight class and figure out who lifted the most weight in relation to their body weight.

So in the end I left proud and happy even though I still wish I’d made those two lifts.

Overall, a very successful meet. And one of the things that makes me most proud is that I did it my way. While everyone else was drinking Gatorade and eating bread and protein bars, I was eating my Primal snacks.

Although I do have to admit…I’d train a bit differently before my next competition. I would definitely create a schedule and a more consistent program than the one I did these past few months! haha

Anyway, Ryan made a video of the meet. Right now it is just on Facebook, but I’ll upload it to YouTube later today!

It was a great experience and if you are into powerlifting, I would recommend you enter at least one competition!

P.S. Sorry for the super long post…I’m just super excited!!!

Personal Records

We all constantly compare ourselves to others. I know I definitely do it.

And it is good to have people who you compete with. Working out with Candy means I always push myself. It has helped me reach two personal records this week!

On Monday, we deadlifted. And we decided to try 275lbs, which would be a new personal best for each of us. I was going to attempt the weight first. Of course, I wanted to do it since it would be a new PR, but I also wanted to do it because what if Candy picked up the weight after me!?! I couldn’t let her lift more, could I!?! 😉

No I couldn’t! So that extra incentive motivated me to push to lift that 275lbs. It pushed me again to bench 120lbs on Tuesday (and I think it helped Candy hit a new PR of 130 in bench as well).

Competition can be good. And it can push you. But comparing yourself too much to others can hinder your development and make you very, very unhappy!

If you constantly compare yourself to others, you can start to focus less on success and more on not failing…which may sound like the same things, but entails two totally different attitudes. If you are always trying not to fail, you have a negative outlook. You are too worried about “winning” and not focused enough on development. Working toward success on the other hand is positive. It means you enjoy working toward a goal as well as accomplishing it.

Also, everyone is TOTALLY DIFFERENT! You simply can’t compare yourself to anyone else and their successes because they have different strengths and weaknesses than you do!

So let competition motivate you, but don’t let it consume you! Set your own personal records and work your butt off to achieve them!

Top 10 – Brian’s FAVORITE Upper Body Exercises

So Brian’s FAVORITE (and I mean FAVORITE) thing to work is his chest…and upper body in general. These are his 10 FAVORITE upper body exercises.

1. Bench – Ok who doesn’t love bench!?! Barbell Flat Bench is by far Brian’s favorite. It is a GREAT compound exercise. And as Lisa mentioned, “Strengthening your “man pecs” helps keep the twins perky!” The bench press works your pecs, triceps, shoulders and abs among other things! Here is an article about the flat bench press. You can also vary up your bench press by doing incline barbell or dumbbell variations. There are also other tortuous variations such as pause bench…but that is an exercise for another day.

2. Push ups – Brian thinks push ups are easy…I don’t exactly agree but I do think they are awesome for you! Push ups are one of those exercises that you need to actually DO to get better at. Doing bench and such will help, but to truly get good at push ups…you need to DO push ups. Girls don’t just do push ups from your knees because you are girls!!! Channel your inner man and bust them out from your toes or even attempt a decline push up or two (or 10).

3. Dips – You can do these off a bench or from a dip machine, but DO THEM. I find the ones off the bench much easier than full dips, but both can be good. I feel that the ones on the bench pretty much only tire out my triceps while the full dips from the bars work my chest, lower traps, triceps and my anterior deltoid (the front of your shoulder).

Full, off the bars dips.

4. Wide grip pull ups – I happen to agree with Brian about these….I LOVE PULL UPS! THEY ARE AWESOME! Wide grip are especially awesome because they are hard and they isolate your lats. Regular pull ups tend to use a lot of bicep so these are great to mix in to just work your back!

5. Dumbbell 1 arm row – Brian loves this one because as he said, “You can use heavy weight and it is a good way to build strength and size.” That’s what us Man Bicepers love! 🙂

6. Seated DB Military Press –  If you want to improve your bench and push ups, you need to strengthen your shoulders. Military press is a great way to do that. Using dumbbells engages more stabilizer muscles in your core and shoulders. Doing the military press seated instead of standing can also be safer if you aren’t as sure of form – just make sure your back is fully pressed into the back of the seat.

7. Front to Side Raises – Shoulder murder. 1 rep is a front raise and then a side raise.

8. Posterior Deltoid Flyes (with a resistance band) – Brian loves this one because no one works on their posterior deltoids. He says, “They are neglected. People focus on the anterior and medial deltoid.” (Brian also mentioned the fact that Candy has what we jokingly call “monster anterior deltoids.”) Choose a resistance band that you can stretch all the way out while having your hands about shoulder width apart.

9. Straight Bar Bicep Curl – This hits every aspect of the bicep. Don’t cheat – go all the way down and all the way up and DON’T SWING! Stagger the feet if you need to. BUT DON’T CHEAT!

10. Skull Crushers –  Please don’t crush your face when you do these. Grab dumbbells and lay flat on a bench or floor. Bending at the elbows and keeping your triceps perpendicular to your body, lower the weights down toward your head. Try to keep your elbows in. Stop before you hit your face and straighten the arms back up without any flexion of the shoulder.

Some others that Candy and I love that weren’t on Brian’s list: Dumbbell pullovers and Iron Cross. Iron cross is also shoulder murder and DB pullovers are a great exercise to work your chest, back and triceps all at the same time! If you do a pullover while holding a glute bridge, you get the added bonus of working your core, glutes and hamstrings.

Some that we hate:
Candy hates pull ups.
I hate Overhead Tricep Extensions…UGH!
We both hate manual tricep pushdowns (which almost made Brian’s list).

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