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I <3 Brutal Workouts

For those of you unsure of what ❤ means – it is a “heart.”

I “heart” brutal workouts.

Do you think this is cool?

That was the sign hanging from one of the crossfits around here.

And every time I see it, I get annoyed.

There recently has become an obsession with gnarly, brutal workouts. People want to seem “bad-ass” even if it means risking injury.

Like even the other day at the gym, a new woman in her 40s said to me, “I was doing insanity before I came here.”

I said, “Oh yea?”

This woman has movement patterns that NEED improvement. She can’t do half the moves yet and she has no aerobic endurance so the idea of her doing insanity made me cringe.

She said, “Yea it’s super intense. You like want to pass out.”


She was doing these workouts because they were known to be “brutal.” She decided that because they were “brutal” they must be good.(And note when I say “doing” these workouts, she wasn’t actually doing the workout as it was laid out….just like half the people now aren’t truly “doing” crossfit.)

She was doing “brutal” workouts because that is what is cool even though her body wasn’t NEAR ready to handle them!

And what happened?


Yep she came into us with an injury. AND on top of that, her movement patterns were bad enough that it was only a matter of time before she developed other injuries that could affect her for the rest of her life.

BUT it didn’t really matter that she got injured. She still liked the workouts…She still RAVED about the workouts.


BECAUSE THEY ARE BRUTAL. And apparently brutal is the new cool.



Why is doing some so intense that half the people who do it get injured cool?

And don’t get me wrong, I love an intense workout as much as the next person. I LOVE pushing myself hard.

But I want a purpose. I want a goal. I want to be pushing myself hard in a way that is actually going to get me results – make me move better, feel better and be healthier!

Can we please stop promoting barfing, passing out and injury as the measure of if a workout is good?

Can we get back to a focus on progression and workouts that actually drive you toward some goal?

Are you brutal workout obsessed? Do you get it?

Please…someone explain to me this obsession with brutal workouts!

One size doesn’t fit all

I was telling everyone at work about my “AH HA!” moment in the shower the other day.

I was thinking about our gym, Crossfit and personal training when I thought….

“Would you go to a doctor that prescribes the same thing to cure all of his patients? NO! So why would you go to a gym that does?!?”

I like Crossfit for a number of reasons, BUT some of the people doing it really shouldn’t be doing it.

Sorry but that is the cold hard truth.

Crossfit is one prescription for a whole bunch of problems and frankly that just doesn’t work.

I usually don’t say anything negative about Crossfit because I do like the movement and a lot of what it stands for.

But it shouldn’t ever have become mainstream.

I’m sorry. Lifting “heavy” is for everyone, but as I’ve said before “heavy” is so very relative.

While I love the variety of Crossfit, a lot of the people doing the workouts SHOULD NOT be doing the moves they are doing. Can they be learning snatches?

YES. But they should be learning proper form and progressing in a fashion that allows their bodies to adapt to the loads.

Unfortunately this doesn’t happen at many Crossfit gyms (which gives the ones that do do this a bad name).

Crossfit is also all about pushing the body past the point of failure.

Which I love.

But the average person doesn’t have the same understanding of their body that athletes and advanced/experienced lifters do.

I know when my form breaks down. I know how far I can push my body past that point of absolute fatigue without risking injury.

Many of the people doing the heavy Crossfit lifts don’t.

I mean, “Do you?” Can you tell when your form breaks down? Do you know which muscles are compensating and how much they can handle? Do you know that your body is prepared to handle the loads placed on it?

If you can’t answer yes to those questions, you shouldn’t be using a heavy weight till failure. You shouldn’t be doing many of the Crossfit workouts.


I guess what it comes down to for me is that Crossfit is a sport – A sport MEANT for elite athletes.

I know many of you will disagree with me, but before you start ranting and potentially leaving comments just take a second to think about what I’m saying.

One size doesn’t fit all.

Is Crossfit really getting you toward your goals?

Or is this another one of those things that people do because it is popular right now, but eventually get injured/tired/bored or don’t reach their goals so they give up?

Is Crossfit really the right program for you?

It may be super cool and “bad-ass” right now, but in the long run, is it the right prescription for YOU?

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)

When people hear the name “Paleo Diet” or “Primal Diet,” they scoff and say, “Oh that is that crazy Caveman diet right?”

BUT if I tell people, “Oh I eat only whole, natural foods and avoid gluten, processed foods and vegetable oils” they nod their head in agreement.

UHM HELLO!?! Basically what I’m doing is eating the exact Primal diet that they scoffed at!! The only difference is…..


One word can define how people view a diet, workout program even a way of living!

Once mainstream media deemed the Primal/Paleo diet the “Caveman diet” people began to scoff at it even if they will nod in agreement when you list off all of the principles of the diet.

The same thing is true if you say you eat a “low-carb” diet.

People instantly say, “Oh like Atkins?” or “So you don’t eat fruits and veggies?”

BUT if you say you avoid “unhealthy carbs,” again people nod in agreement. (Of course my definition of unhealthy carbs is most often different from theirs, but still…)

There are just so many things that annoy me with the above situation.

For one, if people did any research, they would know that Atkins has now changed and DOES allow carbs as well as a plan to help you add them back in to an appropriate level after the initial weight loss.

For two, why does low-carb instantly mean to people that you cut out fruits and vegetables!?!

Trust me you can eat low-carb but still eat tons of fruits and vegetables! Honestly, I eat more fruits and vegetables since going “low-carb” than I ever did when I ate lots of carbs and low-fat!

In one cup of broccoli, there is only 6g of carbs versus one cup of brown rice in which there are 45g of carbs!

So I could eat 7 cups of broccoli throughout the day and still eat fewer carbs than if I had ONE cup of brown rice!

And personally I think having just two cups of broccoli is better nutritionally than one cup of brown rice (AND fewer carbs!)

And diet isn’t the only place that I see “names” being misconstrued.

Honestly, I believe that the same thing has happened as Crossfit has become more and more popular.

It is so funny the different reactions I get from other trainers when I say “intense circuits” versus “Crossfit-style workouts.”

To me, Crossfit means pushing your limits. Trying new things. Constantly varying up the workout. Lifting heavy things and sprinting often.

It means intense circuits that are never the same and constantly challenge your fitness level.

But that isn’t what it means to most trainers.

To most trainers, Crossfit means injury and Olympic lifts with bad form.

But what in this DEFINITION of what Crossfit TRULY is supposed to be says that?

CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,”with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”Workouts are typically short—20 minutes or less—and intense, demanding all-out physical exertion. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects; they use barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and many bodyweight exercises.These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form prescribed “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs”. Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity WOD, and a period of individual or group stretching. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.

Uhm I swear I’ve heard the exact trainers that condemn Crossfit utter this exact same phrase to describe their strength and conditioning program “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,”with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness).”

Am I wrong?


But because a few people practice something in a way that some consider “wrong,” a whole movement gets  condemned.

There are always going to be people who do things that you don’t agree with….in any movement or facet of life.

But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore and belittle something without learning more!

How many things have you not tried because of one word associated with them? How many times have you not done the research to find out the principles behind the diet/lifestyle/workout?

Also, can we ever really accept that one word represents an entire movement? Let’s face it…Primal SHOULDN’T mean the exact same thing to ever person. Neither should “low-carb” or “Crossfit”……

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

I’m not sure where this really goes, but I found it on Facebook and thought it was awesome.

The Good

  • Ryan saw this video and I thought it fit well with my post from yesterday. Most of the functional training we SHOULD be doing isn’t NEW…it’s actually some of the oldest forms of training!
  • AWESOME! While I’m still working on holding a one-handed handstand, I’m also going to start working on this! A kip-up!
  • The Crossfit games were this past weekend. Can I just say, “AWESOME!” To me there is no better test of true fitness than having to do activities and exercises that you haven’t necessarily prepared for! Annie Thorisdottir, you are amazing!
  • Awesome! 86 years old!

The Bad

The Simply Stupid

  • Seriously!?! The Paleo Diet is Uncivilized!?! I love how this woman can claim her information is CORRECT because she is an RD. She is still biased! She is a vegetarian!!!
  • This pictures isn’t stupid. The fact that people actually think this way is the stupid part!
Tomorrow is my last day in Boston. I already miss all of you here! It has been a great 7 years!

New Fitness Trends

The fitness industry is constantly evolving since our society is constantly changing. Since our society has become more and more sedentary, people need to be taught to proper movement patterns. Because of this focus on proper movement patterns workouts have become more and more focused on functional strength.

While classes like Zumba are becoming more popular as people are seeking out “fun” ways to workout (that seem less like working out) so is functional training equipment (YAY!).

Here are some cool pieces of equipment that I hope to start seeing in more and more gyms!

  1. Kettlebells are probably one of the oldest forms of lifting equipment. They were developed in Russia in the 1700 and finally reached the US around the 1960s. They were once a common staple of the gym, but have since virtually disappeared. Recently though there has been a resurgence and now many kettlebell training certifications are available. One of the best ways to work your entire body and gain lean muscle mass!
  2. Sleds – A great way to improve your leg power! Pushing (or pulling!) a sled is a great full body workout. While I love deadlifts and squats, pushing a sled can help you get pretty much the exact same benefits as both in one exercise!

    LOVE IT! You can see every one of Annie Sakamoto’s muscle fibers working!

  3. Heavy Ropes – These are not something I’ve worked with, but I can’t wait to! You can literally get a full body workout using these ropes. There are specific exercises with the heavy ropes that can target your upper body, core and legs. They also provide you with a very cardio workout!
  4. Sandbags – If you think lifting a dumbbell, plate weight or barbell overhead is hard, try lifting a sandbag of the same weight! Because the weight in sandbags can shift, you really have to use your core. This is a much better way to engage some of those core stabilizer muscles than a stupid bosu! Plus you are lifting something heavy, which you know I love!
  5. Sandbells and Waterbells – A variation of both the medicine ball and the sandbag, I thought these were just too cool not to include. what a great way to incorporate the sandbag into more exercises. These sandbells can also help you work on grip while you are getting all the benefits of lifting a sandbag and heavy weights!
  6. TRX bands – A Pilates-based movement system, the TRX is a great way to get in a full-body, bodyweight workout. The thing I love about the TRX too is that it can be used to teach beginners proper movement patterns, but also be used to challenge even the fittest of athletes!
  7. TRX Rip Trainer – This new piece of equipment actually started this whole post. I love the fact that this is a small, easily portable piece. Like the TRX, it looks like something that everyone can use. I can’t wait to try it!
  8. Foam rollers –  I love foam rollers. While not exactly a piece of exercise equipment (although it can be used for exercises), it is essential to any functional workout. It is key to developing proper length-tension relationships and correcting imbalances!
  9. Tires –  I love deadlifts and squats. BUT flipping tires can be a great substitute. There is something about the idea of flipping a tire that just seems so Primal to me. I feel like this exercise came from cavemen and women who flipped rocks to prove who was strongest. Am I crazy? Probably.

    Everyone can do tire flips! And they are fun!

  10. Rings – Can we say DIFFICULT!?! Working out on the rings, whether you are doing muscle ups or not, is probably one of the hardest things EVER. I always love watching the gymnasts do them because you can see every muscle in their bodies working!

Runners up: Medicine balls, Resistance bands, Ergs, Versa Climbers, Monkey bars (I LOVE MONKEY BARS!)

All of these pieces of equipment can be used to give you  both a cardio and strength training workout! Plus they work your entire body!

What functional training equipment do you love?

Workout Challenge of the Week – TRY SOMETHING NEW

So I like Crossfit style workouts for numerous reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the fact that you are constantly challenged to do new and different things.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

Well I think variety is also key to ultimate fitness.

And adding variety to your workouts doesn’t have to mean lifting heavier weights or doing a new exercise in the gym. Any sort of physical activity counts!

Playing on the monkey bars counts. Trying handstands and cartwheels count. Going ice skating, roller skating or rock climbing count.

Adding variety to your workouts can even be as simple as going for a hike if you never do!

So this week there is no workout of the week. Instead, I challenge you all to try a new physical activity this weekend. (And if you want to send me a photo of you doing this new activity…well that would be just dandy!)

Jillian Michaels – I don’t want you representing women’s fitness

Jillian Michaels trying crossfit (Sorry I for some reason couldn’t get the video to embed!)

I was very disappointed with Jillian Michaels after watching this video. She honestly looks AWFUL performing every one of these exercises. Shouldn’t a famous trainer make sure she looks good doing exercises before she tries them on TV?

Also, I was disappointed to find out that Jillian really can’t even do more than one unassisted pull up. WHAT!?!

I find it kind of sad that Jillian, who doesn’t seem that strong and looked pathetic performing those exercises on TV, represents female fitness in mainstream media.

Sorry Jillian, but I think you sold out and now are a disappointment to the world of women’s fitness. Did you ever really have a passion for fitness? If so…where did it go because I don’t see it.

What do you think about this video? Does it upset you to find out that she really doesn’t look athletic when exercising?

Can we please elect someone like Annie Thorsdottir or Lindsey Smith the female fitness rep. for mainstream media?

Top 6 Motivational Women – Soon to be Top 10!

Yesterday while I was standing in the check out line at Whole Foods with an array of delicious food in front of me (pork shoulder, pork belly, macadamia nuts, salami) I gave in to an impulse buy – Oxygen Magazine.

I can rarely ever resist buying Oxygen Magazine or Fitness Rx or Muscle and Fitness HERS for that matter. There is something about those beautiful muscular women on the cover that I just can’t resist even though most of the time I’m disappointed with the nutritional information that the magazines provide.

BUT the articles don’t bother me. I didn’t buy them for their nutrition or fitness tips.

I bought them for the motivation those awesome fitness models provide. They are beautiful, muscled and strong. They are everything I work everyday to be!

I know this sounds strange…most of the women I know hate looking at pictures of models because those perfect women make them feel inferior. But the pictures have the opposite effect on me. Seeing those beautiful women means that my goals are possible. They motivate me to keep working hard so that I can be as fit as them!

I’ve even hung pictures of fitness models on my refrigerator to remind me of my goals (Jamie Eason specifically!!!). Of course I’ve stopped doing this since I’ve realized that house guests find it a little strange….

Two years ago one of Ryan’s roommates from college came to visit Boston and stayed with us. He saw the pictures of skimpily clad fitness models up on the refrigerator and asked Ryan if he put those up there. He had seemed confused by the pictures of half-naked girls.

Ryan said no that I had put them up. I almost think that confused Ryan’s old roommate more…

Anyway, I loved seeing those girls every time I went to the refrigerator…They definitely kept me from grabbing bad food out of the fridge! 😉

But anyway, I haven’t put them back up since. BUT here is a list of the Top 6 Women that motivate me to lift heavy and eat clean!!! (They aren’t in any particular order) 🙂

1. Jamie Eason – She was the first fitness model that really motivated me to get super involved in heavy lifting and I have a huge girl crush on her (sorry Ryan). She is strong and beautiful.

2. Annie Thorisdottir – She is the fittest woman on the planet at the moment. DUH she’s motivational!

3. Angie Pye – She looks amazing and she’s one of the fittest women on the planet. What isn’t motivating about that!?!

4. Lindsey Smith – She’s a top crossfit competitor and a super sexy mother. Another bad-ass, motivational woman! (AND Candy’s favorite!)

5. Margaret Diubaldo – A fitness competitor who has been on like a bazillion fitness magazine covers. Obviously muscular and beautiful!

Plus I love the short haircut! 🙂

6. Natasha Peay – A fitness competitor and boxer, she is one super sexy strong woman who isn’t afraid to kick a little ass!

These 6 women don’t include the most motivational woman of all – the Man Bicep Mom. She inspired me to lift heavy and has always supported me (not to mention she is one super sexy muscular woman herself!!!)

What women motivate you?

Jillian Michaels – I hate running too

So I found out last week that Jillian Michaels hates running and I 100% agree with that sentiment. I run as little as possible and if I have to run, I prefer to do sprints. I just get too freaking bored running long distances.

BUT running is good for you. So I force myself to do it. I usually force myself to run by including it in a workout – like in crossfit workouts like the Murph (1 mile, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile) or the Small (3 rounds of 1,000m rowing, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps and 800m running). But sometimes I do manage to just do a cardio day like yesterday.

Yesterday I actually did what are probably my two least favorite things – running and rowing. I’ve already mentioned I hate running, but rowing is also up there among the things I hate most. BUT unlike running, I force myself to row at least a few times a week. Boredom isn’t a factor when I row – surviving is. Rowing is probably one of the hardest activities for me, which is why I force myself to do it. I’m determined to get better at it.

Anyway, yesterday I did a workout that included both running and rowing and was purely cardio aside from the tough ab circuit before. I’ve included both the abs and the cardio workout below. Even Man Bicepers need to do cardio even if we do like lifting weights more! 🙂

Abs: (Repeat circuit 3 times)

15 Knees to Elbows (Hanging from a pull up bar bring your knees up to your elbows.)
10 each side Cable Cross Rotation with Press (Put the cable as low as it can go. Using the rope attachment pull from low on your right , pull across your body and up toward your shoulder rotating your body so that you can press the cable up and out on the left side.)
15 TRX Knees to Chest (Holding a push up position with your feet in the TRX band, bring your knees in toward you chest without raising your butt up.)
10 each side Russian Twists (Use weight!)


Walk 2 minutes
Run 7 minutes
Row 250m
Repeat twice

On the third round:
Walk 2 minutes
Run 7 minutes
Row 500m

Man Bicep training vs. the training I’m sometimes forced to do…

So when I workout, I do what I think of as Man Bicep training. It combines some Crossfit workouts with some power lifting and some high intensity interval training. I do circuits; I do tabata workouts; I do some slow lifts. But each and every workout, I push something to almost absolute failure. GO BIG OR GO HOME. I’m slightly sadistic…I know…

But I realize that not everyone wants to push themselves to quite that extreme. And I understand that. We each have different tolerance for different things. But sometimes I’m just so disappointed by how little people want to push themselves.

The mind gives up way before the body needs to. But most people can’t push their mind past the initial fatigue of their body. Which can sometimes make being a trainer difficult.

It’s been interesting trying to figure out just how hard to push some clients. Clients all tell you they want someone to push them – they want someone to design a program for them. They all say they want work hard. BUT what they are really saying is “I only want to be put through a workout I wouldn’t usually think of, but I don’t really want to be too sore. BUT I also want to see fast results.” They also usually want just really want someone to be there for them when they work out. They want a “friend” to motivate them to workout.

And while trainers are there to create new and interesting workouts and motivate and create results, they are also there to push you beyond where you think is acceptable. You won’t ever see results or improve your fitness if they don’t (unless you are a natural Man Biceper!). Don’t tell a trainer a weight is too much. They are watching your form and will know if it is too heavy. Don’t tell a trainer an exercise is too hard just because there is a slight burn in your legs. Don’t tell your trainer what your workout should be. YOU HIRED THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE THE EXPERT!!! LISTEN TO THEM!

And trainers, stop giving in to your clients. Yes, you must be flexible and deal with each client in a way that matches their personality, fitness level and work ethic but you don’t have to be play dough. You must remember that you are there to improve their health. That you are there to get results and that you must push them beyond where they think their limit is. Sometimes you have to push super gently, but still YOU HAVE TO PUSH! Show you are the expert! Show that your job is about improving someone’s fitness and not just taking their money and giving them the workout they THINK they want!!!!

And by the way…all you women who are reading this and thinking you would never lift heavy weights…let me refute all of your excuses…READ THIS!

Let’s create a Man Bicep generation!!!

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